About College Match

The secrets to finding and getting in to the right college.

College Match is the college placement firm that provides a strategic coaching approach to college admission that results in higher percentage of successful admissions, scholarships and awards for students. College Match provides private education planning services to families and students considering college and graduate programs. For more information, please go to www.collegematchus.com

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Grads From Elite Liberal Arts Colleges Earn the Most

Most data show that attending certain elite liberal arts colleges may give applicants to graduate school better preparation thus resulting in better access to premium jobs like consulting and investment banking, etc. But now a very interesting Business Week article tells us just how much these graduates may expert to earn versus those from top research universities. For example, among the Ivies, the leading earner is Dartmouth College-- not Cornell or Harvard as we might expect.

"Interestingly, median starting salaries for alumni of MIT, California Institute of Technology, and Harvey Mudd College, which have strong engineering programs, are the highest in the country ($75,500, $72,200, and $71,800). But the salaries do not get as high for midcareer professionals from those schools as they do for graduates of the elite liberal arts schools."

Which Grads Earn the Most?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Adding Value to College Applications Generates Merit-Based Awards

Good news! I just finished tallying our students' merit awards and 80% won merit awards averaging $13,078 per year. In particular, one student with a 3.4 GPA generated merit award offers of $255,200 among five colleges over a four year period!

What is the secret to winning a merit-based award?

Colleges are looking for individual experts not looking for well-rounded generalists. Find something you care about and excel at the state or national competition level to garner merit awards.

First, remember that colleges are self-centered—first they must meet institutional needs. What really matters to colleges isn’t what you think and it changes. It may be that a college needs to build its endowment, gain diversity, fill a sports team roster, or even just prove that it is really great in an particular academic area. Remember, each school is different. Look at a college's strategic plan to identify what is most important to them.

YOU MUST BRING VALUE to the college to be admitted. Value is a two way street. Applicants must demonstrate not only value transmitted but value received.

Showing how you get value back from the college is easy. Here are the steps to take:

1) Be sure to let the college know how first heard about the college. Cite specifically the one reason above all others that I am attracted to the school. This should be a well-researched and specific reason. Remember: do not mention the most obvious reasons--the admission officer will not be impressed. You need to find something that is a little bit deeper.

2) What is your promise of value to this particular college? Ask yourself if this value matches the college's strategic plans or weaknesses? Your promise of value must be supported by credible proof, for example: "I did this before in high school and I will do it again for your college".

3) Next, say what you offer and give a tangible example of how you did this already and then say what you will get in return from this college, and only this college. Just as important as giving your value is letting them know what you will get in return and why this college offers something others don’t.

For more insight into the college application process, visit our blog: http://collegematchus.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Brand Yourself: The Student Guide to College Admission Success

Here is a blurb about my forthcoming book (Winter 2009):

It has become all too clear that we have entered an era of radically increased college entrance difficulty. For the first time, Ivy League schools are taking fewer than 10 percent of their applicants (Yale accepted 8.3 percent this year and Harvard accepted 7.1 percent of all applicants in 2008). That means in the not so distant future, it will be statistically improbable for most students to be admitted to one of these colleges. While top students still can apply to these schools, they too need to consider viable alternatives that will meet their needs not just as students but also as individuals.

They must, at a minimum, demonstrate the tangible results of college preparation: good grades, high test scores and strong extracurricular activities. But the score-oriented, quantitative approach to admissions, prevalent in the last decades, needs to be replaced with a more strategic approach to gaining admission to quality schools.

This is where branding comes in. As an admissions strategist, Dave Montesano has helped hundreds of clients find and gain access to the best match undergraduate and graduate programs over the past 10 years. From offices in the U.S., Dave has served families with students who hope to attend college programs and now shares his knowledge with a larger public in his book: "Brand Yourself: The Student Guide to College Admission Success".

With years of experience in brand strategy, counseling clients on marketing and identity development, Dave Montesano is a new breed of college admission consultants who use business school marketing principles to sell students to their preferred college. In his book" Brand Yourself", Montesano offers would-be students inspiration as well as practical step by step information on getting into the college of your dreams. The book itself is as unique and groundbreaking as Dave Montesano’s approach to college admission: whereas most college reference books are badly designed handbooks that are about as inspirational and grey as the paper they are printed on, Montesano’s book is a feast for the eye. It’s a useful and design-heavy handbook that has value for everyone interested in obtaining their goals and dreams. All the advice is presented in a very easy to digest format. Think of Paul Arden’s books and you get the picture!

Dave is the author of "Strategic College Admission", published in CollegeBound News (April, 2005). Profiled by Washington Post education writer, Jay Matthews, in Newsweek's "America's Hottest Colleges" (2005 edition) Dave was called a "new breed of college admission consultants who use business school marketing principles to sell students to their preferred college." Dave gets consistently high approval ratings from his clients and is a speaker for parent and school groups.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What Are the Latest College Admission Trends?

Challenges and opportunities abound this year for college applicants…here are just a few of the trends that College Match spotted:

1. College counseling goes private. For an increasing number of the nation’s 1.7 million college-bound students, personal advice for college applications is a phone call away. Faced with counselor to student ratios of 315:1 (source: National Association for College Admission Counseling, 2007) at public high schools (241:1 at private schools), students and their families are turning to consultants in record numbers. Last year, 20% of private high school students and 5% of public high school students hired a private college advisor with the number expected to increase this year (Independent Education Consultants Association).

2. Dance is one of the top ways to get into top colleges. Among the usual performing arts that students take part in, dance is now one of the most sought after with college admission offices around the country. For the first time, a number of competitive schools are reporting dance statistics among accepted students. Pomona and Occidental Colleges now record the number of accepted students involved in dance among their freshman class profiles (t5 % and 8% of the freshman class, respectively). And at Harvard the Dance Program there just moved into a new 200-seat dance center. Echoing this trend, construction is underway on new dance studios at Vassar –one that seats 244 people and new facilities have been built at Tufts, University of New Mexico, Hamilton College, and Emory University this year.

3. High schools team with organizations like Rotary Club to extend service opportunities abroad. Among the nation high schools, a higher percentage of students are embarking on overseas service projects through Rotary’s Interact program. With 246,000 members, 10,700 clubs in 109 countries, opportunities abound for Interact Club students to engage in service projects in developing countries. At Seattle’s Garfield High for example, students regularly travel to Uganda and dispense computers to schools through Interact-sponsored program, “Computers for the World”.

4. Urban colleges offer “chic” appeal to more applicants. In a 2007 poll of more than 3,000 students conducted by Princeton Review, New York University came out on top as the college that students most often dream of attending. In general, applications to schools in the country’s major urban areas, NYC, LA and Chicago, have dramatically increased, For example, at one urban liberal arts college, Occidental, college applications have risen 170% over the last 8 years.

5. Schools with strong international studies programs increase in popularity. Like their urban counterparts, colleges with significant international programs have gained ground in admissions. Applications to international majors and schools such as Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service have increased over last year to 3,400 and represent Georgetown’s most competitive applicants according to its Admission Office. Other strong international programs include, Macalester (where former UN Secretary Koffi Annan attended), Occidental College, which sponsors undergraduates at the UN, and Tufts University where undergraduates benefit from the research of the school’s graduate programs at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. According to Institute of International Education, US students studying abroad also increased by 8% in 2006.

6. The medium is the message: a new professional look is taking hold for extra-curriculars. Students hoping to gain an edge in an increasingly competitive admission picture can improve their chances by “professionalizing” their extra-curriculars by using slide portfolios, CD’s/CD-ROM’s, to showcase their work to art departments and admission committees. By creating artist’s statements, portfolios or publishing their manuscripts in advance of applying to colleges, students can stand out more from the rest of the crowd.

7. Bad news for good students: top students across the nation face less than 5% chance of admission to top Ivies. Among the very top tier of colleges including, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, chances for admission have become very unlikely for most candidates who don’t have a “flag” or “tag” in the admission process. Flags and tags represent varying degrees of admission importance to colleges and include sought-after athletes, under-represented minorities and or legacies. If you happen to be in one of these special categories you may enjoy a far better chance of admission. At Harvard, for example legacies (that is, when your mother or father attended Harvard College) have been admitted a rate as high as 40% in 2003 (according to Daniel Golden in his book, “Price of Admission”). For the rest of us mere mortals with top grades, SAT’s and extra-curruculars that leaves us with a less than 5 percent chance of admission—which viewed conversely, reads more like a 95% chance, against getting in.

8. More students attend undergraduate “feeder” colleges en-route to Ivy League graduate programs. Based on an assessment of colleges originally conducted in 2003 by the Wall Street Journal, it was then revealed that students who got into graduate schools such as Yale Medical School, Harvard Law School or Penn’s Wharton Business School obtained their bachelors degrees at some very unlikely places. Apart from Ivy League colleges, this year’s students gaining ground in elite graduate admission offices continue to include private liberal arts colleges Pomona and Claremont McKenna in California, Haverford and Swarthmore in Pennsylvania, Bates, Bowdoin and Colby colleges in Maine, Washington and Lee in Virginia and Reed in Oregon. Similarly the state schools that “feed” into top graduate schools are also enjoying more applications; these include New College, in Florida (a public liberal arts college) along with three familiar research universities: Berkeley, Michigan, Virginia,

Dave Montesano is director of college planning at College Match in Seattle and can be reached by email: david@collegematchus.com or by calling (206) 799-4986.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

College Admission: 5 Tips for First Generation College Students

Here are some of my thoughts to help foreign students who are applying to colleges in the United States:

1. When considering a US undergraduate program for your student, look beyond college rankings. College rankings like US News and World Report and The Times of London rank colleges and universities based on scholarly productivity and not on ability to teach undergraduates or undergraduate research or prizes won by students. It is wise to supplement these rankings with more undergraduate-focused criteria. Rhodes Scholarships, Fulbright grants, Ph.D. production on a per-capita basis are all good measures of undergraduate quality. A good source of information is the discussion board, College Confidential (www.collegeconfidential.com)

2. Don't worry about your student's major. Unlike other parts of the world, students in the US do not typically specialize at the undergraduate level. Many students attend post-graduate programs like business, law and medical schools to get the specialization they will need for their jobs.

3. Undergraduate admission is difficult at top schools the US. If a family is considering undergraduate admission, admission is competitive and costs may be high. Since most spaces are designated for US citizens the number of spaces is often limited to below 10%. In addition, most foreign students pay the full costs of education since most need-based aid is unavailable due to federal rules on financial aid.

4. Look beyond the Ivy League. Don't overlook smaller prestigious colleges. Instead of focusing on Ivy League, MIT and Stanford, look for smaller, prestigious colleges that feed into these for graduate study. The Wall St. Journal published a study of the top 50 "feeder" colleges (http://www.collegematchus.com/related_resources.htm)

5. Look for the right college match. Base your decisions about where your student will attend not soley on location, prestige or cost--instead make sure that the college's values are the same as your student's. Colleges, like people, have values; it's like joining a family. The network that you inherit by attending a particular college is for life!