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The College Visit: Is the Chemistry Right?

Choosing a college is easy.  Okay, maybe not EASY, but there is basically one step to the process if you want to get this right: Go visit.

Sure, you can read up on colleges if you want. Go ahead. Google away. Buy the Fiske’s guide. Look at the pretty pictures. But, it won’t work. You won’t know where to go because the answer isn’t in a book or online. It’s in your gut. Choosing a college is about finding the right chemistry, feeling comfortable on campus and excited about the programs and opportunities offered. When you are there, you just know. Even if you can’t put your finger on why. (By the way, it is important to put your finger on why because this is the feedback you need as you choose the next school to visit. If urban schools feel uncomfortable, make the next trip to a suburban or rural school.)

I’ve been telling students for years to visit colleges. With all the busyness of junior and senior year and the time and expense involved in traveling to various colleges, they often don’t listen to me. Students assure me that they will visit the colleges they get into in the spring of senior year. They want to know that they are accepted and that the financial aid package makes the school a true possibility before they make the trip. That is practical. But, it’s not ideal. In my experience, students who guess at their short list of colleges do not work as hard on their applications because they are not excited about the possibilities. Their college list contains names, not positive campus experiences, hopes and dreams.

Hey, I get it. I didn’t visit too many colleges either when I was in high school. This was a big mistake. A visit would have given me significant information about what I was looking for in a college. I also could have saved myself 25 years of angst. Here’s my story:

I wanted to go to Cornell University. My experience on Cornell’s campus consisted of attending a fraternity party because my friend’s band had a gig and I tagged along to see him play. I arrived at night, went to the party and came home the next day. No tour. No information session. No meal in the dining hall. Based on this extensive and thorough research, I came up with the following reasons for wanting to go to Cornell:

I had heard of it.
It’s an Ivy.
I like red.
Everyone would be impressed.
It wasn’t too far from or too close to home.

Basically, no good reason. I did not have the information I needed to determine if Cornell would be a good fit for me.

I did not get accepted to Cornell that spring, not because I couldn’t succeed as a student there, but likely because I didn’t do what it takes to be a successful Cornell applicant. I made a few mistakes in high school (such as not taking the most rigorous curriculum my high school offered) because I lacked information about the admissions process. For me, not having proper guidance and complete information meant not having the opportunity to compete at the highest level in admissions. It is this lack of guidance and information, not the rejection, that has annoyed me for 25 years. (Click here to read about what else I could have done differently.)

Last month, my dog broke her tooth and needed to see a dentist. I took her to Cornell’s veterinary teaching hospital and while she was receiving a doggie root canal, I took a tour of campus. I knew within 15 minutes that Cornell would not have been the right school for me. Let me be clear. Cornell is one of the best universities in the world and I frequently recommend that students check it out. But, it would not have been best for me. Had I toured Cornell in high school, I would have known that the chemistry was not right – and avoided 25 years of angst.

So, go and stand on campus, look around, talk to people, listen to the admissions spiel. How long will it take to know if a college is right for you?

Probably 15 minutes.

Michelle McAnaney is the founder of The College Spy, a full service college consulting firm. In working with The College Spy, students and parents gain a comprehensive understanding of the college admissions process, the trends in admissions and how they relate to the student’s  unique circumstances and the key topics needed to find a college that best meets their needs and preferences. The College Spy addresses practical topics such as standardized testing, financial aid, college majors, careers, interviewing and essays. The College Spy provides “e-advising” and maintains a national and international client base through the use of video-conferencing. For more information on The College Spy’s services, please visit their website at Michelle can be reached by calling 1-800-207-4305 or by e-mail at  

Inside Tips for Aspiring Pre-Meds

The road to medical school and becoming a doctor isn’t what it used to be. Getting into med school has always been tough, but for those who made the cut in past generations, there was an assurance of high earnings and a rewarding career.

Today, ask a doctor if they would recommend the profession to a young person, and many will have a tenuous answer. While there is no question that most doctors love helping others, they are plagued by piles of administrative paperwork, low reimbursements, high malpractice risks and skyrocketing insurance costs for their practice. Nevertheless, high performing students are drawn to the idea of becoming a doctor, often starry-eyed and unaware of the challenges that lay ahead. Here are a few things that your students who are considering a medical career need to know as they approach college:

Major in Music, But Take Pre-Med Courses

You don’t have to be pre-med (or even a science major) to apply to med school. In fact, many medical schools would prefer that you major in something else. So, go ahead and major in music, philosophy, political science or whatever interests you. However, you MUST take the pre-requisite science and math courses in order to be eligible for most med schools. Georgetown College has published  a great list of things to consider here: Four-Year plan for medical school.  Undergraduate research, internships and publications are also an attractive asset on med school applications. So, understand if those opportunities are available at the colleges you are considering.

Statistics Can Be Manipulated

When looking at undergrad programs, investigate their statistics regarding the pre-med curriculum and medical school acceptances. Some colleges will boast figures like “92% of our students who applied to medical school were accepted”. That’s impressive when nationally only 46% of applicants are accepted. But, ask what percent of students who started in pre-med finished in pre-med? If 60% were dropped from the program for low grades, that’s something to think about. I know more than a few students with A’s in their high school AP science courses who struggled to get C’s in college Chemistry; the jump to college-level science is usually huge. Also ask about pre-med advising and average MCAT scores.

Science Grading Curves – Survival of the Fittest

Remember that science courses in college are often graded in a different way than in high school. At larger universities and Ivy League schools, sciences are graded on a curve. This means that everyone who scores above 90 DOES NOT get an A or A-. Instead, the top 10% may get A’s, the next 20% B’s, 40% C’s, 20% D’s and 10% F’s. Curves vary, but the bottom line is that very few students get the A’s needed to get into med school. It’s a weeding process that forces many students out of a pre-med track.

It’s not unusual to see 30-60% of students drop out of pre-med at universities that grade on a curve. On the other hand, many small liberal arts colleges do not grade science courses on a curve, the professors are available for extra-help, and the college tends to be very vested in getting as many students as possible into med school. If you aren’t sure if a college grades science courses on a curve, ASK! And seriously consider a small liberal arts college, if your final goal is medical school.

Ways to Improve Your Science GPA

There are specific “weed out” courses in the pre-med curriculum, designed to thin out the pack. Organic Chemistry is the most famous; the second semester usually looks like a battlefield of empty seats. Doctors will often advise their pre-med children to wait and take the toughest pre-med courses at their home state university in the summer when they can focus on just one course (and when grading is usually easier). You need to check ahead of time to ensure that the credit and grade will transfer to your college, but if you are attending the primary campus of a four-year state university, it usually will.

Med school admissions committees look at several factors when accepting students. They consider overall GPA, your science GPA, MCAT scores, research or hands-on experience, extra-curricular and leadership activities. Your two GPA’s and MCAT’s are the most important factors. So, picking the right undergraduate program to maximize your chances for acceptance to medical school is one of the most critical elements in becoming a doctor.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC, a private college admissions counseling company based in Providence, Rhode Island.

Have you ever considered getting a Master’s In Counseling?

Many schools are now offering a Master’s in Counseling degree to help further your education. Is this degree needed? What are the benefits? Some Counseling jobs require a master’s degree as part of accreditation. Examples include marriage and family counseling which are expected to grow by 19% through 2024.  Many school’s are now offering an online master’s degree in counseling which will prepare you for most counseling jobs, and the flexible format inherent in web-based learning will allow you to continue working in your current job while you study. If you have completed a bachelor’s degree in counseling or a related field and plan to continue your education, then you may be an excellent candidate for an online master’s in counseling program.

Online counseling master’s programs are designed to build on the skills and knowledge you developed as an undergrad. The curriculum focuses on theoretical approaches to counseling, along with case studies and research-based evidence. Many counseling master’s degree programs allow students to specialize in areas like substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling, or school counseling. These programs typically require students to engage in supervised, hands-on training as part of a practicum course or worksite-based internship. has published a comprehensive guide that can help you learn more about what you can do with a master’s degree in counseling and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to.


A master’s degree is widely viewed as the minimum educational requirement for a career in professional counseling. Some career paths require additional training. Mental health counselors, for instance, must complete between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of supervised post-degree clinical experience and sit for a licensure exam in order to practice in any U.S. state. School counselors are also required to obtain a state-issued certification. The best master’s in counseling online programs are designed to not only advance your training as a counselor, but also prepare you for the post-degree requirements associated with your specialization.


Online degree programs offer a convenient alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar education. Interactive software allows you to access course readings and lectures, turn in written assignments, take exams, and communicate with your professors on your own time from the comfort of your home. Additionally, the latest technology allows you to study on-the-go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other portable device. You can also work with master’s program officials to find practicum or internship opportunities near your residence. This flexible format is especially convenient for students who must juggle other commitments while in school, such as employment or childcare.


Earning your master’s in counseling degree is the best way to advance your career in this competitive field. A master’s will be required to pursue licensure in areas like mental health counseling and school counseling. An advanced degree can also boost your job prospects in industries where a master’s isn’t strictly required for licensure, such as substance abuse counseling.


Choosing a master’s degree in counseling online program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online counseling master’s programs in the United States. If you are considering an online master’s in counseling, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings. Please note that the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is the official accreditation body for counseling degree programs; students are urged to stay away from master’s programs that are not accredited by the CACREP.

Here is a link to the list of school’s to consider published by  

Accredited Online Master’s in Counseling Programs

Their published guide linked above also includes an Employment Outlook for graduates, career opportunities, professional organizations to consider after getting the degree, and financing options.

Scholarship Watch

We recently had Signet Research conduct a survey of the readers of our Fall 2017 issue and one of the questions we asked was, “What would you like to see more coverage of in the magazine?”. The #1 response was more national Scholarships and information for your students. Colleges typically offer scholarships to their incoming students but scholarships available for students to use at any school they decide to go to are few and far between. We have decided to search out and begin publicizing these types of scholarships in each issue and the first “Scholarship Watch” ran in the Spring 2018 issue. Here is a list of those scholarships:

  1. Order Sons of Italy in America Leadership Grant: Applicant must be of Italian heritage and be a full-time student attending or planning on attending an accredited four-year institution who has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities and a distinguished level of scholastic achievement. Recipients will be officially recognized in May at the SIF’s National Education & Leadership Awards (NELA) Gala in Washington, DC. Monetary awards are presented directly to students’ academic institutions in accordance with eligibility requirements.

Minimum Award: $5,000/ Maximum Award: $25,000

Deadline: February 28

Contact: Sons of Italy Foundation, (202)547-2900,,


  1. C. Hallbeck Memorial Scholarship: Applicant must be the child or grandchild of an active or deceased member of the American Postal Workers Union; the parent or grandparent must have been a member in good standing for at least one year preceding application or death. Selection is based upon academic record, personal qualifications, SAT Reasoning or ACT scores, and total family income. Relatives of APWU elected National Officers are not eligible. Number of awards = 5.

Award Amount: $1,000

Deadline: March 31

Contact: American Postal Workers Union, (202)842-4268,


  1. Utility Workers Union of America Scholarship: Applicant must be the child of an active member of the Utility Workers Union of America. Selection is made by the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

Minimum Award: $500/ Maximum Award: $2,000

Deadline: May 31

Contact: Utility Workers Union of America, (202) 899-2851, rfarley@aflcio.rog,


  1. National Oratorical Contest Scholarship: Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident under 20 years of age, must be attending high school or junior high, and must compete in the American Legion oratorical contest at the national level. Award must be used at a college or university in the U.S. for actual school costs, including tuition, room and board, fees, and books. Number of awards = 54

Minimum Award: $1,500/ Maximum Award: $19,000

Deadline: December 2018

Contact: American Legion, (317)630-1249,,

  1. Coca-Cola Scholarship: Applicant must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. permanent resident, temporary resident, refugee, asylee, Cuban-Haitian entrant, or an humanitarian parolee planning to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution. Applicant must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be an incoming freshman. Selection is based upon leadership, character, and merit. Number of awards = 250

Minimum Award: $4,000/ Maximum Award: $20,000

Deadline: October 31

Contact: Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, (800)306-2653,,


  1. National Health Service Corps: Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or national enrolled or accepted into an accredited school in the a full-time student. Average of 147 awards given per year.

Deadline: April 27

Contact: Health Resources and Services Administration, (800)221-9393,


  1. Morton Gould Young Composers Award: Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or an international student with a student visa, and be under the age of 30. Applicant must applicant must submit a completed application form; one reproduction of a manuscript or score; biographical information including music studies, background and experience, and a list of compositions to date. Number of awards = 35

Minimum Award: $250/ Maximum Award: $2,500

Deadline: March 1

Contact: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Foundation, (212)621-6327,,


  1. Benjamin Eaton Scholarship: Applicant must be a foster, adoptive, or birth child in a licensed foster home and a member of the National Foster Parent Association. Number of awards = 5

Award Amount = $1,000

Deadline: March 31

Contact: National Foster Parent Association Inc., (253)853-4000,,


  1. LULAC National Scholarship Fund: Applicant must be a United States citizen or legal resident who has applied to or is enrolled in a college, university, or graduate school, including two-year colleges, or vocational schools that lead to an associate’s degree. Three types of awards are available: National Scholastic Achievement Awards, applicant must have a minimum 3.5 GPA and if student is an entering freshman, a minimum ACT score of 29 (SAT Reasoning score of 1350) is required; Honors Awards, applicant must have a minimum 3.25 GPA, and if the student is an entering freshman, a minimum ACT score of 23 (SAT Reasoning score of 1100) is required; General Awards, grades and academic performance will serve as indicators of potential; however, emphasis may be placed on the individual’s motivation, sincerity, and integrity, which can best be revealed through a personal interview and in the personal essay. Need, community involvement, and leadership activities will also be considered.

Minimum Award: $250/ Maximum Award: $2,000

Deadline: March 31

Contact: League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National Educational Services Centers, Inc., (202)835-9646,,


  1. Ellis W. Hawley Prize: Awarded for the best book-length historical study or dissertation on the political economy, politics, or institutions of the U.S., concerning its domestic or international affairs from the Civil War to the present.

Award Amount: $500

Deadline: October 3

Contact: Organization of American Historians, (812)855-9852,,

How can you help? We are actively searching for Scholarships to include in our 2018/2019 issues. If you know of any please send them to me at


Scholarship Guide Available for your Students and Their Parents

Community Resources is a new community-first organization that provides resources, tools, and guides to neighborhoods and families.  Based on a combination of feedback from families and their own research, they created an unbiased scholarship guide that is valuable for students and parents. This guide breakdowns the best scholarship platforms and instruct users on how to use them effectively to find as many opportunities as possible. You can see the entire guide along with some of its features here:
Here is what is covered in the guide:
  1. The major challenges students face when searching for scholarships
  2. How the right search engine can help students overcome these challenges
  3. What students should know before applying for a scholarship
  4. The most important features of a great scholarship search platform
  5. The best scholarship search platforms of 2017
  6. Advice on early preparation to qualify for scholarships
  7. Tips on applying for scholarships
  8. Our full methodology and scoring process
Their goal is to raise awareness around the barriers that hinder students from pursuing their college education and this guide can be a helpful tool to help students learn about scholarships that are available to them. It’s a great resource so please share with your students.

10 Great Career Fields for your Students

There are many career fields students can go into but evaluating and choosing fields that are growing can be important to students that don’t have a planned career path in mind. Money Crashers recently posted a list of 10 great career fields that are growing and will be in demand for years to come.

  1. Medical Field: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants 

    The medical field is ripe with growth potential. As everyone probably knows, nurses are in high demand. The average nurse practitioner makes $85,200 per year, and the demand is expected to increase 23%. Nurse practitioners can perform many of the same functions as doctors such as prescribing medicine and treating illnesses.

    Becoming a nurse practitioner requires a master’s degree in nursing and certification. With an aging population, the demand for healthcare is expected to double over the next decade. Physician assistants have climbed up to number 2 in the best jobs in America. They conduct physical exams, prescribe medicine, and treat illnesses. What does a physician assistant make? A physician assistant averages $92,000 per year and job growth is expected to rise a remarkable 39%.

    One career that you may not have heard about is a nurse anesthetist. Certified nurse anesthetists (CRNA) are in demand and make more money than many family physicians. According to CNN Money, the average base salary of a CRNA is $189,000, whereas the average salary for a primary care physician is $173,000. So what does it take to become a nursing anesthetist? A CRNA must be a registered nurse and have at least one year of full-time nursing experience. Most CRNA’s obtain a master’s degree in anesthesia and pass a national certification exam.

  2. Technology Sector: Software Architects, Systems Engineers, Software Engineers, IT Analysts

How would you like to work in the fast-growing tech sector? Information technology is the #1 field in terms of expected job growth over the next decade, which makes systems engineers among the most highly sought after professionals today. The average salary for a systems engineer is $87,100, and the career field is expected to grow 45% over the next 10 years. To become a systems engineer, you need a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Software architects have taken the title as the best job in the country with job growth of 34% and an average annual salary of $119,000 per year. These innovative engineering professionals are responsible for helping to analyze and store data.

The engineering field is not the only IT field experiencing growth. Entry-level information technology analysts make $60,000 and above. Experienced IT analysts make over $82,600 per field, and job growth for the next decade is expected to be about 30%.

3. Financial Services: Accountants, Actuaries, Financial Advisors

Are you good with numbers? You could find a rewarding career in the financial services industry. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) make an average of $74,200 and 10-year job growth is expected to be 18%. As more companies are doing away with pension plans, employees will need help with retirement planning. Job growth for financial advisors is expected to be 41% over the next decade. The average financial advisor makes $101,000 per year.

Actuaries measure the statistical probability of certain events occurring. The actuarial field has a projected growth rate of 24% and an average salary of $129,000. Actuaries can make as much as $300,000 per year. All of these finance-related fields typically require an undergraduate business degree.

4. Education: College Professors, Elementary School Teachers, High School Teachers

A bad economy means increased enrollment in colleges and universities. As students return to school, there is an increased need for college professors. The average salary for a college professor is $70,400 and the 10-year growth rate is projected at 23%. College professors enjoy great flexibility in their work schedules, freeing them to do a variety of other tasks.

Do you love working with kids? You could become a school teacher. Elementary, middle, and high school teachers make an average of $50,200 annually and future job growth is 18%. Teaching at the collegiate level normally requires a graduate degree in a related field.

5. Technical Jobs: Physical Therapist Assistants, Dental Hygienists, Veterinary Technicians

Many technical jobs require certifications but do not require that applicants obtain a college degree. Physical therapist assistants earn approximately $42,000 and the physical therapy field is booming. The 10-year growth rate is 42%. Physical therapist assistants are responsible for developing treatment plans, documenting treatments, and modifying specific treatments to the needs of the patient.

Dental hygienists clean teeth, take X-rays, and perform routine oral procedures. Hygienists make $68,152, and the field is growing at a rate of 43%. Veterinary techs perform medical tests, prepare vaccines and tissue samples, and take blood samples. The average salary is $30,000, and the 10-year growth rate is 35%.

6. Business Services Jobs: Environment Health Specialist, Construction Estimator

Service jobs are still the lifeblood of the United States economy, accounting for more than 70% of all jobs. Environmental health and safety specialists are expected to be big beneficiaries of this trend with 10-year job growth expected at 28%. Median pay is expected to be a healthy $71,000 per year.

Estimators are important to customers because they help to determine whether a project will make money for a firm or become a money loser. A construction estimator position requires lots of experience and accuracy. The average pay is solid at $68,000 per year and job growth is expected at 25% over the next ten years.

7. Sales Jobs: Sales Director, Sales Executive, Senior Sales Professional

Sales are incredibly important to any company from software companies to financial service firms. Sales executives are needed to motivate staff and help companies reach their revenue goals. They have to be outstanding at customer relations and place employees in the best position to close deals.

Sales may be a high stress, high pressure occupation but it pays very well. Sales directors earn an average annual salary of $142,000, and senior sales executives are not far behind with an average salary of $127,000 per year.

8. Consulting Jobs: Management Consultants, Healthcare Consultants

Companies are looking for ways to save money on employee costs and one of the best ways to do this is by outsourcing projects. This is why consultants are expected to be in incredibly high demand. Companies do not have to provide benefits or pay healthcare costs for consultants.

The consulting industry is expected to see double-digit growth over the next decade. Management and healthcare consultants will see job growth of 24%, making this one of the most lucrative industries for job seekers to get into.

9. Engineering Jobs: Project Engineer, Civil Engineer, Structural Engineer, Environmental Engineer, Biomedical Engineer

There is a dearth of math and science majors in universities and the engineering industry is reflecting that. Companies are having an increasingly difficult time finding quality engineers.

Structural, civil, project, and environmental engineers will see job growth ranging from 24% to 31% over the next decade. Biomedical engineers will see job growth at a whopping 72%. The minimum salary is expected to be $76,000 with some engineers easily making more than six figures a year. The work is low stress and the job satisfaction is incredibly high.

10. Middle Management Jobs: Research and Development Manager, Product Manager, Risk Management Manager

Mid-level management is just as important to a firm as top-level management. They are responsible for supervising many of the day-to-day functions and maintaining smooth interactions with management and staff.

Risk management managers help to mitigate risks and keep firms from potential risks that can cripple them. Job growth for this field is expected at 24% with an average salary of $107,000. R&D managers make sure that new projects and products are developed, tested, and properly brought to market. Product managers oversee the launch and implementation of new products and processes. These are all important job functions in which most current employees see continued job growth in their professions.

7 Questions Your Students and Their Parents Should Ask an Independent College Advisor

Some of your students will undoubtedly consider hiring an Independent College Advisor to assist and guide them in their college search. They can be expensive but also worthwhile in helping students and their parents navigate the college search maze. Teen Life published a nice summary of 7 questions that should be asked when considering hiring a College Advisor. They are:

  1. Do you provide a preliminary assessment when you begin the process?

In order for the counselor to understand your student’s unique needs, he or she should do a preliminary assessment. This could include personality tests and career tests or be simply a question-and-answer session. It’s important for the advisor to understand the basic needs and dreams of any student.

2. How do you choose the colleges you recommend?

Many counselors steer toward students the Ivies or their “favorite” colleges. In order to find the best fit for your student, the counselor should be willing to explore all college possibilities, from public to private to nternational. The fit of the college is more important than the name. Counselors should be able to explain how they help students choose and what colleges they know the most about.

3. How can I be sure I’m getting the best fit for the best price?

Best fit means the college meets your student’s academic, social and financial needs. The counselor should be open to any suggestions and offer suggestions based on the information you provide about your finances and ability to pay. The counselor should also know which colleges provide the best aid packages, if financial aid is a priority for your family.

4. Will you help with college essays?

A critical portion of the college application is the application essay. A good counselor will be able to help your student brainstorm a topic, help with proofreading and provide editing suggestions.

5. How do you help a student with college prep in a way that is unique from other counselors?

Every counselor is different. This question will help you compare counselors and better determine which one fits your student’s personality. For example, a counselor who provides an outside-the-box approach might be better for a creative student than one who strictly adheres to guidelines and criteria.

6. When advising a student, what do you consider when making recommendations for specific schools?

Each student is different. A good counselor will recognize those differences and evaluate your student accordingly. An average student may need a different approach than a student who excels academically. Each of these students should be marketed to the colleges differently.

7. Can you help with financial aid and scholarship advice?

A key part of any college application process is financing. If money is no object, this will not factor into the counselor’s college choices. However, if financial aid is critical, a counselor should be able to encourage your student to apply for scholarships, offer help and find those colleges with generous financial-aid packages.

These are some great tips that hopefully your students and their parents can use. Here is a link to the blog on Teen Life:

5 Reasons Your Students Should Consider for Choosing a Liberal Arts College

Some parents shy away from the idea of letting their children pursue a liberal arts education. Many want a full service university with a business college or health science curriculum that they feel will lead to a career. However, the reality is that students from liberal arts colleges are getting hired and going on to grad school, and the rate of employment doesn’t differ that much for these grads. So, here are 5 reasons why families should put liberal arts colleges back on their college lists:

1.  Small Class Sizes and Professor Access

Instead of being a number in a large lecture hall at a university, liberal arts colleges offer personalized attention. With classes that often range from 10-20 students, there is more opportunity for interactive learning and discussion. Professors are also more accessible with many spending more time on campus with generous office hours and fewer students to see. It’s not unusual at liberal arts colleges for professors to invite groups of students over to their home for dinners and form long lasting mentorships.

2.  Grading Curve Perils

Most students are surprised to find out that science courses at large universities tend to be graded on a curve. That means that unlike in high school, only a very limited number of students get A’s or B’s. The majority get C’s, and a certain number are guaranteed D’s or even F’s. Pre-med students learn this the hard way in the notorious “weed out courses” like Organic Chemistry when dozens of students drop the idea of becoming a doctor. You simply can’t get into med school these days with C’s on your transcript in science courses. However, at most liberal arts colleges, science courses are not graded on a curve, and the college is vested in getting as many students into grad school as possible. That is a primary mission of liberal arts colleges—to have students go on to advanced degrees.

3.  Professors vs. Teaching Assistants

At large universities, the pressure to achieve tenure and publish or do research often keeps professors out of the classroom. In their place, students find graduate assistants at the front of the classroom. While these are usually very smart individuals, they lack experience in preparing course material and teaching. I had a student this year at an Ivy League university who told me that she struggled with Biology because her TA had a thick accent and was difficult to understand with less-than-perfect English. This was compounded by the fact that he had never taught before and did not know how to respond to questions effectively. Needless to say, her parents were not pleased to be paying $50,000 a year for a marginally qualified TA to be teaching their daughter.

4.  Camaraderie

While most of us who went to a large university have friends we stay in touch with from college, grads from smaller colleges seem to have closer knit friend groups and alumni connections. Perhaps it is that they are forced to spend more time together because there are not as many students on campus. Or maybe it’s that smaller colleges have a more defined identity than universities with thousands of varying students. Whatever the reason, graduates of smaller colleges seem to have a camaraderie that is unique.

5.  Activities and Leadership Roles

There are certainly lots of clubs and organizations at large universities, but it’s also easier to sit back and not do anything. At smaller colleges, everyone seems to be involved in something. From D3 sports to student government, the arts, music or the Outing Club—in a tight knit community, everyone brings a friend along and participates. And somehow, managing the school newspaper, running for student senate or organizing a group to build housing in Appalachia over spring break, seems more achievable in a small environment.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic college counseling, SAT prep and athletic recruiting services

6 Reasons Your Students Should Focus on Continuing to Earn A’s Their Senior Year

Acceptance letters signal a noteworthy achievement!  What it doesn’t signal is that your student can suddenly stop trying in school. Having a college acceptance rescinded is a reality that can happen, but it is also something that can be easily avoided.

“Why not? Isn’t this the finish line?!”

No, actually, an acceptance letter is not a finish line! Your students responsibilities and activities remain extremely important. University admission has been your students goal for so long, but that acceptance letter comes with strings attached.

“Wait, what now?”

Having a college acceptance rescinded means a university revokes its offer letter. Almost every school – from Dartmouth to Arizona State – will discuss college acceptance rescinded cases every year. This is more of the case at larger, state-schools, but it can happen anywhere.

Colleges don’t want to rescind their offers, but they will, and they do for a variety of reasons. In 35% of cases, for example, disciplinary actions against a student resulted in rescinded admission. Other reasons leading to college acceptance rescinded: severe drop in grades, dishonesty on the college application, or suspension from school.

“I’m not getting suspended or arrested, and I told the truth on my application!  I just have senioritis!”

Even assuming your students are not completely irresponsible, there are many practical reasons to keep up the good work, so read on for 6 of them you can share with your students from a blog published by InGenius Prep:

1) Mid-year Reports and End-of-year Reports

Keep studying! The most obvious reason to maintain your stellar performance is that your dream school is still watching.  They want you to continue being the amazing, potential-filled person they admitted.  Admissions offices do require and read transcripts from your school about how the rest of your senior year transpires.  65% of college acceptance rescinded offers come as a result of significantly faltering grades or challenging classes being dropped. Many times a college will send “warning” letters telling you to get your act together before they would have a college acceptance rescinded. My advice? Don’t let it get this far.

2) Scholarships & Honors

Win more accolades! The last few months of high school are often the time when merit scholarships and senior honors are awarded, and your impressiveness remains 100% relevant. If you maintain strong academics, you should consider applying to outside merit scholarships. Finishing strong can help you in your upcoming freshman year of college.

3) Resume-building

Think about your future! Summer internships and jobs are just around the corner and those employers will be interested in how you spent the end of twelfth grade.  When you applied to college, you compiled your lists of honors and achievements and wrote a resume.  You aimed high and you scored!  Don’t drop the ball now. Resumes, accomplishments and experiences are all tools you will need for the rest of your life!

4) Course Credit

Remember your AP tests and final IB exams! High scores on these end-of-year challenges can often earn university credit and/or higher course placement.  You worked hard in these challenging classes all year, but if you underperform on the exams, you may need to repeat the effort when you get to college.

5) College Readiness

Don’t have regrets later!  High school is hard, but it’s also a great opportunity to enrich your mind. The teachers and counselors and coaches who wrote impressive recommendations care about you and want to share their knowledge.  Show your respect and appreciation by continuing to learn, continuing to challenge yourself.  If you maximize your high school educational opportunities, you will be better prepared to excel when you arrive on your college campus.

6) High Aspirations

Pursue your ambitions! Go back and read your personal statement on the Common Application.  The essay that helped you get into your dream school must be pretty impressive, right?  Aspire to always be that person you described.  That’s the person your college accepted and that person is not going to put their feet up and rest now! Having a college acceptance rescinded, is in most cases a poor display of character and work ethic. Make sure you stay true to yourself for the rest of your senior year.

Heather McCutchen is an internationally produced playwright and novelist with 26 years of experience in Ivy League admissions. She earned her MFA from the University of Iowa Playwrights’ Workshop and was a Senior Fellow in play writing at Dartmouth College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude.

She received a grant from the Kennedy Center’s Fund for New American Plays, a project in cooperation with the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Her debut fantasy novel LightLand, published by Scholastic/Orchard Books, earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly.

She currently lives with her husband and children in a Connecticut farmhouse.



5 Tips to help your students get more scholarship dollars


We recently surveyed Counselors who received and read the Fall 2017 issue of LINK for Counselors. One of the questions we asked is what would you like to see more of in the magazine. The #1 response was more information on Scholarships. As a resultt we launched a new column called Scholarship Watch to highlight various scholarships available to students. Look for it in the new issue coming out next week.

Here are 5 tips your students can use to find out about Scholarships that are available to them:

  1. Students should talk to you and other Counselors. Counselors typically have a list of local organizations that offer scholarships.
  2. Look at local organizations for available scholarships. Most local areas have organizations that offer scholarships to local kids. These oftentimes go unused. Search around. There are dollars available.
  3. Tell your student to check with their students employers. Many companies offer scholarship dollars to the children of their employees. If mom and dad work they may even be able to double dip.
  4. Once your student has been accepted to college they need to research what types of scholarships and grants are available from the school. Most schools have dollars available that sometimes goes unused.
  5. Check out the large scholarship companies such as Fastweb,, Cappex or They all have databases that can help your students learn about thousands of available scholarships.


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