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Apps available to help your students with their college search

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on apps available that might help your students with their college search.

Here is a quick summary:

  1. The iOS app, Admittedly quizzes users on their preferences for such factors as walkability or weather. (Admittedly recently launched on the web as myOptions.)
  2. The College Fair, a mobile app launched in 2016 under the name Schoold, asks users for academic and personal data, then claims to use Netflix-like algorithms to fine-tune college lists. The app also posts whimsical rankings such as “Beyonce’s Short List” of schools the pop star might like, and “Places Where the Professors Know Your Name.”
  3. An extensive website called BigFuture, by the nonprofit college-planning concern The College Board, has helpful tools linking students’ interests with potential majors, careers and colleges.
  4. Naviance has an app that helps students plan on where to apply to college. The Naviance program, owned by the Cincinnati-based education software company Hobsons, offers a wealth of college- and career-planning tools, but it’s available only to students whose schools subscribe, including about 40% of U.S. public high-school students. It’s well-known for its ‘scatterplots—dot diagrams charting the grades and test scores of students from the same high school who applied to a particular college in the past and showing whether they were admitted. Seeing where your grades and test scores appear in relation to others’ helps students estimate their chances of admission.
  5. A unique website called AdmitSee, founded in 2013 by two law-school students, allows users who buy a monthly subscription to see advice and essays from students currently enrolled at schools of interest.
  6. A free Pittsburgh-based site called Niche posts Yelp-like college reviews and rankings. Users can find students’ answers to questions they might not ask on a campus tour.
  7. Parchment, a site that stores users’ transcripts, test scores and other credentials, creates scatterplots showing admission odds, using data from past Parchment users. But it’s transparent about the reliability of its projections, including a confidence rating based on the past accuracy of its projections for that school, says Matthew Pittinsky, CEO of the Scottsdale, Ariz., company and co-founder of the education software company Blackboard Inc.

The complete article authored by Sue Shellenbarger can be found here:

The 2017 Survey of Admissions Directors

Only 34 percent of colleges met new student enrollment targets this year by May 1, the traditional date by which most institutions hope to have a class set.

That is a key finding of the 2017 Survey of College and University Admissions Directors, conducted by Inside Higher Ed, in collaboration with Gallup.

The 34 percent figure is down from 37 percent a year ago and 42 percent two years ago.

For colleges, public and private, failing to hit that target can be anything from an annoyance to an existential crisis. All but a few elite private colleges are dependent on tuition, and most public colleges are as well (both through tuition and state funds that tend to be distributed based on enrollment.)

Only 22 percent of public bachelor’s/master’s institutions met their targets by May 1, and the figure was 27 percent for community colleges. (It should be noted that many community colleges do considerable recruiting during the summer.)

For private colleges and universities, 36 percent met admissions goals by May 1, but this was a year in which some well-regarded private colleges struggled to hit targets for applications, even as a small number of private institutions continued to have far more applicants than they could ever need.

Times have also been difficult for private colleges trying to revive themselves. Sweet Briar College has 95 new students for the fall and is now cutting tuition. Antioch College has only 22 new students for the fall.

Given the small share of colleges meeting their targets, it’s not surprising that 55 percent of college and university admissions directors (roughly the same for public and private) reported that they had been very concerned about meeting their May 1 targets. Another 30 percent reported having been moderately concerned, and only 3 percent said that they weren’t concerned at all. Last year, 54 percent said that they were very concerned, and the year before the total was 31 percent. The percentage not worried at all was 5 percent last year, and 7 percent the year before.

The results are drawn from responses from 453 admissions directors (or officials with equivalent titles). Those participating were given complete anonymity, but their answers were coded by institution to provide for analysis by sector.

Other top findings (detailed below):

  • Many colleges, especially private institutions, appear to be focusing recruiting strategies on students with the capacity to pay.
  • In the realm of international student recruiting, many say that American higher education has become too dependent on students from a few countries, but most admissions directors don’t think that’s true of their institutions.
  • While most colleges don’t check applicants’ social media, some do — and some applicants are being rejected or having acceptances revoked over their posts.
  • Officials at many colleges, more public than private, say they are stepping up recruitment of rural and low-income white students in the wake of the election, and a small minority of colleges are stepping up recruitment of conservative students.
  • Admissions directors strongly believe that higher education has an image problem with ramifications for enrollment patterns — and that image problem may be the worst for liberal arts colleges.
  • Admissions directors — both from public and private institutions — believe they are losing potential applicants because of concerns about debt. But private and public college admissions leaders differ on how much debt is reasonable.
  • The idea of free tuition in public higher education is seen by most private college admissions directors as a threat to their institutions. While admissions directors in public higher education are more open to the idea, they have areas of skepticism as well.

Here is the complete summary of the survey from Inside Higher Ed –

About the Survey
Inside Higher Ed‘s 2017 Survey of College and University Admissions Directors was conducted in conjunction with researchers from Gallup. Inside Higher Ed regularly surveys key higher ed professionals on a range of topics.

On Thursday, Sept. 28, at 2 p.m. Eastern, Inside Higher Ed will present a free webcast to discuss the results of the survey. Sign up here.

You may download a full survey report here.

The Inside Higher Ed survey of admissions directors was made possible in part by support from Jenzabar, Intersect by Hobsons, Liaison, Blackboard and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

‘The Dangers They Face’ Movement: Documentarist Works To Protect Young People

As a documentarist with 30 years of experience as an anchor and news director, Mike Mickle of Davenport, IA, knows that today’s world holds an array of hidden dangers. And, as the father of three teen children, he is concerned about the fate of today’s young people. It was this growing concern that prompted him to initiate a series of eight documentaries called ‘The Dangers They FaceMovement.


Mike is the President of Mickle Communications, the company that is producing the full series along with its not-for-profit sister organization, the Healthy Happy Families Foundation. The Foundation’s goal is to strengthen families with a proactive approach, and to empower children with good decision-making skills and parents with vital resources.


“Too often, the issues addressed in these documentaries are under the radar of most of the community,” Mike said. “For example, many children think the only answer to their problems is suicide. Also, others are being abducted, abused, and sold for sex. Children can be caught in a battle with drugs. Many are finding dangers online where pedophiles lurk. Some are facing gender identity issues and may be subjected to prejudice and violence. Then there are those who are surrounded by poverty. People need to be informed about all of these concerns.”


The eight documentaries in the series will be:

  • If You Only Knew: The Journey Through Teen Depression and Suicide
  • Human Trafficking in the Heartland
  • Down on the Pharm: The Pharmaceutical and Heroin Epidemic
  • Finding the River: Poverty in the Land of Plenty
  • Power & Control: When Young Love Goes Wrong
  • Digital Dangers: The Threats that Lurk Online
  • Class Not Dismissed: Violence in the Classroom
  • The Transition: Examining Transgender Issues


“Many parents do not realize how prevalent these dangers have become,” Mike said. “We’ve taken on the role of informing the community.” He added that If You Only Knew: The Journey Through Teen Depression and Suicide and Human Trafficking in the Heartland have already been completed and broadcast. If You Only Knew was nominated for a Mid-America Emmy. The remaining six documentaries are in various stages of production.


If You Only Knew: The Journey Through Teen Depression and Suicide is currently available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and YouTube, and can be downloaded from any of these links:


Google Play:




Human Trafficking in the Heartland is forthcoming for purchase and download.


Visit for more information on the dangers to young people mentioned above. You can email Mike Mickle at For more information on the documentaries and other Mickle Communications projects, check out

Kids can make a difference!

Hurricane Harvey has devastated the Houston area.  A group of students at  Academy of the Canyons Middle College High School in Santa Clarita, California decided to step up and see how much money they could raise to help those that were affected.

On September 8th, a large group of students got together and held buckets with the message, “Place Hope Here” and asked parents and others dropping students off that morning, picking up or dropping off at lunch and leaving at the end of the school day if they would make a small donation. 400 students participated so they set a lofty  goal of raising at least $1,000 for the cause.

They were able to raise more than triple the goal and donated the money to Global Giving, a non-profit organization that donates to local charities like the Houston Food Bank and the Humane Society and provides relief in both the short-term and long-term.

Here is a story in their local paper, The Signal of Santa Clarita Valley, that gives more information on their efforts in creating this fundraiser –

The kids had a great time and saw that by working together they could exceed their goals and make a positive impact on society. Possibly students at your school could use this example and create a fundraiser to benefit a cause that is important to them.

Does PSAT prep make any sense?

When I think about PSAT prep, I am reminded of Judge Alex Kozinski’s closing line at the end of his ruling in Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc.: “The parties are advised to chill.”
Let’s start by laying out the facts. For the vast majority of students, the utility of the PSAT is twofold. First and foremost, the PSAT exposes them to the style, structure, and content of a major standardized college admissions exam (the SAT). For most students, the PSAT will be their first experience dealing with this type of test. In turn, this will allow them to establish baseline scores and to familiarize themselves with a test format they’ll face in the future. Second, the PSAT provides the highest-performing students with a chance to achieve glory and a small financial award through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
As parents and students have become ever more concerned with test scores, they have begun to seek test prep for just about every exam. Naturally, PSAT prep has become a thing. But, with the best interests of already stressed students in mind, is it necessary?
It depends on how you define prep. What students don’t need is 30 hours of intense course instruction or private tutoring with homework assignments and multiple full-length practice exams. This is, quite simply, overkill.
What students should seek, however, is a resource through which they can learn about what’s on the PSAT, including the question content and time constraints. This will allow students to mitigate the nerves associated with being dropped into an otherwise unfamiliar situation, and thus to perform at their best on test day. When students take a little time to look through a sample exam, work through questions, and learn some basic strategies, they dramatically increase their chances of walking away from the PSAT with a positive, growth-oriented mindset. This can contribute significantly to success on the SAT (or ACT) later on.
What about those high-achieving students whose goal it is to win a National Merit Scholarship? On the part of you, the counselor, it’s helpful to foster realistic expectations. Of the 1.6 million students who take the PSAT annually, 50,000 (a little over 3% of test-taking juniors) are  “commended” or achieve “semifinalist” status––they get a feather in their cap for achieving a great PSAT score. After several rounds of winnowing, only 15,000 (about 1% of test-taking juniors) are designated as “finalists”, and then only 7,500 (about only 0.5% of test-taking juniors) actually win a merit scholarship. Attaining any level of recognition is noteworthy, and high-level students should be encouraged to maintain this as a goal. Actually winning a scholarship, though, is very difficult: many factors on top of a stellar PSAT score affect who wins. (See here for full details.) So even those students whose goal it is to crush the PSAT ought to know that they shouldn’t go over the top with their prep: the cost/benefit analysis shows that the added stress and time commitment just aren’t worth it.
As counselors, you can help students acquire the proper materials like official practice exams. You can also have discussions with students about the real value the PSAT provides: the opportunity to see where one stands and to set a plan for the future. If your students see the PSAT as a simple chance to get the ball rolling on their standardized admissions tests, everyone wins.
Evan Wessler is VP Education of Method Test Prep. He can answer any questions you have about the SAT or ACT by e-mailing him at or by visiting the Method Test Prep website at


Hurricane Harvey – How can you help?

You have most likely seen pictures of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey along the Texas Gulf Coast on TV or online. I live in the Houston area and was very fortunate that my house didn’t sustain any damage. Several of my friends, and tens of thousands of other Texans were not so lucky.

This weekend I helped a relative in the Kingwood area (North of Houston) and one of my oldest friends in the Friendswood area (South of Houston) and was able to witness the destruction and devastation first hand. The picture with this blog is an actual picture from in front of my friends house. He and his wife lost everything and will have to totally rebuild. It is estimated there are more than 100,000 Texas residents in the same boat. This storm was devastating. Luckily the people I helped this weekend had flood insurance so they will be able to rebuild. They also have relatives they can stay with while they rebuild. There are tens of thousands of Texans that didn’t have any flood insurance. These people don’t have the resources to stay at a hotel and many have nowhere to go so they are staying at shelters. The generosity of the local community in helping these people can’t be understated. However, there are so many in need that the donations to date don’t come close to helping everyone that was affected.

That’s why I’m asking the Counselor community if you can help. If you would like to give to help people that have been affected by Hurrricane Harvey please do. No amount is too small and LINK for Counselors will match your donation. We are going to match donations given by LINK for Counselors readers up to $1,000. If you make your donation by September 15th, which is the press closing date for our Fall issue, we will also list your Name and School in the issue as someone who donated (we won’t list the amount, no amount is too small – even $10 will help).

You can donate to any charity that you like that is helping Harvey victims and just send us an e-mail to with your name, school,  donation amount, and the charity given to and we will match your donation.

We are recommending  J.J. Watt’s foundation and that is where will make the donation of matching funds. J.J. Watt is a pro football player for the Houston Texans who is leading the charge to raise money for victims and has vowed that 100% of all donations will go directly to people affected. This is important as many charities only give a portion of the amount donated to the cause and a substantial percentage goes to administrative costs, salaries, etc. One website that lets you check how much of your donation goes to the intended cause is

If you would like to make a donation to JJ Watt’s charity/foundation for flood victims here is the link –

Jason Bullock, CBC
Publisher, LINK for Counselors

Financial Aid Basics: What Students & Families Need to Know

Choosing to pursue postsecondary education is one of the most important decisions a young person can make.

As a school counselor, you are uniquely qualified to help applicants navigate the admission process. And increasingly, students and parents also turn to you as they sort through complex questions about financial aid, college affordability, and the value of a degree. What’s an admission professional to do?

No, you don’t need to become a financial adviser to the families you serve. But good information can go a long way when helping students make the right college choice, especially when counseling applicants whose understandable confusion about the financial aid process threatens to derail their college dreams.

That’s why NACAC has created a great PowerPoint presentation  that gives an overview of Financial Aid Basics that you can share with students and their families. Download it now and use it when meeting with students and parents, and share it with your colleagues.

Are you up to speed on the academic requirements students need to qualify to play sports in college.? This conference may be for you

“Preparing High School Athletes for Collegiate Sports”

Conference Overview
LEARN THE GAME is a professional development conference for high school counselors and anyone who is academically responsible for helping high school student athletes. The conference goal is to educate counselors on the academic requirements students need to qualify to play sports in college. The conference is scheduled for October 19, 2017 from 7:30 am – 1:00 pm at the Loker Student Union on the beautiful campus of Cal State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California.

The event is formatted to offer counselors a variety of six specialized workshops. Each workshop is scheduled for 3 sessions with each session running 45 to 60 minutes. Experienced professionals who are knowledgeable about their subjects facilitate each workshop.

Below is a list of all the workshops that will be offered at this year’s conference:

• Calculating GPA’s for the NCAA

• NCAA Eligibility Center

• NCAA Division I Athletics

• NCAA Division II Athletics

• NCAA Division III Athletics

• NAIA Athletics/NAIA Eligibility Center

The conference begins with a breakfast and opens with a guest speaker. This year’s conference guest speaker is renowned author Dr. Adam Zagelbaum: Associate Professor, Counseling Department Chair and Program Coordinator at Sonoma State University and author of the popular book, “School Counseling and the Student Athlete.”

Why is this conference vital?

• The most comprehensive NCAA academic eligibility conference in Southern California.

• Six specialized eligibility workshops all in one place.

• The latest NCAA eligibility updates affecting high school athletes.

• Opportunity to network with representatives from all divisions of the NCAA and NAIA.

Have any other questions? You can contact the show organizer, Karl Hicks, at 310-956-5186 or visit the show site at

New study shows majors that are most valuable for your students (and the ones that are least valuable)

If your students want to pick a major that pays big, they should consider the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. According to a blog written on Yahoo Finance that summarized a new study by The Cashlorette, people who majored in STEM subjects earned the most and had the best employment opportunities. All of the top ten most valuable degrees were granted to STEM majors, and and four out of the top five most valuable majors were in the engineering field.

The study found that petroleum engineering is the most valuable college major, with graduates earning a median income of $134,840, more than double the average of $62,217. The field also has an unemployment rate of just 2.38%, making the prospect of finding a job more likely than other majors.

Pharmaceutical sciences and administration ranked second on the list. Pharmacists have a median income of $116,642.

Geological/geophysical engineering, the study of extracting the Earth’s natural resources, came in third. People employed in this field have a median salary of $94,060 per year. Mining engineering and Naval architecture rounded out the top five most valuable majors.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is clinical psychology, which came in as the least valuable college major. In addition, clinical psychologists have a high unemployment rate of around 8% and make a median salary of $43,092, about 31% less than the average.

Popular majors such as business, history, liberal arts, and English were lower down on the list. Careers in the arts and humanities landed in the bottom five. The least lucrative majors: Studio and fine art, human services and community building, and composition and rhetoric, or the study of speaking and writing—all in the bottom five.

Before your students choose their major, they should do their research and consider their future earning potential and employment opportunities.

SAT & ACT: Three Tips for Counselors for Starting the School Year Right

The start of the school year ushers in an avalanche of information and obligation for students and parents: course changes, sports and club schedules, event calendars, arts performances, parent nights, volunteer opportunities…the list goes on. Amid the bustle, even important things like the SAT and ACT can get pushed aside. But by executing on a few simple but important tasks, school counselors can help their students––especially juniors and seniors––avoid missing key test registration deadlines and approaching their test prep haphazardly. Here are the top three things counselors can do.


1. Prominently display/mail posters or flyers listing all test dates and registration deadlines. Whether counselors create these themselves or find them elsewhere, flyers and posters summarizing all test dates and registration deadlines can get students thinking about the SAT and ACT, and perhaps spark productive conversations that lead to the formation of prep timelines. Once students know which test date they’re aiming for (or at least know their options), they are more likely to start thinking about their prep well in advance. And remember: knowledge and preparation now = less stress later. Do what you can to post the information in conspicuous places throughout your school. You can also consider creating a mailer to parents of juniors and seniors, or posting the information on a high-traffic school website page.


2. Spread the word about available resources. When it comes to SAT and ACT prep, information is power. Each year, my colleagues and I advise school counselors about how best to spread the word about prep resources available to their students. In many school counseling departments, counselors take it upon themselves to visit classrooms and make announcements pertaining to prep options offered by the school and community. While students may seek outside help in the form of tutors and courses, many would take courses at the school or use a program the school already pays for…if they know those options are available to them. This can save students and families lots of money and time in the long run.


3. Consider working an SAT/ACT discussion into your college information night. At many schools we work with, the counseling department hosts a “college night” or “college and career readiness night”, during which school counselors present to students about all things related to college admissions and applications. If your school holds one of these, it can serve as a great opportunity to briefly discuss the importance of SAT and ACT prep, suggested test-taking timelines, and more. Because most college-bound students will be taking one or both of the exams, the information about the tests will be relevant and timely.


School counselors can be excellent resources of information and guidance for their students. The SAT and ACT form a single facet of the college process, but the importance of these exams in admissions success means that the details behind the tests themselves warrant special attention. A little bit of effort made to inform your students and parents now can have a massive impact later on.
Evan Wessler is VP Education of Method Test Prep. He can answer any questions you have about the SAT or ACT by e-mailing him at or by visiting the Method Test Prep website at


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