New SAT Focuses on Vocabulary Change

Posted by: Editor EduPlan on Oct 30 2014 / Comments (0)


According to a new article in TIME magazine, a redesigned SAT due out in the spring of 2016 will no longer reward students for the rote memorization of semi-obscure word definitions, but instead emphasize “high utility” words they’re more likely to encounter in life

“Graduating seniors can throw their flash cards on the celebratory bonfire next year. When students sit down to try their pencils at the redesigned SAT in spring 2016, the questions about vocabulary are going to be different — remodeled and revised, and for champions of obscure words, perhaps transmogrified.

Students will no longer be rewarded for the rote memorization of semi-obscure definitions. Instead, the words that the SAT will highlight in vocabulary questions will be “high utility” words that students are likely to encounter in life and reading beyond those four hours in the testing location. Even the most studied students won’t be able to breeze through vocab sections, matching a word with definition B by reflex; they’ll have to read and gather from the passage exactly what a word means.

Here is an example of a old-style SAT question that students will not be seeing on the new exam:

There is no doubt that Larry is a genuine ——- : he excels at telling stories that fascinate his listeners.

(A) braggart

(B) dilettante

(C) pilferer

(D) prevaricator

(E) raconteur

You may have identified that (E) would be the right answer,raconteur coming from the old French word for relate. But answering such a question won’t be expected of aspirational high school students in the future.

One reason is that the one-sentence question provides little context, so it tests knowledge of knowing a word’s definition, not necessarily how to gather meaning from reading something. As Jim Patterson, executive director of assessment, says, “Students might well only know the word’s meaning from studying it in isolation, perhaps from an unofficial SAT preparation word list.” And memorization skills, the kind that would also put students in the position to know the definitions of the wrong answers in the above question, are not the skills the College Board wants to be testing.


In materials released today, the College Board says they’ll be concentrating on what are known as “Tier Two” words. That terminology comes from academics at the University of Pittsburgh, particularly Professor Margaret G. McKeown and Isabel Beck, who devised a system for classifying words into one of three tiers. Tier One words are those that kids will encounter naturally as they’re beginning to talk, like mother, ball, cup, food, run, walk, sit or bed. Tier Three words usually teach a new concept, are relevant only in a particular discipline and have one meaning, like isotope or asphalt or even piano. The Tier Two words go across domains and might have many meanings in different contexts. They appear more in text than in conversation, and they repackage concepts a child could understand on a basic level with more nuance.

In sample questions released today, the College Board gives this example:

[. . .] The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions. Some regions could end up bloated beyond the capacity of their infrastructure, while others struggle, their promise stymied by inadequate human or other resources.

As used in line 55, “intense” most nearly means

A) emotional.

B) concentrated.

C) brilliant.

D) determined.

The key point, as far as the College Board is concerned, is that intense is not only a word that students will regularly encounter but one that could mean A, B, C or D, depending on the context. A raconteur, by contrast, is a raconteur. The redesigned test will focus on deeply understanding more common words rather than being familiar with linguistic gems. Other Tier Two words, McKeown says, might be alleviate, consistent, coincide, congenial, indelible, discord, occur, mention, emerge, admit, perform, fortunate, require or maintain.

Though not consulted, she applauds the SAT shift. The method of teaching that she has championed for more than 30 years is that students need to go through three stages to learn a word: be taught a definition, be shown how the word is used and then use it themselves. McKeown believes Tier Two words are the ones that kids should be taught in school, given there is no “infinite time or brain space.”

“We don’t need to have a bunch of memorized definitions in our head,” McKeown says. “It’s an integration of the sentence and the word that’s going to help us. The more they have to integrate, the more that reflects what you need to do with a vocabulary as a reader.”


Ben Zimmer, executive producer of, a site with the mission of fostering and expanding vocabularies, also sees worth in the SAT changes. He is sympathetic to the College Board’s explanation that they can only test students on so many words and being able to understand the many meanings of intense is more pressing than understanding the single meaning of dilettante. “It’s necessary for them to be a little selective in what they emphasize,” he says. “You really need to appreciate the full range of meanings that a word can have.”

Zimmer, like the College Board, emphasizes that eliminating lachrymose or obsequious or punctilious from the SAT doesn’t denigrate the value of knowing such words. But it does mean that students will have to be inspired to want to know those words without necessarily getting points in return.”


Original Post:

Some Colleges Do Not Neatly Fit College Rankings

Posted by: Editor EduPlan on Oct 9 2014 / Comments (0)

MULast week I visited a school, Philadelphia University (aka “PhilaU”), which is difficult to consider within the context of college rankings. PhilaU has some very interesting programs that combine design, engineering and business education as well as a five-year Physician’s Assistant degree.

There are some traditional majors; you can earn a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Chemistry, Communications or Psychology as you would at a liberal arts college or a small or mid-sized university. But the rest of the programs are where PhilaU separates itself from other small (less than 3,000 undergraduates) schools.

The pre-professional options available  at PhilaU are incredible. You can combine, for example, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with Masters programs in Community and Trauma Counseling or Occupational Therapy. You can receive degrees in several design programs focused on the built environment (Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Historic Preservation, being only three examples), the fashion industry, textiles (inside and outside of the fashion world), Industrial Design or Graphic Communications. You can also study Construction Management, or Mechanical Engineering. Or you can earn a business-related degree in Accounting, Finance, International Business, Management or Marketing. So, PhilaU is not a liberal arts school; the majority of degrees are in the pre-professional specialties and it has relatively few (around 700) graduate students. Nor is it an art and design school; it does not offer majors in the fine arts such as ceramics, painting, jewelry making, photography or sculpture. It is not a research university; there are only two doctoral programs, a Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy and a PhD in Textile Engineering. Nor is it a business school like Babson, Bentley or Bryant.

maria-college-guides-editSince PhilaU is none of these things it is ranked in a category: Regional Universities–North, a catch-all for schools located from Maine to Washington D.C. that are neither liberal arts colleges nor research universities nor specialty schools such as colleges of art and design or business. Some of these schools have more than 10,000 undergraduates such as West Chester University (PA), Towson University (MD) and Rowan University (NJ). They offer most of the majors that you will find at much larger schools, although they will have more comprehensive teacher education programs. These schools were founded as “normal schools” aka teachers colleges. The freshmen retention and graduation rates are improving because they attract students who could not gain admission or were scared off by larger public schools. Or they could not afford the private university that they wanted to attend. Yet because these schools have attracted better students they have risen in U.S. News’ college rankings. They have also risen in the esteem of college-bound students and their parents. But other Regional Universities such as Alfred University (NY)  have fewer undergraduates than PhilaU, and they, like PhilaU, have their own specialties. For example, you can study Ceramic Engineering at Alfred. But you cannot get a degree in this subject at other small or mid-sized schools, even those that are oriented towards engineering such as Case Western (OH), Kettering (MI), Lehigh (PA) or Rose-Hulman (IN). You have to go to a much larger school such as Rutgers-New Brunswick. What happens to schools like Alfred or PhilaU in these college rankings?

rankThey get ranked down. The demanding majors that set them apart from other schools bring down the freshman retention rate as well as the graduation rate. Worse, because these are private schools, the six-year graduation rates will be low. It can too expensive to “back-track” from one major to another at one of these schools if the demanding program you started proves too difficult to finish and you don’t have a similar program to move into. Alfred University, according to the 2015 U.S. News Best Colleges Guide, ranks only 38th among Regional Universities-North. It loses just over a quarter of a freshman class. Nearly 40 percent of the freshmen who entered in 2007 had not graduated six years later. PhilaU fares poorly in these college rankings, too. It ranked 79th while having a longer list of demanding pre-professional majors than Alfred. It lost about a quarter of the freshmen who entered last year. Only 58 percent of the freshmen who entered in 2007 had a degree six years later. Does Alfred or PhilaU deserve the lower “ranking” within such a broad, catch-all group? No, and the low ranking serves as a “punishment” for standing out by trying to offer programs that fulfill a demand whether it be from students seeking an education or industry looking for future employees. A Ceramic Engineering graduate from Alfred who completes the degree with a ‘B’ average or better will have their choice of job offers. So will the graduate of the Occupational Therapy, Physicians Assistant, Textile Engineering and several other programs at PhilaU.


The shame is that schools such as PhilaU have tried to separate themselves through innovations in their academic programs, yet those initiatives are not something you will learn about in college rankings. They have often come about based on the advice of executives and professionals with the power to influence and hire new graduates. It becomes up to the school, often at great expense, to convey that message. PhilaU went in this direction in their advertising campaign, headed ‘Power to Do.’ One would hope that a college would be able to put the money it spends on advertising into academics or student-related benefits. On the other hand so many schools benefit from the “free advertising” generated from college rankings, and exploit it to the max. Given these circumstances, I cannot blame a college for adding the marketing muscle it needed to get the students it wanted. In the case of PhilaU there is a message worth learning about, and a school that deserved my time.


Original Article by Ed Quest:

PSAT – A Path to Success

Posted by: Claudine Vainrub, Principal of EduPlan on Oct 7 2014 / Comments (0)

psatThey say that practice makes perfect. It makes perfect sense, therefore, that students hoping to get a perfect score on their SAT (and who wouldn’t want a perfect score?) should take the PSAT once or twice to prepare for the real deal. Geared towards high school sophomores and juniors (though you can take it earlier than Grade 10), the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, is cosponsored by the College Board (the good people who bring you the SAT) and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Not only is it a means to allow you to prepare for the test that really matters, but it also increases your chances at winning a merit-based scholarship. This is your golden opportunity to give the SAT a try without worrying too much about what the colleges will think, and to get your name entered for potential scholarship money. This year, the PSAT/NMSQ will be offered on October 15th, so go see your school counselor ASAP to get yourself registered.


Every year, approximately 3.5 million high school students take the PSAT.  The main reason why so many students feel inclined to take this test is that it gives them the chance of a dry run through of the SAT without their scores showing up on their college application. While, accounting for the younger students, the PSAT/NMSQ is easier and shorter than the SAT, it still gives you a good idea of what kind of questions to expect and the test format.1 The PSAT/NMSQ is composed of three sections: Math, Critical Reading, and Writing Skills. Most of the questions are multiple choice, though be prepared for some open-response math questions. You can get a feel for what to expect by trying the PSAT/NMSQ practice questions on the College Board website.2


Once you receive your results, you get a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses, so you know what subjects need more work. The College Board provides in-depth, personalized feedback for each question. You can also see how your scores compare to your peers on a national level. It is only in Grade 11, however, that your PSAT/NMSQ scores will be sent to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation who will determine if you are scholarship material. If you do particularly well on your PSAT/NMSQ, the NMSC will send scholarship applications to you through your school.3 It stands to reason that taking the PSAT/NMSQ in Grade 10 can only work in your favor.  Not only does it give you a practice run for the PSAT/NMSQ in Grade 11, which flags you up for free money, but, it is also good practice for the SAT in Grade 12.

Yet another advantage of taking the PSAT is that, by ticking a box on the test sheet, your name ends up on a host of college mailing lists and you will find yourself receiving information from a vast array of universities from all over the country. This could be very useful if you have not yet decided where you want to study. Even if you think you know where you would like to apply, it is good to know your options. It never hurts to broaden your horizons and you just might discover a university or two you hadn’t previously heard of.

Of course, nobody really likes to take tests, but the advantages of taking the PSAT/NMSQ make it a thoroughly worthwhile endeavor.  You know you will need to study and prepare for the SAT anyway, and the PSAT/NMSQ is an ideal way to get a feel for the SAT.  It will help you determine which subjects require those extra hours of study, and, with enough practice and high scores, this test could even be your ticket to a handsome scholarship.  Whether you are a sophomore or a junior, let October 15th be the day you take yourself one step closer to a perfect SAT score.



1 Ivy Global SAT. Canada. (24/09/12)

2 PSAT/NMSQT. Preparing. College (24/09/12)

3 National Merit Scholarship Corporation. (24/09/12)



Online Platform “EdX” To Offer High School Level Courses

Posted by: Editor EduPlan on Oct 2 2014 / Comments (0)


EdX was created for students and institutions that seek to transform themselves through cutting-edge technologies, innovative pedagogy, and rigorous courses.

Through its institutional partners, the xConsortium, along with other leading global members, we present the best of higher education online, offering opportunity to anyone who wants to achieve, thrive, and grow.

Thousands of students around the world have already registered for the first edX courses designed specifically for high school students.

The initiative, which was launched Sept. 9, includes 27 courses that cover primarily Advanced Placement program material and are available for free to anyone who wishes to enroll. The first new course, an edX version of AP Biology, will launch on Oct. 13, while the others will launch shortly after and into 2015.

EdX CEO Anant Agarwal wrote on the platform’s blog that the high school initiative will address what he called a “crucial need”―preparing high schoolers for the coursework they will encounter in college.

“This readiness gap between college eligibility and preparedness is costly not only to students, but also to families and institutions,” he wrote. “Our new initiative will address this severe gap and help alleviate these costly disparities.”


Eleven edX member schools, including MIT and the University of California, Berkeley, now offer high school-oriented MOOCs. Additionally, two American high schools and several other institutions of higher learning will also contribute courses and instructors to the platform. Harvard has not joined the initiative.

“We are interested in high school level courses and there are some initial conversations happening about building suitable content…but nothing is imminent,” HarvardX spokesperson Michael P. Rutter wrote in an email.

According to Teppo Jouttenus, a program manager for edX who oversees the high school initiative, edX began planning the launch of the high school platform in late 2013 and officially moved forward in May 2014 by asking edX members to propose intro-level and high school online courses.

“Even though edX was launched with the focus on college education, it was clear to everyone involved that this really could have potential for all kinds of learning,” Jouttenus said.

Daniel D. Garcia, a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley who has adapted one of his college courses into an edX course designed to fulfill requirements for AP Computer Science Principles, said that although the material in his edX is similar to what he offers at Berkeley, necessary changes must be made to accommodate high school learners.

“At ten miles up, time doubles,” said Garcia, who will be taking the year off to focus on developing the course.  “We’ll take a one-semester class and when you move it to a high school space, it becomes a one-year course.”

Jouttenus said he believes the new courses will cater to a variety of audiences, including high school students whose teachers may use the edX material as a supplement to their normal class and students from schools that do not offer AP courses.

Jeneen Graham, an AP Psychology teacher from St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in California, agreed and said that students from 45 different countries have already signed up for her new edX course, “Introduction to Psychology.”

“These are often students who don’t have access to this kind of material,” Graham said. “This is the first [initiative] of its kind to be speaking to a high-school level student.”

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Meg_Bernhard.

Original Article:

College Admissions……PART 2

Posted by: Claudine Vainrub, Principal of EduPlan on Oct 1 2014 / Comments (0)

Steps in the Admissions Process you Cannot Afford to Miss!


Now that you have submitted your applications, you are in the finish line for college admissions! It is time to work hard to be able to meet all college deadlines in full. The following requirements are essential in the application process and must be addressed in order to successfully complete the admissions process:


Be aware that the first deadline to submit some applications is October 15 (Georgia Tech, FSU, Yeshiva University and UNC Chapel Hill, among others). The second deadline is November 1st (this applies to all students who are pursuing Early Decision or Early Action decision options). Make sure you submit all your materials prior to the dates indicated, to be considered for admissions in your preferred deadline.

It is best to send letters of recommendations electronically via CommonApp.  The following explains in detail the electronic submission process:

a. To send the letters online, please submit the request directly from the CommonApp.  Please enter the information about the person who will be recommending the student in the section of the CommonApp called “School Forms”. The information to be entered is: name, last name, email and subject taught (teacher or counselor). The request will arrive electronically to the teacher or counselor. The student will not be able to see what the teacher writes but only when the recommendation was sent out.

b. If for any reason the letter of recommendation is sent out via regular mail, the procedure will be as follows:
i. Ask the counselor (in some cases especially with international students, the school’s principal) and two teachers to write the letters of recommendation. First, ask for them to complete the recommendations online. If that is not possible, ask them to write one letter of recommendation and have them print out the necessary copies for each one of the colleges or universities and then have them sign each of the original copies. If the signature is not original on all of them, the letters will not be valid.

ii. Ask them to fill out the original forms without their signature. Make as many copies as you need of the unsigned forms and then ask them to sign the 15 copies of each original. If the signature is not original, the form will not be valid.

iii. After having all these letters and  forms signed by each counselor or teacher, a packet must be put together that contains: letter from each recommender (counselor letter with form SSR, on one side,  then, letter of teacher #1 with form of teacher #1, and on the other side,  letter from teacher #2 with form of teacher #2). Then place each set in a sealed envelope with the school letterhead.


It is extremely important to understand how to send school transcripts to universities in the application process. Some colleges require ORIGINAL TRANSCRIPTS in sealed envelopes sent by the school. Others (especially colleges in the CommonApp and others with their own online applications, like University of Florida and Georgia Institute of Technology) want you to fill out a self-reported transcript within their application. Make sure that your transcript has been reported as received by the university/college where you sent it. This is a CRUCIAL part of the admissions process and you MUST make sure your colleges receive your transcripts in order to have complete applications for review. If your colleges do not receive your transcripts, they will not review your application. Check with each school to make sure they do receive your transcripts as they are requesting them.

Also request in your school information on the method to make requests for college transcripts. Follow the steps indicated by the school in order to complete the process.
If the colleges you are applying to are requesting official transcripts over the mail, DO NOT send COPIES of the ORIGINAL. Universities ask for ORIGINALS in sealed and stamped envelopes.


Always ask for extra sets of transcripts for yourself from your school, in case any university or college requests them.

Please submit your CSS Profile immediately. The FAFSA application for financial aid will have to wait until January 1st, since the new year application is the one colleges require, even when applying early.  If applying early, many colleges accept the CSS Profile, and this application is available for you to send anytime, even in October.

It is IMPORTANT to fill out the FAFSA application regardless of whether the student qualifies for financial aid or not. Submitting financial aid applications may also qualify the student for other financial aid or merit based scholarships. Students submitting these applications early, may use information of the income taxes of the current year. New financial aid forms come out on January 1st.

Parents whose children are in college, should begin tax preparation as early as possible to be able to submit accurate financial information.


Send the HIGHEST test scores. In the event you have different tests scores, make sure to send out the highest one of the SAT’s and ACT’s. Send them via College Board, or ETS. The scores are not sent out automatically to the colleges and universities that the student applies to, unless it is indicated in the original test application. If a test was retaken, make sure that you send out only the highest score achieved.


To send scores, contact CollegeBoard or ETS directly by going to their websites and login to your account. The order process is electronic. You can also reach both test providers over the phone.



Please call the college to find out if they require an interview with the prospective student. If they do, schedule one as soon as possible and schedule a visit on campus. Usually, Universities have an October 15 deadline to schedule interviews with the student.



Consider attending events in your area, related to the college you are applying for. By doing so, it will let the admission staff know your genuine interest in your school of choice.

It is IMPERATIVE that you do follow up of your application process. Once you submit your electronic application, colleges will send you a website, a login and password to do follow-up of the process. In that website, they will provide information on what you are missing in order to finalize the submission of your application process. You need to login to this site EVERY WEEK AT THE VERY LEAST!!! Failure to login and follow up your admission process can cost you a denial (if all documents are not received by a certain date, they will either deny you or move you to the next admission deadline). If the college website indicates you are missing any of your application materials, IMMEDIATELY contact the school in order to send the missing requirements right away or provide information regarding the college’s request.


In order for the application process to be considered as COMPLETE, it is imperative to send the application online AND all the requirements explained herein. If colleges receive one and not the other, the application will be considered INCOMPLETE and the student will not be evaluated for admission.

Check out EduPlan’s lead counselor in this article! ‘Studying Business Abroad: The International Option’

Posted by: Editor EduPlan on Sep 22 2014 / Comments (0)

Levy Forchheimer took an unconventional route when he decided to go 5,000 miles from his home in New York to study at IDC Herzliya’s Arison School of Business in Israel. Unlike many students who go abroad, his journey wasn’t for a semester or even for a year. It was for the long haul.

He received a BA in business administration when he graduated in 2010, and decided to continue living in Israel. A business degree from an Israeli school gave him a ticket into the country’s vibrant startup community, where he took a sales job for a small website eventually bought by Groupon. He’s now working in business development for another startup in the food service industry. For Forchheimer, who now lives in Tel Aviv, the gamble has more than paid off.

“I have learned a new language, studied with people from all over the world and live in a sunny, beautiful beach city,” he said. “All in all, it has been an extremely rewarding experience for me.”


Forchheimer’s decision to get his undergraduate business degree abroad is a path that is becoming increasingly common as a growing number of students are choosing to invest in an international education, realizing the dividends it can pay off in the labor market. It is easier than ever before for students to get their degree abroad, as more and more universities are catering to English-speaking students, offering English-taught degrees in countries where English is not the primary language (Israel’s Arison School of Business being just one of many examples).

There were 46,500 American students who pursued full degrees abroad in 2011-12, up five percent from the previous year, according to “New Frontiers,” a report released in May of 2013 by the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit that collects data on international university and high school students in the U.S.

Not surprisingly, business is among the top five fields of study that U.S. students in overseas degree programs choose to pursue, the report said.


“In a global economy, professional, financial, and academic incentives continue to motivate Americans to pursue degrees abroad,” the study’s authors wrote in the report.

Getting a degree abroad, especially one in business, may sound appealing, but the application process can seem daunting. For one thing, it is not as easy a process as filling out The Common Application or applying to your local state university.  Poets&Quants’ Alison Damast spoke to three experts on international education to get their advice on how aspiring business students should approach the international college hunt and how to thrive once they start their degree program abroad. Here are a few of their tips:

Do your homework: 

There are hundreds of program abroad that offer a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree, but no obvious way to ascertain the quality or reputation of the program. Graduate business students can turn to the Financial Times’ Global MBA rankings, but no such thing exists for undergraduate business programs, said Norean Sharpe, the senior associate dean for undergraduate programs at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and an expert on undergraduate programs and global education. “Applying to BBA programs abroad is tricky,” Sharpe said. “It involves quite a bit of research on the part of students because the ranking for the MBA program does not necessarily translate to the same reputation for the BBA program.”

So where should one start? Brian Whalen, the president and CEO of the Forum on Education Abroad, a nonprofit that advises students and universities on study abroad programs, recommends that students look for schools that are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a U.S.-based accrediting agency which is seen by many in the management education world as the gold standard for B-school approval. From there, students should make every attempt to pay a visit to the campus they’re targeting, even if it means a plane ride to the U.K. or China.

“Just as students here in the U.S. visit colleges before they apply to them, I think the same basic advice would hold true for students considering colleges or universities overseas,” Whalen said. “I wouldn’t recommend that they go cold without having visited ahead of time to really make sure it is a good fit.”

Don’t Be Shy: 

U.S. schools often have admissions counselors whose sole responsibility is to recruit international students to campus. Don’t necessarily expect that to be the case when you start applying to business programs abroad, said Claudine Vainrub, a principal with EduPlan, a college and graduate admissions school consulting company. “It is important for them to be proactive in getting information and calling the school,” she said.  Students should look for programs that offer many or most of their courses in English, unless you are fluent in the language of your host country.  Among the schools that are ramping up their offerings in English for undergraduates are Spain’s ESADE, which has an international BBA program, Copenhagen Business School and Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management said McDonough’s Sharpe.

“What is happening is the European Union is simply trying to be more international and attract students outside of their own country,” she said.  “They really are competing on a global scale and that means having a more international student body and faculty.”

Carefully crunch numbers: 

On the face of it, a undergraduate business degree abroad could seem like a bargain compared to the cost of a college degree in the U.S., where the tuition at a private institution can cost $30,000 a year or upwards. Many European host countries offer generous scholarships to international students or charge only nominal fees. For example, in Germany, both tuition and all living expenses are covered for international students, according to the IIE report. Other countries, like New Zealand and France, highly subsidize their degree programs and offer low tuition fees to international students at the same rate as for domestic students. Even China now offers competitive scholarships and stipends to promising international students, the report said.

Those are the best scenarios, though. The the true cost of attaining a degree abroad can often be hidden, said the Forum On Education Abroad’s Whalen. Students need to factor in things like the exchange rate, the cost of living and travel expenses.  “It can seem like it is cheaper because U.S. higher education seems to be on the high end when compared to the cost of higher education in other countries,” Whalen said. “But it can add up to be quite significant.”

Students should think carefully about how long they’ll be living in the host country, and what that will mean for their financial picture, said EduPlan’s Vainrub. For example, in Venezuela, it takes five years to complete a business undergraduate degree, she said.  ”That is non conditional, so students need to be aware of the amount of years it takes to complete a program before they apply to make sure it is convenient,” she said.

Look Before You Jump: 

One thing that often takes students aback when they decide to do a college degree abroad is how vastly different the academic culture can be from their home country, said EduPlan’s Vainrub. Business programs abroad can be more competitive than in the U.S., she said. For example, some undergraduate business schools in Latin America will accept 1,000 students, but only 50 or 100 at the most will end up completing the degree, she said. “The filter is not going to be in the admissions process, but be within the schooling,” she said. “That can be actually shocking for U.S. students because they don’t except that. It’s very important for them to know that going in.”

Students also can expect the day-to-day classroom experience to be quite different from U.S. classrooms, said Whalen. For example, the material may be taught differently and the student-professor relationships may be more formal. Class participation more often than not will not play a role in a student’s final grade, and there are not the regular, frequent kind of assessments that take place here in the U.S,” he said. “That can come as a surprise to students,” he said. “Their entire grade might hinge on one final exam, which is more the norm in other parts of the world than the U.S.

Think Long-Term: 

Students applying to degree programs abroad are more likely spending most of their time daydreaming about the glamour of living in a new country on their own, rather than where they’ll get their internship or first job after college. That can be a mistake because where a student goes to school has a direct impact on their career prospects, said McDonough’s Sharpe.  “I’d encourage students going abroad to look at the strength of career counseling and job placement,” Sharpe said. “For example if you want to attend a school in the European Union, the job placement will be stronger there because that is the pipeline.”

However, if you envision yourself working in the U.S. after college, you might want to reconsider your plans, recommends Whalen. U.S. students who take their degree abroad could find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes time to apply for entry-level positions in the U.S. merely because they are so many thousands of miles away, he said. “It can sometimes take students away from the networking opportunities that might be available to them in the U.S., such as internships and other experiences that might be built into colleges and universities here in the U.S., he said.

On the flip side, that time away may give them a valuable opportunity to get a job in their host country or another part of the world from the U.S. for several years. Said Whalen: “It’s a tradeoff.  I think students need to think carefully about their future career goals and plans.”


Top Ten Destinations of U.S. Study Abroad Students

Country % of Total 2012-2011 2011-2010
  1. United Kingdom 12.2% 34,660 33,182
  2. Italy 10.5% 29,645 30,361
  3. Spain 9.3% 26,480 25,965
  4. France 6.1% 17,168 17,019
  5. China 5.3% 14,887 14,596
  6. Germany 3.3% 9,370 9,018
  7. Austria 3.3% 9,324 9,736
  8. Costa Rica 2.8% 7,900 7,230
  9. Ireland 2.7% 7,640 7,007
10. Japan 1.9% 5,283 4,134


Original Article by Alison Damast on

Foreign Students and the U.S. Higher Education Admissions Market

Posted by: Editor EduPlan on Sep 19 2014 / Comments (0)


Let’s assume that a Chinese family, anxious to provide their child with a world-class education, searches the web to determine where to start. They also base their search on anecdotal reports of friends, among numerous other factors. But the Chinese family is unlikely to visit the United States to participate in an extended college tour to allow the child to “know it when you see and feel it” before making a choice of where to attend college in America.

Students across the globe repeat this experience each day.

How then do American colleges and universities compete for growing foreign student markets as a way to infuse talent, diversity, and often cash to meet the college’s strategic goals and add revenue to their bottom line?

The fact is that American colleges and universities, especially smaller ones known for personalized attention, good counseling, and strong alumni networks, are doing a miserable job at recruiting students that they would welcome and who would add tremendous value to the campus community.

There are four problems.

First, American college and university enrollment officers note that foreign recruitment is expensive and the rate of return may take a number of years to play out. As they ration enrollment resources, the support necessary to build out a foreign profile is difficult to find, sustain and administer.

Second, many choose an incremental step by hiring a single foreign student admission officer, narrowing their search to familiar patterns like visiting prospective applicants at “Americans Schools” abroad often disproportionately geared to American expatriate families, or participating in a consortium of schools on annual jaunts to targeted areas that respect American higher education with students whose families have the discretionary income to support full-pay tuitions in America.

The third approach is to use any number of for-profit ventures to assist in foreign student recruitment. This approach is controversial, of course, because most enrollment experts present the approach that typically includes a sizeable cash payment to the for-profit per capita, as a “bounty hunter” arrangement. Until the for-profit sector modifies its business plan, payment schedule, pattern of service delivery, and marketing and communications strategy, these criticisms are likely to continue.

And finally, there is an understandable preference for “brand” name colleges and universities among foreign students, especially in the sciences, business and engineering. A recent Academic Ranking of World Universities illustrates this point.

In this academic ranking, American universities accounted for eighteen of the top twenty-five institutions listed. Harvard University topped the list and continues as the gold standard in the survey results. Two British universities Cambridge (5) and Oxford (9) secured top ten spots but the German universities barely made it into the top fifty among those listed. Interestingly, there is no differentiation between public and private among American universities. Further, while a few small research universities made the cut like Rice and Johns Hopkins, the list contains no American liberal arts colleges.

In fairness to those not listed, the ratings methodology focuses on the sciences and engineering, including measurement categories like the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel laureates and Fields Medals at each institution and their papers cited in Nature and Science. These measurement categories do not likely affect the quality of undergraduate education. The problem is, of course, that families and prospective applicants may not discriminate by measurement standards that effectively confuse the undergraduate and graduate experiences when terms have very different meanings to prospective applicants in different countries.

Lists like the Academic Ranking raise a larger question about how best to communicate quality by developing a global brand. As Dr. Joey King, a Distinguished Fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education suggests: “The lack of brand recognition seems to be worldwide. These markets will be tough to crack for most US institutions, especially those who turn to foreign nationals as a building block for increasing enrollment. The tragedy is that at the undergraduate level selective liberal arts colleges, particularly for those with students who speak English as a second language, are just as effective as selective research universities.”


To address the name recognition issue, American colleges and universities must adopt different strategies to reflect how families and prospective students perceive them abroad. To this end, here are six suggestions for American colleges to attract foreign students:

  • Market to what matters to them on terms that they accept and understand when it is consistent with your mission and approach;
  • Focus on outcomes, including graduate, alumni networks, internships and externships, and job placement after graduation;
  • Think how consortial approaches – for example, excellent undergraduate engineering institutions banding together by academic program – can create efficiencies and economies of scale;
  • Stratify the foreign market since urban research universities may not appeal, for instance, to rural Chinese or South Korean families;
  • Emphasize the personal approach, especially to students who might be overwhelmed by a first educational experience in America or for whom English is a secondary language; and
  • Work with faculty to tweak the curriculum and student service experience to mimic successful diversity initiatives like Posse.

New enrollment patterns will require greater attention to how colleges find students and fill their classes. At most traditional undergraduate institutions, some combination of legacies, student athletes, transfers especially from two-year colleges, and foreign students will complete and round out the admissions profile. American higher education must become more innovative and entrepreneurial in attracting foreign students.

The brand matters, especially on a global scale.


Original Post:


Timelines for College Admissions

Posted by: Claudine Vainrub, Principal of EduPlan on Sep 17 2014 / Comments (0)

Ever heard of being in the right place at the right time? When it comes to college admissions, applying at the right time can increase your chances of getting accepted.


Early Action or Early Decision?

Both are similar names for the same thing, an accelerated college application process in which students usually complete their applications in November. In the majority of cases, students will then receive a decision from the college before the new year.

According to the admissions department at MIT, “If you feel strongly that MIT is right for you, you may want to consider applying to MIT “Early Action” in November of your senior year. If you have taken all the required standardized tests on or by the November test date and postmark all of the application materials by November 1, you may ask that we review your application and notify you of admission by mid-December. At that time we will either offer you admission, defer the decision until March, or (in rare cases) deny the application.”


MIT’s early program is non-binding; if admitted under Early Action, you may accept or decline the offer, and in either case you are not required to reply until May 3. They do not require a deposit to hold your place, and here’s the best part: “We are committed to taking no more than 30% of our total admitted freshman class under Early Action.”

Did you know? MIT’s Early Action program is available only to citizens and permanent residents of the United States.

Benefits of Early Action

  • At many colleges, the acceptance rates are higher for early action than for regular admission.
  • Students who are not accepted early are still considered for admission with the regular admission pool.
  • Early action is not binding — students are free to apply to other colleges.
  • Students can apply early to other colleges.
  • Although students receive early notification of an acceptance, they do not need to make a decision until the usual May 1 deadline. This allows time to figure out financial aid.
  • If accepted early at a college, the spring of a student’s senior year will be far less stressful.
  • Even if accepted early, a student can choose to go to a different college with no penalty.



Early Decision vs. Early Action

While the rules vary by college, it is important to be aware of the differences between early decision and early action before sending in your applications.

Early decision plans are binding. You agree to attend the college if it accepts you and offers an adequate financial aid package. Although you can apply to only one college for early decision, you may apply to other colleges through the regular admissions process. If you’re accepted by your first-choice college early, you must withdraw all other applications. Usually, colleges insist on a nonrefundable deposit well before May 1.

Early action plans are similar but are not binding, unlike early decision. If you’ve been accepted, you can choose to commit to the college immediately, or wait until the spring. Under these plans, you may also apply early action to other colleges. Usually, you have until the late spring to let the college know your decision.

Single-choice early action is a new option offered by a few colleges. This plan works the same way as other early action plans, but candidates may not apply early (either early action or early decision) to any other school. You can still apply to other schools and are not required to give your final answer of acceptance until the regular decision deadline.

Application Type Binding Can Apply Early to Other Colleges Can Apply to Other Colleges Under Regular Admissions
Early Decision Yes No Yes
Early Action No Yes Yes
Single-Choice Early Action No No Yes


“The most attractive aspect of early admissions programs is that colleges and universities tend to admit a significantly higher percentage of the early applicant pool than they do of the normal applicant pool – in other words, there is the possibility that your chances of being accepted as an early admissions candidate are better than they would be as a regular applicant. The most selective colleges currently admit 25% to 50% of their total students from the early admissions pool. In recent years, as many as 40% of freshmen at Ivy League schools have been early admissions applicants.”


Single-Choice Early Action:

Imagine that you are 100% sure you want to study at University X and nowhere else. One way to distinguish yourself in the eyes of the college is through single-choice early action which has the benefits of early decision with the caveat that you are not allowed to apply to other colleges early. Schools love it because it allows them to predict its application yield, which is the percentage of admitted students who actually enroll in college.

Why is yield so important? “The admissions office needs to estimate the yield in order to figure out how many students to accept. If they guess the yield wrong, they will end up with an incoming class that is either too big or too small. The yield varies widely from school to school. A prestigious university like Harvard may yield around 80% of the students they accept, while some of the less competitive colleges and state universities may yield closer to 25%.”


Rolling Admissions

While several institutions of higher learning use a rolling admission policy, very few of the most exclusive colleges use it. Rolling admissions gives you a large window of time during which you can apply to a university or college. The process usually opens in the fall and may continue through the summer.

However, unlike a regular admission process with a firm application deadline, “rolling admission applicants are often notified of their acceptance or rejection within a few weeks of applying. A college with rolling admission typically accepts applications for as long as spaces are available. Applicants should realize, however, that it is a mistake to view rolling admission as an excuse to put off applying to college. In many cases, applying early improves an applicant’s chance of being accepted. Also, while there may be no application deadline, there typically are deadlines for scholarships, financial aid and housing. A late application may make it impossible to get any decent financial aid.”

Benefits of Rolling Admissions:

  • Applicants may receive a decision long before the March or April notification period of regular admission colleges
  • Applying early can improve an applicant’s chance of being accepted
  • Applying early may improve an applicant’s chance of receiving a scholarship
  • Applying early may give an applicant first choice for housing
  • Some rolling admission colleges still give students until May 1 to make a decision; this allows an applicant to weigh all options
  • A student who applies early and is rejected may still have time to apply to other colleges with winter deadlines
  • Rolling admission colleges may remain an option if a student gets rejected elsewhere; some rolling admission colleges accept applications right up until classes start



Some sample rolling admission policies:

  • University of Minnesota: Application review begins September 15; priority is given to applications received by December 15; after December 15th, applications are considered on a space-available basis.
  • Rutgers University: December 1st priority deadline; February 28th notification date; May 1st decision deadline; after December 1st, applications are considered on a space-available basis.
  • Indiana University: November 1st priority date for merit-based scholarships; February 1st priority date for admission; April 1st deadline to be considered for admission.
  • Penn State: November 30 priority date for admission
  • University of Pittsburgh: Applications accepted until class is full; January 15th deadline for scholarships


Open Admissions:

In theory, an institution with a policy of open admissions should allow any student with a high school diploma or GED to attend. Thus, open admissions are supposed to give any student who has finished high school the chance to pursue a college degree.

“The reality isn’t quite so simple. At four-year colleges, students are sometimes guaranteed admission if they meet minimum test score and GPA requirements. In these situations, a four-year college often collaborates with a community college so that students who don’t meet the minimum requirements can still begin their college educations. Also, guaranteed admission to an open admission college doesn’t always mean that a student can take courses. If a college has too many applicants, students may find themselves waitlisted for some if not all courses. This scenario has proven all too common in the current economic climate.”


Did you know? The open admissions movement started in the 1950s and had ties to the civil rights movement. California and New York were pioneers in making college accessible to all high school graduates.

Examples of Open Admissions include most community colleges and a number of four-year colleges and universities. However, the policy has been criticized because graduation rates tend to be low, college standards are decreased, and more students seem to need remedial courses.

How to Choose:

“Early admissions programs can be very advantageous to college applicants, depending on their profile and situation. A high school student who is sure of what school they want to go to, and whose junior year grades, extracurricular activities, etc., are strong enough to secure admission, can benefit from early admissions. However, we do not encourage clients with any questions at all about their college preferences to seek a binding early decision from any school, regardless of how much better the statistical chances of acceptance may be under an early decision program. Keep in mind that you’re not just being asked to indicate a school preference; you’re being asked to forego all other options and to commit yourself to spending four years (and tens of thousands of dollars) at a particular institution. That’s a big decision for anyone to make. It should only be undertaken with the best possible information and advice, and without undue deadline pressure.”






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