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
Brown University
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
Dartmouth 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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Monday, May 9, 2016

Redesigned SAT Concordance Release

2012 Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Today the College Board posted the concordance charts between the old SAT and the redesigned SAT. They also created an app you can download to convert the scores.

Let's first break down what a concordance table is. A concordance table allows to you make more meaningful comparisons between tests. It lets you say: "I got X on this exam, what would that be if I had taken exam Y?"  So, in this case, for students that got back their redesigned SAT scores this morning, it lets them see what that would have been equivalent to on the old SAT.

Why is concordance important? During this time of transition from the old test to the redesigned test, understanding the relationship between the two scores is very important. Particularly after seeing the actual concordance, it is even more important. Why? Because it appears that especially in the center of the score distribution (aka the place most students fall) there are rather significant changes between old and new. A 1000 was the typical average on the old SAT. But, that 1000 is equal to a 1080 on the redesigned SAT.

This nearly 100 point inflation (on the 1600 point scale) for scores toward the middle of the percentile distribution is significant because the new higher scores might project a false sense of security to students that could be tempted to forget to adjust their score on the concordance table.

For example, schools that used to have an old admitted SAT average score of 1150 are now going to be looking for a 1220 (assuming they continue to admit the same range of student). If you score an 1150 on the redesigned test, you might now be out of range at that school. The entire pool should be shifting together, so this isn't the end of the world. It just means that perspective must be kept in mind.

The inflation toward the center of the distribution also means there is some deflation toward the tails of the distribution. In other words, a 1550 on the old SAT is now a 1560 on the redesigned SAT. A negligible difference. So while students in the middle of the pack are going to see huge jumps, students in the very high or very low range will not feel much of an impact of the new scores at all.

Why would the College Board be doing this? If you asked them, I think they would argue the new test is doing a better job of identifying 'college readiness' and that students were being underestimated on the old test. If you ask me, this new more generous scoring appeals to the student's ego and the College Board hopes these new higher scores will tempt students into taking their test instead of the ACT.

The takeaway here is that for any rising seniors, you must read college pamphlets carefully and understand if they are talking about the new or old SAT when they share their admissions data with you. As always, the best college search is one with a level head. Don't let test scores throw you into a tizzy. And remember you can always go testing optional if all of this pomp and circumstance isn't for you.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Thanks University of New Hampshire!

Photo: Emily Colman
 This April vacation brought me to the University of New Hampshire, a school that I am pleased to say will be making its way into many conversations that I have with ElRo students as we discuss college options. This medium sized land (and sea and space) grant university truly offers the best of lots of different things. There are all kinds of majors: from engineering, to business, to nursing, to the liberal arts (check). It is a gorgeous New England campus with buildings that have managed to be renovated without losing their character (check). The location about an hour from two cities (Boston and Portland) and smack in between the ocean's coastline in one direction and mountains in the other (check). And did I mention that almost every ElRo student would be admissible? This is bordering on unicorn status: the 'likely' that you can like if you are a high achieving student. If I had to compare it to other places, I would say it feels to me like a less hippie University of Vermont and a smaller and more beautiful University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The students I saw seemed grounded and happy. In fact, in a recent Gallup pilot survey of 19 colleges, UNH alumni reported being the happiest later on in life out of all 19 participant schools. If New Hampshire sounds obscure to you, rest assured that they have an Amtrak station on campus. So NYC students can connect through Boston to get there without needing a car. We also go the chance to eat in the dining hall four separate times - something that I really value on college tours. Part of why UNH probably felt this was a good idea is that the food is some of the best college dining food I've had. I wasn't surprised to learn that their dining services are all in-house, not outsourced to a corporation. They had Vegan-friendly, Allergy-friendly and even Passover friendly options.

The curriculum is divided up roughly in thirds - with most divisions having 1/3 of the classes from the major, 1/3 from the core curriculum (known as Discovery) and 1/3 other electives. This allows for exploration and guarantees that all students will leave having some general knowledge in 10 different subject areas that make up the Discovery coursework.

A clear goal of the University is to encourage more study abroad. We learned that, as a nation, the United States sends about 260,000 students per year to study abroad whilst accepting about 1,000,000 foreign students to study abroad here. We can do better and UNH wants to be part of that change.

This school is a real gem. If you want a public D-I school within only a few hours of New York City I strongly recommend you go and visit. The out of state tuition is about $40,000 per year, but many ElRo students would qualify for merit aid that could bring that total down to about $25,000 per year before need-based aid is factored in for those that qualify. I have a good friend who is a fellow college counselor in California and she tipped me off to UNH a few years ago, but now that I've seen it with my own eyes, I can attest: this is a school that deserves to be on a lot of lists.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Thanks ICE!

Last night, I attended a counselor event at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) located in downtown Manhattan. With so much of my knowledge being around traditional four year bachelor's degree programs, it was nice to get to see a culinary school. It is certainly a change of pace.

First, let's be clear, going to culinary school is not for the faint of heart. Working with food is a demanding profession and it is only the right fit for people with a passion for it (because you certainly probably won't be financially compensated, at least not at first). The hours can be challenging, you are on your feet for hours at a time, and learning the skills takes tons of practice. With that said though, for people who love food, the culinary arts is a wonderful track and one that gets you out into the real world and working with your hands (as opposed to sitting in a lecture hall for four years).

At this event, we got to tour the facility and then actually do the prep work to cook the meal we ate for dinner (fresh pasta!). It certainly gave me a huge amount of respect for those working in the restaurant industry. ICE just moved to this location, connected to Brookfield Place, last year and it really is a lovely space. They have everything from classrooms, to test kitchens, to a chocolate lab, to a hydroponic garden where they grow their own herbs and produce.

Culinary school is pricey, no bones about it. But, when you consider that the training only lasts about a year, it isn't that much more of an investment than a traditional four year college the cost is just concentrated over a shorter period of time. (In fact, it could end up costing less, depending on a student's financial aid needs. For example, spending $40,000 in one year or spending $15,000 per year at a four school, I think you can do the math on your own. . . )

One theme they seemed to emphasize is that working in the world of food is much less glamorous than it looks on tv. The students who are best suited for these careers are those who truly love the job. People who just enjoy watching cooking shows or casually cooking for their family are probably not going to make it through the program. On the other hand, people who want to understand the craft and science of fine dining can build a lifelong career via this path. It requires patience and discipline, but their training and externship program gets results.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Thanks Macalester!



This morning we visited our final school of the tour, Macalester College in St. Paul. Unlike the other schools yesterday, Macalester would, by far, be the easier transition for a NYC student because of its urban proximity. The school is surrounded by traditional urban sprawl (with both lovely homes and retail shops/dining options) and is only a few miles from the airport. A “mission driven’ liberal arts college, Macalester focuses on core values like: internationalism, academic excellence, civic engagement, and multiculturalism. While the arts and humanities are alive and well, Macalester also offers interdisciplinary majors like Data Science and International Studies – both of which are very popular. All students have to complete graduation distribution requirements, creating structure made up of flexible options for each of the mandated categories. Both the President and the students we talked to mentioned Macalester’s encouragement of problem solving and creativity. They regularly hold 'Mac-a-thons' and one great idea that was born out of these incubation sessions is something called Nüdl – a student created mealshare program that pairs up culinary hosts with people looking to make new friends and try new foods. Students sign up for the ‘Nüdl’, pay the host a nominal fee (as in, $3-$5 to cover the cost of the food), and get together to eat. The student we were chatting with was Honduran and hosting a Nüdl for six people later that day. It sounds so amazing! 

With 2,000 students, Macalester’s commitment to global issues is nothing new. While they have Kofi Annon as an alum, the UN flag has been flying on their quad since the 1950s, decades before Annon assumed his role as Secretary-General. They have had international students since before it was cool to have international students. Perhaps my favorite part of the morning though was the mini-lectures they arranged for us. Too many schools overlook this great resource on these types of counselor tours. They give us faculty on panels but they don’t let the faculty shine in their natural habitat: the classroom. This is a missed opportunity, because the 20 minute music lecture we got this morning was highly engaging, enjoyable, and educational. What better way to see the liberal arts in action than by showing us, not just telling us. If you want a small liberal arts school in a thriving city and you care about social justice or social action, Macalester checks off a lot of boxes and awards merit aid. 

Overall, my first trip to Minnesota was a huge success. Thank you to these three schools for hosting me and giving us such an in depth look at your campuses!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Thanks St. Olaf and Carleton!


Greetings from Minnesota! Despite growing up in the Midwest, I've never had the pleasure of visiting Minnesota before, but I'm happy to report that I have the opportunity to see three great schools this week. I was greeted at the airport by a therapy dog, there to just hang out with the airport visitors. Welcome to the Midwest. Can you imagine this being a thing at LaGuardia? Yeah. I thought not.

St. Olaf's current renovation project - totally gutted for an interior make-over.
Weekly 'word of the week' buttons in the library -- quirky and fun!
Today, the tour began with a visit to St. Olaf College, located less than an hour from the Twin Cities. The largest of the three schools I'd be seeing with about 3,000 students, St. Olaf describes themselves as 'intensely residential.' It was hard to ignore just how bright and shiny all of the facilities were. Virtually every building we stepped into (save the dormitory, which was by no means ancient, just more of a standard dorm you'd expect) was either new or fully renovated. A defining characteristic of St. Olaf would be their thriving music scene. Though they are not a conservatory, a staggering 45% of the student body is involved in either a choral or instrumental group on campus (this includes both music majors and those who just enjoy music as a hobby). I came to learn that their annual winter choir concert is broadcast on PBS every year and every dorm has at least one Steinway piano in a common space for students to play. Their Jazz Band just returned from a trip to Cuba where they had the opportunity to play for President Obama. They are one of only a handful of Liberal Arts colleges in the country to be fully accredited in all four arts disciplines (visual art, music, theater, and dance).  Values and ethics are important at St. Olaf, no doubt in connection with their Lutheran roots (an affiliation that is still alive and well, with daily, albeit optional, Chapel). This is the kind of campus where you'll encounter scenes of students leaving laptops, phones, bags, purses and coats unaccompanied without a second though. Jarring for a New Yorker (truth be told, half of the time I won't even take my cell phone out on the subway), but embraced in Northfield, Minnesota. Add this to the list of schools with a serious Honor Code. The school calendar is set up on a 4-1-4 system, with a January term that allows for students to take one in-depth course either on campus or abroad. This school part of the 'Colleges That Change Lives' network and I can see why their small, caring, and creative community fosters a sense of meaning and connection. I also have to give credit where credit is due: their dining hall rocked. Perhaps the final reason to consider St. Olaf though would be the fact that they are able to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need AND at the same time are not impossible to get into (Naviance lists their acceptance rate at right around 50%). When I try to think of other schools that meet need and are able to take such a high percentage of qualified applicants, it makes my brain hurt--- and not just because I have been up since 6 am today. St. Olaf checks off a lot of 'boxes' on the 'things to be desired in a college', not to mention the fact that you could be reminded of Rose Nyland's spirit every day for four years.

Carleton!

Read the legend on the right for the different quiet levels in the library at Carleton. Obsessed!

Campus snapshot, with the bookstore in the background.

After lunch, we headed over to Carleton College, which you can actually see off in the distance from St. Olaf's campus. With only about 2,000 students, Carleton is filled to the brim with interesting students who love to learn passionately, think deeply, and come from all across the country (and world). They are collaborative, "research abundant," unpretentious, and seek/receive not just knowledge but also friendship from their professors. Carleton runs on a trimester system and this allows their students to fit in an extra course per year (remember the theme of wanting to learn passionately? If fitting in extra classes doesn't appeal to you, Carleton probably won't appeal to you). We were told that Carleton students "have a high idling speed" -- meaning they are not satisfied coasting. Students seek engagement both inside and outside of the classroom. Understand that it isn't a place only for the arts and humanities -- Computer Science actually just passed Biology as the most popular major on campus. STEM kids need not avoid these kind of small schools, we got to meet a graduating Physics major currently picking among EIGHT PhD program acceptances of which she's narrowed it down to two: Cornell and Northwestern. If you don't know how impressive that is, let me just save you some Googling: it's impressive. At this point in my career, I've been on over 140 college tours, so when I encounter a new tour strategy for the first time, I notice. My Carleton tour guide (A Stuyvesant grad-- go NYCDOE!) did something I've never seen before: whenever our tour passed by someone she knew on campus, she yelled out to them "Hey ____, what's your favorite part about Carleton?" and they would yell back their answer. She did this about a dozen times over the course of the hour tour and it was GENIUS. What better way to accomplish two goals at once: show us the beauty of a small school where you can walk around for an hour and run into a dozen people you know on a first name basis and show your tour group that regular people who aren't tour guides have positive things to say about the school. [Their answers, for what is worth, included multiple votes for "the people," multiple votes for our tour guide, more than one academic department, and the Ultimate Frisbee team] Like St. Olaf, Carleton also meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted students. It seems to me that the students who thrive here are those who take joy in studying -- a professor on a panel even shared that she felt she has to keep an eye on how much work she assigns because she knows the Carleton students won't rest until they've done it all --- their motivation can sometimes overtake their judgement. This is something that might sound familiar to a lot of ElRo students. . .

The bus schedule to get students where they need to go.
Lest anyone be nervous that I'm just selling the Midwest Kool-Aid and I'm trying to dupe city kids into a place where they will be stranded from real life, please know that both of these schools have daily shuttles to and from key places where students might need to go--so no car or driver's license is necessary. Students can easily get to Target, the Mall of America, and the airport in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I'm not be facetious when I say, where else would a college student from NYC need to go? Today was a phenomenal day. Excited to see Macalester tomorrow!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

We're here!


I've already sent out a message to all current seniors and their parents in advance of this 'decision season' but I also wanted to make a blog post as we approach the final moments of the waiting game that is the college application process. This time of year is special because for a large chunk of seniors, it is when they go from hoping they will be picked to being the person doing the picking. It is a quite rapid (and sometimes overwhelming) shift, so if it is the position you find yourself or your child in, don't worry, your feelings are natural.

I always start by drawing attention to this gifts and challenges post that I wrote way back when this blog was in its infancy. I point it out every year because I think the message still holds true. This process is long, and can be exhausting, and can be confusing - but in the end, you'll survive it and probably be better for it. Whether you got into your dream school or are faced with fewer choices than you wanted, I'm confident in your success because I believe in you not in the name of the college on your diploma four years from now. Tape that on a post-it on your bathroom mirror if you have to. Repeat it to yourself as a mantra. In the words of Frank Bruni, where you go is not who you'll be.

While not quite over yet, this has appeared to be a year with lots of waitlisting. Schools do this as a way to manage their enrollment and maximize their stats (to ultimately help an obscure magazine sell copies). If you find yourself in this position, remember that you could always only enroll in one place. Twenty years from now, be it if you were placed on one waitlist or eight waitlists, you'll remember the place you ended up enrolling, not the places you didn't. There is usually no way to predict waitlist movement. Every year is unpredictable - that is, after all, why waitlists exist in the first place. A school could unexpectedly over-enroll (and thus not need their waitlist). A school could see deposits with a great gender imbalance, requiring them to fill beds in a dorms in a certain pattern. Instead of pouring energy into knowing if/when you'll get off of a waitlist - put that energy into two tasks. 1) Contact the college where you are waitlisted and give them a brief but sincere summary of your continued interest and any accomplishments that have happened since you've applied. Only do this if you actually are interested in attending that school more than every other place you got in. This isn't a competition for trophy collecting. If you want to stay on a waitlist "just to see if you can get in", even when you know full well you are picking a different college, please seriously reconsider your motivations. You are being unfair to the college and unfair to the other people on the waitlist who would be serious contenders to enroll. 2) Get excited about the places where you were admitted. Somewhere out there wants you. I'm a firm believer that every college can be a place for growth, social happiness, and academic inspiration. Having a negative attitude from the start is a recipe for trouble. This fall I told you you needed to like your likelys. Now is the time to walk that walk.

Yesterday morning, we had an awesome PTA meeting speaker named Sean Grover. While much of his talk was only tangentially related to the college process, I think a few of the things he brought up do connect to this process. First and foremost, parents/guardians please remember that your children notice everything about the messages you explicitly and implicitly send. If you aren't on board with your senior's college options, it will be hard for them to get on board. The train is leaving the station and we need you on it. Repeat in your household how proud you are of your kids. Even if you've said it before, say it again. Use words. Use actions. Use hugs. Let them overhear you telling your friends. You are building memories every day together. Make this final stretch of the college process a time filled with praise and celebration. Your final visits to admitted student days will be over in a blink of an eye. If you catch yourself bickering or feeling tense as a family, press reset and reminder yourself that this is going to be a big transition and both adults and kids need to be there for one another.

In closing, I don't want to fail to mention another elephant in the room. Money. College is designed to be an investment. In fact, it is designed (in a lot of cases) to be a pretty serious investment. As in the cost of an apartment (ok, an apartment in an outer borough, but you get it) kind of serious investment. Would you buy an apartment without seeing it? Would you buy an apartment without comparing it to the other apartments you could be buying? Would you let a person who can't even legally buy alcohol be the sole decision maker in buying an apartment? I say this because every year I see families who make enrollment decisions with total disregard to family finances. They don't even sit down and calculate the net costs for all of their options-- opting instead to just enroll at the 'best' school or 'first choice' school they got into. This is nuts! You filled out the FAFSA. You did the paperwork and the applications. You owe it to yourself to at least make an informed decision about the exact billed costs at each place and the exact amount of discounts (meaning scholarships, grants, or other institutional aid that won't be paid back) that you are being offered. This doesn't mean you have to pick the least expensive school. But, it does mean that you should at least be making an informed decision. If you opt to take out loans in order to go to a more expensive options, at least understand the exact dollar amounts ahead of time. Sacrificing planning for retirement to pay for school is NOT a smart idea. Enrolling at a second or third choice school in exchange for preparing for the future is not cruel. In fact, it might be the most benevolent thing a parent can do for their child.

Congrats to the Class of 2016! We're here!

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