Jacques Steinberg

Will Cardamone, Manlius Pebble Hill School

William Cardamone grew up in New York State, the youngest of ten children. His father was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals and his parents pinned their hopes for a lawyer from the family on their youngest son, the only one of the ten who seemed interested in the law. Cardamone obliged -- in his own time -- graduating from Hamilton College and spending three years in the West as a wilderness guide before attending Vermont Law School.

But then he took another detour, teaching social studies for four years to 11th and 12th graders at Woodstock High School in Vermont's capital. He returned to the law for a few years, practicing employment and education law at a firm in Utica, New York. Until he visited a former advisor at his alma mater of Hamilton and spent the next eight years in their admission office, rising to Associate Dean of Admission.

While his wife, also a "recovering attorney," says Cardamone, rose in the ranks of her family's business which she would eventually lead, he found his true calling, As he worked with independent high schools in the region, recruiting for Hamilton, he said, "That's the job I want." In 2006, he joined Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt, New York, as Dean of Students, eventually becoming Director of College Counseling in 2010.

Ralph Figueroa on the New Essay Prompts: Room for Every Story

Ralph Figueroa is Dean of College Guidance at New Mexico’s Albuquerque Academy. Figueroa was one of 15 counselors who served on the Outreach Advisory Committee for the Common Application, advising the organization about the role that writing plays in an holistic selection process.

He joins us here today to talk about the new essay prompts, the process that resulted in the changes and the issues the committee grappled with to arrive at the new guidelines for students.


 What impact do you foresee the changes in the writing prompts having?


I hope that these changes will make students, families, and teachers think about these essays and talk about them in a new way. Change can be scary, but I am confident that when they read the prompts and the guidelines, they will realize that we have given them real freedom to find the best way to convey information about themselves that will give colleges a better idea of who they really are --beyond the numbers of the admission process.


What impact, if any, do you foresee for students?


Nancy Meislahn, Wesleyan University, Answers Five Questions

Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, at Wesleyan University of Middletown, Connecticut, joins us this month and graciously answers -- not five -- but six questions.

 Wesleyan was founded in 1831 by leaders of the Methodist Episcopal Church and began with 48 students (all men); the president; three professors; and one tutor. Tuition was $36 per year.

Today, Wesleyan’s 316-acre campus located in central Connecticut hosts about 2,900 full-time undergraduates – both men and women -- who choose among more than 900 courses offered in 40 departments and 44 major fields of study, taught by 375 faculty members. Its student/faculty ratio remains at 9 to 1, with two-thirds of classes enrolling fewer than 20 students.

Named for John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, the college was never a seminary, but offered a liberal arts program from its inception. Unlike most college curriculums at the time of its founding which were steeped in the classics, Wesleyan set out to put modern languages, literature, and the natural sciences on equal footing.  That orientation continues today with students pursuing a self-directed curriculum, numerous undergraduate interdisciplinary programs, and broad research opportunities.

Ralph Figueroa, Albuquerque Academy

Ralph Figueroa is Director of College Guidance at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico, an independent day school serving approximately 1,100 students in grades six through twelve. As Figueroa describes it, Albuquerque Academy provides its students with the high-powered college preparatory education of a selective school but with the less anxious attitude that typifies New Mexico. “It’s not high-pressure,” he says. “It’s not frenetic about the college process, kids are much more open to opportunities and options and there aren’t the huge family pressures you sometimes see other places.”

The Standardized Test Cheating Scandal

In the wake of the Long Island, New York, standardized-test cheating scandal, Jacques Steinberg at the New York Times' Choice blog has posted an informative dialogue with Ray Nicosia, director of testing integrity for the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT.  Twenty students now face charges of fraud and impersonation in a scandal encompassing both the SAT and ACT. The students either paid others to take the tests for them or impersonated students in taking the tests.  In Questions for the SAT’s Top Cop, Steinberg and Nicosia discuss the testing service's security measures as well as how students -- and even parents -- can report irregularities or suspicions of cheating.