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Tools for Students to Bolster Their Business Acumen Prior to College

Students attend college for a variety of reasons, but most expect to get some amount of career preparation out of the experience, even if it’s just that “piece of paper” employers require. Some young adults have very clear goals and expectations for what they will get out of college—they want to become doctors, lawyers, or even artists.

Of course, not every student knows exactly what they want to do with their life when they head off for college, so it’s good that they don’t need to declare a major right away. However, heading into college with some preparation beyond academics can be helpful.

Learning some basic business concepts and skills can be a great way for students to get ready for their college experience and ultimately, their future careers. Business acumen will serve students well in a variety of ways, whether or not they pursue a career in business or entrepreneurship. Here are some tools that can help college-bound students gain some basic knowledge and business acumen.

Helping Students Understand the Basics of Business

Business acumen is helpful in many career paths. For example, students who are interested in fields such as marketing, finance, or project management will benefit greatly from having an understanding of how businesses run. Additionally, any students who are interested in starting their own business someday will need at least basic knowledge and business acumen.

From creating a business plan to learning how to manage money, these skills can be used in many practical situations. Sites like edX and Coursera are great starting points for students who are interested in business as they offer a range of overview courses that explain business topics and terminology.

Financial Literacy Platforms

Money management skills are critical for young adults who are about to take their first steps toward independence. Whether they will simply be budgeting and saving or figuring out how to finance a business, basic financial literacy is a must.

There are lots of financial literacy platforms out there, including budgeting tools that students can start using right away. Even if they will not be working while attending college, learning financial literacy skills will pay off in a variety of ways over time. This list of tools and platforms from the federal government even includes a resource for teachers who want to run financial literacy workshops.

TED Talks, Webinars, and YouTube Videos

Students can quickly and easily access information on business topics that interest them by looking to TED talks, webinars, and even YouTube videos. These resources are completely free and allow for bite-sized learning opportunities.

TED talks in particular can be engaging and inspiring, while still providing high school students with insightful business knowledge. Some of the greatest innovators and thinkers have given TED talks on their areas of expertise.

These free and accessible resources provide lots of different perspectives and diversity within the world of business. The only downside is that anyone can create a YouTube channel or a webinar, so be sure to help students identify reliable resources. 

Free and Inexpensive Online Courses

Although many online courses require a subscription or a one-time cost, other online courses are free, especially at the intro level. Students can find courses that suit their interests and career goals and start gaining the skills and knowledge they’ll ultimately need.

For example, students who are interested in entrepreneurship might want to look into the Small Business Basics courses from the Small Business Administration. Or, students might look up specific topics of interest, like direct-to-consumer and other non-traditional business models.

Business Competitions, Clubs, and Local Events

If your school or local community offers business competitions or has a business club, encourage your students to participate. They will have more investment in their learning when it’s for the purpose of a club or competition. They will also get to practice networking, teamwork, and practical business skills.

Another great way for students to network and learn is to attend events in the community. They can make connections, learn about different business topics, and gain an understanding of how the business community runs. Networking can open doors for students and help them get mentorships and even jobs in the future.

Business and Economics Reading Lists & Podcasts

High school students can learn a lot from self-study. There are many excellent books and podcasts about business, economics, leadership, entrepreneurship, and more. Curate a list for your students of the most helpful and interesting resources that cover a range of topics and time periods. Both “classic” and modern business books can help students gain business acumen.

Provide Different Learning Options

When encouraging students to learn about business, provide different options. Some students will prefer learning from a video, while others might like listening to a podcast or reading a book.

Encourage students to follow their interests and connect with others who are interested in these topics. Help them see the value of building their business acumen and starting a network even before they start college.

We live in a competitive world. As a counselor, you can help your students get ahead by providing them with the business education tools they need to gain an edge that will serve them in college and beyond.

ADMISSION MATTERS: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting into College

The fifth edition of Admission Matters: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting into College by Sally Springer, Joyce Vining Morgan, Nancy Griesemer, and Jon Reider has just been published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley in both paperback and Kindle versions. It is available at,,, as well as at many local bookstores.

Newly revised and thoroughly updated, the fifth edition of Admission Matters continues to be the go-to guide for students and families seeking help with the college admissions process. The book delivers a practical and accessible roadmap for a successful admissions outcome, whether the student is a high school freshman or a senior about to apply to college. Admission Matters provides deep insight into a process that has become increasingly complex and unpredictable with each passing year.

In the fifth edition, readers will learn how to build a balanced college list, when to apply, what goes into crafting a compelling application, how colleges make decisions, how financial aid works, and more. Admission Matters offers real-world expert advice for all students, whether they’re aiming for an Ivy or a state school close to home. The book provides practical guidance for students and families whether they come from an under-resourced background or one that has provided abundant opportunities.

Admission Matters includes much-needed information for students with special circumstances, including students with disabilities, international students, transfers, and non-traditional students. Athletes, artists and performers, and homeschoolers will also have many of their questions answered as they plan for and apply to college.

The 5th edition includes the latest information on:

  • The shift to test-optional or test-free admissions at many schools and what that means for you.
  • The transition to an adaptive, digital format for the SAT
  • Changes to the federal process for financial aid
  • What selective colleges are increasingly looking for when faced with growing numbers of applications.
  • Differences among colleges and how to choose the “best fit” schools.
  • Early decision and early action applications and when they make sense.
  • And much more…

Designed primarily for students and parents, Admission Matters has also been frequently used as a supplementary text in educational programs for aspiring college consultants and high school counselors. Please share this information with your students and their families. Endorsements and sample material from the book, plus updates that will keep Admission Matters as current as possible throughout the life of the fifth edition may be found at

Free Database of Neurodiversty-Friendly Colleges & Universities

Eric Endlich of Top College Consultants has a compiled a list of “Neurodiversity-Friendly” Colleges & Universities which can be sorted by state. The list contains institutions with comprehensive autism or learning support programs, as well as some with neurodiversity social clubs or less comprehensive programs.

Here is a link to the comprehensive list:

Going to College with a Physical Disability or Health Condition – Free Archived Webinar

Do you have any students with disabilities that are planning to go to college next year or in the future? If so, a recent webinar from Special Abilities Network outlines how those students can overcome college challenges, master financial planning, and more. It will explore evolving accommodation laws student roles, and financial considerations when moving from high school to college. Register to view it here:

How to Use AI to Write a Cover Letter

There are many areas of College Admissions in which using AI is taboo (for an example using it to write a college essay or paper), however, it does have some great uses that should be used by students. One example is using it to help write a cover letter once they begin looking for employment.

FlexJobs has put together a comprehensive job to help students (and non-students as well) write their cover letters. It covers:

  1. Choosing the Right AI Tool

A breakdown of various cover letter generators available for those ready to explore the world of AI for job searching

  1. Career Expert AI Tips: Writing an Excellent Cover Letter

Practical insights and must-know tips from career experts for effectively leveraging AI-generated cover letters to make job applications shine

  1. Basics of AI Cover Letter Prompts––Template Included

A guided plan to writing an effective prompt for an AI cover letter, with examples demonstrating how to better convey one’s candidacy for a specific role using AI

  1. Acknowledging Concerns & Misuse When Using AI  

The top concerns and best practices to consider before submitting an AI-generated cover letter  

  1. Frequently-Asked Questions About AI Cover Letters

A roundup of the most commonly asked questions from job seekers about using AI for cover letter writing.

Here is a link to share with your students that should find it useful:

It’s application season. Are your students taking advantage of opportunities to supplement their candidacy?

“You have a platform to create change. What is an action or policy you might propose to address an issue of social injustice in your school or local community, or on a national or global scale?” – University of Richmond Admissions

“Syracuse University is a place that seeks to be welcoming to all – and has been since our founding. Explain why you are interested in Syracuse University and describe a personal experience in which you persevered through adversity, rejected discrimination, learned a lesson, or were inspired by the courageous actions of others and how you will apply what you learned to our community in a positive way.” – Syracuse Admissions

“As an Augustinian community, we believe that you should see people for who they are. Please share with us a time when you were misjudged based on your identity or background.” – Villanova Admissions

With the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, many colleges have adjusted their supplemental essay questions to understand how students have overcome hardships and made contributions to their communities. This only adds to the importance of supplements, which help colleges distinguish between applicants in a test-optional climate characterized by unprecedented volumes. No matter the prompt, they are looking to see what applicants would bring to their campuses.

Takeaway: Make sure your students do their research and exercise care in customizing their supplemental essays and making them relatable. The themes of belonging to a community and overcoming adversity will continue to be important.

Videos are another great opportunity for a student to showcase their strengths, and any applicant with a smartphone can put something together to impress colleges. After all, unscripted videos let evaluators get a feel for the applicant in their comfort zone. Brown, my alma mater, introduced video to its application in 2020, telling applicants they could share a clip of no more than two minutes in lieu of an alumni interview. Other colleges, including Bowdoin, provide specific prompts to candidates.

Takeaway: Make sure your students look carefully at the required and optional components of their applications, including whether they can upload a video clip to their portals. They may even want to share a video directly with a representative of  particular college.

This is also the time for applicants to consider establishing a proactive presence on social media. After all, what if your students could interact with colleges, including admissions officers and professors, through X (Twitter) or LinkedIn? What if they applied for a scholarship and the college decided to do a quick internet search? 

Takeaway: Linkedin and other platforms aren’t for every student, but those who have unique interests or side hustles may find social media appealing. Those who post should do it with caution; they never know who will see the result!

Finally, students with extraordinary talents for research or the arts may also benefit from sharing their work digitally. Some highly selective colleges ask for or allow a research abstract or graded paper. Applicants to programs in music and fine arts may share their work through a platform such as SlideRoom.

Takeaway: Students with niche interests should seek opportunities to showcase their work. All applicants must follow each college’s specifications.

In 2023-24, make sure your applicants are aware of opportunities presented by colleges to supplement their candidacy. Through supplemental essays, videos and other materials, they can show off their understanding of a target college and display what they would bring to the campus and community.

Nina Berler is a college counselor and author of Supplementing the College Supplement, an ebook available on Apple Books that contains actual examples from student work. Nina has an AB with Honors from Brown University and an MBA from the Stern School of Business, New York University. She holds a Certificate with Distinction in College Counseling from UCLA Extension. Nina is a Professional Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC).

List of Schools Outside the US that Accept the Common App

Swati Shrestha, a Counselor at the International School of Bangkok compiled a list of schools OUS that accept the Common App. Have any students looking to go to school OUS. Perhaps the list will come in handy. Here is the list of schools:

Common App Schools Outside the US (Sept 2023)



Monash University


Duke Kunshan University

NYU Shanghai

U Michigan – Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Westlake University


Doshisha University

Temple University, Japan 

South Korea

Yonsei University – Underwood

Taejae University



American University in Bulgaria


Anglo-American University in Prague


American College of the Mediterranean

American University of Paris

The New School – Parsons Paris


Bard College Berlin

Constructor University


Dublin City University

Mary Immaculate College

Maynooth University

University College Dublin

University of Limerick


American University of Rome

John Cabot University


CUNEF University

IE University (Segovia & Madrid)

Saint Louis University, Madrid

Suffolk University, Madrid

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Universidad Católica de Murcia


Franklin University, Switzerland

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)

United Kingdom

If applying to more than 1, you must use UCAS only.

Aberystwyth University

Anglia Ruskin University

Arts University Bournemouth

Brunel University London

Edinburgh Napier University

ESCP Business School

Northeastern University, London

Richmond, The American University in London

Swansea University

University of Aberdeen

University of Bradford

University of Dundee

University of East London

University of Glasgow

University of Plymouth

University of St Andrews

University of Stirling

University of the West of England

University of West London

University of Worcester



American University of Beirut

Lebanese American University


Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar

Northwestern University in Qatar

United Arab Emirates

NYU Abu Dhabi



Bishop’s University

Queen’s University

St. Thomas University

University of Guelph


University of the Commonwealth Caribbean

College Pathways with ROTC – Free Webinar

Has your student expressed an interest in pursuing a 4-year college degree AND a career with the military? What if they COULD do both? Join a free webinar hosted by Estrela Consulting that outlines the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) college program which is offered at more than 1,700 colleges and universities preparing young adults to become officers in the U.S. Military.

Estrela College Planning Consultant Alyson Campbell will be joined by Theresa Bodnar, the Wolfpack Battalion Recruiter at John Carroll University (OH), discussing what it takes to become a cadet, the program requirements, scholarship opportunities, the post-graduate military commitment, and more. There will be a Q & A at the end. Students, parents, school counselors and IECs are encouraged to attend! We hope you will “fall in line” and learn more alongside us!

The webinar is live on September 21st and the archived webinar can be watched later for all registrants. Click here to register for the live or post-archived webinar – College Pathways with ROTC

The Future of Testing: SAT, dSAT, ACT & Test-Optional – Free Archived Webinar

Would your students like to learn:

…An overview of the new digital SAT (dSAT)

…Key differences between the dSAT and ACT

…Which test(s) you should take

…What Test-Optional really means

If so, here is a link to register to view a free archived webinar that will answer many of the question they and their parents might have. Here is the link –

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