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Looking For A Good Sale?

With the holiday shopping season in full, chaotic swing, you don’t have to look hard to find a sale. I open my email to find advertisements from one store telling me I can get 40% off one item if I shop before the end of the day while another one tells me that I can use their HOLIDAY code to get 35% off all items. Another one offers a staggering 65% off everything in their store. I guess they felt their offer of %50 off, which was sent to me just two days earlier, didn’t drive enough business their way.

With the federal mandate that colleges and universities publish a net price calculator on their website, students can now find similar sales. The net price calculators are supposed to allow you to enter some information about you and your family’s finances to see what the school will actually cost you. Of course, it’s not as simple as just opening your inbox to see today’s great deals. Some schools have made it quite difficult to find their calculators and others have made the process a little daunting and time consuming by requiring that you enter financial information about your family.

Despite some of these difficulties, at the end of the day, this is a step in the right direction. Being able to see what a school may actually end up costing you is valuable information. A school’s price tag should be one of the most critical factors in how a student develops their college list – understanding how a published tuition price can be reduced only allows your college list to be more realistic. You may find out that a school you originally thought you could not afford is now within reach, after running their net price calculator. In my opinion, it is worth the time to find the calculator and enter some information. Wouldn’t you agree?

Here’s a tip on making the process easier: If you’re having trouble finding a school’s calculator, just Google the school’s name and net price calculator. I did this myself with ten randomly chosen schools and each time the search results produced the school’s calculator without fail.

Have you had any experiences with net price calculators? Use the comment form below to share your story!

Eric Dobler is the president and founder of Dobler College Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.

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Why Should You Go To College?

“If I want to start my own business, why do I even need a degree?”

This was a question posed to me recently and I was glad to see the student in question was really thinking about why he was going to attend college and what he may or may not get out of the experience. I thought it was a great question and while a degree itself may not end up amounting to much in the long run, the overall college experience absolutely can to many things:

1.) Develop Critical Thinking Skills: Any successful business owner will tell you that his or her day is spent solving problems. At any number of institutions, especially liberal arts colleges, one of the expected outcomes of their curriculum is to help you think critically. In other words, you should learn how to think outside the box, become a better problem solver, and be able to successfully navigate your way through issues involving moral dilemmas, diversity and conflicts of interest.

2.) Networking: While you are enrolled in school, one of the best things you can do for yourself is cultivate relationships with other students, faculty and staff. By expanding your network you will have the opportunity to share your ideas, gather support and fine tune what you want to do with your business. You may even identify future business partners or investors. Some schools like Yale even house entrepreneurial programs where students can develop their ideas into tangible businesses.

3.) Have a Back-Up Plan: More business fail than succeed and while you could turn out to be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, the chances of this actually happening are not favorable. By going to college you can immerse yourself in a degree program that, should you need it, can help you put together a back-up plan in the event that your business venture doesn’t pan out.

Ultimately, college can offer so many benefits outside of just earning a degree. In fact, many of the greatest benefits may take place outside of the classroom. The people you will meet, the experiences you will have, the conversations you will take part in – all of these things and more will help you grow into the person you are in the process of becoming.

Have any thoughts, comments or suggestions on branding? Use the comment form below to tell me what you think!

Eric Dobler is the president and founder of Dobler College Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.

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What’s Your Brand?

The other day I was working with a current college freshman who is majoring in business. Our conversation rolled around to courses he should be taking in the spring semester and when I asked him how many business-related courses he had taken prior to entering college, I was both shocked and impressed by his answer: ten!

Now, most students with an interest in business should have a strong background in math – if they’ve taken calculus, that’s even better – and perhaps they’ve taken a course or two in statistics, accounting or economics. The ones who are really vested in their education at an early age and see the business world in their future will have taken all of the above. However, taking ten courses is another thing altogether. That’s building a brand.

What’s a brand you ask? Well, think about what you are interested in; how much do you really know about what it will take to do well in this program and, ultimately, in the profession? If you want to major in nursing, have you taken anatomy and physiology? For engineering, have you taken pre-calculus or calculus? Have you taken a CAD course? For business, have you taken statistics or accounting? If you’re like this student, have you immersed yourself in your interests to the extent that you’ve taken all ten of the courses related to your major at your high school?

If you’ve been taking this approach all along, if you have been preparing yourself for your major, then good for you! If you’ve taken the preparatory courses your high school offers towards your program, then you are in the process of building your brand. If they were AP or honors courses, even better – you could be in line to receive college credit from whichever college or university you attend.

The point here is that you can choose a major blindly and hope that it will be the right fit. You can operate on assumptions and hope that they will lead you to something. You can be ignorant of the course requirements for a program and assume that you will just make it work. However, you can also dedicate time to building your brand by doing several things:

1.) Take courses in your chosen field

2.) Complete a job-shadow with someone who does what you want to do 

3.) Volunteer your time to a cause or organization related to your field 

4.) Find a part-time job that gets you in the door somewhere where you will learn more about your major or your intended field

5.) Do some online research to see where your chosen major might lead you 

If I was still reading applications for an admissions office, I can tell you that this student’s application would have been one that I got excited about because it would have been readily apparent that his interest in business was authentic and informed. I would have seen that he started taking the first relevant courses as a sophomore and that he carried this interest through to senior year – he had consistency. I would have felt really good about how much more prepared he was going to be because of his prior exposure to the coursework, terms, ideas and issues involved in what is a very chaotic and volatile business world right now.

He started as a sophomore and you might be saying to yourself, “well, I’m already in my junior or senior year and it’s too late to build a brand.”

To this I say, “nonsense.” It’s never too late to start getting invested in that which you are passionate about. It’s never too late to start building a brand towards your future. You just have to choose to start…

Have any thoughts, comments or suggestions on branding? Use the comment form below to tell me what you think!

Eric Dobler is the president and founder of Dobler College Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.

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Still Trying to Write That Essay?

If you haven’t applied early and find yourself still trying to wrap up your essay, here are a few tips that might help you finish strong…or at least in one piece!

Tip #1: Tell them what they don’t already know
When I read applications, I always saved the essay for last with the thought in mind, “okay, now what else can I learn about this student before I make a decision?” Don’t tell the reader what they already know about you. Tell them what they should know about you. Respond to the question at hand and let them know why you matter, what kind of a difference you will make, that you can reflect on your life and who you are as a person and that you know how to use that understanding to make progress towards your goals and dreams.

Tip #2: Understand what the question is asking
We’re making basic connections here, just like we try to do in effective communication. Before you start writing, really look at what the question is asking for and prepare yourself to respond appropriately. When you are thinking about your answer, ask yourself repeatedly if you are answering what the question is asking for.

Tip #3: How well you write matters
When your reader is trying to form an opinion of you, you don’t want them distracted from your message simply because your grammar was poor, or because your writing lacked flow or that you simply wrote 500 words without considering proper punctuation. The bottom line: don’t write like you text. Your essay needs to tell a story and it also needs to show your reader that you have strong writing skills.

Tip #4: Easy on the pronouns
If you write, “I this” and “I that” and “I this” and “I that”, it starts to sound like a broken record while becoming painfully apparent that your writing skills leave something to be desired.  Starting off each sentence with a repetitive pronoun is writing with empty language. Be creative and separate your sentences if you have to – what does each one tell you and how does it partner up with sentences that precede it as well as the ones that follow it?

Tip#5: Keep it positive
It’s okay to want to talk about an obstacle or challenge you have faced in your life, but don’t dwell on telling the story of this challenge – talk about what you learned from it, why you are a better person for having gone through it and how you’ve grown it. Nobody is going to learn anything of value from you if you fill your essay with complaints, excuses and self-loathing.

Tip #6: Hear your voice
One thing I have all my students do is read their essay out loud to themselves. Why do this? To see if your voice and your personality are really on that piece of paper. Are you in that essay or does it just sound like it could be anyone else? When you read it yourself and actually hear your words, you are more inclined to identify areas where your writing doesn’t flow well or where you start to stray from your message.

At the end of the day, the essay is just one piece of the process and, according to the 2011 edition of NACAC’s State of College Admission report, it is only the fifth most important thing colleges are looking at after grades in your college preparatory courses, the strength of your curriculum, standardized tests and cumulative GPA. So, get after it and keep it in perspective.

Good luck and please post any comments or questions about your essay below. You can also email me directly at eric@doblercollegeconsulting.com.

 

Eric Dobler is the president and founder of Dobler College Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.

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Bringing College Admissions Advice to Everyone

Google “College Admissions Advice” and you will come up with 4,950,000 results. Now, if you are the parent of a college-bound high school student, I know you don’t have the time, energy or patience to sift through such an endless compilation of opinions, how-to’s, blogs and news updates on the college admissions process. You probably work full-time or more, are raising a family and have other basic interests in your life such as eating dinner and getting some sleep at night. If you are a high school student, this can all get pretty overwhelming rather quickly. However, when nearly 50% of all college students do not graduate from the schools they enrolled in as freshmen, it is critical that students and their parents work their way through this information to find the right fit.

At Dobler College Consulting, my goal is to help you survive this chaotic process we call college admissions by providing affordable, professional advising. I believe that everyone deserves a chance to go to college if that is what is important to him or her. With this in mind, I have developed a series of programs and workshops to provide the support, counseling, and guidance that students and their families need in order to successfully navigate these often troublesome roads.

In this blog, I will cover topics, resources and strategies related to the college admissions process. I hope you will also contact me if you would like to discuss how I might help your son or daughter with the college admissions process.

I invite you to ask questions and offer comments and feedback.

Eric Dobler is the president and founder of Dobler College Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.

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