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College Advising Post-SFFA – Free Webinar

A webinar will be hosted by Beth Arey (Evanston Township High School), Veronica Hauad (U Chicago), Meredith Lombardi (Common Application) & Aya Waller-Bey (U of Michigan) to talk about advising students post-SFFA. It will be live on October 5th and then archived for later viewing.

This summer’s Supreme Court’s decision in SFFA vs. Harvard/UNC banned the consideration of race in college admissions decisions, but it left many questions unanswered and has created confusion for students and the professionals who help them apply to college. This webinar is intended to help school counselors and advisors at community-based organizations (CBOs) answer those questions and provide the best advice to help them advise their students. The focus will be on best practices and include experts from higher admissions offices, high schools, CBOs, and other organizations.

Click here to register/view the webinar:

School Counselor Advocacy and Empowering Students for Post-Secondary Success – Free Podcast

After witnessing a student feel defeated about plans to attend community college rather than a University, Priscilla Grijalva knew that she needed to change the narrative. That’s when “Reach Higher Thursdays” were created, leading to more support and celebration for all post-secondary options. 

Priscilla Grijalva is a highly accomplished school counselor with over 18 years of experience and an incredible drive for her students. In our conversation, Priscilla discusses the importance of advocacy and perserverance in helping students overcome obstacles and achieve their educational goals.

You’ll hear about some of the initiatives Priscilla has implemented to broaden awareness of post-secondary options at her school. Her journey is a testament to the power of advocacy and the impact that school counselors can have on their students and communities! 

Hosted by Lauren Tingle of Counselor Clique

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • What the Reach Higher initiative is, and what kind of impact it’s had on Priscilla’s students
  • Advice for counselors who don’t have a mentor to lean on
  • Examples of initiatves Priscilla put in place to increase college access and broaden awareness for post-secondary success options
  • Building partnerships with your staff and community
  • How networking with educational and community partners can play into college initiatives 
  • What Priscilla would say to school counselors who don’t see themselves as a leader in their school

Click here to listen to the podcast:

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Other Blog Posts You Might Like:

Membership Dues Notice from the College Board – What to Know

It’s that time of year again when your head of school/principal is receiving the annual “your membership dues are past due” notice from College Board.

Dear valued member,

The annual College Board Membership dues for your organization are outstanding. Attached is a copy of the unpaid invoice.

“Dear valued member??” We are not now and have not been members for years. Why not ASK if we would like to become members?  Why not INVITE us to become members by showing us all the great things membership does? 

Membership dues are $400 annually. We were actually “invoiced” $800– for LAST year and THIS YEAR.  I never agreed to membership for ANY year. That would be a huge chunk of my budget–like sending my whole team to NEACAC–for no tangible benefits whatsoever.

In all of the years that I worked at “member” schools, I received the same email, the same calendars, and the same lack of attention to my issues as an AP and Test Coordinator, as I do as a non-member. 

Make sure your head of school or principal knows WHY they want to be members.  If you have a good reason, go ahead and pay it. But don’t be tricked into paying $400 if you don’t know what you’re getting.

Once again–do better, CB!

Tara Dowling is the Director of College Counseling at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts

High school juniors – don’t get overlooked!

It seems everyone is laser-focused on where high school seniors are applying, their essays and their activities; but this is also an important time for high school juniors.

Fall of junior year is the right time to be thinking about and doing many of the following things:

  • Start the year strong with solid organization and study skills. Remember NOTHING is more important to colleges than the rigor of your coursework and your performance. NOTHING.
  • Attend meetings at your school and evening sessions where college reps will share information about their schools. Make sure to ask for business cards from the college reps and follow-up with a thank you and a question or two.
  • Use the teacher workdays in the fall to visit college campuses. Don’t leave all your visits to spring break of junior year.
  • Make sure you make the most of your visits. Find a “College Visit Checklist” on the internet, or create your own template and fill it out for each school that you visit because it can be hard to remember what you liked and didn’t like about specific colleges once you’ve visited more than three or four.
  • Dig deep into researching each of the schools on your list. Identify specific majors of interest as well as your specific priorities (weather, sports culture, safety, etc.) and determine what stands out to you at each college.
  • Separate your schools by the likelihood of acceptance: “Lottery, Reach, Target and Safety.”
  • Identify your favorite “Safety” Try to choose a school that is both an academic and financial “safety.” Then compare that one to all your other schools and now you can feel comfortable eliminating any schools that didn’t measure up.
  • Take PSAT or Pre-ACT (PLAN) if offered. Students who have completed Algebra II by the end of 10th grade should begin test prep and take a test this fall.
  • If you haven’t taken both tests, consider taking an SAT/ACT Diagnostic that will provide you with feedback on your gap areas where you need prep as well as areas that you’ve mastered and don’t need to waste time prepping.
  • Stay engaged in your extracurricular activities. Try and find ways to differentiate your involvement and projects that impact on your school and/or your community.
  • Seek leadership opportunities. Don’t worry if they don’t come with a fancy title. Take initiative to find new and creative ways to solve existing problems.
  • Get ready financially. Parents should complete the FAFSA Forecaster and check out the Net Price Calculator that is available on every college’s website. It’s important for parents to share their plans for financial commitment to their child’s education. Have a discussion about what it means to graduate with loans.
  • Think summer! Summer 2024 will be the last summer for your student to do something that has an impact on their college applications. Think about college programs in academic areas of interest. If they are passionate about a topic, have them investigate potential research opportunities with professors who have expertise in these areas. Summers are also a great time to coordinate a part-time to full-time internship. Students will be able to test-drive different majors as well as have the opportunity to be in a “real-world environment.”

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

Top 10 Challenges Faced by High School Counselors Today

You play a crucial role in guiding students through their academic journeys and preparing them for future success. However, this vital role comes with its set of challenges that can often be demanding and complex. As we recognize the hard work and dedication you do let’s shed light on the top 10 issues all High School Counselors currently face in your profession.

1. Heavy Workload and Limited Time

High school counselors are often overwhelmed with heavy caseloads, making it challenging to provide personalized attention to each student. Balancing administrative tasks, meetings, and one-on-one counseling within a limited time frame is a persistent struggle.

2. Mental Health Crisis Among Students

The rise in mental health issues among students is a significant concern. High school counselors find themselves dealing with a growing number of students facing anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges, necessitating the need for specialized training and resources.

3. College and Career Guidance

Guiding students through the complex college and career selection process is a critical role of high school counselors. Staying updated with the ever-changing landscape of higher education and diverse career options while addressing individual student aspirations is a daunting task.

4. Equity and Inclusion

Promoting equity and inclusion is a priority, but high school counselors often struggle with limited resources and training to address the diverse needs of students from various backgrounds and identities.

5. Parental Expectations and Involvement

Navigating parental expectations and involvement, especially when it comes to college applications and future plans, can be challenging. High school counselors need to manage the balance between meeting parental expectations and aligning with the best interests of the students.

6. Lack of Resources and Funding

Inadequate resources and funding affect the ability of high school counselors to offer comprehensive guidance and support to students. This includes limitations in technology, materials, and professional development opportunities.

7. Student Engagement and Motivation

Fostering student engagement and motivation can be difficult, especially in a world with numerous distractions. High school counselors face the challenge of finding effective strategies to keep students focused and enthusiastic about their education and future prospects.

8. Testing and Standardized Assessments

High-stakes testing and the pressure associated with standardized assessments pose a challenge for high school counselors. Helping students manage test anxiety and ensuring they perform their best while understanding the significance of these assessments is a delicate balance.

9. Technology Integration

Keeping up with rapidly evolving technology and effectively integrating it into counseling practices is a challenge. High school counselors need to stay updated on various platforms and tools that can enhance communication, data management, and student engagement.

10. Crisis Management and Student Well-being

Emergencies, crises, and student well-being are constant concerns for high school counselors. Being prepared to handle crises and ensuring the well-being and safety of students is a daunting responsibility that they grapple with daily.

In addressing these challenges, it’s crucial for schools, administrators, and policymakers to provide adequate support, resources, and professional development opportunities to high school counselors.

How to Advise Students After the End of Race-Conscious Admissions – Free Webinar

This summer’s Supreme Court’s decision in SFFA vs. Harvard/UNC banned the consideration of race in college admissions decisions, but it left many questions unanswered and has created confusion for students and the professionals who help them apply to college. This webinar is intended to help school counselors and advisors at community-based organizations (CBOs) answer those questions and provide the best advice to help them advise their students. The focus will be on best practices and include experts from higher admissions offices, high schools, CBOs, and other organizations.

The webinar will be hosted by James Murphy of Education Reform Now and the panel will include Amy Borst at UGA, Sara Urquidez, from ASP in Texas, Carolyn Blair (MO school counselor) and Andrew Moe of Matriculate.

It will be live on Thursday, September 28th and available to view on archive afterwards. Here is the link to register/view:

Straight Talk with Admission Leaders – Free Webinar

College planning is both exciting and stressful for many families. Reduce your anxiety by getting first-hand answers from the people who might be reviewing your application. In this interactive, live Q&A you’ll get answers to questions like:
**Would Early Decision or Early Action be right for you?
**How can you whittle down your college list to a manageable number?
**How can the parent, student and counselor work together in clearly defined roles?

Hosted by Brennan Barnard, Director of College Counseling, Khan Lab School with guests Erin Earle, Director, Undergraduate Enrollment, University of Rhode Island and Victoria Romero, Vice President for Enrollment, Scripps College

This webinar will be live the evening of September 28th and then archived for later viewing free. Click here to register/view:

Tools for Students to Bolster Their Business Acumen Prior to College

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

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

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

Helping Students Understand the Basics of Business

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

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

Financial Literacy Platforms

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

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

TED Talks, Webinars, and YouTube Videos

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

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

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

Free and Inexpensive Online Courses

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

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

Business Competitions, Clubs, and Local Events

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

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

Business and Economics Reading Lists & Podcasts

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

Provide Different Learning Options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 5th edition includes the latest information on:

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

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

Free Database of Neurodiversty-Friendly Colleges & Universities

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

Here is a link to the comprehensive list:

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