College Decisions and Playing College Sports

College admissions results are coming in….Here are some overall acceptance rates for the Class of 2021 at: 
  • Wellesley College-21%
  • Boston College-32%
  • University of Virginia-27%
  • Georgia Tech- 23%
  • Georgetown University- 15%
  • Wake Forest University -25%
  • Middlebury College-20%
  • Swarthmore College-10%

College Decisions: What to Do When You Get In

High School is almost over and, as a senior, you’ve worked hard.  By now you have been accepted to a number of colleges where you applied Early Action, or Regular Decision.  Perhaps you have been waitlisted or denied admission by others.  The deadline for your final college decision is May 1, 2017 so it is time to take a deep breath and look at your choices.
Successful college admissions is about ending up with a choice with which you are happy.  You may be disappointed about not getting into a particular school you had your heart set on, but it is important to remember that it is not just about you and your qualifications.  It is much more about what colleges call “enrollment management” and about the fact that more students are applying to colleges than ever before. In 2016 the total number of applications submitted to the colleges and universities in this country went up 6%.  It is true that there is a college for everyone.  It is also true that there are many colleges and universities where you will thrive and be successful.   So regain your confidence, and move ahead with the choices you have.   It is now your turn to decide.
As a college admissions advisor, let me suggest several actions you may take to help you with your decision making:
  1. Make a list of the pros and cons of each school to which you have been offered admission. Consider location, academic majors, size, the type of students who go there, the political climate, and social scene. While making this list, talk to anyone you know who currently attends or has graduated from the colleges you are considering. They will be glad to share their impressions and experiences with you.
  2. If you think you have decided upon a major,  carefully research  what each college offers in the field you have selected. How many and what kind of courses are offered? How many full-time faculty are in the department along with the number of part-time faculty? Do the schools you are considering offer you a variety of other academic choices, if you change your mind about your major?  Be sure you know the kind of internships and other off-campus learning opportunities are offered.   For example, students at Colgate can study for a semester at the National Institute of Health in Maryland and students  in the geosciences program at DickinsonCollegecan spend two weeks on research projects in the Arctic.   
  3.  Make sure you and your parents really understand the “financial aid packages” you have been offered by each school.  Is a particular school offering you unsubsidized or subsidized Stafford Loans?  Is it offering you scholarships and grants or just loans?   How much are you really getting, compared to the cost of tuition? Be sure you know what fees you will be charged in addition to tuition.  For example, the University of Connecticut  charges  $3000.00 each year in “fees”  to cover technology, activities and facilities and Penn State University Park charges $947.00 in fees per year.  Don’t forget that there are other costs besides tuition and fees that you will incur such as books, travel, and recreation.  Determine how you will afford these expenses. What if you no longer want to, or can play that sport for which you were offered a scholarship?  Would you still want to be at that college? Could you still afford to be there?
  4. Go visit again. It is important to try and attend the accepted student “open houses” and other events such as “overnights” that colleges have in the spring for their admitted students.  If you can’t make these events, try to go at another time and arrange to attend a class and spend a weekend in the residence hall.
  5. Be honest with yourself. Think about your own interests, values, and preferences as you make your decision. Where will you feel most comfortable and challenged?    For example, if you have grown up in a small town, such as State College, PA or Tolland, CT a large urban campus in a distant state may look appealing and sound glamorous to you and your friends, but do you visualize yourself happy there six months from now?  Conversely, a smaller rural college in the mountains of New England may seem more to your liking now, but will it allow you to grow in the ways you want to in the next four years?
  6. Once you have decided on a college, thank your parents for all those college visits they made with you, your teachers, your school counselor and other professionals who have helped you along the way, so they can celebrate with you as you look ahead to new experiences.
You only have about a month to consider your decision since you will need to send in your deposit confirming your place in the freshman class at the college of your choice  by May 1, 2017.  Jay Mathews, author and educational columnist for the Washington Post, writes in his book, Harvard Schmarvard,
The best college to attend is the one that looks like an adventure, a place that will take you where you have always wanted to go.”
You may want to keep these words, and my suggestions in mind as you make your decision. Good Luck!

Get in the Game

Advice for High School Student Athletes

If you are an aspiring student athlete who hopes to play on a varsity team in colleges here is some advice in the article I wrote for the magazine HOME TOWN SPORTS.

Tips for Aspiring College Athletes

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, nearly eight million teenagers play high school sports. If you are one of these high school students you’ve probably worked hard on your high school team. Hopefully, you have also worked hard in your academic classes. If your goal is to play a sport in college keep the following guidelines in mind:

1. There are three divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

NCAA Division I: In general, offers athletics scholarships, but many Division I schools do not fully fund all of their athletic programs. For a more detailed understanding of what this means, visit:
NCAA Division II: In general, offers scholarships, but most NCAA Division II schools do not fully fund their athletic programs. For a more detailed understanding of what this means, visit:
NCAA Division III: No athletic scholarships, but many may offer merit-based, need-based, or diversity-based scholarships or grants.

No matter the Division, early in the process, you should make contact with the financial aid offices at the schools that interest you. They can explain the types of financial aid packages they offer, which in some circumstances can be in addition to or “stacked” on top of any athletics aid you receive. You and your parents also need to be sure to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Assistance) in October of your senior year.

2. If you want to compete at the NCAA level, many times high school competition is not enough to gain ample exposure. Look to join select, premiere, AAU, travel, or club teams or programs in addition to your high school team. College coaches often attend large club/AAU events because there are more athletes to see in one place versus a select number at a high school gym or field where only one game is occurring.

3. If you intend to play NCAA DI or DII sports, you MUST register with the NCAA eligibility center at I advise that you register in your sophomore year of high school. For more information on the NCAA eligibility center requirements, see the following link:

4. When you visit campuses, be sure and call or email the coaching staff well in advance, to see if he or she is available to meet with you. It will help if you include video content with your communication to the coaching staff. Remember, coaches get hundreds of emails and you can’t be sure they will want to see you. In addition, it is important that your high school and club or travel team coaches are advocates for you.

5. There are hundreds of NCAA rules that may prohibit coaches from seeing and/or initiating contact with you via phone or email depending on your year in high school. Know that many times the only way a coach can communicate with you is if you contact him or her. Furthermore, your parents are considered to be an extension of you, so coaches may not be able to initiate communication with them either. According to Alex Ricker-Gilbert, the athletic director at Jacksonville University, a DI institution,: “High school student-athletes need to be proactive if they hope to be seen by college coaches. Sure, there are “superstars” that coaches might be aware of, but most recruitment usually occurs when student-athletes or their high school and club coaches initiate communication with the desired college coaching staff. It is also important to know the events that coaches traditionally attend in order to try and ensure the teams you play on have a presence at these events so your talents and abilities can be exposed. Recruitment is not a one-way road. Student-athletes have to play their part.”

6. High school athletes also need to be proactive with regard to their course work. As Richard Ciambotti, Assistant Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Boalsburg, suggests: “The most important aspect of becoming a college athlete is keeping your academics in order and committing time each day to your sport. College athletics is obviously competitive and I’ve known players who have lost scholarships because their academics were not in good standing. Additionally, anyone who has an interest in playing college sports needs to understand the commitment level required. Each day, you need to be doing something to work toward your goal, whatever it may be.”

Good luck toward reaching your goals both academically and athletically as you look ahead to your future in higher education.