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Spring to do list for juniors

While most seniors are happily done (or almost happily done) with completing and submitting their college applications, now it’s time for juniors to get engaged.

Below is a checklist of some of the things that juniors and their families should be thinking about, discussing and doing over the next few months.

girl in library

Start talking!  If you haven’t already, now is the time to start conversations about the next steps after high school.  It is important to start “getting on the same page” regarding realistic expectations and hopes. If you’ve already had some of these conversations, talk about issues you haven’t discussed yet: how will you (the student and the parents) manage the college process during senior year, grade and work expectations while in college, college majors, etc.

This is the right time for parents to honestly discuss financial capabilities and how much they can contribute towards their college education.  It is important for the student to know how much you can contribute so that they can look at college with realistic eyes.

Remember that financial aid can bring the cost of a college down, so don’t only look at the Sticker Price, but consider financial aid options as well.  Parents can get an estimate of what federal aid they might be eligible for at the College Boards EFC Calculator. You can also look at college websites to find out about institutional aid as well.

Learn More About Yourself!  This is a really important semester to invest energy in learning more about your academic and social needs.  This will be important to help make the transition into college a successful transition.  Do you know what you want to study?  Do you know what kind of learning environment will be best for you?  Do you know what type of location you want to experience college in?  Do you know what extracurricular activities you want at your college?  Do you know what type of services you will need to succeed academically?

This is a process that may be difficult for many students.  I am here to help you.  Through assessments and meetings, I can help juniors discover their gifts, talents, college needs and academic goals, through a college assessment and personality quiz and discussion with students about career profiles and options.

Work hard in your classes!  Your junior year is the most important year in your application process.  This will be your last semester of grades that will be sent with your applications.  Study hard (especially in your academic courses), get extra assistance for the classes you are struggling with, participate in class, and challenge yourself.  Also remember – your junior class teachers will be the ones that will fill out your academic references – so get to know your teachers, work hard, and be respectful.

Also make sure to select your senior courses thoughtfully.  Continue to challenge yourself and take as many Honors, AP and/or IB classes (balance is important – only take as many as you can be successful in). Colleges will see your senior class schedule. Don’t send them a warning that you aren’t living up to your potential or challenging yourself! Brand College Consulting helps clients with course selection, including Pre-AP/AP options, Dual Credit, electives, and extracurricular activities.

Testing!  Do you have a testing schedule?  Do you know if you are stronger in your ACT or SAT test?  Many juniors have already started test prep or already taken the SAT or ACT once. Now is the time to be taking your ACT and/or SAT tests so that you do not need to take them during your senior fall semester.  Also, do you plan to take any SATII tests?  Click here for an article to see if SAT Subject Tests are right for you. It is important to make your plans now so that this summer and Fall you can give more energy and time in your applications (not tests).

College Visits!  The Spring Semester is the perfect time to visit colleges.  Take advantage of Spring Break week and the 2 days of excused absences that juniors and seniors receive for college visits. (Check with school’s attendance office before college trip to get documentation required.)We recommend visiting a few different types of colleges.  If you can’t get out of the area, there are a lot of colleges within driving distance — go visit a large university and a small one, a state school and a private school, a school in the middle of a large city and a school in a small town.  Visiting colleges will help you build a strong application list and will help students decide what types of colleges are a good “fit”.

Summer Plans.
  What are you planning to do this summer?  Are you going to take summer courses?  Have you thought of participating in a summer program?  Colleges are looking for you to show intellectual curiosity and/or community engagement.  Your summer plans can strengthen your admissions profile if you plan wisely and ahead of time. Sometimes, the college essays will even ask how you’ve spent your summers. As essay filled with video games, sleeping, and hanging out with friends is not the best first impression. Of course, you can still do all of those things, but you also want to list academic or community activities.  Many hospital teen volunteer programs accept applications in January. Many summer camps, such as introduction to engineering, Pre-College Camps, exploring law and political science , and leadership programs have Spring application deadlines.

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.

Brand College Consulting prepares summer activities suggestions for clients. If you are interested in this service, please contact Jolyn Brand today.

Still have questions or want to speak with Jolyn during a free consultation? Email at or come by one of the parent information sessions for questions.

Colleges are tracking which students show demonstrated interest

What does this mean? In an article this week in the Wall Street Journal, it was reported that 37 percent of College Enrollment Officers had reported that they tracked their students and that demonstrated interest was moderately important in the college admissions process (data from a NACAC sponsored study).

How do they do this tracking? When they send a student an e-mail they are able to see how soon the e-mail is opened and which links were clicked (if any). Those students that opened it in a timely manner and were engaged (clicked on the links) showed demonstrated interest and the thought is have a high interest in that school and the information sent.

This is some good information to let your students know about. If they are interested in a school and receive anything electronically it is important to review it in a timely manner and click through on any links that may be of interest. Will it ensure they get accepted to that school? No, but anything that can help them get into their school of choice is never a bad idea.

Have your students read this before they sign up for an online college course

Online courses aren’t living up to their promise to disrupt higher education.

That’s one conclusion from a pair of studies released this week analyzing trends and outcomes of different types of online learning opportunities.

The first, which focused on Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, offered by Harvard University and MIT, found that the majority of students taking these courses don’t return after their first year, that participation in the programs is largely concentrated in affluent countries and that the courses’ low completion rate hasn’t budged much in six years.

The second, a review of research on the outcomes of fully-online degree programs, found that on average, these programs have actually contributed to widening educational attainment gaps between well-off and low-income students without improving affordability.

It’s easy to see why historically some higher education leaders, policymakers and tech evangelists have been so bullish on the potential of online education to transform the college experience. Sitting through four years of classes at a university is expensive and can be challenging for students juggling jobs and childcare with their schoolwork — not to mention impossible for those living far away from a college or university.

But the two reports published this week add to other evidence suggesting that online courses and degrees aren’t making it easier for working, low-income and other students who historically have struggled to get access to college to receive a quality education. Instead, in some cases they may be costing them time and money for a credential that doesn’t do much to help them move up the economic ladder.

“For all that technology can be helpful, often times the hard problems in education remain hard,” said Justin Reich, the executive director of MIT’s Teaching Systems Lab and a co-author of the MOOC study.

His research found that challenges retaining students have pushed MOOC providers to adjust their business model, which was largely based on the idea that though the courses offered on MOOC platforms are free, some students would eventually pay for a certificate or other document to prove their proficiency. Now, the companies are increasingly focused on partnering with graduate schools to serve as the technology platform for their online-degree programs.

That’s a far cry from the original vision for the courses touted by MOOC providers as an opportunity for students — no matter their economic circumstances or location — to access lectures from the world’s top professors.

One reason MOOC providers are shifting their business model to cater to graduate students: “Those seem to be learners who are a natural fit for who would be successful in MOOC learning environments,” Reich said. “Self-regulated learning on your own is really hard. Often times, people who are most successful are those who have an apprenticeship in the formal education system.”

And yet, the students who are the most at-risk of struggling to make it through online coursework are those most likely to wind up in an online degree program, according to Baum’s report. Roughly one-quarter of students who are enrolled in online degree programs have four or more risk factors for not completing their education, such long periods of time between high school and college, part-time enrollment or having GED instead of a high school diploma.

Just 1% of students with no risk factors for completing a degree are enrolled in fully online degree programs, the report found. What’s more, online degree programs are particularly common in the for-profit college sector, which is often associated with poor outcomes. For-profit colleges enroll just 6% of students overall, but 24% of students in online-only degree programs, according to the report.

“Students who don’t have a strong K-12 background, who haven’t already been exposed to really developing their learning processes, they’re going to be more vulnerable,” Baum said. She’s not advocating dropping online courses altogether, however. “We’re suggesting that you figure out how to integrate technology with the important personal interaction that people need.”

Baum said she’s particularly concerned that Trump administration officials may be looking to water down regulations requiring that online degree programs feature substantial interaction with professors. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has proposed regulatory changes that would make it easier for non-traditional programs, such as those offered only online, to access federal financial aid.

“People are hoping that technology will be the cure all,” Baum said. “Caution about this is just terrifically important. We know that a lot of students are paying a lot of money to go to institutions where they have very little chance of succeeding and if they do succeed in earning credentials they’re not necessarily credentials with labor market value.”

This is a blog from MarketWatch.

Get a daily roundup of the top reads in personal finance delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to MarketWatch’s free Personal Finance Daily newsletter. Sign up here.

Jillian Berman covers student debt and millennial finance. You can follow her on Twitter @JillianBerman.

Free new budgeting tool available for your students

It is estimated that 70% of college students are stressed about their personal finances. OneClass has created a free and intuitive college budget template that gives real-time advice based on spending habits. It’s very easy to use.

Here is a link to the Excel template: College Student Budget Template

Students just need to add in basic information such as tuition, rent, utilities, etc. and then their monthly budget and everything is automatically calculated to see if they have a surplus, need to cut expenses or come up with additional money to make their budget.

They have also developed a step-by-step guide on how to best use the template and to get started with it: Here is the link: Template Guide

Why some colleges don’t rely on SAT or ACT scores

The recent controversy surrounding a Florida high school student fighting a claim she cheated on the SAT after her score rose by 300 points brings to mind an ongoing question: Are such exams the best indicator of college aptitude?

Some colleges don’t necessarily think so.

Many of the nation’s top liberal arts and research colleges do not require SAT or ACT scores as part of their applications. Of at least 7,000 U.S. colleges and universities, an estimated 1,000 do not require test results, according to The National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

Agnes Scott College is among the Georgia schools that do not require SAT or ACT scores. It allows applicants to use instead an evaluative interview with a counselor or an analytical or critical writing sample.

So why do some schools say they don’t need to see those scores?

Three University of Georgia researchers — Andrew S. Belasco, James C. Hearn and Kelly O. Rosinger — explored the topic in a paper published in 2014. They said some schools relied too heavily on the exams to determine how students will do in college.

A few schools spurn tests to keep low student scores from hurting their ranking in those closely-watched best-colleges lists. Some colleges and universities, noting long-standing complaints the exams are culturally biased, say not using them encourages more students from diverse backgrounds to apply. Some of those schools have seen an increase in applications.

The UGA team looked at 180 liberal arts colleges between 1992 and 2010 to determine if there were significant differences in admissions by test-optional schools. They found test-optional colleges actually enrolled a lower proportion of lower-income students and underrepresented minorities, on average. Test-optional colleges also saw far more applications.

Ironically, the researchers found “liberal arts colleges that implement test-optional policies experience a subsequent rise in their reported SAT scores, by approximately 26 points, on average.” At Agnes Scott, which became test-optional in 2009, more than 70 percent of applicants still submit ACT or SAT scores.

For many students, the tests aren’t always the best indicator of college success, one official said.

The college declined comment on whether the test-optional policy has led to more applicants from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds.

It gives students “flexibility to best showcase their academic talents by choosing between either submitting SAT/ACT scores, scheduling an evaluative interview with an admission counselor or submitting a graded writing sample with teacher comments,” said Alexa Wood Gaeta, the college’s vice president for enrollment and dean of admission and financial aid.

In the Florida case, the student, Kamilah Campbell, said she studied hard for the SAT. She hoped a better score would help her enroll at Florida State University.

“It makes a big difference whether she’s going to get into the college of her dreams and whether she can afford it,” said her attorney, Benjamin Crump.

The College Board, which administers the SAT, is reviewing the case.

We’ll see what happens for Campbell, just like what happens with the test-optional movement.

How your students parents can fund college if they haven’t saved enough

If college tuition bills are looming and you don’t have nearly enough saved, you have plenty of company. But you also have options for making it more affordable.

Four out of 10 families who hope to send kids to college aren’t saving for that goal, according to student loan company Sallie Mae. Among those who are, parents of children aged 13 to 17 have saved an average of $22,985.

That’s not enough to pay for the typical college education out of pocket. The net average cost for a year of college, after scholarships and grants were deducted, was $15,367 in 2017, according to Sallie Mae. That means a four-year degree is likely to cost over $60,000. The expense can, of course, be much higher since many elite schools now charge $70,000 a year or more.

Here are some steps to take now to secure an affordable education – and avoid crushing debt.

Set borrowing limits

The federal PLUS loan program allows parents to borrow the full price of virtually any college education. That’s rarely a good idea. It’s much smarter to decide before applying for schools how much parents can and want to contribute. In general, parents should limit borrowing to what they can afford to pay off before retirement, while still being able to save for that retirement.

It’s also reasonable to ask the student to first exhaust federal student loan options before parents consider borrowing. Students typically can borrow up to $5,500 in federal student loans for their first year of college and a total of $31,000 for an undergraduate education.

Apply to financial ‘safety,’ ‘target’ and ‘reach’ schools

College counselors typically recommend applying for three types of schools, based on the student’s academic credentials: “safety” schools virtually certain to say yes, “target” colleges likely to accept them, and “reach” options where acceptance is a long shot.

Families also should also include at least one financial “safety” school – a college with costs they know they can handle – as well as “target” schools that could be affordable and a “reach” school that may surprise them with generous financial aid. The net price calculators available on every college’s site can help identify likely candidates.

Consider alternatives

Not every career requires a four-year degree. For those that do, a year or two of community college can significantly cut costs but also may increase a student’s risk of dropping out. Community college may be best for self-motivated types who are determined to get a degree and who can do the legwork in advance to ensure their credits will transfer to the desired four-year institution.

For kids who aren’t that motivated or are unsure what they want to study, a gap year may be a good option. They’ll have another year to grow up and get focused, without racking up college expenses. They could even get a job to pay some of those costs.

Speaking of motivation:

Encourage focus

It’s a lot to ask 17- and 18-year-olds to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Dithering is expensive, though. Most colleges have career counselors who can help students sort through their options, and internships can offer real-world glimpses of future career paths.

Trim expenses

and tap assets

Cutting discretionary expenses can free up more money for college bills. The usual suspects: eating out less, buying used instead of new, vacationing cheaply, combing your bills for “leaks” such as memberships or subscriptions you’re not using. If your student is attending college more than 100 miles away and won’t have a car, your auto insurer may give you an away-from-home discount.

Tax breaks, such as the American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning credits, also may help make ends meet. Withdrawals from 529 college savings plans typically are tax-free when used for qualified education expenses.

Selling nonretirement investments and other assets can help pay for college while possibly increasing financial aid in future years. (While federal financial aid formulas typically ignore retirement funds, money in savings and brokerage accounts reduces need-based aid.) Consult a tax pro first, since asset sales can have tax consequences.

Don’t pause retirement contributions, however. You can’t get back the tax breaks and company matches you’ll lose, or the future tax-deferred earnings that money could have earned. Retirement is even more expensive than a college education, and few of us can afford to stop saving for that goal.

This column was provided to the Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet .

Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: . Twitter: @lizweston.

3 Things Your Student Should Do If They Receive A Letter Suggesting They Change Their College Application Status To Early Decision.

Colleges are increasingly and strategically sending letters to students who have applied regular decision suggesting that they consider converting their application to early decision or “ED” status.

These letters are sent with the goal of increasing the number of students who commit to the college early. This is advantageous to the college because their goal is to accept the minimum number of students necessary to fill all seats in the freshman class. Send too many acceptances and the class is oversubscribed and will appear statistically less competitive. Send too few acceptances and risk that the best students on the waitlist will decide to go elsewhere, yielding a less qualified or perhaps less diverse student body.

For the student, an ED application has a statistically greater chance of being accepted than a regular decision application. However, a student may only apply ED to a single college and, if accepted, the student is required to withdraw all other applications and attend that college. ED is most appropriate for students who started the college admissions process early and visited enough colleges to be highly confident in their number one choice. The primary downside of applying ED is that it can force a student to decide on a college before they are ready. Students can change significantly over the course of senior year. What they want in the fall when the application is due may be vastly different from their preferences in the spring. Applying early decision also eliminates the possibility of comparing the financial aid packages offered by multiple colleges.

If your student receives one of these letters, they should do the following three things:

1. Don’t Panic. This not about you.

Panic should never be part of your admissions process. Your admissions journey is complex, sometimes stressful and the outcomes are very important, but panic will only lead to bad decision making. Don’t hit submit, send or sign anything until your blood pressure drops and you are breathing normally again. These letters are part of the colleges’ admissions process – not yours. Your process involves choosing a school that fits you academically, socially, and financially. Colleges are tasked with filling their classes with the right students and maintaining as competitive a ranking as possible. They are asking you to convert to ED because it is right for them, not necessarily because it is right for you.

2. Consider it an affirmation, but with a grain of salt.

Colleges send these letters to candidates that generally fit their admission requirements. You should take the letter as an affirmation that you have achieved the basic criteria (grades, academic rigor, test scores). You could get into this college, but you should not interpret the letter to mean that a change to ED will assure your acceptance. Colleges accept only a small portion of their ED applicants. For example, the University of Pennsylvania accepted only 18.5% of ED applicants for its class of 2022. This statistical reality remains true for applicants who receive these letters. Likewise, you should be aware that a decision to remain a non-ED applicant will not have an adverse impact on your chances of acceptance in the regular applicant pool.

3. Ask yourself this: What has changed?

Realize that nothing being said in the letter is incorrect. Statistically, ED applicants are more likely to be accepted. You always knew this and you originally chose to apply regular decision to this college. You probably had a compelling reason for your original choice. The college is now giving you a chance to change your mind. Use the opportunity to step back, evaluate the list of colleges you’ve applied to, take stock of the additional information you have learned about this college and others since submitting your applications and make an additional visit to one or more of your top choices. Then, make a clear-eyed decision about whether to make the change. Make the leap to ED if you are positive that this school is the right one for you, but once you make the change, remember that the decision is binding. You can only change your mind if the college does not provide enough financial aid for you to attend.

This college is giving you a chance to apply 20/20 hindsight. It is possible that switching to early decision is the exact right move for you. Or perhaps this is an opportunity for you to reconfirm your original application strategy.

Michelle McAnaney is the founder of  The College Spy, a full service independent educational consulting firm that assists students and families across the US and internationally with the college selection and application process. Prior to founding The College Spy, Michelle was a guidance counselor and educator for more than 15 years, including serving as the Director of Guidance at two high schools, an adjunct college professor and a GED tutor. Michelle holds a master’s degree in school counseling and a bachelor’s degree in human development. She recently completed UC Irvine’s certificate program in educational consulting and is a MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) Certified Practitioner and a NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner. Michelle visits over 40 colleges each year so that she has first-hand knowledge of the colleges and universities her clients will be considering. You can find her on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.

Bullying in Schools: The Impact on Children and How You Can Help

The State of School Bullying in America

Although much has been done to address the problem, bullying still remains a prevalent and serious problem. Just how bad is bullying in U.S. schools? StopBullying, a federal government website management by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, shares some compelling statistics that reveal the extent to which bullying is still a problem in America:

  • Nearly a third of U.S. students in grade 6-12 reported being bullied (about the same number of young people who admitted to bullying others)
  • About half of children in grades 4-12 reported being bullied at least once during the past month
  • The majority of young people (70.6 percent) say they have seen bullying in their schools
  • Approximately 40 percent of school staff report seeing bullying once a week or more

Who are the victims of school bullying? According to the CDC, youth with disabilities, learning differences, sexual/gender identity differences or cultural differences are often most vulnerable to being bullied. Unfortunately, only about 20 to 30 percent of students who are bullied notify adults. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs of bullying so you can intervene while positive outcomes are still possible. Some of the signs to look for that may indicate a child is being bullied in school include:

  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork and not wanting to go to school (faking illness to stay home)
  • Changing in eating habits, including skipping meals or binge eating (children may come home from school hungry because they did not eat at lunch)
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares

This infographic reflects information up to 05/28/2018. Percentages and amounts are subject to change.

The Impact of Bullying on Children

Effects of bullying on academic achievement

One of the most impactful consequences of bullying is how it makes victims perform in school. In one sample study, children who suffered chronic levels of bullying during their school years had lower academic achievement and less confidence in their academic abilities than their peers.

UCLA psychologists conducted a study with 2,300 students in 11 Los Angeles-area public middle schools and asked participants to rate whether or not they get bullied on a four-point scale. They found that a one-point increase on the four-point bullying scale was associated with a 1.5-point decrease in GPAfor one academic subject (e.g., math).

Authors of the study concluded that students who are repeatedly bullied participate less in class discussions and may get mislabeled as “low achievers” because they do not want to speak up in class for fear of getting bullied.

Effects of bullying on health and well-being

Children who experience bullying, either as a victim or as a bully, are also at an increased risk for poor psychological health. Surprisingly, children who report both being bullied and bullying others (sometimes referred to as “bully-victims”) have the highest rates of negative health outcomes, according to the CDC. One study found four categories of negative health conditions in victims and perpetrators of bullying:

  • Low psychological well-being, including states of mind that are generally considered unpleasant but not acutely distressing, such as general unhappiness, low self-esteem and feelings of anger and sadness.
  • Poor social adjustment, including feelings of aversion toward one’s social environment, particularly dislike for school, isolation and absenteeism.
  • Psychological distress, including high levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal thinking.
  • Physical unwellness, including clear signs of physical disorder evident in medically-diagnosed illness and psychosomatic symptoms.

How You Can Address the Problem of Bullying in Schools

The negative consequences of bullying are far-reaching, even life-changing, for everyone involved—targets, bullies and bystanders alike. That’s why we need more mental health professionals who understand the effects of bullying, as well as the underlying causes of these behaviors, and are specifically trained and educated to intervene in children’s lives.

Strategies and interventions for addressing bullying include assisting victimized children to develop self-protective assertiveness skills and working with bullying children grow awareness of the consequences of their behavior. In addition to school counselors, other careers for those seeking to help prevent bullying include behavioral interventionists, behavioral therapists, child safety awareness educators, and community service managers.

If you want to expand your role as a student advocate or are thinking about a new career working with children, a master’s degree in school counseling may provide you with the tools, knowledge and skills needed to have a positive impact. Programs that focus on developmental counseling and psychology may be particularly useful if you wish to address the causes and consequences of bullying.


This post was provided by Mental Health Master Degrees

Where to apply: Advice for `Ivy Ivy’ and `Larry Local’

With over 4,000 colleges in the United States alone, deciding where to apply can be a daunting task. Most high school juniors are starting to ask themselves questions about distance from home, academic majors, importance of athletic teams, dominance of greek life and of course the total cost of attendance and their potential return on their investment.

Here are two fictitious scenarios.

Ivy Ivy: We all know Ivy. She was groomed in the womb. She and her parents have been diligent about tracking her every academic and extracurricular achievement since preschool. She feels she is open-minded since she’s willing to consider Harvard, Yale or Princeton. She just “can’t see herself” going anywhere else.

Unfortunately, students like Ivy who have narrowed their list to include only “dream schools” have blinders on. Statistics from college admissions offices state that roughly 80-85 percent of applicants at almost all colleges, even the nation’s most prestigious ones, are totally equipped to be admitted.

That means that over 80 percent of applicants meet or exceed the average SAT scores and the GPAs posted by the previously admitted class. For this reason alone, the subjective criteria of extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, athletics, jobs and internships are often critical factors.

What should Ivy do? She needs to fill out her list with “target” and “sure-thing” colleges. She and her parents need to get beyond their prestige panic and identify colleges that are the right fit. Common wisdom is to have at least six to eight colleges on the final list, including:

  • 2 sure-thing schools.
  • 2-3 target schools — where you’re solidly in their range.
  • 2-3 reach schools — schools that you’d love to attend, or any college that accepts 20 percent or less of its applicants.

Larry Local: Larry had never given the college selection process much thought, up until now. He was always assuming he’d go to a college close to home and “it will all work out.”His grades have been strong. His parents are beginning to get nervous because they haven’t visited any colleges, don’t know what the requirements are and aren’t sure if he has taken the right tests.

In the spring of his junior year he took a class in marine biology, worked closely with his teacher and really enjoyed the subject. He contacted the local science museum and is working there after school and loving it. None of his state university campuses offer marine biology as a major.

What should Larry do? Larry is lucky. Having an idea of what you’d like to study narrows the search. Being “undecided” is completely fine. It just means that your search should focus on colleges with an array of liberal arts opportunities. Be sure to understand that liberal arts opportunities do not necessarily equate with “big” universities. Small and medium-size private colleges and public universities have impressive offerings.

Larry and his parents should sit down with a college guidebook and discuss their wishes and expectations. They should research colleges with strong marine biology departments. If any of the colleges are public, they should investigate the possibility of receiving in-state tuition, since their state doesn’t offer that specific major.

Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;

Archived issues of LINK for Counselors

Are you a new reader of LINK for Counselors? If so, you may not have read some of our great issues from several years ago. Here are links to all our back issues in one handy place.

Fall 2015 issue –

Spring 2016 issue –

Fall 2016 issue –

Spring 2017 issue –

Fall 2017 issue –

Spring 2018 issue –

Fall 2018 issue –

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