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Saying No to a Dream College: A Success Story

Should you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to send your child to his or her dream college?

My answer to that dream college question has always been a resounding NO!

Some of the universities that U.S. News & World Report loves to gush over now cost $300,000 or higher. And that’s for a SINGLE bachelor’s degree.

If you’re really contemplating this sort of financial insanity, I want to share an inspiring story about a super-achieving young woman from Chicago.

Mallory originally had assumed that her parents would spend big bucks when she got accepted into her dream school – Northwestern University. It would have been a stretch, but her parents could have afforded to pay full price at Northwestern, but they balked at spending so much.

Pitt vs. Northwestern

It was an emotional conversation back in 2014 when mom and dad told Mallory that they were nixing the Northwestern move. They urged her to go instead to the University of Pittsburgh, which

University of Pittsburgh

offered her a full -tuition scholarship.

The parents told her that going to Pitt would free up the money they had saved if she wanted to attend graduate school. And there would also be plenty of money for extras such as internships and study-abroad opportunities.

I’d urge you to read the original blog post that I wrote years ago about the parents’ decision: Saying No to a Dream College

Golden Ticket Hogwash

Of course, one of the reasons why teenagers and their parents (and I’m primarily talking about high-income families here) fixate on elite universities, such as the Ivy League members, is because they really do believe that no acceptable alternatives exists.

Attending an elite college or university they believe is essential because only these institutions can pave the way to a life and career that is socially and financially rewarding.

In other words, people believe that going to a so-called golden ticket school is worth any price.

What the Research Really Says

Research, however,  has repeatedly shown that schools like Northwestern, Harvard and Stanford DO NOT possess a monopoly on successful post-graduate outcomes!

What affluent families don’t realize is that their kids already possess golden tickets. They don’t need to attend a highly ranked school to snag a golden ticket because they were born into families that have them. Not surprisingly then, what the research does show is that the students who actually do benefit financially from attending elite universities are low-income, first-generation and Hispanic and black students.

The other big fear that parents and students have is that if teenagers trot off to what they consider to be an inferior school, their graduate and professional school options will shrink.

What’s Next for Mallory

Mallory’s story, however,  illustrates this reality:   you don’t have to attend a college rankings darling like Northwestern to have a phenomenal college experience and ultimately get into an excellent graduate school.

Mallory, who was quite active in organizations and activities at Pitt,  majored in math and economics with a Spanish minor and maintained excellent grades. Accepted into Pitt’s honors college, she ended up with four academic advisors!

She ultimately decided to pursue a master’s degree in economics. Based on her stellar grades, her academic pursuits abroad in Barcelona and Havana and her undergraduate research that culminated in a senior thesis, she got into plenty of graduate programs.

Here are some of the graduate schools that accepted her:

  • Tufts University
  • Miami University (Ohio)
  • University of Oxford
  • London School of Economics

Oxford University Bound

Mallory received phenomenal awards from Tufts and Miami which would have made her master’s degree in economics at either of those schools almost free. She ultimately decided, however, that she wanted to attend Oxford.

Because her parents had so much money left after covering her undergrad costs, Mallory got to pick the grad school she wanted without money being a consideration. The parents will be paying a total of between $90,000 and $108,000 for the two-year Oxford program that includes tuition and room/board.

“Thanks to her full undergraduate scholarship at Pitt, my wife and I have the money in her college fund to pay for Oxford,” Mike, her father, said, “ In fact, unless the economy experiences radical changes, money will remain in her college fund at the end of her master’s studies.  She will ultimately graduate debt free with a master’s degree from a world class university.”

“She could have accepted offers from Tufts or Miami/Ohio (two superb schools) which would have cost little to nothing,” Mike continued. “ This speaks to the quality education she received at Pitt.  Had Mallory taken that route she would have realized a significant financial windfall upon graduation, as her college fund would have remained  intact.”

“Mallory will complete her education at the master’s level without incurring a dollar in student debt. This was our “plan” all along.  The seeds of that plan were planted by your advice and your blog.”

At this point, Mallory’s goal is to obtain a PhD in economics.  Whatever she chooses to do in the future, she will walk down that road debt free.

Looking Back on the Northwestern Veto

You might be curious what Mallory now thinks about her parents original decision to veto her Northwestern plans.

“She now readily acknowledges that we gave her good advice in urging her to accept the Pitt scholarship, She also laughs while making this admission,” Mike said.

“On a soberer note,” he added, “she has told us multiple “horror” stories about young people she knows who are carrying very burdensome undergrad student debt.  She understands that the Pitt scholarship, which she earned by way of hard work and long hours in high school, put her in the position she now finds herself in.”

Bottom Line

I will continue to urge parents not to overspend for a university with a fancy brand name.

As Mallory so beautifully illustrates, what a student does in college can be far more important than where he or she got a bachelor’s degree from.

I wrote a post years ago about landmark study from Gallup-Purdue that backs this up.

In the post, I wrote about my daughter’s collegiate experience at Juniata College, which led to some fantastic career opportunities including the launch back in 2017 of her own business – MaxableSpace.com.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy (that’s me!) is a nationally recognized college expert, who is a higher-ed journalist, speaker and educator. Check out her website at http://www.thecollegesolution.com/

She also offers Counselors a great newsletter and offers all Counselors who sign up a free copy of her guide – Finding the Most Generous Colleges. Here is the link to sign up: https://my.leadpages.net/leadbox/147d44d73f72a2%3A14d7c97c4b46dc/5726607939469312/

6 Things Your Students Should Avoid Their First Year of College

Transitioning from high school to college can pose completely new and daunting challenges. This is especially true socially, as it can be difficult for students to balance the new sense of freedom with the need to build their own structure and focus on their studies. When you add new college students’ fear of missing out with the uncertainty of building a friend group from scratch, the struggles might even seem overwhelming. 

Luckily, there are a few things they can do to make their transition into college as easy as possible. Here are six things your students should avoid in their first year of college. 

1. Don’t Force Yourself to Make Friends

While it can be scary to find yourself in a brand-new social situation, don’t panic – making friends will be easier than you think. It’s important, however, to make sure that you spend your time with people who add to your life in positive ways. Avoid forcing yourself fit in with a certain group just because it seems easy. In other words, and don’t be afraid to gather friends slowly. 

You have years of university ahead of you, so take your time locating the people with whom you most relate as your build a solid, positive social circle. You’ll find the relationships are more comfortable as well as more rewarding when they’re created with individuals you trust.

2. Don’t Assume Time Management Comes Naturally

You might think that you’ve already figured time management out and that the dreaded “transitionary period” won’t be a problem for you. After all, you managed to do your work while still making plenty of friends in high school, right? While it’s likely that you have some skills that will transfer over to your college life, it’s equally likely that you probably aren’t one of the few people who just “get it” when it comes to time management. 

It will take you awhile to understand the full workload you can expect to face, but scheduling study time every day and sticking to it makes a study routine less daunting. Equally important, though, is that you use this study time well. 

Coffee is a quick fix for focus, but it can lead to jitters and bad sleep. Try more natural solutions like exercise (even if it’s just a walk), creating a playlist just for study time, or essential oils for focus. These will help your focus be more consistent and last longer. 

3. Don’t Avoid Your Professors

It can be intimidating to socialize with professors, but doing so is a great way to find class a bit more enjoyable— and most professors really enjoy students who take an interest in their field. Don’t be afraid to stop by with questions and chat with them for a while, be it about a specific assignment or more general topics in the class. This is especially true for professors in departments of which you’re likely to spend more time. 

If you know you’re going to major in English literature, for example, then you should build positive relationships with professors in this field. Talk to them about their studies, about your classwork, and about how you can improve your reading comprehension and writing skills. Soon you’ll find that you’re a common fixture in the department, which improves your relationship with other professors as well.

4. Don’t Spend All of Your Time Partying

As you embrace the transition from high school student to college student, you might be struck with a new and intriguing sense of freedom. This is especially true if you’re living on campus or are otherwise out of your parents’ home. Suddenly you’re in charge of creating your own schedule and deciding when you study, and it’s easy to let this go to your head. 

Keep in mind that you’re in school for a reason, however, and that the courses you’re taking now will remain on your transcript for the entirety of your college career. It’s good to make friends and branch out in order to improve both intellectually as well as socially, but not at the expense of your work. Finding a balance between social engagements and study time is key, and there are lots of other methods of making friends.

5.  Don’t Be Afraid to Pursue New Interests

One of the most disappointing things college students can do is spend all of their time in their safe zone. When you fail to branch out and embrace your new surroundings and opportunities, you’re thwarting your chance to grow as a person. College is one of the most developmental times of your life, but this requires leaving your comfort zone.

 Don’t be content to stay in one place and keep the same beliefs and values you’ve always had. It can be fun to stretch your view on things and sample the other side of it. Reaching for new heights and taking new classes can shift your worldview and help you mature as an individual and a global citizen. 

6. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in Your Room

If you are living on campus in a dorm, it can be tempting to retreat there between classes to have some alone time. While this is sometimes needed to decompress or catch up on sleep, you miss a lot of the action going on around you. In general, the better idea is to stay out of your room and in common areas or elsewhere on campus where other students dwell. 

Has the time to transition to university arrived for your students? Keep the tips above in mind when speaking with them. Communicate the importance of establishing and maintaining a balanced study and social schedule throughout their years, and reassure them that all will be well before they know it. College will certainly prove to be an absolutely incredible experience and time of transformation.

Does requiring seniors to fill out FAFSA forms increase college attendance?

Louisiana saw a 6% jump in higher ed enrollment after the requirement was put in place, but forcing students to complete FAFSAs may be a hurdle without adequate support.

In an effort to connect students with college financial aid, some states are requiring graduating seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. In the 2021-22 school year, Texas will become the second to require students to fill out the FAFSA, or its state version called TAFSA, in order to graduate. It follows Louisiana, which just completed its second year of the requirement.

And Illinois may soon become the third, barring a governor’s veto.

Research demonstrates that students who fill out the FAFSA are more likely to attend college, said MorraLee Keller, director of technical assistance at the National College Access Network.

“Louisiana saw 6% increase in higher education enrollment after the requirement was put in place,” Keller said.

The number of students who filled out the FAFSA in Louisiana rose dramatically after the graduation requirement launched. As of June 28, the state had the highest percentage of high school seniors completing the application (78.7%). It is followed closely by Tennessee, where 77.8% of seniors completed the form.

Louisiana saw a 26% year-over-year increase of students filling out the FAFSA in 2018, the first year of the requirement. That equates into 7,778 more applications.

While filling out the FAFSA is not required to graduate in Tennessee, it is tied to the Tennessee Promise program, a last-dollar scholarship initiative that allows high school graduates to complete an associate degree or technical certification program at a community college or the Tennessee College of Applied Technology free of charge.

However, some learners and their families need help filling out the forms. 

“Requiring that students file the FAFSA is a good strategy to ensure the highest number of students have the optionof having funds for postsecondary education if they choose to pursue it,” said Alejandra Acosta, policy analyst for higher education at New America. “However, requiring this without implementing proper supports is probably just setting up students for a hard time or perpetuating inequalities for under-resourced students.”

Keller reiterated that point. Requiring students to complete the FAFSA in order to get their diploma means the state should provide more outreach assistance and completion workshops, she said.

Referring to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics, Tom Snyder pointed out that many students don’t fill out the FAFSA because they believe they can afford college without financial aid. About 32% thought they were ineligible or might not qualify for aid, and another 28% didn’t want to take on debt.

Snyder, program director of annual reports and information at the NCES, added that another 23% did not fill out the form due to lack of information on how to do so.

What if students aren’t college-bound?

The flipside of this requirement is that not every student is destined for college.

“There needs be a waiver included or an opt-out clause,” Keller said. “There are going to be certain situations where it’s not possible for college to be the post-high-school path. We certainly don’t want this to be a barrier to earning their degree.”

Sarah Pingel, senior policy analyst at for Education Commission of the States, said ECS encourages states to have the right kind of off-ramps and exemptions.

“Requiring students to complete the FAFSA may allow them to see another pathway,” Pingel said. “That would intuitively make sense. But we still don’t have enough evidence to determine if that is really what is going to happen. Just because a student fills out a FAFSA does not mean that they will magically be going to go to college.”

It may break down some barriers, though, said Caroline Altman Smith, deputy director of Kresge Foundation Education Programs. “FAFSA completion is the key to unlocking the entire college financial aid process, especially for students who are often underrepresented in higher education,” she said. 

The Kresge Foundation helped support Louisiana’s FAFSA graduation requirement by offering one-on-one support for students and parents, launching a peer support group and sending phone message reminders about FAFSA completion dates to parents.

For students from low-income households and students of color, this is a critical gateway, Altman Smith said.

But, she added, “it’s also a huge bureaucratic hurdle that is very challenging for students and families to navigate. FAFSA completion requirements are very intriguing, but the jury is still out and we have yet to reach a verdict on the impact of these broad policy changes.”

This article was published by Education Dive. Check them out at: https://www.educationdive.com/news/does-requiring-seniors-to-fill-out-fasfa-forms-increase-college-attendance/559852/

US News & World Report ranks America’s ‘best’ colleges. But, is there really a way to know?

College rankings purport to tell the public which schools are worthwhile, even though many academics view the rankings as worthless. 

The latest salvo in the battle between the ranked and the rankers comes out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon. A statistics professor and a group of students say, based on an statistical analysis, Reed College appears to be under-ranked compared to other schools on the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of “best colleges.” The publication denies that claim and questions the accuracy of the group’s work. 

Though the two parties may not come to an agreement, the debate speaks to a broader conversation about the value of quantifying the college experience. Mainly, is there any?

In America, the U.S. News & World Report rankings are regarded as the gold standard. The publication’s methodology usually changes annually, but it includes student retention and graduation rates, resources available to faculty, and the opinions of fellow college leaders and high school counselors. It also create snapshots of colleges that include cost, application deadlines and a school’s history. 

“Taken together, the rankings and profiles – combined with college visits, interviews and your own intuition – can be a powerful tool in your quest for the right college,” the company’s website reads. 

Americans’ obsession with choosing the best product also informs the longevity of U.S. News college rankings, which began in 1983. They persist because choosing where to start a higher education career is confusing and there are hundreds of colleges, each promising a quality education. But when students can’t figure out who is telling them the truth, a list of winners and losers can seem like a clarion through the noise. 

So, McConville and students Bailee Cruger, Huaying Qiu and Wenxin Du  set about creating a model to test it following a suggestion by the college’s institutional research office. Using federally available government data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and their model, they said they were able to recreate the U.S. News ranking with 94% accuracy.

In their model, Reed ranks 38th for liberal arts colleges nationally, but U.S. News’ model put the college at 90th. McConville said there is “variability in the accuracy of the prediction,” but it does provide evidence Reed is under-ranked. 

“We were really surprised,” she said. “It seemed like their models implied that Reed should be ranked higher.”

The point, McConville said, wasn’t to fight over which equation was best, but to show the limitations of a one-size-fits-all model, and to demystify the process of rankings.

Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, challenged the Reed College findings on two grounds. First, he argued, it was “not possible” to reverse-engineer the college rankings based only on IPEDS data.

Secondly, Morse said the publication doesn’t penalize schools that don’t participate in the surveys. He added that the magazine relies on IPEDS data when colleges decline to take part in the survey. 

Christopher R. Marsicano, a professor at Davidson College who studies higher education, said it appears the students were able to predict the U.S. News rankings with a high degree of accuracy. But, he cautioned, it would be impossible to replicate the scores exactly without the publication’s precise formula. 

He couldn’t perfectly replicate the students’ work, but Marsicano looked at publicly available data for colleges in U.S. News rankings in the high 30s and the low 90s. 

He said Reed appeared to share many traits with the high-30s groups, including graduation and retention rates, money spent on students and SAT scores. He did say it’s possible Reed, however, got a bump for having a higher graduation rate than what U.S. News had predicted. Its prediction, Marsicano said, was 5 points below Reed’s lowest graduation rate in nearly the past decade. 

“It seems that U.S. News just doesn’t have a good handle on Reed in general,” he said. “And to be fair, Reed doesn’t send in the survey – so how could U.S. News adequately have a handle on Reed?”

‘Nobody should fill those forms out’

Rancor over the rankings has long been brewing. 

Douglas C. Bennett is one of those longtime critics of the rankings. While president of Earlham College in Indiana, he did not participate in the system and, in 2007, he signed a letter encouraging other leaders in higher education to do the same. 

Little has changed, he said, since his 2011 retirement. Among his complaints, Bennett said the rankings measure many factors that don’t necessarily reveal how adept a college is at educating students. In particular, a portion of the rankings ask presidents to assess other institutions. His response when he was a president: He couldn’t really know.  

“Nobody should fill those forms out,” he said. “They don’t know what’s going on. They’re just reacting to prestige, and prestige is the illusion of quality. It may get at something, but it isn’t getting at something real or trustworthy.”

A small contingent, including Reed, opted out on ideological grounds. But the rankings clearly mean something to many others.

Some list their ranking on their website as an advertising tool. Others make it part of the institution’s goal to rise in the rankings and, in extreme cases, may tie presidential bonuses to moving up, according to Robert Kelchen’s “Higher Education Accountability.”

Others lie to boost their standing. In 2019, the University of Oklahoma submitted false data about its fundraising. And, in 2018, Temple University’s Master of Business Administration program was stripped of its ranking after it was found to have lied about its students test data, among other things.

UC Berkeley, which often ranked as the best public school in the nation, was also recently moved to unranked “status” after misreporting alumni giving rates. In that case, the university reported the error itself. 

What are numbers without context?

Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University in New Orleans, has long refused to participate in the rankings system. He joked that he sends the U.S. News and World Report’s surveys back in the mail labeled as junk. 

“Since the ’80s, we have been a brand-name nation, and it applies to higher education,” Kimbrough said. “They’re looking for a brand to give themselves some kind of status.”

Rankings, though, reflect not what colleges do, but who the college serves, Kimbrough said. The colleges that do especially well in the rankings are generally the ones with the fewest students on Pell Grants, a type of financial aid given only to students from low-income backgrounds. Students from such backgrounds often have less academic preparation and will have more ground to cover. 

And numbers sans context, he said, mean little. His university’s six-year graduation rate in 2012 was 28 percent, he said. That was true, but it was based on the cohort who started seven weeks before Hurricane Katrina.

The institution had to shut down for a semester, and they operated partially out of a hotel the next. Some people just never came back, Kimbrough said. For the next three years, that was part of the data that informed the U.S. News and World Report ranking. 

“They just see the numbers without a full interpretation of about what those numbers mean,” Kimbrough said.

This story was originally published by USA TODAY. Education coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation does not provide editorial input.

7 Tips Your Students Can Use to Start the Year off Right

ll high school students, from anxious new freshman to confident seniors, set their minds to making the most of the year. Four years may sound like a lot, but it’s a short time considering you’re setting the groundwork for the rest of your life. Goal: College!

Here are 7 ways to ensure this school year provides the best support for your future choices and opportunities:

1.  School course choices

Consider your courses and teachers and decide if you’re happy with your choices. Are you challenged? When college counselors see your schedule will they think you tried hard, applied yourself and took challenging courses?

It’s important to take challenging courses, but it’s just as important that you do well in them. Now is the time to switch classes if you need to; don’t wait until the first day of school when staff is busy, ask now. Remember that your senior schedule is usually the last thing that college admissions see before deciding if they want you at their school.

How High School Courses Impact SAT Scores

2. School organizations

Look at your school’s clubs, activities, and student groups. The beginning of the school year is the best time for exploring interests. Once you decide what you want to try, find out how you can get involved in those organizations. Join at least two new student clubs or organizations. Plan on becoming more than just a “member” by junior or senior year. Elected positions look great on student resumes!  

3. Grades/ GPA

Make a commitment to yourself to work hard for the good grades.  If you need help, get it before you fall behind.

5 Things Students Can Do to Improve Chance of College Acceptance

4. Reading and Vocabulary

Build your vocabulary. READ. READ. READ. The PSAT, ACT and SAT all count on your having a good vocabulary, quick reading fluency, and comprehension. It is much easier to build this slowly and naturally than to cram it. Reading will also help your writing, thinking, and speaking.

5. College Visits

There are over 4,000 colleges in the United States. Students will need to narrow those down to a manageable list of 5-12 colleges for applications by the end of junior year. Visiting a couple of colleges during each year will give families time to see more, figure out what they want and don’t want in a school, and get on the college’s list of prospective students.

10 Things to See and Do on a College Tour 

6. Social Media

Don’t put anything on social media that would embarrass you if a college admissions officer sees it. (That might!)  Give it the grandma check. If you wouldn’t want grandma (or the admissions director of your #1 college) to see or read something, don’t post it.

Applying to College? 12 Facebook Photos You Should Delete Now

College Admissions Officials Turn to Facebook to Research Students

7. Life Choices

Make smart decisions on alcohol, sex, and drugs. And don’t text and drive or drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  One dumb mistake can ruin your college prospects.

Can My College Acceptance by Revoked?

Jolyn Brand is a certified teacher who holds a Master’s degree in education and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Higher Education. After years of experience teaching high school and college students, she began assisting with the college process. She’s the founder of Brand College Consulting and works with families across the Houston area and across the country virtually. She can be reached at https://brandcollegeconsulting.com/ or by calling (800) 940-6491.

Department of Defense (DoD) SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program

The SMART application opened on August 1, 2019 and we want to ensure you don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity. The SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program offers students the chance to pursue their passion in STEM while supporting the mission of the Department of Defense (DoD) as a prominent scientist, engineer or researcher. Apply now to be the future leaders of innovation! 

As a reminder, here are some of the benefits SMART Scholars receive:

  • Full tuition and education related fees (does not include items such as meal plans, housing, or parking)
  • Stipend paid at a rate of $25,000 – $38,000 depending on degree pursuing 
  • Summer internships
  • Health insurance allowance up to $1,200 per calendar year
  • Miscellaneous supplies allowance of $1,000 per academic year
  • Mentoring
  • Employment placement at a DoD facility after graduation.

All applicants are required to upload their most recent transcript, and a minimum of 3 letters of reference by the December 3 deadline. First time freshman and first year associates are required to submit SAT/ACT scores and all graduate level applicants must submit GRE scores by the deadline.  All applicants must also have a graduation date of Fall 2021 or later in order to be eligible.

For more information, please visit us at smartscholarship.org or email us at smart@smartscholarship.org and don’t forget to follow us on social media for all the latest SMART news.
The application window will close on December 3 at 5:00 p.m. EST. 

Have your students click this link to start their application: https://smartscholarshipprod.service-now.com/smart?id=login

Free back to school guide for Counselors with tips from Counselors

Teachers Pay Teachers is an online marketplace where teachers and counselors can buy and sell books, guides and other things that are relevant to their peers. They also offer some free resources for download and one such resource that you might find very helpful is “The Counselors of TpT Back to School Resource Guide”

It is 36 pages of great information from Counselors, for Counselors. It is downloadable as a PDF. A registration to the site is required but it is free to join. The Counselors of TpT eBook is a great catalog of some awesome back to school counseling resources, lesson plans, games, posters and decor! 33 different counselor TpT stores are highlighted and there is a free resource on every page!

Here are some comments from your peers about the eBook:

Kayla S. said:Extremely helpful as I navigate my first year as a school counselor.

Bright Futures Counseling  (TpT Seller) said:This ebook is awesome! It is filled with so many great resources. I can’t wait to check them all out.

 Heart and Mind Teaching (TpT Seller) said:Great way to find Counselors on TpT to support each other, plus a FREEBIE on every page!!

 Counselor Clique (TpT Seller) said:What a valuable resource! Love the FREE options on every page. I love getting to see all of the school counselor stores in one place and see what can help me out as I plan my core curriculum for the year!

 Nikki Ohms The Charismatic Counselor (TpT Seller) said:Awesome ebook that’s packed with a great variety of helpful resources, including FREEBIES! Thank you for sharing this must-have book! 🙂

YNot Counseling (TpT Seller) said:Awesome resource to have as you plan your school counseling, small group or individual lessons. So many different authors with wonderful lessons that will assist you in tackling any subject that you need to address. And each page has great freebies too!

The DIY Counselor Carla (TpT Seller) said:An awesome resource for the beginning of the year. So many great products and freebies!

Simply Imperfect Counselor (TpT Seller) said:This is such an amazing resource! Packed with lots of usable freebies! Also, an easy way to see what counselors are selling. I already added tons to my wish list!

Counselor Katie (TpT Seller) said:The Counselors in this freebie are amazing!! Thanks!

The Sunny Sunshine Student Support Store (TpT Seller) said:Well thought out and helpful!

Here is a link to this free resource if you would like to check it out!

NACAC has started a new Podcast – “College Admissions Decoded”

They have released 3 podcasts so far:

  1. College Admission After Varsity Blues
  2. Counseling Applicants and Families Amidst a Scandal
  3. The View from Campus 

In the newest episode (#3 above), admission leaders discuss the pressures from campus stakeholders; the responsibility to serve families; and how colleges are adapting to the rapid evolution of the prospective college student. Featuring insight from: David Burge, NACAC past president and the vice president for enrollment management at George Mason University (VA); Mary Smith, senior associate director of admissions at Gettysburg College (PA); and Gil J. Villanueva, associate vice president and dean of admission at the University of Richmond (VA).

The 15 companies that are hiring the most new hires and paying them over $100,000 a year

If your students are looking to target specific companies to work for that are hiring and paying high salaries (over $100,000) a year these are 15 companies that they should target according to the Ladders

1. Microsoft
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 1,135
Most in-demand role: software developer

2. Cognizant Technology Solutions
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 830
Most in-demand role: software developer

3. Infosys
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 795
Most in-demand role: software developer

4. NTT DATA Services
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 753
Most in-demand role: software developer

5. Perspecta
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 725
Most in-demand role: systems architect and engineer

6. Walmart
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 695
Most in-demand role: software developer

7. JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 583
Most in-demand role: software developer

8. Compass
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 572
Most in-demand role: general manager/location manager

9. Amazon
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 570
Most in-demand role: software developer

10. Raytheon Co.
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 566
Most in-demand role: systems architect and engineer

11. Lockheed Martin
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 519
Most in-demand role: software developer

12. Verizon Communications
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 515
Most in-demand role: systems architect and engineer

13. Northrop Grumman Corporation
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 508
Most in-demand role: systems architect and engineer

14. CVS Health
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 485
Most in-demand role: pharmacist

15. VMware
Number of open $100,000-plus roles: 477
Most in-demand role: systems architect and engineer

As for locations where job-seekers have an advantage, major cities including San Francisco; New York; Washington, DC; Boston and Los Angeles top the list of locations with the greatest number of open roles paying in the six figures, ranging from about 7,000 to over 15,000 openings each.

Cities with lower costs of living, like Chicago, Denver, Austin and Raleigh-Durham also make a strong showing, with over 2,400 open roles in each location.

Mental Health Disorders

Mental health has been in the news a lot lately as several disturbed individuals have carried out horrible acts of violence on innocent people. As you work with students, what are the signs you should be looking for? The Recovery Village has put together a complete guide regarding mental health.

Mental health disorders are common conditions, affecting an estimated 54 million Americans each year. Mental health conditions can cause frequent stress and can be both emotionally and physically trying. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health concerns, know that you are not alone and help is available.

What Is Mental Illness?

A mental health disorder is defined as any condition that affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors or moods. While some mental health disorders last for a limited period, others are chronic and lifelong. When these issues cause high levels of stress or affect their daily functioning or relationships, treatment may be necessary to help a person manage their symptoms.

Common Mental Health Disorders

A few of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders include the following:

Anxiety Disorders

Eating Disorders

Personality Disorders

Mood Disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders

Stress-Related Disorders

Causes of Mental Illness

Although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is unknown, most develop as the result of a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors.

Some mental illnesses have been linked to abnormal functioning of the brain due to chemical imbalances, injuries or developmental abnormalities. Mental illnesses sometimes run in families, suggesting that genetics also plays a role. Other links to mental health disorders include:

  • Long-term substance abuse
  • Poor nutrition and exposure to toxins
  • Undergoing severe psychological trauma as a child, including emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • Death or divorce
  • Dysfunctional family life
  • Feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger or loneliness
  • Social or cultural expectations
  • Substance abuse

Diagnosing Mental Illness

Physicians will typically check for related complications while diagnosing a mental health disorder and perform:

  • Physical exams to rule out any physical problems that could be causing the symptoms
  • Lab tests to evaluate body processes or screen for alcohol and drugs
  • Psychological evaluation to assess mental illness symptoms, thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns

Mental Health FAQ’s

To learn more and gain a better understanding about mental health disorders explore the commonly asked questions below.Who is at risk of developing mental illness?Are mental illnesses curable?How can family members help in their loved one’s recovery?Does my health insurance cover treatment?

Additional mental health FAQs can be found here.

Statistics on Mental Illness

Mental health disorders are one of the most common causes of disability in the United States and bear the largest disease burden of any category of health conditions. An estimated 54 million Americans live with a serious mental illness or mental health issues in any given year.

Mental illness also includes alcohol and substance use disorders. In 2013, approximately 17.3 million Americans over the age of 12 lived with an alcohol use disorder in the past year.  Roughly 6.9 million Americans 12 and older abused illicit drugs and were dependent on them in the year before being surveyed.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Co-occurring disorders, or mental health and substance use disorders presenting simultaneously, are exceedingly common. People living with a drug or alcohol use disorder are about twice as likely to already exhibit symptoms of a mental health disorder. Similarly, those who are living with a mental health disorder are twice as likely to develop a substance abuse problem as well.

Mental Illness Stigma

Some individuals still view mental illnesses as threatening. These views can lead to various forms of exclusion and discrimination for people with mental health problems.

Some of the additional harmful effects of stigma can include:

  • Reluctance to seek help or treatment
  • Lack of understanding by family, friends, co-workers or others
  • Fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities
  • Trouble securing housing
  • Bullying, physical violence or harassment
  • Health insurance that doesn’t adequately cover mental illness treatment

Mental Health Treatment

Treatments may vary depending on the type of mental health disorder a person has. However, mental health care almost always involves some form of psychiatric counseling. Medications may also be prescribed.

If you or a loved one is living with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders that are affecting your life, The Recovery Village® can help. Individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders can receive comprehensive treatment from one of the facilities located across the country. To learn more, call The Recovery Village® today to speak with a representative.

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