Sunday, December 20, 2009

Is Facebook Distracting you from your College Goals?

Blogged by Educational Consultant, Lauren Kahn, M.A.

In October, Facebook reached 54.7 percent of people in the United States ages 12 to 17, up from 28.3 percent in October last year, according to the Nielsen Company, the market research firm. The average user spends 55 minutes of their day on Facebook, and I imagine this time is exponentially longer for teenagers.

While Facebook has many highly valuable services, it can also be a major distraction to getting things done.
Some teenagers are actually making the responsible decision during finals and near college application deadlines to temporarily disable their Facebook accounts. A forced vacation from Facebook during finals is something I highly recommend for my students. As a professional, I sometimes create a self-imposed break from by blocking it as an allowed site from my wireless network. Are you disciplined enough to self-regulate your exposure to facebook and other internet sites?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Texas State and other colleges counting economic blessings - for now

Excerpt from Austin 

By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz
Monday, December 07, 2009

SAN ANTONIO — Denise Trauth, president of Texas State University, tries not to gloat. But when she meets with counterparts from across the nation, as she did at the annual gathering of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities recently, she feels fortunate to be in Texas.

Many public colleges and universities across the nation are laying off employees, reducing student financial aid and taking other painful steps to cope with the economic downturn and declining state appropriations.
The University of North Alabama, for example, has raised tuition 9.5 percent in each of the past two years. California State University, Bakersfield, has scaled back academic programs and enrollment in response to a $15 million, or 25 percent, cut in the state portion of its budget. And Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has proposed merging three public, historically black universities to cut costs.

Institutions of higher learning in Texas haven't been immune to the belt-tightening. Hiring for many positions throughout the 15-campus University of Texas System is frozen. UT-Austin is laying off some staff members to free up money to retain and recruit top professors. But schools in Texas, with its relatively strong economy, have largely been spared the harsh cuts taking place in many other states. Indeed, the Texas Legislature increased higher education funding this spring by $1.2 billion for the two-year budget and boosted financial aid by 35 percent, to $1 billion.

To read more of this article, please click here.

 The information was provided by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. You can also view LSEDC's brochure here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

PSAT Results Are On Their Way ... Juniors (Are you a National Merit Semi-Finalist?)

 Blogged by College Explorations from Nancy Griesemer and Lauren Kahn from Lone Star Ed Consulting

High school sophomores and juniors who took the PSAT last October should be receiving their results any day now. According to the College Board, the tests have already been scored, analyzed, and are making their way to high school mailboxes this very minute.

And this is great news, because unlike any other service provided by our friends in Princeton, the PSAT offers an amazing amount of FREE information and advice all packaged together in the materials test-takers automatically receive. So whatever you do, don’t trash the packet!

If you’re worried about test results, keep in mind that the “P” in PSAT stands for “preliminary” not “predictive.” These scores do not predict how well you will do in college and they certainly say very little about how good a student you are. They represent a single snapshot in time and sometimes that picture is neither flattering nor accurate. So, do not ascribe too much value to the scores alone.

Also, be aware that colleges do not use these scores in the admissions process. Unless you happen to score in the very highest percentile of test-takers, the test results have no usefulness to anyone but you, and they will never be reported to colleges.

So what is good about taking the PSAT?

1) Going back to what was suggested earlier, the College Board invested considerable time, thought, and money into developing a package of materials to be presented along with scores. And it’s all provided FREE of charge to test-takers only.

First, every student who takes the PSAT receives an actual copy of the test booklet along with a complete Score Report containing the correct answer, your answer, and the level of difficulty for each question on the test. This information is key to pinpointing test-taking strengths and weaknesses, and you really should go over your results carefully.

As part of the Score Report you will also receive personalized feedback on academic skills and will be directed to two or three areas that might need some improvement as indicated by your answers on the test. If you’re thinking about signing up for an SAT prep class, this information can be extremely helpful in determining what kind of program or intensity level would be best for you.

2) You might actually be able to earn some scholarship money from your test results.
Juniors (Are you a National Merit Semi-Finalist?) Information from

Of the 1.5 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT® Selection Index scores (critical reading + mathematics + writing skills scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit® Scholarship Program. In April following the fall test administration, high-scoring participants from every state are invited to name two colleges or universities to which they would like to be referred by NMSC. In September, these high scorers are notified through their schools that they have qualified as either a Commended Student or Semifinalist.

To qualify for the National Merit Semi-Finalist program, you need to meet the following qualifications:
  1. take the PSAT/NMSQT® in the specified year of the high school program and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12, regardless of grade classification or educational pattern; score in the top 1% of all students taking the PSAT during the particular year entering in the program.
  2. be enrolled as a high school student, progressing normally toward graduation or completion of high school, and planning to enroll full time in college no later than the fall following completion of high school; and
  3. be a citizen of the United States; or be a U.S. lawful permanent resident (or have applied for permanent residence, the application for which has not been denied) and intend to become a U.S. citizen at the earliest opportunity allowed by law.

Did you miss taking the PSAT as a junior? Guess what, you can still enter the competition. See below.

A student who does not take the PSAT/NMSQT because of illness, an emergency, or other extenuating circumstance, but meets all other requirements for NMSC program participation, may still be able to enter the competitions. The student or a school official must write to NMSC as soon as possible after the PSAT/NMSQT administration to request information about procedures for entry to NMSC competitions by alternate testing. The earlier NMSC receives the written request, the greater the student's opportunities for meeting alternate entry requirements. To be considered, a request must be postmarked no later than March 1 following the PSAT/NMSQT administration that was missed. NMSC will provide alternate entry materials including an entry form that requires the signature of a school official.

 The information was provided by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. You can also view LSEDC's brochure here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

University of Texas (Austin): iPhone Applications and Admission Deadlines

Free Advice Friday!

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High School Seniors: If you are planning on applying to University of Texas - Austin for the Fall 2010 class, you have 1 month left to get your transcript, resume, essays (2), optional recommendation letters, high school profile, test scores, and your overall application into the admissions office. DECEMBER 15, 2009 DEADLINE

Starting with 2009 applicants,* The University of Texas at Austin implemented some changes to its summer/fall deadlines for freshman admission. Here are the expected deadline shifts for the next couple of years:

Applicants to Summer/Fall 2010
» December 15, 2009
Applicants to Summer/Fall 2011
» December 1, 2010

* The summer/fall 2009 application deadline was January 15, 2009.
The deadline changes are planned to allow the Office of Admissions to make admission decisions earlier in the spring of an applicant’s senior year. The February 1 deadline, which had been in place for years, often meant that applicants had to wait for their admission decisions until late March or even April 1. Earlier decisions will mean that students are able to begin their post-admission, enrollment planning earlier.

Remember also that UT does not combine test score sittings. They look at your overall BEST test session for the ACT or SAT. They do not require SAT II scores. You can look at the college board site to see which other schools on your list look at the overall best test date and do not combine test score sittings.

You can view score-use practices by college/university by visiting College Board's College Search website. Select an institute of interest, and then go to the SAT®, AP®, CLEP® icon (under each institution) for score-use practice information.

Additionally, you can download the SAT Score-Use Practices List (.pdf/1.8MB), which provides an alphabetical listing of score-use practices of colleges and scholarship programs which have submitted score-use practices as of July 2009.

5 Virtually FREE iPhone Applications for College Students at the University of  Texas - Austin

If you are fortunate enough to secure a spot at the University of Texas - Austin, here are some iPhone applications that will make your life easier and more fun as you adapt to college life.

#1 HookEm (FREE)
University of Texas fans will get the latest information, news, and scores on football, men’s and women’s basketball, and baseball with this app. It also includes chants such as, "Play Texas Fight", "The Eyes of Texas", and "The Yellow Rose of Texas".

#2 University of Texas Directory  ($.99)
The Texas Directory application provides a seamless way to find your friends and contacts at the University of Texas at Austin. With this application, you can search for any student or faculty member at UT by name, phone number, office location or email.

#3 University of Texas Blackboard (FREE)

This app offers students, faculty, and campus personnel a variety of features including the ability to use an interactive campus map, browse the university’s catalog, and watch campus related content on YouTube and iTunes.

#4 Austin Traffic ($4.99)
Want to find out what the commute will be like for school? The traffic app for Austin gives you real time traffic reporting in the Austin, TX area. Use this app to help decide if you want to blow off class for the day or hang out a little longer at happy hour before returning back to your apartment. If you are stuck in an unexpected traffic jam, it's easy to launch and quickly see if there is an accident or traffic jam ahead.

#5 CraigsPro: Craigslist (Austin) (FREE)  
Use this app to search for jobs in Austin, post or search the classifieds, browse concerts and events,  or get used furniture for your new apartment or dorm room. You can bookmark your favorite searches, email listing to friends and call numbers directly from listings. You can view pictures enlarged to get a better idea of what you are actually negotiating for.

AUTHOR INFO: Suggestions by April Lentini from San Antonio Apartment Guide and Lauren Kahn of Lone Star Ed Consulting.

Information and Links provided below from "College Times"
Related posts:
  1. 10 Best iPhone Apps for Science Majors
  2. 15 Best iPhone Apps for English Majors
  3. 100 Free Tools for Your College Planning & Prep
  4. 25 Essential Web Tools for Incoming College Freshmen
  5. The Princeton Review Reveals Top 5 Luxury College Dorms

It is not too late to jump start your college planning process. The information was provided by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. You can also view LSEDC's brochure here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Over 50K College Cost Club (Per Year) ... Who's in it?

What do Georgetown, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins have in common? They all cost over $50K per year to attend and they all made it onto the list of the top ten most expensive colleges in America, according to numbers recently compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Two of the three, Georgetown and GW, are perennial favorites having been among the top 20 most expensive colleges since at least 2003.

For the second year in a row, Sarah Lawrence College in New York has the dubious honor of being the most expensive college in the nation with tuition, fees, room and board totaling $55,788. Georgetown ($52,161) comes in at number three, with GW ($51,775) and Johns Hopkins ($51,690) holding the number five and six spots. St. John’s College in Annapolis joined other local $50K Club members at number 42 with costs totaling $50,352 per year.

It’s no secret that the cost of post-secondary education has gone up faster than the prices of other goods and services. Last year, only five private nonprofit colleges and universities in the country could boast of membership in the $50K Club. This year, the list has grown to 58. And the trend shows no signs of slowing down, despite press releases from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) announcing that tuition at private colleges rose only 4.3 percent—the smallest increase in 37 years. In fact, it appears that the market can bear much more as many of the nation’s most expensive institutions have seen no drop in demand.

Although generous aid packages mean that most students don't pay sticker price, it’s fair to say college is rapidly becoming a luxury outside the means of middle class families. While aggressive building campaigns and upgrades in other campus amenities may account for a huge hunk of the need for higher revenue, it’s also true that increased need for financial aid among students figures into the equation. It’s a vicious cycle that depends heavily on some students paying full freight while colleges continue to gamble that the economy will improve enough for them to stop dipping into endowments some time before the bottom falls out.

America's Top Ten Most Expensive Colleges and Universities
Sarah Lawrence College, NY
Landmark College, VT
Georgetown University, DC
New York University
George Washington University, DC
Johns Hopkins University, MD
Columbia University, NY
Wesleyan University, CT
Trinity College, CT
Washington University, MO

The above information was written by: Nancy Greisemer of College Explorations.

My alma mater, Emory University, also is part of the elite over 50K first year college costs. The 2009 -2010 estimated costs for tuition, room and board, student fees, books, and travel amount to 51K. Although, only 1/3 of students pay the sticker price. Financial Aid and scholarships are key to making these colleges listed affordable.  (Lone Star Ed Consulting, Lauren Kahn, M.A.)

To check the cost of your potential dream college, visit The Chronicle's tuition and cost database. The figures represent charges to first-time, full-time undergraduates based, typically, on a nine-month academic year of 30 semester hours or 45 quarter-hours. An asterisk (*) indicates that an institution provided projected figures for 2009-10. The designation “n/a” indicates that figures were not available.

The data does not reflect the cost of attendance at an institution after grants and other student aid are considered. This net cost is often lower than the published fees shown.

Tip of the Week: (Belated Free Advice Friday) Deadlines still matter: Need-based financial aid is an annual process. Students have to fill out a Renewal Free Application for Federal Student Aid each year, and, if their college uses it, a CSS -Profile form. "Over the years, I've noticed the rising sophomore is the student who tends to be late filing," Mr. Gelinas said. After all, students are only on campus for a few months before they have to apply for aid again. It does not stop after freshman year. Also, know what GPA you need to maintain in order to keep your scholarship.

It is not too late to jump start your college planning process. The information was provided by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. You can also view LSEDC's brochure here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"College Week Live" (November 4-7) Ask the College Experts

College Week Live is coming to you. College Week Live is a virtual college fair that features representatives from over 300 colleges and educational consultants.  College Week Live launched in 2007 and has held more than six successful virtual college fairs. During the dates of November 4 – 7, this Wednesday - Saturday, College Week Live will connect students from across the country and the world to the college search and application process without leaving their home, office, or school. I will be a featured guest representative for IECA on November 5th from 5:30PM - 6:30PM (EST) and November 6th from 1 - 2PM (EST). Please register at and log on this week to explore this college educational tool. Among the highlights: the opportunity to speak to representatives of over 300 colleges, the chance to hear keynote presentations via Webcast (including Ted Fiske of Fiske Guide and representatives from the Department of Education, among many others), and the chance to video chat live with college students.
One of the most popular features last spring was the “Counselor-on-Call” chat area where students and parents by the hundreds were able to pose questions to professional counselors. IECA Members will be staffing the counselor-on-call area, and are doing so as volunteers, like myself.  We expect to answer questions ranging from testing, to volunteer service, to financial aid, and much, much more.(Independent Educational Consultants Association).

Texas Universities participating in College Week Live: Texas Tech, University of Houston, Schreiner College, Sam Houston State, and University of North Texas.

There are promotional prizes that you can win for registering and participating in "College Week Live." Juniors and seniors, tell your English teachers about the virtual college fair. Maybe, they will even allot class time for you to visit the virtual fair.

Upcoming CollegeWeekLive Promotions

College Scholarship: $2,500 CollegeWeekLive Scholarship Contest
Looking for a college scholarship? CollegeWeekLive is proud to help our audience pay for college with the return of our scholarship contest! One student will win a $2,500 college scholarship, good at any accredited institution! To enter the contest:

1.Register for CollegeWeekLive
2.Login/ attend CollegeWeekLive during a live event during the Fall 2009 semester

A lucky attendee will be chosen to receive the $2,500 scholarship. Please see contest details on the Scholarships page. Good luck to all who enter!
For more details on this wonderful event, visit College Week Live.

It is not too late to jump start your college planning process. The information provided was written by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. You can also view LSEDC's brochure here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ominous Traditions and Superstitions on College Campuses

It is Free Advice Friday! I have two tips to share.

Regarding Early Action / Early Decision Applications:
1) Make sure you get a certified delivery confirmation receipt on any items you send out to the colleges. 2) For electronic submission of your applications, print out the confirmation message. Do not rely on an e-mail confirmation only. Make sure it looks as perfect as possible before you press that SUBMIT button.

Get a confirmation from your high school registrar's office that your transcripts were sent out by the college's stated deadline. Things can fall through the cracks. True story: My college application never made it to the University of Michigan. Upon my Early Decision acceptance to Emory, I called the U of M's admissions office to withdrawal my application and was informed that they never received my transcript or application and only had my test scores on file. Ouch! (I know this was pre-electronic application time, but you can never be too cautious.)

So, now for some "FUN" information: Ominous Traditions and Superstitions on College Campuses

Duke University: To get free tickets to Duke basketball games, students camp out in tents complete with on-line access so they can continue studying and stay connected. Some unofficial graduation "requirements" decree that before they graduate, students must drive backwards around the traffic circle and climb Baldwin Auditorium. Several of Duke's gothic-style buildings feature gargoyles that are difficult to find. The Duke Chapel is haunted one night every year. (Durham, NC)

Emory University: The unofficial mascot of the university is Dooley, a skeleton figure dressed in black. In the spring during Dooley's Week, he wanders the campus, showing up in classrooms to let students out of class. Back in my day, Dooley's week was during the week of Halloween and the week culminated in a big costume ball the weekend before or after Halloween. It is an honor to be part of Dooley's Entourage. (Atlanta, GA)

Georgetown University: Ever since the film "The Exorcist" was shot in part on the campus, Halloween has been a major holiday at Georgetown. The film is shown after dark on Halloween, either outside on Copley lawn or in Gaston Hall. The film ends around midnight, the hour at which Georgetown students gather in the cemetery on campus for the "Healy Howl." In the cemetery at midnight, in the shadow of Healy Hall, Georgetown students literally howl at the moon. A statue of John Carroll, the founder of Georgetown, is located at the entrance of the campus. Before they graduate, students try to have their photo taken in Carroll's lap. This requires stealthy evasion of the Department of Public Safety patrols trying to end a tradition they believe to be harmful to the statue's longevity. The usual game plan is to leap into John Carroll's lap, have a friend snap the picture, and make a run for it. (Washington, DC)
Princeton University: At the commencement ceremony, new graduates pass through the Fitzrandolph Gates, the main entrance to the campus from Nassau Street, and enter the "real world." According to fairly recent tradition, undergraduates who use the gates to exit the campus before their own commencement put their chances of graduating at risk. (Princeton, NJ)

University of California -- Los Angeles: Midnight Yell is held during finals week. The Janss Steps, an 87-step expanse of stairs, served as the original entrance to the university. The land on which the university was built had been owned by the Janss brothers, and it was proposed that a structure be built in their honor. Edwin, the practical younger brother, lobbied for a parking garage, but Hans, the older brother, insisted on something more aesthetic: sloping lawns with majestic steps leading up to the main quad. Suspecting that after he died, his little brother would simply replace the steps with parking, Hans had himself buried under the sixth step. Tradition holds that students must never set foot on the sixth step from the bottom or they will spend an extra quarter (or longer) on campus. Fraternities sometimes hold seances on the step, easily identified by the drippings from their candles. A large statue of the UCLA mascot, the Bruin, stands near the student union. Students rub his right hind paw (the "Bruin Paw") for luck before exams. Before becoming a rock legend, Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, briefly attended UCLA. Tour guides point out a locker in the math building purported to be Morrison's that is still plastered with brightly colored stickers and remains locked. (Los Angeles, CA)
University of Virginia: According to tradition, before they graduate, students must run naked from the Rotunda down the Lawn to the statue of Homer (which must be kissed on the buttocks) and then back to the Rotunda before retrieving their clothes. (Charlottesville, VA)

Ominous Traditions Source: Leads provided by Susan Solomon, Kehillah Jewish High School, Palo Alto, California.

It is not too late to jump start your college planning process. The information provided was written by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. You can also view LSEDC's brochure here

Monday, October 26, 2009

AcceptEdge Plus a Private College Consultant = The Perfect Combination

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Hi Y'all,

Although it is not Friday, I have some free advice for my readers. Have you heard of AcceptEdge? It is a powerful web tool that prospective college students can use to determine their possible chances of acceptance to a university. Of course, it is not fool proof, but it uses a better diagnostic formula than other search sites such as Peterson's, The College Board, and Naviance. While most alogorithms take into account standardized test scores, class ranking, and G.P.A., AcceptEdge goes one step further in its methodology and also includes a student's extra-curricular resume. They compile data from 15 publicly available data sources, including social networks.

AcceptEdge was founded by two collegians, Max Hodak and Jason Mueller and incubated at the Sand Hill Road venture firm NEA.  AcceptEdge augments the data with its own surveys and Facebook applications.
AcceptEdge co-founder Max Hodak, 20, says it evolved from a spreadsheet he put together at age 17 while attending a private prep school in New Jersey, comparing his own academic scores against university data provided by a guidance counselor at his school. His computations, he said, helped guide him from a likely rejection from Yale toward the warm embrace of Duke University, which had intrigued him with a vaunted biomedical engineering program. Once AcceptEdge gains traction, 'I'm definitely going back to that,' he said.
Hodak was still in high school when he first encountered co-founder Jason Mueller online, in a Facebook developers forum. Mueller, who has had paid internships at Sony Ericsson and Red Hat, is more focused on shaping AcceptEdge's business, while Hodak concentrates on technology (, 2009). 

AcceptEdge is still in Beta testing and does not have all of the kinks worked out. I think the next version will be a great improvement and will yield more promising results with more efficiency. I attempted to create a fake profile to test its features and accuracy, but was unable to add my extra-curriculars or my class grades. I also advice against their suggestion tool to connect your AcceptEdge profile to data from your Facebook account. Please keep your Facebook account separate from your college application experience. This is the verbiage to lure you into connecting your Facebook account with AcceptEdge.

DO NOT DO THIS: Research has shown that social graph data is predictive of path through college. We can extract this information from your friend connections on Facebook. Clicking the button above will allow us to analyze your social relationships and how they relate to your college choices.

To some, it may be disconcerting that such a service exists—another sign of how the college quest has become a pressure cooker. I've often encountered teenagers who stress over their grades, test scores and extra-curriculars, as well as the occasional overbearing parent.Students often spend their high school years grooming themselves for a particular university, selecting courses and extracurricular activities they hope will make them stand out. Parents pay for tutoring or expensive SAT preparation classes. I am an advocate of test prep tutoring for most students. Students can greatly receive increase their oral and written vocabulary, as well as their overall writing abilities with test prep help. There are classes offered at high schools that are reasonable, and also private college tutors that are not as exorbitant as the larger Test prep outfits out there. 

Van Buskirk, who has his own for-profit Web site called, said AcceptEdge's greatest value would be to enlighten students and encourage them to explore options beyond brand-name institutions to possibilities among some 3,800 colleges nationwide.

I fear, as some educational consultants and admissions officers do, that AcceptEdge's tool could actually exacerbate the pressure and increase a student's anxiety related to the college app process. If a high schooler's heart is truly, perilously set on Stanford, for example, AcceptEdge claims it can show how a student can best enhance his or her odds by taking, say, another Advanced Placement class, retaking the SAT or running for class president. Often times, it is not one minute factor that tips the scales for a student's admission. Colleges today are looking to complete a class filled with diversity and  what they need to complete their renaissance class can change slightly from year to year. For example, if a highly selective school is creating a new aeronautical engineering program, they might be more open to taking a student with a lower verbal score (550) and a significantly higher math score (760), because they want to build the program with students that are strong in math and science. This particular student might have been president of their Robotics Club chapter or invented a wind tunnel. In a previous admission's cycle, this student might not have been accepted to this university, but the university's objectives have changed and this student now fits the model for what they are seeking.

AcceptEdge also plans to direct students to a network of "qualified private college admission advisers" that can offer personal guidance and assistance to students. Many independent counselors offer worthy, ethical services, Jump and Van Buskirk agrees, but some are unethical and manipulative, making inflated promises and charging exorbitant fees. I agree with this statement and am happy to share my reasonable college planning fees with you. Please contact me via email or via phone at 512-294-6608.

It is not too late to jump start your college planning process. The information provided was written by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. You can also view LSEDC's brochure here

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

For Some Seniors, It's Crunch Time ! College Planning Tips

1. Be smart about your short list. While it might be tempting to pile on a few extra applications, don't do it. Don’t assume that the more applications you submit, the greater your likelihood of getting in. Focus on schools that are good fits and you’ll be fine. I recommend students apply between 8 to 10 schools unless they are applying to an extremely esoteric field.

2. Make sure you feel good about the schools to which you are applying. I can’t tell you how often, after the admission decisions have been revealed, a student says about a school on her list, “But I don’t want to go there.” Don’t apply to a school if you would not consider enrolling should you be accepted.

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3. Develop an application tracking document. List all of the schools that are on your preliminary list as well as the various forms and deadlines required by each. Post it on your refrigerator or someplace where you will see it every day. Make sure you also have all of your user IDs and passwords for your college applications in a spreadsheet. I recommend that you use the same password for all college applications. For security reasons, use a unique password that only pertains to your college applications, SAT / ACT registration, and scholarship / financial aid forms. This way you can share your password with your mom or dad and won't have to worry that your parents will break into your Facebook or My Space account.

4. Read the Supplemental Forms. Schools that use the Common Application or the Universal Application may require additional information and/or essays. Become familiar with the information requested on these forms sooner than later. Along those same lines, understand the application policies for the schools you are applying to. Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) or Restrictive Early Action (REA) is the newest option, which limits you to applying early to only one school to get an answer in advance about acceptance. It’s not binding, but restricts you from applying anywhere else under an EA or ED application. You can apply elsewhere during regular admission and do not have to make a decision to enroll until the school’s regular deadline.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How to Cut College Costs ... A Sample List

Free advice Friday! The incredible costs of a college education have every parent and student concerned for their future plans. The following is a list of 3 out of 10 recommended methods to cut college costs. If you would like the rest of the list, email me directly and I will send you a PDF.

1. Get College Credit in High School: Students can take AP or IB college credited classes, with the help of a knowledgeable counselor, which will help to cut down on the number of courses needed to graduate from college. Most AP courses are paid for by the high schools so as not to deter students from enrolling. The tests are usually about $85 each and are far less than the cost of a college course, which is going to be a minimum of $500 at a university. Did you know? There are more than 30 AP courses and exams across multiple subject areas to choose from. Over 90% of 4-year colleges in the U.S. provide credit and/or advanced placement for qualifying scores. Dual college credit is another option. In Texas, ACC offers a program Early College Start ( offered through your high school.  AP - Advanced Placement IB - International Bacc

2. Community Colleges: If you can convince your student, spending the first year or two in college at a CC is a huge cost savings. In many cases, students have yet to declare a major. In these cases, general education requirements can be fulfilled at a CC. The cost savings in tuition, books, supplies, housing, food, and travel may give a student and parent a head start on costs for graduate tuitions. Get your general ed requirements completed at Austin Community College.

3. Cash in on Tax Credits: “What students need to know is that there’s the Hope and the Lifetime Learning tax credits (,” says Joseph M. Re, author of “Financial Aid Financer: Expert Answers to College Financing Questions.”

The Hope Credit is a tax credit for college students in their first two years of college. It provides a tax credit of up to $1,800 on the first $2,400 of college tuition and fees. You can claim the Hope Credit on your tax return if you, your spouse, or your dependent are a first-year or second-year college student, is enrolled at least half-time at an eligible education institution, and you are responsible for paying college expenses. (Only parents who claim the student as a dependent on their tax return would be eligible for the credit.) “The key to taking advantage of this credit,” Re says, “is to plan ahead and be aware of the stipulations.”
From the IRS government website, "Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), more parents and students will qualify over the next two years for a tax credit, the American Opportunity Credit, to pay for college expenses. The American Opportunity Credit is not available on the 2008 returns taxpayers are filing during 2009. The new credit modifies the existing Hope Credit for tax years 2009 and 2010, making the Hope Credit available to a broader range of taxpayers, including many with higher incomes and those who owe no tax. It also adds required course materials to the list of qualifying expenses and allows the credit to be claimed for four post-secondary education years instead of two. Many of those eligible will qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. The full credit is available to individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less, or $160,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. These income limits are higher than under the existing Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits."

The information provided was written by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

College Admission and Ethical Implications of Uncertain Economic Times

Register Now for NACAC Webinars on the
State of College Admission and Ethical Implications of Uncertain Economic Times

NACAC State of College Admission Webinar
When: October 20
Time: 2:00 p.m. EDT
Cost: $25

On the release date of the annual State of College Admission report, NACAC will present a Webinar to provide a detailed overview of trends in college admission counseling. This year’s report also includes analysis from NACAC’s survey on the Effects of the Economy on the Admission Process.

With the influx of marketing propaganda out there for students, the high tuition costs, and the rising obstacles in gaining admission to the top universities, it is not surprising that some college admissions offices are facing public scrutiny for their questionable ethics. "Recognizing these ethical challenges and dilemmas and effectively dealing with them is a professional imperative for admissions officers and the academic institutions they represent," says Michael McCuddy of International Journal of Educational Management. McCuddy addresses three areas of admissions where ethical dilemmas are plaguing the current admissions climate. They occur in recruiting practices, personal biases in admissions decisions, and conflicts between personal ethical standards and institutional directives.
Example of an ethical dilemma: Athletics is dictating to admissions at a selective institution, they should admit a candidate based on their physical talents and leadership skills, but not their academic merits. It is a division III school and there are no athletic scholarships or special provisions provided for athletic admits. The star football athlete may potentially bring in more revenue to the school with increased ticket sales and national media hype, but the athlete is not near the school's average standards in regards to class ranking or test scores.* fictitious example
Should admissions offer this student a place at their university or risk the wrath of the athletic department and deny him? What are your thoughts? With every circumstance, you need to weigh the pros and cons of your decision. My professional opinion: I would really have to read the student's essays to determine their level of motivation and desire to attend the academic institution. I would also do a follow up phone interview as well.

As a former admissions officer for a private university, I understand the intense pressure placed upon admissions to convert qualified prospective students to matriculated students. There is a fine line between encouraging a student to apply to a university and telling them that they will be admitted based upon their credentials. Universities that are less selective run the risk of over enrollment if they accept too many students. This year Ithaca College had to be very creative in how they addressed their over enrollment problem. They are paying 31 students $10,000 each, to put off going to college for a year, a sort of mandatory GAP year. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Ithaca had hoped “to enroll 1,700 to 1,750 new freshmen but found itself with an incoming class of 2,027 for this fall.”
'It's an extreme case of what we're likely to see in other places,' said John C. Nelson, managing director of the division at Moody's Investors Service that rates colleges' debt. In addition to adding physical capacity, Ithaca's challenge is to 'manage the student services extremely well,' he said, particularly in light of the competitive and demographic challenges facing private colleges in the Northeast. - Chronicle of Higher Education
Ithaca College made a recruiting mistake that they will be paying for physically and monetarily over the next few years. Chronicle reports that Ithaca had suffered a decline in freshman enrollment in 2008, falling 11 percent below its budgeted target of 1,600. Many of the steps it took over the past year to enroll the entering class in 2009 were designed to compensate. The steps included lowering selectivity (Ithaca accepted 73 percent of its 2009 applicants, compared with 59 percent in 2008) changing its merit-aid policy so money could be spread among more applicants, and intensifying "yield" efforts to get more admitted students to attend. Other colleges did the same things, according to a survey released last month by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling. But Ithaca lacked some of the levers colleges traditionally use to give themselves more control over admissions, most notably the early-decision option.
The ethical dilemma above: Is it ok to pay students to defer their college dreams? Your thoughts.

Ithaca will reinstitute their early decision application option this year to compensate for the over enrollment problem they encountered. Mr. Maguire, Ithaca's new enrollment-management chief, came from Franklin and Marshall College will work directly for the president. He said the college is reinstating early decision, two years after dropping it. Without it, he said, Ithaca didn't have a solid picture of its admissions situation until very late in the process. Freshman deposits came in with a "huge spike at the very end of April." He also plans to raise admissions standards, although he acknowledges that after lowering selectivity in 2009, Ithaca will face a challenge in getting that message out to applicants.

Ithaca College has over 100 bachelor degree options and is known for their emphasis on performing arts. They have reknowned masters programs in sports management and sports marketing. Visit Ithaca College for more information on the university.  

The information provided was written by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Easy Apps and Less Selective Admit Standards; Beyond the Ivies

Free Advice Friday! Here are a couple of suggestions for "fun and spirited" schools for the B/C student with relatively easy admission requirements and without the endless supplemental questions. (Coincidentally, the tiger is both LSU and Auburn University's mascot).

1) LSU -   Lousianna State University, located in historic Baton Rouge, offers an incomparable guaranteed admission program for the B/C student ready for the challenges of a big-school experience in a classic southern community. Here’s the deal: to claim automatic admission a student must have A GPA of 3.0 or higher (weighted or unweighted) ACT/SAT scores of 22/1030 (minimum Eng/CR 18/450 and M 19/460) 18 specific core high school credit units (American Sign Language fulfills the 2 units of foreign language) For as long as space remains in the class, the admissions office will provide a decision within 48 hours of application. No strings. No binding clauses.
  • Out-of-state Scholarships Galore! Students with SAT’s totaling 1250 and 3.0 GPA qualify for full exemption from nonresident fees; those nonresidents with SAT’s totaling 1330 and 3.0 GPA qualify for full exemption from all tuition and fees. And, those are just the beginning of the scholarships available at LSU!
  • The LSU campus is alive with school spirit and friendly faces. Anyone familiar with the college sports scene will recognize the LSU Tigers as perennial contenders. Team mascot Mike VI lion rules his den! Similiar to Baylor's "Lady" and "Joy" bears that live on campus, Mike VI lives in a tiger habitat right beside an over-sized football stadium that positively rocks the Richter scale on Saturdays during the fall months (Nancy Griesemer, College Explorations).
  • In addition to sports, LSU has plenty to offer in the way of academics and student life. Students major in everything from Cajun French to Petroleum Engineering. And, each year, LSU conducts more than 2,500 sponsored research projects funded by more than $140 million in external grants from an amazing assortment of funding sources including NIH, NASA, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, to name a few. The large but easy-to-navigate campus is beautifully landscaped with towering live oaks insured for millions gracing the walkways. Make no mistake. This is a big school. The largest classroom holds 1000 students and clickers are among the tools routinely used by professors to keep up with the numbers. For the right student, however, the welcome and value are there.
  • If you are a stellar high school student and find out that LSU is your dream college, there is also an honors college program for you to consider. Please note, the admission selection process is separate from your overall admission to LSU. You will not get the 48 hour admit or deny turn around time. 
Admission Requirements
1) Freshmen entering Louisiana State University are eligible to apply to the Honors College if they meet the following recommended admission criteria:
2) Academic high school GPA: 3.50 (weighted by LSU)
3) Recommended ACT: 30 Composite with 30 English, or 29 Composite with 31 English
4) Recommended SAT: 1320 Critical Reading + Mathematics (combined) with 660 Critical Reading
Completed SAT or ACT essay

LSU Honors College admission is very competitive. Selection for incoming first-year students is based on high school GPA, ACT or SAT scores, and the writing test of the ACT or SAT. The writing sample is weighed on an even scale with GPA and standardized exam scores, so special consideration should be given to this component of the application. The strength of courses taken in high school will be considered and is factored into the calculation of the high school GPA by the Office of Undergraduate Admission and Student Aid.

2) AU- Auburn University is located in Auburn, Alabama. It is a great spirit school, ranked 88th in the nation (out of 1800 college/university). They have more than ten different engineering programs and will admit students that may have had a rocky first year in high school. They reach out to the schools in the community and have a program called Engineering Outreach.  The technologies and workforce that are developed on Auburn's campus help fuel the engine that keeps our economy vital. Each year, Auburn has an entering class of about 4000 college/university students. Admission: 17,068 applied; 12,085 admitted; 3,984 enrolled. Average high school GPA: 3.69. This is an extremely skewed number however, because this takes into account weighted GPAs. The admit rate is close to 71%.
Admission Requirements: You need three things, plus the application fee of course. No long essay is required.
  • Activities and Interests Form (Short Answer Essays)
  • Official ACT and/or SAT scores (including the writing score)
  • Official High School Transcript
Students may begin applying for admission August 1, 2009 at  Applicants with excellent academic credentials can be admitted by Early Action beginning in October.  Early Action decisions are strictly academic, based on a combination of high school GPA and the ACT or SAT score of the applicant; other factors are not considered.  Students who meet the Early Action criteria will be accepted on a weekly basis from October 15 to February 15.  Decisions are made by October 15 for students who have completed an application by October 1. 

The information provided was written by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. 


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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Obama on Economy, Student Loans; Rise in Community College Enrollment

President Barack Obama shows his legitimate concern and pledges to help students pursuing higher education during these trying economic times. On September 21st, he spoke in a town forum style to a group of Hudson Valley community college students in Michigan. I know that with the lack of support for universal health care and the war in Afghanistan, his approval ratings are not exactly stellar, but I endorse his dedication and methods to improve the quality of both secondary and post-secondary education.

Did you know Obama was actually a transfer college student during undergraduate school? Prior to the President enrolling and eventually graduating from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies, he attended Occidental College.

Yes, Obama attended Occidental College in California for two years as an undergraduate from 1979-81:Jim Tranquada, Occidental's Director of Communications, said: "Contemporary public documents, such as the 1979-80 freshman 'Lookbook' published at the beginning of President Obama's first year at Occidental, list him as Barack Obama. All of the Occidental alumni I have spoken to from that era (1979-81) who knew him, knew him as Barry Obama."

Although Obama did not attend community college, he is a huge advocate of the community college system. According to an article in the August issue of U.S. News and World Report, enrollment at public community colleges has grown by 30 percent since 2000. President Barrack Obama’s “American Graduation Initiative,” which would invest $12 billion in community colleges over 10 years, has created quite a buzz around two-year colleges.

Community College Fast Facts

Community College Students Constitute the Following Percentages of Undergraduates:
All U.S. undergraduates: 46%
First-time freshmen: 41%
Native American: 55%
Asian/Pacific Islander: 46%
Black: 46%
Hispanic: 55%

Employment Status:
Full-time students employed full time: 27%
Full-time students employed part time: 50%
Part-time students employed full time: 50%
Part-time students employed part time: 33%

Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid:
Any aid: 47%
Federal grants: 23%
Federal loans: 11%
State aid: 12%

Percentage of Federal Aid Received by Community Colleges:
Pell grants: 34%
Campus-based aid: 9%

Average Annual Tuition and Fees:
Community colleges (public): $2,361
4-year colleges (public): $6,185

Degrees and Certificates Awarded Annually:
Associate degrees: 555,000
Certificates: 295,000
Baccalaureates: awarded by 29 public and 66 independent colleges

Revenue Sources (public colleges):
State funds: 37%
Tuition and fees: 17%
Local funds: 21%
Federal funds: 16%
Other: 9%

Obama on Economy, Student Loans (CNBC) Published: 09 Please click here to see CNBC's coverage of Obama's speech at Hudson Valley Community College in which he discusses the economy and student loans. Obama's Video on Education and Student Loans

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