College Counselor’s Corner: Getting Ready for the Holidays

Holidays are in the air. As I walk the halls this morning, students are immersed in their lessons. Faculty are doing their best to get as much knowledge and information into your students as possible before break.

Early Decision and Early Action
By next week at this time, many Early applicants will know their fate. Here’s how it works.

  • Early Decision candidates who are accepted withdraw their applications from any other colleges. Barring a financial emergency, they’re legally bound to their college of choice and can enjoy the holidays.
  • Early Decision and Early Action candidates who are deferred or denied should activate their backup plans, which could include sending in other apps or perhaps applying Early Decision II. If your student is deferred and wants to know how to respond to a college, they should see me.
  • Early Action students who are accepted may modify their plans, perhaps not submitting (many) other apps.

Cornell releases its Early decisions on Monday evening.

Hot Colleges
This week, Columbia announced an interesting venture, this time with Trinity College Dublin. Students accepted into the program will receive bachelor’s degrees from both institutions. According to a release by Columbia, “Students with a strong interest in a European approach to language and culture and a desire for a global, nontraditional college experience that combines the academic rigor of two world-renowned universities should consider the Dual BA Program.”

Trinity College Dublin, providing the luck of the Irish to some Columbia students.

College Majors
I happen to know two executives at the Federal Reserve, both women. Yet this week in the Wall Street Journal, we learn that, according to a Fed study, women constitute just 30 percent of the nation’s economics majors and minorities just 12 percent.

Yet let’s look at a popular sports conference: the Ivy League. According to Business Insider, economics is the most popular major at six of the eight colleges! The exceptions are Cornell, where engineering is the top choice, and Penn, where the most popular major is finance. (Of course, Penn has Wharton, so that makes lots of sense.) Does that mean that a disproportionate amount of the 30 percent come from elite institutions?

Additionally, I sought out information on the most popular college major these days and found it was (shock) business.  According to Jeff Sellngo, columnist for the Washington Post, “Business is the most popular major, but it doesn’t mean it’s a good choice.” Sellingo tells us that business majors spend less time reading and writing and make fewer gains in critical thinking versus liberal arts and STEM majors. Not good. The earnings of business majors are inconsistent; some may major in math-focused disciplines like finance, while others study marketing.

Beware. It’s Just Marketing!
More on marketing. Last week, I received a message from a parent whose student had been offered the chance to join the National Student Leadership Conference, which hosts summer programs on the campuses of some very elite colleges. The organization told the student, “Enrollment is limited and many sessions are already filling.” Clearly, the student was on a mailing list as a result of strong scores on College Board tests. But is the program for real, and is it a good investment?

Researching the program, I found that it had been written up on college-related blogs as expensive and not really selective. Like other summer programs (e.g., Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies), it was not a ticket to the college itself. Students should do what they love (and maybe get a job).

Just when we through it was safe to go back in the testing room, College Boardhas announced an award for SAT prep through Khan Academy: “Award winnersare selected if they completed 10 or more hours of practice on Official SAT Practice, and if their SAT scores increased by 150 or more points from the PSAT/NMSQT® to the SAT, or 100 or more points from SAT to SAT. Students can mention the award on their college applications.” I’m sure those colleges will be thrilled.

College Board met its promise and has scored the PSAT. I’m told that students will receive their results next week, with full score reports to follow. If your student can’t access results, let me know.

The Application Process
In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Rebecca Zwick tells her version of “Why Applying to College is So Confusing.” Zwick explains that colleges have different missions, so there can’t possibly any universal rules regarding who gets admitted. She tells readers that colleges should share their priorities with applicants, arguing that “they need to go further to explain how applicant characteristics are assessed and weighted . . . lifting the veil from a system that many view as an impenetrable mystery.”

Scholarships and Financial Aid
Applying for financial aid can be very confusing. Fortunately, information for applicants is readily available on a college’s site or, for the FAFSA, on the U.S. government website. This week, Vicki Beam provides an excellent explanation of the CSS Profile, which is used by private colleges as well as some scholarship providers.

College Counselor’s Corner will be back in 2018. If you have questions between now and then, be sure to email me.

Happy Holidays!

Contact Me
Nina Berler
(201) 859-3665 ext. 119
2018-01-02T16:37:04+00:00 December 8th, 2017|
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