College Rankings

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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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Narrowing Down Your College List

Ohio UniversityA couple weeks ago I was touring several colleges in Ohio with a group of high school counselors and college consultants like myself. We traveled from Cleveland to Columbus visiting John Carroll, Kent State, Ohio State, Otterbein, Ohio University, Marietta and Baldwin Wallace. I also took a quick side trip to Case Western Reserve before flying home.

Ohio has some amazing schools and while most students here in New England focus on the East Coast, there are some incredible values just several hours away in the Buckeye State. Seeing them up close and personal allows me to advise and challenge my students with a more informed and personal opinion.

While I was on the trip, I was talking with some of the other counselors about college lists and how students conduct their research (or don’t) to narrow down their list to the schools which fit them well. In my opinion, a college should fit you three ways: academically, socially and financially.  While there is no one perfect fit, striving to find this balance in your colleges helps ensure a student’s experience will be one that helps them develop as both a student and person without having to graduate with excessive student loan debt. There’s a lot of reasons why only half of students graduate in four years if they graduate at all. There’s just as many reasons why the average student graduates with nearly $30,000 in student loan debt.

One of the common denominators for both is lack of research.

Each counselor I talked to agreed that the process is tedious, but so necessary and that students need to do a better job with it. And when you consider the amount of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears that will go into applications, essays, supplements, interviews, auditions, portfolios, showcases, SAT, ACT and AP tests not to mention just doing well in your classes, why wouldn’t you make sure that the schools you apply to are good fits for you?

Why wouldn’t you make sure that each school is one that gets you excited? Where your major is strong and where the support you may need along the way is available? Where faculty help students gain experience in their field so that when they graduate, they have value to offer a business, organization or facility who’s looking to hire? Where the cost is something you and your parents can handle without having to lose sleep at night?

If you’re not doing these things, then you’re doing something wrong. The Common App will launch on August 1st and, with it, the frenzy of the college application season will be underway.

Wouldn’t you like to hit senior year and your college applications feeling confident about your options?

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 want to hear more about any of the schools on my travels, I’d be happy to talk to you about them as well.

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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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