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

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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 in 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)

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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)

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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

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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

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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

118: Who is the College Essay Guy?

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SHOW NOTES

This is part three of my four-part series with Ted Dorsey (aka Tutor Ted). On the last two episodes I interviewed Ted, while on this episode (and on the next one), Ted turns the tables on and interviews me. On this episode Ted just wanted to give folks a chance to get to know me better, so we discussed:

  • How I ended up as the College Essay Guy (Spoiler: that wasn’t the plan)
  • What applying to college was like for me
  • How I learned the importance of asking good questions
  • Why I never tell students to “write in their voice”
  • How I believe writing your essay can actually change your self-image
  • What it’s like working with me one-on-one

PLAY-BY-PLAY

How I came to be the College Essay Guy [1:44 ]
Surprising similarities between Ted and my stories [4:58]
My earlier days applying to college [5:12]
If I had gotten admissions help at 17… [7:16]
How I learned the importance of asking good questions [7:50]
How I use the Essence Object Exercise [10:44]
How writing your essay can change your self-image [11:40]
“What is your story?” and other bad questions to ask students [13:47]
Why telling students to “write in their voice” is bad writing advice [14:25]
Two great stories about awesome students I worked with [15:54]
My approach to working with students one-on-one [21:11]
The importance of picking a great essay topic [27:28

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

117: How to Improve Your ACT Score By 2 Points in 20 Minutes

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SHOW NOTES

Typically my job is to take some of the most awesome and rad people in the college admissions world (I’m not sure if there is a difference, but I’m sure there is), analyze their genius, and break it down for you into practical and actionable steps whether you’re applying to college yourself or helping someone else apply. But this time, I’ve handed the reins over to my guest Ted Dorsey (AKA Tutor Ted), who has scored perfectly on the SAT, ACT, and PSAT, and let him do the podcast, where he’s going to offer up clear steps to improving your ACT score--in less time than it takes to bake a potato. He’ll dish up tips on how to use your calculator during the ACT, the importance of math vocabulary, why you need to be selective in your focus in the science section, and why writing a lot for the writing test can help. Even more tips to come! Stay tuned.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

The difference between short-term and long-term strategies [1:50]
A free course at TutorTed.com [3:24]
The #1 tip for narrowing down answer choices on the English section [3:49]
How commas can tip you off to the correct answer choice [4:20]
How underlining the most important part of the question can help [5:12]
Take advantage of programs on your calculator [6:37]
The power of math vocabulary [7:31]
When given a complex formula questions, plug into the numbers into the appropriate spots [8:50]
The most important mnemonic to know on the math section [10:09]
Sacrifice quality for speed on the Reading Comprehension section [10:38]
Being energized will increase your speed: use caffeine if you are already used to it; don’t if your aren’t [12:39]
Be selective in your focus in the science section [13:50]
Two things you should definitely know when tackling the ACT Science[16:58]
Sign up for the writing test [17:23]
Why you should write a lot for the writing test [18:24]
How students generally get really high scores on the writing section [19:58]
Spend your first few minutes planning your essay [21:00]

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE

116: Who is Tutor Ted? (and Resources for Brainstorming a Personal Statement)

SHOW NOTES

This is the first of two podcasts with Ted Dorsey, also known as Tutor Ted, who scored perfectly on the ACT, SAT, PSAT and runs a cool test prep company called (what else?) Tutor Ted.

Now, in the second part of this podcast he’ll show you how to improve your ACT score by 2 points… in just 20 minutes. But before we get to that, I thought it might be great to get to know Ted on a more personal level--and what better way, I thought, than to take him through the exercises I use with my students when we’re brainstorming personal statements. Why? Because I use some exercises that go really deep, really fast--as you’re about to hear.

So in part 1 of this episode you’ll hear Ted and I going through some of my warm-up exercises (which I actually call “vulnerability training” -- you’ll see why in a minute), so you’ll essentially get to see part of my brainstorming process in action.

Ted will do (on the spot!) a distilled version of the Essence Objects and Values Exercises, which you’ll be familiar with from Episode 111 of the podcast, or if you know my book or my website. Then you’ll hear me walk him through my #1 favorite brainstorm, the Feelings and Needs Exercise (which has been called the “20 minute therapy” exercise--again, you’ll see why once we get into it).

By the end you’ll know Ted a lot better and, even though we don’t talk about on this episode, you’ll see that Ted has some GREAT content for a college essay… were he to go back and write one.

I’ll say more about Part 2--How to Improve Your ACT Score By 20 Points--at the beginning of that episode. Right now, please enjoy Part 1 of this two-part episode with Ted Dorsey...

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who is Ted Dorsey? [:38]
Ethan walks Ted through three essay writing exercises [3:47]
Ethan plays the “I Love” Game [4:47]
Ted plays the “I Love” Game [6:19]
Ethan plays the second exercise: “If you really knew me” [7:51]
Then it’s Ted’s turn. [9:53]
The third exercise: Ethan plays the Essence Objects [14:21]
Ted describes his own essence objects [15:47]
Ted tells a story about one of his past students [18:20]
The fourth exercise: Values Exercise [21:19]
Ted’s top core values [22:50]
How creativity has been manifesting in Ted’s life [23:39]
Number five: the Challenges exercise [26:35]
Ted talks about the biggest challenges he faced and how they impacted him [26:45]
The feelings Ted felt along with these challenges [29:05]
What unmet needs went along with these feelings and how he met them [30:58]
What Ted learned from these challenges [35:45]
How Ted’s past challenges connect to his future road trip [36:54]

LINKS RELATED TO THIS PODCAST

115: Quick & Dirty College List Builder & The Myth of Fit

Resource informed by this episode

SHOW NOTES

This is part 2 of 2 of podcast episodes recorded last month in Eastern China. I met with Mark Moody, a friend of mine and a fantastic counselor with a ton of experience and some cool opinions you may not have heard before. During our chat we cover:

  • His “Quick and Dirty List Builder,” a document he put together to help students and counselors find their best-fit schools in much less time
  • We talk about Early Decision (also known as ED) and yield and why many schools like it when students apply early… but we also discuss why you might not want to apply early
  • Why it’s important for students and parents to have a good understanding of what an admissions rate really means
  • We also talk about this notion of “fit” -- something you’ll hear counselors talk about a lot -- but Mark has a different perspective on it and he believes “fit” may in fact be a myth
  • We’ll talk about what fit really means (according to Mark’s perspective), how you can use that knowledge when you’re searching for college--and even a gem that can help you settle in once you’re already on campus.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who is Mark Moody? [2:22]
A regular day sitting by a lake in Eastern China talking about college admissions [3:46]
Mark Moody’s Quick and Dirty List Builder [5:35]
What the list builder includes [6:10]
How epic is the college list? [7:00]
How Mark decided which schools went on the list [7:15]
What is this list for and what is is not for? [8:44]
How should a student use this list? [9:43]
How many schools you should apply to [13:19]
Why schools are shifting in selectivity [13:09]
What is Early Decision? [15:25]
Why schools want students to apply Early Decision [15:43]
Why yield is important to a school [16:10] 
Why schools might be playing with statistics like yield and selectivity [16:45]
Why it’s important for students and parents to have a good understanding of what an admissions rate really means [16:52]
Why you may not necessarily want to have an early decision school [18:23 ]
What is the idea of fit? [20:12]
What does fit actually mean? [21:42]
Mark’s favorite idea about fit [24:56]
What to say to students who are in college and not sure if they’ve chosen the right school [25:39]
Mark’s Show and Tell: a cup of Chinese tea [27:20]
Ethan’s Show and Tell: The Rap Year Book [27:53]
And: Don Quixote, College Choice, and the Myth of Fit [28:16]

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE

114: Free College Application Tools That Students (and Counselors!) Should Know About

SHOW NOTES

If you know me, or if you’ve listened to the podcast before you know what a resource junkie I am… the same can be said, I think, for my guest on this episode, Shaun McElroy. Shaun is the publisher of two blogs: www.internationalcounselor.org which focuses on all things college admissions and which, I do believe, is one of the oldest continuously running blog on college admission (started in 2003) and www.strengthsmining.com focuses on applying research and principles of positive psychology into practice.

And if you, dear listener, are a resource junkie like Shaun and I are, then this podcast will be like food to your soul -- -as Boyz 2 Men so beautifully put it in their 1997 hit “A Song for Mama” hashtag I love 90s R&B hashtag Nate Mike Shawn and Wan.

You’ll hear me say at the start of our conversation that Shaun is going to share “eight” free college application tools… but once we finished I went back and counted and there were more like 25.

For fun, I asked my editor Nathan to give a little [ding] every time Shaun shares a new resource.

So enjoy that.

And do enjoy this fast-paced resource extravaganza courtesy of myself… and Mr. McElroy.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who is Shaun McElroy? [2:00]
Naviance [2:16] [4:08]
Take a Myers-Briggs personality test [5:15]
Do What You Are [5:24]
16 Personalities Myer’s Briggs Personality Test [8:06]
How Shaun uses the Myers-Briggs test in his counseling process [10:17]
Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking [12:15]
VIA Character Strengths [14:24]
The montage essay (Note: requires typing in your email to view) [18:59]
How knowing your strengths can help you pick the right school [21:08]
The Feelings & Needs Exercise [23:10]
Strengths Mining Blog [25:31]
VARK, a learning style questionnaire  [26:23]
Coggle, creating visual mind maps [28:38]
Most students will change their majors during college [29:02]
MyMajors can help you find a major [31:34]
Ethan’s article on Five Reasons Why It Doesn’t Matter What You Major In [34:10]
How The College Finder can help you develop a great college list [34:40]
College Xpress offers interesting lists of great colleges [38:50]
80 Thousand Hours [40:18]
Grit, The Power of Passion and Perseverance [44:48]
Mindset, self-view and self-efficacy [49:23]
Why you can’t ignore the shadow version of yourself [52:22]
Positive Intelligence, a free self-assessment where you get your list of self-saboteurs [53:22]
Meditation [57:14]
Smiling Mind, free guided meditation online and on your phone [58:42]
The Meditation Bell, join a meditation group [59:11]
The Tim Ferriss Podcast, awesome for life tips [59:51]
Shaun’s show and tells: reading literary fiction and waking up early [1:02:53]
Ethan’s: the most relaxing song ever is Marconi Union - Weightless [1:06:17]
Why Shaun does what he does [1:06:57]

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE

113: Debunking the Myth of the Starving Artist

The Awesome PDF That Accompanies This Podcast Episode

While there is no “practical guide” for this episode, if you’re interested in this topic I highly recommend that you click this link, where you can download a PDF of the presentation Laura Young gives on this very topic. It is so so good and I thank Laura for letting me share it.

SHOW NOTES

My guest on this episode is Laura Young, a friend of mine who is the director of enrollment management at the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture. She was (and I think still is) an “art kid” and in our conversation we talk about why that’s cool, how that has served her in her current job, and how someone can still make a living even if, dear listener, you are an art kid (or know one who is applying to college). We also talk about: 

  • Data that proves art degrees are important
  • The freedom that working a side job gives to self-employed artists
  • The truth about the myth of the starving artist 

… and all that in the first 10 minutes!
 
Then we discuss...

  • How to know if art school is for you
  • What your ability to take feedback says about you
  • The difference between visual and performing arts schools, conservatories, and trade schools
  • What cliches to avoid using in your art school application, and
  • How parents can best support their child wanting to go to art school

 All this and more on this episode with Laura Young--please enjoy. 

PLAY-BY-PLAY

What Laura does as the director of enrollment management at UCLA Arts [2:52] 
How Laura became an “art kid” [6:15]
The truth about the myth of the starving artist [8:30] 
Data that proves art degrees are important [9:37]
What is an “art job”? [10:16] 
The freedom that working a side job gives to self-employed artists [12:16] 
How Ethan fell in love with his “side gig” [15:49]
The superpowers artists have [17:33]
How to know if art school is for you [19:54]
What your ability to take feedback says about you [22:06]
The difference between applying to art school and applying to college [24:05]
The difference between visual and performing arts schools, conservatories, and trade schools [26:36]
What to look for in a for-profit school [31:41]
The role of location in choosing a school [33:37]
Hidden gems: art schools in smaller, less-known cities [35:46]
What schools can I get into if I’m talented, but have a low-GPA? [36:18]+1:36
What cliches to avoid using in your art school application [39:31]
How parents can best support their child wanting to go to art school [42:42]
Advice Laura would give to her 18 year-old self [44:17]
Why prospective art students should study abroad [46:42]
Laura’s show and tell: Flanagan’s Smart Home [48:47]
Ethan’s show and tell: The Art of War and The Inner Game of Tennis [52:29]
What Laura does what she does [53:27]

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE:

112: How to Listen (and Why)

SHOW NOTES

On this episode I interview an old friend of mine, Ben Mathes, founder of the Urban Confessional, which is a free listening project. A few years ago Ben started posting up outside bus stops and on street corners with a sign that reads “Free Listening” and he would do just that: listen. Over the last couple years it’s ignited something of a movement and Urban Confessional is now in 73 countries, 2000 volunteers strong, and  has been featured in the Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Fast Company, The Big Think, Glamour Magazine, and in over 45 international publications.  His blog, HOW TO LISTEN WHEN YOU DISAGREE, has been read over 2 million times and republished in over 100 publications across the world. They are currently the subject of a PBS produced documentary called "ARE WE LISTENING", and this year, they launched the HEARD PODCAST, which features honest conversations from visionaries, leaders, and other interesting people.

On this episode we discuss how Urban Confessional started, what Ben has learned about listening over the years, how these lessons have impacted his relationships and even what it was like doing free listening at last year’s Republican and Democratic National Conventions. At the end he offers a great resource called the “Practice Partner Guide,” with some great practical tips for how to listen. It’s wonderful stuff from a wonderful human, as you’ll soon see, and the applications include, then go much beyond the college application process.

Enjoy... 

PLAY-BY-PLAY

The toughest decision Ben made last year [3:18] 2:18
Ben’s process for healing [6:08]
One of the biggest challenges Ben faced [8:55]
The impact of Ben’s most difficult challenge [10:13]
Reasons why receiving generosity can sometimes be hard [13:25]
What Ben finally did that changed everything [14:43]
Why it was hard for Ben to ask for help [15:41]
What Ben has learned about how to listen [18:41]
Some of Ben’s favorite questions [21:00]
How Ben decides whether or not to go deep with someone [22:50]
The mystery of learning to walk without a destination [26:07]
Two values that come into conflict in Ben’s life [27:37]
How Ben resists wanting to fix people while listening to them [29:00]
Lessons Ben learned from his free listening project [30:29]
How these lessons have impacted Ben’s life and relationships [32:31]
Ben’s experience doing free listening at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions [35:53]
How to listen when you disagree with people [38:32]
Why Ben does what he does [40:53]

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE:

111: Using the Secrets of Screenwriting to Write Your College Essay

HERE’S THE PRACTICAL GUIDE THAT THIS PODCAST INFORMED:

SHOW NOTES

Hello friends!

Welcome to the College Essay Guy Podcast, I’m your host, Ethan Sawyer, the College Essay Guy. What I’ll typically do in the podcast is interview folks from the admissions world and go deep into college admissions to try and generate practical and actionable steps that you can take with the goal of bringing more ease, joy, and purpose to the college application process. Now, because my specialty is the college essay, I thought I would take the mic for this podcast and share with you a presentation I started giving in 2011, called Using the Secrets of Screenwriting to Write Your college Essay.

In this podcast, I’ll dive into:

  • The story behind how I started connecting screenwriting and the college essay in the first place.
  • Two exercises that I love to use to generate some great content for the essay.
  • Two structures that I think can work for just about any essay.
  • Four types of college essays
  • What I believe the end of an essay should do.
  • And so much more! Enjoy.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who is the College Essay Guy?
Where did the idea of connecting screenwriting to college essays come from? [01:36]
One of the most important ideas in screenwriting structure [04:40]
My favorite prompt and what makes it so powerful [05:30]
Two questions to ask yourself that may guide your personal statement [06:00]
Four types of college essays [06:30]
An exercise for brainstorming your “world” [07:37]
An exercise for brainstorming  your  values [12:44]
Two qualities of a great college essay topic [16:02]
Two structures based on whether you have faced challenges and/or know what you want to study in college [17:15]
How understanding the difference between “wants” and “needs” can help you write your essay [18:15]
The basic elements of narrative structure [18:45]
Two examples of narrative structure in movies [20:28]
How the elements of narrative structure play into a sample college essay [26:23]
The one question that a conclusion paragraph should answer [32:24]
How the montage structure can help you write your essay if you haven’t experienced significant challenges [35:02]
How the elements of montage structure play into a sample  college essay [36:23]
Why you might consider revealing  your potential career closer to the end of your essay [42:10]
How to use the essence objects to structure your essay [43:05]
How creating a timeline of your life can help you structure your personal statement  [43:36]
How using unusual values can make your personal statement  stand out [44:20]
Two exercises that can create a ton of content for your essay [44:57]
A guide to writing your personal statement [45:20]
One way low-income students can get support for writing their essays [45:33]

LINKS MENTIONED ON OR RELEVANT TO THIS EPISODE:

110: How to Find and Research Great Colleges: The Fiske Guide

HERE’S THE PRACTICAL GUIDE THAT THIS PODCAST INFORMED:

SHOW NOTES

My guest for this episode is Edward B. Fiske (known to most as “Ted”). Ted served as Education Editor for the New York Times from 1974 until 1991, and is well-known to college bound students and their parents as the editor of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, a staple of any high school counselor library and the nation’s best-selling college guide. He has co-authored a range of other books on college admissions with Bruce G. Hammond, including the Fiske Guide to Getting Into the Right College, What to Do When for College, Real College Essays that Work and Nailing the New SAT.

Ted’s book has been a go-to reference for me (and many other counselors) in our work with students and I loved getting a chance to go behind the scenes and hearing how the sausage is made. We discuss, among other things:

  • Why did the Fiske Guide happen in the first place?
  • How does Ted avoid sounding generally positive about all schools?
  • How the Fiske Guide ratings systems differs from that of US News and World Report
  • Who actually writes all 882 pages of the Fiske Guide
  • The best approach for students who have no idea what they want
  • Some of the biggest mistakes students and parents make when searching for a school
  • The dangers of narrowing your college choices too early on.
  • One quality Ted finds essential to having an amazing college experience

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who  is Ted Fiske? [0:34]
What do you do, Ted, and why do you do it? [3:30]
Why did you create the Fiske Guide? [4:53] 
How did you begin to collect information about colleges? [6:19] 
How do you avoid sounding generally positive about all schools? [8:36] [11:00]
Which colleges get selected for the guide--how do you decide which 325 schools get in? [12:55]
How does a college petition to get included in the guide? [12:48] [14:48]
What shapes the criteria for rating colleges in the Fiske Guide? [15:53]
Why students are looking for a diverse student body in their college [19:05]
Why getting a liberal arts degree can serve students well in life. [21:49]
How Ted uses stars to rates schools based on a variety of factors [22:37]
How the US News and World Report ratings are different from the Fiske Guide’s [25:00]
Why ranking schools based on inputs (SAT scores and GPA of incoming students) isn’t the best [27:18]
How the US News rankings began [29:24]
How the US News rankings can help you find a school [30:14]
Who actually writes all 882 pages of the Fiske Guide? [30:49]
Who works on the Fiske Guide? [32:47]
When do you feel the guide is most useful during the college application process? [34:26]
The first step to developing your college list [37:26]
The best approach for students who have no idea what they want [39:40]
What are the most important qualities that students should look for? [42:00]
What are some of the biggest mistakes students and parents make when searching for a school? [45:52]
The dangers of narrowing your college choices too early on [47:24]
One thing students should definitely do during this process, but many often don’t actually do [47:24]
How to choose between the online, app, and hard-copy version of the Fiske Guide [54:05]
Ted’s Show & Tell: One quality that is essential to having an amazing college experience [55:55]
Ethan’s Show & Tell: How to Create a Great College List [58:23]

LINKS MENTIONED ON OR RELEVANT TO THIS EPISODE:

109: How to Figure Out Which School is Right for You

HERE’S THE PRACTICAL GUIDE THAT THIS PODCAST INSPIRED:

SHOW NOTES

I first met Steven Antonoff at a NACAC Conference when I heard him telling a story about how he used to spend his spare time reading the Fiske Guide cover-to-cover--in fact, he’d do it while running on a treadmill--and I thought to myself, Who does that? That’s amazing.

Needless to say, Steven Antonoff is a student of colleges. There’s a reason his email (and website) is “School Buff.” He has spent more than 30 years building his knowledge of educational options. And not only is he a recipient of the award given annually to the person who has contributed the most to developing the profession of independent educational consulting… the award is named after him.

I consider him a giant of the college admissions world, a kind and generous mentor, and a friend.

On this episode we discuss:

  • How many schools students should apply to and when is best to start the process?
  • An amazing list of resources for helping students get to know themselves better
  • What is the highest-impact hour that someone could spend developing a college list? (The answer may surprise you.)
  • What do parents and students miss out on if they only use US News and World Report ratings?
  • What Steven listens for specifically when he's helping a student develop a list
  • What terms Steven uses instead of “reach,” “match” and “back-up” for schools on a list
  • We play a game where Steven helps me develop a college list on the fly based on a few of my preferences (something, he points out, he would never do without more information, by the way)… but he plays along and it’s neat to hear the master at work.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Who is Steven Antonoff? [0:30]
Why Steven’s email address ends in “schoolbuff” [5:10] 
Tell us about College Match: Why did you write it, who did you write it for? [6:33]
What are your favorite myths to bust about starting a college list? [8:05]
The problem with high-profile stories about atypical students getting into Ivy League schools [12:00]
How do you help students decide what kinds of colleges they might want to apply to? [15:00]
Questions that Steven likes to ask students as conversation starters [16:00]
How Steven gets students to think about who they are, their future, and the people around them [15:06]
How can students from other countries (who can’t get his book) go through his process? [19:10]
More self-reflection resources [20:29]
How studying multiple intelligences helps students better understand themselves [21:55]
Self-knowledge questionnaire and College planning values assessment [22:08]
Knowdell’s Card Sorts: the card packs called Career Values, Motivated Skills and Occupational Interests [21:34]
Career Inventories: Do What You Are [21:48]
O*Net for career information [22:57]
The Search Institute: produces 40 questionnaires that measure development assets for teenagers [23:16]
Authentic Happiness” Questionnaire [23:55]
What does it take to become a Certified Educational Planner (CEP)? [24:29]
When should the college search process begin? [27:00]
When helping a student develop a list, is there a certain factor that students/parents should consider, but many don’t? [29:56]
Resource: Educate to Career, which ranks schools by how much they promote access to career goals [32:12]
Two myths about small colleges [33:38]
What is the highest-impact hour that someone could spend developing a college list? [34:23]
The College Finder: How students can find the exact colleges that they’re looking for [37:21]
The amazing variety of lists that can be found in the book [40:29]
How were the lists compiled? [40:56]
What do parents and students miss out on if they only used US News or World Report ratings? [40:50] [47:24]
Why not rank the schools listed? [48:32]
Ever get emails from schools that feel they should have been on a particular list but weren’t? [50:42]
A game: Steven helps Ethan develop a college list based on Ethan’s preferences… [51:29]
What Steven listens for when helping a student develop a list [59:45]
What’s the measure of a great college list? How do you know when your search is over? [1:01:28]
How many schools should students apply to? [1:03:48]
What does Steven call “reach,” “match” and “back-up” schools? [1:05:41]
Show and Tell [1:10:59]
Steven: The group of toys that he uses for counseling [1:10:15]
Ethan: “How to Create a Great College List” post [1:11:23]
Steven, why do you do what you do? [1:13:08] 

LINKS MENTIONED ON OR RELEVANT TO THIS EPISODE:

108: Demonstrated Interest: How to Build Authentic Relationships with Colleges (and Why It's a Good Idea)

HERE’S THE PRACTICAL GUIDE THAT THIS PODCAST INSPIRED:

SHOW NOTES

While my goal is to bring more ease, joy and purpose into the college application process, my topic today is demonstrated interest, and at first blush this may not sound like a great way to do that, but I hope by the time you finish this episode and read the accompanying practical guide you’ll start to see how this can be something important to know about and consider as you’re applying to college. On this episode, my guest Monica James and I discuss, among other things:

  • What the heck is demonstrated interest in the first place and why is it important to colleges?
  • What “yield” is and why there’s a multi-million dollar industry of people called “enrollment consultants” who use sophisticated predictive analytics to foresee which students will actually attend a particular school… and why that’s important
  • How to find out which colleges track demonstrated interest
  • If you discover that there’s a school you are very interested in… how do you go about demonstrating interest--some practical tips for that
  • Is it possible to go overboard and demonstrate too much interest?
  • And we even get into: should you or shouldn’t you like a college’s Facebook page?

Play-By-Play

0:30 What today’s podcast is about.
1:53 Who is Monica James?
2:35 What got Monica thinking about Demonstrated Interest in the first place
3:24 What happens when you email a university representative about why you want to attend.
4:30 The importance of humanizing the college essay process and developing authentic relationships with school administration.
5:33 What is Demonstrated Interest?
6:26 How important is demonstrated interest in getting into a school? 
7:02 So why is demonstrated interest so important to colleges?
7:51 What is a stealth applicant?
8:52 So what changed about the admissions landscape that made showing Demonstrated Interest more important?
10:24 What is yield? 
10:43 Why does yield matter?
12:03 How the decreased acceptance rate of highly selective school makes it easier to get into lower-ranking schools
12:33 “Most schools accept most students”: a surprising fact of college admissions
13:12 What is resorting? 
13:48 How resorting created a multi-million dollar industry: enrollment consulting. What is an enrollment consultant?
14:41 What kinds of data do enrollment consultants use?
16:39 How consultants use zip code and demographics to figure out if you’re going to matriculate.
17:46 How colleges use predictive data to help students stay academically engaged.
18:18 The shifting landscape: the number of college applications being sent is rising at a faster rate than actual students going to college
19:31 Which colleges and universities track Demonstrated Interest and which ones don’t? Is there a way to find out?
21:10 Selective colleges that track demonstrated interest.
21:16 How to figure out which schools track demonstrated interest: 1. Google the college’s name along with “demonstrated interest” or 2. Google “Common Data Set” followed by the name of the college (the CDS describes which factors are important to each college). (Note: here’s a list of Common Data Sets for many schools)
22:55 So how do you recommend students go about Demonstrating Interest? 
23:41 Step one: open the emails that are sent to you by colleges in the summer of your sophomore year.
24:56 How being responsive to college emails can get your application fee waived
25:28 How useful are college fairs? 
26:27 How to make the most of a college fair
26:45 Ethan’s experiment talking to reps a college fair: four out of five college reps will likely read student’s applications.
28:21 Remember that there are always human beings behind each college application process
29:11 Step two: In the Fall, college reps visit high schools: offers an opportunity for students to meet your rep and show your intellectual vitality
30:43 Step three: If a college you’re interested in holds a presentation at a local conference center, attend.
31:10 What is the role of admissions reps in the application process?
33:34 How meeting a college rep can help win you an advocate if your application ends up in committee.
33:51 What about the role of Social Media in Demonstrated interest? Should I delete my Facebook? Are colleges looking at my Facebook or Twitter?
35:15 How chatting with colleges online can help show demonstrated interest
35:27 How visiting colleges can help
39:30 Advice to students and parents that may be feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of demonstrating interest 36:40
39:14 How much does early decision help? How much does early action increase chances?
39:58 Does applying before the deadline help?
40:48 How much do supplemental essays matter?
42:14 How much do college interviews help?
42:59 Is it possible to go overboard with demonstrated interest? 42:59
43:26 What are some things to NOT do when demonstrating interest?
44:22 Show and Tell
46:16 Monica, why do you do what you do?

LINKS MENTIONED ON OR RELEVANT TO THIS EPISODE:

FURTHER READING ON DEMONSTRATED INTEREST

107: What I've Learned from Reading Over 10,000 College Essays

THE PRACTICAL step-by-step GUIDE from Ethan's Show and tell:

SHOW NOTES

This episode is special because it’s an interview with one of my heroes of the college admissions world. In fact, his experience is so deep and he knows so much about so many different aspects about college counseling that if there were a “Master College Counselor” designation he would have received it. He spent 28 years in the office of Admissions at the University of Virginia--28 years!--and I’ll give you his longer bio on the episode in a minute, but

During our conversation, we cover, among other things:

  • What Parke has learned reading over 10,000 college essays
  • We’ll go behind-the-scenes to look at how close decisions are sometimes made by committees at highly-selective universities (and why essays matter even more as a result)
  • What Parke wrote his college essay about
  • Parke’s 10% rule for when students should/shouldn’t write about their activities or achievements
  • What an “authentic voice” is and why, contrary to popular wisdom, we maybe shouldn’t be encouraging students to write in it
  • Some dos and don’ts for the “Why us” essay, including one thing students should definitely do but most don’t, and
  • Why Parke believes his job is better than being a king

PLAY-BY-PLAY

What the episode’s about. [0:40]
Who is Parke Muth? [2:07]
What does it take to become a Top Writer on Quora? [4:10]
What Parke has learned reading over 10,000 college essays [7:40]
What was different in terms of how Parke read essays when he went from being an admissions officer to being an application consultant [9:00]
A behind-the-scenes look at how close decisions are sometimes made by committees at highly-selective universities (and why essays matter even more as a result) [11:10]
How students can give themselves a great chance of winning over an admissions committee: two different theories [13:20]
One question Parke asks students all the time [15:15]
What Parke never argued for (on behalf of a student) and what he would argue for in committee [15:25]
What are some of the best personal statements you’ve ever read? [18:16]
Is a hook necessary for a great essay? [20:40]
What Parke teaches the students he works with [22:10]
What Parke wrote his college essay about [23:25]
How Parke would approach a sports essay, if he were to write one [24:25]
Parke’s 10% rule for when students should/shouldn’t write about their activities or achievements [28:10]
How Parke starts an essay process with a student and sees his role with students [30:10]
How Parke sees his relationship to students [32:45]
How Parke motivates his students like a coach [33:50]
Do essays really matter? [34:54]
Why essays don’t make much of a difference for probably 80% of students [36:04]
Can you think of any examples of students that “wrote their way in?” [37:04]
One of Parke’s all-time favorite essays, which began, “The woman wanted breasts...” [39:00]
Why Parke started his blog and why he writes at all [40:00]
Why do you write a blog at all? [41:24]
What your essay tests and why do you post them? [42:55]
Some of Parke’s most surprising reactions to essays [44:47]
Why Parke thinks that a good essay doesn’t have to be a story about struggle  [47:30]
What is a student’s authentic voice and should students be encouraged to use it? [48:53]
“The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay” [49:30] 
What makes a good writer is an ability to play with voices [51:09]
How much help should students get in their essay writing process? [52:02]
How much help is too much help? [53:11]
How much should you let yourself explore students’ personal lives in the essay writing process? [54:50]
Why writing about your support for Donald Trump probably won’t help your admissions chances. [55:25]
Should I write about politics and religion in my college essay? [56:13]
How writing about unusual topics (like raising baby tarantulas) can help you stand out on a college essay [57:19]
How the idea of “writing what you know” is counter intuitive [58:08]
What are the riskier topics you’ve seen students pull off successfully? [59:52]
Why it’s important to toe the line between writing an essay that is outrageous and writing an essay that touches on risky subjects [1:02:14]
Should I curse in my college essay? [1:02:19]
How many great essays about horses or horse-riding have you heard? [1:02:40]
How someone’s privilege and opportunity can play into your college essay. [1:03:08]
Do you tell students to not about topics that highlight their privilege? [1:04:23]
What are you tired of seeing in Why Us essays? [1:06:17]
What are some creative approaches to writing a Why Us essay? [1:08:19]
How to prepare to write a Why Us essay [1:10:27]
How reaching out to schools and teachers at a school you want to attend can improve your chances of getting in [1:10:50]
How does it typically take to write a Why Us essay? [1:14:06]
Parke’s Show and Tell: The difficulty of students trying to get into high-caliber schools [1:17:13]
Ethan’s Show and Tell: a blog post about how to show schools that you’ve done your research [1:20:00]
The last question: Why do you do what you do? [1:20:26]
Why Parke feels like his life is better than a king’s. [1:22:37]

LINKS MENTIONED ON THIS EPISODE

106: Colleges That Change Lives: Great Schools You May Not (Yet!) Know About

a Blog post that this podcast inspired

SHOW NOTES

While Episode 105 was about how workshops can change lives, on this episode you’ll learn about some Colleges That Change Lives. 

My guest is Maria Furtado, the Executive Director of Colleges That Change Lives (aka CTCL), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement and support of a student-centered college search process. I HAD SO MUCH FUN RECORDING THIS EPISODE MARIA IS BRILLIANT FUNNY--I LOLd MAYBE 20 TIMES IN THIS CONVERSATION--AND YOU WILL FEEL SMARTER AFTER THIS HOUR. We discuss, among other things: 

  • What is a liberal arts education and why is it important?
  • Three questions every student should ask when it comes to picking a college
  • Three ways to reduce anxiety during the college application process: the Car Idea, how to avoid “college creep,” and how the Ice Cream Prize can make a tour better
  • One great way to increase (not decrease) stress during the college selection process
  • How to make the most of a college fair experience
  • Perhaps the single most important thing for parents to consider when it comes to the college application process

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Quick info on Maria Furtado [2:42]
Colleges That Change Lives: How did it begin? What does it do? How? [3:26]
What is a liberal arts education and why is it important? [8:17]
Two things Maria always says about the liberal arts (heads-up: the first is funny, the second may surprise you) [9:38]
A look into the future: How liberal arts prepare students for success in a rapidly changing world [11:39]
Is a small college better than a large university? What are some of the merits of a small college? Who might thrive at a small school? [14:32]
A great story illustrating what type of student might prefer a large school [17:12]
Is there any danger in focusing on name-brand schools only? [18:50]
One great way to increase (yeah, not decrease) stress during the college selection process [19:45]
What does “best fit” mean in terms of college selection and how can students find a best fit college? [21:00]
Questions every student should ask when it comes to picking a college [22:00]
Why is important to have a “student-centered” process? And what are some signs that a process is/isn’t student-centered? [30:13]
Advice to parents who may feel that the college application process is the parent’s “report card” [31:18]
Advice to parents (and students) when it comes to discussing the college list with family and friends [32:02]
How can students, parents and counselors make the process more student-centered? [31:10]
Perhaps the single most important thing for parents to consider when it comes to the college application process [34:15]
In which cases Maria chooses name brand only [36:53]
Might a name-brand school be a better fit for certain students? [37:27]
What schools would be on your college list, Maria, if you were applying today? [38:13]
Which schools get to become CTCL member schools? (What does it take to become a College That Changes Lives?) [42:11]
Three ways to reduce anxiety during the college application process: the Car Idea, how to avoid “college conversation creep,” and an idea for making a college tour better [44:23]
What to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed by mail from schools [49:55]
What are some practical ways that CTCL can be useful to students? [51:15]
List of upcoming Colleges That Change Lives programs, presentations, and college fairs [53:00]
Resource: Questions to Ask at a College Fair [53:30]
(Question posed by Parke Muth in my Private Facebook Group for Counselors): How do you keep CTCL from becoming just another brand in the college marketing ecosphere (pun intended)? [56:16]
Why do you do this work, Maria? [57:34]
SHOW & TELL: Life advice from Maria, plus Ethan’s resource, “How to Make Your College Fair Awesome” (printable for both students and counselors) [1:00:14]

Links Mentioned On This Podcast

105: How to Lead a Life-Changing Essay Workshop

how to lead a life changing workshop

SHOW NOTES

Usually on the podcast I 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 to help you in the college application process.

But sometimes, especially when I see that a resource isn’t already out there, I’ll go ahead and create it myself--and that’s what I’ve done in this case with the college essay workshop. Allow me to explain:

Over the past ten years I’ve delivered hundreds of personal statement workshops--some as small as 4 and some as large as 800--and earlier this year I was getting a bunch of workshop requests and thinking: I can’t deliver all these--in large part because I like spending time with my wife and baby. But you know what I could do, I thought? Leverage one of students’ greatest resources--their counselor (and if you’re a counselor listening, that’s you)--and all they’d need in some cases is a few tools to help guide their students through the process. So I spent the past few months creating something called the Essay Workshop in a Box that basically walks counselors step-by-step through how to deliver a great workshop--and I found a way to do it that would bring no cost to their students. That’s right: free-ninety-nine.

So the podcast episode you’re is a webinar that I gave to counselors called “How to Lead a Life-Changing Essay Workshop” and I share three parts of this Essay Workshop in a Box, including:

  • 6 Ways That Most Workshops Fail in the First Five Minutes (aka 6 Terrible Ways to Start a Workshop)
  • 9 Tips for Leading a Workshop of Any Size
  • 5 Potentially Life-Changing Workshop Moments
  • Bee tea dubs: These are essentially three of the modules from the Essay Workshop in a Box--there are 29 total, btw, and you can find out more about that in the show notes.
  • At the end I also say a few words about my Counselor Training Program, which I’m super duper excited about.

Thanks for listening to the podcast and, if you aren’t a counselor, don’t worry because the next episode--and all the others!--are for you. Please enjoy this episode… I hope it changes your life.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

What today’s episode is about [0:49]
Including the Counselor Workshop in a Box [1:45]
And the Counselor Training Program [2:30]
What is something that you’d like to be better at being or doing? [3:03]
I spill my guts about what I wants to be better at. [4:117
Second introduction here? [3:53]
You have a mention of the webinar here. [4:36-47]
Six ways facilitators lose their audience in the first five minutes [6:25]
First way to not start a workshop: give out a lot of information [6:30]
Should I start a workshop with an introduction?[7:45]
Third way: don’t start your workshop by talking about breakfast [8:40]
Fourth: don’t start a large workshop by going around the room and sharing names and intentions [9:24]
Fifth: don’t start your introductions with superficial questions [10:35]
Get nametags--skip the name sharing.
Why it’s important to clarify your intentions [11:45]
My counseling intention: to bring more ease, purpose, and joy to the college essay process [12:16]
A list of deep questions to use with students to create content [14:53]
Crappy brainstorming exercises [13:19]
Building rapport is incredibly important for working with students [14:11]
Build rapport by playing the “If you really knew me…” exercise [15:06]
Five potentially life changing moments [19:44]
Students’ lives begin to change in the first five minutes of a workshop [20:03]
Moment two: Amazing Workshop Icebreaker: the “I love” Game [20:15]
What does it mean to change someone’s life? [21:04]
The values exercise [21:52]
My top value for the day: release [23:22]
How to write a narrative essay [23:58]
Setting agreements with your students: no gossip, listen with respect, participate fully, take care of themselves [24:32]
The basic structure of a workshop introduction [25:25]
Feelings and Needs Exercise and why I love them [25:49]
Make sure to take an 8-minute break after a heavy Feelings and Needs Exercise [27:00]
The fourth life-changing workshop moment: ask students to share their stories [27:18]
Make sure that listening students get time to repeat the story they heard back to the storyteller [28:46]
If there’s time, talk about the montage structure [29:18]
Moment five: encourage an open essay-reading time where students can tell their story [29:023]
Ask for feedback from the listeners and storytellers about what it’s like to hear each story told [31:02]
9 tips for leading a workshop of any size [31:55]
Tip 1: make sure that the task you’ve given students is really clear [32:04]
For example: How to create breakout groups for the essence objects exercise [32:56]
Tip 2: specify how long the exercise will last [34:43]
Tip 3: assign a little less time to your students than it will actually take them [35:08]
Or extend the time you give to students for an exercise if they’re working diligently [36:48]
Tip 4: Get support (like a volunteer or other counselor) to help you facilitate the workshop [36:55]
Tip 5: Don’t let “adultism” get in the way of building rapport with students [37:14]
If students are not on task, it might be because the task is not clear to them [37:59]
Tip 6: if students aren’t on task then clarify the task [39:21]
Tip 7: don’t leave the room during paired work [39:31]
Sync up your bathroom and food breaks with your students [40:06]
Encourage students to not check their cell phones during the breaks [40:22]
Consider “productive tangents” as opportunities to workshops student’s stories live or answer important questions [41:08]
When it comes to workshops, “the map is not the territory”. [42:37]
Essay Workshop in a Box [43:29]
Counselor Training Program [44:40]
If the Essay Workshop in a Box is your boat and a map, the Counselor Training Program will teach you to sail [45:06]

LINKS MENTIONED ON THIS EPISODE

103: How to Appeal a Financial Aid Award Letter

HERE’S THE PRACTICAL GUIDE THAT THIS PODCAST INSPIRED:

SHOW NOTES:

Jodi Okun is the social media rockstar of the college admissions world--check her out on Twitter!--and she is my go-to person for financial aid. A former financial aid officer from Occidental and Pitzer, she is the founder & president of College Financial Aid Advisors and has helped thousands of families navigate the financial aid process.

Jodi is the brand ambassador for Discover Student Loans, the About.com Money Expert and was recently featured as one of the Top 30 Social Influencers in Personal Finance & Wealth.

She is a social media strategist, speaker, consultant and small business advocate, and her recent book Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro is an Amazon bestseller.

On this episode we discuss:

  • Who should make the call to a financial aid office: the student or parent?
  • What to literally say to a financial aid officer when you call them to appeal
  • Why you maybe shouldn’t start off the conversation by mentioning a financial aid offer from another school
  • Jodi’s five points to cover in an appeal letter
  • What tone to take and how long the letter should be
  • The one thing students and parents should do but don’t

PLAY-BY-PLAY:

Who is Jodi Okun? [2:46]
What Jodi feels she really nailed in her book [4:51]
What has working for 10 years in the financial aid industry taught Jodi [5:32]
The first thing you should do if you receive a financial aid award letter and you’re disappointed [6:55]
Four considerations to make before filing an appeal [8:27]
What parents can do (years!) in advance to avoid a disappointing financial aid award letter [9:27]
How to predict how much financial aid you’re going to get [10:36]
Who should appeal a financial aid letter? [13:12]
How to appeal a financial aid letter [14:22]
Who should make the call to a financial aid office: the student or parent? [15:32]
What to literally say to a financial aid officer when you call them to appeal [16:02]
The importance of “The Pause” when making an appeal [16:42]
Why you maybe shouldn’t start off the conversation by mentioning a financial aid offer from another school [18:22]
How often are parents speaking with the person who could be the decision-maker? [19:32]
An inside look inside how decisions are sometimes made in a financial aid office [20:22]
What can negatively impact your appeal? [23:02]
How to be prepared for the financial aid appeal conversation [25:12]
Jodi’s five points to cover in an appeal letter [26:22]
What tone to take and how long the letter should be [27:24]
When should students appeal? [30:27]
Should students include additional materials to make the case for an appeal? [32:32]
Financial Aid 101 and common financial aid terms to know [37:17]
The one thing students should do but don’t [37:42]
The one thing parents should do but don’t [38:66]
Why do people always pronounce it “FASFA”? [39:27]
Should families who make a lot of money still apply for financial aid? [39:57]
Why Jodi is bummed about the IRS tool (why it shut down and what it means) [40:52]
Why you should absolutely go to admitted student day [43:08]
Jodi’s favorite secret tip for those who can’t attend an admitted student day [43:52]
Tips for filling out your FAFSA: whether or not to include house and retirement when reporting assets, when you should include business assets and when you shouldn’t, etc. [44:36]
Tip for filling out the CSS Profile [46:52]
Jodi’s Show and Tell: Mindfulness and Ashtanga yoga
Ethan’s Show and Tell: Headspace (meditation app) and a TED Talk by its founder, Andy Puddicombe
What would you like to leave us with? [50:22]

LINKS MENTIONED ON THIS EPISODE