College Rankings

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How To Survive The College Application Process

Dobler College ConsultingWhenever I meet with new families, the one thing I try to reassure them about is that they can and will survive the college application process. They don’t always believe me at first but as I work with their son or daughter and the pieces begin falling in place, the doubts start to melt away and a funny thing happens. They actually start enjoying the process.

And you should enjoy this process. You won’t enjoy all of it, but the college search and application process can be a lot of fun if you do your homework, stay organized and remember that your son or daughter will get accepted to a college somewhere.

Having said that, here are several suggestions to help you along the way:

1. Utilize ALL Available Resources

Start with the college’s website and learn everything you can about admission requirements, application dates, costs and special attributes. Then check out reviews on sites like Unigo and College Prowler. If the college is visiting your school or attending a local college fair, go and meet them so you can ask questions and potentially meet the person who may be reviewing your application. If your high school hosts a financial aid night, you should be there. Turn over every rock!

2. Make The Most Of Your High School Courses

How well a student has done academically is the single most important factor in gaining admission. Studies done by NACAC have supported it year after year. Students need to max out their coursework in high school by taking the most challenging course load they can handle and then doing well in those classes.

3. Know What You Want

Choose a school because you like it, not because your friend likes it or because your Uncle Harry thinks you should go there. Understanding your VIPS and defining what you are looking for is critical to identifying the right schools for you. Once you know more about what you want and what schools look for in their applicants, you should be able to develop a list that meets your priorities, gives you a great chance of being admitted and also receiving some money.

4. Look Beyond The Price Tag

Don’t assume a school is out of reach, financially, until you have used their net price calculator and thoroughly reviewed how much they discount tuition. The average tuition discount at private schools is now just over 50%.

5. Make Your Essay Shine

Your essay is your chance to get beyond mere grades and test scores and put YOU and why you matter into the admissions equation. Be willing to devote the time and effort that is necessary – writing is a process.

6. Pay Attention To Details

Double check everything on your application to ensure you answered all the questions thoroughly and have accurately reflected YOU on the application. Also meet all deadlines. In fact, be early just in case you do miss something. There is nothing fun about running up against the midnight deadline to submit your application and then losing power to a freak storm.

7. Manage Your Time Well

That last point in #6 is so important I’m going to mention it again. Plan ahead and get things done EARLY. This is critical to your application and all the supporting materials especially in how you manage your time with your essay and securing your recommendations.

8. Get Them On Your Side

Don’t be afraid to contact the admissions counselor for your area for information or for an interview if you really want to go to a school but are worried about your chances. I’ve honored requests for interviews time and time again because the student wanted to talk about their interest and what he or she could do to improve their chances of gaining admission. In fact, some schools track how many times you contact them and show interest in their school. In some cases, it may affect the outcome of your application.

Want some help navigating the college admissions journey? Give me a call today at 203.525.4096 or email me at 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, 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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The U.S. News Rankings Are Here Again

Dobler College ConsultingNote: I will be conducting a college admissions workshop titled, “Navigating The College Admissions Journey” in several towns this fall. Please scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more.
This week the US News put out its Best Colleges for 2013. Every college counselor in the country, private or not, is aware of the new rankings – just go on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and you will find scores of conversations discussing the lists, their lack of validity and the utter damnation of the US News. So, while I won’t jump in the pool and go into a long, drawn out rant about the rankings, I will toe the water and offer a simple perspective.
If you want to spend your time obsessing over schools in the top 25, go for it. If you want to approach your college applications as if this was a popularity contest, be my guest. If it’s more important for you to attend a school that has a name which you think will open doors for you in life, then you just keep marching to the beat of your drum. In fact, while you’re at it, go ahead and become a regular reader over at College Confidential. Folks over there LOVE rankings, lists and name-dropping.But, if you would rather conduct your college application process with intention, if you would like to apply to schools that will offer you what you are looking for, if you want to work your way through this process paying attention to the things that truly matter to you and not some random statistics that have no personal connection to you whatsoever, then read on my friend.Because it’s not the name of the school that’s going to provide you with a happy and successful life.Rather, it’s what you put into your college experience that gets you there. Really get deep into the material you are learning so that you not only do well on tests, but so that you become truly awesome at what you want to do. Network with your professors so that they can introduce you to people and opportunities in your field – because your degree doesn’t win you a job, your experiences and contacts do. Join clubs and organizations that matter to you and learn what it takes to balance a budget and lead others. Make friends with people from around the country and around the world so that you better understand how culture, geography and prejudice shape our perspectives in life. Intern, intern and intern some more. And most of all, fail at something.If you haven’t failed at something while you are in college, you haven’t tried hard enough.I know, I know. This will take work and effort on your part. It means you will have to get out of your comfort zone. You will have to take some risks. You will have to say, “hello” first. You will have to ask for help.

But these are all good things because it means you are growing up, maturing, and realizing the awesome person you are in the process of becoming. This is what you should be doing at college, whether the school is ranked #1 or #4,000.

If you have any questions about college rankings or how to make the most of your college experience, please use the comment box below. You can also email me directly at – I would love to hear from you!

Learn More at Dobler College Consulting’s College Admissions Workshops

For parents who can make it, I will be holding a workshop titled, “Navigating The College Admissions Journey” on the following dates through each towns’ Adult & Continuing Education Program:

Sept 27: Newtown 6:30-8:30PM  
Oct 1: Wolcott 7-9PM
Oct 10: Cheshire 7-9PM
Oct 16: Meriden 6-8PM
Oct 23: Wallingford 6-8PM
Nov 5: North Haven 6-8PM

The workshop shares strategies to help your son or daughter navigate the college admissions process while eliminating mistakes that tend to reduce their chances of admission. Topics include college lists, online resources, essays, interviews, campus visits and what you need to know about making college more affordable.

All workshop participants will receive informational handouts and will be eligible for discounts off college counseling services.

To register for a class, contact the Adult Education Office for the town you reside in. Don’t live in one of these towns? You can easily get in touch with me to set up a free 60-minute consultation to help address your pressing college admissions-related questions and issues.

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