Bay College Planning Specialists

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Tips on the Process – Choosing a College: How to Compose a List

By James Maroney

the-college-prosFirst, evaluate the 5 factors outlined in the article here. Most importantly look at your Geographical Interest and your Academic Major interest; we will use these two criteria to start our search. We will start by plugging the criteria into a search site, such as Usnews, Gocollege,Princeton Review, Petersons, or the College Board. We will use these two factors to generate an initial list. We will then want to narrow this list down by using an additional two factors: your academic profile, and the desired size of schools.

I think it is always a good idea to include some schools that will stretch your options, such as a school that may be larger or smaller than you initially wanted, or a school that might be in a different geographic region if it matches on all the other factors. You will want to use your academic profile to determine if you have a chance of admission at the school. Remember, you want to be able to comfortably handle the workload at the college so that you can fully participate in and enjoy college life. If you are trapped in the library all the time, you will miss out on the whole college experience. On the other hand, you do not want to go to a college that is too easy and does not challenge or stimulate you intellectually.

You will want to use your academic profile to break the list into 3 categories: Reach; Possible; Highly Likely. There are a few ways to try and determine your admissions chances. First, compare your SAT score to the 25-75 split of the school. You can get this number from the US news website, the College Board website, the Princeton Review website, by calling the school, or from some of the “insider’s guides.” If your SAT score is below the lower number of the range, this school will probably be a reach. You will also want to check your GPA against the 25-75 split for GPA, if available, and against the average GPA. Another method is to determine if your high school tracks the results of former students at your school and look at their admissions success rate at the schools you are interested in. If your school does not have that information available, you may want to compare yourself against the data from Amity High School, which is available online. The web address is: Remember, this is only statistical information, and other factors such as extra-curricular activities, essay, interview, and recommendations, enter into the total admission decision.

To add some additional schools to your list, you may want to look at Rugg’s Recommendations On The Colleges, and add some more schools that are strong in your major. Remember, there is a good chance that you will change your major, so if possible choose schools that are strong in a couple of your areas of interest. Once you see the schools listed in Rugg’s, cross reference them with a larger college search engine or the school website itself to determine the important statistics for the school to fill in on your list (Size, SAT 25-75 Split, Admissions Phone Number, Web Site). Your goal should be to arrive at an initial list of 25 schools.

Over the course of your search you will add new schools to the list, and of course, eliminate a number of schools. From the initial list, through your research, you will want to narrow it down to 10 to 12 schools that you will visit, and from there try to get it down to 6 to 8 schools to which you will apply. The goal should be to apply to 1 or 2 highly likely schools (schools where you are almost 100% certain that you will be accepted), 2 possible schools (schools where you have a better than 50% chance of being accepted) and a few reach schools. If you are going to be applying to the most competitive schools (Ivy League, Swarthmore, Haverford, Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan, etc), you should consider applying to more than 2 reach schools. These schools are so competitive now, that I would consider them a reach for almost every student.

Once we have our initial list of schools based on the first 4 factors, you will need to do additional research to narrow that list down to 10 to 12 schools. How should you go about conducting that research? * Look through the school website to try and get a “feel” for the school. Look at the pages of clubs and organizations that interest you. Look at student’s personal web pages, and ask yourself, “Do these seem like people that I could picture myself becoming friends with?” Email professors in the department that interests you to ask detailed questions about the department and the program in general. Look through the online course catalogue to see the classes that are required for your major, and also browse for other classes of interest to you. You will want to note how many classes are required for your major, how many classes are required for the “core curriculum”, and how many electives you are allowed to take. Also, you may want to find out how difficult it is to double major, or minor, if that is of interest to you. Finally, are there concentrations offered within your major? * In addition to the internet, look through some of the “insider’s guides” and read their reviews on the colleges. Does this sound like a school that you would be happy attending? * Contact friends you know who are attending the school. Ask their opinion about the school. Find out what they like, and what they do not like. Remember, just because they feel one way about the school, you might not necessarily feel the same way, but nonetheless, it is valuable information. * Finally, the best way of learning about a college is through a school visit. Planning the visit, and what you should look at while you are on campus are discussed in a later chapter.

The visit is so important, it warrants a section of its own. * In addition to having academic safeties, you will want to locate a financial safety. We always recommend applying to at least one of your state schools. With recent economic trends, however, state school admission has become increasingly difficult. Another way to locate financial safeties is to look for schools that would offer you an academic scholarship. One good site for this is You can search for colleges where you are eligible for scholarships based on your geographic preference and academic profile (SAT and GPA). It is not enough to find a school where you know you would be accepted, a good safety is a school where you know you could be accepted and you know you would be happy if you had to go there. You need to research these schools as well in the same manner discussed above.

About the author:

James Maroney, is an educational consultant from Milford, Connecticut. He has been helping students with all aspects of the college search since he founded First Choice College Placement in 1999. He is a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association, Education Industry Association, National Association of College Admissions Counselors, and National College Advocacy Group. He is also the publisher of,,

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Filed under: Admissions, AP Courses, Applications, College Financing, College Planning, Grants, Home Schooling, single parent families, Universities, , , , , , , ,

College Planning Specialists TV Interview with Dan Evertsz

Dan Evertsz owner of has the answers to the difficult questions parents and students face when considering the choices and expenses of a college education: “How do we find the money for college?” The following is an introduction to Dan and his Bay Area College Specialists consulting business in the form of a television interview on the Northern California Comcast show “Reference Point” with host Dave Korcharhook.

If you are having trouble qualifying for student aid, finding funding for an education, or if you are in need of consultation about these expenses please consider Dan Evertsz your go-to source for action:

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Filed under: Admissions, AP Courses, Applications, Bay Area, California Colleges, Campus Lifestyle, Career Search, Classes, College Financing, College Planning, College Workshops, Consultants, Graduate School, Graduation, Hiring, Internships, Junior College, Major, Out of State Tuition, Parental Guidance, Public Service, Recruitment, Scholarship, Students, Tuition, Universities, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ivy League admissions: a unique way to set yourself apart and

By John Dorian Chang

Are you interested in the internet? Technology? Business? Are you simply looking to standout in college admissions? Challenge yourself to a new opportunity?

Here’s an out of the box idea that will help your quest to get into Stanford: offer to be an intern at a startup!

It’s easier than you think – it requires leg-work and initiative on your part, but it looks great on college applications and can help you move your careers and professional interests to the next level.

Here are two examples of how it can be done:

1) Search for local startups through Google. Email them with a brief description of your background, and tell them you’re interested in an unpaid part-time or summer internship.

The key here is local – these will give you the best shot since it’s convenient for you and them, and there’s greater overlap in interests, backgrounds, etc

2) Browse through the online services that you use the most and love – such as Facebook, Myspace, Imeem, and so on. Look through their websites and get in touch with human resources staff or recruiters. Explain your story. Again, offer to work in an unpaid position or any position they have available

Startups are always looking for more help, especially if it’s free. Showing initiative like that in high school will impress any company. Even if they say no, you have nothing to lose.

An internship will strengthen your college application – it will bolster your work experience and leadership/initiative-taking. It will also be one helluva story to tell in college essays or alumni interviews.

Finally – and here’s the best part – it could lead to a unique and outstanding recommendation. Everyone else just has recs from teachers – what if you got one from your CEO? Win-win-win. Harvard here we come.

This is just one example of great out-of-the-box thinking. What unique ideas do you have? Share them with me by emailing john AT and I’ll give you feedback!

Unique risk-taking is a surefire way to help your chances of getting into Ivy League schools. Start today.

About the author:
Are you an average student who wants to go to Harvard? Hopeless To Harvard is the story of how a B+ student got into Harvard,
Stanford, and Princeton
. Click here to learn his strategies for admissions success. Get into Stanford now!

Filed under: Admissions, AP Courses, Applications, College Planning, Internships, Ivy League Schools, Mentoring, Social Networking, Students, Universities, , , , , , , , , ,


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