This year has been one full of transitions and growth for Climb to College.
Owner and Founder Cara Ray made a move across the country from Colorado to Vermont with her family. After living in Boulder, Colorado for nearly ten years she, along with her husband and one year old daughter, decided to move closer to their extended family on the east coast. Cara grew up in Vermont and is excited to be back "home". Settling into the Stowe and Waterbury area is a perfect fit with the great outdoor opportunities and mountains close by. She has already spotted lots of Colorado sweatshirts around town! Cara is looking forward to working with families from Stowe High School and Harwood Union High School as well as students from surrounding communities. She also is continuing her work with many of her Colorado clients remotely via Skype and FaceTime and loves staying connected to the amazing network out West.
Climb to College was also thrilled to add Jennifer McDuffie as an educational consultant earlier this year. Jennifer is an amazing asset and families just love working with her. She brings great enthusiasm, a strong background knowledge of admissions and college student affairs, and is probably one of the most organized and detailed people you will ever meet! Her fun spirit and warmth are just some of the reasons that she connects so easily with her students. If you are a student or family in the Boulder, Colorado area looking for assistance let us know and we will happily connect you with Jennifer!
It’s that time of year when our students are applying for scholarships and scholarship based programs that offer leadership, involvement, and community engagement. For so many seniors, it seems like just yesterday that they finalized their college application process, so to think about additional essays to write is really difficult.
To help jump start this process, we asked a seasoned professional for some scholarship essay writing advice.
Jillian Jensen is the Director of Talented Scholar Recruitment for the University of Colorado Boulder's Office of Admissions. Jillian oversees automatic merit scholarships for undergraduate admissions and serves on multiple committees serving high achieving students at CU-Boulder.
Whether you are just getting started in the college search process or this is your last semester of high school, we want to help you ensure you are looking at all of your options for a smooth transition to college. For more information about Climb to College and our personalized plans, contact us online or visit www.climbtocollege.com!
Learn more about Boulder, Colorado based educational consultant and blog post author Jennifer McDuffie.
With our first baby on the way, one would think that my only thoughts would be consumed with swaddling and strollers, car seats and cribs. However, as an educational consultant my brain has also been swimming with thoughts of college admissions. Disturbing, yes? Far too early? Probably. However, let me explain my 37-week pregnant train of thought.
Whether attempting to figure out how I can magically convince the Common Application to delay their 2014 launch until September, when I might feel ready to meet with my students again after giving birth, or determining how I will be able navigate my annual journey to the NACAC conference with a two month old baby in tow, I find it is hard not to think about college admissions right now. The juniors I am working with are clamoring for college visits tips and my seniors are seeking essay topic brainstorming sessions. The college admissions world has played an active role in my life for the past nine years and I apologize to my daughter in advance, it will be part of her life as well.
I have watched plenty of parents push their children toward fulfilling their own college dreams, pressure and persuasion launching their students into directions that may not be the path they should or need to take. While some may have quickly dismissed this article based on the title, figuring it yet another pushy parent starting the college journey far too early, may I counter and instead say that I hope to offer some general educational advice (yes, much of it related to college planning) for all of those soon to be born babies, including my own, that I hope will actually be helpful and realistic.
While I fully agree that it is far too early to talk standardized tests and college lists, I do believe there are some early educational lessons that can be learned and passed along to my baby girl to help her prepare for the crazy college admissions journey she will likely face 17 years from now. While it is hard to predict how the process may change before she is even in high school, I hope that she carries these valuable lessons with her.
Dearest Baby Ray:
We are so excited to welcome you into this world in a matter of days. While we may not have a name picked out quite yet, your nursery is decorated, your clothes are washed, toys sanitized and we are anxiously awaiting your arrival!
As I plan to do mostly online Skype/Facetime appointments during your first few weeks on earth you will likely be spending a lot of time next to my desk while I help students prepare for their college admissions process. Helping them identify colleges that might be a good fit, practicing for interviews, brainstorming essay topics, developing resumes, etc. While you may soak in some of that college admissions knowledge while napping in your bassinet, here are a few additional pieces of advice for your own educational and college admissions journey.
Form good relationships with your teachers. While it may be way too early to think about letters of recommendation, it is not too early to think about how you treat and interact with your teachers. Whether you are in preschool or a junior in high school, your teachers are important so treat them as such. They are not only educators but often mentors as well. Your teachers will play a significant role in your life. Be kind to them. Ask lots of questions. Listen to them and of course learn from them.
Find and develop deep interests. Yes, college admissions books will tell you that you need to show depth and passion and have that “x factor.” You may find all of these things along the way but I truly just want you to explore your interests. Try it all. Music, art, sports (ok, mom and dad may or may not have already argued about whether you will be a hockey player or figure skater) dance, theater, debate, student government, writing, travel, etc. Wherever your dreams take you, explore them. Find what it is that you love. Don’t worry about doing it for someone else or for a piece of paper you will send off to be judged, do it for yourself.
Read and read a lot. In between 2 a.m. readings of Good Night Moon and afternoon adventures with Brown Bear Brown Bear, I hope to instill a love of reading in you. I myself have always been an avid reader and I can assure you that many trips to the library are in store for you. Truly, I don’t care what it is that you read. Be it fiction, scifi, adventure, mystery, nonfiction, magazines, or blogs, choose what you wish. Just read and read voraciously. The more you read the more you will expand your world. You will be better equipped for discussions with those around you as a result, begin to thoughtfully form opinions on issues, and open your imagination. And yes, perhaps expand that vocabulary for standardized tests (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Try on lots of different hats. Over the next few years I am sure your dad and I will help you play dress up with a wide range of costumes from doctor to princess. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. Even when you are a “grown up.” Keep in mind that you will change your direction, probably multiple times. Don’t believe those that tell you that you have to choose a major before you enter college or that your major will determine your career. Follow academic pursuits that intrigue you, test out opportunities through volunteering and internships, and talk to the adults in your life to learn what it is that they actually do and whether or not they like it. The careers you will encounter in the future may not even exist yet. Test out different classes and academic departments. If all else fails, I am sure your grandfather (former Ivy League Career Services Director) can offer some career advice for you.
Learn those ABC’s. After you learn the ABC song and to form letters on paper, learn to write, and to write well. Learn to write from the heart, to write your opinions, to write critiques, write fiction, and write poetry. I don’t care whether you are writing letters, or emails or texts (or whatever new form of communication exists by the time you can actually read this). Just write –hopefully in full sentences not just emoticons- as much as possible. Humor us and try actually using a pen and paper once in a while too. Ok, forgive me for throwing this in there, but someday you will have to write college essays that are both powerful and persuasive, so learning to write personal pieces from an early age can be a great advantage. Find your own story to tell.
Learn a second language. Perhaps we are a bit biased on this one as your dad is the director of a Spanish language school, but we think it is important that you learn another language besides English. There are so many reasons for learning a second language. You probably won’t care as much at the start of your life about reasons like delaying Alzheimer’s but how about opening doors in the future world employment market? Increasing your global understanding? Appreciating international music, art, and film? Making travel more enjoyable? Choose whatever reason works for you.
Challenge yourself. At the beginning, we know these challenges will take the form of your first steps or first word or even just challenging yourself to sleep through the night (fingers crossed!). Down the road we hope you challenge yourself academically. Take the tough courses. Take a class with the “hard” teacher. Take risks and have adventures. Travel. Consider a gap year if you aren’t ready to head directly from high school to college or take advantage of a study abroad program where you can step outside your comfort zone.
Choose a school for the right reasons. As many parents often do, we are likely to not-so-subtly try and influence you from day one by dressing you up in a college themed onesie exclaiming that attending a “CU” for college would be perfect (my alma mater Colgate University or your dad’s University of Colorado Boulder work just fine). Truly though, the choice is absolutely yours. I will happily escort you on college tours in the future- and promise not to embarrass you by rolling my eyes every time the tour guide yet again mentions a blue safety light- and expose you to a wide variety of options. We will carefully think through all your criteria for your college, your goals, values, and find a place that is a great fit for you. In fact, maybe we will just start testing these criteria out with preschools (What is their food like? Recreation facilities? Staff to child ratio? ) See? So many important lessons we can think about and test out early on!
Above all else, know that your family is already proud of you. We will support you and love you every step of the way on this educational journey. Can’t wait to meet you.
Your Mom (and future personal college consultant)
During the National Association of College Admission Counseling Conference earlier this fall, I attended a session titled "College Counseling for Jewish Students & Families." There were some great takeaways from this session and hope you find them helpful as well as you celebrate the final nights of the holiday.
First, if you are a Jewish student or parent starting your college search, or in the thick of it, it is worth considering how important Jewish life is to you and how active a role you want take in Jewish life while going to college.
Here are some introductory questions you might want to ask yourself:
Second, you may want to think about the food and the role that plays in your life. For example:
Lastly, you may want to think about life inside and outside the classroom. For example:
The presenters at the session also identified some "up and coming" schools for Jewish life. Their list included: U of Richmond, Elon, Virginia Commonwealth, Northeastern University, and College of Charleston. In addition some "hot schools" on their list for Jewish students included: Bradley University, Franklin & Marshall University, Muhlenberg, Colgate University, Ithaca College, Dickinson College, Lehigh University, Trinity University and Michigan State University.
For more resources on Jewish life in college here are some helpful websites to check out.
P.S. Are you an admissions counselor? Here's a tip for you. You might want to be ready for questions during your recruitment travel about Jewish life, especially if you are visiting a Jewish high school!
A recent article in Inside Higher Education explains how some colleges are using the FAFSA against students and families. Make sure this doesn't happen to you when you file your financial aid forms this winter!
Essentially, the article suggests that when students list the colleges they are thinking of attending on the FAFSA, the U.S. Department of Education then shares all of the information on the FAFSA with the colleges on the list. Some colleges have discovered that the order in which students list the institutions corresponds to students' preferred colleges. So, some colleges are using this so called "FAFSA position" when considering the student's application for admission.
This is very concerning because not only could this impact admission decisions for students but some college officials may actually offer smaller aid packages to those who list their school high on the list, assuming that the students are more likely to pay whatever it may take to attend his or her top choice college.
This is an article that is definitely worth a glance now and maybe again as a reminder closer to when you file the FAFSA in a few months.
Deciding What Questions to Ask at a College Fair? Some Tips for Rephrasing Common College Fair Questions.
In recent posts we have discussed upcoming college fairs and what to do before, during, and after the fairs.
Now, let's talk about what kinds of questions to ask at college fairs.
While working in admissions at the University of Colorado Boulder I stood behind many college fair tables and talked to prospective across the country - from California to New England. Most recently, I have assisted my alma mater Colgate University as an alumni admissions representative at college fairs in Colorado. I have learned pretty quickly through experience that the more specific and personal a student is with their questions, the more information they will actually receive.
Remember, college fair conversations are brief and there is limited time to interact with the admissions counselors. This is an opportunity for you to learn something new about the college, confirm something you already heard, or find out why you might be a good fit for them and them for you. In addition, remember that these admissions counselors will be talking to a large number of students at the fair and it helps everyone if you head to the table prepared.
A few general tips:
Ways to rephrase common college fair questions:
Get the idea? Great! Try it out at your next college fair.
Our recent post on upcoming college fairs mentioned that a number of upcoming college fairs are coming up quickly this fall. Hopefully you have already marked your calendar for one of these dates and have gotten yourself registered to attend. If you are planning to attend a college fair, here are a few tips for what to do before, during and after you are at the fair.
What to do before the college fair:
1. Make sure you are registered for the fair (if that is an option). Registration (particularly for the large national fairs) will provide you with a barcode that you can print out and bring with you on the day of the fair. The colleges will then scan your bar code and collect your information so you don't have to fill out one contact card after another.
2. Look at the list of colleges attending the fair. Many of the college fairs have websites where you can see a list of the colleges attending. Make a plan for which colleges you want to talk with so you can make sure that you don't miss any.
3. Do your research before you go. Doing some research on the colleges you will be talking to at the fair, particularly the ones you are most interested in, will help you have a stronger conversation and be able to ask better questions.
4. Dress appropriately. No one is saying that you need get all dressed up for the college fair, college admission counselors know that you are students, but you should try to avoid things like wearing inappropriate slogans or showing too much skin.
What to do during the college fair:
1. Introduce yourself. When you walk up to a college's table take a moment to introduce yourself. The fair will likely be busy, so don't expect that the admissions counselor will necessarily remember your name, but it is polite to shake their hand and introduce yourself. Feel free to tell them your name, where you go to high school, and some of your interests.
2. Ask questions. One of the first things the colleges will ask you is whether or not you have any questions for them. Rather than staring like a deer in headlights, ask them a couple questions (see tomorrow's post for ideas) and strike up a conversation.
3. Be patient. College fairs can be busy and there will likely be a lot of lines to wait in talk to the colleges. Be prepared to wait patiently for your turn. As well, when you get to the front be respectful of the admission counselor's time particularly if a lot of students are waiting behind you.
4. Take their business card. Most college reps will have their business cards on the table with their email and phone number. Take this with you so you can follow up on in the process.
What to do after the college fair:
1. Follow up. Use that business card you picked up from the table and make a connection with the admissions counselor. If you have follow up questions about the school or the application process you now have a contact in the office to email or call.
2. Look through the materials you picked up. All too often the college brochures that students pick up end up crushed in lockers, smushed in back packs, or thrown in the recycling bin. Colleges put a lot of time and thought into developing these for students so take some time to at least glance through them.
3. Check for opportunities to visit campus. Now that you have interacted with the colleges in this informal setting, a next step may be to plan a campus visit. Take a look at your calendar and pick some dates that you and your family can schedule visits.
4. Continue your research. Perhaps the admissions counselor told you about their school's amazing anthropology program or their study abroad program in Chile. Whatever it might be, take some time to look a little deeper and get a better understanding of whether or not it might be a good fit for you.
Walking out the door this past weekend, I was struck by the cool breeze that greeted me. It is hard to believe how quickly September has flown by and that fall is in the air. With October upon us tomorrow I thought it would be helpful to send along a few reminders for high school seniors regarding their college admissions process. It is easy for students to get caught up filling out the applications themselves and sometimes forget about the other pieces needed to complete their applications.
Here you go!
1. Put in your transcript request early. Make sure you know your school's policy for requesting transcripts to be sent to the colleges. Sometimes, it can take a while for transcripts to be processed and sent. In fact, many high schools want transcript requests done a month in advance. This means that If you are applying to colleges with early deadlines, such as November, you want to make sure those requests are placed in the next week to allow your transcript plenty of time to be delivered. If you don't know the transcript request policy for your school, check in with your high school counselor.
2. Check in on your letters of recommendation. I typically encourage the students that I work with to talk to their teachers who they want to have write the letter of recommendation during the spring of their junior year. While some teachers work on these letters over the summer, some wait until they are back to school. I suggest that you check in with your teachers to see how your letters are coming, whether or not they need additional information from you, and to and make sure they are aware of how to submit the letters and what your deadlines are when you need the letters.
3 Create a list of all of your deadlines. Deadlines can sneak up on you quickly during your senior year. Make sure you take the time to put all of these dates and deadlines for interviews, applications, college visits, college fairs, and other meetings in your calendar and make sure to stick to them (setting a reminder always helps!).
4. Update your activities and resume. Many of your college applications (and college interviewers) will ask about your involvement in activities and what you did over the summer. Double check to make sure that you have all of your most up to date activities, honors, and positions on your resume or activities list.
5. Get ready for your last round of standardized tests or send your scores if done with test taking. If you are retaking the SAT, ACT or Subject tests this fall make sure that you are registered in advance and putting in some time preparing. Practice tests are a great way to familiarize yourself with the tests! All done with standardized tests? Remember, you need to send the official scores through College Board or ACT to your colleges. Again, make sure you are allowing enough time for them to be sent and received.
6. Schedule interviews. September, October and November are heavy recruitment months for college admissions officers and many will be traveling to your community. If you are planning to interview while these admissions officers are in your neck of the woods you should contact them early as their schedules fill up quickly.
7. Connect with your colleges. As I said above, the fall is a busy time for college admissions officers. Not only are they conducting interviews across the country but they may be visiting your high school or attending a college fair in the area. This is a great opportunity to connect with the college, learn more about them, and ask any additional questions you might have for them before you send off your application.
It's hard to believe it's that time of year again. College admissions fall travel season. Admissions counselors across the country are getting ready to hit the road and make their way to your high school and community. Whether you are a high school senior busy working on your college applications or a junior just starting to think about college planning, it is worth marking your calendar for the upcoming college fairs that will take place in your neighborhood over the next few months.
You can see a list of national college fairs at the National Association for College Admissions Counseling's website. You may also want to check in with your high school counseling office for a listing of local or regional fairs.
I encourage Colorado students and families to look at the list of Day/Night Fairs and the College Fairs of Greater Denver for more information about local college fairs this fall.
Stay tuned for Climb to College's college fair tips!
Climb to College is an educational consulting company that works with high school students and their families during the college admissions process. We serve students in Colorado and Vermont as well as across the country.