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Making Time for College Fairs

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

College fairs provide a one-stop shop experience for college-bound students and parents to gather information about schools and their offerings, as well as connect with admission representatives to ask specific questions relating to student needs and interests.  Typically, fairs take place in the spring and fall and are free to attend.

The larger fairs often ask students to sign up in advance. Registrants will receive an entry pass and details about which colleges will be in attendance as well as general information such as hours, parking, and tips on how to get the most out of their visit experience.

Clicking on the following live links will bring you to info and registration pages for several upcoming Massachusetts and Boston-area fairs.  Remember to bring along interest, energy AND your comfortable shoes!

The SERF Spring College Fair at Lincoln-Sudbury High School

March 16, 2019

The TEC Spring College Fair at Westwood High School

March 27, 2019

The Boston National College Fair

April 4 and 5, 2019

The Springfield National College Fair

April 8, 2019

Colleges That Change Lives

May 18, 2019

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

9th Grade, Before the College Search

Wednesday, January 23, 2019
It all counts!

With five months into their freshman year, 9th graders have been learning how manage their day-to-day, including the mundane elements of high school life such as the bell schedule or remembering Pizza Friday. Our freshman boys and girls are occupied with how to find their way into clubs or onto teams, not to mention figuring out the fluid nature of the social structure in their new school.  

For most, college is still a distant notion — a concept at best. And that’s fine because in our culture there is far too much discussion — and pressure — around the college conversation. Yet it’s important to be "applicant-ready" when the time comes. And that means setting a solid foundation for academic success and knowing what colleges will, shortly down the road, want to learn about your student.

So with their very first completed high school semester and grade report, a student is on the path to becoming a potential college candidate.  The grades students earn early on in high school will affect their GPA as much as grades earned as upperclassmen. Ninth graders content with earning Bs and Cs may find their college choices affected later on.  As much as upward grade trend does count, so do numbers.

Building an all-around good start

Let's support our kids by reminding them that the essentials of a good high school start include:
  • solid grades in academic courses...
  •  … and study skills grounded in time management and focus
  • organizational skills
  • firm reading skills, steadily developing 
  • a successful start to foreign language so the student is set up to pursue at least two years of the same foreign language, typically the base requirement at many (but not all) colleges
  • same for math, as a foundation in this subject prepares a student for further success in upper level classes. As with foreign language, students need to solidify the foundation in order to be successful.
  • understanding how to access support if the student requires assistance ex. teachers for outside help; school counselors; resource staff 
  • learning how to balance academic life and social life, finding a foundation in each
  • most of all, taking care of the self -- and that includes sleep and sustenance
Learning the ropes -- asking for support -- building confidence -- all combine to smooth the road in high school for our first-year boy and girls.
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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

The Common Application Announces 2019-20 Essay Prompts

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

This post is an edited reprint of last year's announcement that the Common Application would again use the prior year's essay prompts.  The same approach holds for the 2019-20 application season, including the 650 word count maximum.

The Common Application has announced its 2019-20 college essay prompts, reflecting no change from the prompts established in last year's admission cycle.  

Over 700 US and international colleges utilize the web-based Common App. Students choose among seven essay prompts, providing a platform for students to to create a personal statement that conveys aspects of their character; unique experience; personal growth; or individual focus. Students are permitted a maximum of 650 words to convey their personal statement through one of their chosen Common App essay prompts.

Here are the prompts for the upcoming admission cycle:

2019-20 Common Application Essay Prompts

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? 

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. 

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? 

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. 


"Through the Common App essay prompts, we want to give all applicants - regardless of background or access to counseling - the opportunity to share their voice with colleges. Every applicant has a unique story. The essay helps bring that story to life," said Meredith Lombardi, Associate Director, Outreach and Education, for The Common Application.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

Launching Juniors Into Their College Process

Monday, January 21, 2019
With the second high school semester underway, now is the season for juniors to launch their college search and application process.  Parents and students frequently hear from me that this process starts with self reflection, that is, students holding up their personal mirror and honestly evaluating themselves for what a mutual college fit might look like.  

High schoolers can start by thinking about what is most important in their college experience and considering what that might look like as they build a list of colleges that call to them.

Looking for perspective from an additional expert in the college world? Jeff Schiffman, Dean of Admission at Tulane University, offers some solid big-picture advice for juniors heading into the college search and application process. Tap here to read more.
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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admission process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC.  Contact Marla via www.achievecoach.com  

Starting 2019 on the Right Foot

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The first month of the calendar shines brightly with opportunity for a fresh start and a view to the year in front of us. When it comes to college planning, this is a fantastic time for students and parents to start anticipating quarter by quarter what to accomplish to advance to the next stages in the college process.  Now is the moment to look to inspiration and energy and continue planning ahead!

Front and center, let’s start with our seniors

1. Prepare well in advance of mid-year exams. More than once, I’ve seen these results make or break a semester of classwork, testing and papers.

2. Per #1, keep up or improve grades --  especially if deferred in the initial admissions round. After having deferred an applicant, colleges will most likely search for evidence of academic progress via the second review.

3. Per #2, keep up grades even if admitted to an RD or ED college. After the admission letter arrives and a deposit is sent in, admitted students continue to remain under informal review because colleges almost always require a final senior transcript as evidence of continued, satisfactory academic progression.

4. Students should continue to update the colleges still reviewing their applications with useful updates such as awards; distinctions; or special projects.


Now for our juniors...

With one eye on the present and the other glancing a few paces in front, the KEY is to plan ahead and use time wisely.

5. Plan campus visits at your earliest convenience and when colleges are in session. That usually means following winter break and before spring break, according to an individual school's schedule.

6. Continue preparing for SAT and/or ACT during a timeframe that allows the most bandwidth for focusing on practicing the skills necessary for testing success.

7. Pay attention to progress in current classes to best plan for senior year course levels.

8. This is a wonderful time to consider stepping up extracurricular involvement, expanding leadership role, impact, etc. The more selective the college, the more important is a student track record of accomplishment outside of the classroom.

9. Summer already? These precious weeks can never come soon enough and before you know it, they’ve arrived! This is the time for juniors to begin summer planning, whether it is working close to home or away; developing a current business or project; test preparation; etc. etc.


And, of course, sophomores!!!

10. Keeping up your grades is key to future success in high school and beyond.

If sophomores experience an academic challenge such as struggle in foreign language or math; difficulty in organizing or completing assignments, this is the time to raise the issue and look toward a new approach or solution. (Yes, good advice for freshmen too!)

11. No longer newbies in the high school, sophomores are wise to think about their interests in or out of their school and develop these enjoyably and meaningfully.

Wishing ALL students and parents a healthy, happy and fulfilled 2019!!!

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admission process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC.  Contact Marla via www.achievecoach.com  




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