Phoenix College Fair 14

August 19, 2014

Phoenix College Fair is September 28 Sunday 11AM-3PM

Imagine filling out 100 plus+ forms. I’ve got writers cramps just thinking about it. At the upcoming Phoenix College Fair, almost 200 schools will be represented.

Working on your “College Touch Points” is now easier than ever. It used to be that when a student went to a college fair they would take 5 minutes or more filling out contact forms for each college they were interested in. Now a quick scan from a prefilled out form handles all of it electronically.

No need to fill out all the registration cards for dozens of colleges by hand!

New streamlining procedures are now available. Watch the 3 minute video and register on the link below.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

11:00am to 3:00pm

While the College Fair is free to attend, NACAC is encouraging all students to pre-register  online.   After registering, you will have access to a bar-coded page, please print this page and take it to the fair. Each college  and university attending the fair will have a scanner that will retrieve your  information when the barcode is scanned.

Pre-registration is available online at the  following link:

Phoenix Convention Center
100 N Third Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Fair Hours: Sunday, Sept 28, 11-3PM

Colleges attending

1-Adams State University
2-American University
3-Arcadia University
4-Arizona Christian University
5-Arizona State University
6-Assumption College
7-Augustana College
9-Baylor University
10-Benedictine University at Mesa
11-Berklee College of Music
12-Black Hills State University
13-Boise State University
14-Bradley University
15-Bryant University
16-California Baptist University
17-California Lutheran University
18-California Maritime Academy
19-California Polytechnic State University
20-California State University-Fresno
21-California State University-San Marcos
22-Carleton College
23-Central College
24-Central Washington University
25-Chapman University
26-Coe College
27-Colorado Christian University
28-Colorado School of Mines
29-Colorado State University
30-Colorado State University-Pueblo
31-Columbia College Chicago
32-Concordia University-Irvine
33-Cornell College
34-Creighton University
35-DigiPen Institute of Technology
36-Dominican University of California
37-Drake University
38-Drexel University
39-Earlham College
40-Eastern Washington University
41-Eckerd College
42-Education Management Corporation
43-Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
44-Empire Beauty School
45-FIDM-The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
46-Florida Institute of Technology
47-Fort Lewis College
48-George Mason University
49-Gonzaga University
50-Grinnell College
51-Hastings College
52-Hawaii Pacific University
53-Hendrix College
54-High Point University
55-Hillsdale College
56-Hofstra University
57-Holy Cross College
58-Humboldt State University
59-Illinois Institute of Technology
60-Illinois Wesleyan University
61-John Cabot University
62-Johnson & Wales University
63-Juniata College
64-Lehigh University
65-Lewis & Clark College
66-LIM College - Where Business Meets Fashion
67-Loyola University Chicago
68-Marquette University
69-Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
70-Menlo College
71-Michigan State University
72-Mills College
73-Minnesota State University Moorhead
74-Montana State University-Billings
75-Montana Tech of The University of Montana
76-Mount Marty College
77-Mount St. Mary's College
78-New Mexico State University
79-New York Film Academy
80-New York Institute of Technology
81-Northeastern University
82-Northern Arizona University
83-Norwich University
84-Nova Southeastern University
85-Oklahoma City University
86-Oregon Institute of Technology
87-Oregon State University
88-Pacific Lutheran University
89-Pacific University
90-Penn State University
91-Portland State University
92-Prescott College
93-Purdue University
94-Quest University Canada
95-Radford University
96-Regis University
97-Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
98-Rice University
99-Rochester Institute of Technology
100-Rocky Mountain College
101-Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
103- The State University of New Jersey
104-Saint John's University
105-Saint Louis University
106-Saint Mary's College of California
107-Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
108-Samford University
109-San Diego State University
110-San Jose State University
111-San Juan College
112-Santa Clara University
113-Sarah Lawrence College
114-Savannah College of Art and Design
115-Seattle Pacific University
116-Seattle University
117-Seton Hall University
118-Simpson College
119-Soka University of America
120-Sonoma State University
121-South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
122-Southern Methodist University
123-Southern Utah University
124-St. Edward's University
125-St. Katherine College
126-St. Mary's University
127-Texas Christian University
128-Texas State University-San Marcos
129-The American University of Paris
130-The Catholic University of America
131-The New School
132-The University of Alabama
133-The University of Arizona
134-The University of Montana Western
135-The University of New Mexico
136-The University of Tampa
137-Trinity University
138-Tulane University
139-Universal Technical Institute
140-University of Advancing Technology
141-University of California Santa Barbara
142-University of California-Davis
143-University of California-Irvine
144-University of California-Merced
145-University of California-San Diego
146-University of California-Santa Cruz
147-University of Central Florida
148-University of Colorado Boulder
149-University of Colorado Colorado Springs
150-University of Hawaii at Manoa
151-University of Kansas
152-University of La Verne
153-University of Mary
154-University of Miami
155-University of New Haven
156-University of North Dakota
157-University of Northern Colorado
158-University of Oklahoma
159-University of Oregon
160-University of Portland
161-University of Redlands
162-University of Rochester
163-University of San Diego
164-University of San Francisco
165-University of Saskatchewan
166-University of St. Andrews
167-University of Utah
168-University of Washington
169-University of Wisconsin-Madison
170-University of Wyoming
171-Utah State University
172-Utah State University- College of Eastern Utah
173-Vanderbilt University
174-Vanguard University of Southern California
175-Virginia Military Institute
176-Wartburg College
177-Washington State University
178-Weber State University
179-Webster University
180-Wentworth Military Academy & College
181-Western State Colorado University
182-Western Washington University
183-Whittier College
184-Whitworth University
185-Willamette University
186-Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba (XUSOM)
187-Yavapai College    Send article as PDF   
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Scottsdale College Fair 14

August 19, 2014

the Scottsdale College Fair 14

2014 Scottsdale College Fair 
Saturday, September 27th, 2014

the day before the Phoenix College Fair at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. This website is easier to use than the NACAC website. (about 100 colleges will be in attendance)

Scottsdale College Fair September 27 2014, 1-3PM Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts 7380 E. 2nd Street Scottsdale, AZ 85281

Here is a link to the colleges that will be attending... about 98 colleges are represented...

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Essay Prompts for 2014-2015 Common Application

February 13, 2014

Essay Prompts for 2014 -2015 Common Application

Just announced this February 2014: the 2014-2015 essay prompts will remain unchanged from the previous year.

The 2014-2015 Common Application, launch date August 1, 2014, will include five “personal statement” essay prompts. The prompts were designed to enable applicants to tell their unique stories as part of a holistic selection process.

Carmen Lopez, Executive Director of a non-profit catering to college success of Native American and Native Hawaiian students, believes this is especially true for these types of students and any student "We have found the Common App's new essay prompts to be highly effective. Students are presenting themselves as multi-dimensional, writing with an authentic voice, and writing meaningfully as both students and Native students."

In a recent survey, nearly 70% of Common Application member colleges and 90% of school counselors indicated that the prompts are effective in helping students represent themselves to colleges.

Students are instructed to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic that “helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice” and enables “readers of your application to know you apart from courses, grades, and test scores” using the prompt “to inspire and structure your response”.

The Common Application will be maintaining the word limit of 650 words for the “personal statement” essay. 650 words is the limit, not the goal. The application will not accept a response shorter than 250 words or greater than 650 words.

The following prompts on the 2014 -1015 Common Application:

  1. Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Remember to sign up for the Application Boot Camp Class

Use this link to register for this class

Here is the article from 


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One Point = $50,000 Lost!

December 6, 2013

Terminal mistake made by too many families and students: Starting the college process late.

I met with a family early October who had a senior.  He was a great kid, good grades, a high PSAT score, great extracurricular activities and leadership – a prime candidate for scholarships.  However, he had never taken the SAT or ACT, so we immediately signed him up for October 26 ACT (with the late fee).  As we discussed his college choices, his top choice had a December 1st  deadline for scholarship applications.  I was sure we would have a good shot if we could squeeze in an intensive prep in the few weeks we had.  He worked hard and we got his scores November 11 off the website.  He scored high… but not high enough.  He was ONE POINT short of a FULL SCHOLARSHIP!  We contacted the college before Thanksgiving about another test date.  They were polite but stressed, “We have deadlines for a reason, especially when we are awarding scholarships.” With his scores and resume, he would qualify for a partial scholarship, but not the full scholarship.

The difference is a little over $12,000 a year or $50,000 over four years!

ONE Point!  FOUR MORE correct answers!  $12,000 per answer!

He went ahead and sent in his application.  We still have other options, choices, and opportunities with other colleges, but it is sad that we missed this by ONE POINT.  If he would have come a month or two earlier and we could have gotten another test under his belt and more prep time, I am sure this would have been a “slam dunk!”  He would have had a full scholarship to his first choice in his back pocket before Thanksgiving with no pressure on him or his family the rest of his senior year.  Instead, we go to Plan B.  More work, more time, and more stress.

Time is your enemy.

This happens every year. I meet with a family who has a senior, great kid, tons of potential but TIME is against us. There just isn’t enough time to properly position and market those kids. And the statement “If only… if only we came to you a year or two ago..” is uttered by these parents.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to start early.

If you know families with sophomores and juniors, please share this with them.

So what should you do?

  1. Attend one of my free workshops, there are two scheduled for December on the 10th or 11th. Use this link to register -
  2. If you have attended the free introductory workshop, then call me immediately at 1-888-237-2087 ext 2, and schedule a time to schedule a College Planning Analysis. At this appointment I will evaluate your family specific situation and come up with a strategy. This appointment is $97.00 but I will waive this fee if the appointment is scheduled for December or January. Mention this note.
  3. Share this note on Facebook, forward it to a friend or print it out and give it to a family who has a junior, sophomore or freshman in high school.

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How to increase your Test Scores and Knock It Out of the Park

December 1, 2013

 How to increase your Test Scores and Knock It Out of the Park

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One of my students Matt knocked the ACT score out of the park. This increase in his test score changed his scholarship from good to GREAT! It took effort and you can do it too! Matt specifically mentions the ACT, however the methodology can be applied to the SAT, P-SAT and even APs!

Here's what I believe bumped up my score:

  1. Taking the ACT 3 times helped me get used to the test format. (*Matt took the SAT and ACT and did better on the ACT. He will supply the college his ACT scores. Matt did not wait until his senior year to start taking the tests, start early. High achieving student should start as early as 7thgrade. When Matt took the ACT his second time, he got the same test score just like the first time he took the test. The reason his score did not change was because he did not do any prep between the first and second tests. Before he took it a third time, he studied the prep book and videos.)
  2. I went to the same testing center almost every time I've taken the ACT or SAT, so I knew where I was driving to and I knew where in the school to go to check in.
  3. Taking the test with people from my school who I am well acquainted with helped relax me before the test. Also talking to them in the morning before the test helped wake me up.
  4. Practice tests from "The Real ACT Prep Guide" book made an authentic test feel where I could time myself and bubble in answers. My improvement in the sections made me more confident in myself. (*Matt reviewed one section from the book areas that he needed to improve in. He reviewed the book 3-4 times a week about 30 minutes each section for two months.*** Use an official Prep Book from CollegeBoard or an official prep book from ACT. Using a prep book from another company or unofficial book will not produce the same results.)
  5. Snack for the break. I felt a significant difference on the second half of the ACT when I didn't have a snack the second time I took it than when I did have a snack the third time. (*Being distracted because of grumbling hunger can cost you points)
  6. Lay everything out that I was bringing for the test the night before. (Pencils, ID, admission ticket, calculator, snack, etc.)
  7. Getting up at 6:00 AM gave me more time to wake up. (Go to bed earlier the night before.
  8. English (1st section) strategy: Mouth the sentences and try each possibility to mentally hear which sounds correct. (Straight from Dr. Beasley’s test strategies, how to beat the test.)
  9. Math (2nd section) strategy: Know all formulas and don't spend more than a minute on a question.
  10. Critical Reading (3rd section) strategy: I find it easier to read the passage and underline key information and not have to look back at the passage when answering the questions. Time is incredibly limited for reading. (*Again straight from Dr. Beasley’s test strategies, how to beat the test.)
  11. Science (4th section) strategy: Look at the question first then answer it using the graphs and possibly skim any paragraph information.

-Matt A. Class of 2013

Numbers 5 through 11 are straight from Dr. Beasley’s test prep videos. Review the Test Prep strategies on

  • Take a real live test for practice, review the videos, review an official prep book, retake. Matt took two months reviewing and studying the official prep book. [Starting review the week before or worse the night before will not produce the results you want.]

A great test score is within your grasp if you implement these ideas.

You can do it! You can craft and create a great score.



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Testing Strategy for the College Entrance Exams

November 30, 2013

Beat the Test

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Creating a test taking strategy will put you ahead of the competition. Too many high school seniors take the tests (SAT, ACT) only once in their senior year, hoping and praying that they get a great score. Students who are stressed tend to not score as high as they could have if they weren’t stressed out. Don’t wait until your senior year!

Great scores are designed, created and implemented.

First identify the most difficult college that you want to get into. Not everyone wants to go to Harvard, Stanford or the United States Air Force Academy. Create a list of colleges and identify the most difficult school to get into that is on your list.

Next, find the Middle 50% Scores for that college. To find the Middle 50%, go to, type in the name of the school and then click on “Applying” on the left side, then scroll to and click the SAT/ACT tab. Also look at the ‘Application Requirements’ tab and see if there are any special admission requirements that you need to complete, such as Subject Tests. Check the ‘At A Glance’ section (tab on the left side of screen). Scroll down to find out what percentages of students are admitted.

Being in the Middle 50% gets you through the first door, but not yet admitted. Your goal is to score better than the Middle 50% or on the higher end of the Middle 50%. This gives you a stronger chance of being admitted and being admitted with scholarships.

The strategy is: Take both tests, the ACT and the SAT twice. Then look and see which test you are the most comfortable with and focus on retaking that test.

When you take the tests for the first time don’t guess on any of the answers. If you guess, and get the answer correct, you won’t know if you need to brush up on that specific subject area. Review the answers after you have taken the tests to see which areas you need improvement on, prep, study and retake.

  1. Take both tests (SAT/ACT) twice, get a base score, review  the score and see which area needs improvement
  2. Click “Yes” to release your contact info to colleges for interest. On the SAT it is called Student Search Service.
  3. Pick up an official prep book and review 10 - 15 minutes every day. Official Prep books from CollegeBoard or American College Testing are best.
  4. Register on and review the Test Prep Videos*
  5. Download the ACT Question of the day and the SAT Question of the Day APP and review it every day.
  6. Review the ACT Question of the Day, every day. ACT questions found on
  7. When you review the Question of the Day, before you click on the answer; ask yourself which of Dr. Beasley’s Secret Test Strategies will get you to the correct answer fastest. (Print out Dr. B.’s cheat-sheet [available online at] & review it when answering the Question of the Day.)
  8. Review “retired” tests (these can be found on
  9. Order the “Test Information Release for the ACT and the Question and Answer Service for the SAT
    1. ACT
    2. SAT
  10. Take the tests again, but this next time for points. Practice and repeat, practice and repeat!

*Students who practice and apply Dr. Beasley’s Secret Test Taking Strategies found on are more likely to increase scores and potentially earn a perfect score. Higher test scores increases the chances of admission and scholarships.

Some colleges require students to take the SAT Subjects test. Double check and verify that the college requires the Subject test or not. Some colleges will take the ACT in lieu of the SAT Subjects test along with the main SAT I. All colleges will take the SAT or ACT test. Some colleges require the students who take the ACT to take the writing section is also. Check the requirements for each college/university that you plan on sending in an application.

Some students take the test as early as 6th or 7th grade. (7th graders can qualify for the Duke TIP program by taking the SAT.) If it is later in your high school years, don’t fret, start now. Sign up and take the earliest test date that you can. Evaluate and retake as necessary.

Students should start taking the SAT/ACT and P-SAT as early as possible. Get a base score, prep/review and retake the tests often and frequently.

Students often worry that taking the SAT/ACT test too many times will impact their chances of admission. This is not true. Colleges will accept the student’s highest test scores.

You can take the SAT/ACT prior to your freshman year. Academically talented students should take the SAT in sixth or seventh grade as part of Johns Hopkins University’s Search for Talented Youth program or the Duke TIP program. Some eighth graders just want to see what it’s like, so they experiment with it. This is good.

My personal opinion is that every freshman should take the SAT/ACT once in the fall and once in the late spring. When those scores come in, special note should be taken of the areas of weakness. The diagnostic report that comes with the score report can be helpful in targeting efforts for improvement.

Juniors should keep in mind that they will be taking the P-SAT in October. The P-SAT is not only a preliminary version of the SAT but also a qualifying exam for National Merit Scholarship competition. Don’t consider the P-SAT as one of your SATs; it’s not an SAT. I recommend that Juniors take the SAT/ACT in the late fall/winter and again in the spring. Preferably you hit the scores you want in your Junior year. Your Senior year should be reserved to retake the SAT/ACT only as needed or if you believe you can bump your scores. Each college can have different test deadlines. In order to make sure your scores arrive on time, check the deadlines of all the college on your list.  Schedule tests accordingly.

You can take the SAT/ACT as early as you want, as often as you want. Colleges will take your highest score. Many colleges actually ask you to retake it to raise your score to get more money. Some colleges will take your best component scores from different tests (Super Score).

My GPA (weighted) __________ (unweighted) __________ High School Graduation Year __________

The most difficult college to be admitted to on MY list is: ____________________________________

The percentage of students admitted is ___________________%.

The Middle 50% SAT Scores at my proposed college is:

SAT Reading __________           Math __________         Writing ____________

The Middle 50% ACT Scores at my proposed college is:

ACT ___________ [] with writing [] without writing

This school requires SAT Subjects Test [] Yes [] No

My PSAT Score (Freshman year) _________ (Sophomore year) _________ (Junior year)_________

My SAT Scores                                  _____/______/_________test 1 ______________ date of test

(Read/Math/Write)        _____/______/_________test 2 ______________ date of test

_____/______/_________test 3 ______________ date of test

_____/______/_________test 4 ______________ date of test

_____/______/_________test 5 ______________ date of test

_____/______/_________test 6 ______________ date of test

My ACT Scores                  _______________test 1 ______________ date of test

_______________test 2 ______________ date of test

_______________test 3 ______________ date of test

_______________test 4 ______________ date of test

My SAT Subject Score    _____________ score _______________ subject _________ date of test

(subject)              _____________ score _______________ subject _________ date of test

_____________ score _______________ subject _________ date of test    Send article as PDF   
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How to develop a Passion

November 29, 2013

How do I develop a passion?

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“I’ve heard that college admission people like to admit students that show that they have a passion about something.” One parent and student told me.

A high school student wrote that he was worried about his burn-out and his lack of extracurricular activities.

This combination of passion and burn-out gets to the heart of a good college application strategy. Far too many students join clubs, compete in sports, and play instruments because they feel these activities are essential for getting into college, not because they actually have any passion for these extracurriculars. When you spend a lot of time doing something you don't love, you will burn out.

College applicants should think broadly about what can be defined as an extracurricular activity. Not everyone can be or wants to be class president, drum major, or the lead in the school play. And the truth is, unusual extracurricular activities are going to make your application stand out more than membership in Chess Club and Debate Team (mind you, Chess Club and Debate Team are both fine extracurriculars).

So the question is: How do I develop a passion and is it unique?

Develop a passion. This starts with what your interests, explore, learn research your interest. The greater your knowledge of your interest, the more passionate you will become. Remember my story about ice hockey. For my birthday I received some tickets to see the San Jose Sharks NHL team. At first I did not understand the rules and why the referee would stop the game play for what seemed like no apparent reason.  I later learned the Icing rule “Icing in ice hockey occurs when a player shoots the puck across at least two red lines, the opposing team's goal line being the last, and the puck remains untouched.”

The more I learned about it the more I could appreciate it and my passion grew.  The more you learn about the subject the greater your passion will become. Passion starts with interest.

So what are you interested in? Movies, books, sports, animals, cars, mountain biking…

Pick up a magazine on the topic. Browse the internet and search for your topic. Find other people who are interested in similar things.

Things that will really make your application jump are activities that the typical teenage is NOT involved with. While National Honor Society is good, hundreds of thousands of teenagers belong to this organization, as well as Key Club, Best Buddies and Yearbook. All these are good but are not stand out different.

Think about what will make me stand out and develop a passion around this. Ask yourself what makes me unique and different, what things do I like that are not typical teenage activities. Do you like the Rubik’s Cube, want to build a sound studio in your home, did you start a lawn and garden care business?

Here’s some ideas for Unique Teen Activities, what’s your UTA?

  1. Create a Green program at your school, neighborhood or workplace Besides going paperless, what other things could be done. Write up a report and give it to the principle or homeowners committee or boss. Then take action. Perhaps create a website promoting the topic for your local community.
  2. Start a business. What talents do you have? Are you an expert at fixing computers, great at math or English and can tutor, professional dog walker or a wiz at creating web pages. You don’t have to be the next Zukerberg, but who knows maybe you can create an empire as well.
  3. Raise homing pigeons- how many of your friends have homing pigeons? Probably none. Raise them, train, and compete. Create a web page or a special report that you could distribute to friends or even the news paper.
  4. Start a recycling program in your community- work with city officials, not just other teens. In order to make this an UTA it needs to be organized. Other teens could volunteer to participate, but make sure you have some adult participation as well.
  5. Conduct scientific research- learn some basic analysis skill from your biology or chemistry class and conduct an organized research effort in your area. If you design your study to give insight to a local problem you will garner local interest in the community and perhaps get written up in the paper or appear as a guest on local TV or radio. For instance, you might research the impact that global warming has had on the species of plants that will grow in local gardens. Or, perhaps you can design a study to track effective mosquito-control techniques that safely work on the local mosquito populations. Feel free to enlist other teens to help you do the research, but be sure that the project has some adult oversight and participation to ensure that the results get taken seriously. Try proposing your project to the local government and asking them to support the research with a small budget. Obtaining even a small grant will elevate your UTA in the eyes of the college.
  6. Write for your hometown newspaper- find a local “beat” in which you have expertise and write-up a few sample articles or opinion columns. Present the material to your local newspaper and offer to do a regular story for them. Be prepared to commit to a certain number of issues and stick to the schedule no matter what.
  7. Manage a rock band- lots of teenagers start rock bands, but few teenagers are rock band managers. Managing a rock band requires the development of a number of skills including money management, negotiation, marketing, people management and a variety of legal issues. A good manager can manage several bands at a time. You can organize gigs and shows in your area.
  8. Play the stock market- opening a trading account and learning about investing is not complicated, but few, if any, teenagers do it. You’ll have to save money from your part-time job or allowance to get the account started, but the time you invest will pay big dividends for getting into college (and paying for it).
  9. Buy some real estate- you don’t have to be wealthy to buy and manage rental property. You may be able to raise the down payment through a summer job. You will have to advertise to find a tenant and maintain the property. You will develop an invaluable set of skills that many Americans don’t even get exposed to until their late twenties or thirties. You will have a very impressive essay.
  10. Invent something and apply for a patent- come up with a new product or even a process for doing something better and you might have a unique invention. Enlist some adults to help you develop a prototype and apply for a patent. You don’t have to hire a lawyer (although you may find one who is liberal with the free advice because you will impress them); you can complete the patent paperwork yourself. It is a big, big job and it will probably get rejected by the US Patent Office, but in the process will teach you a lot about how the patent system works. If your product is a good one you may find a company to produce it and pay you a royalty. Your experience will make a great essay.
  11. Run for public office- get your hands on the local city code and see what offices are available. Your age may not prevent you for running for city counselor even mayor. You will have to raise money for your campaign, organize your political platform and conduct your campaign. Even if you don’t win you will have an incredible NTA. If you do win you will have to take the job and learn about your local government. Being an elected official is probably not a full-time job, but you will have to forgo a few extracurricular in order to find the time.
  12. Swim the English Channel- you may never be in better shape in your life. If you are a swimmer and you dare make the 21-mile swim, you will not only be the talk of the town, but also you’ll be the talk of the admissions department. You’ll need to work with the right people to make it happen and, of course, train like crazy. If you can’t afford the trip why not use the opportunity to raise money for charity.
  13.  Write and publish a book- While there have been some teenaged authors, it would help if your passion and potential major is literature and writing. Enter a short story contest or publish poetry. Who knows you might be the next Mary Shelley (she wrote and published Frankenstein when she was 19.)
  14. Create a club or charity in your community or school- One student’s 'passion' of hunting for free things on the internet turned into a cause. This student collected of toiletries, boxes and textbooks and novels, and free food and donated them to several charitable causes. This student then created a Freebie Club at the high school, collect items and donate them to chosen charities. This activity looks good on a college application for several reasons: it's unusual, it helps people, and it demonstrates the student’s creativity and initiative.
  15. Take your ideas one step further. The student could take this club one step further to accomplish the dual goals of getting into college and helping others -- how about using the club to fund-raise for a charity? Perhaps create a competition for your club or interest; collect donations; get sponsors -- use the club to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause.

Use these ideas as a starting point to jump off and explore new and different activities. After you have developed your passion contact the local news paper or TV stations and see if you can get interviewed. TV and radio love to interview kids who have done something special.

What are you interested in?

When you are not doing school work, what can we find you doing?

What hobbies do you have and enjoy?

What kinds of things do you research online and offline?

My passion, my different and uniqueness is and/or my interest is: 

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College Touch Points

November 27, 2013


The College Touch Points

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Demonstrated Interest is one of those vague criteria in the college admissions process that can cause great confusion among applicants. Whereas SAT scores, ACT scores, GPA, and extracurricular involvement are measurable in concrete ways. “Interest" can mean something very different to different institutions. Some students have a hard time drawing the line between Demonstrating Interest and harassing the admissions staff. Students who Demonstrate Interest are likely to have a positive attitude toward the college.

Remember my story of when I was in high school and there was a girl who I liked and every time I tried to talk with her she would ignore me and walk away. I figured out pretty quick that she did not “like” me back. Then there was another girl who I liked and when I talked with her, she would reply and talk back. I figured out that she “liked” me (Demonstrated Interest) back and we developed a relationship.

This is the same idea with colleges. When a college figures out that a potential student “likes” them, then the college will continue to pursue that relationship. When a college figures out that a student has little or no interest, the college will drop that student and move on to the next one. (The official college term is “Demonstrated Interest”.

So, how can we get a college to think that we, the student, “like” (Demonstrate Interest) that college? By using the College Touch Points!

According to a study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, about 50% of all colleges and universities claim that an applicant's Demonstrated Interest in their school is either highly or moderately important in the admissions process. This means that at many schools taking a campus tour, interviewing, and contacting your admissions representative can improve your chance of being accepted.

The reasons why Demonstrated Interest matters are many, but in general colleges want to extend offers of admission to students who are sincerely interested in attending. Students who have low interest are clearly less likely to accept an offer of admission, and if they do accept, they are more likely to transfer to a different school.

Colleges have good reason for taking Demonstrated Interest into account as they make their admissions decisions. For obvious reasons, schools want to enroll students who are eager to attend.

A college wants to increase its’ yield. Most students pay little attention to the idea of "Yield," but it's a big deal to a college admissions office. Essentially, the "Yield" is the percentage of admitted students who actually enroll in a college. The admissions office needs to estimate the Yield in order to figure out how many students to accept. If they guess the Yield wrong, they will end up with an incoming class that is either too big or too small. The Yield varies widely from school to school. A prestigious university like Harvard may yield around 80% of the students they accept, while some of the less competitive colleges and state universities may Yield closer to 25%. (This means that if a college sends out 1000 ‘YES’ acceptance letters only 25% or 250 out of 1000 will actually attend that college.

Colleges who value Demonstrated Interest are more likely to extend an invitation to attend their school to students who Demonstrate Interest and are more likely that they may offer scholarships.

For the schools on your list, go to the individual college’s website and fill out the prospective students form and request them to send you some more information. By doing this you will pop up on their radar and start keeping track of you. (This is called a “College Touch”). The college needs to know you exist.

But how exactly do you Demonstrate Interest? The list below presents some ways to tell a school that your interest is more than superficial.

Don’t let your parents demonstrate your interest for you!

The last thing a college wants is to admit a student that is forced to apply and attend because of their parents. It shows immaturity on the student’s part. Admissions officers are admitting a student, not their parents. Parental ‘Demonstrated Interest’ can backfire.

College Touch Points include:

  • College Website Request for Information: You're likely to get a lot of college brochures without asking for them. Colleges work hard to get mailing lists of high school students who show promise. Don't rely on this passive approach to getting print materials, and don't depend entirely on a college's website for information. Go to the college website and fill out the online form and request further information. Look for ‘future student’ or ‘request for information’ or ‘prospective students’ or something along those lines. The form contains fields asking for name, address, phone, and email. The form may ask for GPA, test scores, intended major, gender, ethnicity, and other information. Give them everything they are asking for. It demonstrates interest when you reach out to the college and Request Information.
  • Opt In to Student Search Services
    On the SAT, PSAT, AP and ACT tests students can (and should) select to opt in to this service by clicking Yes. Colleges will order lists from College Board or American College Testing and mailing out postcards, flyers and other mail to prospective students. You should opt in for this service as it is a great way to learn about colleges that you may have never heard of. The more unsolicited mail you receive the better your tests scores are.
  • College Fair: Stop by the booths of the colleges you are most interested in attending. Introduce yourself to the college representative and be sure to leave your name and contact information. You'll get on the college's mailing list, and many schools keep track of the fact that you visited the booth. Go to the college fair and introduce yourself to the recruiter and ask them some additional information about the college. What’s cool what’s not. What are the hot majors, what majors don’t fill up, what kind of student they are looking for, etc. Then follow up with a thank you note. Also be sure to pick up the college rep's business card. Check Google for “local college fair.” A student who reaches out to a recruiter to develop rapport and a relationship can cause the recruiter to become an advocate for you. By doing this, the student will not be a number on an application but a person.
  • Attend a College Reception/Preview: You might get a letter in the mail or something in your email inbox inviting you to attend a local event that is usually held at a local hotel. Registering for the event and showing up Demonstrates Interest. You will get some good information about the college(s) and have a chance to meet the recruiters.
  • Call the Admissions Department: (speak to a department head not a student) give them your name and ask when they will have a representative here in Phoenix at a college fair. You don't want to pester the admissions office, but if you have a question or two about the college, call or email your admissions representative. Plan your call and craft your email carefully -- you'll want to make a good impression. An ungrammatical email filled with text-speak isn't going to work in your favor.
  • Call the (Major) Department Chairperson: Call the school up and ask to speak to a department head in the major you are considering. Give them your name (so they can track it) Ask about the major, what kind of jobs can you get with this major, what kind of student are they looking for (then do what they said), how many student go into this major and how many graduate from this major, what kind of job you can get with this program, etc. Then follow up with a thank you note to the person you spoke with.
  • College Visit: A very important College Touch Point is to physically go to the college campus and visit it. Call the college and make an appointment to go on a tour of the campus. Most colleges keep track of who visits the campus, and the campus visit is important for two reasons: not only does it demonstrate your interest; it also helps you get a better feel for the college. Campus visits help you choose a school, craft a focused essay, and perform well in an interview.
  • Sending a Thank You Note: If you chatted with a college representative at a fair, send letter (hardcopy) the next day to thank him/her for taking time to talk with you. In the message, note one or two features of the college that appeal to you. Similarly, if you meet with a regional representative or interview on campus, send a follow-up thank you. You'll be demonstrating your interest as well as showing that you are a considerate person. If you really want to impress, send an actual snail-mail note of appreciation.
  • Send an Intro Letter: Is there something special about you such as an exceptional student, high test scores or you have some other exceptional talent, let the college know. “I am first chair for the state high school band, please tell me about your music program.” etc.
  • Click the Reply Button: When a college sends you an email and there is a link for asking for more information or to receive, stickers, a brag book, or other college related material, click the link. There are tracking links embedded in the email. Use these to your advantage.
  • College Coaches: Athletes, call/speak to the coach, ask what kind of student they are looking for, is there going to be any openings on the roster? Follow up with a thank you note.
  • Online Forums: Attending an online admissions chat session through a college’s web site. You may receive an email invitation to sign up for an online forum from a college. Registering and attending the web session can give you valuable information to help you determine if you will keep the school on your list
  • “Like” Colleges and Recruiters on Facebook: This will give you periodic information from the college about different events. Do not “Like” only one college. “Like” all the schools on your list or none. Also on that note keep your Facebook account PG. If you have any PG13 pictures or profanity, remove this immediately. You want to present yourself in the best light.
  • Follow Up: Send polite, periodic emails providing news and information about you that might be of interest. For instance, you might send a note with a link to an article in the local paper about you and your latest achievements. Let them know your latest accolades and achievements.

High School Seniors – Touch Points

  • Attend Future Student Events: Some colleges host Future Student Events and it may be called Senior Day or Spirit Day or something else. This all day event invites potential student to visit the college on a specific day (usually in the fall for seniors or in the spring for high school juniors). During these event days, future students will participate in activities, games, eat in the cafeteria and sleep in the dorms. For your top 2 to 4 colleges if the school has this option, you should attend. This will give you a real glimpse at what college life is like at that college. (Follow up with a Thank You Note.)
  • Interview: The interview is a great place to demonstrate your interest. Remember to research the college and the interviewer well before the interview, and then use the interview to demonstrate your interest through both the questions you ask and those you answer. If the interview is optional, you should do it. In the interview, try and connect with the interviewer. Try to find out something personal about the interviewer, like a trip they are going to take or an event they are going to attend or why they personally like the college or something, and mention that in your follow up letter. Remembering that detail and mentioning it in the note will create a longer lasting impression than a generic thank you note.
  • Applying Early: There is perhaps no better way to demonstrate interest than to apply to a college well before any deadlines. In some instances applying through an early decision program may increase your percentage chances of being admitted. This is for the simple reason that you can apply to just one school through early decision, and if accepted your decision is binding. Early decision should be used only if you are 100% sure that the college is your top choice. Realize that not all colleges offer early decision. The down side of applying under the Early Decision Program is that if you are accepted they may not give the best financial aid scholarship/grant package. My recommendation is to get the application in months before any deadline. Best is to get it in on the first few days the application is available. Ideally get all your application in sometime in September.
  • Supplemental Essay: Many colleges have an essay question that asks why you want to attend their school, and a lot of colleges that use The Common Application have a college-specific supplement. This is a great place to show your interest. Make sure your essay isn't generic. It should address the specific and unique features of the college that most appeal to you. Show that you've researched the college well and that you're a good match for the school.
  • Supplemental Resume/Brag Sheet Additional Information- During your senior year, you will have additional accomplishments that you have achieved even after you submit the application, send a hard copy of this additional supplemental information to the college. (Example: awards earned during the senior year, accomplishments and accolades, further explanation of your passion etc.)
  • What other things can you think of to reach out and “touch” the college?

For some colleges, Demonstrated Interest is an important part of the application even if there is no formal scoring of that interest. The way in which schools present the importance of demonstrated interest varies widely: Here are some examples.

Baylor: "we seek those who can gain the most from a Baylor experience, for students with a demonstrated interest in becoming a 'Baylor Bear'."

Trinity University: "Visiting campus, emailing or calling an admissions counselor, attending a Trinity In Focus program, talking with a representative when they visit your high school, and stopping by our table at a college fair are some of the ways to show the Admissions Committee that you are genuinely interested in attending Trinity, and help us get to know you better."

Carnegie Mellon: "Admission Interviews are a great supplement to an information session and tour of campus, and allow a prospective student to get a personalized introduction to campus and the unique world-class education offered at Carnegie Mellon. An admission decision will not be based off of this interview; it is looked upon as demonstrated interest in the application process."

Rhodes College: "Your overall campus visit indicates demonstrated interest and will play a considerable role in the admissions decision-making process."

Many of the country's most selective colleges do not consider demonstrated interest in the application process. Here's what a few schools say on the subject:

Duke: "Duke does not take demonstrated interest into account when evaluating applications. Although we are glad that you may have visited our campus or asked us questions about the school, demonstrated interest is not an advantage in the admissions process."

Dartmouth: "Personal contact is not tracked during the admissions process. Demonstrated interest is not considered when making decisions."

Stanford: "We offer campus tours and information sessions to provide you with the information you need to make an informed college choice, not to evaluate you. And we welcome calls and emails for the same reason. Please do not feel compelled to contact us to demonstrate your interest in Stanford; we know by the very fact of your applying that you are seriously interested in Stanford. We don't keep records of prospective student contacts with our office."

However, even though Stanford doesn’t encourage calls to Demonstrate Interest, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to see interest in other ways. For instance, the acceptance rate of those who apply early is consistently higher than for those who apply regular decision. So if you really want to attend Stanford, applying early is “demonstrating interest” in the university, and the figures show that this method of demonstrating interest will help your chances..*Please contact me before you apply Early Decision

For many of the highly ranked schools, boosting their yield is not a huge concern for them. Most of them already have very high yields. But what is important is quality students. Students who have purpose, intention and vision are students that can be the nation’s future leaders. So if you clearly show why you are applying to Stanford and show sincerity, this is another way “Demonstrated Interest” will benefit your chances of admission.

When you are applying to colleges, you'll need to do a little research to find out whether or not the colleges to which you are applying put much weight on demonstrated interest. This could be used as a College Touch Point.

A key point with the College Touch Points is to periodically “touch” the college over time. Contacting and touching the college 8 times in one week is not advised. A student who touches the college a bunch of times in a short period becomes annoying and a pest. It is possible to overdo it; expressing interest is an important way to get noticed.

The best strategy is to contact the college over several years & several semesters. As a freshman and sophomore high school student, it is okay to go two, three or even six months between touches. In your junior year, you should “touch” the college every two to three months to remain on their hot list.

** The purpose of the College Touch Points is to “Demonstrate Interest” in addition to the student gathering information about the colleges. As you gather information about the college(s) and about the majors and other programs, this added information will help you decide to attend one school or select another and to study one major or another.

The sooner you start the College Touch Points the sooner you get on a college’s radar. When you continue to “Demonstrate Interest” some colleges will offer hidden benefits. One of these Hidden Benefits is having the *application fee waived, plus the college may even waive the essay. To activate this hidden benefit, the student must start the College Touch Points
before their senior year.

 *Application fees range from $0 to $100.

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college savings accounts sheltered and exposed assets

November 25, 2013

College Savings Accounts : Pros and Cons

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Non Tax-Qualified Mutual Funds And Stocks

Pros:  Unlimited upside gains, can be sold at any time

Cons:  Not guaranteed. Unlimited downside losses.  Any growth is taxed when sold, or each year if there are short term capital gains which the income will be reported on the tax return. Depending on how they are registered, they can count against the student toward financial aid eligibility anywhere from 5.6 – 20%. Counted in the financial aid formula.

529 College Savings Plan

Pros: Tax deferred growth and tax-free withdrawals for qualified expenses. Unlimited upside potential on underlying investments (mutual funds).

Cons: Unlimited downside potential on underlying investments (mutual funds).  Counted as an asset of the owner/student, could be counted in the financial aid formula as high as 25%.

Certificates of Deposit (CD’s)

Pros:  FDIC insured up to $250,000. Guaranteed interest rate.

Cons:  Possible penalties for withdrawing before maturity.  Counted in the financial aid formula depending on registration.

Money market and bank savings accounts (these are lumped together since they have virtually all the same features).

Pros:  It is FDIC insured up to $250,000.  Typically has a minimal guaranteed interest       rate. There are no penalties for withdrawing for college or any other reason.

Cons:  The interest is usually low and probably doesn’t keep pace with inflation.  Also, with the problems in the current banking industry and banks going out of business, FDIC insurance could be slow to provide any guarantees up to $250,000. It is counted in the financial aid formula.

Non-Tax Qualified Fixed Annuities

Pros:  Principle and interest rate guaranteed. Usually higher than a savings or bank account interest.  Value is not counted in financial aid formulas. Growth is tax-deferred.

Cons:  Possible penalties for pulling out before 59 ½ and maturity on.  Taxes owed on any gain distribution.

Tax-Qualified Retirement Accounts

Pros: Unlimited upside potential. Account value is out of Federal financial aid formula

Cons: Unlimited downside potential, penalties and tax consequences with pulling out before age 59 ½, limited contributions per year. Contributions to such accounts are included back into the financial aid formulas. (Principle not counted in the financial aid formula, deposits into pre-taxed retirement accounts are counted in the financial aid formula.)

Treasury Bills

Pros:  Considered by many the safest place to park money in the world. Backed by U.S. Government.

Cons:  Very low current returns.  Penalties for pulling out before maturity. Counted in the financial aid formula. No guarantees on principle if sold before maturity. Possible Treasury Bond Bubble forming that could pop if interest rates rise.

Municipal Bonds including Tax-Free Muni’s and Bond Funds

Pros:  Guaranteed interest rate. Can be tax-free.  Relatively safe.

Cons:  No guarantees on the principal.  Can be taxed.  Included in financial aid formula. Could be penalties for pulling out before maturity.

Cash Value Life Insurance

Pros:  Guarantees on the principal. Consistent returns. Growth is usually better than any fixed bank savings account. Cash value is not included in the financial aid formulas. Tax deferred growth and potentially tax free withdrawals.

Cons: Could be some penalties for distributions (withdrawal) of gains taken out before 59 ½ years of age.

  •  Any principle monies that are under a retirement umbrella are potentially sheltered from the financial aid formula. This includes 401k, 403b, IRA, Roth, SEP, annuities and cash value life insurance.
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The College Visit

November 25, 2013


Why Visit Colleges?

Seeing Beyond the Brochure

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You hear it from colleges. Come visit! You hear it from your high school counselor. Have you visited any campuses yet? And you hear it from us. But what's the big deal about seeing a college?

You Can't Judge a College by Its Brochure

A campus visit is your opportunity to get a firsthand view of a college. A college catalog, view book, or website can only show you so much. To really get a feel for the school, you need to walk around the quad, sit in on a class, and visit the dorms.

Get Answers to Your Questions

A visit also gives you the chance to talk to students, faculty, and financial aid and admission folks. You can get answers to questions, such as:

  • What is the average class size, and the student to faculty ratio? Are most classes taught by professors or by teaching assistants?
  • What is the campus meal plan like? How is the food?
  • What is the make-up of the current freshman class? Is the campus fairly diverse?
  • What's the social scene like? What kinds of activities are planned by the college's Residential Affairs?
  • Is there ample space in dorms or does there seem to be a housing crunch?
  • How many students are commuters/residents?
  • Do I feel at home here? Is this what I pictured college to be?

Get Valuable Information

Pick up any official school material you see, such as brochures and financial aid forms. Don't forget to get business cards, too, so you'll have a real, live contact if you have a question about admission or financial aid.

Student-produced material will give you a sense of what campus life is really like. Look around for newspapers and activity calendars. Check out bulletin boards, too, to see what bands are coming to the campus, parties are advertised, internships are posted, and generally what the day-to-day energy of the place is.

Is This College Right for You?

Ultimately, it's your decision. Listen to your gut. Do you feel comfortable walking around campus? Do you click with the students and faculty? Spending time on a campus allows you to determine if a school is a good match.

When to Visit

How to Schedule Your Campus Visits

Schoolwork, your job, your parents... choosing the right time to go on campus visits may seem like a complicated procedure. But when you're planning your trip, just be sure not to lose sight of the reason you're going: to see if the school is a good fit for you. This means you need to see the college when classes are meeting and day-to-day activities are taking place. In other words, go when the college is in session.

How to Pick a Date

There's more than one right time to make campus visits. The trick to picking the right dates for you is to plan well ahead of time.

During the Week

Monday through Thursday is ideal since campuses are generally in full swing. Since junior and senior years can be busy for you, though, it's important not to let visits interfere with your schoolwork. If possible, try to visit during high school holidays that fall on Mondays, when most colleges are in session.  However, if there is a good reason in which to have to miss a day of school, most schools will understand that visiting various colleges is vital to your preparation.

The Best Seasons

Late summer and early September before senior year are convenient times to visit since many colleges begin their fall semester as early as mid-August. But generally, fall through winter and sometimes early spring are the seasons when seniors should conduct their explorations.  The big thing… preparation; contact the college to find out when their normal classes will be in session.

Spring of Junior Year

Juniors who have researched colleges should consider using spring vacations for college visits. Spring is also a good time of year if you play fall sports or are considering early action or early decision with application deadlines in November of senior year.

After You've Been Accepted

Many colleges invite their accepted candidates to spend a few days on campus before the May 1st reply date to encourage them to enroll. This is a good opportunity to make some in-depth comparisons between the colleges that have accepted you.

On the other hand, if you're planning to visit colleges only after you've received acceptances, you may find yourself in a difficult position. Consider that most colleges don't mail acceptance letters before April and that the standard reply date is May 1. This means you may have only a few weeks before the reply date to visit.

You could also be in a tight bind if, after visiting in person you find you're not satisfied with your options. Visit before applications are due so that you're confident you'd be happy at any of the colleges on your list.

When Not to Go

Here are times you'll probably want to avoid:

      1. When colleges aren't in session:
      2. Thanksgiving weekend
      3. Christmas week
      4. Winter and spring breaks (these are usually different dates than high school breaks.)
      5. Summer
      6. When classes aren't meeting:
      7. Reading period
      8. Exam weeks
      9. Saturdays and Sundays
      10. When the admission office is closed to visitors

Some colleges have very specific dates when prospective students can visit.

Check specific dates with each college so you don't arrive when the campus is deserted.

Preparing for a College Campus Visit

Know before You Go

It may be tempting to just yell "Road-Trip!" and head out to campuses, but you'll get more out of your visits if you plan ahead.

Research the College

It's important to know something about the college before you arrive on its campus, especially if you have an interview scheduled.

  • Review the view books, course catalogs, and any other materials the college sends to prospective students.
  • Spend some time surfing their website.
  • Talk to currently enrolled students or alumni about their college. Some college websites let you contact them online, or you can get their contact information from the admission office.

Scheduling Your Trip

Pick a time that's convenient to you, but try to go when classes are in session. That way, you can sit in on a lecture or stay in a dorm overnight. You'll only get a true feel for the campus if you're there on a day when classes are in full swing.

Schedule your time on campus, too, to make sure you'll have time for everything you want to do:

  • Find out how often college tours run, and if you have to sign up in advance.
  • Be sure to get a map of the school. You don't want to spend half your day trying to park or find the admission office.
  • If an interview is suggested, make an appointment. Also, consider meeting with the financial aid officer.
  • If you're curious about a club, program, or a sport, arrange to attend a practice, rehearsal, or meeting.

Pack a Camera and Notebook

Was it X College or Y University that had that excellent exercise equipment in the gym? Where did I talk to that cool psychology professor? You think you'll remember everything, but you'll be surprised how colleges start to merge after you've seen a few.

What's Important to You?

Make a list of what college characteristics are most important to you, so you know what to evaluate. Do you feel overwhelmed in a large lecture hall? Check out the class size. Do you have your heart set on joining a sorority or fraternity? See what the Greek system is like on campus. Is there a particular major that you want to pursue? Talk to current students or professors in that department.

Develop a list of your preferences. Take this list to the schools that you plan to visit, and compare them when you get back home.

Campus Visit Checklist

Make the Most of Your Trip

Here are things you shouldn't miss while visiting a college. Take a look at this list before planning campus trips to make sure that you allow enough time on each campus to get a sense of what the school -- and the life of its students -- is really like.

a)      Take a scheduled campus tour.

b)      Have an interview with admissions officer.

c)      Get business cards and names of people you meet for future contacts.

d)      Pick up financial aid forms.

e)      Participate in a group information session at the admissions office.

f)       Sit in on a class of a subject that interests you.

g)      Talk to a professor in your chosen major or in a subject that interests you.

h)      Talk to coaches of sports in which you might participate.

i)        Talk to a student or counselor in the career center.

j)        Spend the night in a dorm.

k)      Read the student newspaper. The college may have a student run paper as well as a college paper, check out the student paper. This one will give you the vibe of the campus.

l)        Try to find other student publications -- department newsletters, alternative newspapers, literary reviews.

m)   Scan bulletin boards to see what day-to-day student life is like.

n)      Eat in the cafeteria

o)      Ask a student why he/she chose this college.

p)      Wander around the campus by yourself.

q)      Read for a little while in the library and see what it's like.

r)       Search for your favorite book in the library.

s)       Ask a student what he/she hates about the college.

t)       Ask a student what he/she loves about the college.

u)      Browse in the college bookstore.

v)      Walk or drive around the community surrounding the campus.

w)    Ask a student what he/she does on weekends.

x)      Listen to the college's radio station.

y)      Try to see a dorm that you didn't see on the tour.

z)       Imagine yourself attending this college for four years.


Ten Tips for Surfing College Websites

Long gone are the days when colleges depended only on the brochures and view books they could fit inside your mailbox. They now devote large chunks of their websites to grabbing your attention. But there's much more to a college website than the Web pages of the admissions office. By surfing as though you're already a student, you can start to picture life on campus. Here are ten tips that take you far beyond the home page.

  1. Browse the school newspaper online. More and more colleges are putting their student-run newspapers online. Although it may take some digging to find them, they're well worth looking for. In everything from hard news to editorial cartoons, you'll get a feel for campus life, student concerns, and the caliber of student thinking and writing.
  2. Lurk in the halls of student government. These legislative bodies can be key players on campus, controlling multi-million-dollar budgets that support a wide range of student services. On their websites, you can get an idea of just how seriously they take their responsibilities. You may even be able to read the minutes of a recent meeting.
  3. Go clubbing. Are you an activist? A bird watcher? A demon at the chess board? A future marketing exec? A South Asian woman? Often funded by student government, clubs come in all shapes and sizes. Look for links like Student Life to find out if there are campus clubs you'd want to join.
  4. Patronize the arts. The campus is often home to cultural events that draw locals as well as students. Click on Events, Museums, Arts, or a similar link to learn about the school's film screenings, plays, lectures, art shows, poetry readings, concerts, and other cultural events.
  5. Enlist academic support. You'll find that colleges take great pains to keep you on campus once you get there. They offer a wide range of support services, which can include everything from drop-in writing assistance and peer tutoring in statistics to time management mini-courses. You might find a description of these services in a section called Student Services or simply Students, but it's just as likely that you'll have to refer to the site map.
  6. Check out the library. If the school offers online library resources, you'll probably find a Libraries link on the home page. Click to learn how large the book collection is, to try out their online catalogue, and to find out which electronic databases the library subscribes to. You can also learn how the library teaches new students about their services.
  7. Check into housing. You might be surprised at the many varieties of on-campus housing. Although your choices as a freshman might be more limited, you'll find language, Greek, and honors houses; dorm rooms that are more like apartments (with kitchens and bathrooms); and even lower-cost co-ops where students work together to prepare meals and perform other housework.

To find out what will be available to you during your first year, your best bet is to look for a Housing link under Admissions or Prospective Students. But to learn about the more distant future, try looking under Student Services or Current Students.

  1. Check up on student health services. You'll be charged a student health fee when you register for classes, so why not find out what you're paying for? Look for a link on the home page that will take you to the student health services website. You'll learn which medical and counseling services are included and which are not.
  2. Log on to computing services. Are dorm rooms wired? Can you buy a discounted computer through the college? What technology support services does the college offer? Will you be able to register for classes online or will you have to stand in line? Do professors use the Internet to enhance class? For answers, look for an "Information Technology" link on the home page.
  3. Grab a tray. While some campuses offer only school-run cafeterias, others rent space to private businesses selling everything from pizza to garden burgers. Look for a link to dining services and get a taste of what's available. You might even find this week's menu online.
  4. (But who's counting?) Root for the home team. Care for a set of tennis? A yoga class? Or maybe you're more at home cheering in the stands. Click on Athletics to look into intramural and recreational sports (in which any student can take part), fitness equipment and classes, and varsity season calendars.

Sneak Preview

Surfing College Websites for Academic Info

College websites provide a wealth of academic information -- if you know how to use them. When you land on a college home page, there may be a link designed especially for you, the prospective student. While this link can lead to useful information, it's not the best route to take if you want details about a specific major.

Instead, look for a link called Academics, Degree Programs, Courses of Study, or something similar. Hint: if you don't see any of these links on the home page, try clicking on Current Students. From there, you should be able to travel in at least two directions. You can browse the catalogue or visit department websites.

Academic Catalogues

If you follow a link to the school's academic catalogue, you will probably be taken to a PDF file requiring Adobe Acrobat. Academic catalogues lay down the law when it comes to earning a degree. They spell out the course requirements for each major and include short course descriptions of required courses as well as frequently offered electives. Although websites are relatively new, catalogues have been around in book form for ages.

Department Websites

In addition to reading the college catalogue, you can visit the Web pages of departments offering academic degree programs of interest to you.  Department websites often include degree requirements as well, but they also offer much more.

Here's the place to read about faculty, their teaching and research interests, and their academic and professional backgrounds. Some departments even give profs their own home pages where they can post everything from course syllabi to pictures of their dogs. If you like what you see, consider sending an email with questions, especially if the professor is also a department head or advisor. Remember, though, that she may not have time to respond quickly

Like academic catalogues, department websites usually list the courses they offer. Their descriptions are often much more detailed, however. Some even post up-to-date syllabi and student projects. A course syllabus outlines course objectives as well as the professor's expectations of her students. You'll also find a schedule of tests, reading assignments, and paper due dates. There's no better way to sneak a peek at your college workload.

The Social Scene

Another browsing bonus: If the department's website is well-done, you'll be able to form a clear picture of the department's culture. Look for a schedule of special events, such as poetry readings, scientific lectures, political debates, and language discussion groups. If the department sponsors a club or honor's society for majors, this group may have its own Web page.



Tips for a Successful College Visit

By Allen Grove, Guide 

College visits are important. Before you commit years of your life and thousands of dollars to a school, be sure you're choosing a place that is a good match for your personality and interests. You can't get the "feel" of a school from any guidebook, so be sure to visit the campus. Below are a few tips for getting the most out of your college visit . . .

1. Explore on Your Own

Of course you should take the official campus tour, but be sure to allow time to poke around on your own. The trained tour guides will show you a school's selling points. But the oldest and prettiest buildings don't give you the entire picture of a college, nor does the one dorm room that was manicured for visitors. Try to walk the extra mile and get the complete picture of the campus.

2. Read the Bulletin Boards

When you visit the student center, academic buildings and residence halls, take a few minutes to read the bulletin boards. They provide a quick and easy way to see what's happening on campus. The ads for lectures, clubs, recitals and plays can give you a good sense of the types of activities going on outside of the classrooms.

3. Eat in the Dining Hall

You can get a good feel for student life by eating in the dining hall. Try to sit with students if you can, but even if you're with your parents, you can observe the bustling activity around you. Do the students seem happy? stressed? sullen? Also, is the food good? Are there adequate healthy options? Many admissions offices will give prospective students coupons for free meals in the dining halls.

4. Visit a Class in Your Major

If you know what you want to study, a class visit makes a lot of sense. You'll get to observe other students in your field and see how engaged they are in classroom discussion. Try to stay after class for a few minutes and chat with the students to get their impressions of their professors and major. Be sure to call in advance to schedule a classroom visit -- most colleges don't allow visitors to drop in on class unannounced.

5. Schedule a Conference With a Professor

If you've decided on a possible major, arrange a conference with a professor in that field. This will give you an opportunity to see if the faculty's interests match your own. You can also ask about your major's graduation requirements, undergraduate research opportunities, and class sizes.

6. Talk to Lots of Students

Your campus tour guide has been trained to market the school. Try to hunt down students who aren't getting paid to woo you. These impromptu conversations can often provide you with information about college life that isn't part of the admissions script. Few university officials will tell you if their students spend all weekend drinking or studying, but a group of random students might.

7. Sleep Over

If it's at all possible, spend a night at the college. Most schools encourage overnight visits, and nothing will give you a better sense of student life than a night in a residence hall. Your student host can provide a wealth of information, and you're likely to chat with many other students on the hallway. You'll also get a good sense of the school's personality. What exactly are most of the students doing at 1:30 a.m.?

8. Take Pictures and Notes

If you're comparing several schools, be sure to document your visits. The details may seem distinct at the time of the visit, but by the third or fourth tour, schools will start to blur together in your mind. Don't write down just facts and figures. Try to record your feelings during the visit -- you want to end up at a school that feels like home.




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