213: Self-Directed Learning (Why You Can Quit HS & Be Okay)

This is the second of two episodes on homeschooling and self-directed learning. My guest is writer, speaker, and fellow podcaster Blake Boles, whose work invites students and families to re-evaluate the traditional schooling model--are the typical high school and college experiences really the best ways to spend your time?

211: Financial Aid Tips for International Students (and Their Counselors)

This is the last episode in a three-part series on paying for college. My guest is Joan Liu, a college counselor who has a giant heart to go with her giant brain. In this episode she draws on her years of experience helping international students who need financial aid in order to attend college in the US.

209: Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream

testing anxiety

SHOW NOTES

Friends, I enjoyed doing the first series on access and equity so much that I thought, why not do another? This episode is the first of three that focuses on paying for college. My guest for this first episode is Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology at Temple University, author of Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream. On this episode we discuss:

  • Why has paying for college become such a problem? 

  • Which students are most impacted by needs insecurity and why don’t students tell their stories of struggle?

  • How is the current financial aid system broken, and what are some solutions?

  • How can students avoid getting into debt without getting a degree?

  • Advice for students currently applying

  • A really specific way that you, dear listener, can make a difference.

Sara Goldrick-Rab is Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology at Temple University, and Founder of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice in Philadelphia, as well as the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.

Dr. Goldrick-Rab’s commitment to scholar-activism is evidenced by her broad profile of research and writing dissecting the intended and unintended consequences of the college-for-all movement in the United States. In more than a dozen experimental, longitudinal, and mixed-methods studies, she has examined the efficacy and distributional implications of financial aid policies, welfare reform, transfer practices, and a range of interventions aimed at increasing college attainment among marginalized populations. Dr. Goldrick-Rab is best known for her innovative research on food and housing insecurity in higher education, having led the four largest national studies on the subject, and for her work on making public higher education free.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

[1:30] Who is Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab?
[2:30] What’s the premise of Dr. Goldrick-Rab’s book, Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream
[4:10] Why has paying for college become such a problem?
[5:55] What is #realcollege?
[7:26] Why don’t students tell their stories of struggle? 
[8:06] How did these students’ stories lead Sara to begin her work?
[10:08] Which students are most impacted by needs insecurity?
[11:55] How is the current financial aid system broken, and what are some solutions? 
[14:58] A message to those who feel like there’s no hope...
[17:45] How do students avoid getting into debt without getting a degree?
[20:02] What’s some advice for students who are currently applying?
[22:06] Advice for counselors helping students apply
[24:20] What’s one specific, practical thing each of us can do to make a difference?

Relevant LINKS:

208: Resources for First-Generation Students (and Their Counselors)

testing anxiety

SHOW NOTES

Did you know that every year 500,000 academically qualified, lower-income students who should go on to college… don’t? That’s the problem an organization called Strive for College is working to solve. On this episode, which is part 3 of 3 in my series on access and equity, I sit down with their Chief Strategy Officer, Matt Rubinoff, who for years has been advocating for first-generation and low-income students and we discuss, among other things:

  • What’s so special about being first anyway?

  • Why first-gen students should take a “What’s in it for me?” approach

  • Resources for first-gen students and their counselors, including (one of my all-time favorites) the “I’m First! Guide to College,” which highlights resources and opportunities available to first-gen students at hundreds of colleges and universities

  • Questions first-gen students should ask when researching colleges

  • The importance of not just getting to college, but getting through it

  • How first-gen and low-income students can receive not only free mentoring but also free test prep!

PLAY-BY-PLAY

[1:40] Who is Matt Rubinoff?
[3:16] What the problem is Strive for College trying to solve?
[5:21] What’s so special about being first anyway?
[6:44] Why should first-gen students take a “What’s in it for me?” approach?
[8:16] The (amazing) “I’m First Guide to College”
[12:13] Resources for First-Gen Students
[13:33] How to get free mentoring (if you’re a first-gen student)
[15:28] How to become a mentor (if you’re a counselor)
[17:00] Questions first-gen students should ask when researching colleges
[19:57] What does Matt want first gen student to know?

Relevant LINKS:

207: 17 Things to Do Before Going to College

testing anxiety

Download a PDF of The Roommate Contract

SHOW NOTES

Harlan Cohen is a New York Times bestselling author, nationally syndicated advice columnist, and speaker who has visited over 500 high school and college campuses.  He is the author of six books including, The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into In College, The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only, and Dad’s Expecting Too!  

Harlan is a frequent guest on television and radio programs.  He is the founder of Best First Year, an online college readiness and success program for high school and college students. You can find him on social media @HarlanCohen and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HelpMeHarlan and you can watch his TEDx talk at www.HarlanCohen.com/TEDx

On this podcast Harlan offers so much great advice from:

  • A simple exercise to help set you up for a great freshman year

  • How to find your people on campus

  • Whether or not you should break up with your high school sweetheart (what Harlan says might surprise you)

  • Three great questions to put on your contract with your roommate

  • On-campus resources that he (and I!) wish we’d known more about when we were in college

  • Harlan’s “three-box” strategy for packing

PLAY-BY-PLAY

[0:35] Who is Harlan Cohen?
[2:08] How does Harlan get the inside scoop on college-going folks?
[4:16] Tip #1 Identify what you want
[5:57] Tip #2 Tell the story of your first year (as if it’s already happened)
[9:19] Tip #3 Pick 3 clubs or organizations that speak to you
[11:04] Tip #4 Find your 5 friends in your corner
[14:06] Tip #5 Don’t break up with your high school sweetheart!
[15:47] Tip #6 Break up with your high school sweetheart!
[17:45] Tip #7 Take advantage of welcome week
[20:58] Tip #8 Read the campus newspaper
[22:22] Tip #9 Am I the roommate from Hell?
[26:25] Tip #10 Don’t be mean to those we’ll miss the most
[28:14] Tip #11 Check out the school’s free services
[30:47] Tip #12 Look for more money!
[34:45] Tip #13 Make rules for going out
[38:57] Tip #14 Get a box of medicine
[40:06] Tip #15 Have a scary *honest* conversation with your parents
[42:50] Tip #16 The three box strategy
[43:53] Tip #17 Plan to be an imperfectionist
[45:40] The Universal Rejection Truth
[46:50] The Best First Year

Relevant LINKS:

206: 30 Ways to Center Equity And Justice Today

For this episode, which is Part 2 of 3 on my series on access and equity, I interview Marie Bigham of ACCEPT. Marie and I jam on 30 practical ways that you can increase your participation in equity and justice in the world of college admissions and beyond. Whether you’re a parent, student, counselor, or admissions rep, you’ll find something for you.

Here are the practical guides that this podcast inspired:

Download a PDF resource of the 30 ways to share with your colleagues, friends, and family.

30 Ways to Center Justice and Equity Blog Post

SHOW NOTES

For this episode, which is Part 2 of 3 on my series on access and equity, I interview Marie Bigham of ACCEPT. Marie and I jam on 30 practical ways that you can increase your participation in equity and justice in the world of college admissions and beyond. Whether you’re a parent, student, counselor, or admissions rep, you’ll find something for you.

Marie Bigham is the founder of ACCEPT: Admissions Community Cultivating Equity and Peace Today, a social media-based action group for the admissions profession, which received the Excellence in Education Award from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling AND was honored by Facebook at the 2017 Facebook Community Summit

With over 20 years in the profession, Marie has served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC); as Vice Chair of the Board for Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools (ACCIS); and on the Board of Directors of Texas Association of College Admissions Counseling (TACAC).

Marie is also the Director of College Counseling at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans.

On this episode we discuss:

  • Why you should maybe consider not using the word “ally”

  • How to stand up for others, even when -- or especially when -- it’s most uncomfortable

  • 10 specific ways counselors and colleges can help build a more inclusive environment on their campuses

  • Where anyone can find a treasure trove of resources on racial equity

Hope this inspires!

PLAY-BY-PLAY

[0:42] Who is Marie Bigham?
[2:36] What is the CERPP Conference?
[4:20] What does Maire mean by “seeing the data?”
[5:15] Setting the context - getting started
[5:32] Number 1 - “Ally”
[6:34] Number 2 - Diversity or Equity?
[7:23] Number 3 - Voting
[8:14] Number 4 - Bystanders
[9:14] Number 5 - The Hechinger Report
[9:58] Number 6 - Teen Vouge
[10:25] Number 7 - Race/Related
[10:52] Number 8 - Blavity
[11:30] Number 9 - Intellectualism
[12:58] Number 10 - Lobbying
[14:00] Number 11 - Racial Equity Institute Bibliography
[14:36] Number 12 - Panels and groups
[15:29] Number 13 - Standing up for others
[17:43] Number 14 - When tragedy strikes
[19:29] Number 15 - Unknown high schools
[20:41] Number 16 - Equal Access to Honors, AP, & IB
[21:41] Number 17 - All educational opportunities
[22:49] Number 18 - School meetings with caregivers
[24:16] Number 19 - Financial aid information
[25:48] Number 20 - Visiting high schools
[26:48] Number 21 - The culture of high schools
[28:07] Number 22 - Images in your workspace
[29:45] Number 23 - Fee waivers
[30:28] Number 24 - Test scores
[31:13] Number 25 - Ambassador/Tour programs
[32:19] Number 26 - Absentee voter laws
[33:08] Number 27 - College Culture
[34:18] Number 28 - Hiring an independent counselor
[35:28] Number 29 - Sharing Skills
[37:10] Number 30 - Accountability

Relevant Articles:

205: That One Time a University Revoked More Than 60 Full Scholarships (And What You Can Do About It)

This episode is special. Why? It’s part 1 of 3 on a series I’m doing on access and equity. Now, if you’ve followed my work or know me personally you know that access and equity are a HUGE part of why I do what I do. And sometimes I hear folks saying, “I’d like to do more, I’m just not sure where to start.” or “I want to help. But how?” Through this podcast series--and through other webinars as well as a mini-course that I’ll be releasing later this year--my goal is to provide more opportunities and tools for helping people do more good in the world.

SHOW NOTES

This episode is special. Why? It’s part 1 of 3 on a series I’m doing on access and equity. Now, if you’ve followed my work or know me personally you know that access and equity are a HUGE part of why I do what I do. And sometimes I hear folks saying, “I’d like to do more, I’m just not sure where to start.” or “I want to help. But how?” Through this podcast series--and through other webinars as well as a mini-course that I’ll be releasing later this year--my goal is to provide more opportunities and tools for helping people do more good in the world. #let’sgettowork

For part of this series, I interview Joan Liu, a counselor at a high school in Southeast Asia, who has been working on the front lines of access and equity issues during her career. Wait ‘til you hear her story: this past April, the University of Texas at Tyler first accepted more than 60 Nepali students with full scholarships and then--get this--they emailed those students to say that, due to a clerical error, those students would no longer have a full ride at UT Tyler. Like: sorry.

Like many of us in the counseling community, Joan couldn’t believe this when she heard it. She decided to do something about it.

That story--and what happened next--is what we discuss on this podcast. This story was picked up by the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Ed and they are seeking help for these students--we’ll let you know at the end how you can help. Enjoy.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

[2:17] Meet Joan Liu
[3:10] What happened: The UT Tyler scholarship debacle with a group of Nepali students
[6:00] How did this happen?
[6:42] How likely is it for international students to get full scholarships to US universities?
[9:18] Who these students are, and how they were impacted
[10:05] How the “Nepal Justice League” formed in response
[16:30] Where things stand now
[19:04] How can folks help?

Go to Everest Ed Fund to donate, offer help, or reach out for more information.

  • Long-term, Joan and her team are raising 250K (covering 4 years) to make sure students can pay fees from year to year; and can graduate from college.

  • Short-term, they need about 7K to get two kids to be able to move into sophomore year.

How else can you help?

  • Donate to Everest Education Fund

  • Sponsor a student (email Joan Liu: joan.liu@uwcsea.edu.sg )

  • Help us amplify this story

    • Do you know someone who is in media; runs a YouTube Channel; runs a podcast; is a documentary filmmaker; is a student filmmaker? Joan wants to talk to them!

  • Make an introduction. Link us to someone you know who might care enough to make a transformational gift.

Relevant Articles:

Awesome humans mentioned in this episode:

203: 10 Ways Parents Can Support Their Students Through The College Application Process

When it comes to helping parents navigate the college application process, I can’t think of a better guide than Lisa Heffernan. Not only has she been through this process herself a few times, but she and Mary Dell Harrington are the co-founders of one of the largest online parent communities, Grown and Flown.

BLOG POSTS INSPIRED BY THIS EPISODE

show notes

When it comes to helping parents navigate the college application process, I can’t think of a better guide than Lisa Heffernan. Not only has she been through this process herself a few times, but she and Mary Dell Harrington are the co-founders of one of the largest online parent communities, Grown and Flown. Their Facebook group has, as of this recording, over 50,000 members. The group offers parents support, guidance, and just a ton of great ideas for other parents who have gone through or are currently going through this process. Oh, and by the way last year Lisa and Mary Dell were named 2 of People magazine’s 25 Women Changing the World. On this podcast we discuss:

  • Why parents should stop telling their students that there are tons of school and to not worry about where they will go

  • Why (and how) to limit the amount of time you spend talking about college

  • When the best time to start talking about college is

  • The three most stressful parts of college admissions for students--and how to mitigate that stress

  • What Lisa is most and least proud of as a parent when it came to helping her own kids through the college application process

Enjoy.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

2:13 Introducing Lisa
2:58 How Grown and Flown started
5:03 Why students entering college is a difficult time for parents
5:19 How important time management is for students
5:58 How can parents be a part of the solution?
7:17 Why parents should stop telling their students that there are tons of school and to not worry about where they will go
8:43 The key to making the school-finding process much easier
9:13 Constrain the amount of time you spend talking about college
10:33 Don’t talk about how easy it was to get into college in the 80s
11:53 The importance of starting the college process no sooner than 11th grade
12:58 The #1 source of accurate and useful information about college admissions
15:02 How to help students in ninth and tenth grade
15:40 The three most stressful parts of college admissions for students
18:31 Grown and Flown: the Facebook community Lisa cofounded (now with 50K+ members)
18:55 How the group started and what surprised her the most about it
20:36 How the group can help with unique problems
24:00 Lisa’s most and least proud moments as a parent helping her kids through the college application journey
26:25 One thing that Lisa wishes she’d done differently
27:23 The help that Lisa’s family received on the college essays
29:21 How college coaches can make the process easier for students
30:12 Other kinds of success besides admissions that can come out this process
34:22 Two things that Lisa wants to leave with students
36:40 Lisa’s Show and Tell: a yellow legal pad
37:58 Ethan’s Show and Tell: How Not to Die
39:32 How to connect with Grown and Flown
 

RELATED LINKS

204: What You Need to Know About Standardized Tests and Mistakes to Avoid

My guest, Adam Ingersoll, has spent more than 25 years working in SAT and ACT prep for more than 100,000 students and he’s seen it all.

show notes

This is Ethan Sawyer (aka College Essay Guy) and my goal is to bring more ease, joy and purpose into the college application process. Welcome to the College Essay Guy podcast where it is my job to interview the most brilliant minds in the college admissions world, to analyze their genius, and then break it down for you into a series of practical, actionable steps that you can take whether you're applying to college yourself or helping someone else apply.

This episode is the third and final part in this miniseries on standardized tests. Part One was on test optional schools and the test optional movement, Part Two was on how to reduce testing anxiety and this episode is basically on everything else. My guest, Adam Ingersoll, has spent more than 25 years working in SAT and ACT prep for more than 100,000 students and he’s seen it all. In this episode you’ll hear Adam’s take on:

  • What’s a “good” score?

  • How much do SAT scores matter?

  • Do students even need standardized tests?

  • When should students take the test?

  • What’s the difference between the SAT and the ACT?

  • Do students need the optional essay?

  • The most important things to know about subject tests

  • A few words about the PSAT

  • Important notes for students with learning differences

  • How students should define success in college admissions testing

And all that in a breezy 45 minutes. Let’s get to it.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

1:51 Who is Adam Ingersoll?
2:38 Adam talks about what it was like to be on the USC basketball team
4:07 How Adam got into test prep
6:36 Are standardized tests evil?
8:32 What’s a good score?
11:41 How much do SAT scores matter?
14:28 Do students even need standardized tests?
16:54 When should students take the test?
21:10 What’s the difference between the SAT and the ACT?
25:03 Do students need the optional essay?
27:03 How many times should students retake standardized tests?
29:56 What the highest number of times you’ve ever heard of a student taking the SAT or ACT?
31:35 Does Adam enjoy taking the SAT?
34:02 The most important things to know about subject tests
36:22 A few words about the PSAT
37:35 Important notes for students with learning differences
38:26 Compass Prep’s guide to testing accommodations
41:22 How students should define success in college admissions testing
43:56 Show and Tell
46:50 Adam makes a confession

RELATED LINKS

Here are some of the most common standardized test questions asked and answered:

  1. What’s a good score at XYZ College?

  2. Do I even need the tests? What’s test-optional all about?

  3. When should I take the tests?

  4. How do I know which test - SAT or ACT - is best for me?

  5. What’s the difference between the SAT and ACT anyway?

  6. What about the SAT and ACT have an optional essay--do I need that?

  7. How many times should I take the test, will colleges see all my scores, and does that even matter?

  8. What about Subject Tests? Who needs them, which ones should I take and when, and what’s considered a good score?

  9. What is the relevance of the PSAT? How does National Merit work?

  10. Tell me about accommodations for students with learning differences.

The Most Awesome Test Prep Resource I (Ethan) Have Seen:

Guide to College Admission Testing - What is it? The Guide is a nearly 100 page resource addressing every question imaginable about college admission testing.

What can students do with the guide?

  • It’s really helpful both broadly and narrowly.

  • Reading it cover to cover will provide a complete perspective on what these tests are all about, how they are actually used by colleges, what scores do and don’t say about a student’s ability, and what a reasonable and successful approach to test prep looks like. And you’ll know how to use it as a resource when specific questions come up along the way

  • Specifically, the college admission testing world is full of lists. There are many finicky questions that tie back to testing policies and how scores are reported and used. Testing requirements, restrictions, and rules vary widely from college to college. The Guide and companion resources on our website keep track of every detail.

202: 25 Ways to Reduce Testing Anxiety

This episode is incredibly practical. I asked Jed Applerouth, who runs Applerouth Tutoring and is one of the leading voices in our industry on test prep, for 10 ways to reduce test anxiety and he gave me 25.

This episode is incredibly practical. I asked Jed Applerouth, who runs Applerouth Tutoring and is one of the leading voices in our industry on test prep, for 10 ways to reduce test anxiety and he gave me 25.

BLOG POST INSPIRED BY THIS PODCAST

show notes

This podcast is special for a few reasons:

  1. It’s with Jed Applerouth, who is not only a close friend but also knows a TON about testing (he taught test prep for years, runs a Applerouth Tutoring and is one of the leading voices in our industry on test prep).

  2. Jed has a PhD in Educational Psychology and is a research nerd (he’d laugh if I said this, and probably agree with me) and he’s studied facets of student cognition, memory, motivation, and learning strategies… but having said that:

  3. This episode is incredibly practical. I asked Jed for 10 ways to reduce test anxiety and he gave me 25.

  4. It’s a video. So if you’re only listening to the audio version, go to collegeessayguy.com/podcast and click on the “Jed Applerouth” episode. Or just go to YouTube and search “College Essay Guy Test Anxiety Jed” and you’ll find it.

On this episode we discuss, among other things:

  • How common testing anxiety is (you may be surprised)

  • How anxiety functions in the body

  • Strategies for changing how you think about anxiety #reframing

  • Some ways you can understand and adjust self-talk

  • What cognitive rehearsal is and how it can help

  • A brief intro to the emotional freedom technique

  • How regulating your breathing can help

I loved listening to Jed drop these 25 bits of wisdom--I hope you do too.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

2:45 Who is Jed Applerouth--and what is “Pink Fury”?
5:31 Why is anxiety in education important?
8:45 How common is testing anxiety? (#1)
9:39 Where does anxiety come from? (#2)
10:05 How anxiety functions in the body (#3)
11:39 Draw confidence from your other strengths (#4)
13:08 The power of self-care (#5)
13:45 Writing about your testing anxiety (#6)
14:38 Change how you think about anxiety (#7)
15:58 Build on tiny victories (#8)
17:12 Understanding and adjusting self-talk (#9)
18:10 Correcting maladaptive self-talk (#10)
19:41 Speaking to yourself in the third-person (#11)
21:00 Personifying negative thoughts (#12)
22:05 Cognitive rehearsal (#13)
23:07 Regulate your breathing (#14)
24:40 What is HeartMath? (#15)
25:21 The power of exercise (#16)
26:07 Holistic relaxation (#17)
26:32 Sleeping enough (#18)
27:43 Posture (#19)
29:13 Tapping: the emotional freedom technique (#20)
30:37 Exposure to nature (#21)
31:00 Human connection and physical touch (#22)
32:10 Grounding yourself in physical objects (#23)
32:41 Using mental images or wisdom figures (#24)
33:25 Replicate testing conditions as closely as possible (#25)
35:05 Jed’s favorite stress-reducing techniques
38:05 Ethan’s favorite stress-reducing techniques
39:08 One final bonus technique (#26)
40:05 The key to integrating these 26 tips
42:46 Jed’s show and tell
43:38 Ethan’s show and tell
 

RELATED LINKS

201: Test Optional Admissions 101: What, Why, Where, Who?

This episode is the first episode in Season 2 (yay!) and the first in a three-episode miniseries on testing. In this episode I sit down with Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director of FairTest: the national Center for Fair & Open Testing, a non-profit that advocates for better forms of student assessment.

SHOW NOTES

This episode is the first episode in Season 2 (yay!) and the first in a three-episode miniseries on testing. In this episode I sit down with Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director of FairTest: the national Center for Fair & Open Testing, a non-profit that advocates for better forms of student assessment.

Why is this podcast important? Some students assume they have to take the SAT or ACT or that all schools require these tests for all students--but that just ain't true, as Bob will tell you. In fact, Bob's got a list of test optional schools that he updates regularly, which I’ll let him tell you about.

On this episode we discuss:

  • Are standardized tests evil?

  • What are some other standardized test myths that people tend to believe?

  • To what extent does the SAT or ACT measure what students need to know in college?

  • Important statistics from “Crossing the Finish Line,” a book that outlines the research around how well standardized test scores predict actual student performance in life and in college.

  • What is the difference between “test optional” and “test flexible”?

  • If students don’t submit standardized test scores, does this have an impact on scholarships and financial aid?

  • Does applying to a college without a test score hurt a student’s chances?

  • Advice for students with test scores that are “just okay”

I love the perspective Bob brings and I think this conversation is a great way to begin this little mini-series on testing (and Season 2)! Enjoy.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

2:48 Who is Bob Schaeffer?
3:20 Are standardized tests evil?
4:24 What is the best determiner of high test scores?
5:50 Busting a few myths on standardized testing
7:05 To what extent does the SAT/ACT measure what students need to know in college?
7:30 How much do colleges need standardized tests in order to make their decisions?
9:52 Important statistics from “Crossing the Finish Line” 
11:06 What is the difference between “test optional” and “test flexible”?
12:13 What is FairTest?
13:23 The FairTest List of Test Optional Schools
14:13 Why do colleges choose to go test-optional?
15:21 What kinds of students benefit from colleges being test optional?
17:11 What do colleges ask for instead of test scores?
20:22 If students don’t submit standardized test scores, does this have an impact on scholarships and financial aid?
21:52 Does applying to a college without a test score hurt a student’s chances?
23:15 Advice for students with test scores that are “just okay”
25:35 Advice for homeschooled and international students who want to apply test optional
27:09 Advice for students looking for schools using the test optional school list
28:06 How to create a great college list
29:25 FairTest resources for counselors and colleges
30:28 Why colleges being test optional is so important to Bob
34:42 Advice from Bob for students who still plan to take standardized tests

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

124: College Interview Tips and Strategies

Monica James absolutely crushes it in this interview, offering more practical advice than you’ll find in most weekend workshops on this topic. And it’s no wonder: for years she’s been teaching people (and in particular high school students) how to give great interviews.

SHOW NOTES

This episode is an interview… on interviews! Monica James--whom you may’ve heard previously on the podcast in the episode on Demonstrated Interest--absolutely crushes it in this interview, offering more practical advice than you’ll find in most weekend workshops on this topic. And it’s no wonder: for years she’s been teaching people (and in particular high school students) how to give great interviews. We cover, among other things:

  • Why do colleges give interviews?

  • Can a bad interview actually hurt your application chances?

  • How do you prepare for the interview?

  • What’s the one thing that colleges are looking for above all else?

  • How do you answer the “Why this college” interview question?

  • How do you answer the Strengths and Weaknesses interview Question?

  • How do you answer the Tell Me About Your Reading Life or “What books have you read recently” question?

  • What is the hardest interview question and how do you handle it?

  • What if you get a “bad” interviewer?

  • What if you’re asked a question in an interview that you truly don’t know the answer to?

  • How much does body language matter in an interview?

  • What should you wear to an interview?

  • How do I handle a Skype or Phone Interview?

  • How do I set up an interview?

  • How should I practice?

  • What about Scholarship Interviews—are they different?

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who is Monica James? [2:26] 
How Monica first started coaching college interviewing? [3:35] 
An anecdote about the power of storytelling [5:48] 4:07
Why colleges give interviews [4:38] 
Can an interview hurt an applicant? [5:29] 
Which schools require an interview? [6:23] 
Why students should do suggested interviews [7:30] 
How do students prepare for an interview? [9:55] 
The formula for preparing an excellent interview question answer [11:26] 
One thing colleges are looking for [16:50] 12:12
How less intellectual students show intellectual vitality [17:45] 13:05
How students prepare for the “Why Us” question [14:33] 
How to prepare for the “what is your weakness” question [17:23] 
How to answer the “what is your reading life like?” question [21:17] 
The hardest interview question [23:53] 
What if your interviewer isn’t that great? [27:47] 
Monica James’ favorite questions [31:45] 
What to do if you have no idea how to answer a question [34:48] 
Advice on body language, what to wear, and handshakes [38:24] 
What to do if your interviewer goes in for the hug [40:57] 
What to know about eye contact and fidgeting [41:36] 
How to prepare for a Skype or phone interview [44:04] 
How to setup an interview [45:50] 
Who to practice an interview with [47:31] 
How to prepare for scholarship interviews [50:25] 
How to be charming [52:27] 
Develop questions to ask the interviewer [55:00] 
Monica’s Show and Tell [57:57] 
Ethan’s Show and Tell [59:23] 

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

123: Should You Apply Early Decision or Regular Decision? (And the Chart That Can Help You Decide)

Should you apply Early Decision or not? Is there a statistical advantage to applying early or not? When making this decision, it might help to know what the regular decision acceptance rate is for a school and what the Early Decision acceptance rate for a school is and then compare those numbers.

SHOW NOTES

This is episode three of three with the amazing Jeff Levy and Jennie Kent. Last episode you heard from Jennie on Which Schools Are the Most Generous With Financial Aid… with International Students and on the episode before that you heard Jeff talking about which schools are most generous with domestic students (i.e. students applying from the US). 

But this one is my favorite. 

And it’s on a controversial topic: Should you apply Early Decision or not? Is there a statistical advantage to applying early or not? When making this decision, it might help to know what the regular decision acceptance rate is for a school and what the Early Decision acceptance rate for a school is and then compare those numbers. But imagine doing that for all the schools you’re applying to. In fact, imagine doing that for over 200 schools. Wouldn’t it be better if someone had done that work for you? 

That’s just what Jeff and Jennie have done. They spent weeks--maybe months--last year poring over college admissions websites, calling admissions reps, asking for their numbers so that they could put together for you, in a neat little spreadsheet, all this information. And then they did it again this year!

  • Why do such a thing, you ask? That’s the first thing we cover on this episode. After that we discuss:

  • Why did they choose the metrics they chose (i.e. why do these numbers matter)?

  • What are some of the dangers of misinterpreting this data

  • Who is early decision right for and who is it not right for?

And, of course:

  • How can you use this chart practically when applying to college?

PLAY-BY-PLAY

What the Early Decision and Regular Decision Acceptance Rate Chart is [7:29] 
What these terms means and why this chart is awesome [10:58]
How much work did you put into creating this chart? [9:56]
Why did you pick these specific metrics? [11:10]
What the percentage of students accepted early decision tells you about the school [13:07]
The danger of misinterpreting this data [14:47]
Why is this resource important in the admissions process? [16:03]
Who is early decision right for and who is it not right for? [17:02]
How can this chart help students practically in the process? [20:33]
What resources do you recommend to students for developing a college list? [22:06]
How to practically use the chart in your process [27:15]
What is early decision II? [30:10]
Should I apply early decision or not? [30:40]
Do you tell your students to write your regular admission essays after or before they hear back from their early decision schools? [35:47]
Jennie and Jeff: if you were applying to school again now, where would you apply? [40:30]
Ethan: if you were applying to school again, where would you go? [42:13]
Show and Tell [44:16]

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

122: Which Schools Are the Most Generous With Financial Aid? (International Version)

The episode you’re about to hear, with Jennie Kent, covers which schools are most generous with financial aid for international students (i.e. students applying from outside the US)

SHOW NOTES

This is part two of three in my series with Jeff Levy and Jennie Kent. In our last episode we covered which schools are most generous with financial aid for domestic students (i.e students applying from within the US), while the episode you’re about to hear, with Jennie Kent, covers which schools are most generous with financial aid for international students (i.e. students applying from outside the US).

Jennie and Jeff have painstakingly pored over many many college websites and talked over the phone with many many colleges to put together a spreadsheet that lists over 400 colleges and not only what their total cost of attendance is (because that’s easy to find), but what percentage of financial need they meet, and--get this--what percentage of students receive merit aid from the school AND what the average merit aid award is. So: how much money does the school give to international students and to how many students per year.

On this episode I talk with Jennie about:

  • Why she created the chart in the first place

  • She explains why your student doesn’t have to be incredible in order to get merit aid

  • How much students’ ability to pay matters in admissions

  • How to use the chart, including how Jennie walks students through a consultation

  • Why students might decline to ask for merit-based aid

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who is Jennie Kent? [2:43]
How Jennie got from kids books to educational consulting [4:14]
Why Jennie created this resource in the first place [8:43]
What is the chart and why is it useful? [10:17]
Why your student doesn’t have to be incredible in order to get merit aid [17:00]
A quick run-down of two important financial aid concepts [17:26]
How much does students’ ability to pay matter in admissions? [20:26]
Examples of how students have used the chart successfully [23:30]
How an international student with some financial need would use the chart [27:02]
How to calculate how much need you might have [28:54]
Why students might decline to ask for merit-based aid [31:34]
How Jennie first walks students through a consultation [32:16]
What international students should know about applying to US schools [33:44]
Jennie, why do you do what you do? [36:39]
Jennie’s Show and Tell [38:51]
Ethan’s Show and Tell [40:57

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

121: Which Schools Are the Most Generous With Financial Aid? (US Version)

I’m super excited about this episode as it’s part one of three in a series of incredible resources put together by my beautiful colleagues Jeff Levy and Jennie Kent. The first resource (which is the topic of this podcast that you’re about to hear) is a spreadsheet with a list of over 400 colleges and tells you what their total cost of attendance is, what percentage of financial need they meet.

SHOW NOTES

I’m super excited about this episode as it’s part one of three in a series of incredible resources put together by my beautiful colleagues Jeff Levy and Jennie Kent. The first resource (which is the topic of this podcast that you’re about to hear) is a spreadsheet with a list of over 400 colleges and tells you what their total cost of attendance is, what percentage of financial need they meet--get this--what percentage of students receive merit aid AND what the average merit aid award is. Yeah, kind of nuts. I’m so so grateful to Jeff and Jennie for putting this information together. 

This episode is with Jeff Levy and covers financial aid for students who are applying to college in the US and who are from the US (in other words domestic applicants). The next episode covers how much financial aid is given to students applying from outside the US (in other words international applicants) and that interview is with Jennie Kent, since that’s her specialty. For the third episode I interview both Jeff and Jennie and they share with you perhaps their greatest resource… which I’ll tell you about on that episode.

On this episode Jeff and I discuss this rad resource on which schools are most generous with financial aid and after he shares with us his story, we discuss: 

  • Three huge myths that students and parents have about financially planning for college

  • Why parents should ignore the school’s sticker price

  • Which schools meet 100% of demonstrated need (and what that means)

  • A tool for figuring out how much money schools offer

  • What Jeff believes is the biggest problem with the financial aid process

  • Why Jeff created this resource in the first place and, most importantly…

  • How to use this tool (along with a few other resources) to decide where to attend

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who is Jeff Levy? [3:24]
What working in Hollywood taught Jeff about life [4:32]
How Jeff got into education [5:19]
What Jeff loves about college admissions [7:58]
Jeff busts a huge college admissions myth [9:18]
Why 529 is a good plan for saving for college [11:15]
Why parents should ignore the sticker price of schools [12:20]
How much money Ivy League (and other selective schools) generally give in merit aid [15:10]
An incredibly useful tool for gauging how much aid schools offer [17:41]
What is the Common Data Set? [21:28]
Super helpful information provided by the Common Data Set [22:48]
The #1 problem with the financial aid process according to Jeff [23:33]
How to use Jeff’s spreadsheet and other important resources when deciding where to go [27:20]
How to figure out what your estimated family contribution (EFC) is [31:35]
How the CSS Profile and FAFSA are different [33:18]
Given how much time it took to create this resource (I ask Jeff), was it worth it? Will he and Jennie continue to update it each year? [35:39]
Jeff’s Show and Tell [37:12]
Ethan’s Show and Tell [

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

120: College List Hacking: Better Fit, Less Time, More Fun

On this episode I interview Anne Wager, who used to work for many years in data and technology but made the transition to counseling and, as she puts it, “out of desperation”, developed a set of cards that she uses with students to help them identify, not just their preferences for what they’re looking for in a college, but what she called “deeper preferences”.

SHOW NOTES

On this episode I interview Anne Wager, who used to work for many years in data and technology but made the transition to counseling and, as she puts it, “out of desperation”, developed a set of cards that she uses with students to help them identify, not just their preferences for what they’re looking for in a college, but what she called “deeper preferences”.

We’ll explore what she means by deeper preferences, explain why they’re important, talk about common mistakes that students make when picking colleges, and how parents can best support their students. All this and more. Enjoy!

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who is Anne Wager? [1:15]
Why Anne created the Corsava Cards [4:46]
Common mistakes students make when picking colleges [6:50]
What the Corsava Cards can do [8:47]
How different counselors use the cards [15:36]
What does “Corsava” mean? [19:21]
How the cards have evolved over time [20:45]
What the color coding means for the cards [22:26]
How the online version is different [24:55]
How adding definitions to cards has helped students working online [29:35]
How parents have responded to this process [31:44]
Advice for counselors working with helicopter parents [34:14]
How students who don’t have a counselor to work with can help themselves [36:50]
Anne’s Show and Tell [41:45]
Ethan’s Show and Tell [43:50]
Anne’s final thoughts [46:05]

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

119: How to Improve Your Personal Statement in 20 Minutes

This episode represents part four of four in my epic mini-series with Tutor Ted and in this one I share what steps to take to turn your essay from “just okay” to “great.”

BLOG POSTS THAT INSPIRED THIS EPISODE

SHOW NOTES

This episode represents part four of four in my epic mini-series with Tutor Ted and in this one I share what steps to take to turn your essay from “just okay” to “great.” Specifically, though, I share:

  • What I believe the qualities of a great college essay are

  • An example essay that demonstrates those four qualities

  • A step-by-step process for bringing more of each of those qualities into your essay

  • Lots of examples for all the qualities I discuss

  • Even (get this) a step-by-step process for how to make your reader cry

  • Finally, some advice to parents and teachers offering essay feedback

FYI: You’ll hear Ted’s voice at the start, not mine, since he was interviewing me for this one. Enjoy.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Qualities in a great college essay [1:05]
The hard part about writing a great college essay [1:26]
An overview of the four qualities of a great college essay, according to Ethan [2:23]
An example personal statement that demonstrates these qualities [5:23] 
How to make your decent essay better [11:38]
An example of how the example personal statement could better show her values [13:30]
How vulnerability can make your essay stronger [15:49]
Three examples of vulnerability in student essays [16:30]
Why be vulnerable in an essay? [17:40]
How to find your own unresolvable conflicts [19:28]
One great way to be vulnerable [21:25]
How to bring insight into your personal statement [22:33]
An example of insight in a student essay [22:50]
Three steps to improving your craft [25:20]
A step-by-step process for making your reader cry [28:05]
A quick word of advice to parents and teachers offering essay feedback [30:20

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE