It is officially fall! Kids have gone back to school; college students have moved into their dorms; high school seniors have started working on their college applications. What a busy time of the year for students! As parents, we always tend to focus on the busy times with our kids in mind, but have you ever stopped to think about the life of an Admissions Officer? If you think their busiest time is winter, which marks the application reading season, think again! Fall is another busy time for them as they hit the road to attend college fairs, visit high schools, participate in panels, etc… to be able to meet as many students and parents as possible. Such events are wonderful opportunities not only for families but also for Independent Educational Consultants like me. With the help of such visits, we can learn quite a lot about colleges. A couple of weeks ago, I was that lucky person to attend an Admissions Panel hosted by CollegeWise in Fanwood, New Jersey. I am using the word “lucky” to refer to the fact that the panel was literally in my own backyard!
Colleges in attendance included:
Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey
The George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
This blog post will be a summary and a somewhat synthesis of the insights offered by each panelist representing the aforementioned colleges. Here are the questions and answers from the informative evening…
The panel started off with statements from each college to celebrate what they are most excited about on campus. Let’s take a look:
What are you most excited about on your campus this year?
Boston College is in the process of opening a new institute with an engineering major! Dickinson takes pride in their new initiative that targets a strong advising program, which starts prior to matriculating! Lehigh, on the other hand, announces the opening of a new undergraduate College of Health – not to be confused with medical school or pre-med, which will focus on population health and sociological aspects of health (such as why people are getting sick or coming to the ER). Rutgers is proud to be offering hundreds of student clubs and organizations, which eases the process of getting adjusted to college life especially on a large campus like Rutgers. George Washington is happy to be offering more STEM opportunities with the help of its School of Engineering and research labs. British Columbia takes pride in being ranked #1 in climate change issues in terms of global impact ranking.
What are your admission requirements?
Although Boston College, Lehigh, Rutgers, and British Columbia require the SAT or the ACT, George Washington and Dickinson are test-optional. This means you have the option of not submitting any standardized test scores to those two colleges; however, you must indicate so on the Common Application. If you indicate that you are submitting scores, then you must submit them even if the school you are applying to is test-optional. All of the colleges on the panel agree on the importance of GPA in core subjects, rigor of classes, activity list, essays, and letters of recommendation, with the exception of Rutgers and British Columbia. Rutgers does not accept any recommendation letters, and British Columbia does not require an activity list. What all the colleges seem to be in agreement with is that they do not recalculate the GPA. Regardless of the scale used by each high school, the student’s GPA remains the same on the academic record.
What will some college trends be over the next ten years?
- Shifting to a career-focused mindset to prepare students fully for what follows after college
- Preparing students for jobs that do not even exist, yet
- Encouraging STEM education
- Communication skills
- Setting up a business
- Fostering transferable skills to any job
- Focusing on the future (think self-driving cars)
What is your advice for college-bound high school students?
- Control the things you can and do not worry about the things you cannot control: Mental health crisis has been exasperated by this craziness called college admissions.
Parents! Do not talk to your child about college all the time! Talk about college maybe two nights a week; not every night. This is only one part of life. Do not put too much stress and burden on your children!
Students! Never forget that going to college is a privilege, no matter where you go. It is really not the end of the world if you cannot get into college as a first-year freshman. You have the option to go to Community College and transfer after you receive your Associate’s Degree thanks to Articulation Agreements. Do your research; do your homework. The college admissions process is a beautiful time in your life. This is the only time when you can reflect on what you want to do in life. Take advantage… Enjoy the process… Discover yourself…
- Higher Education is the next bubble (I certainly hope not!): It was housing in 2008. The next one will be higher education, and it is everyone’s fault! Everyone is complicit with the rising college cost! Parents are asking for new dorms, ice cream trucks, and same-day laundry services for their sons and daughters on campus.
Parents! As you are attributing so much meaning to a reputable college education, we [colleges] will keep increasing our prices every year. Each year, we [colleges] will become more selective, which in return will mean more students will want to apply to us [colleges], which will further mean we [colleges] will be rejecting more.
Students! That is why you need to do your college search really well and find the schools that will fit you; not the schools that you will try to fit. You need to determine if college is really worth it. It will probably be the most expensive investment many of you will ever make for yourself…
As the panel concluded at the end of an hour and a half, I could not help but wonder: Is this really everyone’s fault? In a world filled with college admission scandals, I guess it is. We are equally guilty as charged… Parents, educators, counselors, athletic coaches, SAT/ACT prep centers, higher education institutions, and government agencies alike… We are all in this together… At the end of the day, I have a profitable business because of all this. Then, what should we do? I think the one common factor we all have is the student. If we could all do our part in assisting the student to the best of our ability, putting our financial gains behind, the world would be a much better place. Oh, and of course, if parents could let go of The U.S. News and World Report rankings, that would drastically help, too! Let us all promise to not give any more meaning to a college education than it really is! A college education is the best gift you can ever give to your kid, but it does not have to be a brand-name college to be worth it! Can we at least agree on that? I think that would be a good start…
At EdMission Possible, we strive to keep the student in the center of the college admissions process. The Student-Centered College CounselingTM model we employ is the best manifestation of our loyalty to and trust in our students. Call us today at (732)640-5550 to find out how we can help you throughout your college journey. We will get through this together…
Burcak Deniz Cakir
Founder and President | EdMission Possible
Burcak Deniz Cakir has a B.A. in Foreign Language Education, an M.A. in English Language Teaching, and an M.B.A., all of which have laid the solid foundation for her professional experiences as an educator. She completed the College Counseling Program at UCLA, which is known to be the most prestigious certificate program in the profession, in 2019. She has previously taught English as a Foreign/Second Language (EFL/ESL) in Turkey and in the U.S. at Virginia Tech, Harcum College, Rutgers University (Newark and New Brunswick Campuses), and Pace University. Having taught EFL/ESL at the college level for 20 years, Burcak can communicate effectively with college-age students from different countries. She is bilingual in Turkish and English. Her extensive experience with international students from many countries including but not limited to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and China has given her the opportunity to understand their unique problems that domestic students may not be facing throughout the college admissions process, such as but not limited to extra testing requirements (TOEFL, IELTS), the translation of high school transcripts and recommendation letters, different financial forms and statements required, visa issues, being homesick, culture shock, etc. Burcak currently lives in Edison, New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and her four-legged son. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her family, reading (lots!) about college admissions and college essays, watching her favorite movies, getting lost in design magazines, and decorating her house.