“Fixer”

Recently I was interviewed for a story on a local news report, the story was focused on how difficult it’s becoming to get admitted to our top State Flagship Universities. Prior to the interview, the reporter and I spoke a few times to discuss content and make a plan. The story had two main angles; trends in college admissions (difficulty) and the growing profession of Private College Counseling (guidance through high school). As we prepared and during the recorded interview, I realized something, so many students are regretful of choices they made throughout high school or lack of choices made, and that in our “get it now”, “ship it in one click”, “helicopter parent – fix it quick” society, everyone wants a FIXER.

This is the actual term the reporter used to describe my profession. LOL. I felt like I was in a Godfather movie.

Here’s what I realized & I hope you’ll learn from my “a-ha” moment…

Allow your student to fail early, young, like Elementary & Middle School age and LEARN from it. Use it as a teachable moment (s). Don’t fix it (yes I said that)! Challenge them academically early, so they learn how to fail, how to study and to GROW as a student and a person. I know, you’re a parent reading this and you’re cringing (I would have also, ten years ago).

IMPORTANT FACT, nothing a student does or doesn’t do letter/number grade-wise up until 8th grade matters for college admissions unless taking high school courses in middle school.
So, what does this all have to do with me, as a “fixer”? There’s only so much I can “fix” by the time a student gets to me in 11th or 12th grade. So, words of advice, start getting guidance early. Second, start allowing your student/son/daughter to fail (not literally an “F”) early to learn how to succeed and encourage them that they CAN do it; to try AGAIN. If these two are combined, I’m quite confident, by the time I sit across from you/your student, that there will be a LOT less to “fix“.

College Admissions – Waiting Anxiety

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and there’s a simple reason — senior applications! Now it’s what we senior student advisors simply refer to as — the “waiting” season. It’s this anxiety-filled period between December – March in which the majority of our student clients are waiting for those coveted admissions letters or online decisions.

Most students and parents think there’s nothing to do but wait. Not true. Below are a few tips that could make a difference in the news a student receives:

  1. Report any updated test scores to each college you applied to. For rolling decisions, it could result in a quicker answer or additional merit awards.
  2. Send any positive additions to your senior resume in an email to your top college’s admissions office highlighting these accomplishments; awards, executive elected positions, big athletic or academic recognition, internship, etc
  3. 1st semester grades can be reported (in some cases required), only if a dramatic improvement, an academic award or a specific cerification received; Fall dual enrollment transcript is a plus.
  4. Send an email to admissions if you’ve visited campus, attended an info session or specialty progran tour, etc letting them know how much you enjoyed it and “why” you feel its a perfect fit for you.
  5. Get good grades – continue to work hard on academics, colleges don’t want to see a major decline in committment to coursework.

Good luck!

Article – Boost College Acceptances

College Decisions

It’s been a very busy season in my college consulting business and in life. Winter is that crazy time of year when students receive the majority of college decisions. For many students this is an exciting and very happy time. Even more students though experience stressful and confusing emotions, deciding which future is the best fit for them; with many factors to consider. For many students, this is the first time they have had the “finances – affordability” talk with Mom and Dad. Reality sets in. Finally, another group of students are receiving denial letters, which can be devastating, especially if they didn’t have a consultant or guidance and either weren’t expecting it or have no back up plan.

I hope that these normal steps regarding the emotional “deniel” experience, will help your student process and/or understand decisions and move on towards the BEST fit for them and to enjoy upcoming graduation and celebrations. I base this on my personal experience as a parent and as a professional independent educational and college admissions consultant.

Denial – of course, the actual denial letter begins this tough process. You may feel overwhelmed, confused, and a little frantic. You may deny that you ever even wanted to attend that particular college. You may choose not to share with friends or family (and that’s ok!). Ultimately, you may just need some time to process what just happened. Next comes anger – you’ll be mad. You’ll question why other students were admitted and you were not. You may question the sanity of the admission representative. You’ll question your parents, yourself, your teachers, and your counselor. Why did your counselor ever even suggest you visit that college?! Why did you listen!? If only your teacher had given you a higher grade. Then begins bargaining – you’ll question what you did wrong. “If only I had done this differently…”. You may also suddenly feel that if you can just be admitted to another school, it’ll make this ok. You may feel that if you call or email your admission representative, you can change their mind. Maybe they actually didn’t read your heart-grabbing essay or maybe they didn’t actually pay attention to your 20 extracurricular activities! Surely, they’re reasonable people! Sadly, some students experience depression, although I’ve been told by a local professional it’s typically episodic and temporary – you may feel sad and wonder, “What’s the point?” “Why study for exams?” “I’ll just hide in my room” Finally, acceptance – eventually, you will learn to accept the decision. And you also very likely received other acceptance letter (s) at some point in the process. One of my students recently said, “Everything happens for a reason.” That’s true, but it doesn’t necessarily make the journey any easier.

The college search and application process is just that – a process. You’ll learn, you’ll grow, and you’ll readjust. And remember, that this process can be hard on everyone – those receiving the decision and those making the decision.

I believe, God plants each and every student exactly where they belong.

God Bless. Carrie

Dual Enrollment vs. Advanced Placement

dualvap

Happy March – the month were students are registering for the 2018-19 school year; already! I am weighing in on this question every day this time of year, so I took a survey of colleges in the Southeast and asked this important question of each Admissions Director. AP or Dual Enrollment? Below are the responses I received along with the Pros & Cons. I hope this helps both Parents and Students make an informed decision, and that it’s the one that BEST suits your individual student’s needs. NOTE: If you are one of my Soar 2 Success Students, this was covered in our planning sessions. If you are not a current student and wish to learn more about our programs, please fill out the contact form below.

 

Dual Enrollment (DE):

PROS:

  • College Credit awarded upon completion of the course with a grade of “C’ or better
  • DE courses are an indicator of success at the college level
  • DE students have been tested in a real college environment and treated as college students, with most classes mixed with DE and full time college students
  • All State colleges and Universities accept DE credits from “feeder” Dual schools
  • One DE course equals 3 college credit hours
  • DE courses are weighted on a 5.0 scale towards high school weighted GPA
  • DE is 100% FREE for high school students; courses & books
  • High School students can take 1 DE course per semester – per high school period scheduled for dual courses, therefore earning 2 college courses = 6 credit hours in 1 school year
  • Students can take courses that are not offered at their high school

CONS:

  • DE course grade transfers with you to college as initial college GPA; this can be a PRO or CON!
  • Students taking DE off campus at local Dual college must have own transportation
  • Students taking DE off campus at local Dual college must have a modified high school schedule, which may impact athletics, clubs, etc.
  • Students taking DE off campus at local Dual college may miss out on high school social interaction
  • DE REQUIRES students to take additional ownership of their courses/schoolwork and is NOT for unorganized students

Advanced Placement (AP):

PROS:

  • College credit is awarded with a 3 or higher on the AP Exam; high school credit is awarded by class grade & is weighted on a 5.0 scale
  • AP tests demonstrate proficiency and competency in subject matter based on a class grade AND on an AP test
  • All State colleges and Universities in Florida accept AP credits. College & Universities in other states are likely to accept all AP credits as well.
  • Depending on scores achieved (3-5), a higher score on an AP exam “could” earn multiple college credits depending on exam and score.
  • Class GPA will not transfer with you to college

CONS:

  • Many students will not score high enough to earn college credit for AP course; many courses have low “pass” rates
  • AP courses are difficult – year long courses
  • AP courses are full year, so only 1 college course per year, per high school period taken
  • Once an AP course has begun, it cannot be dropped

Florida 4 Year University Admissions Survey Responses:

“Admissions look favorably upon successful completion of Dual Enrollment courses”

“Earning a “C” or lower will negatively impact admissions decisions”

“Admissions counselors look very favorably upon successful completion of AP coursework”

“A grade of a “C” in an AP course is not considered negative when applying to college if the AP course is rigorous in a STEM subject”

“Students planning on applying in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) major, at a top school, should take the most rigorous Math & Science AP courses available”

“Dual and AP mix of coursework Junior and Senior year is the best combination”

“Always take the most rigorous courses in each subject available at your high school for the academic area of interest you will be pursuing”

 

College – Can I get by without a car?

The question of whether or not to bring a car to college is a common one. Almost every family I meet with senior year asks this question and usually the parent versus student ideas on this are different.

I hope both parents and students find this helpful; things to consider ..

Will you be living in an on campus dorm? If yes, unless the student will have an off campus job or will be visiting home regularly, my advice is always no. On Campus parking is typically VERY limited, a distance away for Freshman, expensive and most importantly dangerous (lots of inexperienced drivers, LOTS of distracted drivers and tons of mopeds). In addition, for most families, unless the student is working full time, a car adds unnecessary expenses (insurance, gas, maintenance, parking fees, etc).

Questions to consider when making the decision Car vs No Car Freshman year in college (and beyond) are below. Note: As a parent, in our home, we have a no car rule Freshman year and then we open up the discussion for Sophomore year.

  1. Find out free modes of transportation available at University and where pick up/drop off routes will be.
  2. How far away from home will you be? Is there safe bus service (college bus routes; campus to campus service) regularly, nearby airport or student ride share options on campus social media pages or boards?

I hope these thoughts, along with suggestions based on experience will bring productive conversation and help to come to a decision that is agreeable to everyone invloved.

Testing – Stress!

Stress according to Websters Dictionary is defined as (noun) a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. After a very long and emotional conversation with one of my top student’s parents about her recent test scores and her emotional state following receiving them (almost perfect scores by the way), I realized this is becoming a recurring theme throughout the year with students; particularly Junior and Senior year. Stress seems to reach its peak during mid-term and final exams when coupled with ACT/SAT testing; it can almost seem unbearable to a teenager (to the parents as well).

However, there is good news! Studies, as well as my own experience with students in my consulting practice show there are several ways to minimize stress and anxiety when it comes to testing; before, during and after. .

Coping & Stress Management

  1.  Get plenty of sleep every night. According to the American Medical Association teenagers require 8-10 hours of sleep each night. As a mother of 3 believe me I know this is a difficult task with so much on their plate; homework, sports, social, etc. In contrast, by college you can’t wake them up!
  2. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Diet is a HUGE part of how your teenager will deal with stress. Junk in – junk out. Healthy eating habits will assist the brain in functioning properly, provide better & deeper sleep and studies show will also provide a more balanced emotional state (teenagers sure need that).
  3. Try taking up Yoga, Meditation, Deep breathing or Daily Prayer. Dozens of studies at major medical institutions show that using daily relaxation techniques and being able to apply them leading up to & day of a stressful test, positively impacts the student both emotionally and yields better academic results.
  4. Do not cram! Start test prep early enough (for high school exams and college entrance testing) prior to testing that the results will reflect that effort. I recommend 2-3 months of weekly prep prior to ACT/SAT testing whichever method is chosen (group, 1-1, online, etc). I have student’s who insist they can prep themselves and wait until two weeks prior to ACT/SAT test to do an hour each day and in the majority of cases the scores are very disappointing. There are so many FREE tools now for prep online that all student’s have access. For mid-term and final exams, I recommend student’s start going back to notes/chapters from units that will be covered on the mid term or final and refreshing their memory, up to 3 weeks prior to tests. I have found best practice is for student to re teach information to a classmate or parent; reteach to retain. I find when students wait for or rely on a study guide or memory or cram for a mid term or final, the result is usually very disappointing.
  5. If stress becomes unmanageable or is affecting your student socially, seek professional help. There are therapists who specialize in stress management for students, and many who focus on performance anxiety in particular. I have had student’s (parents) seek help with excellent results and coping mechanisms that provided relief throughout college.
  6. Be prepared heading to the test center. I always tell my student’s “fail to prepare and you will prepare to fail” in all areas of your life. In other words, on test day have the proper tools; 2 pencils, correct calculator, your ID, your test day registration ticket, a snack and water bottle.

I hope that this has helped you. I have lived this student “stress” dilemma both as a parent (and continue to) and as a professional educational consultant.

Make it a great 2nd semester!!

 

Carrie

Interviewing Check Mate

Interviewing Tips, Role Playing and proper Body Language are just a few of the techniques I’ve found to lead to successful results. Experts say the combination of intriguing conversation and proper body language are keys to success.

Interviewing skills will be used early in high school for part time jobs, internships, honors clubs, leadership positions, academic competitions and as seniors for selective admissions, scholarships, competitive internships and much more moving into post secondary schools or the job market.

#1 – Be Prepared ✔or prepare to fail ❌ Role play with a professional College Consultant or a mentor.

#2 – Dress for Success – business attire (if video interview same rules apply!)

#3 – Smile!

#4 – Make eye contact with interviewer or with everyone in the room before answering a question if multiple interviewers.

#5 – Leave out the cologne or perfume for interview.

#6 – Do not fidget with your face, hands, pen/pencil, etc. Keep hands in lap, folded in front of you or as expression only.

#7 – Know Top Questions or Conversation Prompts prior to interview to best prepare (my next blog – listed by college).

#8 – See fun & helpful body language graphic. Remember poor body language or distractions can cost you the job/intern or admission.

photo by Norma Molina