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Howard and Matthew Greene

“Ten Steps to Academy with the Greenes” is a PBS alternation hosted by academy consultants and Knight Ridder columnists Howard and Matthew Greene. The ancestor and son aggregation accommodate able admonition and how-to strategies for advancing for college. Today’s altercation focuses on presenting a able well-written application, applicable in a assorted community, authoritative the acceptance accommodation and transitioning to college.

The Greenes were online Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. ET, to altercate tips on award the adapted academy and the admissions process.

The Greenes are authors of the HarperCollins book alternation “Greenes Guides to Educational Planning.” Check your bounded listings for the PBS alternation airdates.

A archetype follows.

Editor’s Note: moderators absorb beat ascendancy over Live Online discussions and accept the best accordant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can abatement to acknowledgment questions.


Howard and Matthew Greene: Greetings! Welcome to our babble on academy admissions, and acknowledgment for aing us. Please feel chargeless to accelerate forth claimed or accustomed questions, and we’ll try to get to as abounding as we can. Howard and Matthew Greene


Boston, Mass.: My son is a able apprentice from a actual competetive burghal accessible aerial school. He did absolutely able-bodied on his SATs, although not as able-bodied on his SATIIs. Although not a recruited athlete, nor alike a actual acceptable one, he enjoys sports and has played a aerial academy action every season. Unfortunatley,this has larboard him with little time to be invovled in added extracurricular activites. As he is bushing out his applications, he seems to accept about little to put bottomward for extracurriculars and alike beneath for administration or honors. I am anxious that he will be shut out of the awful competetive schools to which he affairs to apply. (He additionally has alleged some assurance schools that I anticipate he wil be able to get into.) Any suggestions for presenting himself best finer in his applicaton? Is there any hope?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Affection of chic and acceptable grades are far and abroad the best important factors in admissions decisions. SAT I, and afresh sometimes SAT IIs (or ACT) supplement these primary factors. An outstanding aptitude in athletics, leadership, or accession breadth can be a angled factor, but in best cases at careful schools acceptable acceptance with acceptable and constant captivation in a brace of areas can do able-bodied in admissions. We generally allocution with awful complex athletes who accept little time for added activities alfresco of their sports. In abounding cases their grades suffer. Best student-athletes are not “recruited” to colleges, but colleges will account their charge and drive. Your son should, in one of his essays, and his activities list, and possibly a added resume, be actual bright about the bulk of time and accomplishment he has spent accidental to his sports. Has he spent his summers in advantageous agency that he can altercate as well? The awful aggressive schools are awful competitive, and may absolutely be reaches, but not arena piano at Carnegie Hall won’t acceptable be the acumen he won’t be admitted. Do antithesis that account in any case, but go for it aloof the same!

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Harrisburg, Pa.: What is your consequence of online degrees offered by such colleges as the University of Phoneix and Walden University? Are these admired degrees, or do administration accessory bottomward aloft online degrees?

Howard and Matthew Greene: This is a newer agent for accepting a academy degree, but one which is rapidly emerging, and which added bodies are demography advantage of. On-line degrees are acceptable added common, and administration are alone now accepting to accede this added in their hiring decisions. Best acceptance at the programs you acknowledgment are adults (i.e. over 25, alleged “non-traditional” learners) and this is the best agency for them to continue, or begin, a academy degree. In some cases, these are career-changers gluttonous to advance new skills. We are of the assessment that administration will account these efforts. It is a acceptable abstraction to actualize a portfolio to appearance employers, which shows some of the accomplishments of an on-line program, to appearance affection and agreeable of what one has done. What is absent in these programs for “traditional” (i.e. aerial academy graduating) collegebound acceptance is the residential academy acquaintance and acquirements environment.


Potomac, Md.: Acknowledgment for your admonition in advance! Our son is applying to baby accessible and clandestine colleges as able-bodied as ample accompaniment universities. While we accept he would adore the assortment and dispatch of a ample university (ie-Penn State), we are abashed that he will not accept abundant admonition and that he would be too absent to focus on his schoolwork ( he has a history of ADD). On the added hand, a baby academy like St. Mary’s Academy of Maryland or Mary Washington in Virginia ability be too baby afterwards the aboriginal two years. What admonition can you accommodate on this front? Thanks!

Howard and Matthew Greene: In our book “The Accessible Ivies” we awning abounding of these concerns. Apprentice action and assertiveness is key at the big schools like Penn State. Some of the beyond accessible (and private) colleges and universities accept all-encompassing acquirements abutment and bookish ability programs that acceptance may booty advantage of (emphasis on MAY, which agency it is up to the student). On a appointment to these campuses, you can affix with these casework to ask how they assignment with students, and apartment that may be made. If your son would acceptable account from a abate academy experience, abnormally to activate with, afresh two years at a St. Mary’s affectionate of ambiance could assignment actual well. By then, he will acceptable be added independent, and accept stronger abilities to booty with him as he applies to alteration to some of the larger, and conceivably added aggressive universities.


Wheaton, Md.: I went to a baby academy and admitting accepting what I anticipate is a acceptable education, I consistently attempt to acquisition assignment or new opportunities because I’ve begin that aback I didn’t go to a acclaimed “big school” with an all-encompassing alumni network, it’s harder to get contacts for jobs, opportunities, etc.

I’ve additionally begin aback it’s time to account people, there’s an automated bent to aces out the resume’s of those who abounding acclaimed schools aback better-looking candidates’ resumes are buried out because they abridgement that cast name.

Finally, accepting been in the workforce for some time, I’ve formed with ablaze bodies who went to baby schools and absolute nitwits who went to acclaimed universities, and carnality versa.

My wife and I were debating this and the assessment I’ll advance to my kids is to go to the academy with the best name aback it’s all about the alumni network, article big schools accept and baby schools don’t. Obviously I’ll let them chase their own dreams but if one of them decides to go to “Podunk U.” I’ll apparently admonish adjoin it, but let them accomplish the final decision.

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Your thoughts?

Howard and Matthew Greene: a) the after-effects of the admissions decisions will admonition actuate what choices your accouchement will have. b) there is some accuracy to the “name” theory, but action to the best celebrated academy accessible does not agreement success. c) today, a alum amount is acceptable anytime added important for continued appellation career development and success, and access to a acceptable alum academy agency action to a adapted college, not necessarily “the best” or what bodies anticipate is the best, and accomplishing able-bodied (meaning a 3.5 GPA or so). d)so, award the adapted academy bout breadth a apprentice will be acknowledged and absolutely alum is the best important concern.


Denver, Colo.: Can you accord abeyant alteration acceptance any hints? How is the alteration admissions action altered from the freshmen admissions process?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Cogent numbers of acceptance are auspiciously appointment these days. This is a absolute befalling for acceptance who accept excelled in their aboriginal one or two years of college. Grades in an adapted chic are essential, so acceptance should be abiding to be in a broader advanced arts curriculum, absorption on courses that will acceptable be accustomed to abounding colleges and accustomed for alteration appliance and credit. Also, if you accept accurate universities in apperception as targets, alpha contacting them aboriginal to apperceive their time agenda and accurate requirements in the aboriginal two years of their affairs so that you can try to bout up your curriculum. Be assertive of specific requirements for any adapted academy programs (business, communications, accomplished arts, engineering, etc.). The alteration action is about added complete and directed, and acceptance should accept a bigger faculty of their interests, majors, and what they’re attractive for. colleges apprehend absolute contacts from acceptance as complete learners. Best universities accept an admissions administrator decidedly amenable for alteration admissions.


Detroit, Mich.: How important is the account in the admissions process?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Unfortunately, it’s not actual important these days. A majority of colleges do not action evaluative on-campus interviews. Some action advisory interviews. Others alumni or bounded interviews, but actual few crave them. Be abiding to acquisition out about interviewing opportunities (alumni, on-campus, or otherwise) at schools you’re austere about, and use them as a adventitious to apprentice added about the colleges and accurate some interest. These canicule the accounting appliance has replaced claimed interviews as actuality of primary accent in the presentation process, appropriately giving candidates a absolute befalling to anxiously advertise their talents and interests and accomplishments added extensively. We anticipate this is a fairer process, aback it is added objective, aback an admissions committee, or at atomic two readers usually, can appraise your accreditation rather than your actuality advised by one abrupt meeting.


Washington, D.C.: Mr and Mr Greene:

With the tuitions beyond the country soaring…how does this affect the poor?

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Or alike the boilerplate assets parents that appetite to accelerate their kids to college?

Will this actualize a added Haves and Haves Not society?


Howard and Matthew Greene: There’s no catechism that tuitions are ascent disproportionately, and that accessible university costs are ascent alike faster than those at clandestine institutions. This is a actuality of life, and advantageous for academy will acceptable crave a academy allotment of ancestors assets than in the past. At the aforementioned time, we appetite to accent that there is over 100 billion of banking aid avialable to families today, best of it from the federal government. Universities are actual acute to the abeyant for appraisement out beggared students, and abounding are alive to do article about this. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for archetype afresh absitively to accompany a baddest few clandestine colleges (Harvard, Princeton…) in accomplishing abroad with loans for beggared students. There is abundant aid accessible for beggared students, and for those in the middle, abounding merit-based awards for accomplished acceptance (academically or otherwise). Therefore, you should not let costs absolute your options, and the bigger a student’s grades, the bigger his or her opportunities. Best (some three quarters) acceptance do not pay abounding amount for college. Alpha extenuative aboriginal if you can, and the added you save, the added admonition you’ll acceptable get.


Laurel, Md.: Hi. My son is a aerial academy green who is demography ceremoniousness chemistry, ceremoniousness algebra II and A.P. Mod. European History and carries a “B” average. He loves these classes and intends to abide demography several A.P. classes. He is additionally in assorted bands in academy and is breadth baton for low brass. Admitting sports is not his forte, he is absolutely a acceptable bowler! I’ve heard that bowling is an NCAA action in some colleges. Can he authorize for assorted scholarships?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Able-bodied you apprehend article new every day. Your son sounds like he has a able almanac and assorted interests, which should authorize him for abounding colleges. Check with the web armpit for advice on recruiting, and accessory to the adapted bowling affiliation to see about academy programs. There ability absolutely be scholarships accessible from them, as able-bodied as colleges. We would animate you not to let this decidedly attenuated area, however, absolute breadth your son applies to college. See our antecedent agenda about banking opportunities. The abbreviate acknowledgment to your catechism is that he can authorize for assorted awards.


Chevy Chase, Md.: Aback a academy drillmaster (Div. III) says to a aerial academy senior, “You accept my abounding abutment with the admissions committee,” and uses absolutely that aforementioned byword over and over again, what does that mean? Is it cipher for “you’re in,” or does it beggarly “I can’t affiance anything, but I’ll let the admissions appointment apperceive that I appetite you?”

Howard and Matthew Greene: Bravo for you. Be alert through this process. Coaches, decidedly at Div. III colleges, do not accomplish admissions decisions. They can alone advocate. They may accept a faculty of accomplished admissions decisions and abilities of recruited athletes (and it sounds like this chief is actuality “recruited”), but you can ask about antecedent admissions decisions for athletes in that sport, as able-bodied as accurately how the acceptance action works at the coach’s college. Unless a drillmaster is alms a appointed able-bodied scholarship (Div. I schools) which he or she can ascendancy for accurate recruits, he or she is absurd to accept as abundant appulse on the acceptance decision. We apperceive that able applicants to Div. III schools who are actuality recruited do angle the adventitious of convalescent their acceptance allowance signficantly. Be alert about coaches who aggressively advance an Aboriginal Accommodation (binding) acceptance affairs as the alone way they will endorse or recruit your child. It charge be a academy all-embracing that he or she wants to attend.


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Arlington, Va.: What is your appearance of “gap year” breadth a apprentice takes a year off amid aerial academy and college? Does it depend on whether the apprentice engages in account vs. “goof-off” activities for that year?

Howard and Matthew Greene: A gap or acting year amid aerial academy and academy can be a abundant befalling for abounding students, whether they are already accustomed to a academy and afresh ask to adjourn access for a year, or adjudge to administer afterwards accepting completed aerial school. It’s actual important to accept a d plan for the year. It should not be a “year off”, but rather a year of accessory and development. Because of the ability and broader acknowledgment that a advantageous year can bring, colleges tend to accessory agreeably on a apprentice demography the acting year to accompany interests.


Washington, D.C.: I can’t get over the burden bodies in this breadth put on kids aback it comes to colleges! So abounding apprehend their accouchement to alike accede alone a scattering of the Ivies, alike admitting every added kid in their massive aerial academy chic is applying to the aforementioned college. It’s gotten to the point that, aback my brother and his ancestors were bottomward me off to appointment a acquaintance in Princeton, they started pumping my just-turned-nine-year-old niece, aggravating to get her absorbed in attending. To actuality credit, she alleged out from the aback seat, “Mom! I’m alone nine! I appetite to comedy with my Barbie!” It wasn’t like this aback I went to a good, well-known, but baby advanced arts academy twenty years ago. What’s changed?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Your acumen is correct. We anguish about the aforementioned thing. Unfortunately, the beyond accessible has appear to accept that the alone acceptable educational opportunities are at aristocratic schools. We apperceive that’s not the case. In today’s world, there are cogent numbers of outstanding educational institutions. what has afflicted in the ambience actuality is that 1.4 actor acceptance booty the SAT I, and about the aforementioned cardinal the ACT. 3 actor aerial academy acceptance will alum academy this year (the bigger cardinal anytime in America), and two-thirds will go anon to academy (also the accomplished allotment ever). Added acceptance are bigger able from added schools demography harder courses, and are fabricated added acquainted at an beforehand age of the amount of education. A academy amount is acceptable a accepted calling agenda in our advice technology-based society, and, because of this in part, families focus on which academy a apprentice attends as a key adapted agency (rightly or wrongly). How can you admonition accumulate the burden off your children? Admonition them to set adapted expectations as you beam their acquirements through the years, and animate them to acquisition their areas of aptitude and passions. Acquaint them that your adulation for them is not codicillary on breadth they go to college, and accord them a hug every day!! Academy planning should alpha beforehand than it did in the accomplished (not at age nine!), but burden and bigoted demands should not be the active force.


Washington, D.C.: What should be one of your aboriginal accomplishments into aggravating to fit in with your academy community?

Howard and Matthew Greene: It is important for every apprentice to acquisition his or her niche, to get to apperceive an advisor, and to allocution with advisers and dormmates. Sometimes continuing a aerial academy activity, at the club or civil akin even, is an important aboriginal step. Acquisition adapted casework and affection clubs (international students, multicultural students, religious associations, etc.). Connecting to adapted ability bodies (from Deans of Residential Life, to abode citizen advisors, is an important allotment of the action as well. We additionally like pre-college acclimatization programs as a way to accommodated some acceptance adapted away. Don’t be abashed to ability out and agreement with new interests and activities either!


Chicago, Ill.: While it is abundant that there is a acceptable abutment arrangement for those who would like to go to college, there seems to be a antipathy for those who accept not to accompany a degree. Aback I was in aerial school, all of 3 years ago, it was affected that anyone with casual grades planned on action to college. No one alike discussed abstruse schools, the aggressive or aloof accepting a job as accurate options. I did go to one year of school, and I hated it. I admired I had accepted afresh that there were added options for me. I wouldn’t accept concluded spending $8,000 of my accumulation advancing article I had no absorption in.

Howard and Matthew Greene: We apprehend your frustration. Academy is not for everyone, and acceptance should abode a lot of options on the table in cerebration about post-high academy plans. However, as we said previously, a post-high academy apprenticeship (college degree) has become added important for this generation. Abstruse education, certificates, apprenticeships, and so on, are added agency to body bankable abilities to admonition with a defended career as well. Sometimes a affiliation or inferior academy affairs (at far beneath cost) is a way to analyze “college” with beneath amount or commitment? Sometimes a gap year to accompany an internship or job is accession way to see if an another to academy makes sense. We accept encountered abundant individuals for whom the aggressive or a account program, was a admirable befalling to advance specific abilities that accept led to acknowledged absolute careers in the assignment world. It’s all about researching, afore you accomplish a charge to any of these options to acquisition what’s best for you.

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Reading, Pa.: Aback a university claims that their engineering affairs is “more selective” for acceptance than the blow of the university what does that beggarly in agreement of point amount of GPA & SAT scores. We’ve heard this account at Penn State, Virginia Tech, Delaware & Pittsburgh, but none of them appetite to accredit a abundance to that statement. Is it 100 algebraic SAT points? Do you accept any idea? It makes it difficult to accept reach, ballpark & assurance schools afterwards this information.

Howard and Matthew Greene: Important question. We accept consistently told acceptance if they are applying to specific colleges with a beyond university, the academy will accessory at accurate courses of abstraction (in the case of engineering, algebraic and sciences) and accurate testing, that advertise abilities and alertness for the affairs in question. for example: calculus, physics, chemistry, SAT IIs (Math IIC) and in at atomic one of the sciences, for engineering. Because engineering programs are actual structured curricularly, and the cardinal of places is added bound than in the blow of the university programs, they do tend to be added selective, so they will accessory anxiously at these criteria. You may be able to acquisition chic profiles at a university’s web site, or on a visit, or you could ask the catechism in an advice affair or by e-mail. Check with your academy admonition appointment to see if added acceptance activated to the accurate programs to see how they fared. In general, yes, accessory for academy algebraic and science grades and analysis array in every case (100 points? perhaps!).


Syracuse, N.Y.: How can a strong, but not top student, at a aggressive aerial academy angle out in the admissions process. What is the best way to highlight aberrant affiliation account (1,500 hours), a ambitious afterwards academy job (lifeguarding) and able administration roles aback colleges aloof assume to accessory at the numbers?

Howard and Matthew Greene: They don’t aloof accessory at the numbers. This is breadth acceptance accept the befalling through essays, activities lists, recommendations and alike “testimonies” from those they accept served or formed with, to highlight their cogent claimed strengths and interests. An added resume apparently makes sense, address some of the accurate account activities, and the demands of alive so abundant afterwards school. All the careful schools we allocution with accent the accent of leadership, service, initiative, and appearance in because candidates. This is decidedly accurate of the baby and middle-sized clandestine colleges and universities. Best of the flagship accompaniment universities ceremoniousness and adapted programs that accent the same.


Alexandria, Va.: My son is a chief this year. His SATs are acceptable (1340) but his GPA is not (2.7), due to abasement and ancestors changes (father absent job, ancestors started own business) the accomplished brace years. He has formed adamantine to affected his problems, and aboriginal division grades are on clue for As & Bs. In addition, we will be attractive for banking aid, although I don’t anticipate he’ll authorize for arete based aid. We’ve been planning to administer to VA accompaniment schools on the approach that we can’t allow annihilation else. However, I apprehend that accompaniment schools rarely armamentarium 100% of need. My question: is it advantageous to accessory at any clandestine schools, accustomed his grades and our needs, or would we be bigger off attractive at accompaniment schools only?

Howard and Matthew Greene: The acknowledgment is absolutely YES. Abounding of the private, mid-competitive colleges will armamentarium acceptance like your son. And, it will be important for him to acquaint “his story” so they can bigger accept ups and downs in his record. He doesn’t charge to overshare, and doesn’t accept to allotment anything, but it ability admonition to explain his record, changes in his ancestors life, and his goals and aplomb for college.


Howard and Matthew Greene: Thanks, anybody for writing. We adulation your questions, and are apologetic we can’t get to them all! We achievement to be aback afresh to abide our conversation! Howard and Matthew

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