College Application

How to Transition Successfully to High School

In my last post, I discussed the many obstacles that middle schoolers face, particularly when transitioning from elementary school.  This transition is arguably the most difficult of the schooling phases, as so many developmental changes are occurring in a relatively short period of time. The good news is that by the time kids finish 8th grade, many of them have developed sufficient executive function skills that allow them to manage their own academic, emotional, and behavioral functioning.  Nevertheless, as we consider how to successfully transition to high school, further challenges remain. Today I want to examine the main hurdles to [...]

2 Skills Every Child Needs

  A couple of weeks ago I attended a college admissions round table in Houston.  The format was much more informal than a traditional conference, and it allowed for some really good back-and-forth discussion with the other college counselors in attendance.  It’s always good to get other professional opinions on topics such as these, and I certainly learned quite a lot. As the newly-minted Director of Counseling at my school, my main role is to provide social and emotional guidance for our students.  We have a separate college counselor who oversees college admissions, but I am still highly involved in [...]

Film Review – Race to Nowhere

This past Sunday I was invited to a screening of the documentary, Race to Nowhere, and sit on a discussion panel afterwards.  This particular event was hosted by a private K-8 school in Austin, and it was a chance for parents to 1) see the film, and 2) discuss the issues raised.  I was very impressed with the level of engagement by the parents in attendance and the questions they had. This particular documentary was released in 2010.  It focuses on the rise in anxiety and depression as a result of increased academic demands on students.  The issues included increased [...]

The Role of the High School Counselor

What, exactly, does a high school counselor do? During the past two weeks, I was visiting my wife’s family up in Connecticut.  In addition to escaping the Texas heat and spending time at the beach, I also met up with one of my best friends, who is a teacher at a prestigious private school in CT.  He was having a cook-out at his house, and several of his colleagues were also there. New England private schools tend to have a much different personnel set-up than ours in Texas, and I got into an interesting conversation with their school’s Director of [...]

Important College Application Information

  As I sit here writing this, students in Texas are all finally on summer break.  Seniors are now officially college freshmen, and every other grade has now moved up.  This takes us to last year’s juniors, who are now officially seniors.  I’ve already had several families contact me with questions about the college application process, even though it is still early June.  Below is some important information to ensure your student is on track to submit applications in a timely manner. Understand the different applications The college application timeline has gotten a little simpler over the years with the [...]

End of School Year Checklist

The calendar just turned to May, and that means school is in the homestretch.  However, before we start planning long days by the pool or days spent at fun summer camps, there is still a lot of work to do. Many of us still have quite a bit of school work and assignments left.  With final exams coming up for many students, there are still many points left out there to boost your grades.  So as we count down the days to that very last one, here is a checklist to keep you on the right track for academic success. [...]

How Updated Testing Affects the ACT and SAT

Today’s post comes from a good friend and colleague, Renee Becak.  I previously invited Renee to write about her role at my high school as the learning lab director and how private schools provide accommodations. In addition to her role in the learning lab, Renee is also the testing coordinator for the high school.  She knows more about ACT and College Board than anyone else I know!  For students diagnosed with learning differences and/or other educational-impacting disabilities, the process for applying for accommodations on standardized tests can be daunting.  Here Renee provides an overview of the process and the importance [...]

Why Grades Aren’t as Important as You Think

I was flying home from San Diego yesterday morning, and I decided to buy a copy of USA Today to keep me occupied for the flight. As I was flipping through I came across an interesting headline: A's on the rise in U.S. report cards, but SAT scores founder The article centers around research conducted by Michael Hurwitz of College Board and Jason Lee, a graduate student at the University of Georgia. In an extensive study they found that the percentage of students graduating with an “A” average has risen to 47% from 38.9% since 1998. That’s nearly a 10% [...]

The Secret to a Good Letter of Recommendation is . . .

The college admissions process has become increasingly competitive over the past decade or so. Whereas many schools were once considered “safety schools,” meaning pretty much anyone could get admitted, those schools have also become more selective as the number of college applications has skyrocketed. Much of this increase is due to each individual student applying to more schools, not just more students applying. College admissions decisions are generally made on four bases: ACT/SAT Scores Grade Point Average Resume Recommendation Letters Those students who are strong in all four areas generally have an easier time getting into the colleges of their [...]

The Benefits of a Private School Education

A question I get asked quite often is, “Is tuition at a private school worth it for my child?” I have attended both public and private schools as a child, and I have also worked with numerous students from both public and private. Additionally, as a counselor at a private school in Austin I know firsthand the benefits a private school can provide, particularly for students with diagnosed learning differences or ADHD. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to define “private school” as any non-charter or non-public school and assume that they charge some type of tuition. Below are [...]

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