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Collegewise – Admissions advice from Kevin McMullin Collegewise Admissions advice from Kevin McMullin Still spot-on today April 7, 2017 by Kevin McMullin There’s nothing particularly new or surprising in high school counselor extraordinaire Patrick O’Connor’s “The Ten Things We Learned this Application Season.” And that’s precisely why I’m sharing it here. So much of the buzz, confusion, and anxiety surrounding college admissions comes from the sense that it’s an ever-changing process. Moving targets. Changing rules. One small mistake, missing piece of advice, or lacking kernel of information away from total admissions disaster. Yes, some things do change, sometimes in a big way. The FAFSA had a new deadline this year. Individual colleges can change their requirements, filing deadlines, or application options. You can’t assume that everything your older brother or sister (or your older children) experienced will be exactly the same the second time around. But the most important steps, the core tenets of college planning, don’t change. In fact, every single item on O’Connor’s list was true when I founded Collegewise nearly 18 years ago. And they’re still spot-on today. Filed Under: Uncategorized Parents: start the trend at home April 6, 2017 by Kevin McMullin Some college admissions articles resonate so much with readers that many people forward them to me, and that was certainly true with the recent New York Times piece “Check This Box if You’re a Good Person.” But the article also struck a chord with the counselor community as a whole, both inside and outside of Collegewise (many have been posting and commenting on social media). I can hear what the cynics will say. It’s a sweet message, but “nice” doesn’t get you into good colleges. You can’t list “nice” on a college application. If the writer likes nice kids so much, why did she and her former colleagues at Dartmouth focus so much on grades, test scores, and impressive activities? But naysayers, especially those who are parents, are missing the larger message. Parents, what kind of teen are you hoping to raise? Do you want to raise one with perfect grades and high test scores? Or are you trying to raise a mature, compassionate, and, yes, nice human being? Of course, those two outcomes are not mutually exclusive. There are plenty of kids at the top of their class who are also compassionate, sensitive, generous, etc. But here’s the parental gut check: are you teaching, acknowledging, and praising the behaviors that make your teen a good person? Or has the college admissions frenzy caused you to ignore those traits in favor of teaching, acknowledging, and praising behaviors that lead to stronger GPAs, test scores, resumes, etc.? The author would love to start a trend where colleges “foster the growth of individuals who show promise not just in leadership and academics, but also in generosity of spirit.” Until that day, why not start the trend at home? Filed Under: Advice for parents TED talks for leaders April 5, 2017 by Kevin McMullin I haven’t yet watched all of Inc.’s 9 Best TED Talks to Help You Become a Better Leader, but if 1, 4, 6, 8, and 9 on the list are any indication of the quality, the entire list is worth a watch. And like so much to do with leadership, you don’t need a formal title to benefit from the information (or to lead people). Filed Under: Uncategorized Seek good certainty April 4, 2017 by Kevin McMullin I always remind seniors who are weighing their college options that some amount of uncertainty is normal. That’s the way that big decisions like a job offer to accept, a new city in which to live, and yes, a college to attend, work. You do as much research, thinking, and soul searching as you can. Then you just have to listen to your gut and make the leap. Don’t assume that you necessarily have to be sure of this choice when you make it. In fact, that uncertainty is often the best part. But here’s one thing you can be absolutely certain of–if you take on student debt to attend college, you’re going to have to pay it back. Whether you’ve already identified your post-college career or haven’t even chosen a major yet, life will always offer uncertainties. You may fall in love with a career option that just doesn’t pay very well. You may not get into the graduate school that you hoped to attend. You may land–but then be laid off from–your dream job. These things happen even to smart, successful people. And if they happen to you, you’ll need to be flexible and resilient to keep going. But your student loan lenders will not care how your plans changed or what unforeseen circumstances you’re facing. They’ll want to be paid on time. That’s a certainty. This is not an argument that you shouldn’t take on student debt. I think that’s a decision that each student needs to make with their family. And there are certainly adults who are not only thankful that they took on the debt required to attend the college they did, but also very proud that they responsibly paid off what they owed. But the more debt you assume when you start college, the bigger role that debt will play in your post-college plans. The less debt you owe, student loan or otherwise, the more freedom you’ll have to make decisions based on what’s best for you, not best for your creditor, and the more flexible you’ll be able to be when life has different plans. And nobody ever lost sleep at night because they just didn’t owe enough people more money. The more uncertainty you have about your college and your future career, the more cautious you should be taking on a potentially large debt to attend. If the only thing you can be sure of today is that the school you’re about to choose won’t leave you with hefty student loans when you graduate, that’s a pretty good certainty to carry with you to college. Filed Under: Choosing colleges, Financial aid/scholarships The deep end of the waitlist discussion April 3, 2017 by Kevin McMullin Parke Muth is a former associate dean of admissions at University of Virginia and an independent college counselor. In his most recent blog post, he gives one of the frankest, most thorough discussions of the admissions waitlist—what it means, why colleges use them, and how to determine your odds of being moved to a yes. This is not “Five Easy Tips to Improve your Odds of Being Taken off the Waitlist.” Muth wades into the deep end and actually explains both the reasoning and the numbers behind this policy that’s become so rampant at selective colleges. I did particularly enjoy this advice, which echoes a lot of my own from past posts: “To me, most students would be much better off taking the time to embrace the school they have paid a deposit to attend. Start wearing the school sweatshirt, start filling out all the stuff that the schools send, gets on the entering class Facebook page etc. Start imaging a great life ahead instead of focusing on what will likely not happen.” Some of the statistics and harsh truths might be d...

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