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How the Humanities Can Train Entrepreneurs

Sunday, October 01, 2017

It's not as simple as profit and loss anymore.  Business, meet your best new partner: the humanities.

Today's employers increasingly see the value of a broad, informed perspective in state-of-the-art education of future business leaders.  The ability to communicate both orally and in writing, across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines, forms a solid foundation on which to develop enterprise. Even more so, this has never been truer than in today's highly interconnected, globally-focused business environment. 

History; languages; philosophy all fall into the category of humanities and correpond to the kind of human experience-oriented thinking that primes students for fields of business.

Employers value prospective hires who bring in collaboration skills that bridge cultures, as well as an ability to communicate across points of view and experiences.   According to many employers, these are among the skills that mark attractive candidates not only because they support collaboration, but also cross-pollination of thought that has the potential for innovative approaches.  The ability to think critically informs business practices that go way beyond crunching numbers.  While business will always be about profit and loss,  today's paradigm is built on much more than just the quantitative.

Click here to read about how one Canadian university is incorporating this newly-evolved perspective into their curriculum.

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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


More of Our Girls And Students of Color Are Taking on Computer Science

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

In 2017, increasing numbers of girls and students of color sitting for Advanced Placement Computer Science tests begin to close a gap reflecting which high schoolers pursue a computer science curriculum. 

This trend appears to be emerging as a result of the recent introduction of the AP Computer Science Principles course, a broader approach to computer science that includes topics that go beyond a singular focus on computer programming language.  While the AP Computer Science Principles curriculum includes language coding, it allows greater teacher flexibility as to which language(s) are introduced to students as well as broader applications in computer science, including how the internet works and database analysis.  In contrast, AP Computer Science A places greater focus on Java programming.   

To learn more about a growing trend toward new perspectives on science curricula taught in our high schools, READ MORE.


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

Coming to YOUR High School This Fall

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Starring regional admissions representatives from your favorite colleges!

Aside from reading applications, one of the front-and-center responsibilities for admissions representatives is visiting high schools in their assigned regions. These folks ride the open roads and fly the friendly skies to promote their colleges across their respective territories -- and to gain a flavor of the high schools their applicants come from.   Commonly, the most likely point of contact between students and college representatives is at junior and senior small group presentations at the local high school.  

By attending a college presentation, students have the chance to directly ask college-related questions as well as learn more about new programs; what the school may require in the application process; scholarship or merit opportunities; and more.  

Some high schools publish a broad schedule of representative visits well ahead of time, while others do so week by week. It's a student's responsibility to keep an eye on visit schedules, usually posted through the Guidance department, lest they miss a visiting rep and a potentially valuable opportunity to introduce themselves and learn more about the college.  It is worth noting that at some high schools, students must adhere to a policy of requesting advance permission to leave class to attend a rep's info session and, realistically speaking, teachers may be unlikely to grant permission if there is in-class testing that day.

What if the student can only attend a portion of the session?  Even if the student can only manage a five-minute "drive by," he can still demonstrate interest by introducing himself to the representative and requesting a business card.  Not all colleges visit every high school of course, so a prospective applicant can always reach out to schools independently and initiate contact through a pertinent question or two.  

Whether a student is just beginning to college shop or is just about ready to finalize her research, an intimate high school-centered presentation can bring helpful perspective to which college -- and why!

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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

Writing the College Essay

Monday, August 07, 2017


For the majority of high school students, writing college essays feels like a bit of a curse when in fact it truly presents a potential blessing-in-disguise. Why a blessing? Because the kind of writing that the admissions essay calls for,  an engaging story that broadly invites students to portray who they are and how they tick, has the potential to bring the student "to life" in what often seems like an impersonal selection process. 

If I may offer up a basic recipe for writing success, it starts with the writer choosing a topic they individually relate to.  

Picking a good story is essential -- one that the writer is energized or moved to share. Engaging essays convey a sense of individual values or personal passion about a particular interest or a unique approach to a challenge -- almost any of wide-range of possible stories that convey a strong sense of the student.  Add a scoop of personality, a dash of character, tossed with a sprinkle of personal insight, and seniors will have the winning ingredients for writing success.

It's also helpful to consider what to avoid in effective writing.  A recent article in The New York Times hits the nail on the head (oops, overused expression!), adding more when it comes to approaches writers need steer clear of.

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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

The Common Application Introduces Self-Reporting Feature

Friday, August 04, 2017

In the 2017-18 admissions cycle, students completing the Common App can expect to see a new feature that integrates the self-reporting of courses and grades.

There are seven colleges directing students to complete this section while still requiring, however, submission of a formal transcript from the high school.

Students must have access to their transcripts in order to provide requested information which includes: course name and level; grading period; credit hours; letter or numerical grade received.

As of now, the list of seven schools requesting self-reporting of courses and grades includes:

Chapman University

The George Washington University

New York School of Career & Applied Studies - Tuoro College and University System

The Ohio State University

Purdue

The University of Southern California 

West Virginia University

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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


5 Tips For Making the Most of August

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Once the calendar turns to August, gears begin to shift. Some students are just beginning to feel like they even have a summer, especially if they've been busy taking classes or involved in special projects.  Others have been traveling or chilling during June or July,  just now getting down to business in advancing their college process. And for those seniors (or super-ambitious juniors and recruited athletes) who are seeking another standardized testing opportunity before classes start anew, we now have the August SAT to think about.

One truth is for certain:  Everyone spends summer on their own schedule, and one size surely never fits all! Topping off the stretches of a perfect summer break is about that special mix of downtime and "gettin' stuff done." 

Looking for some productive ways to spend the next several weeks before classes begin?  Here are some ideal suggestions for juniors and seniors:

1.  Check out a few college websites.  Identify a minimum of three desirable features of a school and keep track of these as time grows close to beginning applications. 

2.  Visit some colleges. Even though the summer vibe on most campuses will be less than energetic, there are still facilities to check out and college towns to explore.  No doubt, campus visits make for the best approach to learn about a school. 

3.  Set goals for the school year to come.  It's a helpful way to smooth the transition back to the classroom when students really think about what they need in order to make the upcoming school year a successful one. 

4.  Plan to become more involved in activities that truly hold appeal.   Deepening involvement in a few activities vs. taking a shallow stab at many not only makes for a stronger story at the time of college application, but also works to grow the individual student. Follow what you love doing!

4.  Read something.  As students move through high school en route to higher education, the skill set that will work to their best advantage, no matter the area of study, includes improving and broadening their scope of reading.  Read a book.  Read a magazine.  Read online.  Read!

5.  Follow the money.  It's never too early for students and parents to think about financial aid and paying for college.  Students and their families can learn about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as well as scholarship-based assistance through search sites such as FastWeb.

There are few times as fleeting as the precious weeks of summer. Take the time to both enjoy and make them count!

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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


Summer = Downtime + Productivity

Thursday, July 06, 2017

It’s a scientific fact (well, not really — but yet I think you’ll still agree): Summer is the most fleeting season of the year.  That’s because even though summer has the same number of calendar days as its three fellow sun-cycles, we define this time of the year by its long-awaited respite and big dose of freedom from the everyday demands of school life.  For rising juniors and seniors, these months are well-earned and precious. 

When students comment, “I’m so busy this summer — I have no time to…” I take that as code for:  I need my downtime.  Absolutely.  You need downtime to refresh and recreate so you can get back in the saddle when school starts up again in the fall.   But remember that no matter how full summer days are with a job or team practice, they will not be as busy or structured as when senior or junior year start up in full form.

Depending where you are in the college process, whether a rising college explorer or soon-to-be-applicant, there are several things you need to be doing —and accomplishing — during summer break:

+  Work on college essays. Steadily.

+  Prep for SAT or ACT  — or at least take some diagnostic sample tests.

+  If expecting to test or re-test for subject tests in August, begin studying right away.

see prior blog post --  It’s Here:  The August SAT 

+  Accomplish AP summer prep work, as is necessary.

+  Begin to prepare your Common App — (and/or Coalition App; U of CA; or Apply Texas apps).

+  Get a good start on organizing a portfolio if applying to arts programs.

+  Be in touch with athletics coaches or admissions reps.

And there is one more to-do on the list:  Get out into the sunshine and fresh air  — or into the studio, lab, or workplace; plane; train or car.  Play, work, socialize, day dream and enjoy summer in whatever ways you crave to refresh and rejuvenate before the calendar flips to September!

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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

Setting A Higher Bar and Access to It

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

"They believe they can get more students to go to college and stay there by making high school harder."

It's a perfect marriage:  opportunity coupled with access.  One high school in Spokane, Washington is working hard to build bridges between their typically under-challenged, low-income student population and challenging courses that normally would fall outside of their academic plan.  

Aside from building esteem through meeting the demands of harder classes and achieving academic success, high schoolers plant seeds that will support their preparation for learning and performance at at the college level.

Why Placing Students In Difficult High School Classes May Increase College Enrollment   READ MORE


Photo Credit:  Sarah Butrymowicz

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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

The New Way Colleges Read Applications

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

More and more competitive colleges are moving to an initial "committee-read" system in reviewing applications.  This method pulls file readers out of their former silos, allowing them to compare their evaluations more or less simultaneously in a joint review.  The University of Pennsylvania, one of the Ivies, initiated this approach back in 2013.  Most recently, other colleges that have successfully adopted this system report that they can manage more applications in less time.  

Potentially, this is a win-win method for both applicants as well as admissions departments that find themselves inundated with application files, whether real or virtual....  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 admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


Well, I Do Declare!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Enrolling in College As An Undecided Freshman

“Great news!  Good for you!”  It's a well-earned moment for high school seniors with college on the horizon to glow in these words of congratulations from well-wishing friends, family, teachers as well as the random casual acquaintance.  So gratifying to receive these words of enthusiasm until the next breath brings the inevitable, “And what are you planning to major in?”

While many students will have a ready response to the question, the majority will hem and haw because, well, they don’t really know how to answer.  Let’s be realistic:  How many 17 or 18-year-olds applying to college truly know what they want to focus on for four years, let along pursue on the road to a lifetime of work?

In today's world, the intent driving pursuit of a college education can be very individual and experienced through many dimensions.  Ask any student about why he or she wants to invest in a college experience.   Is it all about learning -- or vocational support -- or a time and place to learn to be independent and grow up?  Maybe it is a stage in life to construct a broader world perspective?  Maybe it’s all of these?

Another Kind of "Early Decision"

Feeling early pressure to “know” what one wants to study in college puts students in a precarious position of having to laser in on an area from the starting gate that may be a wrong fit later down the road.  Most well-meaning adults (and, admittedly, this mostly includes parents) tend to conflate a college major choice with career path.  It's wishful thinking to equate a decision on a major from the get-go as a sure route to success at the conclusion of four years.  

Honestly, you can hardly blame bursar bill-paying grown-ups for this perspective.  After all, the cost of college today is to be taken seriously and quickly takes on the dimensions of an investment that we all hope supports a good “return."  

But consider how much a first year college student typically evolves once exposed to academic areas or other students who may open their eyes to learning they had never been exposed to before.  And consider that the high school curriculum most teenagers pursue is relatively limited and doesn't offer the breadth of coursework they would see in college.  The very experience of college itself is likely to open any student’s eyes wide to a catalog of areas to pursue. 

Typically, colleges report the most popular choice of major at the time of application is “Undecided.”  My personal spin on this is a more positive one:  Still Exploring.   Extending even further, how about: Potentially Interested in Many Things?  In a perfect world, this is the kind of attitude an eager undergraduate should bring along to college! 

Outcomes 

Broadly, what is the goal that students hope to achieve at the end of their four years?  For some, it's preparation and solid recommendations for graduate or professional school.  For others, it’s graduating with a bachelors degree debt free.   For many, it may be a job offer or a realistic shot at employment in a field of interest that affords a sustainable lifestyle and independence.

Stepping into freshman and sophomore years of college for many teenagers is about finding direction via exposure to a broad curriculum while testing and then embracing (or eliminating) possible directions based on experiences in introductory courses. Then when the time comes at the end of the second year to formally declare a major, truly invested undergrads may look toward a path to double majoring or majoring/minoring.  As any college grad will realize, there had been so much available to explore in college --  and so little time to absorb it all!   

Destination 

Filling in between the lines of what students major in and the requirements of the job market in any field goes beyond solely taking classes.  Today, students set themselves apart in the employment or professional school sandbox via experience gained along the way through internships; campus research and jobs; or volunteerism.  While it may come across as a bit of a paradox, it’s worthwhile to remind students at every bend in their educational path to gain experience outside of the classroom. As a result, they can be more hirable later on and later actually have a greater opportunity to apply what they did in fact learn in school.  

Given that students are bound to change their planned major as a result of potential exposure to areas of interest and fit, why constrain a high school senior with demands to determine a major before setting foot in a campus classroom?  For some students, their natural path has been clear for years, but expect most to explore the bricks in the walkway before branching off on the formal road.

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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

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