Friday, December 18, 2015

What to do after receiving a deferral from an EA or ED application

So you’ve received a deferral from your “dream school,” the one to which you applied early because you were ready to sign on the dotted line. What do you do now?

You can simply move on and finish your other college applications or you can let admissions officers know you are still eager to be considered in the next round. 

Here’s some advice on writing a letter of continued interest to a college/university from which you’ve received a deferral:

Read this still timely article from the New York Times college admissions blog, The Choice, “You Got Deferred. Now What?”  Two college admissions deans offer their advice on next steps.

Look over this suggested template for a letter of continued interest from AcademicHelp.Net.

Here are my additional suggestions for drafting a letter:

--Keep it short.  Academic Help suggests a page or less; I think a half page is better.

--Wait to write until you have something new to report—fall semester grades, an award, a completed project, something not mentioned on your college application.

--Don’t wait too late, however.  Time your letter to arrive early in the evaluation period for Regular Decision applicants.

--Be polite, but not stiff.  Make sure your personal voice and passion come through. 

--Be realistic about your chances of selection in the Regular Decision pool.  Many schools defer a large number of candidates from Early Decision, so the likelihood of being selected may be quite small.  Work harder on your remaining applications, making sure the schools you have selected are good fits for you academically and socially.

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

7 Reasons to Consider Applying to Emory University

We just returned from our Thanksgiving holiday in Atlanta, Georgia, where we had the opportunity to visit the Emory University campus.  Though few of my advisees have considered attending schools in the South, I think Emory deserves strong consideration.  Here are my 7 reasons why:
1) First focus of any college consideration should be academics, and Emory has strong programs in many areas including business, psychology, the natural sciences and history.  Pre-meds are particularly attracted to the school as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) is located on campus.

2) Emory’s size of approximately 8,000 undergraduates makes it an appealing medium-sized institution with plenty of variety in courses and majors, a diverse student body, and, though lacking a football team, plenty of school spirit for winning teams in swimming, baseball, volleyball and golf.  Students who want a smaller liberal arts experience can start their Emory career for the first two years at the Oxford campus, located in a small town near Atlanta with a total enrollment of less than 1,000 students.

3) Emory offers generous and attractive merit aid, unusual for a very selective school.

4) When we toured the campus we were impressed by the number of new buildings and the school’s excellent facilities including a state of the art gym, new dormitories, classrooms and laboratories—many in gleaming pink and white marble.

5) The city of Atlanta is at the campus doorstep with many cultural and entertainment opportunities.  It’s truly a sophisticated and interesting city—home to both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coca Cola.

6) Georgia’s climate allows for three comfortable seasons—fall, winter and spring—and who stays for summers anyway?

7) Emory has formed a partnership with the Dalai Lama to offer classes in meditation, Buddhism and Tibetan Art and Culture.  Through this program students can study on campus with visiting monks or study abroad at special summer intensives in Tibet.  Way cool!

I hope you’ll give Emory and colleges and universities in the South another look!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Is College Worth the Investment??

Will College Pay Off? is the title of a recent book by Wharton Business School Professor Peter Cappelli on college costs, graduation rates, and job placement.  As college tuition costs continue to significantly outpace inflation year after year, this question has become a hot topic.  The answer is complex and difficult to assess.  Skimming through the book, I encountered troubling statistics about U.S. college graduation rates—currently at about 60%--and the fact that Americans lead the world in spending for college degrees. 

Historically and continuing today, college graduates earn more on average than those without a college degree, but according to some studies, that gap is narrowing.   Many critics and parents ask: is the ROI—Return on Investment—worth it?

(For more discussion of the trends in college costs and job placement, see this week’s New Yorker’s discussion of Cappelli’s analysis in “College Calculus: What’s the Real Value of Higher Education?” September 7, 2015 issue. )

Although I don’t believe it’s possible to assign a monetary value on a college degree, I understand many families who are reluctant to pay such a high cost for their daughter’s or son’s undergraduate degree.

Aside from evaluating a college or universities career services and internship possibilities, how can applicants determine whether or not attending a particular school will help them establish a viable career afterwards?

Here are some databases you might use to infer the ROI and job placement of schools on your son’s or daughter’s college list: compares average net price and graduation rates of up to 5 colleges at a time. ranks colleges that graduate highest earners--but this is skewed toward institutions
that only offer technical degrees, which brings up their ratings considerably.

--TheWhite House College Affordability and Transparency Center College Scorecard: gives college costs, graduation rate, median borrowing, and employment information for some colleges. after searching for a particular college, check under the career tab to see the school's graduation rates, ROI and and ROE (Return on Education) rating by the Review.  These are certainly not exact figures but might give you a basis for comparison among different schools.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How to Raise an Adult--new book vital for parents of teens. . .and younger

Check out this new book by former Freshman Dean at Stanford, Julie Lythcott-Haims:
How to Raise and Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare your Kid for Success

The first two sections of the book examine the phenomenon of helicopter parenting (over-parenting) and the third charts “another way,” in which I found many thoughtful ideas and suggestions.

After her 10 years experience working with Stanford students, extensive research, and considerable reflection, Lythcott-Haims proposes an alternative parenting method.  Here are her main points, each of which is developed in a separate chapter:

Give them unstructured time--this, of course, needs to start early, before elementary school.)

Teach life skills--Lythcott-Haims lists and explains skills important for different developmental stages.)

Teach them how to think--she gives possible scripts for initiating conversations at dinner and other situations.

Prepare them for hard work--this very valuable chapter details the benefits of assigning chores.)

Let them chart their own path--how to remove the “scaffolding” to empower kids to become independent young adults.

Normalize struggle--Let your children fail—and learn from it.

Have a wider mind-set about colleges--Lythcott-Haims discusses how to look beyond brand new schools to find an excellent education.

Listen to them--this goes without saying. . .

*Also, on the same topic, see my earlier blog post on “life skills” essential for college (College Readiness: Beyond the high school transcript).

This book may be the start of a critical conversation about how parents (myself included) can learn to empower rather than enable our kids.  Happy reading!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Transition to college--advice from a former freshman

I'm thinking about this year's incoming freshman this August as they prepare to leave home in the upcoming weeks.  I wish you all well and hope that your first year in college is both exciting and successful.

This week's New York Times Education Life Section focuses on the first year of college--making friends, adapting to dorm life, choosing a major and so on.  I think the article "Making Friends in New Places," gives particularly helpful advice.

I also asked my daughter, Lily, who completed her freshman year at Tufts in May, for advice she would offer incoming college students.  Here are her tips for adapting and thriving in the first year of college:

1) Know and follow your daily rhythms.  Are you a morning or late night person?  When do you study best?  Plan your class schedule as much as possible around times when you will be alert and ready to focus.

2) Balance your course load, especially the first term.  Don't take an overload freshman year no matter how tempting the courses look in the catalogue.  As you gain more experience with a college workload and schedule, you will be better able to take on a heavier course load.

3) Establish a eat, study, sleep routine.  You might have heavy class days M W F and more time to study on T Th or vice versa, but try to keep your weekly schedule consistent and you will use time more wisely and study more effectively.

4) Don't be afraid to drop a class.

5) Ask for help sooner rather than later.  Deal with both academic and residential life conflict as it happens.  It won't go away on its own.  Know where to seek help whether from tutors, RAs or other faculty/staff members.

6) Learn how to spend time alone--studying or resting.

7) Avoid the FOMO syndrome (fear of missing out) your first few weeks. You don't have to pursue every opportunity or new relationship right away.  There will be more chances later.

8) Step out of your comfort zone and try at least one new extra-curricular activity.

9) Keep your social options open during the first term. Don't be exclusive either with a romantic relationship or friendship group; rather seek out and meet new people.

10) Explore the neighborhood or community where your school is located.  Leave the campus "bubble" to gain perspective and enjoy new experiences.

11) Find a way to give back to your campus and/or community  Helping others will boost your self-confidence and your sense of belonging.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Break—an ideal time for campus visits

If you are a parent of a stressed out high school junior, don’t panic—you can visit college campuses either in person or virtually and come away with a 360 degree view of a school in either case.
Whichever route you take, actual or virtual, consider visiting or researching different types of schools: research universities and liberal arts colleges; rural, suburban and urban campuses; private and public universities.  

By experiencing the the overall “vibe” of different campuses, students can begin to focus their college list further, even if they don’t visit all the schools they are interested in. 

Also, it’s a good idea to visit some schools that may only moderately interest or attract your student as during the year between junior and senior spring, young people’s ideas and attitudes can evolve quite a bit.

For tips on planning a college tour, check out an earlier PYW College Search Blog Post: 

And for virtual tours, visit:

Both sites offer full online campus tours as well as videos of students, professors and school events that give viewers a more complete picture of campus life.