Making The Most Of College

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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 Should Be Considering Liberal Arts Colleges

College admissions

Dickinson College

Several weeks ago I wrote a piece on the benefits of liberal arts colleges where I talked about a few aspects that help these colleges stand out as great places for undergraduate students. If you missed it, here it is:

The Benefits of Applying to Liberal Arts Colleges

Over the past couple weeks I have visited several colleges in Pennsylvania that fit this model: small populations, no graduate students and a focus on combining the liberal arts with pre-professional studies. In other words, these colleges are trying to teach students how to think about what they are learning from multiple perspectives. They are preparing them for a rapidly changing world where life is more of a zig-zag than it is a straight line.

Today, I want to share some examples of what students at these colleges are doing that I feel demonstrates the value of what these colleges have to offer.

At Muhlenberg College I had the pleasure of hearing from a couple students who were really doing some outstanding things in preparation for their future careers. A finance and economics double major had interned at the United Nations through the advice and mentorship of one of his professors from the international studies department and will be interning at Price Waterhouse Cooper’s this coming summer. Another student who chose Muhlenberg over Brandeis University and Boston College due to the focus on undergraduate students and more accessible faculty had interned at Covidien after his first year when most of the other interns were juniors in college.

At Franklin & Marshall College I met a student who was double majoring in economics and international studies. After her first year, she was able to work on a research project where she was analyzing economic development in emerging regions in other countries. She’s planning on studying abroad next year to get more involved in this research.

At Dickinson College art history majors are required to curate their own shows. It’s a standard they are held to so that they can demonstrate everything they’ve learned. As a result, Sotheby’s recruits on campus.

At Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, students are being encouraged to begin research in their first year with nearly 30 students in the biology department having been published in the last decade. One student I met, a rising senior pre-med major, had already completed three separate research projects related to her interests in cognitive development and was going to be spending her summer on campus in a research lab for a fourth time.

While these are just a few examples of what students are doing, I feel they represent some of the tremendous benefits at liberal arts colleges. There’s been a long-standing criticism of liberal arts colleges saying they are too focused on languages, the “soft sciences” and the arts – areas which are perceived as less desirable for employment than the traditional areas of business, engineering, nursing and accounting. Personally, I think the criticism is uninformed nonsense. The students I met at these colleges were working hard, they were having life-changing experiences, they were learning how to attack problems from multiple perspectives to produce outcomes that positively affect different people and, most importantly, they were growing and developing as learners and as people.

I’m not sure what’s not to like about that.

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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How A Diverse Campus Makes A Difference

college admissions, college, Dobler College ConsultingThis fall, I’m doing something different with my blog to spice it up a bit. I’ve invited several admission counselors from around the country to contribute posts about topics they feel high school students and their families should be paying more attention to as they go through the college search and application process. As much as I like to share tips and advice, why not get it straight from the horse’s mouth? 

Today’s post is the first in this series and it’s by Seth Babson Warner, an admissions counselor from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana:


Growing up in a homogeneous, Connecticut suburb, I didn’t understand why colleges touted their diversity. What makes that important? I hadn’t experienced much, and didn’t know what I was missing.

But at some level, I knew it was a good thing. During my third week of college, my soon-to-be best friend and I were discussing admissions. I said that “getting in” should be about scores and grades alone. He pointed out that this would mean a much less diverse student body. “So what?” I asked.

“Would you prefer a class entirely of white, upper-middle class kids with a 700 on their SAT Math, or a diverse class that averaged 690?”

He had me there. At least at some level, to some degree, I already knew that diversity added meaning to the college experience. I just didn’t know how.

Diversity works in two ways to make an experience meaningful. First, there needs to be a discussion. It’s hard enough to get people of different races, classes, and sexualities in the same room. But deliberately engaging those differences can be even tougher. Conflicting perspectives often ask one side or the other to make a sacrifice, which means students must challenge themselves to negotiate.

This brings us to the second step: resolution. You can’t gain from other perspectives if you just disagree and walk away. Even if you don’t see eye-to-eye, it’s necessary to acknowledge others’ perspectives, and incorporate them into your understanding of the world. That’s where diversity changes lives. You become wiser because you better understand others—an invaluable skill whether you’re a CEO, a baseball coach, or in the case of one Earlham student, a magazine publisher.

So, what should prospective students look for? As we mentioned, it’s not enough to have different types of people. You need to have the discussion, too.

I always advise students to find a school that is diverse and cohesive. It’s easy to be one of those two: cohesive because everyone’s alike, or diverse yet divided. Doing both is much harder, but a school that manages it is one where a big, meaningful learning experience is possible.

That was a large reason I chose to work at Earlham College and why many of our students come here. No school is perfect, of course, but Earlham does a good job with diversity and cohesiveness.

On one hand, U.S. News and World Report ranks us 5th for the largest percentage of international students in the country, and one-fifth of our students are non-white Americans. And in recent months, at least one publication ranked Earlham 13th nationally for the percentage of students who study abroad, fulfilling a mission of the College for our students to learn about the world experientially.

On the other, our Quaker roots encourage us to see the “teacher within” one another and to address and build consensus on “touchy” issues as much as possible.

In your college search, all the basic rules apply. Visit campus, take advantage of an overnight, and talk to current students when you can. But think about diversity. Depending on where you’re from, it might not be something you consider, but diversity can change and bring remarkable meaning to your college experience.

Seth Babson Warner is an admissions counselor at Earlham College, a member of Colleges That Change Lives. He is a Connecticut native who loves numbers and Mets baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @SW_ECAdmissions.

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 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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College Is About What You Put Into It

It's About What You Put Into CollegeRecently, I did a consultation with a family who had three boys. The oldest is a high school freshman and the youngest is in 7th grade. We had a great conversation about the college process, between talking about how to make the most of their four years in high school to helping them see how well they were doing already at such young ages.

Towards the end of the conversation, the boys’ mother said something that really struck me. As she looked at the two older ones with eyes that only a mom can produce, she said she wanted to make sure they did well because at some point they may have to support a family of their own and that these days, trying to do so wasn’t easy.

With two young boys of my own, I completely understood where she was coming from.

I let the statement sink in for a minute and then tried to reassure them all that they were already doing very well. Their grades were strong and their work ethic was obvious. The boys were asking great questions and seemed very interested in where their futures were going to take them and not once did it feel that the parents were pressuring them in any way. It was so refreshing to see this and I wish I saw it more often.

I told her there was a lot to like about what I was seeing and I encouraged the boys to keep exploring, to keep asking questions and to just spend time doing things they enjoyed. If they worked hard and spent time doing tapping into their VIPS, good things would happen down the road.

And that’s what all of this is about. It’s about making good informed decisions so that you can live a happy and successful life and taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Individually, we all have to decide what makes us happy and how we define success. What is important to one person isn’t necessarily important to another just like how going to one college isn’t necessarily any better than going to another one. Opportunity can and will present itself in many forms and, you know what? There is opportunity everywhere, not just at an Ivy League school. So, no matter where you go to college, remember that it’s about investing yourself in the experience and making the most of this time to launch yourself into your life.

It’s so much more about what you put into college than what the college puts into you and I fully believe these three boys will find success and happiness because they already get this concept.

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. If you’re in the local area, check out my FREE college planning workshops coming up this spring in Cheshire and Southbury. 

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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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