Monday, November 21, 2011

Seeking Experts Who'll Help Her Get to College

This is a heartwarming, upbeat story about a young woman in Boston, Nathaly Lopera, who's determined to get to college. She takes an hour long bus ride to school in a wealthy suburb. With extracurricular activities and tutoring at night, she often gets home around 10 p.m., then starts homework.

She's getting advice on SAT strategies, her essays and applications through an organization called Let's Get Ready, which in 2011 has helped 2500 high school students through 63 programs in the Northeast, using more than 1000 college student volunteers.

Let's wish Nathaly all the best. The colleges that select her will be smart; the school she selects will be fortunate.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Despite Crazy Costs, Stats Say the Degree Is Still Worth It

Yes, it is worth it to get a college degree -- the numbers prove it. Here's an overview of studies that confirm the college bonus: each year of college adds about 6-10% of annual income. And people earning higher incomes are more likely to have jobs with good benefits, and that means decent health care coverage that can lead to better health.

Apparently such studies don't always factor in the cost of going to college or those darn loans. Still, whether we like the system or not, there are undeniable advantages that come with the diploma.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

College Mom Bloggers -- Sharing the Challenges, Tips and Insights

I'm apparently not the only mom out there who feels the need to share the family's college adventure. There are tons of us -- and now there's a list of the "30 Best College Mom Blogs." I am honored to have made the cut on this list, compiled by Online College

By the way, I also blog for, for the Parental Guidance blog collection, on college admissions issues.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Could It Be, A World That Is SAT-Free?

Wake Forest would rather see students spending their Saturdays doing community service or playing in a youth symphony rather than in tutoring sessions or taking the SAT or ACT. This seems to verge on college admissions heresy.

But the dean of admissions at Wake thinks it's the way to go, as she points out here. It sounds sensible to me, and as we have heard at college information sessions, the GPA is considered a better gauge of college performance than standardized tests.

But for now, most schools still want the scores, and as a result, we want them to be as strong as reasonably possible. I am certainly counting on just one or two takes on the test. Colleges do not like to see, for instance, four sets of scores. And besides, there really are better ways to spend Saturdays.

Meanwhile, our teen has started an online coaching program that emphasizes short, consistent daily prepping rather than several-hour classroom marathons.

We'll see how it goes. What's your thinking on these standardized tests?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Would You Want Your Child to Go to Happy Valley, Land of Moral Blindness?

Penn State does have its share of problems right now -- lack of controls, deficiency in ethics and humanity, some misguided students. Another one is rolling admissions, with the first deadline Nov. 30. Now that we know how many blind eyes exist at that campus, would you want your child to attend?

Here's a discussion of crises and how they affect admissions. Schools like Duke have dealt with messes related to athletics and have seen some admissions drop-off -- but nothing lasting. Others, including Virginia Tech, have seen far more horrific events. They all recover. Penn State will, too. But it does make a parent think.

Do we really know and fully understand how and why colleges act? Why Virginia Tech waited so long to alert students to a killer on the loose? Why no one at Penn State followed through on terrible accusations?

Maybe the punch list of what our children (and we) are looking for in a college should include how the administration responds to serious, possibly life-threatening, events. Or whether there is a pattern of putting athletics first. So search major papers that would cover the school. See if you can discover whether the schools seem to be run by good and rational people who put students and academics first, who set strong ethical and moral standards.

It just might make you feel better, or force you to suggest your child think through college options a little more carefully.