Category Archives: College admissions

Make the High School Years Meaningful!

Get your student started on the road to high school and college success!

Discover what students need to know to shine in high school and get accepted to their desired colleges in this one-time free seminar with Charlotte Klaar, Ph D, of Klaar College Consulting and Amy Haskell, MA, M.Ed. of Total Writing Enrichment.

students

      • Learn how great writing skills give students an advantage in high school, which can lead to success in college essays and admissions.
      • Find out what courses, activities, and skills are important to college admissions counselors.
      • Learn about the importance of finding a college that’s a good fit for you.
      • Get insights into teenage brains and tips on teaching your to be student independent.

    August 19, 2021  6:30 PM
    The Studios at Loom, 118 Academy St., Ft. Mill, SC  29715
    Seats are limited.  Register Now!

    For more questions, contact [email protected] or [email protected]

    Co-sponsored by The Studios at Loom

Little-Known Secrets for Paying for College Recording

Worried about how you’re going to pay for college?  Listen to this recording of a recent webinar with Klaar College Consulting and the College Funding Coach.  The actual recording starts at minute eight, so please move the bar up to that point to begin listening.

Some of the financial topics covered include:

  • Using student loans to manage cash flow.
  • If you refinance your home to cover college costs, have a plan to pay it off.college consultant SC
  • How to tap into other people’s money, such as with private scholarships.
  • Understanding the family’s Expected Financial Contribution.
  • What is need-based financial aid.
  • How the 529 Plan works in S. Carolina.

Additionally, I talk about how parents should get together with their students at the beginning of their freshman year to put together a four-year plan leading up to applying for and getting admission to a college that’s a good fit and match (see below). For example, the student could start out with a few honors classes and then take AP courses.  Colleges want students who have challenged themselves with a rigorous curriculum.

There’s nothing worse than graduating with a 4.0 but no challenging classes.  Colleges ask “Where was the rigor, the intellectual curiosity?” Colleges also want students who have tried different things and are well-rounded.

Although college costs are soaring, a state college is not necessarily less expensive than a private college.  Private colleges have endowments, and if your student is someone they really want, they will offer grants that may make college far more affordable.

The importance of Fit and Match:

  • Will the student like other students there?
  • Will he like the campus and surroundings? Is your student more comfortable in a contained campus with lots of open spaces, or one that’s large and crowded in a city? Close to the beach or the mountains?
  •  How about activities outside the classroom?  This includes more than sports – there’s drama, debate, Model U.N., Beta Club Community service, and more.
  • Also consider the weather.  A northern campus that’s pleasant in summer may be freezing cold in winter!

A good fit and match mean your student is much more likely to graduate in four years, and not transfer to another college and lose precious credits.  My students almost all graduate in four years, but the average graduation time is a pricey six years!

Little-Known Secrets of Paying for College

I am excited to announce that Klaar College Consulting will be co-hosting two free webinars with The College Funding Coach® on July 15th at 12 noon and 6:30 p.m. This virtual event on “Little-Known Secrets for Paying for College” is for any family wanting to learn how to pay for college (designed for families with students in grades K – 12). 

The College Funding Coach® was founded in 2002 to help families better understand the  complexities of paying for college and how to make higher education more affordable. They have established an approach that helps parents understand the college funding process, reduce their out-of-pocket expenses, and balance the challenge of saving for college and retirement simultaneously.

July 15 Zoom webinars:

12:00 – 1:30 PM Session – CLICK HERE
6:30 – 8 PM Session – CLICK HERE

Specific financial topics include:

  • Using student loans to manage cash flow.
  • If you refinance your home to cover college costs, have a plan to pay it off.
  • How to tap into other people’s money, such as with private scholarships.
  • Understanding the family’s Expected Financial Contribution.
  • What is need-based financial aid.
  • How the 529 Plan works in S. Carolina.

Additionally, I’ll be talking about  how parents should get together with their students at the beginning of their freshman year to put together a four-year plan leading up to applying for and getting admission to a college that’s a good fit and match (see below). For example, the student could start out with a few honors classes and then take AP courses.  Colleges want students who have challenged themselves with a rigorous curriculum.

There’s nothing worse than graduating with a 4.0 but no challenging classes.  Colleges ask “Where was the rigor, the intellectual curiosity?” Colleges also want students who have tried different things and are well-rounded.

Although college costs are soaring, a state college is not necessarily less expensive than a private college.  Private colleges have endowments, and if your student is someone they really want, they will offer grants that may make college far more affordable.

Another topic I talk about is  the importance of Fit and Match:

  • Will the student like other students there?
  • Will he like the campus and surroundings? Is your student more comfortable in a containedSummer college prep campus with lots of open spaces, or one that’s large and crowded in a city? Close to the beach or the mountains?
  •  How about activities outside the classroom?  This includes more than sports – there’s drama, debate, Model U.N., Beta Club Community service, and more.
  • Also consider the weather.  A northern campus that’s pleasant in summer may be freezing cold in winter!

A good fit and match means your student is much more likely to graduate in four years, and not transfer to another college and loose precious credits.  My students almost all graduate in four years, but the average graduation time is a pricey six years!

This is a free educational event. Please register by clicking below. For questions, contact me at [email protected]

July 15 Zoom webinars:

12:00 PM Session – CLICK HERE
6:30 PM Session – CLICK HERE

Insightful podcasts about getting into and choosing the right college

I’ve started podcasting! This article contains important information on college admissions planning in high school from interviews with the Podcast Business News Network’s Jill Nicolini. Read on or skip to the podcasts at the bottom.

I suggest that parents of ninth-graders get together with their students at the beginning of their freshman year to put together a four-year plan leading up to applying for and getting admission to a college that’s a good fit and match (see below). For example, the student could start out with a few honors classes and then take AP courses.  Colleges want students who have challenged themselves with a rigorous curriculum.

There’s nothing worse than graduating with a 4.0 but no challenging classes.  Colleges ask “Where was the rigor, the intellectual curiosity?” Colleges also want students who have tried different things and are well-rounded.  Let your kids explore, that’s how they learn.

At the same time, admissions officers are looking for in-depth experiences.  Showing commitment to a cause or organization is important. They’re also looking for volunteer service.  If a student only does the minimum required number of hours, the college will assume you just wanted to graduate!

Another topic I talk about in my interviews are  the importance of Fit and Match:

  • Will the student like other students there?
  • Will he like the campus and surroundings? Is your student more comfortable in a containedSummer college prep campus with lots of open spaces, or one that’s large and crowded in a city? Close to the beach or the mountains?
  •  How about activities outside the classroom?  This includes more than sports – there’s drama, debate, Model U.N., Beta Club Community service, and more.
  • Also consider the weather.  A northern campus that’s pleasant in summer may be freezing cold in winter!

Also, have a frank discussion about what your family can afford.  There’s nothing worse than discovering after the first year that you really can’t afford your student’s dream college!

Another important consideration – if your student has exceptional talent, private schools who really want him or her have the dollars to provide financial aid. Public schools, while less expensive on the surface, do not have the same amount of financial aid! 

Here’s my May 27 interview.

Here’s my June 3 interview.

 

Insights into the Top Engineering Schools

If you’re a high school student with the right aptitudes and interests, you should consider engineering as a college major. A degree in engineering is an excellent foundation for a financially and personally rewarding career. To succeed at an engineering school, however, you must be willing to work hard and to dedicate yourself to the engineering discipline you choose.

The starting salaries of engineers are among the highest of undergraduate majors. For example, in a recent year, the engineering graduates of MIT received an average of $95,000 asMIT starting salaries. Their employers were mostly blue chip companies in the technology and consulting sectors, including Google, Oracle, Amazon, McKinsey, Accenture, Apple, Boeing, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Boston Consulting, Morgan Stanley, Booz Allen, Goldman Sachs, and Intel.

Once you’ve decided to major in engineering, you should build a target list of those institutions that best fit your needs and preferences. Before developing your list,  determine which types of engineering appeal to you most. There is a wide range of engineering disciplines, and your preferences will be essential in the selection of colleges. No single institution offers degrees in all, or even most, of the engineering disciplines.

Engineering Specialties

The six main categories of engineering are civil, computer, electrical, scientific, mechanical, and environmental. Within these categories, there are many specialties, many of which are integrated with a science curriculum. The range of engineering degrees offered by American colleges is indicated below in Table A.

Table A: Engineering Specialties in American Colleges

Agricultural Bioengineering Architectural Aeronautical
Aerospace Civil Computer/Software Construction
Electrical Environmental Genetic Industrial
Manufacturing Marine Materials Mechanical
Metallurgical Mining Nuclear Geological
Hydraulics Chemical Automotive Electronics

Top Engineering Schools Ranked and Compared

MIT is first on almost everyone’s list of the best engineering schools, but other top-tier engineering schools are close behind. Column A in Table B is the top 20 National Universities according to the U.S. News and World Report rankings for 2021. Column B is the top 20 Engineering Universities for 2021. After each Engineering University in Column B  is the rank of that institution on the Column A National Universities list.

Table B: Top National Universities and Top Engineering Universities

Rank Best National Universities             Rank Best Engineering Universities
1 Princeton 1 MIT  (4)
2 Harvard 2 Stanford (6)
3 Columbia 2 UC Berkeley (22)
4 MIT 4 Georgia Tech (35)
4 Yale 5 Cal Tech (9)
6 Stanford 6 Carnegie Mellon (26)
6 Chicago 6 Illinois (47)
8 UPenn 9 Cornell (18)
9 Cal Tech 9 Purdue (53)
9 Johns Hopkins 11 Texas (42)
9 Northwestern 12 Princeton (1)
12 Duke 13 Columbia (3)
13 Dartmouth 13 Johns Hopkins (9)
14 Brown 13 Northwestern (9)
14 Vanderbilt 13 Texas A&M (66)
16 Rice 13 Wisconsin (42)
16 Washington U – St. Louis 13 Virginia Tech (74)
18 Cornell    19 Rice (16)
19 Notre Dame 19 UC Los Angeles (20)
20 UC Los Angeles 19 U. of Washington (58)

Source: U.S. News and World Report

Only half of the top 20 National Universities are also among the top 20 Engineering Universities. The other 10 range from #22 (UC Berkeley) to #66 (Texas A&M).  Only MIT is in the top five in both Columns.

There are many institutions with less selective admissions policies than those listed above that also provide first rate engineering educations. These include Bucknell, James Madison, North Carolina State, Rensselaer, Florida, Virginia, Clemson, Harvey Mudd, North Carolina, Penn State, Maryland, Ohio State, Cooper Union, and Florida State. All five of the U.S. military academies provide an excellent education in engineering.

Two of the best engineering schools in the country warrant special note for their innovative engineering programs. They are the Carnegie Mellon Institute of Technology and the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech.

Students at Carnegie have the option to augment their engineering degree with one of 10 interdisciplinary majors, each conducted in conjunction with a specific science curriculum.  Undergraduates can complete an accelerated master’s degree within one year of earning their bachelor’s degree.

Students at Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering also have an extensive range of majors in which to specialize, from medical physics to aerospace engineering. Among the programs offered, the industrial and biomedical engineering programs are especially well regarded.

If you’d like more guidance on selecting an engineering school and’s a good match academically, socially and financially, contact me at [email protected] or 803-487-9777.  I work with students in-person and virtually throughout the nation and the Virgin Islands.

 

Yes, You Get What You Pay For

With independent educational consultants, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for!

If you were searching for an eye surgeon, would you go with the cheapest one you could find? Probably not. After all, these are your EYES!

You would likely ask for recommendations, research the professional background of the surgeon, find out how many surgeries he or she had performed, etc.

The same holds true for selecting an independent educational consultant or college planner.

Some private colleges can cost a family more than $250,000 over four years. In-state public colleges may be less expensive, but they may also not have the level of scholarships available and may not end up costing less than a private college who really wants your student.  For example, Loyola University Maryland offered one of my 2021 students a $30,000 scholarship, whereas the University of South Carolina-Columbia (a public school) only offered a third as much.

When you’re making a substantial investment in your student, you want to make sure you weigh all options and find the absolute best fit.

As a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, I have an extensive knowledge of colleges, can broaden your student’s potential choices, and provide vital help in weighing factors such as your student’s passions, costs, location, and curriculum.

Here’s an example:

One student I worked with was Gabe, an intelligent young man with learning differences.

He had been attending a music preparatory program at a respected college in his home town.  The college wanted him as an undergraduate student, and he wanted to go there to be close to home.  He was concerned about moving out of his comfort zone. However, his parents wanted him to think bigger and grow musically.  I showed him other music programs and explained that they didn’t need to be too far away.

 “He didn’t want a large school or to be too far from home, she helped direct him to the right program. He ended up at Catholic University of America.  It wasn’t his first choice, but when he did the first piano audition, they called him, and got him scholarships,” said his Mom.

How did that work out for him?

college decisions

“Gabe graduated last year and is doing his Masters in Piano Performance, also at CUA, so she (Dr. Klaar) really helped him make the best choice for him (perfect school size, location, great piano teachers…). He felt comfortable enough to not apply for any support and found his own way of studying and made it through college successfully (Cum Laude and Dean’s list seven semesters out of eight!)” Gabe’s Mom later reported.

Hearing that brought tears to my eyes.  That’s why I’m passionate about what I do. I understand the importance of taking the time to get to know students and their families well enough to create a college career path for each student’s unique goals and strengths.

I use a friendly but no-nonsense, no-excuses style to work with students to help make the college search, application and essay process a delightful adventure of self-discovery and growth. Along the way, I help students learn to make more informed decisions and to own the process.

That’s why students trust me, respect my knowledge and experience, and work hard to meet their assignments and deadlines.

That knowledge and experience is hard-earned; I belong to all the top College Consultant professional organizations, and was the third college consultant to be honored with the Prestigious Steven R. Antonoff Award for Professional Achievement by the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

Before you make the important decision to select an independent college consultant for your family, ask these questions:

  1. Do you guarantee admission to a school, one of my top choices, or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships? (Do NOT trust any offer of guarantees.)
  2. How do you keep up with new trends, academic changes, and evolving campus cultures? How often do you get out and visit college, school, and program campuses and meet with admissions representatives? (The ONLY way to know about the best matches for you is to be out visiting schools regularly – post pandemic, of course.)
  3. Do you belong to any professional associations?  (The National Association for College Admission Counseling and the Higher Education Consultants Association along with the IECA are the primary associations for independent educational consultants with established and rigorous standards for membership.)
  4. Do you attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law? (This is a must!)
  5. Do you ever accept any form of compensation from a school, program, or company in exchange for placement or a referral? (They absolutely should not!)
  6. Are all fees involved stated in writing, up front, indicating exactly what services I will receive for those fees? (Absolutely mandatory.)
  7. Will you complete the application for admission, re-write my essays, or fill out the financial aid forms on my behalf? (No, they should NOT; it is essential that the student be in charge of the process and all materials should be a product of the student’s own, best work.)
  8. How long have you been in business as an independent educational consultant (IEC)?  (A long tenure with documented professional accomplishments buys you expertise.)

Four more important questions…

While anyone can hang out a shingle and claim to be an independent educational consultant or college counselor, it pays to go beyond price and ask the important questions.

If you’d like to learn more, contact me at [email protected] or call 1-803-487-9777.

Here’s Why it’s Best to be Likeable on Your College Application

If you brag about yourself now and then, you aren’t a braggart. But we all know some people who overdo it. It’s especially tempting for applicants to overdo it in the college admissions process of competitive colleges. Although understandable, bragging is harmful to an applicant.

In our society, excessive bragging is considered a negative trait. Narcissist, egotist, blowhard, conceited, and egocentric are just a few of the pejoratives used to refer to braggarts. This is not how you want to be perceived by others, least of all by admissions officials.

Successful applicants don’t brag, and for good reason. College admissions officers, like most people, consider modesty an admirable virtue. So you need to devise subtle ways to make your worthiness obvious.

It’s ironic but true that we readily recognize boastfulness in others, but we’re often slow to recognize it in ourselves. High self-esteem, normally a healthy attribute, often encourages us to think like baseball legend Dizzy Dean, who said, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”  Even if you share this belief, don’t reflect it in your applications.

The trick is to display self-confidence but not vanity in making your best impression on admissions reviewers. This can make you distinctive and memorable. But if you cross the line into boastfulness, you risk turning them off. Many opportunities to strut your stuff present themselves on résumés, on the Common App, in interviews, and in essays. But you don’t need to blow your own horn.

Below are tips to help you avoid bragging while remaining upbeat about yourself and your qualifications:

  • Come across as likable. Although this shouldn’t be the case, an unlikable applicant will have difficulty gaining admission to a highly selective college no matter how good their academic record may be. Colleges have a profile of an ideal student that they use to size up applicants. The admissions committee has many applicants who are equally well qualified, so they’ll admit the ones who seem most likely to fit in with their fellow students.
  • Let others boast about you. Remember that teachers and others who write your  letters of recommendation can sing your praises. Take steps to assure that they do.
  • Describe what you did, not what you are. Which sounds better, “I’m a committed humanitarian” or “I set up a food bank in my town that helped many people in need”?  One of the problems caused by bragging is the question of whether something you say about yourself can be readily verified. How do admissions officials know you’re being factual when you claim to have a commendable personal characteristic? If you make such a claim but don’t provide  evidence, they must rely on your word alone. When a boast is based on your unsubstantiated self-report, you won’t be believed.
  • Share the glory. For example, regarding the above reference to a food bank, it’s recommended that you add something like, “…with the assistance of other caring people in the community”.
  • Be kind. Never say anything negative about a person or organization. The school prefers not to have judgmental people in their student body. There are other ways to convey an idea without disparaging anyone.
  • No showboating. Although you want to come across as confident of yourself and your accomplishments, avoid preening.

According to our culture’s social norms, people are expected to be modest. Those who aren’t modest upset the expectations of others. Impression management, an art practiced by many successful people, is all about subtly leading others to view you favorably. If admissions officials think you’re trying too hard, you may alienate them. You may accomplish the exact opposite of your intent, which is to get them to like you.

Parts of your application, especially essays, afford opportunities to reveal your best self. Design your message to appeal to admissions officers on two levels. First, grab their attention with story and style. Next, include verifiable facts that motivate them to advocate for you. Being likable helps win them over to your cause.

Who knows himself a braggart, let him fear this, for it will come to pass that every braggart shall be found an ass”.  — Shakespeare

 

 

Get a jump-start on your college essay and application in 3 days!

Worried that virtual learning has put your student behind during Important high schoolstudent preparing for college years?  Are you concerned about your student getting  behind on his or her essay, common application and resume? Our Summer Camps will give your student a jumpstart on key aspects of college admissions  in just 3 days!

You’ll also get the latest update of how the coronavirus is impacting college admissions.

DATES:  June 15 – June 17, 2021, 1 – 4 p.m. each day.

Co-sponsored by LOOM Coworking, Gallery and Event Space

Day 1:  Students, we’ll tackle the dreaded college essay, including how to find the right topic and how to structure it so that it reflects who you are and why you would be a great addition to the campus community.

Day 2:  Work on your resume and activities for your common application and continue refining your primary essay.

Day 3:  Complete your common application and do further work on your essay and resume.  Dr. Klaar will edit and send her comments post-seminar.

All 3 sessions (9 hours total are just $350! (You must sign up for all 3 sessions)

If groups of three sign up together, each student saves $50!

Sign up today – only 10 students will be accepted into the summer camp!

Payment is due upon registration.

[email protected],  803-487-9777

Will Changes to the Academic Calendar Stick?

Covid-19, horrific in so many ways, has brought one benefit to academia — it has necessitated experimenting with the traditional academic calendar. Fortunately, this forced innovation has pushed the boundaries of what’s considered practicable. Some changes are likely to be carried forward in the post-pandemic era because results show that they’re more effective  for learning and less expensive operationally.

The Traditional Academic Calendar

Jeff Selingo, the author of Next, a newsletter that covers trends in college admissions, observedacademic calendar in a recent issue that, “The academic calendar in higher ed was chiseled in stone decades ago. It’s long been a barrier to change in higher ed.” One reason for the traditional calendar’s incapability of change is that it drives faculty contracts, student loans, allocating classrooms, scheduling student events, and many other facets of college operations.

The calendar’s rigidity is partly due to the inertia that inhibits change in large bureaucracies. Many people like the traditional calendar just the way it is whether it makes sense in 2021 or not. As noted by Dana Goldstein and Kate Taylor in the New York Times recently, “Contrary to popular belief, summer vacation is not a relic of the nation’s agrarian roots. Farm parents most needed their children’s help during spring planting and fall harvests, so schools in the early 19th century often met during the summer and winter. By the late 19th century, however, academic calendars looked a lot more like they do today, with many classroom buildings simply too hot, humid and uncomfortable during the summer.”

Underlying the bias in favor of the status quo has been the widely shared view that the undergraduate years are not just about education. They’re also about the college experience and “coming of age” ­­— four years of semi-adulthood during which students can prepare for whatever comes next. However, this view has  outlived its usefulness for the majority of students because it often makes college unaffordable, impractical, or undesirable, findings affirmed by the exigencies of the pandemic.

The Time for Change Has Come

The pandemic has created a need for college administrators to examine the efficacy of the traditional calendar and to experiment with new modes of learning. This experimentation coincides with the need for a transformation in the modus operandi of American colleges following a decade in which total enrollment declined every year.

In the February issue of Forbes, Brendon Busteed posed the following questions to draw attention to the deficiencies of the traditional academic calendar:

  • “Why do bachelor’s degrees take four years to complete?
  • Why is it that we monitor and report six-year graduation rates for these four-year degrees?
  • Why do we see considerable learning loss over the summer – especially for students from underserved communities?
  • Why has college gotten so expensive?

Many of these questions can be explained and answered to varying degrees through the lens of the academic calendar.”

Busteed has identified three principles he thinks should guide the re-structuring of the academic calendar. Changes should:

  1. Reduce the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree,
  2. Make work-study a fundamental part of earning a degree, and,
  3. Provide flexibility to those seeking or needing alternative paths to a degree.

Examples of Calendar Experiments

A common feature of most pandemic-induced changes has been introducing modules (or blocks) that subdivide semesters and extend through summers. Modules allow for the sort of College calendarflexibility demanded by the wide range of life circumstances among today’s undergraduates. A modular approach also enables colleges to take advantage of the state-of-the-art distance learning systems in which they’ve invested heavily in the last year.

Some module-based changes have been in use for years but weren’t widely adopted prior to the pandemic because there was no compelling reason to do so. For example:

    1. Arizona State now divides its semester into three modules: A and B, which run consecutively for 7.5 weeks each, and C, which runs the full 15 weeks of the semester. This allows students to mix classroom courses with online courses, which run the same 7.5 weeks, and can free time up either at the beginning or the end of a semester to intern, work on a project, or focus on 15-week courses. However, the same semester structure has been available to students in a number of colleges since the 1990’s because it’s well-suited to the needs of students who work full-time. The “A-B-C” modular approach has proven that it works and is popular with students.

2.   Georgia Tech offers five-week-long “mini-mester” courses. Mini-mester classes meet Monday through Thursday for three hours and cover the same material as a full semester. Mini-mesters have been conducted during the break between fall and spring semesters since they were introduced after the conversion of the fall semester to its current schedule in 1970. Prior to 1970, the fall semester was interrupted by a 2-week break for the Christmas-New Year’s holidays and then resumed in the first week of January, finishing by the end of the month.

This was followed by a 3-week semester break. Starting the fall semester earlier and ending it just before the holidays enabled colleges to combine the 2-week and the 3- week breaks into one 5-week period, which allowed time for a mini-mester. Mini-mesters were instantly popular with students who wanted three extra credits or simply found time off in mid-winter pointless. Like “A-B-C” semesters, mini-mesters have proven their viability over time.

3.  The majority of college summer programs are being re-structured into a third semester for 2021. They’ll have two sessions and offer a larger choice of courses than the limited set of past years. Colleges are modifying summer school to enable students to complete courses that they were forced to drop or which were unavailable due to the pandemic. However, summer-as-third-semester is a model that’s likely to be adopted permanently. With a full-time, year-round academic calendar, students who choose to do so will be able to complete all requirements for a bachelor’s degree in 3 years or less, which is common in the U.K. and Europe.

Changes to the traditional academic calendar are likely to appeal to you as an applicant.  In being more closely aligned with needs and preferences, a re-structured calendar can help you to achieve your educational goals faster.

There is one downside —  the more choices available in the academic calendars of colleges, the more challenging the process of selecting your best-fit colleges will be. In addition to all of the other variables in play, you’ll need to add your preferred calendar to the mix, a consideration that wasn’t even on applicant’s radar in the past. The expert guidance of an experienced Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) thus becomes even more advantageous to you as we approach the 2021-22 admissions year.

College Board’s Changes Reflect Admissions Trends

Covid-19 has accelerated changes to the SAT exam that have been percolating for years. College Board, the organization that produces the SAT and conducts testing, announced that Subject Tests will no longer be offered, and that the exam would not have an optional essay section in the future. The Board also stated that they’re developing a new “streamlined” version of the SAT that can be administered online to students at home. The ACT exam, the only competitor of the SAT on a national scale, has already announced that they are changing their programs in similar ways.

College Board’s Stated Motivation

The College Board says that their motive is to reduce the burden of redundant exams and unnecessary anxiety on students, stating, “As students and colleges adapt to new realities and changes to the college admissions process, College Board is making sure our programs adapt with them. We’re making some changes to reduce demands on students.”

Some admissions experts have observed that doing away with Subject Tests is a step in the right direction: eliminating standardized testing in college admissions. But most colleges still require or accept SAT scores and consider them an accurate predictor of future academic performance. Skeptical admissions experts maintain that the GPA and the rigor of a high school curriculum should be the only academic criteria in admissions. Focusing exclusively on them is what will reduce pressure on students.

College Board’s Actual Motivation

The College Board is a not-for-profit organization that was formed in 1899 allegedly to expand access to higher education. It has more than 6,000 institutional members that use its services and govern it. The Board’s revenue, derived from member and student fees, exceeds $1 billion annually. There are 1,600 employees at its headquarters in New York and in its field offices.

Although devoted to serving the needs of its members rather than making a profit, the College Board has a bias toward self-preservation. The leadership is aware that standardized tests have increasingly been viewed as discriminating against racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged. The Board’s leaders have been tracking the adoption of test-optional policies that has resulted from this perception of bias.

Subject Tests vs. Advanced Placement

The motivating factor behind the decision to cease offering the Subject Tests is that the College Board stands to gain from the movement away from the tests as credentials or requirements for admission. Another factor is that Subject Tests will be replaced by GPA and the strength of curriculum as the only two academic criteria for admissions. The Board plans to shift to their Advanced Placement (AP) program as the most common way for an applicant to prove the rigor of their coursework.

Since 1955, the College Board’s AP program has been available for high school students who want to demonstrate their capabilities in the 40 AP subjects.  More than 22,000 high schools offered at least some of the AP courses last year. The Board establishes the syllabi for the courses, develops the exams, and audits each AP program to assure compliance.

About 85 percent of colleges weigh AP courses and exams substantially heavier than regular courses.  The AP courses are optional and, if a student is sufficiently confident that he or she can take a course’s final exam in May and pass it with a score of 3, 4, or 5, it counts as an AP credit even if they didn’t take the course. On the other hand, if a student takes an AP course but doesn’t score a 3, 4, or 5, it’s purpose as proof-of-rigor to colleges is foregone.

There’s at least one valid objection to the substitution of the AP program for Subject Tests. Subject Tests were offered five times per year and students were advised to take them after completing a high school course in the relevant subject. Last year, only a handful of colleges required applicants to submit Subject Test scores in specific subjects. Ten highly selective colleges “recommended” them, which essentially means that they required them. The other students that took the tests did so as a voluntary way to burnish their admissions credentials, especially in their intended field of study.

AP courses polish credentials because they’re more demanding than regular high school courses; it’s estimated that they require about 30 percent more work. AP students are expected to delve more deeply into topics through research, practical applications, and critical thinking. Colleges look favorably on AP courses and exam results as proof that an applicant is capable of doing college work.

There’s no set number of AP courses that a student should take, but many Independent Educational Consultants advise those aspiring to attend highly selective colleges to take three or four of them. For those aspiring to attend the most elite colleges, six or more are recommended.

AP exams must be passed prior to senior year in order to be reflected on a student’s college applications. This requires elite college aspirants to pass an average of two AP exams annually in their freshman, sophomore, and juniors years. That’s a tall order… one that isn’t consistent with the College Board’s stated purpose of reducing the pressure on students.