Getting Started

GETTING STARTED: A Pre-College Plan for Junior High Families In simplest terms, the value of education is at least threefold: the acquisition of knowledge; the access it provides to higher levels o…

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Getting Started



A Pre-College Plan for Junior High Families

In simplest terms, the value of education is at least threefold: the acquisition of knowledge; the access it provides to higher levels of the socio-economic spectrum; and the cash value of higher level employment through the lifespan that statistically should result. The further one climbs up the academic ladder, the greater the potential benefit within each category.

GETTING STARTED is a pre-college program designed by a team of professional educators for families of students in junior high school who are seeking every possible advantage in the highly competitive pursuit of admission to one of America’s leading colleges or universities for a son or daughter. There are many ways to achieve that objective, but almost all involve superior achievement – in the classroom, on the sports field, and through some other demonstrated mastery.

Most college-bound students defer the process of preparing for college until it is too late to do much about it. By the eleventh grade, the student’s record is mostly written, and it is not possible to go back to join that ninth grade team or to take foreign language a year earlier than necessary. Moreover, since most schools operate with limited resources, early pre-college counseling of the type that would help is just not available. Families need to do the job on their own.

With GETTING STARTED, families now have an option that can completely alter the college admissions process. The program includes two hours of live sessions with an experienced education professional; personality and career preference testing (Meyers Briggs/Strong Interest Inventories); evaluation of courses, grades, and objective testing; a recommended reading list for every grade level; suggestions for summer engagement; and establishment of a plan going forward that will provide each student with step-by-step goals along the path toward optimized college or university entry.

Although students who complete GETTING STARTED will have all the necessary tools for navigating the college process, some families may elect to subscribe to a more extensive, full-service option provided by Informed Educational Solutions, the educational consultancy whose directors have supervised the enrollment of nearly 10,000 students from around the world in America’s independent schools, colleges and universities. A portion of the full-service program fee will be reduced for students who have completed the GETTING STARTED option first.

Now, more than ever before, getting an early start is critically important to planning a successful college admissions program. GETTING STARTED moves the focus from the eleventh grade back to junior high, where it needs to be and from where enhancements can be made in time to optimize outcomes.

Carter P. Reese                        Informed Educational Solutions

This is the second in a series of blogs written for parents of younger students, junior high age or so, who are thinking ahead about college admissions. We firmly believe that planning ahead can yield enormous benefits, and reduce anxiety about the transition from high school to college.

Posted in 10th Grade, Academic Consultant, ACT, Best Fit School, Careers, Communicating with your teen, community service, Confident Children, Educational Consultant, Educational Counselor, helicopter parent, High School Courses, High School Grades, homeschool, homework, Informed Educational Solutions, jobs for teens, Junior High School, Online Learning, parenting, peer groups, peer pressure, Reading, SAT, school success, Self-Assessment, Summer Enrichment, Teen Self-Confidence, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Getting Started

GETTING STARTED: A Primer for Anxious Parents and the College Bound STARTING EARLY Every year, throughout America, a new crop of college-bound high school seniors begins the final and sometimes tra…

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Getting Started



A Primer for Anxious Parents and the College Bound


Every year, throughout America, a new crop of college-bound high school seniors begins the final and sometimes traumatic lap that will, for most, end with graduation and an acceptance letter from at least institution that promises safe passage to, and preparation for, a new destination called adulthood. The process that leads to that letter has become increasingly complex in the last half century and has almost always been crammed into a short time frame, beginning in the second half of the junior year.

Anxiety about college admission starts much earlier, though, particularly for parents. While sons and daughters have their respective peer groups available to provide collective relief (along with misinformation) from the mounting pressures of the college process, parents have no such support system. Moreover, they remember from their own high school days just how worrying the experience can be. Since many teenagers and their parents tend to avoid meaningful communication as much as possible, however – and that is not necessarily a bad thing during this period – how do those fears and expressions of anxiety get transmitted from one camp to the other? How do kids make their wishes known? How can this process be transformed into a happier and more productive time for everyone?

The answer involves gathering information, developing a game plan and having the time to implement it. Some parts of a college admissions plan can be assembled in relatively little time; other important parts may take years. High school guidance counselors tend to wear many hats, and ‘college counselor’ is just one. The sheer volume of college-bound students assigned to most guidance counselors precludes spending much time with any one individual, especially at the eleventh grade level. (Nationally, the average amount of time spent by a guidance counselor with her student is only 40 minutes.)As a result, families need to take on a great part  of the work

Among the most important steps that can be taken by any student is to develop a reading program beyond that which is required in school. It has often been recommended that students in junior high read for pleasure at least a half hour per day. For students in the ninth grade and later, an hour per day is optimal. Reading expands vocabulary, enhances reading comprehension, builds knowledge and expertise, and tends to offer many other benefits, including greater proficiency in taking standardized tests (especially the new SAT) that will become significant to most college bound students.

Reading, then, is the first of many parts of a college plan that requires an early start. But, what to read? Where can a student go to find titles that are worthwhile? Independent schools and colleges everywhere have required outside reading for their own students and applicants for admission. High school librarians can offer great suggestions, too, in print form and for downloading onto readers of all types. The subject matter is less important than the act of reading itself. As long as the book is well written, the benefit from reading will be tremendous.

Other aspects of the college admissions process benefit from an early start, as well. Selecting challenging courses is as important in the ninth grade as it is in the eleventh. Extracurricular and community service choices positively influence the college resume. Meaningful summer experiences help to demonstrate a student’s commitment to the future – a chance to preview career options years before a college major has to be declared.

For the college bound student, higher education decisions often represent the first truly adult considerations to come along in life. The extent to which the student is prepared to make well informed choices in this complex arena will determine in large part the dimensions of his or her long-term success in the world after college. The advantage, undeniably, will go to those who have started the process early and built strong foundations from junior high onward.

Carter P. Reese, Director                                                                       Informed Educational Solutions

This article is the first in a series of blogs written for parents of younger students, junior high age or so, who are thinking ahead about college admissions. We firmly believe that planning ahead can yield enormous benefits, and reduce anxiety about the transition from high school to college.

Posted in Advanced Placement, Best Fit School, Careers, Carter P. Reese, College, College Admissions, College Tours, Communicating with your teen, Communication, community service, Confident Children, Educational Consultant, High School Courses, High School Grades, homeschool, homework, Informed Educational Solutions, jobs, jobs for teens, jobs of the future, parenting, peer groups, school success, Selecting a College, Self-Assessment, Summer Enrichment, Summer Reading, Teens, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Big Picture on College Admissions

At this point in the fall, many high school seniors are well underway—in some fashion or another—on the college admissions process. As a group, they tend to want to push their parents to the sidelines as they gradually assume ownership of their lives and this major decision.

Parents worry, legitimately, that their daughters and sons are not really talking enough with their guidance counselors, or spending time on Naviance (many Berks County high schools make this college admission software available) to research choices carefully, or taking time to visit campuses.

As an independent educational consultant, I see some basic areas in which parents can be influential and helpful to their children, well in advance of the hectic and pressurized senior fall:

  • Visit colleges early, even in the freshman or sophomore year. Take the official campus tours, and encourage your child to think ahead, well before the pressure is on.
  • Many colleges have an area of their websites where students can request to be on the mailing/email lists. Again, this gets good information moving directly at students well before the senior year
  • Summer programs are a great way for a young high school student to experience campus life well in advance. From sports programs to academic enrichment and SAT/ACT prep, these experiences foster independence and expand horizons simultaneously.
  • Parents can purchase hard copies of the “Fiske Guide To Colleges” or “The Insiders’ Guide To Colleges” to be left casually in shared spaces in the house, encouraging grazing of information.
  • Focus on school performance and attitude is essential. Any drop in high school grades should be treated as a serious matter. The GPA is the essential vital sign for college admission officers. A high GPA and average SAT/ACTs are the earmarks of an industrious student, while a modest GPA and high scores signal a slacker. Those rare students with high GPAs and scores are likely to have excellent college choices.
  • Besides schoolwork, nothing better prepares students for college than reading. Reading for pleasure is a habit parents can absolutely pass on, by being avid readers themselves and keeping tv and social media out of their children’s bedrooms.

As the costs of even public universities is climbing, how best should parents prepare for college costs?

Since colleges base financial aid awards on the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) as calculated by the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), parents who file the form just after the new October 1 deadline will get an early read on what they can expect.  Income from student employment is part of the equation. Aid awards will include student loans, and parents should look carefully at those allocations.  Too heavy a debt burden leaves young college graduates struggling to buy a car or even rent an apartment.

Naviance also provides information on merit scholarships offered at various colleges.  Savvy parents know that if they are willing to have their child “drop down” a level in terms of college selectivity, they enhance the possibility of a generous merit award.  Of course, varsity athletes are often treated generously in award designations.

I deeply believe that a “best fit” college makes an important difference in a young person’s life, providing challenge, support, inspiration, real knowledge, career preparation and mentoring.  The quality and seriousness of the student body has direct impact on your son or daughter’s education.  It’s hard to be a scholar at a party school, and it’s not easy to be a lightweight among a culture of scholars.

Plan ahead.  Pick carefully.

Sarah C. Reese –  Informed Educational Solutions


Posted in Academic Consultant, ACT, ACT, Applications, Best Fit School, College Admissions, College Majors, College Rankings, Common Application, Educational Consultant, FAFSA, Financial Aid, Financing College, Gap Year, public universities, Reading, Sarah C. Reese, SAT, Selecting a College, Standardized Tests, Uncategorized, University Strenghths | Leave a comment

Does A College’s Student Body Political Leaning Matter to You?


As you are researching colleges, you will hear comments about how one campus is “very liberal” or another is “extremely conservative”, or another is “middle of the road”.: These are references to the political leanings of a college campus. Is it red, blue or somewhere in between?  Are all students of the same persuasion?

How do you find out? Here are some tips for exploring the political atmosphere on a college campus:

  1. Check out the list of college clubs? What kinds of clubs are available?
  2. Look at the campus newspaper or online news? What are the issues? Are the issues balanced, or slanted more toward a liberal or conservative viewpoint?
  3. Review the mission statement.  Does the college have core beliefs that favor one political perspective than another?
  4. Check the school’s social media.  What is the twitter and facebook chatter covering?
  5. What kind of events are popular on campus?  Where do students like to gather?

Many colleges encourage a balanced political dialogue. After researching the school, do you feel you would fit in?  Would it meet your needs to find a “liberal”, “conservative” or “middle of the road” school?

From:  GuidedPath Weekly Guru 6/7/16- Posted by Sarah Reese-

Posted in 12th Grade, Best Fit School, Campus Politics, Colleges in the News, Education, Informed Educational Solutions, Selecting a College, Self-Assessment, Senior Year, social fit, specialized interests, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Basic College Money Planning For Students


Before you leave for college, you need to learn how to handle money.  Here are 6 tips for you to consider as you prepare to go off to college in the fall.

  1. Open a bank account NOW and get an ATM card (if you don’t already have one). Make it a joint account (you and a parent.) That way you can get money quickly if you need it when away from home (in college).
  2. Learn how to check your bank balance from your phone. It is a good practice to check your bank balance before you get gas or stop by Starbucks, to be sure you have money in the bank for your purchase.
  3. Learn how to deposit checks.  New technology allows you to deposit checks right from your phone.  Great for those graduation checks you will receive.
  4. Create a budget. It is essential to have a spending plan.  Know how much money you will have each month from your financial aid or from parents. With your parents, create a realistic monthly budget.  Then, your biggest task will be to stick to your budget.
  5. Learn how to schedule & pay bills from your account.  You might have phone bills or other bills you are responsible for.  Learn how to pay on time and keep within a budget.
  6. Open a credit card account BEFORE leaving for college. Don’t be tempted by the credit card offers that you will see when you get there!  Use this card as a “backup” only, and to help establish good credit.

Start developing good money management skills this summer, and you will have a great start to your freshman year in the fall.

From GuidedPath Weekly Guru 6/1/16       –        Sarah Reese

Posted in 12th Grade, Academic Consultant, Best Fit School, College, Financial Aid, Financing College, Merit Aid, Senior Year, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CommonApp Announces New “Rollover” Feature:


Last fall, The Common Application announced that applicant accounts created in 2015-2016 would roll over to 2016-2017. Now, we have more information to share with counselors as they begin to work with their students.

What is Account Rollover?

Account Rollover will let anyone with a Common App account maintain that account from one year to the next. It is intended to be a learning tool, not a means of completing college applications prior to senior year.

To help students take full advantage of the benefits of Account Rollover, we have created Common App Ready, a series of packaged presentations and accompanying scripts that cover every aspect of the application, from account registration through submission. Common App Ready is designed to be a powerful, flexible advising tool to be used by counselors in a way that meets their needs, on their timeline, in a manner that makes sense for their school communities. Later this spring, we will update Common App Ready to reflect any coming application changes for 2016-2017.

Who can use Account Rollover?

Anyone who has a Common App account can take advantage of Account Rollover. This resource is designed to help everyone who is a part of the college process – from students and parents to teachers and counselors – explore and understand the Common Application. On the registration page, we ask you to identify your role, but everyone has the same application experience, regardless of how they identify themselves.

How will Account Rollover work?

After the 2016-2017 Common App launches on August 1, you’ll be able to sign in using the same credentials as your 2015-2016 Common App. Upon that first sign in, we’ll ask if you would like to roll over your account from 2015-2016. If you answer yes, we’ll take you through a few quick steps to confirm the following:

* Your role (current applicant, other student, counselor, parent, etc.)

* Your current high school

* Your communication opt-in selection

* Your acceptance of our Privacy Policy

* Your previous My Colleges list

Once we have that information, we will migrate responses from your 2015-2016 account into your 2016-2017 Common App, and you’ll be ready to get started on your application.

What information will carry over from one year to the next?

We will preserve the answers you provided to any questions that appear in the six sections of the “Common App” tab: Profile, Family, Education, Testing, Activities, and Writing.

Is there any information that will not carry over?

Yes. The following information will not carry over:

* Any information you may have entered for college-specific Questions and Writing Supplements

* Your Release Authorization and FERPA selection

* Any Recommender invitations, assignments, and forms

* PDFs of Common Applications and Writing Supplements submitted the prior year

* Responses to any questions that have been removed since the prior year

* Responses to any questions that may have a different format or different response options from the prior year (For 2016-2017, this will include the Testing section given changes in score reporting. We’ll provide more information on this topic later in the spring.)

From website; posted by Sarah C. Reese, Informed Educational Solutions

Posted in 11th Grade, 12th Grade, ACT, Applications, Best Fit School, Class Rank, College, College Admission Statistics, College Admissions, College Applications, College Essay, Common App, Common Application, Informed Educational Solutions, Junior Year, Selecting a College, Senior Year, State of College Admission, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Juniors: Organize Your Testing!


There are lots of tests and testing dates to keep track of. Knowing what tests are offered when, and the deadlines is important for scheduling.

Test Date Test Type Register Month Registration Location
June 4 SAT & SAT Subjects May
Sept. 12 ACT August
Oct. 1 SAT September
Oct. 19 PSAT (MNSQT) September Your high school
Oct.24 ACT September
Nov. 5 SAT & SAT Subjects October
Dec. 3 SAT & SAT Subjects November
Dec. 12 ACT November
Jan 21 SAT & SAT Subjects December

1. Plan your test schedule for taking the ACT, PSAT, SAT and SAT Subjects.

2. Schedule tests with time in between to get your scores back, so you know what to study for.

3. Register early for your test.

4. Allow 45-60 minutes to register. There are lots of questions!

5. Upload a picture for your ACT or SAT / SAT Subject Test Registration.

6. Take the personality survey in the ACT registration.

Sarah C. Reese – Informed Educational Solutions- May 26,2016

Posted in 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, ACT, ACT, College Admission Statistics, College Admissions, Early Action, Early Decision, Education, Informed Educational Solutions, Ivy League, Junior Year, Merit Aid, parenting, Sarah C. Reese, SAT, SAT, Scholarships, Senior Year, Standardized Tests, State of College Admission, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Same Essay Prompts On CommonApp For 2016-16


Among the more than 800,000 unique applicants who have submitted a Common App so far during the 2015-2016 application cycle, 47 percent have chosen to write about their background, identity, interest, or talent – making it the most frequently selected prompt; 22 percent have chosen to write about an accomplishment, 17 percent about a lesson or failure, 10 percent about a problem solved, and four percent about an idea challenged.

With the release of the essay prompts and the announcement that student accounts created now will roll over to 2016-2017, counselors can introduce their juniors to the Common App now, or whenever they are ready.

2016-2017 Essay Prompts

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

From The Common Application– Posted by Informed Educational Solutions, May 8, 2016


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