College Admissions

Thank you to Highland Park and Deerfield High Schools

Thank you, thank you… to the parents and counseling staffs of Highland Park High School in Highland Park, Illinois, and Deerfield High School in Deerfield, Illinois. College Admission spoke to the schools' parents of rising sophomores last night and it was a pleasure to hear about their hopes, dreams and concerns -- and answer their questions about grades, testing, interviews, and how to best guide their students through the next few years of college conversations. With special thanks to counselors Aliza Gilbert, Bill Morrison, Beth Gilfillan, and Kristen Thorburn.

Gluten-Free Reviews of College Dining Services

For students who require a gluten-free diet, the campus dining services require more than a stop for lunch after the official tour on a college visit. There's now a great new resource for such students to help them determine whether they can get the support they need. has published Gluten-Free Reviews of College Dining Services. Colleges appearing on the site must have either been reviewed by a student or parent or have been trained through the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’s GREAT Kitchens Program, a designation that has been earned by such schools as University of Chicago, Drexel University and Emory University. The reviews offer detailed information on the services, flexibility and helpfulness of campus dining services. Apparently, some colleges rise to the occasion, some do not. This is a great resource for students, both during college visits and in considering where they may attend school.

Seniors, Please Let ALL the Colleges where You Were Admitted Know Your Plans

Seniors, heads up! Terry Cowdrey, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, issued this plea -- which is excellent advice -- for high school counselors and the seniors of the Class of 2013.  

 A plea to school counselors: please encourage your students to respond to all of the schools where they were offered admission. College admissions offices are scrambling to determine if we can make offers to students on the wait list and dozens--no, hundreds--of admitted students have not confirmed their plans. We can assume they are going elsewhere but it would certainly be nice to know for sure. And it's just good manners.

Just because it’s after May 1 does not mean it’s too late to extend this courtesy to the colleges that took the time to admit you. Think, as well, about your friends on wait lists and how happy and relieved they may feel to know sooner rather than later that they have been admitted from a wait list. A simple email will do the job. So, please just do it!


Researching Colleges: Don't forget to Find out What Goes on in the Classroom

One of the mistakes we see students make in the college admissions process is failing to find out enough about the academic life of a school -- what actually goes on in the classrooms.  In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education piece, What We Don't Talk About on the Admissions Tour, James M. Lang, associate professor of English, director of the college honors program at Assumption College and parent to a member of the class of 2017, states the case for finding out as much about the teaching and learning as the food service on a college campus.

Like any parent of a prospective student at a residential college, we are preparing for our child to live on her own for the first time. What shape will that new life take? I want to be able to envision my daughter in her new room, and gain a sense of what her peers will be like, and know that she will have access to food and facilities that will allow her to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Juniors, Five Things to Do Before the End of the Year

We recently asked high school counselor Kelly Dunham what five things juniors should take care of before the school year ends and we thought we'd bring you her great advice here again. BTW, she added a kicker sixth item that is essential for a smooth college admissions process in your senior year!

What are the five most important things for juniors to do before the end of the school year?

Conference with their high school counselor or college counselor

ACT/SAT test prep and take ACT/SAT (hopefully twice)

Ask for teacher letters of recommendation

Have an honest conversation with parents about finances

Online college searches, local college fairs, visit college campuses

And one more:

Be aware of college admission requirements:  required high school coursework, GPA, test scores, letters of rec, essays, etc.


For more information about applying to college, see College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, including the recommendations in "Timeline: The Path to College."

Congratulations, Seniors...

Congratulations, seniors! Enjoy these last few weeks of high school. Just one word of warning! You still need to keep your eye on the ball -- both in the classroom and on campus. Your college acceptance is conditional on completing your senior year at the same level of performance you have shown thus far. Even now, if slacking off gets out of hand, your admission can be rescinded.

And while your classroom work may be completed, beware of any lapse in character or judgment -- drug use, drinking, or any behavioral issue that may result in disciplinary action, including something as stupid as vandalism like knocking over porta-potties at a school event. If you are waitlisted, a dip in grades or lapse in judgment can work against your being admitted. And it's important to model good behavior for the junior class following in your footsteps. So take a deep breath, enjoy all that you've accomplished, but keep up the good work…


NACAC's List of Colleges Still Accepting Applications Available May 3

NACAC's annual Space Availability Survey, a searchable list of colleges still accepting applications for Fall 2013 freshman and transfer students, will be available to the public beginning this Friday, May 3, on NACAC’s website. Colleges’ listings also will include information about the availability of institutional financial aid and housing. Counselors, students, and families are encouraged to check the results periodically. NACAC anticipates that many colleges will complete the survey after the initial deadline and will update their listings as space availability changes. In 2012, 375 colleges listed either freshman and/or transfer space availability.

Mary Chase, Creighton University, Answers Five Questions

Change the world in Christ's image.

Study humankind.

Transform yourself and your community.

Seek truth in all you do.

Go forth and set the world on fire.


These principles of a Jesuit education as defined by St. Ignatius of Loyola are the foundation of the education and student life at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Mary Chase, Creighton's Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, joins us this month to answer five questions about this private Roman Catholic school that is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the country.

Creighton was founded in 1878 with a bequest from Mary Lucretia Creighton in memory of her husband Edward, an Omaha businessman with interests in cattle ranching and banking and who played a role in the development of the transcontinental telegraph line. More than 130 years later, Creighton would become the first university to notify students of acceptance by text message.

Palo Alto High School's Sandra Cernobori is our Counselor of the Month


College Advisor Sandra Cernobori was sitting at her desk in the College and Career Center of Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, California, when a parent came in to talk to one of her colleagues. She was not a parent at the school, but had some questions about college admission. A few minutes into the conversation, the visitor said to Cernobori’s fellow advisor, “Let me go get my son, I want him to hear this.” Whereupon she brought into the office her 18-month-old child. Yes, you read that correctly, her 18-month-old child.

Welcome to the world of college advising in the heart of Silicon Valley where the college learning curve -- and the pressure -- starts early for some.  Founded in 1894, Palo Alto High School, known as Paly, is nationally known for its academically rigorous environment. Its campus, which serves more than 1900 students, sits across the street from Stanford University. “Our students are often from families that are highly educated or highly value education, so expectations are high,” says Cernobori. “But we also have families where the parents have not attended four-year colleges.”