Friday, December 30, 2011

Journalism requires persistence

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bradshaw College Consulting
(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw: I am a college junior majoring in journalism and hope to find an internship in New York City or Chicago. The only internships I have found in my search expect you to work for free. I estimate it would cost at least $6,000 to live in one of these cities for the summer and question if the expense is worth it.

Internship Hopeful

Journalism requires persistence:  866-687-8129

Dear Internship Hopeful

You don’t have to tell me, but I can hear your parent’s refrain ringing in your ear: “Study finance or medicine so you will have a good paying job after you graduate.”

However unimaginative you may have thought them to be, it should be clear by now that they were just being practical. Finance and medicine have pretty clear-cut career paths and are largely meritocratic professions. A career in journalism is governed more by lucky breaks and personal connections. If you don’t have these connections it is unlikely you will find a paid or unpaid internship at a large city newspaper or magazine.

Don’t misunderstand, nearly all publications are willing to read a résumé or email of inquiry. However, you had better include a brilliant cover-letter demonstrating some practical experience in journalism to catch their attention if you expect to have a fighting chance for an internship.

Many of my clients who interned last summer at top banking and consulting firms have already accepted jobs following their graduation in 2012. Only two clients found work in journalism and those jobs were at not-for-profits, not major print media publications.

You have chosen a profession where you have to be doggedly persistent and expect a lot of rejections. I have a client from Moscow who was published in the New York Times while still in high school in the United Kingdom. His story will give you an idea of what I am talking about.

Ilya was at home in Moscow last summer and decided to attend a criminal trial that was being covered by the international press and the New York Times. He met a journalist from the Times and asked him about opportunities for a summer internship. Ilya kept going back to the trial every day and pestering the journalist until he relented and told him to go out and find a newsworthy event, write it up, and submit it to the NYT.

His persistence paid off handsomely. That piece of advice would eventually lead to Ilya being published in the NYT. (See his article, “In Belarus, Just Being Can Prompt an Arrest.

You have to be aggressive and willing to take risks. Being a pest (sometimes it pays to be an obnoxious pest) is part of it. When it comes to the working world no one is going to take you by the hand and guide you. To find an internship you will have to hustle just like Ilya did and pay your dues.

The rewards are there if you don’t give up. Is it worth the money to live in a big city to get that experience? It all depends on you.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - Journalism requires persistence

High school freshman thinks ahead

Bradshaw College Consulting

Dear Mr. Bradshaw — I am finishing the first semester of my freshman year in high school.

I have straight A’s, and I want to know what you suggest as the best way to get into a top college or university. My grandmother cuts out your columns and sends them to me. Based upon your experience, what classes and activities do top-tier colleges look for in an applicant? — Freshman

Dear Freshman — It is always best to start with your high school counselor when planning a four-year program appropriate for you, one that reflects your interests.

Inevitably, there will be difficult choices to make about what courses to take and how to balance your schoolwork and your extracurricular pursuits.

Should you take a fourth year of math or begin a second foreign language? You might like to write for the student newspaper, but that means you won’t have time for Advanced Placement chemistry.

Here is some advice to help guide you through such decisions.

I suggest taking an inventory of your academic interests. Try not to take classes only in the areas you find interesting now.

It is highly unlikely schools will downgrade an application simply because of the absence of a particular class. However, transcripts reflect the broad range of interests that have shaped a student’s intellectual curiosity and personality. In other words, let your transcripts tell your story.

Colleges review high school transcripts as a whole, plus recommendations, test scores and extracurriculars. They consider each application a comprehensive overview of that student.

Colleges primarily are concerned with what kind of student you will be. They look for consistency and intellectual rigor. The best way to show a commitment to academics is taking the most challenging classes and a full course load all four years of high school.

If you push yourself to excel through your senior year and beyond, it is a good sign you will do the same in college.

It might surprise students to know that many top colleges do not have specific entrance requirements, and it is best to research each school. For example, Yale does not require a foreign language in high school, but, as a general rule, admissions people there look for students who try to take courses each year in English, science, math, the social sciences and foreign languages.

Be honest with yourself when deciding among courses. Are you choosing a particular course because you truly are excited about it or are you motivated by a desire to avoid a more difficult subject?

Yale offers the following advice to high school students planning their class schedules.

† Am I taking a well-balanced academic program that will provide me with a good foundation for college?

† Am I prepared to take college-level math, writing and science?

† Do I feel challenged by the courses I am taking?

† Are my courses among the more rigorous ones available to me at my school?

† Am I seeking a challenge or avoiding it?

† Overall, is my four-year high school program among the most challenging available at my school?”

Keep these questions in mind when planning your high school schedules, and continue to strive for academic excellence.

A healthy balance between course work and extracurriculars will be looked upon favorably by all top colleges.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - High school freshman thinks ahead

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

College Admissions Consulting Articles - Scholarship or elite school?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Bradshaw College Consulting

(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw: I will apply to several top colleges next year, and I have a question that, so far, no one has answered to my satisfaction.

If I am offered a full scholarship to a state college, should I accept it? If I gain admittance to a top college like Harvard or MIT, is it worth the extra money and debt to attend one of them over a state college?

My parents are encouraging me to stay in state and apply for a full scholarship, which I probably will get. That sounds reasonable, but my concern is what I would give up if I turned down the chance to attend a top-tier college. --Student

Scholarship or elite school?

Dear Student

— Each year, some students turn down the chance to attend a top-tier college because they feel the academic pressure to perform or the financial burden would be too great. Others might prefer to attend a college closer to home.

Whatever your decision, there are tangible benefits if you attend Harvard or MIT. Keep in mind, these are my personal views and may not represent the majority of college advisers.

A recent article in The Harvard Crimson carried this headline: “Dropping out of Harvard: A standard to aspire to.”

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had returned to his alma mater for the first time since dropping out in 2005. He came back dressed in jeans and a sweat shirt to recruit students for his company. He also visited MIT on his trip in an effort to find more of the best and brightest students for his company — arguably the gold standard by which other companies measure their ability to attract the best candidates.

With Facebook starting salaries averaging $150,000 per year and a work environment built around brilliant and talented employees, Zuckerberg selects only the best. It doesn’t hurt that the popular movie “The Social Network” added to his celebrity.

Zuckerberg recruits at top colleges, he said, because he wants to have “the first crack at the stars before they graduate.” The Crimson added he was looking for “the next Bill Gates, who might be right in this room.” These comments often are not made about other universities.

In the tradition of other famous dropouts like Gates, Zuckerberg made no bones about being different. He encouraged students to take time off from their studies to explore what they really want to do. His talk was limited to only 200 students who were selected based on resume submissions.

Why did he stop at Harvard? Because Harvard is the most selective college in America. It accepted only 6.1 percent of all applicants last year. Harvard students ranked at the top of their classes in high school, and many turned down full scholarships at other schools to study there.

Gates and Zuckerberg charted a new course when they dropped out of college to become entrepreneurs. Their actions have influenced a generation of students to think differently about computer science.

Gates said computer programming lured him away from Harvard, but an early 1990s biography says he dropped out when Harvard objected to his use of university computers for private business.

I know my clients want to succeed and use what they learn in college to start businesses, and they write openly about their entrepreneurial goals in their applications. These are the students Zuckerberg wants for Facebook — before Google and Apple get there.

What would you give up if you turned down the chance to attend a top-tier school? Perhaps a chance to work at one of the greatest companies in the world, surrounded by the best and brightest students of your generation.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - Scholarship or elite school?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Business, economics degrees differ greatly

Friday, November 25, 2011


Bradshaw College Consulting

(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw: I am a college sophomore and I need to declare a major. I am thinking about majoring in business and finance or economics. I know that a few colleges like Harvard and Yale do not offer undergraduate degrees in business. Why?

Can you explain the difference between a major in business and one in economics? Is one better than the other in order to get a top-paying job or admission to grad school? I am considering law school at some point in the future. --Student

Business, economics degrees differ greatly

— As the deadline nears for declaring a major for sophomores, you are right to be concerned about job and grad school prospects and the impact a major has in the job market. The good news is that both business and economics degrees will help you find employment even in a down economy according to recent studies by The Wall Street Journal.

There is a great deal of difference between the study of business and economics as a concentration. This goes to the heart of why Harvard does not offer an undergraduate degree in business.

The law school at Harvard even warns applicants that chances of admission are inversely proportional to the number of business classes taken as an undergraduate. The university considers business courses to be vocational in nature and not fitting their broad definition of a liberal arts education.

Perhaps it is better to explain the difference between economics and business by saying that economics is a social science aimed primarily at understanding the social world.

Economists address a variety of social science questions. Will school vouchers improve the quality of education? Do politicians manipulate the business cycle? What sort of legal system best promotes economic development? Why do cities have impoverished areas? Why do people procrastinate in saving for retirement — or in doing their homework?

Economists say that business classes teach professional skills that are useful for starting and operating companies. They believe that economics and business are related, but that business is professional training aimed at making profits, while economics is a science that pursues an understanding our social world.

Because many top colleges do not offer a business major to undergraduates, some students treat economics as a substitute. This has been proven to be a bad choice. According to studies, there is no evidence to suggest that concentrating in economics helps students to get better jobs after graduation. For these reasons, most economics departments strongly discourage students from majoring in economics as a substitute for something else.

If you select a major with law school in mind I would recommend economics over business because the courses cover a broader subject area touching on many fields of study. I should add that I have several clients who majored in business and went to law school. They tell me they profited a great deal by their study of business as undergraduates.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - Business, economics degrees differ greatly

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

College Admissions - Compatibility glitch has student in a panic

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Bradshaw College Consulting

(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw: I am filling out my Common Application and, when I upload my college essays, for some reason, they do not post in the display box.

When I click “view document” or “print preview,” all that appears is a blank page.

I am in a panic.

I thought it had posted because it did not show an error, until I discovered they were not visible in the display.

I missed my Early Action deadline because of it. What can I do to fix the problem?

Please help. -- Panicked Student

Compatibility glitch has student in a panic

— This will be a short answer because I want readers to understand what they have to do about this problem without digging through a lot of technical jargon.

Several of my clients who uploaded their essays to the Common Application with a Macintosh have experienced this compatibility issue.

If you view an application submitted on your Mac on a PC, you will be able to see your essays in the display. You have to use a PC to view them.

This glitch has given students fits because they missed the Nov. 1, Early Action filing deadline.

I have not seen references to this problem in the news and am unaware of any fix to date.

To be on the safe side, I recommend that my clients fill out their applications on a PC and not a Mac.

In the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I use an iPad and iPhone for fun, but, for my business, I use a PC, even though I am constantly under attack by viruses and malware.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - Compatibility glitch has student in a panic

Friday, October 28, 2011

Graduate in 4 years and save

Dear Mr. Bradshaw — How much will my college education cost? My parents have tried to plan for my education, but the financial part is hard to quantify. We hope you can tell us what expenses we should expect. — Student

Dear Student — One of the best ways to cut the cost of college is to graduate in four years. If that sounds obvious, it doesn’t seem to register with many students who take five to six years to graduate.

Nationally, only 58 percent of full-time students graduate in six years, and three out of four part-time students fail to earn a bachelor’s degree within eight years.

Many colleges are not motivated to advertise their graduation rates, but they are easy to find by visiting College Results Online ( CRO is an interactive, user-friendly tool used to provide parents and students with information about college graduation rates for most four-year colleges or universities in the country.

One useful feature is the ability to compare graduation rates for colleges serving similar students. This information reveals that some colleges do a much better job of graduating students than others.

For example, Indiana University in Bloomington has a four-year graduation rate of 52.5 percent, and Purdue University in West Lafayette has a 37.5 percent four-year graduation rate. Compare that to the University of Chicago (85.7) and Notre Dame (90.1). These results show the best graduation rates are at private schools, and these numbers are representative of universities nationwide.

Clearly, a few colleges benefit by making a lot of money on the perpetual-student syndrome. But colleges alone are not entirely responsible for prolonging a student’s education.

Parents must take some responsibility because they allow their children to start college without a firm goal in mind. Many will say a student needs time to grow and experiment by taking classes in different areas before declaring a major.

However, if we compare graduation rates among most top public and private universities, we find that nearly 90 percent of students at private schools entered their freshmen year with a declared major. Fewer than 20 percent changed their majors before graduation.

Because most of the classes taken by these students apply to their degrees, it shortens graduation time.

Most of my clients have a very clear goal in mind when they apply. Even if they change their minds midway through their course work, it is generally from something like chemistry to biology to pre-med, where many classes fulfill both degree requirements.

Similar results apply if the student changes majors from applied math to economics or from history to political science. Radical changes to different majors add two to three years to what should be a four-year degree program.

With college costs soaring each year faster than the rate of inflation, graduating in four years is the surest way to save money on your education.

Simply put, plan ahead.

I suggest parents start talking about career goals when their children reach eighth grade. That way, they can start planning their high school curriculum with that goal in mind.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - Graduate in 4 years and save

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Consultant an asset for top school

Dear Mr. Bradshaw: I am considering hiring a college consultant to help me with the admissions process. My parents and I agree that applying to top colleges is a real challenge, and we would like to know how a college consultant could help make things easier. --Student

Dear Student:

If you are applying to a top college, a consultant can be a real asset, and the benefits are wide-ranging.

Although little is published on the subject, student surveys indicate that at least 40 percent of the applicants who were admitted to Harvard and Yale last year used consultants.

Even if your parents graduated from a top college and are familiar with the application process through an alumni network, hiring a top college consultant can help level the playing field in the admissions area.

So where should you start? I recommend you Google “college consultants” and examine their websites. Pick a few consultants who focus on top schools and call them with a set of prepared questions. Ask how much they charge, what services they include, if assistance with scholarship essays is a part of the package, and so on.

I highly suggest hiring a consultant who is a graduate of a top college because without these credentials, it is unlikely the consultant will be current with the admissions practices of exclusive schools.

Keep in mind that consultants who were admitted to top colleges will have scores and grades similar to yours. Ask them why they think they got in. Obviously, they were able to separate themselves from other applicants, and you are looking to them to help guide you along the same path.

Assuming you are near the top of your class and have scored in the top 10 percent on the SAT or ACT and on at least two SAT II subject tests, your next hurdle will be the essays required for the common application and individual schools.

Typically, top students apply to 10 colleges, which means writing 40 to 60 essays during the admissions process. The essays are designed to tell colleges something special about you, and each is given a score. Do not be fooled into thinking that the shorter ones don’t count and that only the longer ones matter.

You will find some of the essays can be downright silly (from my point of view), but they still reveal something about how you handle off-the-wall questions like, “What does ‘blue’ mean to you?”

Answering these questions is always difficult, as I dislike quirky questions that don’t have a logical base in my thinking.

What I would like to say and what a responsible answer might be often are different animals. I advise students how to approach these questions and turn the answers to their advantage.

A consultant will help keep you on track in the admissions process and provide a sounding board for you and your family. Making sure you meet deadlines, coaching you as you approach your scholarship essays, and cutting through the admissions clutter are some of the services a consultant provides.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - Consultant an asset for top school

Thursday, October 13, 2011

SAT Scandal Raises Questions About High School Pressure

Sam Eshaghoff, a 19-year-old sophomore at Emory University, was arrested for allegedly accepting cash payments to take the SAT for six students at his alma mater, Great Neck North High School – one of the top-rated high schools in the nation.

Great Neck North officials said they were appalled and reminded the public that all cheaters will face serious consequences while applauding the decision to hold the accused students legally accountable.

Having graduated from a top-rated, overly competitive, private high school only two years ago, I sympathize with the six accused Great Neck North students. While the media will undoubtedly portray these students as slackers who tried to cheat their way into top colleges, I will know the truth: These students just could not take the pressure any longer and cracked.

I have met a large number of students at the University of Southern California who were only one of fifteen students who somehow managed to graduate from an overcrowded public high school and attend a non-community college. I always hear about how few kids even consider going to college an option at these kinds of schools. It never gets any easier to hide my surprise when I hear about these stories.

Understand, in my graduating high school class of 140 students, 139 went to non-community colleges and universities, with about 40 of them ending up at ‘ranked’ top 20 schools. Sophomore year on, I had at least one daily conversation with teachers and advisors about what schools I wanted to attend. Not going to college was never an option.

In order to get into one of the colleges I talked about wanting to attend on a daily basis, though, I needed to do well on the dreaded SAT exam. Hours upon days upon weeks were devoted to SAT practice exams and classes. I never needed to truly understand the material on the test, but at least know it well enough to get the answers right on the standardized exam.

At the beginning of junior year, the U.S. News & World Report annual college rankings became my bible. I had the top-30 schools memorized back and forth. More importantly, I knew the scores I needed to get in.

Read More: SAT Scandal Raises Questions About High School Pressure | Neon Tommy

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Prepare for the job recruiting season

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Bradshaw College Consulting

(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw: I am a senior at Northwestern University and it is the beginning of job recruiting season. Several top companies will be represented on campus and they all seem to look for the same qualities in a job candidate: Top grades and copies of your SAT scores. I can hold my own in both departments with a 3.6 GPA in economics and 2200 SATs.

I’m more concerned about the intangibles. This many sound silly but how should I dress for the interviews? And what questions should I be expected to answer in the interview?

Signed: Student

Prepare for the job recruiting season

Dear Student: You will need top grades as well as a record of participation in campus activities and prior work or internship experiences to get your foot in the door in today’s job market.

Corporate human resources people also tell me that in order to make a great first impression you should research the company and know about the markets the company competes in. That is easy to do with Google’s ability to do a word search in milliseconds on just about any subject. I would suggest that you take your iPad with you and Google for any late-breaking news about the company before meeting your interviewer.

Business casual dress is acceptable at most companies. A sport coat and collared shirt without tie for men and a tailored dress or pantsuit for women is appropriate. This is not the time to show off that great tan that you worked on over the summer. Proper footwear is a must.

You need a firm handshake because you don’t want to give the impression that you are a dead fish. On the other hand no high fives or knuckle touches if the conversation went well. Don’t forget to thank the interviewer, and make sure that you get their contact information. A thank-you email would be a nice touch.

Avoid buzzwords such as “Hiring me is a win-win situation going forward, proactive matrixes are my skill-set, and I bring lots of synergy to the table.” Use plain language and try to educate the interviewer on your important strengths.

You should bring copies of your resume and be prepared to walk the interviewer through it. This is your opportunity to shine. Make your resume tell a story rather than relate a series of unconnected events.

Focus on upward progression — previous internships, student advisory committees, and special research projects. Keep your “walk through” to five minutes, and don’t spend all of your time in one area.

For example, don’t dwell on your college experience to the detriment of actual work experience.

Be prepared to respond to this: “Forget that I read your application, and tell me about yourself.” Rehearse your response to this query over and over prior to the interview.

You know you’re going to get some kind of question that is specific to you and to your story, so practice. If you have one minute what are you going to tell someone about yourself?

Stay focused on specifics in your answers. Employer interviewers expect applicants to state their answers tersely and not ramble.

You need to be able to convey your thought process in three bulleted points. Staying focused with your answers is the best way to show an interviewer that you are the right candidate for the job.

If asked about a major decision that you have made, tell them about why you selected your major.

The employer interview is all about assessing how well you might work together for the greater good of the company. Keep that in mind as you prepare for the interview.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Advice for avoiding freshman jitters

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bradshaw College Consulting
(219) 663-3041

As an adult it has always been difficult for me to understand why perfectly smart young people who are admitted to the very best colleges and universities fear their first experiences on campus.

These students talk intelligently, scored off the board on admissions tests and are ranked at the top of their high school classes.

Why then, do they freak out at being on their own for the first time?

Here is one way to avoid the freshman jitters and have fun doing it. I take as my guide the helpful experiences of a perfectly normal freshman at Harvard who wrote about her experience in an alumni newsletter. Let’s call her Carol.

Carol’s first weeks at Harvard were packed full of activities. Placement tests, proctor meetings, dorm socials, losing her cell phone and finding it, she says, picking classes and feeling lost, overwhelmed and homesick. These comments pretty much summarize the experiences that most freshmen have during their first weeks on campus.

To add to Carol’s stress, she ran around frantically auditioning for a number of different singing groups. She was accepted by several and then faced the “agonizing” decision of which one to choose. As fate and good fortune would have it something happened that made her selection obvious and easy. It was called a “sing-in.”

As Carol told it, one Sunday night, two students knocked on her door, blindfolded her and guided her down four flights of stairs and outside, where they removed her blindfold. In front of her were 60 students holding candles and singing Claude Goudimel’s “O Combien est Plaisant.” They then walked to a reception for more singing. Carol returned to her dorm that night knowing she would join the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum.

The “sing-in” was only the beginning. She met a wonderful group of friends and decided to live with some of them her sophomore year. She became involved with the Collegium Executive Committee and later auditioned for and joined the Chamber Singers, a 12-person subset of Collegium.

The point is that it is easy to get lost in the whirlwind of first-week college activities and intimidating, brilliant colleagues not to mention the universal difficulty of making a transition to college life.

To any incoming freshman Carol has this sound advice: “find something you love doing and can wholeheartedly devote yourself to.” Immersing herself so completely in Collegium provided relief from the stress of academic work, insights into the field of music administration and a possible career path. Most of all she met a wonderful group of friends and found her place at Harvard.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Second-tier colleges ‘The New Ivies’

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bradshaw College Consulting
(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw:

I am putting together a list of colleges to apply to this fall and I have heard that I should consider a few backup college choices, in the event that I do not get admitted to one of my top choices. So far I have 20 top tier colleges on my list, but I plan to pare that down to 10 or 12. My concern is that all of them rank at or near the top in the college rankings. My guidance counselor tells me that even second-tier colleges are becoming more selective and suggested that I take that into consideration when I select my backup schools. I would like to hear your thoughts.

High school senior

Second-tier colleges ‘the new Ivies’

Dear High School Senior: arvard, Yale, Dartmouth and the other Ivy League colleges are considered first-tier schools and are very difficult to gain admission to even with an outstanding academic record. Admission rates range from 6.1 percent at Harvard to 13 percent at Dartmouth.

Many students fail to realize that second-tier colleges can be as admissions-competitve as first tier schools and that each year the gap in admissions percentages is narrowing. Northwestern and Notre Dame are generally considered second-tier colleges with admission rates of 27 percent and 29 percent, respectively, but many students who apply to these schools as backups are rejected even though they have records similar to those of students admitted to the Ivy League. With the huge increase in outstanding international applicants at top colleges, second-tier colleges are now considered “the new Ivies.”

Most estimates are that 30 to 40 universities like Northwestern and Notre Dame actually benefit by admitting students turned down from schools like Harvard and Princeton because the academic records of these students have helped them climb in the overall rankings.

Many students are shocked when they are rejected or waitlisted by a second-tier college. Students who may not get admitted to Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Washington University in St. Louis, Rice, Emory or Georgetown are grateful that they picked backup colleges where admission is all but assured.

One of the reasons that admission to top tier schools is getting more difficult is simply one of supply and demand. The number of students graduating from high school has been increasing, and more students are interested in applying to top universities. Many high achieving students also are applying to more colleges than in the past — hedging their bets due to the uncertainty of admissions.

The overflow of students applying to second-tier colleges also has created its own spillover. Many state colleges and universities are seeing their rankings increase because students with higher grades and test scores are enrolling.

Listen to your high school counselor and think more broadly about the college application process. You need a good backup school to depend on.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - Second-tier colleges ‘the new Ivies’

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Twins go from GEDs to Columbia University

Vincent (l) and Eugene Dinescu 

Growing up, Eugene and Vincent Dinescu did everything together. They lived together, had class together, played sports together and even dressed alike.

The fraternal twins were somewhat separated for three years when they attended different elementary schools, but have essentially been together since then.

“We were basically one entity,” Vincent said of growing up together in North Brunswick.

Now the 22-year-olds will join each other again, at Columbia University next month; Eugene has been there for a year already, while Vincent will be starting his path toward medical school this fall.

Although the two never graduated from high school because they missed too many days because of their mother’s battle with cancer, they eventually received GEDs. Afterward, they decided to attend Middlesex County College (MCC) on their path toward a pre-med degree, a goal they’ve both had since they were young. Then the future doctors decided to apply to Columbia University for their medical studies.

“The goal was to come [to MCC], work hard … and make it to a four-year institution,” Eugene said. “Middlesex was the key. It was the catalyst for everything. This is basically where the story started; we’ll see where it finishes.”

“I think if you do well at Middlesex, you have an opportunity to do whatever you want,” Vincent added. “I thank Middlesex for giving me an opportunity to better myself and to reach a pretty successful point in my life.”

Eugene decided that Columbia would be the only school he would apply to, though he did not graduate with an associate degree; he decided to transfer his credits from Middlesex to Columbia instead. Vincent, on the other hand, took an extra year to build up his credentials, and applied to about 16 schools. This is the same determination that was instilled in them by their father, a Junior Olympics 100-meter sprinter from Romania, who gave them a medical encyclopedia at the age of 6.

The former Boss and Vision models also have volunteered in the medical field. Vincent spent 100 hours at Staten Island University Hospital, N.Y., with the director of the emergency room, and Eugene shadowed a few doctors in interventional radiology at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.

Their academic path is especially impressive because attaining Ivy League acceptance after receiving a GED is not common, MCC counselor Gina Bedoya said, and also because it is twins accomplishing this feat.

“For me, as a counselor, it goes to show that Middlesex really is for people of different backgrounds. If you have a GED or you graduate in the top 20 percent of your class, where there’s a will, there’s a way,” she said. “They proved that success does start here … and hard work does pay.”

Even more impressive is that they both want to specialize in plastic surgery. Eugene said he has always been able to draw, so “I should be a pretty decent surgeon,” and Vincent was inspired by a Discovery Channel special on conjoined twins. Eugene, who is also interested in the business aspect of having his own plastic surgery office, is currently developing his own website,, which will promote physical fitness, well-being and advice on how to achieve any goal. He also wrote eight e-books on topics such as careers, well-being and nutrition, which will also be posted on his site. “With proper planning, your hard work will pay off,” Eugene said.

Contact Jennifer Amato at

Twins go from GEDs to Columbia University

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

College admission needs strategy

Dear Mr. Bradshaw:

I will be a senior this fall and I am in the process of selecting colleges. I’m in the top five percent of my class, and have scored 750 or higher on each section of the SAT.

I have taken three SAT II Subject Tests and scored 800 on math level 2, 780 in biology and 775 in literature. I know that even with these scores it will be hard to get into the Ivy League or other top colleges. Is there a strategy I should look into that might increase my chances of admission?

Signed: Student

College admission needs strategy

Dear Student: You have accumulated a great academic record, which means you will likely get a foot in the admissions door at a college of your choice.

After that you’ll be compared to all of the top students in the world because nearly 12 percent of all college students studying in America today are international. There will be several hundred applicants with similar grades and test scores and no matter what anyone tells you it is impossible to predict who will get in to the nation’s best colleges with any certainty.

Harvard and the other Ivies often reject applicants with perfect grades and test scores, so you are right in thinking that you need to have a strategy in mind if you want to apply to top schools.

This means that you should spread your bets among several colleges and have a backup school in mind in case you are rejected by all of them. Since you are from Indiana I would suggest Indiana University or Purdue as backups since both are good schools and admit about 75 percent of their in-state applicants.

At the Ivies the admission rate falls drastically to 6.1 percent at Harvard, nine percent at Brown and 10 percent at Columbia University

How do you increase the odds in your favor? I recommend that my clients, instead of applying to colleges only in the Midwest and on the east coast, also apply to a few top colleges on the west coast.

While Stanford and CalTech are as selective as Yale and MIT, they have fewer applicants’ from the Midwest than do the east coast schools. It is important for these schools to have geographical diversity so take advantage of this fact in your planning.

Students from Indiana are welcomed in west coast schools. The University of California at Berkeley and the entire University of California system is in dire financial straits and to help make up the shortfall each year they admit more students who are willing to pay full out-of-state tuition.

So by combining the advantages of applying from out-of-state and paying full tuition you gain a significant advantage.

Discuss this strategy with your parents. Applying to UC Berkeley, UCLA or other top college on the west coast may be your best move.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - College admission needs strategy

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Take time choosing college major

Updated: July 29, 2011 8:26AM

Surprisingly enough, choosing a college major is something many students do as an afterthought.

Having reached their junior or senior years in high school, students generally want to major in areas where they got their highest grades. Teachers and counselors reinforce this idea by telling students and their parents that the son or daughter “is a natural mathematician” or has a “real gift for English.”

For those students with doubts about what college major to select, there is always a visit to the school guidance counselor. Counselors do their best to make sure that pupils meet the minimum requirements for admissions to a state college or university, but at many schools, the amount of time a counselor can spend with a student is severely limited.

In fact, at most public schools, the actual contact time a student can expect to spend with a counselor is less than an hour per year. This can be troubling if the school does not normally send students to top-ranked colleges and universities and students may find themselves at a huge disadvantage.

Leading universities have highly qualified applicants from which to choose and changes in admissions policy happen frequently at the most selective universities. In order to keep abreast of these changes students need to meet regularly with their high school counselors. It also helps if parents can be involved in at least some of these sessions.

Another area I find worrisome is the quality of advising that students receive on the link between careers and their choice of college majors. To students nervous about their future in the work world, the choice of a major is daunting. Many variables should be considered when making a career choice and the changing job market is the No. 1 concern. Sticking with subjects you know best is not always the wisest decision.

For example, a student strong in math and raised in a manufacturing culture might be tempted to major in engineering. In Indiana, 85 percent of the engineering majors are from blue-collar families.

Most have parents that are machinists or hold other technical positions in manufacturing. Few students realize that their math ability also might be put to good use in other fields such as economics and the social sciences.

Job opportunities may be more plentiful as we turn away from manufacturing and move toward a more service-oriented economy. Engineering wages have stagnated over the last few years, while financial services and investment banking have expanded. This trend is expected to continue.

I encourage students to take their time when choosing a college major and caution that high school and even college counselors are not always the best sources of information. Sticking with the familiar can stifle creativity and prevent them from learning about other fields of study that, in many cases, may be more suitable to their personalities. Diversifying high school course and extra-curricular activity selections is sometimes the best answer in helping students choose college majors and in readying them for satisfying careers.

Jerry Bradshaw: Take time choosing college major

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Advice for avoiding freshman jitters

As an adult it has always been difficult for me to understand why perfectly smart young people who are admitted to the very best colleges and universities fear their first experiences on campus. These students talk intelligently, scored off the board on admissions tests and are ranked at the top of their high school classes.

Why then, do they freak out at being on their own for the first time?

Here is one way to avoid the freshman jitters and have fun doing it. I take as my guide the helpful experiences of a perfectly normal freshman at Harvard who wrote about her experience in an alumni newsletter. Let’s call her Carol.

Carol’s first weeks at Harvard were packed full of activities. Placement tests, proctor meetings, dorm socials, losing her cell phone and finding it, she says, picking classes and feeling lost, overwhelmed and homesick. These comments pretty much summarize the experiences that most freshmen have during their first weeks on campus.

To add to Carol’s stress, she ran around frantically auditioning for a number of different singing groups. She was accepted by several and then faced the “agonizing” decision of which one to choose. As fate and good fortune would have it something happened that made her selection obvious and easy. It was called a “sing-in.”

As Carol told it, one Sunday night, two students knocked on her door, blindfolded her and guided her down four flights of stairs and outside, where they removed her blindfold. In front of her were 60 students holding candles and singing Claude Goudimel’s “O Combien est Plaisant.” They then walked to a reception for more singing. Carol returned to her dorm that night knowing she would join the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum.

The “sing-in” was only the beginning. She met a wonderful group of friends and decided to live with some of them her sophomore year. She became involved with the Collegium Executive Committee and later auditioned for and joined the Chamber Singers, a 12-person subset of Collegium.

The point is that it is easy to get lost in the whirlwind of first-week college activities and intimidating, brilliant colleagues not to mention the universal difficulty of making a transition to college life.

To any incoming freshman Carol has this sound advice: “find something you love doing and can wholeheartedly devote yourself to.” Immersing herself so completely in Collegium provided relief from the stress of academic work, insights into the field of music administration and a possible career path. Most of all she met a wonderful group of friends and found her place at Harvard.

College application timeline for high schoolers - CNBC

NEW YORK - Getting into college is a full-time job for many high schoolers, especially those receiving little help from guidance counselors and without the money to hire private consultants.

From resume building and campus tours to test prep and essay writing, there's a lot for kids to contend with, and a lot for parents who may not have gone through the process themselves.

College admissions officials and paid helpers urge families to stretch the application process over all four years of high school to make it less of a mad dash and more of a marathon. Try this timeline to break down the to-do list:


Enroll in rigorous classes, said Jim Montoya, a former admissions dean at Stanford and Vassar and a vice president of the College Board. The board,, administers SAT, Advanced Placement testing and SAT Subject Tests.

"Often I hear parents say, 'If only I would have known, I would have had my son or daughter take a science course in the ninth grade,'" Montoya said.

If you have a specific college in mind this early, check its academic requirements online and find the school on Facebook for up-to-date chatter and official announcements.

Generally, colleges prefer four years of English, as well as history, math, science and a foreign language, Montoya said. Explore SAT Subject Tests in your strongest classes and expect to take them while the material is fresh. Some colleges require subject tests. Either way, it wouldn't hurt to throw them into the mix.

Visit a college informally when school is in session, especially if you've never stepped foot on a campus. Formal touring can wait. The idea is to provide a glimpse into college life.

Make a long-term commitment to an extracurricular activity and community service. Don't pile on the extras. Choose things you truly love and work toward making a significant contribution over four years.

If financial aid is in your future, get literate on how to find it and how to apply for it. Have a heart-to-heart with your parents on money matters. Begin looking into how scholarships work and what the FAFSA is (it's the Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

"It's never too early to begin to understand financial aid," said Rick Dalton, who heads College for Every Student, a nonprofit that helps low-income public school students move toward higher education. "It's important to understand the concept, that there's money out there. Not understanding that is a huge impediment in getting interested in college to begin with."

Read More -- College application timeline for high schoolers - CNBC

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

High grads, Ivy Leaguers, share insight to success

Jenny Le and Shawn Du know what it takes to get admitted to an Ivy League university.

Le just completed her freshman year at Harvard University, and Du has finished his first year at Princeton University.

Now the 19-year-old Clear Lake residents, both summa cum laude graduates of Clear Lake High School, are reaching out to high school students in their community with similar goals.

Le and Du created an Ivy Exam Club that has allowed students to take free proctored SAT exams Fridays at the Freeman Branch Library, 16616 Diana Lane, Clear Lake. The final session is July 22.

"We really believe test prep is key (for successfully applying to college), and it's not fair if students can't afford it," Le said.

"The SAT is one of the easiest ways to improve your application," said Du, who said he's been enjoying the opportunity to help high school students this summer and offer them advice. "It feels great, personally."

Le said she remembers her own efforts to make herself a competitive applicant.

"It helped having someone I could talk to, so I could understand the process," she said.

"Because most of the high school students who take the course are from the Clear Lake area, too, we can talk and share stories. We're able to connect to the students and give them one-on-one attention."

In her case, it was her older sister, Ngoc Le, who encouraged Le to work on grades, take challenging courses and prepare for the SAT.

At her sister's urging, Le worked with her on the vocabulary portion in sixth grade. Middle school may have been a bit early, Le said, but she would encourage students to start preparing no later than the ninth grade.

"Test preparation is a gradual process," said Le, who is considering a career in business or in law.

Du urges students to practice for the SAT as frequently as possible.

It also helps, he said, to get involved in extracurricular activities.

"As long as you have a few, as long as you're passionate about them, colleges like that," he said.

By their senior year of high school, students can do little to dramatically change their grade point average, he continued, but they can improve their applications by devoting effort to their essay questions.

"Everything else is just numbers," Du said.

"The essay is what sets an applicant apart.

"The most important thing is to be sincere and personal."

Read Original Article

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

SAT or ACT? Try Both

Dear Mr. Bradshaw:—

I am confused about whether to take the SAT or the ACT. I have friends who have taken both tests and some say the ACT is easier.

I’m thinking about taking the Oct. 1 SAT, then taking it again Nov. 5. Under Score Choice, I believe I have the option to take it as many times as I wish and only report the highest scores.

I have read that most top colleges, like MIT or Princeton, favor the SAT, but most of my friends are planning to take only the ACT and do not seem to think it makes any difference. I’m only a sophomore, so I have plenty of time to decide. Can you help?

—High school sophomore

Dear Sophomore —

Planning ahead for college is one of the most important things you can do, and I applaud your early efforts.

Students who anticipate taking either the SAT or the ACT generally score better when they have prepared for the tests. Which test is best for you to take is another issue.

Both tests are accepted by most colleges and universities in the United States. The SAT is the most popular test if measured strictly by the numbers, but the ACT is not far behind, so it shouldn’t be ignored.

I always recommend that students take both tests and use the best scores on their college applications.

I contacted a former high school student who took both tests and had a perfect score on each: a 2,400 on the SAT and 36 on the ACT. I was eager to know how he would answer your question, since he was one of the top high school students in the country. He told me that most of his friends favored the ACT, because the test was based more on “innate ability” than “memorized tricks.”

This young man prepared 21/2 years for the SAT and only a week for the ACT. He said the SAT seemed more difficult, especially the critical reading section.

Regardless of the differences, the SAT definitely carries more of a prestige factor. Whether that is because it differentiates more (a total score of 2,400 vs. 36) or is more nationally recognized is an open question.

You are right that Score Choice lets you take the SAT as many times as you wish. You can be sure that students are preparing for the test like never before, given the fact they are allowed to report their best results from any given test date. Be careful not to confuse that to mean any combination of scores from different dates. The ACT has the same policy.

Also make sure that your high school does not report all your test scores on your transcripts, which will defeat the purpose of Score Choice.

Most highly ranked colleges recognize both tests, as do top state schools. On the other hand, some very good schools are dropping mandatory testing and going test optional. More than 800 colleges are test-optional institutions.

This is an avenue that students may want to explore if they do not test well, but have top grades and want to attend a top-tier college.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - SAT or ACT? Try Both

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Immigrant to Harvard-bound in 8 years

Excited for a new life, anxious about the unknown, overwhelmed by how much busier and bigger everything seemed — Svilena Bochukova felt it all as a fourth-grader whose family was settling into their new American life after immigrating from Bulgaria.

She also remembers how badly her hand ached.

Three months later, she began fifth grade proficient in the formerly foreign language.

Svilena, an only child who lived with her parents on Chicago’s Northwest side for a few years before they moved to Des Plaines, didn’t speak a lick of English. So she spent that first summer copying 100 words a day at least 20 times apiece until they stuck.

And eight years later, the 18-year-old is preparing to move to Cambridge, Mass., to begin her freshman year at Harvard University.

“I honestly believe that if you’re willing to work hard, you can achieve anything,” Svilena said. “I saw how persevering and immersing myself in learning English resulted in progress, and that compels me to continually try to grow.”

Svilena recently graduated from Maine West High School, where her she assembled a resume that made her a shoo-in for the Ivy League.

In addition to scoring a perfect 36 on her ACT college entrance exam, Svilena was class salutatorian and won Maine Township High School District 207’s Best in Academic Excellence and Community Service award.

Then there’s the second- and third-place regional Math Team finishes, her DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) project that resulted in a donation of 3,000 cans of food to the local food pantry, as well as her involvement in track, cross country, yearbook, Amnesty International, Student Council, tutoring, election judging ... well, the list goes on and on.

“Svilena is an amazing young lady, both in and out of the classroom,” Maine West Principal Audrey Haugan said. “She is among the best I have ever met in my 26 years in education.

Even more extraordinary than her achievements, however, is her investment in each undertaking.

Svilena truly loves to learn. She welcomes new challenges that expose her limits so she can push past them. She wants to inspire and be inspired.

During a junior year physics lab, Svilena submitted corrections to improve her work despite already holding a 98 percent in the class. Classmates laughed, but Svilena doesn’t get why everyone wouldn’t take the same opportunity.

“It’s not about being obsessed with a grade,” she said. “It’s about seeking a deeper understanding in the concept.”

In some ways, Svilena feels she has no other choice than to wholly commit herself.

Though parents Stetoslav and Stela have never pressured her, Svilena knows they left a comfortable life in Bulgaria so she’d have more opportunities. Previously both educators, they now work as a construction worker and kindergarten teacher, respectively.

“That selflessness is inspiring to me, and I always have their sacrifice in the back of my head,” Svilena said. “I’ve met a lot of kids who don’t know how good they have it here, but I can’t afford to be that way.”

To spend more time with her parents before heading off to Harvard, she decided to stay in Des Plaines this summer waiting tables at a local country club instead of going back to Bulgaria as she always has.

Once Svilena gets to the 375-year-old university, she’ll consider majoring in government and statistics to prepare for a possible career with the World Bank. She wants to promote micro-financing in impoverished areas, provide financial assistance to refugees and empower immigrants to succeed.

She’s seen firsthand how international resources can lead to opportunities, and vividly remembers the expression on her parents’ faces after finally getting their green card following years of not getting picked in the visa lottery.

“My friends joke that I have a career of the week because I’ve changed my mind so much, but I know I don’t want to chase a profit, be famous or have a lot of power,” Svilena said. “I do want to see everything and do something to touch as many people as possible.”

• Elena Ferrarin and Kimberly Pohl are always looking for Suburban Standouts to profile. If you know of someone whose story just wows you, please send a note including name, town, email and phone contacts for you and the nominee to


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How To Beat The New GMAT

Harvard Business School Admits More Women, Fewer Finance Candidates

Harvard Business School Admits More Women, Fewer Finance Candidates

Harvard Business School (HBS) earlier this month released a preliminary profile for the Class of 2013, revealing a record number of women in the fall entering class and a notable drop in admits from private equity and finance backgrounds.
Women will make up 39 percent of the incoming class, the highest in the school’s history and an increase of 3 percentage points over each of the past two years. The percentage of admits from private equity and investment banking backgrounds, meanwhile, fell – 5 and 2 percentage points respectively. Overall, finance types will make up 25 percent of the fall entering class, representing a small but significant shift for a school where class makeup doesn’t often change much from year to year. Candidates with manufacturing backgrounds gained ground and will make up 14 percent of the entering class, up from just nine percent last year.
A recent PoetsandQuants piece attributes the shifts to the new HBS dean, Dean Nitin Nohria, noting that many believe the school now “appears to be favoring a more diverse set of applicants from manufacturing, healthcare, the military, the government, and non-profits over those from such financial powerhouses as Goldman Sachs, KKR, and Blackstone.”
P&Q went on to note that the shift away from finance could have ripple effects at other top-tier schools, especially those that tend to admit more finance candidates, such as Wharton, Columbia, and Chicago Booth.
In other HBS class profile news, the median Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) score rose this year to 730, breaking last year’s record high of 724. The overall number of applicants fell slightly, from 9,524 to 9,134, and the class size increased slightly, from 910 to 918, resulting in a slightly higher admissions rate, 12 percent as compared to 11 percent last year.
HBS is the first of the top-tier business schools to share Class of 2013 profile data. The school did note when it released the information that it was accurate as of June 1, 2011, and is subject to change.
For the full HBS Class of 2013 profile, click here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Women Killed It In Ivy League Business School Admissions This Year

Women must have been really impressive during the Ivy League b-school admissions process this year.

At Wharton, at Pennsylvania University, "nearly 45% of next year's incoming class will be women, up from 40% last year," the deputy director of MBA admissions there told the WSJ.

Harvard Business School will record its highest female percentage ever, with 39% of the class of 2013 being women.

Other groups that impressed admissions offices, at least at Harvard Business School, people with tech and manufacturing backgrounds.

Read more:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

International admissions increase at U.S. colleges

International admissions increase at U.S. colleges - Post-Tribune

Dear Mr. Bradshaw: I am a high school student from Singapore and intend to apply to a top American college. Our friends tell us that U. S. colleges are eager to admit international students. Is there any advice you can offer that will help me make a decision?

Signed: International Student

Dear Student: From Harvard and Yale to Indiana and Purdue, almost all U. S. colleges have increased the number of international students they have admitted in the past several years. There are no signs of any change in this trend in the near future so I suggest you consider applying to several colleges in America.

When I say this to international students they are surprised. The fact is that campus life in American colleges has been greatly enriched by the presence of international students. Harvard, for example, admitted a record 12 percent of its freshmen class this fall from countries outside the United Stated.

Do not limit yourself to only well-known colleges and universities. Part of the strength of American higher education is that it is possible to get a good education in every state and not just at the most elite and well-known institutions.

For example, my clients this year were admitted to more than 70 colleges and universities ranging from Amherst and Yale to the University of California Berkley and Notre Dame. A number of them were admitted to smaller colleges such as Valparaiso University, Wake Forest, Richmond, Pace and Carlton. In fact, many of the lesser known colleges tend to attract international students because they want to add to the intellectual diversity of their campus community.

International students tend to have higher test scores than regular applicants and that helps boost colleges in the rankings. In addition, they usually pay full tuition that helps offset costs for domestic admits.

Not all international students pay full tuition, however, and lacking financial means should not be a barrier to applying to an American college. There is financial aid available to international students from United World Colleges. UWC’s National Committees in nearly 130 countries award two-year scholarships to top students who want to study in the States.

Many international students already in college are not aware that they can transfer to the United States for academic reasons. Because many foreign colleges do not offer the broad range of majors and classes that are available in this country, students may need to transfer to complete their studies.

If you are an international student and want to transfer, be prepared to face considerable hurdles. You must take the SAT or ACT and that can be difficult to do in many foreign countries.

Don’t expect your counselors to know much more than you do about applying to colleges in the states. You will need to get teacher recommendations and learn about early decision applications and interview locations just like American students.

The best place to start is the Internet. Spend some time looking at the requirements for the schools of your choice.

College admissions standards vary, and there is no single qualification that will get you in to every school. In the end, if you do your research and prepare your application materials carefully, I am confident you will find a way to come to America for your education.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Baltimore cop to attend Harvard Law School

Baltimore cop to attend Harvard Law School

He's trading his gun for a Havard Law book.

Adam Braskich wants to become a lawyer. And this three-year veteran of the Baltimore Police force has gotten into one of the nation's most prestigious universities, Harvard Law School. And when he's done, he promises to return to the city's crime fight -- as a prosecutor.

"I realized fairly early on that I'd probably make a better prosecutor than a police officer," he told The Sun's Justin Fenton, who caught up with the 26-year-old guarding a body in a sweltering South Baltmore rowhouse. "I'm better at spotting logical faillacies than guns concealed in waistbands."

Well, he's pretty good spotting guns too.

While on a study break for his law school entrance exam, Braskich took a stroll around Hampden and stumbled on an armed robbery. He shot one of the suspects and chased down the other. He's one of 466 officers, out of 2,947, who hold four-year degrees. He's pictured here in photo by The Sun's Amy Davis.

Read more about Braskich here.

US high schools no easy path to Ivy League

US high schools no easy path to Ivy League
Source: Global Times [17:24 June 06 2011]Comments
By Patrick Mattimore

As a record number of Chinese students compete for a limited number of spots at the most selective US colleges, representatives of those institutions and private organizations are lining up to profit from their ambitions.

The US-based Institute of International Education has reported that during the 2009-10 academic year, 39,947 Chinese undergraduates were studying in the US, a 52 percent increase from the year before and about five times as many as six years ago.

There are more Chinese undergraduate students at American colleges than from any other country or region and the numbers of pre-collegiate Chinese students in the US is increasing every year too.

This April, the Associated Press reported that American high schools are actively recruiting Chinese students. Ken Smith, a school superintendent from Millinocket, a small town in Maine, went on a recruiting trip to China in the autumn of 2010, reporting that "They didn't know where Maine was, but they knew where Harvard was. They all want to go to Harvard."

But there should be a whole battalion of warning flags before parents send their children to an American public high school, especially if they're looking to place their kids at a top university.

The first thing to understand is that the average US public high school isn't very good. On the most recent international tests from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), released late last year, US students performed about average in reading and science, and below average in math. Out of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members tested, the US ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.

Chinese students finished first in all three subjects, although the Shanghai schools the students were drawn from are accessible only to the nation's rich urban elite, and they were hardly representative of the average education received by Chinese children.

But if the families have the connections and cash to get their kids to the US, they should also be able to get them into a top Chinese school.

One year at Stearns High, the school in Maine, will cost Chinese families approximately $27,000 in tuition, room and board.

Stearns is a run-of-the-mill high school and doesn't appear on any "best high school lists."

The school building is over 40 years old. The school has only one Advanced Placement class and the school maps date from the Cold War era.

Millinocket is isolated. The closest mall and movie theater is one hour away. The town gets 93 inches of snow per year. Millinocket has about 5,000 residents but has experienced increasingly hard times since its paper mill filed for bankruptcy eight years ago. There were about 700 students at the high school in the 1970s. Today there are about 200?and the biggest kick for kids is hanging out in a supermarket parking lot.

Foreign students are eligible to attend public schools in the US for only one year, so unless a child was a senior when she went to Stearns High, she would have to leave the US before applying to colleges there. It's unlikely that a Chinese student would have the English proficiency to enter a secondary school as a senior.

Other than developing a student's English, it's unclear how attending an ordinary public high school in the US will improve a Chinese student's chances of being accepted at an American university.

Private secondary schools in the US have long recruited in China, but in addition to being generally much better schools, they are not restricted as to how long students may attend.

Unfortunately, some Chinese parents are likely to be drawn in by the possibility of getting their child an American education even at a mediocre high school like Stearns.

If Maine is able to recruit Chinese students, other US public school districts with similarly lackluster programs will no doubt follow.

Except for squandering some money, there is probably nothing wrong with the overseas experience.

However, parents should be wary and not expect that the average US public high school will do much to improve a child's chances of being accepted at a top-flight US university.

The author is an adjunct instructor at Tsinghua/Temple Law School LLM Program and a US public high-school teacher.

Why I will be studying at a US university

Alexandra Morton UK student

One student starting at Princeton this autumn says it was the incredible facilities at the Ivy League university that clinched her decision.

Alexandra Morton, 18, has turned down offers from four top UK universities – including Cambridge – to study at Princeton, in the US, this autumn.

Morton says it was the breadth of subjects and "incredible facilities" at the Ivy League university that clinched her decision.

The Cheltenham Ladies' College pupil will study for a four-year liberal arts degree, but hopes to major in English literature.

She is one of a growing number of UK students choosing US universities over their UK rivals. Morton says at least 10 of her school friends are also going to be undergraduates in the US this autumn.

"I'll be able to pick a subject that I have not studied before, such as Italian or Russian," Morton says.

She visited some US campuses with her parents three years ago on a family holiday. "Princeton was really impressive. It had a massive library and a beautiful campus. Some of the UK universities have buildings that are spread across cities, Princeton is more concentrated in one place."

The full cost, including tuition and living costs, comes to $60,000 a year (£37,000), but Morton will be in receipt of financial aid, which works out at a 15% to 20% discount.

Morton has lived in the UK since she was 11, but lived in the Middle East and Canada before that. "It is daunting to move, but it is really exciting," she says. "I'll discover a new way of life."

Homeless Teen Accepted to Harvard

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ivy League colleges report influx of British students

America's Ivy League colleges are reportedly experiencing an influx of British students, with increased tuition fees and dropping standards cited as the main reasons.

Harvard University has seen a jump in the number of applications from Britain of more than a third in 12 months, the Telegraph reports.

The college, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has received 500 applications from U.K. students for undergraduate courses this autumn, the Guardian reports.

Figures from seven big U.S. colleges show that enrollments of Brits at Yale and Princeton have doubled in five years.

According to the Telegraph:

Yale enrolled 36 British students onto undergraduate courses last year, up from 25 in 2009 – a 44 per cent rise. Five years ago, in 2006, just 15 students enrolled.

Some 197 students from England and Wales alone have applied to start courses at Cornell this autumn, up from 176 last year.

Information from Columbia University shows that 178 British students enrolled in 2009, up from 164 in 2008 and 151 in 2003.

And it's not only the Ivy League being sought-after.

Berkeley University, which is not an Ivy League college, has had 166 British applications for this autumn, compared with 130 last year.

Indiana, another leading, non-Ivy League institution, had nine British applications for this autumn, compared with seven last year.

Meanwhile, one of Europe’s leading universities — Maastricht in the Netherlands — has reported a 10-fold rise in the number of applications from Britain.

A limit on places for British students at English universities — coupled with the prospect of fees being raised to 9,000 pounds ($14,600) in 2012 — is fueling the rise.

While the cost of studying at an Ivy League university for a U.K. student can reach $60,000 a year, students are reportedly concerned about overcrowding and other considerations.

Andrew Halls, the head teacher at a leading British private school, King's College, told the Guardian:

"There is a bit of a sense that UK universities are creaking at the limits. Our 13- to 16-year-olds are talking about applying to US universities much more than they used to. There's a feeling that [if you go to a UK university that is not Oxbridge], you may not get as much teaching as you would like.

"US universities emphasize the 'whole man.' They love to hear about students playing the piano and other extra-curricular activities. They want a fulsomeness that Oxbridge and others seem distrustful of. Quite a lot of parents say this is the reason they are prepared to make a big financial sacrifice and pay for a U.S. university."

Original Article - United Kingdom

Bradshaw College Consultant - Gerald Bradshaw

Biography - Gerald Bradshaw

Founder, Bradshaw College Consulting

Gerald Bradshaw has spent nearly 15 years interviewing students for Harvard College before he started Bradshaw College Consulting.

As an alumni interviewer he gained tremendous insights into the admissions process--and not just at Harvard—but also across the board at all selective colleges and universities.

Bradshaw College Consulting focuses on working with students and their families with the college admissions process.

The most notable changes:

The decline in the number of legacies given preference
The increase in female applicants
The increase in GPA and test scores
The increase in tutoring for entrance examinations
The increase in the use of college consultants
The increase in international students
The increase in minority applicants
The increase in extra-curricular activities

International Students Studying In The U.S.

International Students

The number of international students studying in the U.S. is over 600,000. 

Approximately half that number are undergraduates. Almost 60 percent come from Asia. India accounts for the majority of students (15%), with China (12%) and South Korea (9%) increasing their presence at a rapid rate.

Most American colleges have already decided on the number of international students they will enroll in each class. The key to getting admitted is to prepare as far ahead as possible. It is best to start planning before the first year of high school. If that is not possible, plan to make sure you have completed all the necessary steps to qualify for American admissions. 
  • Take the SAT/ACT tests seriously. You will need to score higher than other students.
  • Focus on the TOEFL and the verbal section of the SAT/ACT if you are from a non-English speaking country. Not all students are required to take the test. If you are an American citizen graduating from an all-English speaking high school in another country you may be exempt. Seoul International School is one such example.
  • Most top American colleges require or recommend a personal interview with an alumnus. The interview is frequently held in the home country of the applicant. Where a face-to-face interview is not possible, the interview is conducted by telephone. Expect to be rated in a number of areas, including academic, extracurricular/athletic, personal qualities and an overall rating. The personal interview is a written evaluation and will be submitted to the admissions committee.
  • Apply early.