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College Advising Blog

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  • College Majors

Is March Madness your favorite time of year? Do you dream of working on the sidelines of a football field? The School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina has expanded its classes, internships and other opportunities for students interested in pursuing a concentration in sports media. The new concentration is open to students in any of the school’s six majors.



  • Admission Process
  • Communication

This week our guest author is Hannah Moriggi, Senior Assistant Director, at Babson College.  Hannah shares tips for students that take part in admission interviews.

Let’s face it, applying to college is stressful enough. Before or after you press that submit button on your application, you might feel like you’re drowning in the following wave of questions – Does this college offer interviews? Do I have to interview? Should I interview? What do I wear? What if I’m too nervous? Are they going to ask me questions I don’t know the answers to? Will I forget everything I want to say? You’re fine. I promise. Let’s run through some Do’s and Don’ts to get you started:

1. Do… find out what type of interview is offered at the colleges you’re applying to. Are they required? Optional? Evaluative? Informational? Don’t… assume. The best way to start your interview preparation is to inquire – email us, call us! We want to set you up for success.

2. Do… Dress in a manner that allows you to put your best foot forward. You only get one first impression – make it count! Don’t… allow your wardrobe to be a distraction from the quality of the conversation.

3. Do… Arrive Early. You’ll likely need to obtain a parking pass and fill out an interview sheet before your appointment can begin. Rule of thumb, arrive at least 15 minute early! Don’t… be late without calling. College Admission Offices and Alums volunteering to interview are likely on tight schedules and will want to make sure they can accommodate any changes to your availability, but with proper notice!

4. Do… lead with a good handshake and look your interviewer in the eye. This is your first point of contact with your interviewer and as I mentioned earlier, you only get one first impression, let it be a confident one. Don’t… be unaware of your body language. As humans, we can say a lot without speaking. Be mindful of your gestures and try to not fidget, while still expressing yourself in a natural way that’s true to you.

5. Do… Come prepared. Do your research in advance, and come equipped with your own questions. Don’t… walk into an interview without any talking points about yourself or the college. This will deter from the flow of quality conversation.

6. Do… Take a campus tour or attend an information session during your campus visit, preferably before your interview if possible. This will provide you with a solid foundation of the college’s mission, curriculum, campus life, etc. Don’t… arrive to an interview with no background knowledge of the school. Even if you haven’t visited before, do your research! It’s pretty much a guarantee that your interviewer will ask you why you’re applying.

7. Do… welcome conversation. The interview is designed for our staff to learn more about you, so don’t hesitate to be vocal. The best interviews are those that evolve naturally after a few questions, rather than a transactional give and take. We look forward to colorful conversations and hope that we won’t be doing all of the talking. Don’t… leave your voice at home. We are here for you. This is your time to shine!

8. Do… Come with questions. These questions should be thoughtful and prepared relating to aspects of the college experience that matter to you most (i.e. if community is of utmost important to you, perhaps you’d ask: “What’s one word you’d use to describe the student body?”). Don’t… leave without asking anything! Even just one question shows your interviewer you were listening and are invested! The interviewer will also likely ask if there’s anything you didn’t get a chance to share at the end. Don’t be shy in taking this opportunity.

9. Do… Follow-Up. More often than not, the admission counselor/student fellow/alum who conducted your interview will provide his/her card. It doesn’t hurt to send a quick thank you email and to reach out throughout the process with any questions. Don’t… be a stranger. Colleges that offer evaluative or informational interviews are doing so to get to know you better and connect with you. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to build a professional relationship.

10. Do… interview! There’s no don’t for this last one! At the end of the day, I always recommend interviewing if the college offers it. As long as you can speak confidently about yourself, both in and out of the classroom and can share why you’re applying to this college – I would say 9 times out of 10, interviewing will only help you! Hopefully these Dos and Don’ts ease some of your apprehension about the college interview. As admission professionals, we understand the world of admission is like the green curtain the Wizard of Oz operates behind – it’s a fine science, a secret magic and you truly don’t know what to expect. With that being said, if you trust yourself and you trust the process, know that you’ll end up where you belong and don’t forget to have fun along the ride…OH! And don’t forget to crush your interview!

  • Admission Process

"Test Optional" is a trend in college admission that is gaining more attention. We are grateful to have Abi Perdue Moore from Ball State University share insight on how institutions that consider themselves test optional evaluate an admission application.

For a college applicant, the materials submitted to an institution are obviously important. With the time and effort individuals and institutions put into the preparation for and evaluation of standardized test scores such as the SAT and ACT, it would seem to be one of the more important elements of an application. However, many higher education institutions have chosen to make this requirement optional. Navigating the decision to submit or omit test scores can add uncertainty to the process of submitting an application without proper guidance.

As an admissions counselor at an institution that has recently moved to test-optional admissions, my first piece of advice is to put the time and effort into practicing for a standardized test. Many schools—ours included—accept both the SAT and ACT and will create a superscore based on the highest subsection scores. It is only with the best possible score that you can make a sound decision about submitting.

Secondly, pay attention to the average GPA and test scores for the school and/or program to which you apply. If you are at or above these averages, test score submission can show additional competency in core subjects. If you find that your GPA is lower than the averages published by an institution, higher test scores can add weight to your application.

The decision to omit test scores may be beneficial if high school performance is excellent and test scores do not correspond to this high performance. Scholarship calculators add another level of assistance; if a college allows you to calculate your eligibility for merit-based awards, take advantage of this tool before making a decision.

Adopting test-optional admissions policy does not indicate an apathy towards standardized test scores, but rather a prioritization of access for all students. Both the SAT and ACT report consistently higher scores for white, male test takers. This does not mean that students who do not identify in this way are unable to score highly but that the test loses credibility as an impartial marker for college preparedness.

Ball State University found that high school GPA was the highest predictor of college success regarding retention and graduation; standardized test scores did not have near the same level of reliability in this prediction. We are much more concerned as admissions officers with the rigor and performance shown throughout years of study than with performance in a single-sitting exam.

Finally, the most important element of compiling a college application is taking advantage of the resources you have available. Guidance counselors and admissions officers are prepared to talk through your application and provide the best source of advice. Building a relationship with an admissions representative can give you confidence in moving through the application process and ensure that you are making informed decisions throughout your college search.

  • College Search

We are excited to welcome Danielle Schiestle, Admission Counselor at Saint Michael's College, to the College Advising Blog.  Danielle answers a popular question: "What exactly is a Liberal Arts College?"

Hello St. Xavier High School community! My name is Danielle Schiestle and I am an Admission Counselor at Saint Michael’s College in the beautiful state of Vermont and a proud Midwesterner. St. Mike’s is a private, Catholic, residential, liberal arts and sciences college.

So what exactly does liberal arts and sciences mean and why is it something that you should consider during your college search? Great question - those of us who work for liberal arts and sciences colleges get asked this all the time. Liberal arts schools believe in a holistic, well rounded approach to education. Colleges and universities with a liberal arts curriculum tend to be a great fit for all types of students, and especially for students who are unsure what they want to major in when they begin their undergraduate journey. In addition to your major(s) you will be expected to complete a liberal arts common core of courses. Think of this like your classes in high school - you are required to take a certain number of credits in English, history, math, etc.

I’ll use myself as an example. When I was in college I majored in Biomedical Sciences but since I went to a university with a liberal arts core curriculum I was also able to minor in Spanish. I also had the opportunity to take philosophy and history courses, literature and theology courses, sociology and psychology courses in addition to all the science and math courses required for my degree. As a science major I was able to study abroad. I was able to have the flexibility in my schedule to take courses unrelated to my major that challenged me to think in different ways and develop different skills that have been important to me in the workplace. It’s important to be an informed citizen and to be able to communicate with others across disciplines and fields. This is exactly what a liberal arts education prepares you to do! Often employers seek out future employees with a liberal arts background since they are able to communicate well due to their educational background. Liberal arts graduates are well written with a broad educational foundation spanning across many fields and concepts. Being able to creatively think and critically problem solve are both hallmarks of a valuable employee and a liberal arts graduate.

At St. Mike’s, we believe that our liberal arts background allows our graduates to go out into the world equipped to do well and driven to do good. Our core curriculum pushes our students to search for truth and expand their viewpoints. We are able to do this by matching our passion for learning with academic opportunities and mentors that push us even further, enhanced by experiences outside of the traditional classroom setting. Our well rounded liberal arts and sciences core curriculum allows our students to explore, grow, and challenge both themselves, their peers, and our entire campus community. You will find other liberal arts schools with similar passions, with each school having its own unique approach to a holistic education with real world application.


  • College Search

This week our blog is guest authored by Nate Haveman who serves as Associate Director of Admissions at Hope College. Nate shares tips for parents as they assist their students in the college search process.

The advice you’ll read below has been  gathered from my experiences listening, observing and being involved with parents and students in their college-decision process. I’ll be honest with you: This process can be stressful at times, but that’s not a bad thing. This is a big investment, not only in financial resources but in time and emotions too. Taking care of that investment is what I hope help you do.

Engage in the process but don’t steer the ship.

It’s important to remember that your student is choosing a new home for the next four years. Many conflicting emotions will roll through both of you as you navigate the college-search waters. It’s exciting and scary. Will they be safe there? Will they choose the right major? Will they have fun? Will they make friends? Will they succeed? The list goes on and on. It’s a long process filled with campus visits, online research and hours in the car. The highs will be high – This is the school for me! – and the lows will be low – I didn’t get in to my dream school, what do I do now? As a parent, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of the search process, so do your best to listen and provide feedback, but try not to lecture and direct.

Talk with families who have already been through the college-decision process.

Knowing what to expect throughout this process in regard to deadlines and visit expectations can be readily found on any college website and from your student’s high school counselor. Both are incredible resources for you to explore. Knowing what else there is to consider is another matter altogether. So, ask your friends questions about their experiences. What did they find worked well throughout their search? What missteps did they make? What do they wish they would have done differently? Is their student enjoying their first, second, third year in college? Talking with people whose advice you trust is a good way to feel more comfortable as you move forward.

 Let your student enjoy their final year of high school.

“Where are you going to college next year?” Your student will hear that question too many times in the months ahead. Trust me, they know this is a big decision. They want to answer that question, but they are doing their best to juggle a successful senior year with a productive college search – and it’s a lot! Help them with that stress and pressure by refraining from asking that question too often around the dinner table or in the car on the way to the store. Make these spaces – and others, if you can – “safe” spaces where you won’t discuss the process. Instead, set a time for a future date to talk about the college search so you both know you’ll be having a discussion. That way you’ll both be prepared to talk productively.

 Make it fun.

Buy a sticker at every school you visit.

Find an out-of-the-way local eatery to have dinner after and get a taste (pun intended) of the school’s hometown.

Find students to eat with at the dining hall and grill them (pun intended again) with questions. 

Please refer to this list as you begin and continue your college search. And remember this: It’s all going to work out just fine. Your student will find success as they navigate bumps in the road and a lot of hard work ahead. They will meet some of the best friends of their lives and stay up too late studying. They will eat more pizza over four years than they will eat in the next forty. They will pursue passions in and out of the classroom. They will grow, they will graduate and they will find jobs. And best of all, they will impact a community.