One of the most startling trends I’ve seen in the last 15 years as a professional independent college counselor is the interest in applying early to college.
When I first started my practice, it was pretty rare for a student to apply for either Early Action or Early Decision. Most students did what I did when I applied to college – they submitted their applications late in the fall semester of the senior year. Then, like everyone else, they monitored their mailbox for a hopefully large envelope announcing their admission to their dream college or university.
It’s that time of year again when U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) ranks the top universities in the United States. To virtually no one’s surprise, it once again came down to a battle between Harvard and Princeton for the number one slot. These two universities typically fight it out to be number one in the magazine, and this year it happened to be Princeton.
I’ve been an independent college consultant for fourteen years. I’m very good at what I do, but I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert in everything and I am not the best fit for every family. For example, I am not a good fit for families looking at boarding schools or for students with special needs. When I’m not the best fit for a family, I try to refer them to someone who might.
I often encourage families to research many independent college consultants – one size does NOT fit all. Families should make a decision about a private college consultant based on answers to these six questions:
With almost 3,000 public and private four-year colleges and universities in the United States, there is a bewildering number of higher education options. One school that you probably have never heard of is Reed College, located in Portland, Oregon. Reed is a terrific liberal arts college, and like most small liberal arts colleges it doesn’t have sports teams that you hear about on SportsCenter, or read about in the papers. It’s a school that is often eclipsed by the large state universities in the Pacific Northwest, especially the University of Oregon and the University of Washington. However, this is a wonderful school well worth checking out – for a particular kind student.
Reed creates students who often go on to get PhD’s. It’s a place for people who truly love to study, and love to study oftentimes arcane and esoteric materials. Their motto is “Communism, Atheism, and Free Love” (note: I am not making this up). I often describe Reed those who haven’t been there as a place where thinkers love to think with other creative minds. Most first-time visitors to Reed are shocked by the way the students dress and the interests that students have. This is a student body that comes to master seemingly exotic interests, ranging from Byzantine history to Romanesque architecture to minutiae about Nietzsche. This is absolute not a place to go for students that want to experience a student body that represents the kind of atmosphere that they experienced in high school.
But for students looking to continue their studies after Reed to become PhD’s, and who love being iconoclasts, this is a terrific option. Its academics are top-notch across-the-board, Portland is of course one the most beautiful cities in the United States, and there is something very positive to be said about being surrounded by students who have a deep and abiding love for learning for learning’s sake. If you’re ever in Portland, be sure to contact Reed and visit the school. It’s clearly not a place for everyone but for those who fit into this atmosphere it can be a four-year adventure unlike any other in the United States.
I am currently finishing Gregg Easterbrook’s The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America. It is one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read about football, and as someone who’s been a lifelong football fan, it was an eye-opener to put it mildly.
The author’s basic premise is that contact football grievously injures tens of thousands of young people every year from elementary school up to and including the pros. However, while concussions are a major focus concerning the NFL today, Easterbrook makes a much more salient point: the vast majority of concussions happen well before a player ever reaches the NFL (if that happens, which is unlikely), and indeed we need to focus on high school and college football if we are to address the epidemic of concussions.
What does this have to do with my college consulting? Many of my clients are scholar athletes, which is a good thing. However, occasionally I will have a client that is so addicted to a sport – including football – that they have dreams of making it to the pros one day. However, as Easterbrook notes in the book, the chances of winning the lottery are probably about equal to ever becoming a starter in the NFL. Indeed, most people will end their athletic career in their last year in college. Given that, Easterbrook makes a powerful indictment of parents who coerce or encourage their children to become virtual full-time athletes, instead of being scholars first, athletes second.
I recommend Easterbrook’s book immensely because it has much to say about our sports-saturated culture and also the very sorry epidemic of parents who misguidedly believe that sports is a ticket to a happier and wealthier life for their kids. It isn’t for the vast majority of students entering college.
My name is Celest Horton and I am the mother of four children (three teenagers) who are quickly approaching college, with my oldest being a Junior in High School. My family and I have been saving for college for years, yet with the cost of education soaring out of control there is only enough saved to cover one year. The thoughts about paying for college became worrisome, especially since at one point three of my children will be in college at the same time.
Not one to shy away from a teachable moment, I decided to use this opportunity to start a family project. With that we have started an open dialogue with the kids about the rising costs of education so together we can work up a plan of action to figure out how WE are going to pay for college. Student Loans are not an option as it is something that can cripple their ability to be successful after graduation and would shackle them down to debt right out of the gate. No way!
Let me posit an observation: the NCAA Division I football divisions are, for all practical purposes, a minor league system for the NFL. The NFL recruits players who played at the DI level, and without the colleges there would be no way the NFL could survive unless it ponied up millions to create a bona fide minor league football system (similar to what Major League Baseball has).