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College Search Strategies
Portola Valley, CA
650-207-0305 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Admissions

  • "Finding College STEM programs that are right for your student" from Dare 2B Digital Conference, 3/1/14

    There are many STEM programs in wonderful universities and colleges across the nation! Below are the names of some I received from professional educators and colleges, as well as comments. Also a few links for internship or camp-type activities to learn more about the world of STE(A*) M…

    Nancy Wigley speaking at Dare 2B Digital 2014(A* is for Artistic/Creative Arts students)

    College programs recommended:

    • Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA
    • Smith College
    • Purdue University
    • U of Connecticut
    • Dartmouth College
    • Binghamton University (SUNY)
    • Georgia Institute of Technology
    • SUNY Stony Brook
    • U of Central Florida
    • Bryn Mawr College
    • Whitman College
    • U of Washington
    • U of Pennsylvania
  • "How to Choose the Right College Admissions Help for Your Family"

    As your child progresses through high school, particularly now during the second semester of sophomore and junior year, you are probably thinking about whether you need an independent counselor to help with the college search and admission process. High school counselors seem to be swamped and sometimes do not have the time to know each child well. It's National High School Counselor Week... and we applaud their work! Tireless and seemingly unending. They are required to work for each student, as well as keep up on latest admission trends, train teachers, answer parents' questions, and report to the administration. We thank them for all they do!! 

    An independent consultant, on the other hand, can supplement what the high school counselor offers. Your child is unique! Perhaps you want someone who will spend many hours with your child working to best understand his needs, dreams, talents and academic strengths and weaknesses. The independent educational consultant or college counselor should be respectful. Using her skills and expertise to help reduce stress and anxiety for your teen and you. The independent counselor should strive to work as part of the college-bound team with the high school counselor, the college admissions, your teen and you to guide you to finding the best "fit" colleges. 

  • Essay Topics: "My Summer Vacation"--interested? Hmm...

    As students begin the work of writing essays, we can reflect back to school days when we would have to write about our summer vacation. Remember how you dreaded that first day back to school? I don't think I ever thought that was going to be a very good piece of writing. I hadn't done anything exciting. 

    I believe that's what students face each year as they look at the looming prospect of having to write a personal statement for their college apps. This year, in particular, with the new questions, students and some counselors are truly struggling with how to get the "right" answer. 

  • Essays... where do I begin?

    Summertime-- and I'm supposed to write essays. Wait! That's not how the song goes!! But it is how summer seems to go for the rising high school seniors of today. College applications are looming and getting an early start on the college essay can make the "application season" easier. Where to begin? 

    The Personal Statement, or college essay, is the opportunity--really!--to tell admissions readers and decision makers something about you that cannot be found anywhere else on your application. You've heard again and again not to write about your sport, but when that is where you have spent a lot of your high school career, how can you avoid it? Find a moment in that sport or choir rehearsal or summer vacation with your family, when you faced a challenge of some kind, or failed to meet your expectations, or challenged the rules of etiquette. And something other than you failed to win the game. How about when you failed to swing at Strike 3 because you were thinking about who was on the airplane flying overhead? Or you swam your best time, but forgot to wait for the relay touch before you had taken off from the starting block? Or when you knew your music so well, and you began to sing after taking a quick breath only to realize you came in too early? Well, you get it, right? You can also write about the club or foundation you founded and why it means so much to you.

  • High School Student? Second Semester? Do I need an Independent Counselor?

    Time flies when you're having fun!--or just raising a family. Suddenly you realize it's January, not even early January, but mid-to-late January! Should you panic? When is the right time to start looking for an independent college counselor, and really, do you need one? 

    Well, that's two questions:  First, Do you need one? 

  • Looking at Admissions

    Here is a wonderful post about the Business of College Admissions written by my insightful colleague Patrick J. O'Connor, PhD.:

  • The Value of the Campus Visit

    This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting several colleges and universities in Oregon! It was my first trip to the state and my first trip to see some pretty well-known and popular colleges for students from northern California. I have heard about these schools for years--even had students apply to them!--but I had never seen the campuses with my own eyes. 

    When I talk to parents and students about college visits, it is sometimes difficult to stress how important actually setting foot on a campus can be! With internet accessibility and student blogs... plus the lists of best colleges that can be found online, in books and in magazines... even on Facebook... it is hard to imagine what the value of physically seeing the campus is. I have to tell you, my experience this weekend was eye-opening for me! For no other reason than, now I can tell students and their families about these colleges first-hand. I feel so much more informed! 

  • Why didn't my child get into???

    This is an open letter to my private independent counseling colleagues:
     
    I think it is difficult--always--to know how a college is making their decisions. They give us parameters, publish statistics and yet, and yet... deserving kids get in and deserving kids don't. There is no right or wrong. Fair or unfair? Hard to know. I have a student who did not get in  while cohorts with lower test scores and gpa did. Was it their major choice? Was it what they wrote? Was it the courses they took? Was it how they spent their summers? Do we know? Will we ever know? No. 
    Meanwhile, I have students who are getting in. And receiving Honors and recognitions. Lucky them. Some get into UCLA but not Berkeley. Some get waitlisted at most UCs and accepted to or denied from others. Does it make sense? Can we determine the why/how and wherefore? No. 
     
    I always call the UCs "Wild Cards." They are. 
     
    With 104,000 + applications to UCLA, it is not easy for anyone to know who will and won't be admitted. 
    Every college is trying to create a community of students: athletes, artists, academicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, communicators, extroverts, introverts, first-generations, under-represented, full pay legacies... all of it. All of them. So this year YOUR students with those qualifications didn't get in, but perhaps students that others have worked with who have similar qualifications did. You have no way of knowing. 
     
    I think you say, "I'm sorry," to your students. Be compassionate, kind, sorrowful...for a bit. Then you say to them, You have other choices. Move on. Work hard. Do the best with what you've got. We made your list of colleges based on multiple factors. Here are the cards you've been dealt. The final decisions by colleges are not really PERSONAL. It may feel like it, but truth is... maybe they were looking for another oboe player, or one less swimmer, or a student who shows an interest in philosophy or grammar... we have no idea."
     
    And according to the UCs they are not doing affirmative action. They are trying to give educational opportunities to underrepresented and first gen kids... but beyond that... they say no. No racial profiling. 
    Best regards during this stressful time... WE did our best. Right? We can only help our students see that they, too, gave their best. That's all we can do. What other people choose to do with our best is out of our control. 
     
    Now, what about this wonderful group of Juniors (Class of 2015) we're working with?......