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Making The Most Of College Fairs

College FairNow that we’re into March and headed towards more consistently better weather (and who’s not happy about that?), high school juniors should be thinking about going to college fairs to connect with admission counselors.

This is important for a few reasons.

First, demonstrated interest matters and connecting with admission counselors is one way to show how interested you are in a college. Going to college fairs allows you to talk with these counselors one on one.

Secondly, you should be asking a lot of questions about schools, their programs, and policies so that you can really say to yourself why you are interested. This goes beyond a school offering your major or being located in a state or region to which you are drawn.

So do your homework ahead of time to ensure you’re not asking questions that can easily be answered by a visit to the college’s website. Having worked many college fairs in my admissions career, I can tell you that nothing irritates an admission counselor more than questions to which you should already know the answer.

You know what else bugs them? When you let your mom or dad do all the talking while you read your text messages or go skimming through your most recent tweets.

Get off the phone. In fact, turn it off and take advantage of the opportunity in front of you. These admission counselors are real people, the people who will more than likely have a say, if not THE SAY on whether or not you are admitted to their college. They’re not going to bite and they’re not going to be mean. Talk to them, let them get to know you and help them understand how awesome you are.

Fortunately for you, the National College Fairs are coming to a town near you this spring. You can review the full list of dates and locations on the NACAC website. If you have made some progress on your college list, write down the schools who you want to know more about. Then make it a point to visit with them during the fair.

You’ll be glad you did.

If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, contact us today to set up an appointment for a free consultation. If you’re in the local area, check out my our college planning workshops coming up this spring in Simsbury and Cheshire

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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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Why Your Application Needs To Stand Out

Each year the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) puts out a report called, The State Of College Admission. The report is free for NACAC members while non-members can purchase a copy for $25. The report talks about trends in college admission as reported by college admission officers and high school counselors from around the country. One of the statistics from this year’s report that I wanted to share with you today was the average number of applications that each admission counselor reads.

According to the report, the average college admission counselor in 2005 read 359 applications. By 2011 that number had nearly doubled to 662.

Think about that for a second. You are one of nearly several hundred applications that will cross an admission counselor’s desk in a very short period of time. Having reviewed thousands of applications in my old admission days, I can tell you that admission counselors do their best to give each application the time and attention it deserves. But when your application underwhelms or does not tell your story in full color, well, that review and the decision to say “no” can be painfully quick. Admission counselors want to connect with you as an applicant. They want to get excited about you. And they want to say “yes.” But sometimes it becomes very hard for them to do just that simply because you didn’t make the most of your application.

So, instead of putting off your college search to the last minute, start researching schools now and then visit some college campuses this spring. Think about what you might want to say in your personal statement and then record your ideas for when you get down to the writing process over the summer. Think about who you would want a recommendation from and plan on talking to them before the end of the school year. Create an account on the Common App and go through each section to familiarize yourself with how it works and what information is required. This will be great practice for when the new one launches on August 1st. Start a list of your activities, honors and accomplishments – great or small, so that you don’t forget anything when it comes time to completing applications in the fall.

At the end of the day, ask yourself what you want an admission counselor to know about you and why it should matter to them. Then, as you go through the next several months, spend time putting together an application and supporting materials that ensure your application will be one that motivates an admission counselor to say, “YES!”

Have something to say? Use the comment box below or email me at If you think this makes a lot of sense, consider sharing it with someone you know.

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So You Want To Major In The Arts?







Note: I will be conducting a college admissions workshop titled, “A Conversation About College” on November 7th at Sacred Heart Church in Southbury, Connecticut. Please scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more.

Just a quickie today as we prepare to finalize Early Decision and Early Action applications.

For those of you interested in the arts, there will be two events in early November here in the New England area which are designed just for you.

The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) is hosting Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs in Boston on November 1st and in Philadelphia on November 5th.

These fairs are designed for students interested in pursuing majors in the areas of music, dance, theater, visual arts, graphic design, among other related disciplines.

Interested students will learn about educational opportunities, admission and financial aid, portfolio days, audition and entrance requirements, and much more by meeting with representatives from colleges, universities, and conservatories who specialize in the visual and performing arts.

If you’re afraid of turning into the starving artist, conduct some research now to see what you can do with a major in the arts.

Not sure if you even want to major in one of these fields? That’s okay too. Here’s a great article from the New York Times blog, The Choice, about how those of you interested in pursuing a career in music don’t necessarily have to declare it as your major in order to be successful.

Learn More at Dobler College Consulting’s College Admissions Workshop

For parents and students who can make it, I will be conducting a workshop titled, “A Conversation About College” on Wednesday, November 7th from 6:30PM to 8:30PM at Sacred Heart Church, 910 Main Street South in Southbury, Connecticut.

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, what you need to know about making college more affordable and how to stay sane throughout the process.

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

The workshop is free to the public. Want to come but can’t make it? 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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