72% of IECs say 50%+ of their students got into top choice school

Applerouth Testing ( just released the results, below, of their 2018 survey of Independent Educational Consultants (IECs).

Students named “fit” as the single most important factor in selecting colleges.  It’s easy to find schools that have your major, but do you know how to distinguish “top programs” from the rest?  Contact me at to learn how to spot the difference. 


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Applerouth 2018 Independent Educational Consultants survey

Parents of rising seniors – Avoid these college planning pitfalls

The Collegewise newsletter, July 14, 2018, highlights 5 common pitfalls that can trip up parents of rising seniors.  Another excellent resource is the “Fiske Guide to Colleges” College Admission Pledges for Parents and Students at the back of the book.  Don’t have a Fiske Guide?  Let me know and I’m happy to provide you with copies! 

People talk a lot about how hard college admissions is on kids these days. But it’s no picnic for parents, either. You want to be supportive and do whatever you can to make sure your kids are happy with their college choices. Unfortunately, these good intentions can sometimes lead parents to unwittingly hurt their kids’ chances of admission. So here are five common college admissions mistakes parents must avoid.

For Parents: How to Avoid Five Common College Planning Mistakes

1. Don’t get involved with college essays.
When a parent helps too much with a college essay, it is almost always glaringly apparent to an admissions officer. Parents think and write differently than kids do. And colleges want to hear your kids’ thoughts and perspectives, not yours. In fact, our experience has been that parental involvement in college essays almost never leads to better essays (or better family relations). So let your student take the lead and write what she wants to write. And while you stay hands-off, encourage your kids to seek feedback from an English teacher or a counselor knows them well. 

2. Don’t contact colleges on your student’s behalf.
When a parent repeatedly calls or emails an admissions office to ask questions, it’s natural for admissions officers to wonder why the student isn’t mature enough to call on his own. That’s why we recommend that any communication with an admissions office come from the student, not the parent. This is the time for these young adults to begin developing the ability to show initiative and take care of themselves. The one exception to this rule is when it’s time to discuss financial aid, as the admissions offices don’t expect kids to carry on discussions about family finances.

3. Don’t secure activities for your student. 
It’s easy for colleges to spot the applicant who volunteered at the hospital after his mother made all the calls, filled out the paperwork, and physically wrestled him into the car to get him there. That mother has shown a great deal of initiative (and a surprising amount of strength). But the student hasn’t really shown much of anything. It’s perfectly OK to help guide your student and offer advice, but let her decide what she’d like to do and how she’s going to start.

4. Don’t always listen to what your friends say about admissions.
We’re consistently surprised by the amount of inaccurate college information that parents get from other parents at dinner parties. The truth is that while many people claim to know a lot about colleges admissions, very few actually do. So unless the person giving you advice is a counselor or an admissions officer, check with your high school counselor before following any free advice from your friends.   

5. Don’t lose perspective.
Don’t forget that your son or daughter’s future success and happiness are not dependent on the admission to one particular college. We’re not psychologists, but we’ve watched over 10,000 families go through the college admissions process, and we’ve noticed that the parents who seem to enjoy the best relationship with their kids during this stressful time are those who make it clear they will proudly wear the sweatshirt of any college their kid chooses to attend. Kids today are feeling an enormous amount of pressure about college admissions. They need you to be the voice of reason who knows that good kids who work hard and have supportive parents will always turn out just fine.

So be a supportive partner, but let your kids take the lead.

Whether you’re still touring colleges, or about to start your freshman year, visiting the Career Center should be your top priority.

How the Great Recession changed the job market forever for college grads

The Washington Post
June 2, 2018

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

As this year’s college graduates transition from school to career, they are entering one of the healthiest job markets in decades for those with newly minted degrees. Compared with their counterparts from the Class of 2010 — who left college in the depths of the Great Recession, when the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent — this year’s graduates face unemployment of under 4 percent.

When students graduate matters significantly to their earnings in the formative years of their careers, according to researchers. Generally, people who enter the job market during an economic downturn start with lower wages than those who graduate in better times, and it takes those who start behind a decade or more to catch up — if they ever do.

But the legacy of the Great Recession for graduates goes well beyond that unlucky cohort who left college then. In recent weeks, two studies on the job market for college graduates landed on my desk. In reading them, one quickly realizes just how much the job market has shifted since the economic downturn ended.

The first study came from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and from Burning Glass Technologies, a workforce analytics firm. It analyzed the phenomenon of underemployment among college graduates — meaning they are in jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree — and found that 43 percent are in that predicament.

Many graduates, their parents and even college leaders minimize the importance of the first job, knowing that many others will follow. That mind-set could prove detrimental, according to the study. Two-thirds of graduates who are underemployed at commencement find themselves in the same situation five years later. Even 10 years later, the job outlook doesn’t improve: Seventy-four percent remain underemployed.

The second report was released by Handshake, an online platform similar to LinkedIn that is used by more than 500 colleges and connects their students with 250,000 employers. In combing through more than 5 million applications that students submitted over the past year, the company found a change in the types of employers students are seeking. And it discovered changes in the skills graduates are applying outside their majors and what they want most out of a job.

Nonprofit and government agencies loom over campus hiring in ways they haven’t in the past. Some 24 percent of students are applying to jobs outside of corporate America, according to Handshake. Of that group, some 40 percent of students are applying to nonprofits, 30 percent to the federal government and 22 percent to local government agencies. Even when students go the corporate route, the companies where they are looking include a healthy mix of old brand-names where their parents could have worked. Indeed, IBM received the most applications in the past year from students on Handshake.

Students are also looking for jobs outside the industries normally associated with their majors. In health care, more than 20 percent of the open entry-level roles are aimed at graduates with technology skills. And students are looking for more flexibility in their work. The search terms “start-up” and “remote” were increasingly used by students on Handshake.

“The job market is more wide open for graduates than ever before,” Garrett Lord, co-founder and CEO of Handshake, told me. “They have plenty of choices of industries, jobs and locations to apply their skills.”

Both reports seem to indicate that the skill sets of graduates — rather than their major — might matter most in hiring. Taken together, the reports show that today’s undergraduates, along with their parents and colleges, need to prepare differently for the job market than they did a decade ago.

For one, there needs to be less emphasis in college — and in the admissions process — that a major leads to a specific job. A college graduate’s ability to do the job matters more to recruiters than the major. The Handshake report showed that graduates are applying those skills across a range of industries. Engineers, for instance, are working in the fashion industry, jobs typically associated with arts majors, and writers are employed in tech firms mostly identified with computer science majors.

Second, liberal arts graduates don’t fare as poorly in the job market as many students and parents assume. In the last few months, the liberal arts have been under fire, with a handful of colleges eliminating, or threatening to wipe out, majors such as English and history. Those majors and others in the liberal arts still matter in hiring. But the key for students in those majors is to get specific hard skills (such as computer coding or comfort with data) and learn how to translate the competencies they developed in the major, such as writing and critical thinking, so employers can better understand the background of applicants during the recruiting process.

Finally, colleges need to make career services part of the curriculum from Day 1. As the Strada-Burning Glass report showed, the first job matters more than we have long assumed. Colleges like to say they prepare students for their fifth job, not their first. That way of thinking needs to change. Students must acquire specific skills and find hands-on experiences, such as internships and undergraduate research, much earlier in their undergraduate career than past generations of students.

This time of year is often scary for graduates who are left to navigate the world of work after 17 years of schooling. But if students are armed with a broad education and marketable skills, they should have little difficulty finding gainful and fulfilling employment after college.

Essay Workshops – Fall Session

We know what makes a ‘good’ college application essay* and we’ll help you to:

  • Create personal statement(s) that make you a stand-out applicant
  • Effectively communicate who you are and personal qualities you value most 
  • Consult with certificated College Counselor & credentialed English Teacher  
  • Finish one or more of the most challenging parts of the college application
*Contact us at for answer and upcoming schedule.       (Hint:  It’s NOT a good English class paper or a ‘love letter’ to the College!)