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A weekly podcast for parents and high school students about the world of college, brought to you by Policy Studies in Education.

A weekly podcast for parents and high school students about the world of college, brought to you by Policy Studies in Education.
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A weekly podcast for parents and high school students about the world of college, brought to you by Policy Studies in Education.




Episode 158: Does the College Matter?

This is the second episode in our new series, Decision Time Again. It’s “again” for us because, as we said last week, we always do some episodes about college decision making in April, for obvious reasons. 1. Isn’t This Counterintuitive? Every year at this time, pundits and educators write articles and op-ed pieces about how it doesn’t matter if your kid didn’t get into an Ivy League school, how admissions at top schools is an insane process that turns down thousands of perfectly...


Episode 157: Thinking Through College Acceptances

This is the first episode in our new series, fondly entitled Decision Time Again. It’s “again” for us because we always do some episodes about college decision making at this time of year, and it seems that the decisions just keep get harder and harder each year for all of you parents and your kids. Of course, we know that it might be your first decision time, and we are wishing you the best of luck! 1. A Case from the Real World So, here is something that happened last week: It is a...


Episode 156: They Teach Happiness at Yale

This is the fourth episode in our new series of things we didn’t know about certain colleges--or about higher education generally. Today, we are taking a look inside the ivy-covered walls of Yale University, but I think you will be very surprised about why we are taking that look. I know that many of you parents listening today have kids who have their hearts set on attending Yale or one of the other Ivy League universities or one of the other highly selective universities next fall. And I...


Episode 155: Foreign Languages and College Admissions

This is the third episode in our new series of things we didn’t know about certain colleges--or about higher education generally. But today, we are actually going to talk about some new data out about high schools because those data have implications for college-going, I believe. To be fair, I already knew a lot about today’s topic, but I did not know the data we are going to share with you now--and I think the situation is really very troubling. 1. A Look Back at Foreign Languages Last...


Episoe 154: Instant College Admission Decisions

This is the second in our new series of things we didn’t know about certain colleges--or about higher education generally. I think this is a case of the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. Even though we have worked with colleges for a living for decades, we have learned a lot doing our 150-plus episodes, and we hope you have, too. Today’s episode focuses on something that I did not know existed: instant college admission decisions, which sound like a great...


Episode 153: Outstanding New Documentary on HBCUs

It is officially March, and I feel that we have done all we can for the Class of 2022. Before we head into advice for the Class of 2023, we are going to do a few episodes on things we didn’t know about certain colleges--or about higher education generally. As we have always said, we learn something every time we do an episode, even though this is our business and we have been doing it a very long time. Today’s episode focuses on a favorite topic of ours here at USACollegeChat--that is,...


Episode 152: Choosing a College Because of a Major

I come to our topic today with mixed feelings. We have talked about it on numerous occasions and written about it in our books. It’s a topic that lends itself to some data-based analysis, but I have to say that it also causes me to think about my own philosophy about academics and what is important and what isn’t. So, this is a big topic, and it is college majors. As I have been working with students during this round of college applications, I listen to them talk about choosing colleges...


Episode 151: What About a College’s Grading Practices?

Today we are going to talk about a topic that I bet you and your high school senior have not given any thought to. And yet, it’s a topic that you and your high school senior have done nothing but think about for the past year or so, just from a different perspective. That topic is grades. Or more precisely, today’s topic is grading practices, which is not exactly the same as your kid’s grades. Probably the most you have thought about your kid’s high school’s grading practices is whether...


Episode 150: College Acceptance for the Spring Semester?

Today’s topic is something I have never thought much about at all. And that’s true even though my oldest child was in this situation, and no one seemed to think much about it when he was accepted to Berklee College of Music a dozen years ago. When Jimmy applied to Berklee (the college we like to say that offers the best contemporary music education in the world), he was admitted for the following spring semester rather than for the fall. I looked at that as a great opportunity for him to...


Episode 149: Colleges with Late Application Deadlines!

Last year about this time, we did an episode on colleges with late application deadlines. We would like to do that again today, realizing that some colleges have changed their deadlines, of course, since our episode last January. It is amazing to me--still--that so many colleges have deadlines well past early January, even as we seem to focus our high school seniors every year on meeting a January 1 deadline for their college applications. Apart from those colleges that have mid-January or...


USACC 148: College Deferment and a Letter of Appeal

Hello, again! When we signed off in mid-December to take an end-of-year break, we thought that we would be back with you the first week of January. But, you know what they say about the best-laid plans…. So what happened? The flu, the snow, and the unexpected week-long extension of a business trip I was on in Alaska on the shores of the Arctic Ocean! I am taking full responsibility for our absence, and let me say that these few weeks are the longest we have been off the air since we...


Episode 147: It’s a New College World, Or Is It?

It’s the middle of December, and those of you with teenagers who are facing application deadlines in the first week of January either see that the end is in sight or are pulling out your hair. Whichever it is, I am not sure how much more we can do for you. I will make our standard offer, nonetheless: If you are wrestling with a question about a college application or trying to figure out another college or two to add to your list--yes, it’s not too late--then, give us a call. Quick, free...


Episode 146: The Biggest College Application Mistake You Are About To Make

As you head into December and draw near to the looming college application deadlines that follow in the first two weeks of January, we are sure you have a lot on your minds, parents. Almost all of you are worried about how you are going to pay for whatever college your teenager eventually enrolls in. Most of you are worried about whether your teenager is going to get into his or her first choice. Many of you are worried about whether your teenager will get into any of his or her top...


Episode 145: Supplemental College Application Essays—The Sequel

First, Happy Thanksgiving to all our listeners! We hope you will have a lovely day, filled with family and food, and that you will have a relaxing long weekend. Oh, except for the fact that some of your teenagers will be finishing up college application supplemental essays--or worse still, just starting them--so your weekend is not likely to be all that relaxing. Those of you who listened last week heard our discussion of the number of supplemental essays that various colleges require,...


Episode 144: Supplemental College Application Essays—Oh, My!

I really was not going to do this episode. I resisted doing our last two--one episode about The Common Application main essay (that 650-word statement that all seniors’ parents and teachers have come to loathe at this time of year) and one episode about the sad fact that our high school seniors in the U.S. cannot write. I was glad when last week was over, and I thought that I could move on to other topics of importance in the college applications season. And yet, I am drawn back into the...


Episode 143: High School Students Can’t Write

Last week when we talked about college application essays for what seems to be the millionth time in our three years together, we suggested that you go back and listen to Episodes 98, 99, 106, and 110 if you have a senior at home with college application essays due now and over the next few weeks. As I said last week, I have been spending some time in one of New York City’s most exclusive high schools to help two classes of seniors with their essays. As a result, I have been thinking hard...


Episode 142: What’s Wrong with Your Kid’s College Application Essay?

Well, it’s officially November. Some Early Decision and Early Action deadlines have just passed, and many others are fast approaching on November 15. There is very little time left for those of you interested in submitting early applications. As we said at length in Episode 138 and as we have repeated in the past few episodes, we think that all of you should be applying Early Action to all of the schools on your list that have an Early Action option and that some of you should be applying...


Episode 141: The Role of Parents in College Applications

We are in the last days of October, and Early Decision and Early Action deadlines are just a handful of days or a couple of weeks away. There is still time, but not much for those of you interested in early applications (and we think that should be almost all of you, for Early Action at least). So, what is the role of parents at this critical time? Today’s episode is short and sweet, and it will hopefully affirm what you are already doing, parents, if you have been listening to...


Episode 140: The Scandal of Transferring College Credits

In our last episode, we talked about narrowing down your teenager’s long list of college options (or LLCO, as we call it in our new book How To Explore Your College Options: A Workbook for High School Students), and we discussed several questions to ask yourselves about those colleges as you narrowed down the list. We recommended ending up with perhaps 15 colleges (give or take 5) on your teenager’s “short list.” One thing we did not talk about was whether you should put a public two-year...


Episode 139: Narrowing Your Teenager’s List of College Options

Last year, we spent the month of September suggesting some steps to take in order to narrow down your teenager’s long list of college options (or LLCO, as we call it in our new book How To Explore Your College Options: A Workbook for High School Students). We talked about a number of filters you might use to narrow down that list, which we hope was really quite long at the beginning. Why do we hope that? Because a long list shows that you and your teenager thought about a wide variety of...


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