College Counselor’s Corner: It’s All About Time

Dear Parents,

Handling acceptances. Coming up with waitlist strategies. Getting over rejection. It’s all playing out this week for seniors. At the same time, our juniors are getting their feet wet in the process. Not only are they planning college tours, many for spring break, but they’re also learning the ins and outs of essay writing in Junior Seminar. The Common App Personal Essay, our launching point, is used to separate the candidate from the pack by finding out about character, interests and problem-solving ability. Their participation has been exceptional.

College in a Year?

What if college were shortened to just a year? MissionU is on a mission: to try that option. Adam Braun, a fellow Brunonian who has built over 400 schools around the world, is about to test his business model. Highly career-focused, the program has courses linked to the theme of each quarter: 1) foundations; 2) discovery; 3) the major; and 4) problem-solving. At the conclusion of the program, the student goes through career-launching activities.

Students, who work primarily online, are grouped geographically for ease of meeting. So far, some hot Silicon Valley companies are backing Braun’s initiative, including Uber, Chegg, and Plated (of Shark Tank fame). The first major is Data Analytics and Business Intelligence.

Remember, nothing is free. Students don’t pay while enrolled, but they do pay back 15 percent of their salary (if over $50,000) for three years.

Summer Programs: Worth the Cost?

In many a College Counselor’s Corner, I have told parents to not be tempted by summer programs at elite colleges. While some of these programs can be beneficial, such as English language learning or robotics, others are a means to use the physical plant and generate revenue. This week syndicated columnist Lee Bierer, expressed similar beliefs, writing, “Some families are under the mistaken impression that attending a summer program at an elite school gives them a leg up on the admissions process.” Bierer asked Greg Zaiser, director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Elon University, for a college’s take on student participation in such programs. His response:

“I don’t know that they are impressive just because a student did an academic program, regardless of where it was. What impresses us the most is that students who do such programs have identified something they want to study or pursue in or after college. That focus is impressive, though hardly necessary for a liberal arts and sciences undergraduate experience.”

Elon likes to see focus in its students.

Financial Aid Packages: Making Sense?

This spring, parents of seniors will be evaluating offers of financial aid. This Huffington Post article clarifies the components of the offer:

  • Cost of attendance (COA), which includes tuition, room, board and fees for a year

  • Expected family contribution (EFC), used by colleges to determine the amount of Federal aid a family should expect. (It could vary from school to school.)

  • Financial aid package, which includes loans, grants, scholarships and work/study provided by the college


Parents are cautioned to find out whether awards will be renewed after freshman year.


March Madness: Not Just for High School Students

Last night, Oregon topped Michigan to move on in the NCAA tournament. In New Jersey, the University of Michigan is wildly popular. Many top students take advantage of Michigan’s Early Action round, through which they hope to receive a non-binding offer. I’ve yet to have a student apply to Oregon, which has very exceptionally bright uniforms.

New Jersey families may not know much about Gonzaga, which won last night against West Virginia. Gonzaga is a Jesuit college in Spokane, Washington. For those who are interested, check out the excellent video on the landing page.

Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should know about special scholarship opportunities. In this U.S. News feature, interested parents and students can find out what’s out there.

Open Houses for Artists

Pennsylvania College of Art & Design: Saturday, March 25

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA): Sunday, March 26

Summer Programs for STEM Students

TCNJ is offering its Annual Summer Robotics Camp from July 30-August 4. They also have programs for English language learners.


Reminder: College Night is Tuesday, March 28, at 7:00 pm. Junior families are expected to attend. RSVP by emailing me.


Gonzaga, a West Coast powerhouse

March Madness continues! But before we know it, it’ll become part of History (Day).

2017-04-03T12:34:33+00:00 April 3rd, 2017|
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