College Academics

Ten Valuable Take-Aways from The HECA Conference in Philadelphia June 2016

I met many knowledgeable and caring professionals including other IECs (Independent Educational Consultants), college presidents, college admissions representatives, vendors and authors at the HECA conference in Philadelphia last week.  I toured eight college campuses, attended nine workshops and listened to leaders in the field speak about college admissions, Liberal Arts Colleges, the current and future state of higher education and the Coalition for Access and Admission in Higher Education. The conference was extremely valuable and information rich. These ten valuable take-aways offer only a glimpse of what was offered.

Ten Valuable Take-Aways from the HECA conference in Philadelphia June 2016

(- not all new information, but information that I feel is valuable for my students and families to know)

  1. Checking the box indicating that you are applying for financial aid in the college application can cause your application to be considered incomplete to the college until all financial firms are submitted.
  2. It is important that after registering for any future SAT test, students check the email associated with their College Board account. The College Board implemented a new plan in June 2016. Selected students who register for the test will receive an email stating that they are required to submit a Verification Form by a given deadline. If the form is not submitted by this deadline, College Board will cancel the student’s registration and credit the registration fee back to the credit card. Avoid the surprise of showing up for the SAT only to find that you are not actually registered.  Students MUST check their email often.
  3. There are three different routes to the military: Service Academies, ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) and OCS (Officer Candidate School)  Each path has different requirements
  4. There is a company called New Frontiers in Learning that is full of trained professionals to help students with learning difficulties navigate the transition to college and learn to self advocate.
  5. HECA members as a whole are dedicated, collaborative, extremely caring and knowledgeable professionals in the field of college consulting.
  6. Liberal arts students are in demand: CIC Website For higher ed professionals - LiberalArtsPower For students and parents-  LiberalArtsLife Can you see yourself in this environment- @smartcolleges twitterfeed
  7. Purpose fuels GRIT and experiencing failure is essential to building resiliency
  8. Colleges want to admit students who will succeed there. If there is a concern about that, some colleges give the student a chance to try it out before committing. (Passport Program- St Joseph's University)
  9. Colleges and Universities have priorities in building their class each year. Their goal is to build a community of students who will help the university continue on its mission.
  10. Each college/university has special qualities just as each student does. The staff and faculty at those colleges really want their students to take advantage of all the school has to offer.
  • A pre-med student really can actively pursue the arts in college as well. Muhlenberg College, Swarthmore College
  • A women's college can be made as coed as the student desires it to be.
  • Traditions are strong on most campuses (Bryn Mawr /Haverford/ Lehigh/Lafayette)
  • Engineering and business can be combined. (Lehigh IBE, Villanova SBI)
  • Pass fail evaluations require exceptional knowledge of a given subject and/or field. (Swarthmore College Honors Program)
  • Intellectual curiosity is very important - Haverford College
  • Jesuit colleges have the mission of developing students of giving character with a strong appreciation of differences. (Villanova University, Saint Josephs University)
  • Not every arts focused student needs to present a portfolio for admission. For schools that do require it, specific types of art are required and the admissions staff is there to help students through the process. (Muhlenberg College, Tyler School of Art at Temple University, University of the Arts in Philadelphia)
  • There are colleges who aim to provide both admission decisions and financial aid awards to early admission applicants by December 20. (Drew University)
  • Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

     

    Attention High School Athletes: The Academic Index

    Ivy League Pennants What is the Academic Index (AI)? - The Academic Index is a tool used by the Ivy League Schools to measure a high school athlete's academic performance and to determine whether or not the student has the academic credentials necessary to be admitted to the school.

    Why is the Academic Index Important? - In order to be accepted by the admissions office of an Ivy League School, high school athletes who plan to play their sport in college must meet the school's Academic Index.  It has become more important to understand the AI early in high school as high school athletes are being offered early verbal commitments from coaches as early as freshman year of high school.  If a student has his/her heart set on any Ivy League school, it is essential that the student knows whether or not he/she can meet the Ivy League's AI before making a decision on the early verbal offer from another school.

    Two New York Times articles by Bill Pennington are great resources on the topic of the Academic Index (AI) -

    Before Recruiting in Ivy League, Applying Some Math The Graphic on the left of the article show sample calculations.

    A Rare Glimpse Inside the Ivy League’s Academic Index

    To Get a General Idea of your AI:

    Add the results of 1, 2 and 3 below together:

    1.  SAT or ACT Index Number:

    • If using SAT scores to calculate AI, add reading and math scores and divide by 20
    • If using ACT scores to calculate AI, multiply the ACT Composite Score by 2.23

    2.  The GPA Index Number (this index number used to be based on class rank)

    The university has a conversion table to convert grade point average to an Academic Index number. The conversion can handle any conceivable grading scale, weighted or unweighted. A couple examples:

    • 3.5 (out of 4.0) unweighted yields 73 AI points,
    • 3.7 weighted is 71 points
    • 3.3 unweighted is 70 points
    • 3.0 unweighted is worth 67 points

    3.  SAT or ACT Index Number from step one or SAT II Subject Tests:  Add your 2 best SAT II subject tests together and divide that total by 20.

    Another article with valuable information about affording an Ivy League education:

    Financial Aid Changes Game as Ivy Sports Teams Flourish by Bill Pennington

    Sandy Aprahamian, Principal- EDNavigators LLC

     

    Important Information for College Bound High School Students with ADD/ADHD or any Learning Disability

    education-labyrinth1.jpgKnow your standardized testing accommodation options and deadlines early - as early as freshman year of high school.

    SAT and ACT Testing Accommodations - Frequently Asked Questions

    When should accommodations be requested?

    • For accommodation for sophomore PSAT or PLAN, requests should be made spring of freshman year.
    • If accommodations are not needed for tests given in the fall of sophomore year of high school, accommodation requests should be made in the spring of sophomore year.

    Who submits the request?

    • The school disability coordinator or guidance counselor - When making the request, the counselor should be specific about what the student needs.

    What must be included in the request?

    • Evidence of a professionally diagnosed disability and documentation proving how the student’s limitation impacts both daily functioning and the ability to take standardized tests Formal psychological testing for the ACT must be no more than 3 years old.  Formal psychological testing for the SAT must be no more than 5 years old.  Generally, testing should be repeated for students when they are 16 as the tests are then given on the adult scale.

    What are the differences between the extended time accommodations for the SAT and the ACT?

    50% Extended Time:

    • SAT: Time and a half is given per section. The student must wait for the time to expire for each section before moving on to the next - The full-time spent on the test is 1.5 times as long as it would be without accommodations.
    • ACT: Student self-paces through the test, going on to the next section at his or her own pace. The test ends when he student finishes OR when the 1.5 time has expired.

    100% Extended Time / Special Testing at school (typically for students with more severe deficiencies than ADHD)

    • ACT - The student takes one section per day. He/she is given double the standard time for each section. For example, English would be 90 minutes, Math would be 2 hours etc.

    When will I hear if the accommodation has been granted?

    • ACT Response Time: about 4 weeks
    • SAT Response Time: about 7 weeks

    Who grants a higher percentage of accommodation requests - ACT or College Board (SAT)?

    • ACT

    When accommodations are approved, what tests do they include?

    • College Board Accommodations Include: SAT, PSAT, AP Exams
    • ACT Accommodations Include: ACT, PLAN

    EDNaviagators suggests that students with disabilities get the wheels in motion for accommodations spring of freshman year of high school. Have the request submitted before the end of freshman year. Submit requests to both College Board and ACT since the only way to know which test is better for the student is for the student to take full practice tests of each.

    Since these guidelines and procedures are subject to change, it is always best to confirm with the official websites: Services for Students with Disabilities: The College Board Services for Students with Disabilities: ACT

    Sandy Aprahamian, Independent Educational Consultant, EDNavigators

     

    Making Sense of the Testing Options and Requirements for College Applications

    HELP-Standardized TestsGone are the days of simply taking the SAT to meet college application requirements. Today, students are presented with a variety of exams, some required, some optional.  These exams include:

    1. SAT (New SAT for class of 2017 and beyond)
    2. ACT
    3. SAT Subject Tests (also known as SAT II Tests)
    4. AP Exams:

    (In effort to make this article a manageable length, the above list does not include IB testing or major-specific exams.)

    The Basics

    • The majority of four year colleges require applicants to submit scores from the SAT OR the ACT.
    • Some highly selective schools require or strongly recommend that applicants submit scores from two or three SAT Subject Tests.
    • Some schools accept the ACT with Writing in lieu of the SAT and SAT Subject Tests.  For more information on this complicated decision, please read these articles written by Nancy Griesemer who has done extensive research on this topic.

    With all of these testing requirements, it is important to create a testing plan in high school.  Freshman year is not too early to plot out the test plan since some tests may be taken then.

    Possible Testing Timeline beginning Junior Year

    • SAT OR ACT :  Take one of these tests Two times between January and June (This leaves September/October of Senior Year available as additional test dates if needed.  Ideally, however, all testing is complete by the end of Junior Year - Senior year is very busy with applications and essays.)
    • SAT Subject Tests:  These should be taken May or June of the year the subject is studied
    • AP Exams:  These are given in May of the Year the subject is studied
    • Class of 2017 suggested SAT/ACT prep timeline

    EdNavigators recommends the following:

    • Take a full length practice ACT and a full length practice SAT to see which test you prefer.  Prepare for the test you prefer and plan to take the test "for real" at least twice.  *Many students select to take both tests...in this case, two additional test-prep sessions would be required to discuss content and strategy for the test the student did not prep for.  The content covered on the SAT and ACT is very similar (EDNavigators Test Prep Packages are described on this page - Package 2 is to prep for the SAT OR the ACT, Package 2B is to prep for the SAT AND the ACT)
    • Take the SAT Subject Tests and AP tests around the same time because they can test similar information.   It also makes sense to take them right after completing the course.  (If a student takes Honors Biology as a Freshman, he/she should take the test(s) Spring of freshman year.)

    If you feel your standardized test scores don't represent your abilities, don't panic. There are also FairTest Schools.  A recent study revealed that students who chose not to submit standardized test scores for entry into college still performed well in college.

    For now, however, many colleges do still require standardized test scores.  It is worth the time and effort to make a plan and prepare.

    Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Consultant, EdNavigators

    The SAT is tomorrow and I have the flu! What should I do?

    fluWinter is a popular time for high school juniors to take the SAT.  It is also, unfortunately, flu season. If you have the flu and are scheduled to take the SAT tomorrow, don’t panic.  Your health is most important.  There is still time.

    In an ideal world, you planned your testing timeline in advance and gave yourself some room “just in case” this were to happen.  If you didn’t plan out your testing timeline, do it now.

    Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 10.23.14 AMAssuming you plan to take SAT Subject Tests and AP exams, your new testing timeline can be as follows:

    • SAT March 8
    • SAT Subject Tests May 3 and June 7

    Since not all subjects are offered on both dates, it is important to

    1.  Check when the tests you want to take are offered and

    2.  Leave May and June test dates open for SAT Subject Tests.

    ***You may take up to three subject tests in one day

    Retesting option is  October 11 and maybe November 8 and December 6 depending upon the college deadlines and whether or not you are applying Early Decision or Early Action.  All colleges have different application deadlines.

    **SAT and the SAT Subject Tests can't be taken on the same day

    Note:  AP Exams are May 5-16.  These are given during school hours so they will not conflict with the SAT or SAT Subject Tests in scheduling.  It’s just important to be aware that they will be given during this timeframe.

    If you do have the flu and need to reschedule your SAT:

    • Log in to your College Board account and request a new test date.  The College Board directions are here.
    • There is a $27 change fee.
    • Colleges do NOT see that this change was made.
    • They will simply see the date you actually take the test and the scores you receive.
    • Don’t worry about the change- just work on feeling better.

    I do not recommend taking a standardized test when you are ill because you will not be presenting yourself at your optimal strength.  If, however, you are only slightly under the weather or just want to skip the test because you want more time to prepare or you don’t want to get up early, I recommend you get up and take tomorrow’s test.  If you don’t like your score, don’t report it and take the test again on a later date.  At least you got one test under your belt.

    Before rescheduling, create a calendar and make sure you have time to make-up the test.

    2014 Testing Dates:

    2014 SAT Tests are  January 25, March 8, May 3, June 7, October 11, November 8, December 6,

    2014 SAT Subject Tests are offered  every SAT testing date except March

    2014 AP Exams are May 5th-16th

    Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Educational Consultant, EdNavigators

     

    Two Terms You NEED to Know Before You Apply to College

    Yield and Demonstrated Interest What is yield in college admissions? Yield is an important term for college applicants and their parents to understand. A college's yield is the percentage of students who decide to attend a college in relation to the number of students to whom that college offers admission. This number is important because colleges are ranked and judged by their yield.

    It is not in a college's best business interest to accept a student who will eventually deny its offer. Overqualified students and students who have not demonstrated interest fit this category.  Yes, overqualified students do get rejection letters.  Students who do not demonstrate interest in the college also get rejection letters.

    What is demonstrated interest?  Demonstrated interest is the interest a student shows in a school through visits, calls, emails, social media etc.  If a college sends an email and you are interested in that school, open the email and click a link in it.  Colleges can and do track this.  If the college has a Facebook and/or Twitter account, follow it.  This article tells the true story of how colleges can track your online activity.  Visit and initiate contact with schools that interest you.  They are tracking your interest.

    College is a business. Stay strong and confident. Demonstrate interest.    A deferral or rejection does NOT always mean you are not a strong or qualified applicant.

    Related Articles:

    Colleges intensify recruitment through use of "Big Data" , Nancy Griesemer - DC College Admissions Examiner, January 2014

    Is it better to get a B in a difficult class or an A in an easier class?, EdNavigators

    The Rejection Letter:  Keep Perspective, EdNavigators

    Time Sensitive College Advice for High School Juniors and Their Parents

    For the Students:  Standardized Testing Timeline

    High School Juniors should plan to take the SAT or ACT this winter.  Sign up for the exams and begin preparation now.

    For the Parents:  Financial Aid/ College Affordability Timeline

    Parents, of Juniors, THIS (2013) is the tax year that will be used for FAFSA and Profile financial aid forms.  The time to get a feel for where you stand, is NOW.  I recommend a fee-based financial planner who specializes in college affordability.  Higher Education is a big investment and honest financial counseling is an important first step of the college planning process. The money and time spent on the financial planner's advice and analysis often pays for itself.  I recommend Fred Amrein at College Affordability for a personalized and customized financial plan for college. His website provides a financial aid video library.  It is worth a look.

     

    Is it better to get a B in a difficult class or an A in an easier class?

    This list from the Independent Educational Consultant Association answers this and other questions about what strengths and experiences colleges are looking for in high school students. Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.53.42 AM

    Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.53.31 AM

    Advice from Seth Godin - Applies to Test Prep and College Applications too

    I subscribe to Seth Godin's daily blog post which I really enjoy.  Yesterday's post was, The self-defeating quest for simple and easy.  In creating college lists, standardized test prep, the college essay, the college application process, high school classes and college classes, this applies.  Take the time to do it right.  There are no short cuts and it is a waste of your precious time to look for them. As it relates to test prep, take practice exams, take the time to analyze what you missed and work on weak areas.  Take the time to READ and review.

    In high school, take the time to learn the material.  Short cuts may work short-term, but, in the long run, they usually hurt.

    In college, seize the opportunity to absorb as much as you can.  You are given the gift of TIME in college. Use it wisely.  You never know what it will benefit you to know in the future when you do NOT have the time to re-learn it.

    Time spent productively pays off.  Enjoy the process.