Higher education

Gap Year Information, College Affordability Information, Standardized Testing Updates, College Admission Represenatives ... all in one place

Since the role of an Independent Educational Consultant is still unclear to many people, I thought I'd share some of the sessions that I attended at the IECA Fall Conference last week.  The conference included break-out educational sessions, two keynote addresses, hosted receptions, round table discussions, committee meetings, a vendor hall, a college fair and numerous other networking events.

I attended the following Break-out Educational Sessions:

  • Gap Years:  What’s Out There, How to Structure One, and Simple Vetting Options
  • Testing College Readiness:   What are the Redesigned SAT and ACT Measuring and How Do We Best Prepare Our Students
  • Anatomy of a Financial Aid Award
  • The Fading of Facebook: the Evolution of Teenage Online Social Interactions

I heard Keynote Addresses from:

  • Justin Bachman - 17 year-old high school senior with Tourette’s Syndrome, severe ADHD and dysgraphia
  • Ashely Merryman - Best-selling author and award-winning journalist (NurtureShock:  New Thinking About Children Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing)

I attended Hosted Receptions/ Presentations from:

  • University of New Haven
  • Oak Meadow Independent Learning
  • Warren Wilson College

I Visited the Following Booths at the Vendor Hall:

  • Colleges That Change Lives
  • American Gap Association
  • Summit Educational Group
  • YouScience
  • IECA Foundation
  • American Institute of Certified Educational Planners
  • College Affordability
  • College Cost Navigator
  • Guided Path
  • Wintergreen Orchard House
  • Human eSources, Ltd.

I Met Representatives/Admissions Representatives from the following Colleges and Universities:

  • American University
  • Bucknell University
  • Eckerd College
  • Rollins College
  • University of Miami
  • University of Richmond
  • University of South Carolina
  • New York University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Ursinus College
  • Susquehanna University
  • University of New Haven
  • Warren Wilson College

It was an action-packed educational week.  I met great people and learned a lot.  In future posts, I will share, more specifically,  some of the key information I learned.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

Another College Application Question With Varying Answers

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 11.24.14 AMRising Seniors are encouraged to begin their college applications over the summer between Junior and Senior Year.  This sounds like a simple task, but considering that colleges work with different applications and on different timelines, it gets complicated quickly.  The first question students must find the answer to is:

When Do College Applications Go Live?

For schools that accept the Common Application and the Universal Application, these dates apply:

  • The Universal Application opens on July 1, 2014
  • The Common Application opens on August 1, 2014

At some schools, like The University of Chicago, you can start and submit your supplement before you complete the Universal or Common App.

Some schools with rolling admission, like Delaware Valley College, accept applications anytime after the student completes his/her junior year of high school. Others with rolling admission, like Pennsylvania State University make the application available September 1.

Bottom Line:

Check the website or call each school to which you plan to apply to get its specific application timeline.

Use a system to keep track of what is due when.

If you are planning to apply to colleges that accept the Universal Application or Common Application, start the main essay as soon as you can and supplemental essays (common app prompts are here) as soon as they are released by the school.  Early Decision/Early Action Dates of Nov. 1 and Nov 15 come quickly.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

 

 

Rising Seniors - Summer Timeline for College Applications

College Application Checklist for Rising SeniorsFirst semester senior year is busy.  Class rigor and grades for senior year count toward college admissions. EDNavigators encourages students to remove some of the senior year stress by beginning applications over the summer. What can a rising senior do over the summer in preparation for college applications?

June and July: 1. Plan and adjust college by researching and visiting colleges. 2. Prepare for the SAT or ACT if taking it in the fall. 3. Go to the website of or call the college of interest to find out: • If it accepts The Common Application - If yes, are supplements required? Are they available yet? Supplements to the Common Application become available on a school-by-school basis. Princeton University’s Supplement to the Common Application for the Class of 2015 is available now as well as Purdue, Amherst and Penn. • If it accepts The Universal College Application - If yes, are supplements required and are they available yet? • If it has its own application - If yes, is it available? For schools with rolling admission, the sooner you complete and submit the application, the better your chances of getting in. Penn State's application becomes available September 1. There are different application requirements and different timelines for each school. The only way to get the information you need specific to each school is to go to the school’s website or call the school’s admissions office. 4. Write the common Application Essay. The Common Application Essay prompts will remain the same as they were last year. They are available now. 5. Take time to do things you enjoy

August: 1. On August 1, The Common Application and The Universal College Application go live for the next school year. Complete the core sections during the month of August. The Common Application and The Universal College Application for Fall 2015 will be available August 1, 2014 2. Continue to adjust and revise the college list 3. Continue with test-prep 4. Take time to do things you enjoy.

 Specifics for the Classes of 2016 and 2017

Essential information about the SAT Writing Score and the Essay

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 10.23.14 AMSAT scores are back today.  Many students got up at the crack of dawn to check scores.  If you got the score you hoped for, congratulations!  If not, stay confident.  Don't let this score define you.  You are more than a score.  Sign up for the next test and continue to prepare.  A positive attitude is essential. After working with many students on SAT Prep, I have seen that SAT scores CAN be improved with dedication, practice and a positive attitude.  It takes a lot of time and a lot of work. There are strategies, but not shortcuts.  It takes TIME.  The SAT is a standardized test.  There is only one correct answer to each question.  With practice and preparation, it becomes easier to find that correct answer.

The one exception to the 'one correct answer' is the essay. The essay is graded subjectively and has many possible answers.  This article, written by Debbie Stier, the author of The Perfect Score Project, is an essential read for all students (and parents of these students) who are taking or have taken the SAT for ACT.  After seven attempts, she, a published writer, could not get a score of 12 on the writing.  Her friend, whose books have been USED ON THE SAT CRITICAL READING SECTION could not score a 12!!!  (On a much more positive note - you can still get a perfect SAT score with a 10 on the writing)

On a separate note, I highly recommend Debbie Stier's book, The Perfect Score Project to parents of students who are taking standardized tests.  It will make you laugh and give you a glimpse into the testing world of teens today.  My review of the book can be found here.

Sandy Aprahamian - Principal, Educational Consultant, EdNavigators

 

The College Put Me on the Wait List. What Does that Mean? What Should I Do?

cropped-gold-boy-in-grad-cap.jpgI attended an outstanding webinar today hosted by Cyndy McDonald of Guided Path and delivered by  Peter Van Buskirk  of Best College Fit . Peter shared many valuable insights into the college admissions process from the perspective of the school’s enrollment management and yield. Peter Van Buskirk holds a wealth of knowledge.  I encourage you to visit his website BestCollegeFit to see when he presenting at an event in your area. Below are some key points Peter shared about Wait Lists.

  • The Wait List is a DEFINITE MAYBE  NOT a POLITE DENIAL.
  • Many schools use the wait list as a means to improve the yield that they report for rankings.
  • You are still in the game, but you need to continue to play your best.

If you are truly interested in a school that puts you on its Wait List:

  • Act NOW.  Don’t wait.  Some schools go to the wait list as early as mid April.
  • Get on the radar screen of your regional recruiter.
  • Visit the campus.  Yes, AGAIN if you have already been there and be sure the admissions office knows you made the visit.
  • Clarify your need for financial aid.  If you have figured out a way to pay for the college without financial aid, let the college know this in writing.  Money matters when it comes to the wait list.
  • If you make it off the wait list, he school will most likely call you and ask you if you would like the spot.
  • Be ready because you most likely have only 24-48 hours to respond.  Your official offer won’t arrive until you verbally accept the spot.

Most importantly, remember, the best college for you is the one that fits YOU best.  Don’t be swayed by glitzy advertising and don’t let a college’s decision shape your opinion of yourself.

Best,

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, EDNavigators, Independent Educational Consultant

The New Redesigned SAT

David Coleman reported on The Redesigned SAT today.  Below are some highlights. DeliveringOpportunity.org will provide all specifics of the new SAT.  The New SAT will be:

  • Focused and Clear
  • Useful and Open (applicable to work in college and career settings)
  • Based upon what is currently taught in class

The Content of the Redesigned SAT will include Three Sections

1.  Evidence Based Reading and Writing:

  • The exam will showcase students command of evidence rather than picking right answers.
  • Students will be asked to locate the evidence that supports the answers.
  • Students will read and analyze a wide range of texts (Science, Social Studies etc) - This sounds very similar to the current ACT
  • Students will work with narratives  and graphs - students must be data analysts
  • Students will analyze texts.
  • There will be no more sentence completion
  • Vocabulary will be "powerful words" like synthesis and its various meanings

2.  The Essay

  • Assignment will be to analyze the core argument of a text.
  • Directions will be:  As you read the passage in front of you, consider how the author uses evidence, reasoning, and stylistic or persuasive elements to add power to the ideas expressed.
  • Essay will be optional on the SAT (like the current ACT)

3. Math

  • Will focus on three areas:
  1. problem solving and data analysis (ratios, proportions..)
  2. the heart of algebra (linear equations and systems)
  3. passport to advanced math (the math that opens doors of opportunity - calculus will be included)
  • Students will be presented with a scenario to which they will apply the math they have learned.
  • There will be calculator and non calculator sections of the SAT.

Other Facts:

  • America's Founding Documents and Global Conversation will be included on the Redesigned SAT.
  • The new exam will be given spring 2016 It will be offered both through computer and pencil and paper.
  • The new test length will be 3 hours with an optional 50 minute essay
  • The New SAT will return to the 1600 score
  • The essay will be scored separately.
  • The penalty for wrong answers will be removed.
  • April 16 the full blue print for the exams and sample questions of the New SAT will be revealed.
  • Khan Academy will provide FREE test prep.  It will be adaptive.  It will provide customized learning.  Khan Academy has always been a cornerstone of learning at EdNavigators.  As EdNavigators students know, Khan Academy has provided answers to the questions in the College Board Blue Book for a while.  We are thrilled about this new partnership.  We are looking forward to the Khan Academy SAT Prep. Khan Academy SAT prep will be found at:  khanacademy.org/sat

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, Educational 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

A Decrease in College Tuition Next Year??

What do college degrees and airline tickets have in common? Their pricing structure. Rarely do students or passengers pay the same price as their classmates or fellow passengers. With merit aid and financial aid so prevalent in higher education, few students pay the full sticker price for their degree.  Families have come to expect some sort of tuition discount.

To ease the sticker shock and attempt to make college more affordable, some small liberal arts schools have decided to either reduce tuition or lock-in the freshman tuition rate for the four years of college.

It will be interesting to see what other changes occur as a result of the high cost of higher education and the fact that it has gotten out of reach for the majority of the middle class.

SAT or ACT? Where do I begin? Which test is best for me?

pencils-7SAT

The SAT, originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, was created in the 1920's.  It evolved from the test that the Army used to assign recruits in WWI.  The test was designed to be a test of a person's innate ability to think and reason critically.   After WWII, because there were so many college applicants,  the test began to be used for college evaluations. The Scholastic Aptitude Test eventually morphed into the SAT Reasoning Test.  The College Board owns, develops and publishes the SAT Reasoning Tests which are designed to assess the test-taker's ability to analyze and solve problems.

In 2005, the SAT underwent some big changes.  The changes included:

  • Scoring:  changed from a possible perfect score of 1600 to a possible perfect score of 2400.

  • Writing:  this section, which includes and essay, was added

  • Math:  Geometry and Algebra II were added

  • Reading:  short reading passages were added, taking the place of the analogies.

Today's SAT  is very different from the original SAT.

ACT

The ACT is considered more of an achievement test.  It was introduced in 1959 as an alternative to the SAT.   The ACT was first popular among colleges in the Midwest and the South while the SAT was the popular test along the US coasts.  The intent of the ACT is to measure a student’s ability to handle college level work as well as his/her general educational development.  Colorado and Illinois require all students take the ACT as part of their mandatory testing requirements.

The ACT has also undergone changes since its inception:

  • Addition of the Writing Section:  Originally, the ACT had four sections, English, Math, Reading and Science Reasoning.  In 2005 the optional Writing section was added.

  • A computer based version:  ACT recently announced that beginning in 2015, they will offer a computer based version of the test.

The ACT and the SAT are equally accepted by all colleges in the United States.  Colleges do not state a preference as to which test is taken.  It is student choice.

Comparison Chart of the SAT and the ACT

 

SAT

ACT

Official Website

http://sat.collegeboard.org/home

http://www.actstudent.org

When is the test given?

January, March or April, May, June, October, November, December (7 times a year)

February, April, June, September, October, December (6 times a year)

How many sections are in the test?

10:

3 math, 3 reading, 3 writing, one experimental

5: (including optional writing) -

Engilsh, Math, Reading, Science

How early is the registration deadline?

usually 4 weeks before

usually 5-6 weeks before

When are the scores released?

2 weeks after test online

3 weeks after test by mail

2-8 weeks after test (writing reported 2 weeks after multiple choice scores are reported)

How long is each section and how many questions in each section?

Writing: 3 sections total

25 min essay

25 min

10 min

Reading: 3 sections total

2- 25 min

1-20 min

Math: 3 sections total

2-25 min (one with 10 grid-in questions)

1-20 min

Experimental Section: 1- 25 min section of Reading, Writing or Math

English: 45 min - 75 questions

Math:  60 min - 60 questions

Reading: 35 min - 4 ten question passages

Science: 35 min - 40 questions

Is there a writing section?

yes - always given first

optional - always given last

How many points for a perfect score?

2400 (800 points per section)

36 points (a composite of the 4 required sections)

What topic/ subjects are tested?

Critical Reading

Math

Writing/Essay

English

Math

Reading

Science

Optional Essy

How long does the test take?

3 hours 45 minutes

3 hours 25 minutes

Is there an experimental section?

yes (25 minutes)

no

Is there a science section?

No

Yes - heavy on how well a student can read and interpret graphs -requires general science knowledge  - measures analysis of, evaluation of and problem solving needed in natural science

How high does the math go in terms of courses taken?

Includes geometry and algebra II

Includes geometry, algebra II and trigonometry

Is there a penalty for guessing?

yes  (lose 1/4 point on multiple choice questions that are incorrect - no loss for skipped questions)

no

Is the focus more on content or critical thinking and problem solving?

critical thinking and problem solving

content

Are calculators allowed?

yes - with restrictions

yes - with restrictions

So which test is better?  Which one is easier?  Neither.  They are just different.  Some students may do better on one than the other, but very often, the scores fall in the same range.  After giving practice tests and preparing students for both tests, I have found that most students fall in the same range regardless of which test they chose.  The decision of which test to take is just a matter of preference. When time allows, I recommend that my students try out both tests and, based upon their scores and feelings about each test, pick one on which to focus test prep.

Resources:

SAT ACT Concordence Study: examines the relationship between SAT and ACT scores

http://www.act.org/solutions/college-career-readiness/compare-act-sat/

Admission Matters: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting Into College by Sally P. Springer, Jon Reider, Marion R. Franck

ACT vs SAT, New York Times, by Michelle Statalla November 4, 2007

Official SAT site:

http://sat.collegeboard.org/home

Official ACT site:

http://www.actstudent.org

The Real ACT Book by ACT

Official SAT Book by CollegeBoard

 

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

Sir Ken Robinson

Cover of "The Element: How Finding Your P...

Sir Ken Robinson has had a place on my list of favorites since I was introduced to his book, The Element, in 2009. Every time I read, watch or listen to Sir Ken Robinson I feel inspired and optimistic.
I agree with Sir Ken Robinson's belief that education is about finding each person's passion.  Education is not a cookie cutter process because humans are not cookie cutter creations.  We are each uniquely created and influenced by our environment and our peers.
An educational environment that is best for one student is not best for another.  Successfully educating students requires knowledge, creativity, and commitment to each unique child.  A student must be in a relaxed environment to learn and create.  A relaxed and inspired brain learns.
In the past, within hours of reading, seeing or hearing Sir Ken Robinson's work, my bubble of optimism began to deflate.  I would realize that the changes needed to improve education were too vast.   Vast change takes time and we have a generation that can't wait.
My desire to do something now led to EdNavigators .  Through EdNavigators, I help students, on an individual basis, to discover their passions, navigate their educational paths, overcome roadblocks**, and move toward their dreams.
Sir Ken Robinson will be speaking at Malvern Preparatory School on  Tuesday, October 1 at 6:30PM.  Kudos to Malvern Prep for hosting this forward thinker and popular presenter!  I encourage everyone who is able, to see Sir Ken Robinson at Malvern Prep.  This is the link to purchase tickets.

What is the College Scorecard?

President Obama released the College Scorecard in February 2013. The College Scorecard is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center.  It aims to help consumers in deciding whether or not a college is a good value.  Today President Obama is scheduled to announce a proposal that will link ratings like this to financial aid. Check out the College Affordability and Transparency Center.  It has some valuable information and statistics.   I suggest that you do not input your finances into the Net Price Calculator on this page.  Some colleges track this information as part of their demonstrated interests/Enrollment Management Strategy.  EdNavigators offers a product called the College Affordability Shaper which allows you to see where you stand with regard to financial aid privately, with no one else being able to access your personal information.

Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Independent Educational Consultant, EdNavigators