Juniors, Finish the Semester Strong

Juniors, as the semester winds down and thoughts of college dance in your head, remember to continue to give your best effort in all your classes and finish strong.  The just-released 10th annual State of College Admission 2012 report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling found that "academic performance in college prep courses" has been consistently rated as the top factor by colleges in admission decisions for the past decade. In 2011, 84 percent of colleges reported grades in college prep courses as decisive. One more time for emphasis: the grades you earn and the classes you take are important -- and grades in your junior year can be critical. For now, focus your efforts in the classroom… It's almost time for winter break.

It's College Fair Season...


Fall means football and college fairs.  Students -- and parents -- may want to take advantage of these events where college admission officers or alumni are present to answer questions and pass out brochures and other information to students and their families. Free and often open to the public, college fairs are a good way to get an introduction to a wide range of schools at once and a good starting point for your research into schools.  

Since these events can be crowded and chaotic, an action plan can help ensure that you get the most out of the experience. Here are our suggestions:


       *    Obtain a list of the participating colleges online or from your college counselor in advance of the fair and determine which schools’ booths you will want to visit.

       *    Do some homework. Check out the websites of the schools you want to visit and prepare a list of questions after you’ve done some research.

        *     While you're collecting brochures from colleges in which you may be interested, also pick up the business card of the school's representative.     They could be a good contact point for further information.

        *     Do not bring a resume. Schools are not interested in a resume from you at this point.

        *     College fairs sometimes include information sessions on subjects such as financial aid or the search process, so plan accordingly if you want to attend.

Rankings: What does "Best" really mean?


Yesterday the US News and World Report (USNWR) rankings were released -- dubbed by some “the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition” of college lists. Distracting and sometimes deceptive, we think rankings can nevertheless be useful for students and parents if approached correctly. But we strongly urge students and parents not to fall prey to the “best-ism” that is part of the larger cultural phenomenon of status competition and celebrity.

You may want to take a look at this new site from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Timed to coincide with the USNWR’s Best Colleges edition, this site parts the curtain on rankings for students and parents, examining the methodologies and discussing the meaning of “best.” While you’re there, you might want to also take the opportunity to submit questions about the rankings to another new feature, the Counselor’s Corner

NACAC Reviews College Admission

Thank you to Christopher Briggs, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission, Georgia Institute of Technology, for the excellent review of College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).  We love it when reviewers "get" the book --especially professionals in the field! You can read the review in its entirety here.  

Ralph Figueroa, Albuquerque Academy

Ralph Figueroa is Director of College Guidance at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico, an independent day school serving approximately 1,100 students in grades six through twelve. As Figueroa describes it, Albuquerque Academy provides its students with the high-powered college preparatory education of a selective school but with the less anxious attitude that typifies New Mexico. “It’s not high-pressure,” he says. “It’s not frenetic about the college process, kids are much more open to opportunities and options and there aren’t the huge family pressures you sometimes see other places.”

Elsa Heydenreich Clark, Immaculate Heart High School

Elsa Heydenreich Clark is the Director of College Counseling at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, California, a private Catholic college preparatory school for 555 young women in grades 9 through 12.  A graduate of the University of Southern California, Clark also holds a Master of Science in School Counseling from California State University, Los Angeles.

Since 1988, Clark has counseled juniors and seniors at Immaculate Heart, a unique institution with a storied history in Los Angeles. Founded in 1906, today the school ‘s student body includes many who are the daughters and granddaughters of graduates. It is also known for its diversity, reflecting the demographics of the Los Angeles population — two-thirds of those attending are students of color and many are first generation.

Charlene Aguilar, Lakeside School

Charlene Aguilar is Director of College Counseling at Lakeside School, an independent day school for grades 5 through 12 in Seattle, Washington.  A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, Aguilar has worked both sides of the desk in college admissions during her career.  She began as an admissions counselor at her alma mater in Santa Barbara and served as Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission at Stanford and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Santa Clara University.  For ten years prior to coming to Lakeside, she was Director of College Counseling and Dean of the junior class at Castilleja School, an all-girls independent school in Palo Alto, California.