College Search Strategies
Portola Valley, CA
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Public Colleges/Universities

  • My Sweet Tea Tour of South Carolina

    For the past week I have been touring 13 colleges, mostly in South Carolina, with 41 other high school and independent college counselors and consultants. As the guests of these great schools, we saw how interesting and unique each one is in its own right.

    The big question is "would students from California be interested in some of these Southern colleges and universities?" I have to say "yes!" In some cases the educational opportunities are so personal, as at Furman, Wofford, Converse, and Presbyterian. All of them offer wonderful state-of-the-art facilities. In the cases of U of North Carolina-Asheville and Western Carolina University, we saw brand new buildings that will be opening this Fall! No "outsiders" had set foot in them yet! We were the first! (Ah, the smell of new carpet!)

    Clemson University showed us their new Architecture building which opened this past Spring! All of the new buildings we saw are Green, Green, Green! And if they don't have the LEED status yet, they will! From Gold to Platinum.... Warren Wilson College is a special place unto itself where students work on the farm, in the blacksmith shop, the recycling center or in the kitchen (to name a few jobs), as well as go to classes and earn their bachelor's degree.

    From the southern charm of College of Charleston to the rah-rah football stadiums at Clemson, U of South Carolina and Western Carolina University... students today have many choices and often at a great value.

    All in all, it was a wonderful trip! I did drink sweet tea---and for a short while, found myself speaking with a southern drawl! If y'all want to know more, contact me at

    --Nancy Wigley

  • 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?......