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September 2018 VOLUME 26, ISSUE 1




A Publication of Future Focus Educational Services

A Place Where I Can... (, by Kevin McMullin)

Ask many students what they’re looking for in a college, or many applicants why they’ve decided to apply to a

particular school, and they’ll recite a list of features and benefits. A strong journalism program, small classes,

located in a city, etc. But those expressions miss the importance of connecting your college wish list with your

plans to make the most of those opportunities.

So here’s a subtle change that can make you think critically about what you’re looking for and how you plan to

take advantage of it: Start those descriptions with, “A place where I can...”

A place where I can take my first steps toward a career as a journalist...

A place where I can interact with my professors easily and regularly...

A place where I can experience living in a city rather than just visiting one...

What you do in college will be more important than where you do it. But that will mean finding schools that pair

the right opportunities with your willingness and ability to take advantage of them. Instead of focusing on just

what the college will offer, focus on what you’ll do to make the most of those offerings. “A place where I can”

is a good place to start.

In July, the Trump administration rescinded guidance

issued by the Obama administration on how colleges

can legally consider race and ethnicity in admissions


In all, the Justice Department and Education Depart- ment withdrew seven separate documents — issued

by the agencies between 2011 and 2016 — on the

use of race in decisions by schools and by colleges.

One key document among those rescinded was

Obama administration guidance issued jointly by the

Education and Justice Departments in 2011. The guid- ance states that diversity is an important educational

goal, and that colleges should be able to use a variety

of methods (including the consideration of race and

ethnicity in admissions) to achieve diversity.

In the immediate aftermath of the Trump

administration’s action, many college and university

leaders were quick to say that they would not change

policies on the recruitment and admission of

underrepresented minority applicants. Among the in- stitutions issuing such statements were the Univer- sity of Texas at Austin and the University of Missouri

System. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is- sued an open letter to the chairs of the boards of the

City University of New York and the State University

of New York urging them not to make any changes in

policy because of the Trump administration’s actions.

No college publicly announced a change of policy,

but some experts believe some colleges may face

new legal challenges to their policies in the years

ahead, perhaps with courts less sympathetic than

those in the past to diversity efforts in higher educa- tion. Michele S. Moses, professor of educational foun- dations and policy and associate vice provost for

faculty affairs at the University of Colorado at Boul- der, said she hoped that colleges would not be scared

off diversity strategies by the Trump administration.

“It is high time for courageous leadership in higher

education. Institutions can retain their race-con- scious policies and programs and operate within

current law. And they can work to educate mem- bers of their community about their use of affirma- tive action as a principled policy response to wide- spread inequalities in higher education access and

attainment,” she said. “Campus leaders could

counter the arguments claiming that affirmative ac- tion for underrepresented students is unfair to other

students, as wrong — largely because they rely on

ideas about merit for college admissions based pri- marily on test scores. Fair college admissions prac- tices need to be based on philosophies of college

access, educational opportunity, and holistic reviews

of applicants’ varied qualifications, and not solely or

even primarily on quantitative measures of academic

merit like standardized test scores.”

Will Trump Change the Way Colleges Seek Diversity?

(“”, by Scott Jaschik 7/9/18)

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Page 2 September 2018

The College Connection Newsletter

10 Tips to Inspire College Essays

(“”, by Ilana Kowarski)

• Brainstorm First

Make a list of your major strengths, key accomplish- ments and dreams for your future. Then jot down per- sonal and educational experiences that are significant

to you, your favorite memories, and people who have

made a difference in your life. By the end of these

exercises, you’ll have several potential topics to

choose from.

• Give Yourself Options

List as many potential essay topics as you can imag- ine. Choosing the wrong prompt can lead to writer’s

block. If you’re stuck, try a new prompt that gives you

an abundance of material to talk about.

• Think Small

There’s no need to fit your entire life story into your

college essay. A wiser approach is to describe a single

formative experience. It isn’t a movie you’re making,

but a Nike ad. The time it takes to read 500 words is

about the same as it takes to watch a Nike ad.

• Describe Your Goals

Applicants who don’t feel comfortable discussing their

past can instead write about their personal motivation

and their hopes for the future.

• Target Your Audience

Your dream school’s academic niche should inform what

you write in your personal statement for that school.

Visit the school’s website, find the buzzwords it uses

on its admissions site, then try to come up with an es- say that focuses on showcasing your ability to offer

these qualities.

• Avoid Bragging

Bragging can backfire. A behind-the-scenes glimpse

into who you are, how you think, or what you stand for

is far more compelling.

• Tell A Story

Experts say that college essays with anecdotes tend

to be the most engaging. Reminisce about your most

meaningful experiences and consider using one of

those experiences as fodder for an essay.

• Show Your Personality

Admissions officers say that they understand that most

teenagers have not had dramatic life experiences. The

best college essays are great not because they de- scribe an exciting event but because they convey an

interesting way of looking at the world.

• Consult a Mentor

Think of three personal statement topic ideas, even if

you think they are not that great and then share them

with a teacher, counselor, or a mentor. This will start a

conversation and get ideas flowing.

• Take Needed Breaks

Applicant often struggle with their college admissions

essays due to a lack of confidence and excess stress.

You should take long walks, listen to calming music, or

work out to relax.

What’s New in the 2018-19 Common Application?


This year, they improved Courses & Grades to make

it even easier for those students who need to use it

(and help students know when they don’t need to fill it

out). In the upcoming application, students can’t en- ter the section unless they’re applying to a member

college that requires Courses & Grades.

In the Demographics section of the Profile tab, stu- dents identifying as American Indian or Alaska Native

will be able to select the specific tribe in which they

are enrolled. For those students not enrolled, they’ll

be able to type a short response describing their tribal


When a student chooses to include their social se- curity number in the application, that number will be

masked on screens, in preview, and on PDFs. If a

counselor or advisor has permission to view a PDF

preview of a student’s application, that social secu- rity number will be masked to them.

The privacy policy is updated to reflect the new re- quirements of the European Union General Data

Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you’re a student,

school representative, recommender, or other indi- vidual located in a European Union country, Iceland,

Lichtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, and you provide

The Common Application with your personal data, you

have new privacy rights under the GDPR.

Mixing and Matching Cal State

Online Courses – Free

(“”, by Mark Lieberman)

The California State University System will now offer

full-time students at all of the system’s 23 institutions

the option to enroll for free in one online course per

semester at another Cal State institution. The goal is

for students to have alternatives when required

courses don’t line up with their busy academic sched- ules, or to expand options for courses within a par- ticular discipline.

More than 3,000 online courses, both upper and lower

level, are available on the database. The option is

available to students who have completed at least one

semester and 12 credits; achieved a GPA of at least

2.0; and paid the full-time tuition price.

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September 2018 Page 3

Senior Checklist for September

\ Narrow your list of colleges to 6-8. Consider fall campus


\ Attend college visitation meetings at your school

\ Work hard to keep your grades up. College admissions

counselors will closely review the first semester of your

senior year

\ Make a list of test names, dates, fees and registration dead- lines and college application deadlines, financial aid applica- tion deadlines and scholarship deadlines.

\ Prepare your resume and listings of strengths, interests and

goals to give to teachers, counselors and employers for

letters of recommendations.

\ College bound athletes applying to Division I or II schools

need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center for Certifica- tion in order to play college athletics. Use the website

\ Register for the SAT or ACT at and, if you mark code 9999 as one of your

college or scholarship codes, your scores will be sent auto- matically to the NCAA Eligibility Center. Watch out for the

registration deadlines!

\ Start working on the first draft of your admissions essays

\ Research local, state and national scholarships. Check out

the scholarships and grants section of this newsletter.

\ If you are applying Early Decision, these deadlines begin

November 1st. Know the difference between Early Decision

and Early Action.

\ Register for the Common Application at to see the list of 700+ schools that

now accept the common application.

\ Checkout the newer Coalition Application at to see the list of 90+

schools that now accept the coalition application.

Colleges Are No Match for American Poverty

(“”, by Marcella Bombardieri)

Russell Lowery-Hart is the president of Amarillo College, a community

college on the Texas Panhandle, strives to provide support to their stu- dents who are at high risk of struggling academically due to financial and

circumstantial hardships. In addition to running a food pantry for its stu- dents, Amarillo College has an emergency fund that can cut a check

within hours to cover the car-repair or water bill that could push a stu- dent to drop a class—or quit school for good.

What separates Amarillo College from most of its peers is not any par- ticular program, but how much it focuses on addressing the effects of

poverty. The school and Lowery-Hart are being watched by college lead- ers all over the country, because finding realistic solutions for student

poverty could be transformative for the U.S. higher-education system.

The College Connection Newsletter


The University of Chicago announced

that it was dropping the requirement that

all undergraduate applicants submit SAT

or ACT scores. The test-optional policy

applies to all students from the United

States. The university also announced

an expansion of financial aid and other

new policies designed to attract more

low-income and first-generation students.

For colleges that use the SAT or ACT, a

major challenge has been study after

study showing that wealthier students

generally fare better than do less wealthy

students. And white and Asian students,

on average, perform much better than do

black and Latino students.

Search for a four-year college on Google,

and you’ll now be presented with data

on admission rates, graduation rates and

tuition costs, in addition to the usual link

to Wikipedia. Google said the addition

of more information to college search

results would make it easier for prospec- tive students to choose the right institu- tion for them.

Columbia University was identified as

the number one U.S. college offering the

largest financial aid packages to students

in need with an average financial aid

package of $55,521. Yale came in a sec- ond with their average financial aid pack- age of $52,894. All 50 U.S. colleges

listed are private colleges or universities,

and all Ivy League Schools made the list.

This fall incoming international under- graduate students at Eastern Michigan

University will pay the same tuition rate

as everyone else, including Michigan

residents who enroll at the public univer- sity. Another institution that charges a

flat tuition rate for all students — in-state

and out-of-state domestic and interna- tional — is Minot State University, in

North Dakota, which received approval for

its one-rate tuition policy in 2008.

University of California, Los Angeles

is beta testing their new mobile app,

BruinXperience hopes to provide a more

complete picture of UCLA’s campus cli- mate. The app sends a notification to stu- dents’ smartphones every two weeks to

(Continued on page 4)

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The College Connection Newsletter

Page 4 September 2018

Does AP Still Have Admissions Cachet?

(“”, by Scott Jaschik)

Eight elite private high schools in the Washington area announced

that they were dropping out of the Advanced Placement program.

The schools said that they could design advanced courses that would

be better for their students. A statement the schools issued said

that AP has become so popular that it is no longer “noteworthy.”

Further, “we have been assured by admissions officers that this

change will have no adverse impact on our students. The real ques- tion for colleges is not whether applicants have taken AP courses,

but whether they have availed themselves of their high schools’ most

demanding classes.”

Most admissions deans and other experts agreed that the students

at Sidwell Friends, St. Albans and the other private schools that make

this move don’t need to worry. Their schools are so well-known that

colleges will assume the new advanced courses being created will

have rigor and depth. A lack of AP courses on those students’ tran- scripts probably won’t make a difference. But leave the rarefied en- vironment of elite private high schools, they said, and the situation

may be different.

According to Seth Allen, vice president and dean of admissions and

financial aid at Pomona College, while AP “is considered rigorous,”

so are many non-AP courses. What matters is students taking some

of the most rigorous courses offered. The advantage of AP, he said,

is that colleges have a sense of what it means. Schools that want to

offer alternatives need to be sure they explain how rigorous the

courses are. “AP still works for many schools where it might be

hard to know how rigorous the curriculum is without the AP desig- nation,” Allen said.


(Continued from page 3)

ask them what they’re thinking, how they’re

feeling and what they’re experiencing on

campus. Assuming a successful rollout in

the fall, BruinX plans to expand the app to

include UCLA faculty and staff.

Navy veteran and U.S. postal worker, Ja- son Washington, was shot and killed by

Portland State University campus police

outside of a campus sports bar. Witnesses

stated that he was attempting to break up

a fight between two other men and was

shot while moving to pick up a handgun

that had fallen from his holster. Washing- ton had a concealed-carry permit for the

weapon. The Portland State officers in- volved in the shooting have been placed on

administrative leave while the Portland

Police Bureau investigates the situation.

The ACT benefits students who can read

rapidly and efficiently – more passages

means more information to review and ana- lyze. Meanwhile, the SAT benefits students

who prefer to work more slowly but also

more analytically. However, it is important

to note that the ACT English section is not

devoid of analysis. Consider what type of

reader you are before deciding on the ACT

or the SAT.

Hendrix College is touting Career Term

as the first initiative in the country that uses

the college winter break to coach students

in job training. It works like this: for a couple

of days during winter break, the college

brought back almost 50 of its second-year

students and gave them workshops on

base-level career-search skills — résumé

writing and job interviewing, dressing pro- fessionally and finding an internship.

While only serving part of its sophomore

class this year, the college intends to offer

the program to the entire class by January


The University of California released new

admissions statistics last week for the

class that will be entering in the fall. The

shift this year is that — reflecting a series

of new initiatives — the system admitted a

record number of transfer students, the vast

majority of them from the state’s commu- nity colleges. While many elite private col- leges admit only a dozen or so transfer

students, the UC system admitted 28,750

transfer applicants for the fall.

Enrollment Boost from Summer Pell

(, by Andrew Kreighbaum)

Colleges are seeing the payoffs of a decision by Congress to restore year- round Pell Grants in a budget deal last year after eliminating the grant aid in

2011. Students attending summer classes previously could only use what- ever grant aid they had not used in the fall and spring semesters. The change

allowed Pell recipients access to the full grant amount for a typical semester.

The additional grant aid isn’t just making summer classes more accessible

for students.

It’s also helping them progress more quickly toward their degrees.

Anatomy of a College Application - Things to Avoid

(, by Jeremy Shanealder)

• Don’t miss deadlines.

• Check every application for typos or misspellings.

• Don’t forget to sign your applications, digitally or physically, lest they

sit in admissions labeled “incomplete.”

• Get a professional-sounding email address that includes part of your

name. Don’t apply using “”

• Don’t let your parents or friends write your applications or essays for


• Delete inappropriate social media comments or photos (but remem- ber, they may still be out there).