Sunday, September 25, 2016

Columbus NACAC Day 3!


For the closing day of NACAC I decided to go to two sessions: one about the national job outlook and one about the teenage brain.

The job outlook session was presented by the Department of Labor. While it was, admittedly, not the most lively of sessions, I did get to learn a lot about the careers that are projected to be growing rapidly in the coming years (along with those that are on the decline). Healthcare is the fastest growing sector and jobs in this field are the ones that are expanding at the fastest rates. This doesn't mean doctors though, it mostly means nurses (including nurse practitioners), home health aides, and other health support occupations. There are anticipated to be many job openings for people without formal education, but those jobs are expected to pay very very low wages. The earnings for a person with a bachelor's degree outpaces those without by more than double in terms of annual income. It is also projected that the sector of jobs with the most hiring will actually be careers that require a Master's degree - something to keep in mind for anyone concerned about the cost of college. One of the most useful things shared at the session was the website that will give state by state job predictions for different career paths. This can help show the landscape of how many openings there might be in New York in the next eight years.

http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

For a national look at job trends, you can also look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics job outlook

http://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/

The most interesting trivia is that the job with the fastest job growth in the nation is wind turbine technicians. It only represents about 4800 jobs nationally, but no other job is expanding more quickly.

The next session I went to was a talk by author and physician Dr. Frances Jensen. She presented a session called 'The Teenage (and Young Adult) Brain: Neuroscience You Can Use.' She shared that some of the behaviors that we marginalize (like risk taking and poor decision making) are actually neurologically appropriate behavior for teens. That isn't to say that unhealthy choices should be encouraged, but she encourages instead looking at it through a lens of normal human development. It turns out the brain is the last organ in the human body to fully develop. Research indicates that the brain is not fully connected and functioning until the mid to late twenties - far after college is complete. The parts to mature last are those connected with things like empathy, decision making, executive functioning, and impulse control (all located in the frontal lobe). The brain has connections within it called synapses and those synapses are insulated by a fatty substance called myelin. It takes years the the myelin to fully wrap around the connections and this it the reason teenagers can have a somewhat 'uneven' behavior and decision making. If this prognosis is feeling bleak though, it isn't. While these 'unfinished' teen brains might sometimes be thrill seeking or highly emotional, they are also at their peak in terms of learning new things, building new and strong connections faster, and being plastic. This means that the teenage years are actually a wonderful window within which one can build new (and very strong) habits. If teens can work on practicing positive behaviors, those behaviors can become second nature. 

In this same way, teens are also much more highly susceptible to addiction. Bad habits can become addiction in teens much faster and with much less exposure than adults. This is why exposure to drugs and alcohol during the teen years, while the brain is not yet fully mature, can lead to much more serious lingering issues (including not just addiction but also some mental illness.) Her comments on marijuana and alcohol were very interesting, but the one I found most enlightening is that marijuana has lingering results on synapses (aka brain connections) for about four days. So for a teen that is choosing to 'let loose' on the weekend can absolutely see lingering cognitive effects well into the school week. Her advice to help the teenage brain operate at peak function is to maximize quality sleep and minimize distraction (particularly from screens). 

Overall, I had a wonderful experience at NACAC. I got to visit three great (and very different) campuses, connect (and reconnect) with colleagues, and get essential updates on some of the things changing the most quickly within college admissions. I want to take this opportunity to thank the PTA for their generous support of my attending this conference (and the college office in general). Next year, Boston!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Columbus NACAC Day 2!


Today started bright and early with my first in-person meeting of the Coalition Counselor Committee. I shouldn't really call it a meeting, since it was more of a breakfast meet and greet, but it was the start of my day all the same. It was nice to finally put a face to the names on the emails that have come through my inbox during the past year. If nothing else, there certainly seemed to be less anxious buzz about the Coalition compared to last year. At ElRo, I've encouraged only students applying to the University of Florida to use the app this go around, but time will tell how the platform performs during this its first cycle.

My first session of the morning was the overview of Naviance. While they spent a little too much time talking about Naviance for elementary school (yes, that is apparently a thing), it was exciting to get a sneak peek at what is in store for the site. There look to be some pretty overdue cosmetic changes, along with other nice improvements like embedding net price estimates based on income band and letting students know about college open houses and local fairs. They are also working on some pretty powerful data analysis that will allow counselors to predict the relative 'risk' of a student's list (and thus know which students to reach out to first when it comes to troubleshooting).

Next Thursday evening, September 29, I will be sharing with students and families information about the 2017-2018 FAFSA. As such, I wanted to make sure to attend the Department of Educations FAFSA session at NACAC this year. I left the session feeling like the Dept of Ed actually has a pretty decent handle on this rollout and I hope, hope, hope I'm right! We got some nice resources to be able to share with students and I also got the impression that the new FAFSA will be far less complicated than it has ever been in the past. The key for any senior reading this post right now is that you should go ahead and get your FSA ID if you haven't already. Your FSA ID (one parent from the FAFSA will need one too) is your electronic signature and you'll need the ID before you can fully submit the FAFSA. Imagine how crowded that site is going to be on October 1 when the FAFSA goes live? Can you picture it? Ok, now go get your FSA ID right now. Here is the site: www.fsaid.ed.gov

My final session of the day was about working with students with learning disabilities. As we have more and more diverse learners at ElRo, I want to do my best to be prepared to work with them and serve their needs. The session covered a lot of ground but I'll leave a few of the more useful tips here:
  • Students who have been previously evaluated with a WISC probably should request a new evaluation once they are 18 because the C in WISC stand for 'children' that tool is not going to serve a student in adulthood. 
  • There is a big difference between a "support program" and a "students with disabilities tutoring center". Most colleges offer the latter, often in the form of peer tutors, but the ideal setting for a student with a learning difference is to have a professional special education in a formal support program. About 75 programs have been identified by the presenter and he directed us to the NACAC textbook to see that list. (*I had no idea there was something called a NACAC textbook!)
  • A great way to help students focus (especially if they have ADHD) is to have them stand in a 'power pose' for two minutes (recommended pose: hands in fists overhead). This helps release testosterone and combat cortisol - an ideal combination prior to giving a presentation or taking a test. 
The final portion of the day is the annual Counselor College Fair. This is about as overwhelming as you might imagine, with every college present and every high school counselor going from table to table picking up material. It is certainly a nice time to reconnect (and see who has moved schools!) but it is exhausting.

Tomorrow is the final day of the conference and I look forward to a few more sessions before leaving Ohio!

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Columbus NACAC - Day 1



The NACAC conference is officially in session!

I spent the morning at a lecture sponsored by SMU where we got to hear from a wonderful SMU faculty member, Dr. Maria Dixon Hall. She spoke to us about a new initiative at SMU to try and shift the culture around race and culture on campus. The plan is to not just implement orientation trainings or hire faculty of color but to instead try to help all students increase their cultural intelligence. Her recommendations for how to do that in your every day life is to try and not just talk to a person from a different culture but to instead try and understand their culture through exposure. Perhaps her most interesting suggestion is to visit a grocery story -- a place to observe very nuanced cultural behaviors. It was a wonderful talk and a great way to start the day.
His head is a Buckeye! (Ohio State mascot, tree byproduct, and delicious peanut butter and chocolate treat)
For the afternoon, I checked off one more college visit by going to see The Ohio State University. As the third most affordable school in the Big 10 for out of state students, Ohio State should probably see more traffic from ElRo students than it does. In and out of state students are evaluated on the same 10 factors and preference is not given based on residency the way it might be at public land grant universities in other states. Letters of Recommendation are optional and OSU is on the Common App. Best of all, there is merit money available to students to the tune of full tuition. In order to qualify for merit aid, students must apply by no later than November 1. There are also some additional essays to complete in order to compete for some of these merit dollars. To learn more, look up the National Buckeye program and Morrill Scholarship on their website. Like other Big 10 schools, the benefits here include endless academic options, massive amounts of research, and serious school spirit.
The Oval
I also want to point out that when I try to explain to families that the cost of living in the Midwest will help pay back the cost of the plane ticket, here is what I mean:


This cost me $6.80. That salad had Kale and quinoa in it. KALE. Plus a drink and banana.

In an interesting stroke of luck, the Geology museum on campus has this gorgeous quartz found in the 1800s in Ellenville, NY -- home of the ElRo senior trip!
I finished out the day by attending the annual NYSACAC meeting and connecting with fellow New Yorkers here at the conference.

Tomorrow is always the hardest day with an early start and late finish, so I'm signing off for now.

OH-- IO!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Thanks Oberlin!

Today I had the opportunity to visit Oberlin College and I can now understand why we have had five ElRo students in the past four years enroll at this school.

Oberlin is a small liberal arts college with two divisions: the college and the music conservatory. It is known as a place that is progressive, open-minded, expressive, and creative. I think the thing I was most struck by was the people. The students seemed genuinely happy to be there and the environment was accepting and warm.

Unique elements of Oberlin include the fact that they have 3 required January Terms (J-Term for short) for all students where they undertake a project or internship. These can range from doing science research to writing a screenplay to exploring their career interest. Many peer institutions might feel isolated or exclusionary (with literal gates around campus), but not Oberlin. They pride themselves on being well integrated into the town of Oberlin. The conservatory at Oberlin is unique for its focus on undergraduate students (many conservatory programs allot huge portions of the resources to graduate students, but Oberlin hardly has any graduate students in music). About one third of conservatory students earn a double degree in the Liberal Arts. I should also add that it is very unique to see an Admissions staff with so many veteran members. Almost everyone in the office has been there more than 5 years, with many people there over 15 years. That is not the status quo and is a sign that people really believe in the mission and are treated well by the administration.

Oberlin was the first college to graduate a person of color and the first to award a degree to a woman in a co-ed setting. This is a place that wants to break barriers, tackle difficult questions, and honor their own moral and ethical code. I don't get the impression that this is a campus where students spend energy on surface things like clothing, hairstyles, and makeup. The 'come as you are' vibe is palpable. It is the kind of place that cares about the environment, LGBTQ+ rights, and equal pay. If those are not the kind of conversations you want to hear in the dining hall, this school should not be on your list.

ElRo takes Oberlin!
A highlight of the visit was getting to connect with Caley W. - ElRo Class of 2013. She is a student athlete (soccer) and said that she has loved her experience at Oberlin. She is a fourth year majoring in Economics and told me that she feels like Oberlin helped her grow more than she ever expected. I am so proud of her!

I'm now in Columbus, eager to reconnect with colleagues and attend sessions at NACAC!



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Thanks Case Western Reserve University!


I'm in lovely Ohio this week to visit schools and attend that National NACAC Conference.

Today I got to visit Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, an exciting opportunity! As anyone can tell from Naviance, we have had a tough time at ElRo cracking the code of what students would fit best at this school. After spending the day there, I think I have a little bit of a better sense of who would be happiest there and what direction the college is moving in.

Frank Gehry designed the School of Management (aka Business)
CWRU evolved from two different schools (Case and Western Reserve) and has the reputation of being rather 'STEM-y.' But, they actually have four undergraduate colleges within the college: Engineering, Business, Nursing, and Arts and Science. I would categorize the school as pretty research-centric and the physical location being near four hospitals (including the world renowned Cleveland Clinic) only adds to the reasons it is a good fit for a student interested in science, pre-health, or both. What sets it apart? For one thing, the students were described as very focused. This is not an exploratory place for the liberal artist. This is for the student who already has a general direction. (It is ok if that direction is the humanities -- they have easy access to art museums, concert halls, and historical sites). 

think[box]
Materials at think[box]
A highlight of today was getting to see the think [box] a maker space on campus that is designed to be an incubation place for innovation. Students (and community members) can use the tools and materials there to create anything they can imagine. This includes things on 3-D printers, embroidery machines, woodwork, electrical circuits, and really anything you could think up.  This kind of creativity is encouraged and it was nice to see such a fully formed and well run place for people to try out their ideas and build truly anything they can think of.

Perhaps the most confusing aspect of Case Western is the notion that there is a single door entry point -- meaning that any student admitted to Case Western can major in anything Case Western offers. That means that students do not need to meet individual criteria in order to change majors once they are here. It means that if you get into Case Western, you have your choice of any of the programs offered (one exception being Music--an audition is required). This policy though isn't to be confused with the idea that Case Western doesn't pay attention to what academic course of study you list on your application. They are still a functioning school, after all, and they need their school to have balance. As one might expect, Engineering is the most popular area of interest and it is also one of the programs with the highest standards. Two thirds of students are majoring in a STEM field.

This school has seen a tremendous amount of growth in the past ten years. As in going from under 8,000 apps per year to over 23,000 apps per year. The acceptance rate last year was about 35%, so more people are getting denial letters than any other sort. They also used to be a school that pulled students mainly from the state of Ohio. Now only 22% of students come from the Buckeye state.

So why would CWRU be attractive to ElRo students? For one thing, they offer merit aid. And starting this year they plan to be need aware but meet 100% of demonstrated need for all admitted students. (Being need aware will most likely impact those on the margins --admissions wise-- the most). That means middle income students should be given a much more fair shake when it comes to financial aid packaging. Loans will be reasonable and students won't be gapped. Then when it comes to merit scholarships, even higher income homes can potentially see discounts in tuition. The location is also very very attractive. Coming from NYC, the Midwest can be a hard pill to swallow for some. But the flight here was under an hour and fifteen minutes! It sometimes takes me that long to commute to ElRo! With a little over 5,000 students in an urban area, Case Western offers the best of a lot of worlds. There is Greek life, but this isn't a party school. I think our students who find themselves looking at places like University of Rochester, University of Chicago, and Carnegie Mellon would also benefit from looking at Case Western.

I hope we can start hitting our stride with this school. Cleveland is a wonderful city and one that I think many ElRo students would be very happy with for their college experience. 

On to Oberlin tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dear Malcolm,


You might have listened to Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast called 'Food Fight', an examination of what he considers to be the moral aberration of colleges daring to serve high qualify food to their students. In his opinion, he feels that a school should not be spending dollars on amenities and should instead be spending dollars on financial aid. And if his message was that general message, I'm with him. Absolutely-- if the decision is between lowering student debt for low income students or adding a rock climbing wall to the gym, I'm on board with scrapping the rock wall. 

But for some reason, he didn't decide to do research about those types of amenities. Instead, in my opinion, he offered a grossly simplistic comparison of two schools, Vassar and Bowdoin, where he felt compelled to go so far as to tell listeners not to go to Bowdoin because their evil dining hall is the root of America's education problem.

My initial problem with his comparison of these two schools is: if you want to criticize schools that are being unfair to low income students or have their priorities in the wrong place, maybe don't start with a school with need-blind admissions that pledges to meet 100% of demonstrated need for all admitted students. (Bowdoin is need blind and meets 100% of demonstrated need). You can make the argument that their version of demonstrated need isn't fair or should be revised. But that wasn't the topic of this podcast. In fact, there didn't seem to be an ounce of research about admissions policies or recruitment practices. The only staff interviewed at Bowdoin were from dining services.

My next problem with this comparison is that while yes, both Bowdoin and Vassar private liberal arts colleges I would hardly call them identical. Vassar has been successful in recruiting and enrolling Pell Grant recipients (which is, by the way, to be applauded and I'm certainly a huge fan of the progress they have made). But, Vassar is also located in Poughkeepsie, which conveniently happens to be the last stop the Metro North train from New York City. Vassar is 200 miles from Boston. 85 miles from Albany. 170 miles from Philly. 75 miles from New Haven. Bowdoin's only major urban center within 200 miles is Boston, compared with Vassar's significantly more centrally located geographic location. Saying that a college in Maine has the same pool of low income applicants as a college in upstate New York just feels lazy.

If we want to talk about morals, what about the morality of food? When a huge corporation provides low quality cheap food to students with outsourced ingredients, chemicals, hormones, and low paid staff, where is the moral outrage there about the local, national, and global impact of what we eat? I'm curious to know exactly how expensive the Bowdoin dining services program is? What impact does it have on their local economy, helping to keep local farms in business and respecting the environment by using higher quality healthier ingredients? Yet this podcast never delves into that. It never shares exactly what the dollars and cents are of the Bowdoin dining program. It just says that there is a correlation between good food and lower financial aid budgets. I'm not convinced.

Had Malcolm Gladwell interviewed any person from the part of Bowdoin's administration that deals with institutional goals. I suspect they would have learned that Bowdoin, like virtually every small liberal arts college with a large endowment and need blind admissions, is hungry to enroll as many bright low income students as they can find. Because income is not considered in admission decisions, if Bowdoin suddenly had a 30% increase in high ability low income applications, they would accept 30% more students from these income brackets. To say that having cheaper food would suddenly increase their Pell Grant recipients is a fundamental misunderstanding of how admissions works.

The condescending tone he uses when suggesting the students have better things to say about the food than they do about their classes is a low blow. Instead of mocking them, why wouldn't he go ahead and ask them about their classes instead of making an assumption? 

If Malcolm wanted to make this argument, he could have selected a Need-Aware school. Why he didn't is beyond me, as there are tons to pick from. If we want to argue the morals of college admission, crucifying Bowdoin feels like the wrong place to start.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Admission Results for the Class of 2016

Columbia Graduation - 1913  (LOC)
All members of our community have access to Naviance (be it as a guest, or through individual accounts starting the spring semester of Junior year). However, I am often asked for a macro view of the list of colleges where students have been accepted during each application cycle.

Below, you will see a list of schools that admitted at least one ElRo student this year. When you see a school's name listed in bold, that means at least one student intends to enroll this year.

Remember to interpret these kind of lists with caution. You never know the background circumstances that resulted in a student passing up on a offer at a school you deem to be amazing. You can't tell by looking at this list how much financial aid was offered. Statistics can't tell you who applied Early Decision or if the person had legacy at the school.

With that said, I know people are curious to see where our students were admitted and decided to go - so without further ado - the outcomes for the Class of 2016. What I hope will be apparent is the huge range of options that ElRo students have and the diversity of interests and strengths that our graduates possess.

Acceptances and Enrollment for the Class of 2016

Adelphi University
Adirondack Community College
Albany College of Pharmacy
Alfred University
Allegheny College
Amherst College
Auburn University
Babson College
Bard College
Barnard College
Baruch College of the CUNY
Bates College
Bentley University
Berklee College of Music
Binghamton University
Boston College
Boston University
Bowdoin College
Brandeis University
Brooklyn College of the CUNY
Bryn Mawr College
Bucknell University
Buffalo State College of SUNY
Carleton College
Carnegie Mellon University
Case Western Reserve University
Champlain College
Chapman University
City College of New York CUNY
Clark University
Colby College
Colgate University
College of Mount Saint Vincent
College of New Rochelle
College of Staten Island
Colorado State University
Columbia College Chicago
Columbia University
Cornell University
CUNY - New York City Technical College
CUNY-Macaulay Honors College
Denison University
DePauw University
Dickinson College
Drew University
Drexel University
Duke University
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
Eckerd College
Elon University
Emerson College
Emory University
Emory University - Oxford College
Fairfield University
Farmingdale State College
Fashion Institute of Technology
Florida Atlantic University
Florida Polytechnic University
Florida State University
Fordham University
Franklin and Marshall College
George Mason University
Georgetown University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Gettysburg College
Gordon College
Goucher College
Grinnell College
Hampshire College
Hartwick College
Harvard University
Haverford College
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Howard University
Hunter College of the CUNY
Illinois Institute of Technology
Indiana University at Bloomington
Iona College
Ithaca College
John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the CUNY
Johns Hopkins University
Johnson & Wales University (Providence)
Juniata College
Kansas City Art Institute
Kent State University
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Lafayette College
Lawrence University
Lehigh University
Lehman College of the CUNY
LIM College
Long Island University, Brooklyn
Long Island University, Post
Loyola University Maryland
Manhattan College
Marist College
Maryland Institute College of Art
Marymount Manhattan College
Marywood University
McGill University
Michigan State University
Middlebury College
Missouri State University
Molloy College
Montclair State University
Mount Holyoke College
Muhlenberg College
New York Career Institute
New York Institute of Technology
New York University
Northampton Community College
Northeastern University
Northwestern University
Oberlin College
Ohio University
Pace University, New York City
Pennsylvania State University - University Park
Pennsylvania State University, Abington
Pennsylvania State University, Altoona
Pomona College
Pratt Institute
Princeton University
Purchase College State University of New York
Purdue University
Queens College of the CUNY
Reed College
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rhode Island School of Design
Rhodes College
Rice University
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Rutgers University-Newark
Sarah Lawrence College
Savannah College of Art and Design
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
School of Visual Arts
Skidmore College
Smith College
Southern Methodist University
St. John's University - Queens Campus
Stanford University
State University of New York - Plattsburgh
State University of New York at Albany
State University of New York at New Paltz
Stella and Charles Guttman Community College
Stevens Institute of Technology
Stony Brook University
SUNY College at Cobleskill
SUNY College at Cortland
SUNY College at Geneseo
SUNY College at Oneonta
SUNY College at Potsdam
SUNY Delhi
SUNY Fredonia
SUNY Oswego
Susquehanna University
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
The American University of Paris
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art
The George Washington University
The New School - All Divisions
The Ohio State University
The University of Arizona
The University of Georgia
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of Scranton
The University of Texas, Austin
Tufts University
Tulane University
Union College
University at Buffalo The State University of New York
University of Aberdeen
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Central Florida
University of Chicago
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Connecticut
University of Delaware
University of Florida
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
University of Maine
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of Massachusetts, Boston
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of Mississippi
University of New Hampshire at Durham
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Rhode Island
University of Rochester
University of San Diego
University of South Florida, Tampa
University of Southern California
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Ursinus College
Vanderbilt University
Vassar College
Villanova University
Wake Forest University
Washington and Lee University
Washington College
Washington University in St. Louis
Wesleyan University
West Virginia University
Wheaton College MA
Williams College
Yale University
York College of the CUNY

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Thanks SUNY Cobleskill!


Thanks to SUNY Cobleskill for hosting me and a group of other counselors last week on a visit that allowed us to see the wide and dynamic range of programs offered at SUNY Technology Colleges. As someone that wasn't raised in New York state, this was my first exposure to an Agriculture and Technology SUNY and it didn't disappoint.

What makes this category of school different from a University Center or University College? Colleges of Technology focus on applied learning. They embrace hands on experiences and get students out of the lecture hall and into the real world. This counselor tour was structured in a similar way in that we had the opportunity to participate in four mini-workshops all highlighting different program offerings at the campus. I learned about everything from hydroponic agriculture (see photo above) to DNA. I pruned a Bonsai plant and learned about how to identify trees at risk of falling down. The faculty at Cobleskill that I got to meet all had one thing in common: they love their fields of study. They speak with energy and excitement about their students and their courses.

Most academic pursuits at Cobleskill directly relate to the real world. There are things like culinary arts, equine assisted therapies, turf-grass management, and early childhood education. There are multiple entry points (meaning there are both two and four year degrees) as well as articulation agreements with other schools for students looking to transfer to programs at places like Cornell.

I think the biggest adjustment factor for a New York City student would be the small town/rural environment. This is the kind of school where you are going to be able to look up at night and see a sky full of stars. Not every city kid is ready for that, so I think it really needs to be suited to the individual. With that said, it is less than an hour to Albany, so it isn't as isolated as it might look.

Thanks SUNY Cobleskill for hosting us and giving me a much better understanding of the range of options within the SUNY system.

Thanks McGill!


Last week, I attended a breakfast session hosted by McGill University, one of the most popular and well known Canadian schools for American students. Even though I don't see a lot of volume of Canadian college applications, we have had students enroll before and I think it is important to understand all college options, including those located outside the United States.

The application process at McGill is different than that of most American colleges. The application calendar is a bit more relaxed (no October or November deadlines) and students have a bit more time to get their documents submitted. Admission is competitive but it is mainly numbers driven. McGill looks to see evidence of academic performance during 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. They want to see the ACT or SAT and two subject tests (but strong AP scores can be submitted in place of these if necessary). Students must apply directly to a faculty (aka major/department) and subject specific grades will be looked at with greater scrutiny. Character references and extracurricular involvement are really not the focus of McGill's admission process and those type of supporting documents are not required.

One fourth of students at McGill are international students so the transition should be easier than it might be at a different more obscure international campus. Montreal is also a very young and vibrant city, with more students per capita than Boston.

For students looking to study Nutrition or Environmental Science, there is a second campus about twenty miles from the main downtown campus called MacDonald where students can pursue these fields.

A big thing to consider when looking outside the US is that financial aid will be limited. However, also keep in mind that the total cost is lower than American colleges and the exchange rate is currently favorable. This means that a McGill education will likely be the same as, if not less expensive than, a private US college. There are some need based aid opportunities too that students can apply for via the McGill Bursaries. Once a student graduates from McGill, Canada will allow them to stay in the country for up to three years, even if they do not have a job to sponsor their visa. On this note about immigration paperwork, any student planning to attend McGill should be reminded to be sure their passport is up to date and that they have their CAQ and Study Permit in order well in advance of matriculation. Financially, it might be a good fit for students who know they won't qualify for need based aid at a US college.

Thanks to McGill for a great and informative breakfast!

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