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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dancer in high school? Here is some advice that might be useful...

Dancers considering studying dance beyond high school often want to know if dance is an impractical major? They often ask "what kinds of work could I get from this major if I do not make it as a performer?"

Here is my advice to high school dancers:

Ask yourself if you can do anything else and if so, then do it. If you don’t have a ridiculous passion for dance, then do something else and have dance as a wonderful hobby.

Passion is rarely practical; one would be wise in the case of dance and the performing arts in the U.S. to think from the start of the what ifs and the what elses. What if you pour all your effort, talent, and time (and your parents’ money) into dance and then do not get offers as a performer? What if you get seriously injured and may not perform? What if you are able to perform professionally but it is not providing a living wage?

There is no harm or lack of dedication in pursuing another related area that might provide the time and income for you to continue to dance unless or until you land performing work. But if you go to college for dance, it would be discouraging (at least to your parents) to be the proverbial waiter or waitress after graduation while trying to “make it.” Consider utilizing your electives to minor in another area such as arts administration or become certified in Pilates. These could provide part-time work for you once out of school while you continue to train, audition, or perform.

Happily the days of professional dancers getting to retirement age and saying, now what? are fairly much gone. Years ago New York City Ballet started a joint program with Fordham University accommodating the dancers’ desires to get a college education while dancing. They became surprisingly practical about second careers in related or unrelated areas even as they were just joining or rising within one of the most incredible ballet companies in the world! They have set an example of practicality within their dedication for the reality of a short performing career and acknowledging there is life after leaving the stage.

So plan a parallel track. If you love to teach, great, but pursue that seriously and not just as a default-colleges and schools want strong credentials and professional experience. If you think you may love to create, study composition and music and the great works of the repertoire and get some of your fellow dancers in a studio and start creating. If you are organized, analytical and have strong leadership qualities, consider the possibilities of working within a dance or other performing arts organization in administration, development or marketing. Do an internship and see if you love to help the artists get to stage and the public to see them. Many artists work as teaching artists in the schools which is incredibly important work as dance is rarely offered in education; it can be very fulfilling and is rarely a full-time endeavor. If designing for the stage may be of interest, consider costume, lighting and scenic design study. Most schools with strong dance programs also have strong production departments. Take courses and assist the designers in production. Consider stage management and crew. Who could better call a dance performance than a stage manager who is a trained dancer? But put in the time and effort to learn it at school; it too is a serious skill acquired through effort.

Seek advice from a performing arts professional, a current dance major, a professional dancer who went to college, or a college counselor specializing in the performing arts. They can discuss your goals and give you more ideas about your optimal path or paths.

Take advantage of being in college. There are few other places that offer so many opportunities to experience many facets of your passion beyond performing. Start answering the what ifs and what elses with a plan. (Your parents will breathe easier.)

Diane Coburn Bruning
College Match Dance and Performing Arts Consultant

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More Applicants Are Interested in Creative Writing

Taken from Kristina Dell's Daily Beast/Newsweek article on 4/4/11

OMG! More high school students this year are interested in writing and want to choose schools where they can do more of it, says Montesano. “We have more clients than ever who want to build up creative-writing portfolios,” he says, “so they’re looking at colleges like Sarah Lawrence for creative writing and Vassar and Occidental for screenwriting.” Many have spent the summer between their sophomore and junior years at writing workshops to hone their skills.
Apparently, the increased interest in writing has resulted in better college essays, at least for some schools. “I do think the writing skills have improved,” says Miller of Brown. “Or maybe it’s the editing skills,” he jokes.

Applicants From Technology Havens Have the Admissions Edge

Taken from Kristina Dell's Daily Beast/Newsweek article on 4/4/11

Schools like to say geography doesn’t matter, but if you’re from a technology haven like Seattle, Palo Alto, or San Jose, you just might have a subtle advantage. “Good high schools in tech hubs are getting in more kids to top schools than they used to,” says Montesano of College Match, who cites liberal arts feeder schools like Lakeside School in Seattle and Katharine Branson School in Marin County as having that edge. Why the leg up? “It’s nothing more than colleges wanting kids whose families are tech people, especially if they work for blue-chip tech firms," he says. "Google is the future, and they want kids from those families.”

Ivy League for Graduate School Is the New Goal

Taken from Kristina Dell's Daily Beast/Newsweek article on 4/4/11

Sure, almost any student would love to gain admission to an Ivy right off the bat, but many have become next to impossible to get into. “The super-reach schools are completely out of reach,” says Montesano of College Match. “You’re looking at a 6 percent admission rate for Harvard.”
So more families have started to take a long-term approach to the college admissions process. For many, the endgame isn’t college; it’s graduate school. Some are considering sending their kids to top-notch state schools to save tens of thousands of dollars with the idea that Stanford or Yale will make a great graduate school. Others are searching for programs that allow a student to go to school for six years and gain a B.A. plus a J.D. to save a year of time and tuition. Whitman, Hamilton, Occidental, and Bowdoin have such programs.

Toughest Admission Year on Record!

This year may well go down as the most competitive in the history of admission at America's top colleges as Newsweek/ Daily Beast reporter Kristina Dell observed:

"The toughest college admissions year on record reached its apex this week as nervous seniors obsessively checked their email or a website to discover their fates. (Waiting for the fat or thin envelope? So 2005.) The hotter-than-ever Ivy League schools, which all had a record number of applicants this year, notified the lucky ones at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

It has been an especially stressful process this year. The weak economy and a wider acceptance of the common application—Columbia used it for the first time this year and had a 32 percent jump in applicants over last year—has meant the competition is steeper than ever. Over the past five years, applications to the eight Ivy League schools plus MIT and Stanford skyrocketed from just over 200,000 applications to almost 300,000 early and regular applications, for a total increase of more than 40 percent."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Learning Disabilities Help Improve College Admissions

Clients often ask, "Will my student's learning disability negatively impact their chance of admission?" The answer that I give is always, "No, in fact it will help your student gain admission".

Colleges are looking for diversity and having a learning disability is a form of diversity. The way it works is that colleges will often look at an applicant's grades and test scores in a new light if presented with evidence of a learning disability. The learning disability may help put lower grades and class rankings or test scores like the SAT or ACT in a learning disability context. Say that a student ranked in the top half of their high school class is up against an applicant pool with a majority of students from the top 25% of their classes. Showcasing a learning disability can help bridge this significant gap in grades. A learning disabled student with an average GPA of 3.4 may be competitive against an applicant pool of that happens to include mostly students with GPA's around 3.7. Other factors such as academic activities and leadership also impact admission. For more information on these factors please review our case studies.

The key here is documenting the disability in advance of college applications. High school students and their families should follow these steps if they suspect a learning disability:

1. Assess the specifics of the student's disability through testing with a qualified third party such as an educational psychologist or physician. Check with your high school for a referral to an educational psychologist, Many practitioners are also listed online; for example, Center for Developing Minds in Los Gatos, CA.
2. Establish a record of accommodations/ Individualized Education Program (IEP) with your high school; these may include timing and location of tests, presentation of materials, and other techniques and tools for improving understanding as outlined in the student's LD assessment.

Recommendation: assessments and IEP's should be kept current; re-assess LD's within three years of applying to colleges.

Review each prospective college's academic support programs. Students with learning disabilities must familiarize themselves with their needed accommodations and ask for these accommodations from their colleges. Get in touch with each college's learning disabilities resource-- who will be more than likely located in the college's academic support services department.

Here are some steps to take while reviewing colleges:

1. Contact the college's academic support department. Ask to speak with a "learning disabilities specialist." Write down their name.
2. Ask the learning disabilities specialist if they have experience working with students having similar disabilities. If so, how many? What are usual accommodations given these students? Ask about specific software tools or processes used to help students with this particular disability.
3. Ask about the retention rate of LD students. How long does it take students using the program to complete their required courses? How involved is the LD resource in helping each student? What is the ratio of students with disabilities to LD specialists? What types of support does the institution offer faculty in terms of training in accommodating students with special needs? Is support in the program offered by interns, graduate students, peer tutors or trained professionals?
4. Review expected LD accommodations, based on IEP and LD assessment, with the learning disabilities specialist. Gauge learning disabilities specialist's resource's level of enthusiasm and/ or helpfulness.
5. Ask for the learning disabilities specialist's phone, email and mailing address.

Application time! The process of college admission offers LD students an opportunity to set themselves apart from the competition by placing their academic performance in the context of their disability. Here are the steps for increasing the chances of admission to a college or university:After screening colleges for appropriate LD support, the application process is the next step. In the applications it is important to establish the student's learning disability.

Here are the key steps:

1. In college applications, give details of the learning disability under "Additional Information". Please specify the name of the learning disability and its effects on learning and grades and/or standardized testing.
2. Under "Additional Information" discuss grades and test scores and their impact from this disability.
3. In the next paragraph talk about ways that you have compensated for this disability; give examples. Also, discuss all accommodations granted to you in high school.
4. Conclude with a discussion of the how your grades and test scores have risen based on the accommodations you have received as well as your extra efforts to "compensate" for said disability.

Following up. It is important to stay in communication with each college's Academic Support Program. A learning disabilities "portfolio" should be readied including:

1. A recent assessment of the learning disability
2. IEP or record of accommodation at the high school
3. Notes or comments from high school counselor or LD resource specialist

Go ahead and forward this information to the selected college's learning support/LD specialist.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

College Match associate named to Top 100 Mentors List!

Co-author Ingrid Stabb named one of the Top 100 Desirable Mentors by GenJuice. More info: http://fb.me/TDoSpIZc

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jump Start College Admission: Take an Early Lead!

College admission insights for freshman, sophomores and juniors presented by two knowledgeable college admission experts, Jan Hale and David Montesano of College Match on Tuesday, March 22nd or Wednesday, March 23rd from 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Lafayette Public Public Library in Lafayette, California. PARENTS AND HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN, SOPHOMORES AND JUNIORS ARE ESPECIALLY ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND. Hale and Montesano will demonstrate proven techniques that will help your student choose the best colleges and put their applications ahead of the pack. There is no fee to attend this event. Seating for this event is limited; please email your RSVP to david@collegematchus.com

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shocking News: The SAT is Exactly Like Everything Else

Many of my students approach the SAT as if it's some sort of strange, unknowable monster.  They've heard through the grapevine that the SAT isn't like most tests - you can't study for it, you can't beat it, and it exists solely to ruin the college prospects of unsuspecting college students.

The problem with this attitude?  It's completely and utterly false.

Is the SAT different than many other exams?  Of course it is.  It uses strange, logic-based wording and unorthodox questions to ask extremely simple things in extremely challenging ways.  However, far from being an exam that you can't study for, the SAT is an exam that you need to study for.  It's an unfamiliar and bizarre test - the more time you spend with it, the more comfortable you'll be with it (and the better your score will be).

I always compare the SAT to chess.  It requires a special combination of strategy and tactics that, when used properly, bypass the malarkey of the exam and get right to the good stuff - the solvable, non-confusing question at the core of each prompt.  Much like chess, the SAT requires its adherents to follow a good strategy from start to finish, using select tactics if and when necessary.  With this in mind, I want to present a hypothetical scenario:

You find out that, in addition to your grades, extracurriculars, essay, and application, the only other factor affecting your chances of college admission is going to be a chess game against an international grandmaster.  Depending on your observed performance on that exam (which accounts for 25% of your dream school's admission criteria, you will be accepted or rejected.

Now, faced with that situation, what would you do?  Well, if you're like most sane people who want to get into college, you would study the game of chess!  You'd study it a lot.  You'd begin training early.  You'd learn the strategies and tactics necessary to do well in your game vs. the grandmaster.  You'd want to get to the point where you were dreaming about chess.  That would be the ideal.

Now, here's the problem:

This is not a hypothetical scenario!  The SAT is just a game (trust me, it does not test your mathematical or verbal abilities AT ALL - it tests your ability to take the SAT).  If you want to get good at it, play it and practice it a lot.  If you want to do terribly on the SAT, all you need to do is do nothing at all.

Students know how important the SAT is.  Yet, instead of getting into gear and beginning their preparation programs early, they wait until a month before the exam before they crack open their SAT book and read it passively once or twice.  This is bad strategy.  Very, very bad strategy.

If you want to do well on the SAT, start practicing early, and practice a lot.  Am I biased in giving this advice?  Sure!  I'm a professional SAT tutor.  But whether or not you hire me or another tutor, or decide to study on your own, the advice stands: the SAT is just like everything else in the world, so treat it accordingly!  If you wanted to get good at tennis, would you play 1 hour a week for 2 months and expect to be any good?  If you wanted to get good grades in history class, would you skip all your homework and show up to class 1/3rd of the time?  Nope.

The SAT is a game that requires guided, focused practice.  If you start early, and if you practice patiently, you're going to destroy everyone in your grade who doesn't do the same.  Remember: the SAT is graded on a scale, and your score is based on the performance of other high school students in the country taking the exam at the same time as you.  So ask yourself: If I practice the SAT diligently, and I get started early, will I do better or worse than my peers? 

I leave you with this closing thought: based on the % importance of the SAT in college admissions statistics, your SAT is more important to your chances of college admission than any class you will ever take.

How many hours do you put into your average class?  Consider matching or exceeding that, and you'll stand a much better chance of getting into a school that you really care about.

Anthony provides test prep advice to College Match's students. For more articles, advice, and daily tips, you can visit Anthony Green's New York SAT Tutoring blog.
Anthony Green was recently named New York's Best SAT Tutor by Manhattan's most popular parenting and educational blog, and his results prove it: after tutoring over 230 students, Anthony's average score increase exceeds 350 points, an industry-leading average.  You can get in touch with Anthony by visiting his website at www.NewYorksBestSATtutor.com.

Does getting into the right private school require the same skills as getting into the right college?

Yes! Just like colleges, private schools want students who LOVE learning, and who have a demonstrated academic and extracurricular achievement record.

As a kindergarten – 12th grade educational consultant based in competitive New York City, I coach students on how best to impress admissions directors. I coach parents too, because the younger students are, the more the parents matter.

Here’s one of my recent cases: a student who speaks three languages, plays piano and soccer, and studied abroad, in China. How old was this student?


Let’s just say that once I helped her parents with their application essays and interviews, this girl was not too hard to place in a top Manhattan private school.

Another client was more challenging. Applying for 9th grade, he had no solid interests other than playing Wii and arguing with his mother. Neither the boy nor his mother were sure how to package this for private school admissions directors.

Eventually, we settled on a fast-track CV building plan including technology camp, computer classes, tennis lessons, and debate. The best part was that not only was the student accepted to a private school he loves, but now he’s on the path to college admissions success.

So whether your child is applying to kindergarten or to college, remember that the principle is the same. Every school wants a motivated, enthusiastic student.

Emily Glickman, President of Abacus Guide Educational Consulting (www.abacusguide.com), a top New York City K-12 consulting firm, sent us this. Emily can be reached at info@abacusguide.com or (212) 712-2228. She blogs at www.abacusmom.com .