Special Guests

It's Decision Time for Early Applicants

We're pleased today to host Ingrid Hayes, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, to talk about applying early! Read on for Hayes' advice about what students should consider in applying early and her thoughts about whether or not applying early creates an advantage for students.


Attention seniors:  Early admission deadlines are fast-approaching, and it’s time for you to make one of the first major decisions in the admissions process.


Applying early is a great option if you’re sure about which college you want to attend, but it’s critical for you to do your due diligence in researching colleges and visiting campuses before deciding to apply early. 


Does applying early increase my chances of getting accepted?


In my 20 years of experience in admissions, I’ve noticed a lot of students assume an early plan will give them an advantage, especially if they feel that they’re closer to the lower end of the competitive profile for a school. Many national statistics show higher early acceptance rates and that may pique your interest to apply early. The question of “does applying early increase my chances of getting accepted?” is one that I get often, and the answer is yes and no depending on the school. Students should ask the school directly what might be the benefits of applying early.


Writing Your High School Story: College Admission Advice for 9th and 10th Graders

Speak up in class, learn a system of note-taking, be kind, don't worry about testing until 11th grade, and read, read, read... Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy, joins us again with advice for 9th and 10th graders about how to write a high school story that will have a happy ending. 


You’ve made it to the end of another school year! Before you totally shift out of school mode and into your summer adventures, it’s a good time to take a minute to reflect on your school journey as it’s shaping up. Do you feel confident, not so great, or indifferent to your academic record and extracurricular life so far? Now that you have the lay of the high school landscape, you have the tools to directly shape your response to that question for next year and the years after.

Van Gogh's Shoes, Martin Heidegger and My Little Pony: Embracing the Essay

Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy, joins us again today with some fantastic guidance on the college essay. There is so much good stuff here, we don't even know where to begin to describe how helpful this will be to rising seniors as they begin their essays -- hopefully this summer. Moody's vivid explanations of "Show, Don't Tell,"  the concept of framing and the essay's first words are worth their weight in Common App gold. All we can say is, "Enjoy..." 


Many thousands of young people take on the writing challenge of the college essay each year, making 500 to 650-word personal narrative one of the most popular forms of writing in America. Yet most of the authors of the form have never done it before, and most won’t do it again. 

Juniors, if you could do anything this summer...

When College Admission was in high school, summers felt long and slow, a time to earn some extra money and hang out with friends. We worked as a neighborhood babysitter and a proof reader at the local newspaper. Earned a little extra high school credit with classes at the local community college -- one was a "typing course"! Polished short stories in the style of John Cheever that garnered a desk drawer full of rejection slips. On days off, we sprayed our hair with Sun-In and hit the deck at the pool. Every night, we met up with friends by the swings at Kilgore Park. There was so much time for everything.

Today, high school students -- particularly rising seniors -- may feel the need to fill their summer fuller. Terri Devine of Francis Parker School in San Diego, CA, joins us today to talk about summer plans -- particularly for any juniors stressing about their resumes. Read on for some good advice and great ideas…  

What Should Juniors Be Doing This Summer?

The answer to this question is really quite simple…get some rest, read, and explore what you find truly interesting (and it would be fine with everyone if what you find truly interesting is a summer job…more on that later).

A Window into the Psyche of Rising Seniors

Last year, we asked psychologist Michael Thompson, author of The Pressured Child, to weigh in on what parents can do to constructively advise -- and motivate -- their junior students as they begin the application process. Good advice never goes out of style -- and Thompson is the best -- so we wanted to run these posts again for all of those out there who are wondering what to expect when your child applies to college. Please read on to learn how to avoid jumping at the bait of your teenager's negativity and how not to unwittingly crash into a seventeen-year-old psyche, as well as what Monty Python has to do with any of this!

Listen, Listen, Listen: Practical Advice from Psychologist Michael Thompson on Motivating Juniors to Focus on College

Run away! Run away! Michael Thompson on Monty Python and Motivating 11th Graders to Focus on College

Be Ready to Listen, Book Parents Weekend and more: Next Steps for Parents

As parents, we know that sometimes the best advice can come from fellow parents who have successfully navigated some developmental step or landmark -- or land mine -- in their children's lives. Here are two of the savviest moms we know -- Lisa Endlich Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington of the excellent blog Grown and Flown -- on next steps for parents of seniors.


This is a moment to rejoice.  Your child was accepted to college and all of your effort and his have resulted in this success. There may be some small disappointments, there may euphoria and there may be some big decisions ahead, but this is one of life’s big moments and it should be noted and celebrated. Let your nearly grown child know just how proud you are and acknowledge how much of his effort it took to get to this moment. 

Once your family has taken a time to savor this special moment, there are a few more practical matters that need your 

Book the revisits.

Your child may be making a very real decision between two or more schools they have not seen in a year, or more.  See if the school has official revisit days when pre-frosh return for an organized program.  If such a program exists, make certain to book a place in the program and hotel reservations if needed.  If there is not official program, make plans for your teen to take another 

Financial Aid Checklist for Decision Time!

It's decision time! Your financial aid award letters will usually arrive with your letters of acceptance, or soon thereafter. Even though you will be celebrating and contemplating your choices, you will also need to be focused and diligent about evaluating your financial aid offers. College advisor Alice Kleeman is back with advice and answers for your questions during this important time.


·        You will often receive financial aid offers (also called "financial aid packages" or "financial aid award letters") with your admit letter or shortly thereafter.  Review these offers carefully. Ask questions at your College and Career Center or Guidance Office if you don't understand your letters.

·        Colleges vary tremendously in their cost of attendance, present their costs in different ways, and offer different amounts of financial aid in different combinations. This can make it difficult to understand which combination of price and student aid award is best. Here are some tools for comparing financial aid awards:  

                      US Department of Education College Affordability and Transparency Center

                      College Board Big Future

Decisions: Do you have the patience...

High school counselor Barbara Simmons joins us today in our ongoing series of reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions. Read on to find out how an ancient Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching, also known as "The Way," may offer some guidance: 


Decision – that word even has the sound of  ‘final’ –landing on the suffix of ‘ion’ – ‘zuhn.’ "Decision” originates from the Latin which means “to settle” on something – having cut off other options.

The definitions provided for decision refer to making a judgment – making up one’s mind – and, perhaps like many of you, I frequently have a difficult time making up my mind – even though I know the satisfied and grateful feeling I have when I DO make up my mind.  But the “trick” or “key” to decision-making comes well before the “making up one’s mind".  Decision making has as its foundation knowing our minds well enough to make our minds up, to settle on something without regrets.

Especially for members of the senior class in high school, there ARE decisions that arise in different times in one’s life that must be made when two seemingly VERY GOOD options appear. But it has also happened that two choices appear that would seem to be clearly marked as “good decision” vs. “bad decision” and circumstance might have us choose the seemingly less desirable option.

There are Lots of Ways to Get Where You're Headed

Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy, joins us today in our continuing series of reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions -- from strategy, decision-making and coping through how to talk about your news with parents, friends and nosy neighbors. Read on to learn about one of the paths through your college decisions that leads to happiness -- and it's scientifically proven!



I remember opening the fat envelope from my first-choice college over twenty years ago. Nobody was home. I got so excited I ran around the living room screaming by myself. True story.

As it turned out, I didn’t go to that college. It was a far more expensive option than the college that offered me a scholarship, and attending that less expensive school was the compromise my parents and I agreed upon. At the time I felt like the universe was really unfair.

Twenty years later, so much of my life’s winding path connects back to seeds planted and passions discovered at my alma mater, which I would describe as having been so perfect for me that it’s laughable I felt so strongly about not attending my “first choice.” I know now that it was a place that probably would have been as good for me, but where I probably wouldn’t have started down pathways that are now essential parts of my identity.

Decisions, decisions... Sound Bites, No Sympathy and Seizing the Moment for Parents

Beginning today and throughout the next week, we'll be posting reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions -- from strategy, decision-making and coping through how to talk about your news with parents, friends and nosy neighbors. We begin with the always excellent advice of psychologist Michael Thompson, author of The Pressured Child. We have always found Thompson's wisdom and sound bites to be indispensable for both turning points and moments of truth in our family life. We asked him how he got so smart about all of this -- and believe me, he is -- he told us, "Hey, I’ve been working with teenagers for forty-four years.  Some lessons they just insist you learn." Read on to benefit from those lessons so you can support your teenager and seize the moment -- in the best possible way.