Campus Visits

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Building A Strong College List

Building A Strong College ListWhile high school seniors are wrapping up supplemental essays and preparing to submit applications, it’s time for the juniors to get their college search underway. And while it’s all well and good to like a college because you’ve been a fan of their basketball team or because one or more of your parents are alums, it makes a whole lot of sense to understand just what it is about a college that makes it a good option for you.

Here’s a few things to pay attention to as you work on building a strong college list:

1. Don’t get hung up on location

Not until you’ve really investigated a college, at least. If you’re willing to be open-minded, sometimes a great school might be just around the corner from what you think is your comfort zone.

2. Be realistic

Especially when it comes to gauging your chances of admission. When you see ranges for GPA and test scores for colleges and yours fall in the lower 25th percentile of who gets admitted, your chances really aren’t that great.

3. Merit scholarships go to the top students

Don’t think a college is going to give you a merit scholarship just because you’ve worked hard. Often, your GPA and test scores BOTH need to be in the top 25th percentile of who gets admitted for you to be considered for merit.

4. Find your WHY

Why you like a college is important. And it should never just be about the college's name.

5. Majors are not created equal

If you’re looking for a major in sports management, you will find it at some schools. You will also find it as a concentration under a business major at some schools. Don’t be so quick to discard a school just because you don’t find something listed exactly how you hoped you would. Also, keep in mind that many students change their majors and, for the ones who don’t, a major doesn’t always dictate what they will do in their lives. So be open-minded!

The bottom line? You have to research and turn over all the rocks to make sure you find what you’re looking for. You have nothing but time right now so put it to good use developing your college list. When you visit college campuses, you will have a more informed idea of who they are and what you need to find out before you submit your applications next fall.

There’s a lot to like about that.

If you would like some assistance with your college search, contact us 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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Demonstrating Your Interest to Colleges – Make it Count

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Franklin & Marshall College

As I visit colleges and talk with admission counselors, it has become rather clear that how much interest an applicant shows in a school really can matter.

Like anything in the college application process, applicants cannot afford to rely on doing the minimum and expect to be considered a strong applicant. Especially at the more selective schools where there are just too many applicants already.

What admission counselors are interested in are students who can do the work and who are likely to enroll. This is called yield and it’s something I talked about in a previous post:

Why Demonstrating Your Interest Matters

This is the aspect of the process that so many families fail to see. As much as an applicant may have worked hard to achieve strong grades and test scores, in the world of selective admissions, they have to be more than just grades and test scores if they are hoping to be competitive. At a certain point, a vast majority of the applicants can do the work but there are only so many seats in the incoming class. So as much as an applicant’s grades and test scores may look great on the surface, it’s also about how the college values other aspects of their profile when they are trying to make decisions.

And that’s where showing your interest in a school can help your chances.

But, there’s a catch.

As I mentioned already, if you want to make the most of this process and really position yourself as a strong candidate for a school that you are truly interested in, then you have to do more than the minimum.

What’s the minimum?

Just attending an information session and tour when a college offers an overnight program complete with an interview and the opportunity to sit in on a class and meet with current students.

Not even visiting a college who is within driving distance when they clearly state on their website that priority consideration for admission and scholarships will be given to students who visit.

An applicant who sends an email to an admission counselor to say how much he or she loves the school and then fails to continue the conversation when the admission counselor replies and asks the applicant a few follow-up questions.

If you really do love a college and you really do see yourself there then you really do need to go the extra mile to make sure the college knows this. Really, you do.

So, fill out the card and email the admissions counselor. Visit campus. Do all of those things. But, do more as well. Instead of just sending an email to say how interested you are, engage in a conversation about your major or a particular aspect of the school that excites you. Ask about meeting with or talking to faculty or current students. See if you can arrange to sit in on a class or spend an overnight on campus so you can attend an event or game. Schedule an interview with admissions – and don’t let distance dissuade you. Many schools will do interviews by phone or Skype knowing that finances can prevent a student from getting to campus. If you can’t get to campus, check to see if the school is running any admissions or alumni receptions in your area and connect with the school through social media.

College is one of life’s great journeys but it requires some hard work along the way. Put your best effort into this process and make the most of all opportunities to connect with colleges and admission counselors. You’ll be glad you did more often than not.

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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Don’t Just Settle For The Basic Campus Tour

Get Beyond The Basic College VisitAs we approach the end of January, it’s time for high school juniors to be thinking about college visits for the spring. Visits usually entail an information session led by an admission officer as well as a tour led by one or more of the college’s tour guides.

The information sessions will typically cover the logistics of how to apply, averages for GPA and test scores, highlights regarding the school’s more popular majors, an honors program, study abroad opportunities and housing. In fact, visit enough colleges and you will see a basic pattern of information.

Tours on the other hand can land anywhere on the spectrum from amazing to boring. When you go on college tours, the tour guides will talk a lot about student life such as how you can get involved, clubs you can join, sporting events you can attend, and their favorite things to do on campus.

It’s the college experience and you should take it all in. But, what about academics?

Information sessions will mention certain majors or will delve into the philosophy behind the college’s core curriculum. Tour guides may talk about a certain professor or a class but how will you know if the academic environment is right for you?

This is where you have to be a little proactive and ask about sitting in on a class.

Not all colleges will allow it – in some cases, space may be limited, an exam is scheduled to be given or the college only offers special classroom visit programs for admitted students in the spring of their senior year such as the University of Connecticut’s “Husky For A Day” program. Either way, it is ALWAYS worth asking the admissions office if it’s a possibility.

Sitting in on a class is a great way to get a feel for what the students are like, how they and professors interact with one another, the technology that’s being used, and the pace and style of classroom instruction not to mention the size of a classroom.

If you are going to ask to sit in on a class, here’s a few tips to help you along:

  1. Call the admissions office several weeks in advance with your request to give them enough time to make the arrangements.
  1. Arrive on time (preferably a few minutes early) and plan on staying for the entire class.
  1. Introduce yourself to the professor so they know who you are and why you are there. Be sure to thank them for allowing you as a guest in their classroom.
  1. Turn off your cell phone or shut the ringer off. Your attention should be on the class, not your phone.

Obviously this is just one way to get a deeper, more intimate look at a college. But it’s one you should absolutely investigate if you have any concerns about the academic environment.

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 Many Colleges You Apply To Matters

Hofstra University

Hofstra University

I often get asked the question, “How many colleges should I apply to?” I’ve heard many arguments for the “right” number of schools and, to be honest, I think it’s all a crapshoot. As every student is different in his or her abilities, profile, priorities, and goals, the right number of colleges for each student is just as subjective.

So what do I tell students when they ask? I tell them to apply to colleges they love and where they feel they will be happy and successful. I tell them to apply to colleges they can afford. I tell them to apply to colleges where they will find everything they are looking for, where they will grow as people and where they will be successful.

Sometimes this means the list of colleges is five, sometimes it’s eight. Sometimes, though not often, it’s many more.

Regardless of your number, here’s a few other things to consider:

Demonstrated Interest matters more now than it ever has.

Colleges are in the business of enrolling students and as the number of applications far exceeds the number of seats in an incoming class, it becomes critical for colleges to identify the students who are most likely to enroll. Visiting, interviewing, emailing and calling admission counselors, sitting in on a class, talking to a coach or faculty member – there are so many ways to demonstrate your interest to a school while you attempt to learn everything you can about it. Apply to too many schools and you may not be able to demonstrate your interest let alone put together quality applications.

Application fees add up quickly.

While some schools will hand out fee waivers for having visited their campus, most schools are charging application fees that can range anywhere from $25 to $80 or more. If you’re already wary of costs, racking up several hundred dollars in application fees is not going to help.

Diversity in a college list is a good thing; just don’t get caught up in the idea of reaches, matches and safeties.

I’ve seen it happen plenty of times – a student applies to a school as a safety despite not having any real interest in the school and then ends up having to enroll there due to lack of options or lack of financial resources. Other students apply to a school as a reach simply because the college is ranked highly on US News or Forbes but have no idea if they can afford the school or if the school is even a good fit for them. Schools should not be on your list simply because you think you will be admitted. Rather a school should be on your list because it fits your needs academically, socially and financially. Some schools will be harder to get into than others, but any school you apply to should be a school you love.

Ultimately, there will always be circumstances outside of your control so make peace with that idea and control what you can: which colleges you apply to and how sincere and genuine your interest is. You may not get in everywhere you apply, but if you conduct your college search the right way, you will get into and enroll at a college you love.

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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Things To Pay Attention To In Your College Search

As juniors are starting their college research and considering where they might apply next year, here are some questions they should be keeping in mind:

Are you familiar with your high school’s profile?

Your high school’s profile contains information regarding course leveling, ranking policy, grading, weighting (or not) for grades and averages for standardized test scores. The profile is important because it shows an admission counselor not only WHAT is offered at your high school but HOW well you have maximized the curriculum.

Does a college know that you’re interested?

It won’t matter everywhere (think Ivy League schools for instance), but a lot of colleges are tracking just how much you interact with them before you apply. In order to make sure your application isn’t the first time a college hears from you, here’ a few ideas on how to best demonstrate your interest:

  • Visit campus and attend an information session
  • Email or call the admission counselor for your high school with any questions
  • Connect with the college through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram
  • Talk to admission counselors at college fairs
  • Complete an interview if the college offers one

Do you know why you’re interested in the college?

One of the challenges I see seniors struggling with is the “Why Us” essays that a lot of the most selective colleges are asking applicants to complete. You can help yourself out now by identifying what it is about the school that gets you excited. Internships, interesting courses, amazing professors in your major, unique learning opportunities, exciting activities and sports, a new facility in your program – whatever it is, make a note of it so you can talk about it later.

How can you stand out?

Most colleges allow students to submit supplemental information whether it’s an art supplement, a graded paper, a writing portfolio, a science project or a resume.  These opportunities allow students to demonstrate their unique talents and interests to help them stand out in the application process. With nothing but time ahead of you, take stock of what you do in your spare time, how you can demonstrate it, and consider how it may affect your applications. Even as a pre-med student, your talent in drawing or painting may be of interest to colleges.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make the most of your college search. Start now so you can take your time researching and visiting colleges and, of course, doing awesome in school. Above all else, colleges want to see that you’ve done very well in the most challenging courses available to you. Without strong grades, not a whole lot else matters.

If you would like some assistance with your college search, we can talk by phone, email or Skype.

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


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