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  • Marjorie Shaevitz

    Title: Admissions expert, author, speaker
    Company: www.adMISSION POSSIBLE.com

    • verified

    Years of Experience

    Colleges I Attended
    Stanford University
    Master's Degree
    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
    Professional Affiliations
    National Association for College Admission Counseling, Independent Educational Consultants Association
    Prior Job
    Institute for Family & Work Relationships
    Prior Title
    About Me
    Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz, Founder of www.admissionpossible.com, is an award-winning author, speaker and professional counselor who has successfully helped thousands of students select and get admitted to colleges of their choice. Based on her more than 20 years of experience in the field, Marjorie has just completed adMISSION POSSIBLE®: Everything you need to know about finding, applying and getting into the best colleges for you, available from Sourcebooks, Inc. in April 2012. Sourcebooks, Inc.

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • Can what I post on Facebook affect my chances of getting accepted?


      Do they or don’t they? No one - except admissions officers themselves - knows for sure whether they peek at applicant Facebook accounts. Given that a NY Times article by Sarah Perez noted that “30% of today’s employers use Facebook to vet potential employees,” I’d say the chances are pretty good that some do. Emory University professor, Brian Croxall, offers the best advice I’ve ever seen at The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/six-steps-for-checking-your-facebook-privacy/30402) about how to protect your Facebook privacy. Then there’s the tongue-in-cheek, but oh-so-wise suggestion that to be safe, use the “Grandma test:" never put anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t want Grandma to view.

    • I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I'm there?


      Personal visits are the best way of getting to know colleges. What to do? Stop-by the admissions office, sign in and meet the rep assigned to your high school. Then take an organized campus tour or go on your own. Ask yourself these questions: Am I turned on or off by what I see? What’s available in my activity/athletic/other interest areas? Do students seem to be the kind of people I want to spend time with? (Ask a few what they like/dislike about the campus?) Can I see myself happily spending four years here? Have fun!

    • What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?


      Using David Letterman’s “Top Ten List” concept, here are the “Top 10 advantages of smaller colleges over larger ones:” #10) smaller classes, #9) closer relationships with professors, #8) more personal attention, #7) greater mentoring, #6) a finer sense of family and community, #5) a collaborative rather than competitive atmosphere, #4) larger emphasis on student research projects, internships and job connections, #3) better advising, #2) more seminar and discussion classes, and #1) a much higher record for getting into graduate school. By comparison, larger colleges offer more students, majors, courses, access to graduate programs, activities, sports and bureaucracy, rules and regulations (aka, red tape).

    • What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?


      MYTH: To reveal that I have a learning disability will hurt my admissions chances. REALITY:  For colleges to clearly understand your academic background and abilities, it’s critical to describe and explain your learning issues.  MYTH: The more intellectual an essay is the more impressed college admissions people will be. REALITY: Effective essays are snapshots of who you are and what you are all about. MYTH: If I wait until the last minute to complete my applications, I will be better focused, sharper and more creative. REALITY: “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” Abraham Lincoln

    • Are there activities/organizations that impress highly selective colleges?


      “Stand-out students” begin the admissions process way before they actually complete their applications. What this means is thinking ahead to make sure you take a rigorous academic program and get the best grades, without overwhelming yourself in the process. It also means getting the most out of the standardized tests you can, usually accomplished through some kind of test prep. An important third ingredient is well-written essays that reflect who you are as a student and person.

      In addition to grades, test scores, and essays, admissions people are very interested in what you do with your time when you are not in school. They look for students who show long-term involvements in something they love. Among the “stand-out” activities a few successful applicants have identified in their applications are:

      * A teen who saw that his school was littered with all kinds of paper lunch bags, water bottles and trash. He was so upset by the mess that he decided to do something about it. On his own, he designed, got manufactured and then sold recyclable lunch bags to students, with the profits going back to his school.

      * At five years old, a student began playing chess. Because he didn’t yet read, he asked his mother to read chess moves to him at night instead of bedtime stories. He became better and better at chess, received chess tutoring and entered competitions through the years. One day he won a national chess championship. In high school, he developed a chess program for his town’s school for homeless children.

      * Born with a profound hearing impairment at birth, a girl used her strengths to overcome the disability, specifically choosing to take on activities that were hearing neutral, as in computers and working with animals and cooking. To help other hearing impaired students, she began a newsletter that focused on what hearing impaired students could do with their time and lives, and also emphasized how few things they couldn’t do.

      • A lover of animals and science, a girl became a teen volunteer for a city zoo. She was then accepted to a special program in which she taught classes to the public about endangered species and animal conservation. This then led her to being selected as an Arctic Ambassador to Polar Bears International, where she spent time with students from around the world in the Canadian tundra, studying polar bears, the effect of global climate change and ways of preserving natural resources.

      Each one of the above stories were used by students as part of their successful applications.

    • What are some common red flags that can hurt an application?


      Students often make mistakes when they try to complete a college application in the midst of doing other things, as in texting friends, talking on their cell phones, playing computer games, or listening to music. Therefore, the first rule for completing applications is to find a quiet, organized space free of any distractions and give yourself a block of time (as in an hour or two, once or twice a week) to work just on applications.

      After that, there are other ways of avoiding common mistakes: • Don’t guess or make careless grammatical or spelling errors; nothing turns off an admissions reader more than an application that is sloppy. • Don’t fall into the trap of under-reporting; the best applications are filled with rich, detailed information. • Don’t write essays or complete applications when you are tired or upset; students do their best work if they are fresh, alert and take their time as they work on applications. • Don’t use abbreviations or assume readers know anything; write out everything, fill in all the spaces; over, rather than under-report. • As you go through the application process, don’t obsess about the one and only college you want to attend; rather, focus on doing the best job you can in applying to a number of colleges to create yourself some really good options. After all the acceptances come in, then pay attention to the one you want.

    • Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?


      How to know whether SAT or ACT, when, and prep

      As an independent counselor who has been working with students for more than twenty years, my recommendation to students is to take practice SAT and ACT tests before they do anything. They can do this for free online with College Board or Princeton Review (or go to a local Princeton Review office). Once they get the results back from each of the tests, then they can decide which test, the ACT or SAT, fits them best. Colleges accept either test.

      After deciding which test to take, then it's imperative for students to do some preparation. As I tell my students, would you play an important tennis game without practice or some coaching? Whether working with a test tutor, online prep with the likes of mymaxscore.com or on their own, students who prepare do better than students who don't.

      The time to take a test is when you are best prepared.

      Finally, the number of times to take a test depends on each student's circumstances. In general, two or three times is enough; but again it depends on whether the student is fully ready to take the test and do his/her best. Sometimes circumstances, such as a flat tire on the way to the test site or being sick, will dictate whether a test should be taken again.

      Students should do what makes sense for them.

    • Does the college interview really count?


      Usually lasting between 15 minutes to an hour, a college admissions interview is a meeting between an admissions person and a prospective student. Usually there are three kinds of interviews: 1) the on-campus interview with an admissions representative, 2) an off-campus interview with a local alumnus or alumna, or 3) an online Skype interview with an admissions rep or alum.

      Very few colleges require interviews; some colleges recommend them. Still others offer them only to legacies (a son or daughter of a graduate of a college). Many colleges, in particular, large public universities and some private ones, don’t offer interviews at all.

      The truth is that it is very difficult to “blow” an interview. Unless you’re extremely shy and/or are completely unprepared, you only gain from having an admissions interview.

      Admissions interviews are not a “make or break” aspect of admissions. However, interviews with admissions people are potentially “worth more” than alumni interviews. If nothing else, you can learn about a college AND you might “click” with an interviewer, who then becomes your advocate during the final selection process.

    • How can parents help students with the college search and application process?


      It’s not easy for parents to know if they are doing too much or too little re: their child’s college admissions. A little advice about testing is a good start. 1) Become educated about the various tests. 2) Remind your student about test registration deadlines and test dates; put them on a visible family calendar. 3) Help him/her complete the test registration forms. 4) If it fits your budget, pay for test prep books or tutoring. 5) Provide your child with chauffeur services on the day of a test so he/she doesn’t have to locate the test center and find a parking space.

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