Applying to College

Daniel Gin, Niles West High School

Dan Gin had been a generalist high school counselor for four years when he boarded the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) Bus O' Fun Tour. Road tripping for a week through ten college campuses in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, Gin realized he had found his calling. "I could be the one who helps students find the right college," he said. And for the past eight years, Gin has, as the College and Career Counselor at Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois.

Set in a suburb eight miles north of Chicago, Niles West is a culturally diverse public high school serving more than 2,600 students. Among those students, there are 96 different spoken languages, with the most common being Urdu, Spanish and Assyrian. Thirty per cent of the students are English language learners. Another 30% are on free and reduced lunch. And since Skokie is in the first ring of suburbs on the borders of Chicago, one in four students are transfers. So as the only college counselor on staff -- though he's assisted by 11 generalist counselors -- Gin faces some special challenges.

Friday Links for your Delight and Elevation


Awesome People Reading, a Tumblr, featuring Marilyn Monroe, Martin Luther King, Loki, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Woody Woodpecker... among others.

From DePaul University's Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management via the Facebook page of College Admissions Counselors: Time for the annual reminder of why we do what we do. John Ciardi's 1950–ish address to freshmen at Rutgers: Another School Year: Why? So many wonderful thoughts in this piece we couldn't pick one to excerpt. Read it in its entirety.

Nest empty? Here's a look at the bright side...

No more pencils, no more books... No more bake sales, soccer tournaments at 7 a.m. on Saturday or carpool lines... If you're feeling the pain of empty nesting as your last one heads off to college, check out this post from blogger Sharon Greenthal of Empty House, Full Mind: 25 Things I'm Glad I'll Never Have to Do Again -- Back To School Edition. Who misses head lice or homework? And we empathize with No.'s 24 and 25. But we have to admit, we always loved Back to School night. That still fills us with nostalgia.

What HS Juniors Should Be Doing about College

Independent college counselor Lee Bierer has some great advice for HS juniors on the college application process. You don't need to know which college you want to attend or what you want to study in order to prepare well -- from planning for testing to a first campus visit. Check out all her recommendations here.

Talking to Students about Staying Healthy

We talk to our sons and daughters about testing and essays and big schools vs. small but we often forget to talk to them about staying healthy through the process and beyond into college -- from taking care of themselves by getting enough sleep to always carrying their insurance card. Pediatrician Perri Klass has an excellent piece in today's New York Times, College Prep, This Time for Health, about the important conversations parents and students need to have about making wise health choices and getting help when it's needed. And high school is not too early to start having these conversations. We talk to our children about doing their best in the classroom and on a playing field. Don't forget to teach them to tune into their health and do their best there, as well.

Advice, Observations and the Broad View from Brandeis' Andrew Flagel

Gimmicks in essays, the "perfect school' fixation, testing, and show 'em the money... Andrew Flagel, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, talks all things college admission with the Boston Globe. One of the great takeaways:  "There is a disconnect between this current worry that somehow being an English major is a disadvantage. In reality, what employers are looking for is great employees — employees with communication skills, who are critical thinkers, problem solvers, able to work with others, and good leaders. And that’s exactly at the heart of a liberal arts education." Read all of his terrific advice here.

2013 Colleges and Universities that Require TWO Letters of Recommendation from Teachers

Letters of recommendation can play an important role in the admission decision, particularly at the most selective schools. Letters of recommendation from teachers tell admission officers how students contribute to the academic and intellectual life of their high school. Your teachers' input tells the colleges what their faculty can expect from you. Remember, in the college admission process, you are being evaluated to enter a learning community! High school counselor Cigus Vanni joins us again today with another excellent list -- this time of the colleges and universities that require TWO letters of recommendation from teachers.




2013 Colleges and Universities with Early Action Admission Plans

We're back today with high school counselor Cigus Vanni who for eighteen years has created and maintained a series of lists that are great tools for students -- and counselors. Earlier this week, we posted his list of 2013 Colleges and Universities with Binding Early Decision Plans. Today, we are featuring 2013 Colleges and Universities with Early Action Plans.