College Counselor’s Corner: From the Counselor’s Perspective

As I approached the second floor this morning, I heard holiday music playing in the background. December is exciting, and it’s a month of anticipation. For Early applicants, decisions are close at hand. For seniors and juniors, a look at the first trimester grades this week hopefully reinforced an important message: success and rigor are huge for those setting their sights high. As we ready ourselves for a new month, here are some noteworthy items that might be relevant to you and your student.

College Admissions: The Counselor’s Perspective
When faced with answering uncomfortable questions about chances of admission from families and students, I often respond, “Do you want me to be brutally honest?” That’s why I read with particular interest “Ethical College Admissions: Reality Therapy for Applicants,” published this week in Inside Higher Ed. Author James Jump, a veteran counselor and author, aptly describes college counseling as a “profession in which we struggle between offering applicants hope and support and speaking the truth about the viability of their application.” He states:

“In a hyperselective environment, where fewer than one in 10 applicants are admitted, no one’s credentials assure admission. Superb grades and scores are, to borrow phrasing from logic, necessary but not sufficient. Colleges and universities use the admission process to help achieve institutional goals and priorities, goals and priorities that may not be publicly stated. As a result an offer of admission is partly merit, partly meeting institutional needs and partly luck.”

Your Busy Student
Frequently, parents and students ask about which activities “look the best on applications.” Of course, I tell students to just do what they really care about rather than accumulate a long list that could fill a resume. Last week, the Journal’s Sue Shellenbarger told parents, “Step Away from Your Over-Scheduled High School Student.” She encourages them (you) to “avoid meddling, but be prepared to draw the line when teens suffer too much.” Shellenbarger cited the advice of several counselors about reducing the load when necessary, with an important message that should sound familiar: “academics come first.”

College Board is on the verge of releasing PSAT scores to counselors (next week) and students (the following week). Since it eliminated the January test date, students have until March to work with the score reports and actual test booklets to understand their hits and misses. I’m working on putting together a session for interested parents and hopefully will have more details soon.

Interestingly, I just received marketing material from College Board stating, “Offer the SAT in school, on a school day.” That’s right; in an effort to compete with ACT, they want schools to cancel classes and reshuffle programs to accommodate another standardized test in 2018. They add, “SAT School Day helps you clear a path to college by giving all your students a chance to show colleges they’re ready.”

Sorry, College Board. We’ll stick to the PSAT day, only. Students can show colleges they’re ready by doing well in a rigorous curriculum and pursuing their passions.

Incidentally, Catalyst, a company I met with in September in Boston, is offering a Live Online SAT/ACT Combo course in January. They invite Hudson students to attend the first session of the course completely free and are also offering a $100 early bird discount to students who enroll in the entire course before December 17th. The cost of the course is $499 normally, but with the early bird discount it’s just $399. For more information or to enroll, call 800.235.0056 or email

Interviewing: A Job for Alums?
When Hudson students are seniors, they are required to take Senior Interview. Sometimes, they have interviews while they’re actually taking the course, which heightens class discussion. And often, they receive a request for an alumni interview just after they finish the course. So it was with great interest that I read”When Alumni Interviewers Screw Up, Things Get Weird” in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Author Eric Hoover starts by sharing a recent privacy snafu related to Harvard alumni interviews in Southern California and goes on to question the purpose and effectiveness of having alumni interview students, stating, “ . . . some college counselors and admissions officers have long believed that alumni have no business interviewing students in the first place — and that such interactions often do more harm than good.”

Why have alumni interviews, anyway? According to Hoover, such interviews are “a means of keeping alumni happy and engaged, which might make them more likely to donate to their alma mater. Moreover, some graduates know that serving their college as an alumni interviewer year after year makes a strong impression, which certainly can’t hurt when their own children apply.” As a former alumni interviewer, I couldn’t agree more; Brown alums took their interviewer roles seriously but got tired of having their candidates repeatedly turned down.

Alumni interviews carry only so much weight. But I always tell students to pursue allinterview opportunities and use them to build a lifelong skill.

Hot Colleges
This week, the Wall Street Journal featured “Top Rural or Small-Town Colleges in the Northeast,” The overall winner? Dartmouth, with its first-rate education and small town of Hanover, where I get my favorite tuna sandwich and shake at Lou’s. Leading the Northeast list for graduate outcomes, as determined by salaries, debt and graduation rates, is Williams, while Bucknell tops the list for graduate salaries alone.

Who can resist picturesque Dartmouth? 

Dartmouth didn’t finish first in Ivy football, but Big 10 University of Wisconsin Madison continues its undefeated season. However,was the phrase “On Wisconsin” created for the gridiron? According to an article published by the university last week, the phrase actually stemmed from the Civil War, when the Wisconsin Infantry forged ahead to help win the Battle of Missionary Ridge. (Did you know the answer to this trivia question, @PaulPerkinson and @JeffGould?) It wasn’t until the early 1900s that “On, Wisconsin” became a football song. The Badgers, by the way, face Ohio State tomorrow evening.

These days, Camp Randall is the site of Wisconsin’s battles.

Local Colleges
Some of your students seem surprised when reps from local colleges describe very good opportunities not too far from home. Here’s the latest from nearby New Jersey institutions.

Stevens reminds prospects that it has received a $15 million endowment, the largest in the university’s history, for underrepresented students studying engineering, computer science and cyber security.

Saint Peter’s reports the receipt of a $1.4 million grant to support STEM education, responding to the need for K-12 teachers. We like that!

Thanks to generous grants from NASA and the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium, several of Seton Hall’s students will receive funding to assist in NASA’s various missions and conduct research in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as aerospace.

Seton Hall Pirates will find new adventures in space.

Next month, I’ll be reaching out to all junior families to schedule a meeting. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to email me with questions.

Contact Me
Nina Berler
(201) 859-3665 ext. 119
2017-12-01T11:53:01+00:00 December 1st, 2017|
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