Social Media & The College Application

Did you know that college admissions officers look at your social media? According to Inside Higher Ed, April 2018, a student’s social media is “fair game.”  Snapchat and Instagram are “in” and Facebook is “out” for teens these days, but there are many other platforms like Reddit, Pinterest, Tumbler etc. and each is a window wide open to the student. In a recent Kaplan poll, 29% of admissions officers looked at prospective students’ social media posts.

There are many reasons to have appropriate user names and to know what is in your profile(s). Take control of your social presence. Applerouth, in an article on social media literacy discusses how important this topic is in the college admissions process. Social media continues to grow, change, and become more “social” and accounts are becoming less “private”– so there is sufficient cause to do your own Social Media Audit.

Carolynn Crabtree, President of Cornerstone Reputation shares these statistics:

  • 67% of admissions officers surveyed searched for applicants on Facebook during the 2014­ – 2015 admissions season
  • 40% found content about the applicant that left a negative impression
  • 53% found content about the applicant left a positive impression
  • 81% of schools surveyed have no formal policy on searching for applicants on social media
  • 22% of admissions officers believe that an applicant could gain an advantage in the admissions process by building a positive online presence

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Admission officers may be impressed when they see your talents on social media. You could showcase an article, performance, or award, or show your involvement through community service or as part of a team.  Some colleges allow you to send links with your work directly to them. Whether you blog, are a photographer, play an instrument or sing, make sure the content is high quality. See the article on Music and Art Supplements for more information.

How interested are you in a particular college? Some colleges assess your interest in them before deciding whether or not to admit you. Using Social Media may be a way to demonstrate this interest. See our article on how to Demonstrate Interest for details.

Athletes are Checked Most Often to Discern their Character and Lifestyle

Coaches are already online looking at profiles and accounts that you’ve sent to them. They want to know about your personality and if you will be a good addition to their team, socially and athletically.

5 Ways to Get Better Test Results

Studies show these are effective ways to achieve better test results:

Write your own study guide. It will help you evaluate the material and makes it easier for you to remember. Write down key points you need to remember for the test. Run it by your teacher. This way you’ll know if you are picking up the key elements of the material.

Disconnect. Put away your phone. Put it on airplane mode and walk away from it. Allow yourself to check it once an hour, when you take a short break from studying. If you’re having trouble with staying away from your phone, make it an incentive. After an hour, I’ll take a break and check it. Whatever you have to do.

The 15-minute trick. If you’re struggling to get started, set a timer for 15 minutes. Spend that time writing or powering through the most undesirable task, and then take a break. This time may be all you needed to get focused. If the 15-minute trick works, you’ll be ready to keep working.

Be kind to yourself. Give yourself positive affirmations and feedback. Encouragement can come from within. Sound a bit fluffy? Stress and negativity are not healthy ways to accomplish any goal. Manage your time, eat right, sleep enough, drink water, and definitely celebrate accomplishments.

8 Programs Linked to Student Success

First-Year Experience

First-year experience programs have been shown to improve Freshman retention rates. These classes bring together smaller groups of students with faculty with a goal of improving student success while focusing on a specific subject. This experience allows students an opportunity to immerse themselves in college life and get to know faculty. Students get to ask questions about relevant issues which can reduces anxiety and set the student up for success.

Some colleges are now offering Meta Majors, where the first year experience includes a cluster of classes on topics such as community support, time management, study skills, majors and careers, and building relationships with professors, classmates, and advisors.

Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects

Mentored research, practicums, field-based learning, service learning, and study abroad can enhance learning.

Students might do intensive and self-directed projects in an area of their interest while being mentored by a faculty member. These students are able to produce scholarly papers or projects that help them grow academically and mature. Many times these works are displayed on campus or the student is given the chance to present them in a professional setting off campus.

Small, Interactive Classes

Smaller class size usually means there will be opportunity to engage in a unique way. It’s likely there will be more discussion, less lecturing – more interaction, less lecturing. Classroom projects, student presentations, debate…these are most common in classes with limited enrollment. Content (a.k.a. subject matter) is best absorbed when given in a variety of ways. None of us learn the same way.

Internships

Before spending years pursuing a career you think you want, it may be beneficial to take advantage of an internship. Colleges have information about career opportunities associated with their intended major.

Internships give students a chance to learn about an industry or academic area, and internships help students make their resumes so much more impactful. This can be an excellent when you’re planning to go to graduate school. An internship also looks good to prospective employers.

Study Abroad

College is the perfect time to experience different cultures. Studying abroad allows students to do just that, and there are  opportunities available at other colleges that will be unique to your particular interests.

Strong Writing Programs

We still communicate extensively through writing. Of course, writing programs can help good writers become better, but they can also elevate a student’s skill to a level that will get them recognized. Writing is something business o one’s ability to do so coherently can make the difference between a successful or mediocre career. Writing comes in many forms and is valuable to those in business and medicine and engineering and technology and …..

Removing Obstacles 

Colleges are getting better at removing obstacles which, in the past, have reduced their retention rates and brought down their rankings.  Among the changes are eliminating complicated and unnecessary degree requirements, accepting more credits from other institutions, offering online courses, expanding course availability, simplifying degree requirements, and providing support for students with all learning styles.

Service Learning

Students today have an awareness of issues affecting the entire globe. Our impact on the world and on our closest neighbors are important.  We are connected in a global way to a degree never before experienced by a generation of students. Service learning adds value to what is being taught in classrooms. Students seek these opportunities and colleges are realizing the need to incorporate this involvement into their curriculum.

5 Things About College Roommates Incoming Freshman Ought to Understand

by Emilie Mobley, June 2019

1. College Roommate=Friend?

Maybe, maybe not.  Surviving and thriving as a freshman can be rooted in maintaining a healthy roommate relationship. Your dorm room is your home, and the person(s) you share it with is an important part of your college experience. Some relationships seem to evolve naturally and are comfortable, but even the most agreeable relationships require a bit of effort. Rule of thumb-behave towards your roommate the way you want your roommate to behave towards you.

2.  Communication is Essential

As the initial excitement of being away from home begins to wear off, you will settle in to a new routine. You and the people you share a dorm with all come with your own personalities and habits. One of you may like to go to bed early, the other stays up late. One of you may like to have friends over often, the other not-so-much. Be patient, have fun, and do your best to communicate clearly. Contribute to building a solid relationship based on respect. If things don’t go well, and you’ve spoken directly with your roommate(s) about the issues, you should consider talking with your RA. 

3. Responsibility, Yours and Mine

Are you living with a rule-breaker? Know this: you are not responsible for anyone else’s behavior. You are responsible, however, for your own. If your roommate is breaking campus rules, and you do not agree with the rule-breaking, start the conversation. Once you have addressed these issues with your roommate, you should consider talking with your RA, if the behavior continues. Rules are there for your protection. Don’t jeopardize all your hard work by disregarding what could become a problem for you. Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away.

4. Respect Goes Both Ways

This one seems really simple, but you’d be surprised how we sometimes miss clues others are sending that are meant to signify a breach of trust. Sometimes we cross invisible lines of tolerance and need to deal with the consequences. You are joining a campus full of students who come from many different lifestyles. As you begin this college journey, be mindful of others and of yourself.  Building strong relationships with people who are positive and trustworthy requires patience, accountability, and kindness.

5. Privacy, Please

Privacy today extends beyond the obvious. A decade ago, the word privacy implied discretion in its simplest manifestation. In other words, a few years ago, a roommate who was comfortable exiting the shower without covering up in a reasonable amount of time, was considered an invasion of your privacy. Today, an invasion of privacy has much greater and far-reaching implications. In a matter of seconds, someone’s privacy can be shattered by the seemingly innocent posting of a photograph or comment on social media.  Long story short, some errors in judgment cannot be corrected. In the name of fun, think before posting anything!

Will You Be Able to Help Your College-Age Child in a Medical Emergency?

The HIPAA Privacy Rule Can Get in Your Way

By Susan Feinstein, July 23, 2016

Important Documents

Moms and dads who still think of themselves as protectors and advisers, even after their children become legal adults, often don’t consider the real-world implications of that milestone birthday. They and their young-adult children need to think about the unthinkable in advance. Three forms—HIPAA authorization, medical power of attorney, and durable power of attorney—will help facilitate the involvement of a parent or other trusted adult in a medical emergency.

If a student attends college out of state, fill out the forms relevant to the home state and school state to avoid any challenges. If the school has its own form, sign that one too, Warsh said. “When the doctor or medical institution sees it, you want them to be familiar with it and recognize it,” she said.

Once the forms are completed, it’s a good idea to scan and save them so that they are readily available on a smartphone or home computer.

You don’t need a lawyer to do this. Many websites have downloadable forms. But a lawyer’s involvement can benefit in making sure you are using the right form, explaining it, and advocating on your behalf in case something goes wrong.

HIPAA authorization: A signed HIPAA authorization is like a permission slip. It permits healthcare providers to disclose your health information to anyone you specify. A stand-alone HIPAA authorization (not incorporated into a broader legal document) does not have to be notarized or witnessed. This document alone, signed in advance by her son, would have sufficed for Warsh to get information from the hospital treating her 18-year-old son. Young people who want parents to be involved in a medical emergency, but fear disclosure of sensitive information, need not worry; HIPAA authorization does not have to be all-encompassing. The young adults can stipulate not to disclose information about sex, drugs, mental health, or other details they might want to keep private.

Medical power of attorney: In signing a medical POA, you appoint an “agent” to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you are incapacitated and cannot make such decisions for yourself. Each state has different laws governing medical POA and, therefore, different legal forms. In many states, the HIPAA authorization is rolled into the standard medical POA form. Whether the medical POA requires the signature of a witness or notary varies state by state.

For the sake of clarifying often-used terms: A medical POA sometimes goes by other names, such as healthcare power of attorney, designation of healthcare proxy, or durable power of attorney for health care. It is one type of advance directive. The other type is a living will, which specifies your wishes with regard to interventions in life-or-death scenarios in case you are unable to do so. In many states, the language for the living will is also incorporated into a hybrid document that includes the medical POA and HIPAA release.

Durable power of attorney: As an additional step, young-adult children might consider appointing a durable power of attorney, enabling a parent or other designated agent to take care of business on the student’s behalf. If the student were to become incapacitated or if the student were studying abroad, the durable power of attorney would be able to, for example, sign tax returns, access bank accounts, and pay bills. Durable POA forms vary by state. In some states the medical POA can be included in the durable POA form. “The durable power of attorney is sweeping,” Wolk said. “You do not want to give it to someone who you do not trust.”

5 Things to Help You Succeed in College

By Lee Norwood

1. Your Attendance

The easy peasy way to ensure success is to show up for class and sit in the front. This will help with focus! Your attendance is a strong predictor of future success. And at the cost per credit hour you are paying…it makes sense to maximize your time.

2. Follow the Syllabus

The first day of class is usually the day you receive your class syllabus. It contains important information that you need to succeed in that class; required textbook(s), course policies (suchas attendance), schedule of assignments and their deadlines, contact information for the professor and his/her office hours, etc. If the expectations from your professor are not clear, please ask. It will be up to you get it right; and everyone wants to help a student who seeks to be successful.

3. Professor Access

Professors do a lot more than teach. They conduct research, write articles and books, speak at conferences, facilitate workshops, etc. This is why professors are not always on campus and why they schedule office hours when they are available to students. Professor/TA’s hours are either included in the course syllabus or are posted on the professor’s office door. If you need a more specific one-on-one appointment, just ask and include when you would like to meet and the reason for your request. Professors can have a huge impact on your careers and life. Connecting with them can lead to amazing research opportunities, internships, and even job offers. My son found his first great job through a professor.

4. Class Choices

Each semester you will have the responsibility of choosing courses to fulfill your graduation requirements. This can be quite fun because there are usually several unique, quirky and interesting options available within general education (a.k.a. core) requirements. As you move through your curriculum, many classes are required and must be taken in sequence: 201 before 202 before 301 etc. Although it seems logical to forge forward on a certain track, there may be other considerations such as the opportunity to take a special class with an awesome professor that begs the opportunity to veer off course. Be flexible! Broaden your horizons.

When you need assistance with scheduling classes or staying on track with your major, talk with your advisor. Advisors know the system and can be very insightful! We want you to graduate on time and working with an advisor will help.

5. Registration and Procrastination

Register early! Classes fill up. Colleges may provide a few days for registration, but don’t procrastinate. Be prepared so when registration opens, you’re ready to grab the classes and the schedule you desire. If you chose getting a Starbucks and hanging out with friends before heading back to your dorm to log in when registration opens, then you are not allowed to grumble when one of the classes you wanted filled up in less time than it took your barista to make your half-skim, half-soy, no foam latte.

Your Senior Survey & Letter of Recommendation

Your high school counselor can be a great ally in assisting you during the college application process. A Letter of Recommendation is one way your counselor can show support. So how does s/he know what to write?

Apart from meeting with you, guidance counselors use your responses to the “ Senior Survey” to understand your goals and strengths. An Assistant Director of Admission at Chapman University said, “High school counselors are our partners. They provide valuable information about our applicants and we trust them to be honest and forthright with us. Their letter is often the most important letter we read in a file.”

Just like your high school counselor provides accurate information to college admissions offices, you should be honest and thoughtful in your responses when filling out the Senior Survey. Stay positive, even when asked about what you did not like or what your weaknesses are. If you’ve faced challenges, talk about them. You can downplay issues to an extent but not to the point you’re skimming over something serious.

You should also know that your high school counselor is quite busy. When writing your Recommendation Letter, it’s not uncommon for a counselor to use quotes from your answers to the survey. That’s why it’s important to make a real effort when providing responses.

Your school may use different questions, but these will get you started.  Remember to put some thought into your answers.

1. What are your plans for next year?

Be specific! Name colleges you are interested in, potential majors, extra-curricular activities you are interested in, graduate school, career ideas…..

2. Which courses at our school have you enjoyed the most and why?

2 – 3 short strong sentences here.

3. Which courses at this school have you enjoyed the least and why?

1 sentence and do not bash the teacher. Simply explain why.

4. Is your high school record an accurate measure of your ability and potential?

If yes, great!

If not, why not? This takes introspection and is worth thinking through and answering intelligently.

5. Have you participated in any summer programs, work or study opportunities that have been of significance importance to you?

3 – 5 sentences.

6. What do you believe are your greatest strengths and your greatest weaknesses? Explain.

Please list one, minor weakness, and don’t go into detail. If you can briefly discuss how you are addressing it, even better.

7. List 5 adjectives that describe you and explain.

Use the personality profile that we did to find these adjectives.

8. What do you plan to study in college and why?

If you haven’t decided on a major, what academic area(s) interest you?

9. What is your favorite thing to do that you don’t think I know about?

10. What has been your most memorable positive experience at this school? Or what accomplishment are you most proud of and why? Please describe.

11. List all extracurricular activities, including sports, clubs and community organizations. Include years of participation.

You can give your counselor a copy of the activities sheet or resume.

12. Is there anything else you think is important for us to know as we develop your Letter of Recommendation?

This is an opportunity to thank them for their support.

*Show your answers to your parents for quality assurance before you submit it to your high school guidance counselor.

The Summer After Senior Year: What’s A Parent to Do? Breathe & Read…

We know this is a busy month with AP testing, graduation, parties, life, etc., so we are hoping this message helps ease some of the stress you may be feeling about your student heading off to college later this summer. 

If your student is still trying to make a final college decision, we are here to help!  Please reach out to us to set up a meeting or a phone call.  We understand this is a big decision, and choosing the right college will not only impact your student’s life, but yours as well.

Most students have already paid the Freshman Enrollment Deposit and completed the housing contract.  The next step is to complete registration for your college’s summer orientation.  Please remember that the date will not be confirmed until your student’s orientation registration is paid in full. Make sure your student has their college e-mail set up and that they are checking it regularly.

College websites should have a full checklist including information on everything from Placement tests, housing needs, and hotel options to exactly what forms are needed for immunizations.

When thinking of packing for freshman year and moving, it is a good idea to have your student coordinate with the new roommate(s) as to how to furnish their new “home.” You only need one microwave, one fridge, possibly an ice-maker (the newest cool dorm accessory) and the right tools in case you are lofting, lifting or assembling bunkbeds, shelves etc. For students who will be traveling from far distances, shipping your items to the college is a great option and waiting to shop locally can help too.  You will receive your college address after room selection and will be able to ship items shortly thereafter. For room ideas and other interesting tips, you and your student should follow us on Instagram @annapcollegeconsulting.

The College Admission Scandal

Bribes and phony credentials versus great college planning advice

  • Parents bribing college officials to get their child admitted to college?
  • Students — knowingly or unknowingly — submitting standardized test scores taken by someone else?
  • Teens faking a learning disability in order to secure extra time on standardized tests?
  • Students (or more likely, their parents) sending a video with the student’s image replacing that of a world-class athlete in an effort to grab coaches’ attention?
  • A college counselor wheeling and dealing with parents, coaches, and university officials and dangling a promise of admission to any family that can pay?

These behaviors are abhorrent and antithetical to the growth of a student transitioning to college.

These behaviors are also very rare.

The vast majority of coaches, admission officers, and test preparation tutors are conscientious, moral, and working in a positive way to achieve fair outcomes. And the vast majority of professionals paid by families to help students and parents through this process are honest and hardworking.

I’m not speaking here of college and career counselors in schools. These folks work diligently with students, helping with college and career decisions. The events in the last week involve a private counselor, and since I am one of them I’m going to focus on that group of professionals.

We are called Independent Educational Consultants (IECs). We belong — or at least the ones you would want to work with belong — to either the Independent Educational Consultants Association (iecaonline.com) or Higher Education Consultants Association (hecaonline.com). We may be members of both organizations. We may also belong to the National Association for College Admission Counselors (nacacnet.org). And if we want to earn a credential, an increasingly popular option, we can become a Certified Educational Planner (aicep.org) after taking a board-certified examination. If we pass the CEP assessment and are granted a CEP credential, we are required to meet stringent recertification standards every five years. That recertification includes visiting colleges and earning continuing education hours. Significantly, if I am a member of any of these organizations, and/or if I am certified, I am required to adhere to very detailed ethical guidelines and standards of practice. In hiring an educational consultant, the vast majority of parents are seeking guidance in finding colleges that “fit” their child’s abilities and aspirations. These parents take (or should take) pains to interview consultants and check out their affiliations, backgrounds, and references.

The “counselor” involved in the recent admission scam belonged to none of these professional organizations, nor did he possess any credential. He likely didn’t take classes in the field or attend a professional training program. And it is evident that professional standards or ethical concerns had no place in his services. The parents who sought him out were never looking for an individual to help them find a great college match for their student but someone who would game the system so their child could attend the “status” school of choice.

I recently published a textbook for IECs, and throughout the book, certain themes emerge. One is that we work to find the right match between student and college. That is, we ask which are the colleges that can help this student thrive? At which colleges will she be pushed and not shoved? Where will she be happy? Where will she learn more about herself, others, and the world?

Another theme is that “fitting in” is just as important as “getting in,” if not more so. As IECs, we try to know the individual teen as a student and as a person. We discuss with both student and parents issues such as cost, size, location, and departmental strengths. Because IECs make regular campus visits and talk with students, faculty members, and admission staff, we are able to identify colleges that match the needs of individual students. By sharing that information with families and encouraging our student clients to take the lead in the process, we work to find the best college matches for every individual.

A point I emphasized in my book is that IECs make absolutely no guarantee of admission. Indeed, I would refuse to serve a family who asked me to game the admission process. My job is to help students define what they want in a college and apply to schools where they can discover and grow and thrive. I want the students I work with to fully “own” their college acceptances. They get into colleges not because of me but because they were active and engaged in their college search and took the time to identify what they — not their parents — really needed and wanted in a school.

What IECs do is open up college options for the student. We understand that there are many good choices for every student. We are familiar with a wide array of colleges with the facilities and faculties to provide a solid stepping stone to a student’s future education or career. What makes us happy is when our students find the right college for them, whether it’s a large competitive university, a small private school, or a local community college.

I’m proud of my colleagues and what we do. I would never have entered this field had I felt I was being paid for influence. I’m proud to be involved in a profession whose annual conferences are filled with sessions on understanding nonverbal learning disabilities, defining critical considerations for STEM students, helping students and parents understand merit and need-based aid, and developing tools to help students of color thrive in college. I’m proud of the growing educational opportunities available to IECs.

I’m proud of the fact that we are seeing students in our offices at all income levels. I’m proud that we are finding great choices for students graduating from well-known high schools and from lesser known schools. I’m proud that almost every IEC accepts pro bono clients. I’m proud of the books published by IECs on topics such as learning disabilities and college transfer. I’m proud of the fact that almost all families can find an affordable consultant.

One of the most pernicious aspects of the recent admission scandal is that it reinforces the beliefs that only certain name schools are worth attending, that the wealthy can buy admission, and that the only way into a “dream” school is by the back door, with mommy and daddy pulling strings and pulling out their wallets.

We need to put the kibosh on college admission myths.

Colleges that are more selective are not necessarily more scholarly. Colleges that cost more are not inherently better. Colleges in the East are no better or no worse than colleges in the West. A high ranking in US News & World Report does not make a college the right place for every student.

It’s true that the better-known colleges are besieged with applications and that the number admitted is low. But it is also true that most colleges admit over 60% of those who apply, and hundreds accept even more.

I often encounter the bogus notion that only the elite colleges are worth the cost. I’ve been visiting colleges every year for over 30 years. I’ve seen more and more colleges in the United States make their way into the so-called “top tier.” The idea that there are only a handful of “good colleges” and that the rest are, by default, “less-than-good” is simply wrong. (I often say that while the number of truly amazing colleges has risen in the last couple of decades, the perception of quality hasn’t changed all that much.)

Instead of just the eight Ivy League colleges and a few others, I believe that there are at least 100 colleges in the top tier, and that is likely a conservative number. At each of these schools, students are getting a superior education. They are meeting interesting kids from all over the world. They are taking advantage of study abroad programs. They are getting a well-rounded undergraduate education. And they are going on to successful graduate schools or success in the world of work.

A list of the undergraduate colleges attended by students recently admitted to Harvard Law School shows elite selective colleges but also schools such as Northern Arizona, Auburn, Holy Cross, Creighton, Howard, Moravian, SUNY College of Environmental Science, and the University of Tennessee. I find that generally it is success in college that counts more than graduation from a big name school.

Every parent wants the best for their child but the “best” varies for every student. Most parents don’t want their children to feel as if they were not good enough to get into college on their own. Most parents recognize the difference between having an Ivy decal on the back window of their vehicle versus finding an enriching and life changing collegiate experience for their son or daughter. Most parents don’t believe that their status in life, earnings, or fame entitles their children to be admitted to an elite college.

Those parents and their children who do buy into the “dream” school concept are only setting themselves up for disappointment. The real dream school is one that provides students with opportunities to grow and develop, to stretch their wings and open themselves up to new concepts, and to learn about themselves and other people and the world itself.


Steven R. Antonoff is an Independent Educational Consultant in Denver. Dr. Antonoff is an instructor in the certificate program in Independent Educational Consulting through the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of A Student of Colleges: Fundamentals of Independent Educational Consulting, intended for professionals and two popular college planning books for students and families: College Match: A Blueprint for Choosing the Best School for You (now in its 14th edition) and The College Finder: Choosing the School That’s Right for You (Fourth Edition). He was dean of admission and financial aid at the University of Denver.