The Anti-Karma of College Admission

Thank you to Teen Life for featuring advice from Christine VanDeVelde in Evaluating College Choices

If your teen has been accepted to several different colleges, first off, Congratulations! They should be very proud of this accomplishment. But now they need to determine which school they will ultimately attend.

How can teens evaluate their college options and determine which school is right for them?

Factors to Consider

Once your teen knows where they have been accepted, they need to compare each school and what it has to offer. A simple pros and cons list of each school can be very helpful.

Christine K. VanDeVelde, journalist and coauthor of the book College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, says, “It has been several months since the teen submitted their application to the school. They need to determine whether each school still lines up with their original goals and whether in these past few months, any of their goals have changed.”

Financial aid packages are an important consideration. Think about all the costs involved – housing, travel, books, etc.

Frank Bruni's Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be"

Does March Madness bring to mind college admissions instead of NCAA showdowns? Are you sick and tired of the status-mongering of college admission that brings $150-an-hour SAT test prep? Oh, and did you know there are more than 10 colleges in the United States worth applying to? Well, we've got a cure for what ails you - the excellent new book from New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania.You can read Christine VanDeVelde's review for the Chicago Tribune here

Dealing with Early Decision Rejection

Christine VanDeVelde is talking rejection, early decision and why trash talking is a good parenting strategy at TeenLife. You can read the entire piece here.

How to Finalize Your College List

With an abundance of college choices, picking which school to attend can be a very difficult decision for teens. Some students will say that they knew immediately when they stepped on a certain campus that it was the school for them. But for other students, the process of finding the right school may be slower and they may get discouraged and think, “Will I ever find a college that is right for me?”

Fine-tuning the College List

Christine VanDeVelde is talking must-haves, the myth of the perfect school and more on Teen Life in How To Finalize Your College List... 

Calvin & Hobbes, Gary Clark Jr., and the Authentic Narrative of Your College Essay

It's that time of year... Sam Bigelow, Associate Director of College Counselor at Middlesex School, joins us today to talk college essays.

This is a piece about some things that are very important to me—music, Calvin and Hobbes and your college essays.

Taking my dog for a post-lunch, afternoon walk through Estabrook Woods behind the Middlesex School campus recently, I was listening to the new Gary Clark Jr. live album and appreciating the wonderful authenticity of this young Texas blues hero’s singing and guitar playing. He’s taken on the mantle of today's “it” blues guy, and I think I know why. When he sings, you believe every word and note he let’s leave his body. When he rips into a guitar solo midway through a song, there’s intensity, there’s insistence, and there’s soul. He is, as we like to say, “the real deal.” There are plenty of guitarists out there that can play faster, plenty of singers that have more impressive vocal range, but if you can’t sing or play with real feeling like he does, you likely won’t resonate with an audience in the same way. I always tried with my own music to dial back the fireworks and play piano and sing more simply and more authentically in my own voice. I am certainly not saying I was successful in that venture, but I always tried to do that.

When "Going Greek" is Part of Your College Research...

Thank you to Mary Dell Harrington of Grown and Flown for including our advice in her excellent post today,  When Joining a Sorority is Part of the College Decision. Harrington looks at where to begin and important factors -- like time and money -- to consider, interviews National Panhellenic Conference Chair Jean Mrasek, provides some great research resources and takes us inside her own sisterhood experience. Whether or not you want to follow in Elle Woods' footsteps, it's a great read that will give you some great info about evaluating the social aspect of college campuses.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing the FAFSA!

The biggest mistake families make in the college application process is failing to apply for financial aid. The most recent study from the American Council on Education found that 1.8 million students who would have qualified for Federal financial aid failed to apply for aid. Last year, the federal government had more than $150 billion in federal aid for students who qualify. 

So even if you think you won't qualify, it may be worth it to apply. You're not alone. 85% of full-time students at four-year colleges receive some form of federal aid.

Yet applying for financial aid can be one of the most confusing and daunting steps in the college application process. Well, here's help! Financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz and his coauthor David Levy have made their bestselling 250-page book, Filing the FAFSA, The Edvisors Guide to Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, available for free download at

College Admission is Talking Early Applications on TeenLife

Christine VanDeVelde joins TeenLife today to talk about applying early -- the ins, outs and how not to fail (see example on right). You can read the entire article here.

Prestige is Not a Synonym for Fit: Beyond the Rankings

It's not where you go, it's what you do when you get there. Over at Teen Life, we're talking getting beyond the rankings to find schools that are the right fit -- and what you'll do when you get there. Check out Why You Should Look Beyond College Rankings...  Thanks for having us, Randi Mazzella!