Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Colleges to Visit over Spring Break

Suggestions for Spring Break College Visits

Colorado: CU-Boulder and CU-Colorado Springs, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State U., U. of Northern Colorado, Fort Lewis College, Mesa State College, Western State College, U. of Denver, Colorado College, Regis University

Pacific Northwest

Washington: U. of Puget Sound, Whitman, Evergreen State,

Oregon: Lewis & Clark, Willamette, Reed, U. of Oregon, and Oregon State

California: Stanford, Santa Clara, U. of San Francisco, Claremont Colleges, Whittier, Occidental, Loyola Marymount, Univ. of San Diego, U. of Southern California, U. of California system (esp. Berkeley, Santa Barbara, LA, & Santa Cruz), St. Mary’s, Redlands.


U. of Arizona, Arizona State, U. of Northern Arizona, U. of New Mexico, New Mexico State, College of Santa Fe, St. John’s College

Texas & Louisiana: U. of Texas – Austin, Trinity U., Southern Methodist, Rice, Texas Christian, Austin College, Southwester, Loyola, Baylor, Tulane, Xavier (HBCU*), Dillard (HBCU*)

Northern Midwest

Montana: U. of Montana, Montana State

Minnesota: Carleton, Macalester, St. Olaf

Wisconsin: U. of Wisconsin, Ripon, St. Lawrence University, Beloit

Michigan: U. of Michigan, Michigan State, Hope, Kalamazoo


Illinois: U. of Chicago, Northwestern, Lake Forest, Knox, Lewis

Iowa: Cornell College, Grinnell, Coe College

Nebraska: Creighton University, University of Nebraska

Ohio: Kenyon, Oberlin, Denison, Wittenberg, Xavier, Ohio Wesleyan,

College of Wooster, Miami (Oxford), Hiram, Case Western

Indiana: Indiana U., Notre Dame, DePauw, Earlham, U. of Evansville

Missouri: Washington U., St. Louis U., U. of Missouri - Columbia, Westminister

Kansas: U. of Kansas, Kansas State


Pennsylvania: Bucknell U., Franklin and Marshall, Dickinson, Gettysburg, Bryn Mawr (women), Haverford, Villanova, Lafayette,

Lehigh, Carnegie Mellon, U. of Pennsylvania, Allegheny

New York: Colgate, Hamilton, Hobart & William Smith, Cornell, Rochester, Ithaca College, Union, Skidmore, Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, New York U., Columbia, Fordham, Bard, Barnard (women), City College

New Jersey: Princeton

Maryland: Johns Hopkins, Washington College, Goucher , U. of Maryland

Washington, DC: Georgetown, George Washington, American, Howard (HBCU*)

Northern New England

New Hampshire: Dartmouth, U. of New Hampshire, Keene State College, Colby Sawyer College

Vermont: U. of Vermont, Middlebury

Maine: Colby, Bates, Bowdoin

Southern New England

Boston Area: Boston College, Boston U., Tufts, Brandeis, Babson, Bentley, Emerson, Simmons (women), Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wheaton, Wellesley (women), Northeastern

Western Massachusetts: Amherst, Hampshire, Williams, Smith (women), Clark, Holy Cross, Worcester Polytechnic

Connecticut: Trinity, Yale, Connecticut College, Fairfield University, U. Conn

Rhode Island: Brown, Rhode Island School of Design, Salve Regina, Roger Williams, U. of Rhode Island, Providence College, Bryant.


Alabama: Auburn University

Arkansas: Hendrix College, University of Arkansas

Georgia: Emory, Spelman (HBCU*, women), Morehouse (HBCU*, men), Georgia Tech, UGA

Tennessee: Vanderbilt, U. of the South (Sewanee), Rhodes, U. of Tennessee

North Carolina: UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, Davidson, Guilford, Elon

South Carolina: College of Charleston, U. of South Carolina

Virginia: U. of Virginia, Richmond, Roanoke, Lynchburg,

Hampden-Sydney (men), Randolph, Washington & Lee, William & Mary, Mary Washington, Hampton (HBCU*), Virginia Tech, Shenandoah

Florida: U. of Miami, Rollins, Eckerd, Flagler , U. of Florida, Florida State

Blue = Casady students matriculated to in the last four years

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In State Application Week - OU/OSU TUESDAY!

Yesterday was OU/OSU application day. We had over 80% of our seniors fill out applications to one of our in-state universities.

Of course there was pizza involved. 21 Papa John's pizzas to be exact. Didn't get a picture of the public consumption. But seniors left with their bellies full.

A special thanks also needs to go out to Andy Roop, our OU rep, and Macy Panache, our OSU rep. They were both in the computer labs with our seniors, answering questions, and making sure our student's applications were perfect.

Tomorrow is Tulsa/OCU application day!

See you in Woods computer lab during Block A and Block B

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wash U and Chicago Tours

September was my month of visiting schools.

First stop. St. Louis. The city with the arch. And the old Mississippi. Not to mention the red hot Cardinals.

I had the privilege to spend two full days visiting Wash U and drink in the gorgeous Gothic architecture.

The spacious quad. The friendly, very "nice" student body of 5,000.

I know now why Wash U is the "Harvard of the Midwest".

Next stop. Chicago. Three schools in three days.

First day. Lake Forest. The national liberal arts college of Chicago.

Lake Michigan is a block away. Chicago a 50 minute train ride away. What stood out to me was the passion Lake Forest professors have for teaching.

Second stop. Northwestern. I felt right at home in a sea of purple. Love Evanston too. It's know as the "cuisine capital of the world". And what stunning architecture and beautiful Ivy.

This is a picture of "the Rock". To advertise NW students have to camp out for 24 hours to claim rights.

Last stop. University of Chicago. Interesting factoid: U of Chicago was the second choice for the Harry Potter movies. U of Chicago IS HOGWARTS.

Another interesting factoid. U of Chicago is the home to the 1st Heisman Trophy. Who would have thought it?

Great stretch of college visits. And a reminder that there are excellent schools all over the US. There is just no such thing as only "one good school".

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Peter van Buskirk Recap...if you missed

130+ from Casady community showed up - students and parents. From the feedback I received - all were educated and energized by Peter's seminar on what they learned about the college admission process.

Here is main message I took:

A student-centered approach to the college search as opposed to a destination-centered approach serves the student best.

Our overarching goal overlaps with this approach: we want to provide each student withe excellent college options and discern the best college fit.

Other content highlights from Peter's seminar:

Pyramid of Selectivity

All 3,000 colleges and universities in U.S. fall somewhere inside the pyramid. 15% of colleges have either a 1/4 (e.g. USC) or 1/8 (e.g. Harvard) admit-to-deny ratio. 85% of colleges, however, have a 1/2 or 3/4 admit-deny ratio. So then the higher a student aspires on the pyramid, the higher the unpredictability of acceptance. The key then is to build a final college list that reflects the college reality. The majority of schools then a student should apply to will fall into that 1/2 and 3/4 range. What all the schools though should have in common is the right feel and right fit for the student. In other words, apply only to schools where you will not just get in, but thrive, and graduate.

The Agenda versus The Hidden Agenda

Peter talked about the college agenda and hidden agenda. The former represents the faculty's "core values": they want bright, motivated, high achieving, diverse, and giver-not-taker students. The latter represents the administration's "core v's": $$$ (fully pay represents "free student"), ? (yield factor: if student is accepted will he or she enroll?), and SAT (test scores matter for college status).

The second half of the seminar moved into mock admission. Each parent and student was assigned an applicant. They were asked to review the application for "hotspots" (spots on application that are important: geographic location, plan of study, parent's pedigree, student passion, etc.) and "hooks" (a hook is something that will give applicant advantage in process because the applicant has something college wants). We then debated the candidates in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and the "hotspots" and "hooks". And then we voted. And we learned that admission decision at the "top of the pyramid" is not so black-and-white.

Here is breakdown of each candidate as discussed.

Applicant #1: Austin

Applicant #2: Danielle

Applicant #3: Josh

Applicant #4: Hobie

So who did you admit?

To purchase Peter's best-selling book, The College Admission Game, click here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The College Admission Quiz

Next Tuesday, September 15th, Peter van Buskirk, author of The College Admission Game will be presenting in Fee Theater at 7 pm.

ALL UPPER DIVISION students, parents, and faculty ARE INVITED to attend.

Peter van Buskirk sent me a quiz for the Casady community to take in preparation for his presentation.

Click here to take The College Admission Quiz.

I took it.

Scored 22 out of 25.

It seems I still have much to learn about the realities of college admission.

To Juniors and Seniors

This week Juniors will get the keys to the Ferrari.

Juniors will sign up this week through our office to get their Naviance account.

Junior parents: Let your students test drive the Naviance program a bit before you ask for the keys.

To Seniors: If you haven't come by to visit with your counselors about your final college list - then do so in the next week.

To a great short week.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

an EPIC program

Tuesday night I spoke with Junior parents about the future direction of the college guidance program.

A bit of vision was cast.

EPIC. That's the acronym that shimmers with what we hope our program becomes.

For you.

For the entire Casady community.

So what does EPIC stand for?

I invite you to read a fuller version of the vision for our program. Just click here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Junior Parent College Night

Junior Parents:

So it begins.

I hope the following soundtrack hums and rattles and pulsates in your brain from here to graduation.

Come tonight and get fired up with us about the college adventure ahead!

See you tonight in the Student Center.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Senior Parent College Night

Senior parents. Tonight is your night to get excited about the college application adventure ahead. That's right. I said adventure. Not crucible.

If there is a soundtrack that I hope you will hear humming through your ears the whole year...it's this one.

See you tonight. 7 pm. Student Center. Coffee bar will be open. So come get your caffeine-fix on early!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tyra's essay

Yesterday our college counseling staff met with seniors to discuss the adventure ahead.

I started out by showing my seniors a television clip from my favorite show, Friday Night Lights.

Tyra desperately wants to go to UT in Austin. She's been an average student until her junior year. Then something clicked. Came alive. Now she must differentiate herself within a humongous, Texas-size blob of applicants with a similar "upward trend" academically.

How will she do this?

Her college essay.

But Tyra struggles to find her voice.

Her message.

Her rough drafts have been predictable and perfunctory.

A list of accomplishments.

Bla bla bla.

And then it happens.

With the help of her friend, Landry, Tyra finds it.

Notice that Tyra doesn't "package" herself in her essay.

Tyra reveals herself.

Her hopes.



So seniors I challenge you:

Reveal yourself. Don't settle in your application for anything less than your voice. Your heart. Your soul. Like Tyra. That rep needs to see beyond the numbers. That rep needs to see you. You in all your florescent colors.

So that's tag line #1:

Reveal yourself.

Monday, June 22, 2009

College Essay Workshop II

The danger of the college essay is not in writing a bad essay but a boring one.

Another great weak of working with seniors on "non-boring" essays.

Short Answer essay highlights included...

a camp prank in Cabin 16
a night with a cello and Swiss rock band
babysitting day from hell
Jamba Juice smoothie maker

Personal Essay highlights included...

a B-52 and an air show
1st graders and a robot
a night at 7-11 with the girls
kayaking in Montana with dad
the "world's largest pancakes"
a rocker's first gig

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Transcripts, Scholarships, and Common Application Bootcamp

Hello, folks.

Right now I'm thoroughly enjoying working with seniors on college essays. I've got 10 seniors in our first college essay workshop. Personal essay topics by this group include a cliff jump, a passion for teaching, the movie Yuma at 3:10, Tiananmen Square, Pigskin Camp, the Broadway Wicked and a sixth grade musical, an art project, Sylvia from Jewett's "A White Heron", and a blown cover in a Pakistani music store.

I've loved sharpening the edges of every student's essay!

Okay a few "house keeping" items.

2008 graduate parents. All final Casady transcripts have been sent to every college that students are matriculating to in the fall. So relax.

New senior students and parents: This is a good time to research for scholarships. I'd encourage you to probe and explore the following scholarship web sites:

FastWeb: http://www.fastweb.com/.
Scholarships.com: http://www.scholarships.com/
College Board: apps.collegeboard.com/cbsearch_ss/welcome.jsp
eFinancialAid.com: http://www.efinancialaid.com/
ScholarshipExperts: http://www.scholarshipexperts.com/
StudentScholarshipSearch: http://www.studentscholarshipsearch.com/
CollegeNETMach25Scholarship Search: http://www.collegenet.com/mach25/appp

Also high school parents. Many parents have called to ask about the new GPA system. When will we see what our child's new "weighted GPA" is? The answer: I'm not sure. We have some mathematical and logistical changes we have to make. So it could be August. Sorry folks, you'll just have to be patient. I could try and convert your child's GPA for you, but I got a C in Business Algebra in college.

Finally, senior parents and students. MARK YOUR CALENDER FOR AUGUST 4th!

We're going to offer the 1st ever "Common Application Boot camp." That's right. We're going to open up the computer labs (exact locations yet to be determined) for sessions in the morning, afternoon, and early evening session. Each session will go for 3 hours. Mr. Bottomly (newly appointed director), Mr. Hoven (newly appointed college counselor), and Mrs. Cockrum (our amazing registrar!) will be on site to lead you step by step through the common application, answer questions, offer suggestions, help organize your information, proofread essays. And don't worry about two things. The cost. The workshop is FREE. And fall athletics. We're already coordinating with Coach B and coaches to ensure every senior athlete gets a chance to attend one of the boot camps.

We will send out an official letter to all seniors to provide specific instructions about information you will need to bring to complete the application (parent's information, social security, an edrive with essays saved, etc.)

We're hoping for 75% senior participation. It'll be awesome! So put in your iPod. Be there!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hope College

Hope College is a College That Changes Lives.

Hope College has been a friendly member of Holland, Michigan since 1864. Holland, interestingly, is the "Tulip Capital of the World." Tulips of a rainbow assortment aligned every street in the city. The tulips give Holland its quaint, warm, friendly, semi-nostalgic feel.

While at Hope College, I met wtih Bill Vanderbilt, the head man in admissions. I also had a chance to spend quality time with Josh Banner, a former Casady teacher and currently the Minister of the Arts and Worship at Hope College.

Josh and I go back to when we were 13 years old. Josh just finished his third year leading worship at Hope's chapel services as well as their Sunday night gathering, a voluntary service, that is attended weekly by over a 1000 of Hope's student body. Hope College offers an outstanding liberal arts education with the kind of spiritual shading that provides students a safe place to explore issues related to faith and culture.

For example, in October I visited Hope, and I attended an evening showing of Lars and the Real Girl.

After the movie, 150 or so students interacted with Hope faculty in the theology, psychology, and English department. It was so refreshing to listen to students and faculty exchanging ideas, dialoguing honestly and genuinely about topics and themes ranging from loneliness to sexuality, from the value of community in a preson's journey of healing, to the "balm" of the imagination through the arts to aid in the healing process.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meeting with Dartmouth Dean and a Times Article

Greetings, folks.

Sorry it has been awhile.

I've been a bit out of pocket at the Woodbound Inn located in a remote, rustic part of New Hampshire. Been attending the 40th annual Fitzwilliam Conference. The conference is made up of elite, liberal arts college deans and college counselors. This was my second year to attend. Most of the "old guard" know Dr. Rumsey. "How's old, Tom?" Bill Elliot, now semi-retired Dean of Admissions at Carnegie Mellon, asked me, just before he teed off on the first hole yesterday.

Anyway, I've emerged from the mountains and am now by the bay in Boston.

Just came off of an amazing visit with the Dean of Admissions at Dartmouth this afternoon. Dean Maria and I sat out in the New Hampshire sunshine, dangled our feet over the "Senior fence", and talked about a cadre of college admission topics ranging from "hooks" to parental advice [she has a sophomore daughter at Wesleyan], from the "rich and global diversity of thought and ideas and worldviews" that shape Ivy campuses today [Dartmouth boasts 50 states and 60 countries represented in student pop.], to the "crushing volume" of this year's applications [25,000 for 6 readers] and the challenges of preserving "thoughtfulness" in their reviews.

Tomorrow I'm visiting with Deans at BU, BC, and Wellesley. Very excited about reintroducing Casady to these fine institutions.

One other thing. Mark Hoven sent me an essay from The Times today. It's a parent's reflection on college admissions and temptations to lose the "big picture" with SAT statistics, etc. Parents - THIS IS A MUST READ.

Perspective. Perspective. Perspective.

Click here to read the article.

More from the field tomorrow.

Go Sox.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

OU Honors College Visit Part II

OU's Honors College admits students with the following:
* Top 10% of their class,
* a 3.75 GPA,
* a 29 ACT/1280 SAT,
* and a well-written personal essay.

When a Casady student applies to the Honors College, their application is processed differently than students from many other schools. The transcript is pulled up and looked over for evidence of rigor. HC admissions know *based on our school profile that less than 20% of the Casady Class of 2008 earned over a 3.75 GPA *on our 4.33 scale. So what about the rest of our students? Are they unable to gain admittance to the OU Honor's College? Is this proof that the Casady rigor is "screwing" our kids in OU's competitive admission pools?

Not so fast.

Lest we forget President Boren's words.

"OU knows Casady."

"OU knows the difference."

"Don't water down the curriculum."

"Maintain high academic standards."

HC Admissions echo President Boren's words. HC admissions know our school profile. And our demanding curriculum. And our reputation for grade deflation [no skeletons in this school's closet]. As a result, a Casady applicant to the Honors College will be seriously considered for admission with a 3.33 GPA or better. *Now this doesn't mean automatic admission. Test scores must be comparable. And the essay must showcase that they are ready for the Prospective courses - heavily writing intensive.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

OU Honors College Visit

We are still highlighting OU as our College of the Week.

I am excited about attending the OU Symposium for College Counselors in June.

I am equally excited about continuing to work with Andy Roop, our OU rep. He's the consummate pro at what he does.

I am also thrilled anytime that I can get some QT with this lovely gal. Dr. Vicki Schaeffer.

Yesterday I spent an hour with Dr. Schaeffer. While I waited to see her, I had a chance to walk the Honors College facility, see classes in action, and observe students in the learning center.

Quite impressive.

There was a palpable collegial feel about the Honors College.

Notably, here are few highlights I culled from the literature I read.

Fast Facts about OU's Honor College:

  • OU HC students graduate at a rate 20% higher than this or most university campuses in the country.
  • 40% of Honors College students participate in study abroad programs. Like Oxford. Or Italy.
  • Honors College students have earned National Scholarships and Fellowships: Rhodes, Gates Cambridge, Luce, Rotary, Goldwater [18 in 8 years!], etc.
  • Graduates pursue post graduate education at top institutions in the world: Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, John Hopkins, Lund (Sweden), Oxford, Sorbonne (France), Vandy, and Yale - just to name a few.

5 of the Top 10 Reasons to Accept the Challenge at the Honors College:

1. Private college education within a flagship university.
2. Smaller class size (19-22 students)
3. Leadership Center
4. Writing Center - provides one-to-one writing tutorial help
5. The only way to earn cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude recognition.

Tomorrow I'll share some of the golden nuggets from my conversation with Dr. Schaeffer.

But, boy oh boy, am I jealous for Scott Bennett and Summayah Anwar next year.

To learn more about OU's Honor's College and what Casady graduates like Scott and Summayah will participate in click here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

College Fair highlights

It was great to see some of our sophomores and juniors out yesterday for GPACAC's college fair. 50+ colleges. Many of the reps I chatted with spoke effusively of our Casady seniors. Washington and Lee, Washington and St. Louis, DePauw, Trinity, Hendrix, Austin College, St. Edwards - they were elated for Casady students matriculating, deflated for those who weren't, but excited about forging deeper relationships with Casady for years to come.

Four photogenic and soon-to-be-seniors who positively represented Casady class of 2010.

Next year we will host the GPACAC college fair. It will be another opportunity to showcase Casady. I can't wait!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

6 Reasons to Attend College Fair

College Fair alert!

This Sunday from 1-3 pm at Heritage Hall.

50 colleges and universities.

OU, OSU, Tulsa, DePauw, Hendrix, Washington and Lee, Vassar, Arkansas, TCU, SMU and the list goes on.

So if you are a 10th grade and 11th grade student and parent then I hope you take the time to attend on Sunday afternoon.

Just recently The Denver Post published an article entitled,"It's Prep Time: 6 Reasons to Attend a College Fair."

Here is an excerpt from the article.

1. PERSONAL CONTACT. Fairs enable direct contact with representatives from hundreds of colleges and universities in one place. They're an opportunity to talk to people instead of surfing the Internet for information.

2. FORCED FOCUS. College fairs force students to sharpen their focus on college options and start making some decisions.

3. AID INFORMATION. Many fairs have separate presentations on financial aid options and how to obtain the most financial assistance. Colleges also cater to this issue, with many handing out separate pamphlets on their own options.

To read the full article click here.

See you there.


Emily Orthwein, a junior, came to see me yesterday. She wondered where to start her college search. Geography? Academic interests? Reputation?

My advice.

Start with your prospective list. Mr. Cernick and I put a lot of time and thought into playing match maker. Consider us like a dating service. Not for a guy or girl, of course. But a college or university.

Remember: our philosophy is best fit for you. Not best school out there.

Beyond that I'd recommend the Princeton Review Counselor-O-Matic. It's a lot of fun. Kind of like a dating service. You provide the program lots of personal information. They spit out a prospective list of their own. Compare and contrast our list with Princeton's. And it is free.

To play around with Princeton Review's Counselor-O-Matic click here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

OU or Bust!

So far 6 of our seniors have accepted scholarship monies from OU for next fall-ranging from National Merit monies that will cover $43,000 in expenses to Presidential Leadership scholarships that rewards $750.

M.K. Blakley and Erik Lee will both be sporting crimson and cream next fall.

* M.K. will participate in the Presidential Leadership Club. This honor includes a Fall Retreat, weekly meetings, and opportunities to help host dignitaries with Mr. Boren at formal functions. M.K. couldn't be a better ambassador for Casady and OU. Boren will be lucky to have her!

Scott Bennett, a National Merit scholar, will have the opportunity to spar openly with President Boren in his political science course at the Honors College - a Deep Red versus a Moderate Shade of Blue. Sparks should fly!

Congrats to all our future crimson and creamer's.





To learn more about the OU's National Scholars Program that Scott will participate in next year click here.

To also learn more about OU's outstanding Honors College click here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Article on SAT- Hmmm?

Richard Clements sent me a thought-provoking article on SAT's.

Here are a couple excerpts from the article.

And who can blame them? Critics of the SAT are eager to remind you that its intellectual genealogy traces back to the intelligence tests that eugenicists, racial theorists, and other creepy types promoted in the early 20th century as a way of purifying the gene pool.

This spring three more selective and well-known schools--Fairfield University, Connecticut College, and Sewanee: The University of the South--took NACAC's advice, announcing that they would adopt a "test optional" admissions policy, telling applicants they no longer were required to submit SAT scores but were free to submit them if they wished. The schools join dozens of well-regarded peers--Bates, Bowdoin, Hamilton, Holy Cross, and Wake Forest among them--in striking a blow against the SAT, and in being very proud of themselves for doing so.

Wake Forest's president, Nathan O. Hatch, announced his school's SAT policy in a much-discussed op-ed in the Washington Post. "By opening doors even wider to qualified students from all backgrounds and circumstances," he wrote, "we believe we are sending a powerful message of inclusion and advocating for democracy of access to higher education."

To read the full article click here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Parable of Persistence

Patrick Wert reaally wanted Boston U. His reasons. Big. Cosmopolitan. Brimming with diversity. Boston. The Sox. The Celtics. 100 colleges and universities within 100 miles. 1 in 4 Bostonians college students. An urban ethos humming with eclectic energy.

But Patrick was deferred in December. So Patrick mounted a campaign. He made a concerted effort to get to know his representative - Roberto Trevino. He emailed. Called. Had me write and call. In response, Roberto confided to me: "Patrick is right on the fence. Good news is that he has a real upward trend in his grades."

After the second trimester, Patrick wrote a formal letter to Roberto. He sent the letter to me. I put it on Casady letterhead. And we sent it. In the letter, Patrick highlighted his academic grades for the winter, along with his new leadership endeavors as class president.

Two months later Patrick got THE text. THE good one.

Last week Patrick attended a meet-and-greet event in Dallas for accepted BU students. As Patrick walked through the doors, he was greeted by a smiling fellow. "So there is the man," the fellow exclaimed, shaking Patrick's hand, "that won us over with his persistence. Welcome to BU, brother."

It was Roberto, Patrick's rep.

Patrick Wert. A parable of persistence.

To learn more about why Patrick chose Boston University click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dear Mr. Bottomly, My Son/Daughter Got this National Scholars Program Letter...

Recently I've had a sophomore parent and student ask me about a creamy vanilla envelop with a "congratulations letter" in it. It's from the National Scholars Program.

Is this letter legit?

Is it a scam?

Will this really shimmer on a resume and impress an admission committee?


First. National Scholar Programs do go after promising future scholars. There is nothing "scammy" about who they recruit. Nor should you feel like a sucker if you do pay the entry fee. A National certificate of this caliber is something that you can put on your resume to underscore that you have been nationally recognized for your academic achievements.

Will it shimmer though?


Here is what I've learned. If you have to pay for it, a college admissions committee will often chalk it up to privilege. If, however, you have to work for it then it speaks of responsibility.

Colleges are far more interested in honors/awards/certificates that a student earns within his/her own school. And local community.

So in the future, when in doubt, apply the "x=PoR" litmus test: Does [x] = Privilege? Or does [x] = Responsibility? This will help you weigh pros and cons of any program.

Dear Mr. Bottomly - ACT/SAT Question

Got this e-mail this morning from a sophomore parent about ACT/SAT.

I have a question for you regarding the SAT/ACT for my son. We were thinking that our son should go ahead and take both tests on the June 2009 test date since school is out and he would’t have many other distractions.

Do you have any advice or comments regarding my son and the June testing dates? Should we go ahead and have our son take the tests in June?

No harm in your son taking both tests in June. I agree that this will be the most “distraction” free period all year. Plus it will be the time of year that your son is chalk-full of knowledge. All that cramming for the final exams... His "mental jar" will be as full as it can get!

As far as the test itself, I’d encourage your son not to send scores to any colleges. "Student choice" means your son can wait and see first his scores before colleges see them. The only drawback of this option is that students will not be able to take advantage of the 5 colleges that ACT/SAT will send scores to for free. 

As far as test prep – he might want to do a few practice sessions either online or in a book. But not much. Don’t want to overwhelm. Just enough for your son to gain a sense of how the test and questions are structured. Then a good night sleep. A healthy breakfast. And go for it!

Once we see where your son scores strong and not so strong, we can address how we might shore those sections up. There are ample options there. As an English teacher, I must insert one caveat: reading for reading sake is a good thing, but reading can also help you augment your test scores. So read this summer. One suggested reading - From Ashes to Africa. Heard the co-authors are being considered for a Pulitzer. JK. Read, though. Read the Twilight series (or not). Read magazines. Newspapers. Online articles. Read. Read. Read. One thing we did on the Junior newsletter is provide a list of recommended books from English and History faculty. There are some awesome suggestions from our esteemed colleagues. Encourage your son to peruse that list.

Speaking of Junior Newsletter – have you perused the Spring edition?

The Junior edition newsletter is linked on the right side. Upper corner. See it? Good.

Monday, April 20, 2009

College Counselor or Sports Agent?

Seen Jerry Maguire? Remember that famous scene and phrase? Click below if you need a refresher. Funny scene. Seen it many times. Still funny.

Okay. Senior parents. Our kids are Rod Tidwell's, aren't they? Talented. Gifted. Full of passion. Brimming with potential. Stars on the rise. If only they could get more $$$$...

What you want is a sports agent. A Jerry. Someone to get the FA folk to show your kids the money.

I hear you.

But I'm not Jerry. I'm not a sports agent. I don't do financial aid. Those are a different set of people. And from what I've learned: admission people. Love. Financial aid people. No love. Especially now.

You need more money. What can you do.

First. You can ask for an appeal on your student's financial aid packet. Are there any "extraneous expenses" that you couldn't report on the FAFSA that you did on the Profile? If so, see if you can submit the Profile. If not, then at least make a list of those expenses to submit for review by FA folk. And follow up with a phone call. Phones are slammed these days. And some FA folk may be on lock down. Stay persistent. If you are in driving range, you may want to schedule a face-to-face. The overaching goal here: tell the whole story. Some things just can't be conveyed on financial forms or even in a letter.

Second. If you have multiple offers, then use that as negotiating leverage. Be polite, of course. But let colleges know what you have received from school A and ask that they please try to match it.

Third. Consider the "L" word. Or in this case, the "PLUS" acronym. That stands for the "Parents Loans for Undergraduate Study." These variable rate loans are available, regardless of need, in amounts equal to the cost of their student's annual education. PLUS can become a parent's best friend in meeting the EFC [Expected Family Contribution. Or as I like to put it: the part of the bucket you are asked to fill] and working through the cash flow crunch of the college years - and particularly, within this economy.

And finally. Multiple 1st choice schools. This is why we preach 6 first choice schools. So that if you have to go to School 2 or School 3 on the list because of fiances, you know your student will fit and thrive at that school!