Experiential Learning

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Putting Your Summer to Good Use

Putting Your Summer to Good UseRecently at my house, questions like, “Where are we going on vacation this year?” and, “Is there anything new we want to try with the boys over the summer?” have taken over our dinnertime conversations. Luckily, we have already answered both questions when we scheduled a trip to take our two boys, Brady (7) and Kasen (3), to Disney in late August.

This is new for us because typically we spend our summers traveling back and forth to the beach in Rhode Island. But this year, we wanted to do something different. So, Disney, here we come!

Now, for many of you who are looking ahead to college applications, the questions are the same. What are you going to do this summer? How are you going to spend your time? Is there anything new or different that you’d like to try?

My advice to you, as it is with all of my students, is to first make sure that you have some fun over the summer. You all work way too hard during the school year not to. Whether it’s going to the beach, camping out, or hitting every amusement park you can, go have fun.

Then, and only then, should you start thinking about how to best use your summer in preparation for college. Many admissions counselors love to see students who have invested their time in activities which support their interest in a major or subject area of interest so the key with this idea is that you should try to identify enrichment opportunities that do just that.

Experiences don’t have to be extreme – local opportunities can be found and expenses can, and should be, limited. Here are a few ideas:

Get a Summer Job: Whether it is a job you have held previously, a job you’ve wanted to have or an entrepreneurial adventure such as lawn mowing, landscaping, house sitting, etc., a job can earn you extra money and valuable skills such as time management, leadership, communication and commitment.

Take a Summer Class: Whether it’s a high school class, a community college course, or something offered by a local four year university, admissions counselors love to see students pursue their academic interests to the fullest.

Volunteer: Volunteering for a cause that matters to you can be a great way to use your time and show a college how you have made a difference in your community. Investigate your town’s historical society, reach out to a local animal shelter or food pantry and check out local foundations registered as museums or historical sites – see if there are projects ongoing that you might be able to help with.

Shadow: While you might think you’re interested in becoming an engineer, a stockbroker, a veterinarian or a teacher, do you really understand what it takes to not only get into each field, but to be someone who does it well? Spend some time shadowing local professionals who do what you want to do and learn everything you can.

If you would like some assistance with your college search or financial aid process, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.

Here’s what other families like yours are saying about how Dobler College Consulting made a difference for them.

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How to Make the Most of Your Summer


Chemistry Lab at Susquehanna University

As we near the end of the school year, one question that often comes up is how high school students can best use their summer in preparation for the college application process. And while the answers can vary based on what grade the student is in and what his or her particular interests are, one option I like to advocate for with rising high school seniors is career exploration.

Maybe it comes in the form of a job or an internship. Maybe you don’t necessarily need the paycheck, and you can secure a long-term volunteer experience or multiple job shadows. Either way, I love the idea of students starting to explore where their interests and skills may lead them.

You’re good with numbers but you have no idea what it would be like to be an accountant or an actuary. Maybe you don’t even know what an actuary does.

You’ve thought about physical therapy and athletic training but you really don’t know the difference between the two.

Perhaps, as a young child, you were always building things with your LEGOs but you’re not sure if that interest would translate into a career as a mechanical engineer, a civil engineer or a construction manager.

Maybe you’ve had a lot of ideas about what you might do with your life but you’ve never taken the time to tell anyone, let alone spend some time researching them for yourself.

If any of this sounds familiar, then your upcoming summer is a great way to get to work figuring out just who you are going to be and why it’s going to matter.

How do you get started? First, start talking to your parents, friends, a favorite teacher, or your school counselor about what you’re interested in. Talk to them about some of these ideas you’ve had and that you’d like to explore them further. Find out who they know who might do something similar to what you’re describing. Then, ask to be introduced to this person even if it’s just over the phone. When you do connect with this person, be prepared to talk about what you’re interested in and that you would appreciate learning more about what they do, how they got around to doing it and what they would recommend to a young, interested person like you.

This is called an informational interview. Essentially, you are interviewing the person and trying to learn as much as you can. Once you’ve done that, asking about a job shadow or how you can get involved or learn more is an easy next step. And while they may not have room to hire you, if you can volunteer some hours or shadow a couple times, you may just find out a whole lot more about just how interested you are in this particular field.

And that’s what career exploration is all about – seeking out information, contacts and experience to help inform your opinion about what you want to do with college and your life.

If you would like some assistance with your college search, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.

Here’s what other families like yours are saying about how Dobler College Consulting made a difference for them.

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Why You Don’t Need To Go To A Brand Name College

Why You Don’t Need To Go To A Brand Name CollegeA couple days ago, Lynn O’Shaughnessy of The College Solution wrote a piece about the gap between what employers are saying about college graduates being ready for the workplace and what college administrators are saying. It’s an interesting read and you can check it out here.

While I’m not surprised to see such an incredible gap between what the two sides are saying, what I wanted to talk more about was what Lynn exposes towards the end of her post. Namely, the fact that employers just don’t care where your degree comes from.

That’s right. They don’t care. What they do care about, according to the survey, are two things:

Knowledge and applied skills in the student’s chosen field.

So, instead of going into excessive debt to pay for a brand name, go out and look for schools who fit you financially, academically and socially. Consider majors that align with your values, interests, personality-style and skills. Then make a commitment to yourself to learn as much as you can about your intended field while interning several times before you graduate.

Do that and it sounds like a lot of employers will value you and there’s a lot to like about that.

If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, contact me today to set up an appointment for a free consultation. 

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Four Ways To Explore Careers

Four Ways To Explore CareersConsidering I went to college with no idea of what I wanted to do, I spend a lot of time talking with my students about how they will make the most of college. I don’t expect them to have their life’s plan mapped out and ready to be laminated, but I do expect that they are ready to talk about their VIPS and how they can help direct them toward a major and, ultimately, a career path.

However, talking about career ideas will only get you so far.

So, here’s a few ideas on how you can get past talking and actually get into trying on mode:

Informational Interviews

Let’s say you’ve been thinking about being a lawyer but you don’t know what kind of law you would like to practice. Well, there’s no shortage of lawyers in any town or city so start calling up law firms and ask if any of the lawyers would be interested in being interviewed about what they do. Go in with a lot of great questions and you can learn a lot very quickly.

Job Shadows

While an informational interview can help you gather information, a job shadow is a great way to try on a profession for a day or two. Staying with the lawyer example, reach out to your family and friends (otherwise known as networking) to see if they know any lawyers. Then, ask for an introduction where you can ask about shadowing for a day or two to learn more about what they do.


If the job shadow goes well and you find yourself even more interested in being a lawyer than you did before you started exploring, volunteering some of your time now to help out around the office can be a great way to learn more and, ultimately, earn an internship, or part-time job later on. As a volunteer the tasks will be small, but the overall experience, interaction and networking can be incredibly valuable.

Summer Programs on College Campuses

They don’t come cheap, but some colleges host summer programs for high school students to explore career paths more in-depth. For aspiring lawyers, the Penn Pre-Law Summer Program lasts for an entire month and includes tuition, housing, meals, materials and weekend trips. A program like this should only be pursued if the previous three options have been exhausted.

Want some help navigating the college admissions journey? Give me a call now at 203.525.4096 or email me at eric@doblercollegeconsulting.com to schedule a FREE 60-minute consultation to discuss your college counseling needs.

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College Admissions Is Not A Popularity Contest

Definition of collegeLast week Allen Grove, the college admissions writer for About.com, listed the ten colleges whose profiles received the most reader interest during 2012. I happen to really like what Allen does with his college admissions writing. I feel a lot of it is very informative and easy to digest, but I bring this piece to your attention for the simple fact that college admissions is not a popularity contest.

Here’s the list of the top ten colleges which received the most reader interest:

  1. Harvard University
  2. UCLA
  3. UC Berkeley
  4. Cornell University
  5. UNC Chapel Hill
  6. University of Michigan
  7. New York University
  8. Stanford University
  9. Brown University
  10. Columbia University

It’s obvious these are some of the most elite schools in the country and there’s no wonder they are in the top ten. However, what you also need to recognize is that the average admission rate for these schools is 20% with Harvard being the most selective of the group at 6% and Michigan being the least selective at 41%.

Think about that. Columbia, Harvard Brown, and Stanford all reject 90% or more of their applicants. UC Berkeley and Cornell reject 80% or more. UCLA, rejects 75% while UNC Chapel Hill and New York University come in at 70%. Not only are these schools the most popular (at least in this context) but they are also the most exclusive.

While some people would have you believe that you need to attend one of these schools to have a great college experience, you can have a great experience at just about any college. You just need to be willing to make the most of the opportunities available to you.

This is true wherever you go.

Admission to a school is not the prize. If you get in and then spend four years doing nothing but going to class, it will have been for nothing. You need to invest yourself in the classroom. Network with faculty and other students. Get involved in clubs, organizations and other extracurricular activities that have meaning for you. Gain professional experience by interning or working on a co-op. It’s about creating the life you want to have and surrounding yourself with people and experiences that make you better.

This can happen at one of these schools, but it can also happen at a liberal arts college, a state university or even your local community college. Wherever it happens, it happens because of you, not because of the name of the school.

If you would like some assistance with your college search, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.

Here’s what other families like yours are saying about how Dobler College Consulting made a difference for them.

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