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Reflections From the Desk of a College Counselor

As featured in Healthy Living Magazine, May 2011

The school year is winding down. The whirlwind has ended for those moving on to college next year. Families are busy making plans for the upcoming summer months. Whether its vacation plans, summer camps, or work, rising college students are in transition!

For many parents it’s a time to take a deep breath….and reflect on “how did these months fly by so quickly?” Well for this college counselor the same thought crosses my mind each year at just about this time. Where did the time go? More importantly, I reflect and I ask myself, how does the college “landscape” continue to change for my students and what remains the same?

College admission Offices are still ranking high school curriculum, grades, and test scores as the top three factors for admission. I also stress the importance of letters of recommendations from teachers, co-curricular and community involvement, the application essay and the college visit and on-going communication with the Admissions Office as most important.

The average college student will change their academic major 3 times during their college enrollment. The average American changes their career (not their jobs) on the average of six times during their lifetime.

In 2010, Harvard, Yale and Princeton, the perennial most selective of colleges, received over 73,800 applications for a total of 4,286 spots.

ED (early decision) applications continue to rise. A higher percentage of students are accepted when applying ED compared to EA (early action) and regular decision.

More than 250 four-year colleges and universities have extended their May 1st deadline for applications for the Fall 2011 semester.

Each year I’m asked, “is it better to get an A in a regular course or a B in an AP course?” My answer, “While an “A” in any class is important the overall grade average (GPA) remains more important for college admissions than the degree of challenge.

34% of students applied without first visiting the college. Over 12% of students attend a college 500 or more miles from home.

With the end of the school year comes the continued questions on things like what is the best way to begin a college search? I believe you start with “where do you want to live, study and continue to grow” after your high school graduation? Determining “what’s important” to the student requires not only personal insight but honesty as well! Another question is what are the top four items on the list of important criteria, and those are; academic programs, location, size of the school, and campus community. It is generally regarded that the “name” or “reputation” of the school is NOT the best way to select a college or university.

So, as I end another year grateful, proud, and excited for the seniors I’ve worked with, I wish you all a fun and safe summer. May your travels be rewarding wherever the pathway takes you!