Class of 2019 results

I am so excited to share the list of college acceptances for my long-term students in the class of 2019! In red are colleges where at least one student will be enrolling in the fall.


Pomona College Swarthmore College Colorado College
California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) Bowdoin College University of Colorado – Boulder
University of Southern California Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Colorado School of Mines
Seattle University (+Honors) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Purdue University
Gonzaga University Skidmore College University of Notre Dame
University of Washington (+Honors, +Comp Sci direct) St. Lawrence University Macalester College
Whitman College University of Rochester University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Occidental College Goucher College Trinity University (Texas)
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Ithaca College Denison University
Santa Clara University Juniata College Kenyon College
University of Redlands Eckerd College Butler University
University of California – Davis Trinity College University of Cincinnati
University of California – Berkeley Syracuse University University of Denver
University of California – Los Angeles Lafayette College Texas A & M University
University of California – San Diego Northeastern University University of Minnesota
University of California – Santa Barbara Penn State University Arizona State University
University of California – Santa Cruz McDaniel College Indiana University
University of Puget Sound Sarah Lawrence University Montana State University
Reed College Wheaton College – MA Boise State University
Whitworth University Fordham University University of Arizona
Washington State University Connecticut College University of Idaho
Western Washington University Union College University of Montana
Oregon State University Tulane University (+Honors)
Lewis and Clark College DePaul University
University of San Francisco University of Dayton
Loyola Marymount University Rhodes College
Chapman University
University of San Diego
University of Oregon
University of Portland
Central Washington University
Willamette University
University of the Pacific
Whittier College

Thoughts on the admissions scandal

It has been an interesting couple of weeks to be an independent college counselor. And, unfortunately, I can’t say that I am particularly surprised to learn exactly what lengths parents and unethical consultants will go to in order to get kids into “brand-name” schools. The obsession with rankings is absurd and continues to cause so much unnecessary anxiety for parents and students in this process. The notion that one has to get into a certain tier of college in order to have a great experience and have prospects after graduation is just plain false.

As I always tell the families I work with, your college and career outcomes are determined by how you engage with the experience. Do you take advantage of the opportunities presented to you? Are you in a place where you feel supported and mentored? Are you able to connect with professors who care? Can you find your “people”, a friend group that shares your values? Are there opportunities to learn in a way that works for you? This is why “fit” is crucial and why I strongly encourage my students to take ownership of the process by completing surveys and activities, researching my college recommendations, engaging with colleges in the application process, and reflecting on their goals and dreams. It isn’t necessarily a perfect system, but it is a heckuva lot better than just focusing on the rankings or perceived prestige. And it doesn’t involve cheating or bribery.

In light of the recent scandal and negative press surrounding the independent college counseling business, I’d love to pass along my recommendations as you or others in your community consider hiring a college consultant.  As you are interviewing potential counselors, I would strongly recommend asking about the following:

  • Professional association memberships – There are two main organizations focused on independent college counselors: HECA or IECA. Counselors should also be a member of a more general college admissions or higher education association, such as NACAC or its regional affiliates. As you might suspect, Mr. Singer did not belong to these groups or any other professional association.
  • Regular college visits – Membership in most of the professional organizations above requires a certain number of evaluative college visits per year.
  • Conference attendance – There are numerous opportunities for professional development through conferences and events. This is the best way to stay up-to-date on college admissions trends and network with college representatives.

Though I am pessimistic that this admission scandal will lead to any real change in the admissions process or the role of rankings, I am hopeful that it will lead to increased awareness about the importance of ethics and standards when hiring outside help.

Campus Visit Notes: University of the Pacific


College: University of the Pacific

Location: Stockton, CA

Type of Institution: Private university

Size: 3,600 undergraduates

Admissions Advice: University of the Pacific uses a holistic admission process. They will recalculate GPAs to a weighted GPA (great news for my Washington state HS students) and will look at a range of other factors in the review process as well. Admission can vary by major, and many of the accelerated programs are incredibly competitive, such as Dental and Pharmacy.

Most popular majors: music, engineering, business, accelerated health professions (Dental, Pharmacy)

Words to describe students I met: diverse, social, goal-oriented, engaged, friendly

Unique academic aspects:  I was blown away by one of UoP’s newest majors, MediaX. This major is a great match for students interested in “the future of storytelling”, blending coursework in gaming and animation, writing, performance, technology, engineering, business, and more. The program aims to help students create content for multiple platforms and is doing a lot of cool stuff with virtual reality. I particularly loved seeing their motion capture equipment in action in their black box theater.

This university also has several smaller academic communities for highly motivated students, including: accelerated tracks into their own Dental and Pharmacy professional programs, a Legal Scholars program (with accelerated law school option), Humanities Scholars, and finally the Powell Scholars. This last program provides a big time merit scholarship of 40K+ per year for all four years and is given to the very top applicants to the university. I met a few Powell Scholars during my visit and was impressed with their backgrounds but also the ways in which they are engaging more deeply with their fellow scholars, faculty, and other UoP resources.

Unique social/cultural aspects: University of the Pacific is one of the smallest colleges to field Division I sports teams. Though they don’t have football, many other teams are well-supported and the campus was full of students in their Pacific gear. I also cannot believe how many major and pre-professional tracks this small university is able to support. Because of these factors as well as the active Greek system, you’d never guess UoP was under 4,000 undergraduates in total.

Colleges that seem similar: Honestly, UoP is a pretty unique place! But a few that have some social and academic similarities include: University of San Francisco, Gonzaga University, University of Portland, Chapman University.

Concerns about this college: My biggest concern continues to be the fact that over 80% of students attending UoP are native Californians, so it isn’t particularly geographically diverse (though it has incredible ethnic diversity). Though many students are coming from southern California, there is still a fairly large percentage from northern California meaning students do go home on the weekends. Greek life and a robust dorm system provide social opportunities on the weekends, but not as much as at a larger university or a college where a high percentage of students are coming from other states.

Overall impressions: I had the amazing opportunity to experience UoP for two full days by participating in a special event for counselors, so I leave the campus with a much more comprehensive set of impressions compared to my normal visits. This place really felt like a family and I know that students would have amazing support from faculty, staff, administration, and even their fellow students. It is also a beautiful campus, full of a brick buildings, a lovely chapel, and even a few palm trees. This university is a gem, particularly for students who are able to participate in their accelerated programs or special merit scholarship programs.

Class of 2019 acceptances (so far)

I am excited to share the list of colleges where my amazing students have been admitted so far! Many more opted for Early Decision and Early Action this year, so a good number of my students already know where they are headed in the fall. It italics are colleges where at least one student will enroll in the fall.

  • Pomona College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Swarthmore College
  • California Institute of Technology – Caltech
  • Whitman College
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • University of Southern California
  • Colorado College
  • University of California – Davis
  • Northeastern University
  • University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Santa Clara University
  • University of Denver
  • University of Portland
  • Denison University
  • St. Lawrence University
  • Eckerd College
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of San Francisco
  • Central Washington University
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • University of the Pacific
  • Arizona State University
  • Penn State University
  • Texas A & M University
  • Montana State University
  • Colorado State University
  • Oregon State University
  • University of Minnesota
  • Butler University
  • Boise State University
  • Washington State University
  • Western Washington University
  • University of Puget Sound
  • Juniata College
  • University of Idaho
  • McDaniel College
  • Seattle University
  • University of Puget Sound
  • Chapman University
  • Whittier College
  • University of Colorado – Boulder
  • Trinity University
  • Tulane University

Huge congratulations to these students who have worked so hard over the past few months. More good news to come in the spring…

Happy holidays to you and your families!

Tips for attending college presentations at your high school

auditorium benches chairs class

‘Tis the season for college presentations at high schools throughout the country. College admission representatives pack their bags and travel around for weeks on end visiting high schools, attending college fairs, interviewing prospective students, and connecting with high school counselors. In my time as an admissions counselor, I would routinely visit 4-5 high schools per day and attend a college fair each night. That meant I was often meeting hundreds of students daily and thousands over the course of my travel season. Needless to say, the representatives you’ll meet at events will be tired, so here are some tips to help you stand out while also making their jobs easier.

Learning about the visits:

  • Be sure you are on the mailing list for every college you plan to apply to this fall.
  • Check your emails regularly and watch out for messages from your colleges. Pay special attention to event invitations or notifications of visits to your high school.
  • Stop by your school’s counseling office regularly and pay attention to morning announcements to make sure you don’t miss any opportunities.

Signing up:

  • Register for events in advance, if possible. Sometimes you can do this through the college, Naviance, and/or you can do this in your high school’s counseling office.
  • Be sure you’ve gotten the okay from your teachers if you need to miss class. Note: I wouldn’t suggest skipping a test or important presentation.

On the night before the visit:

  • Brush up on the college! Review any notes you’ve taken as you’ve researched the college. The representative will cover the basics but it is good to have some information before the meeting.
  • Jot down 2-3 questions you have about the college and be ready to ask them at the end of the presentation (if the representative doesn’t already cover that information).
  • Print your resume, if you have one.

On the day of the visit: 

  • Be mindful of your clothing. No, you don’t need to dress up, but today isn’t the day to wear that scandalous shirt or a college sweatshirt from another school.
  • Show up on time (or early if possible). The best opportunity for one-on-one time with the admission representative will be before the presentation even begins. This is a great time to hand over your resume, if you have one.
  • Sign in. Be sure the representative knows you attended the presentation. This is especially important as many colleges track “demonstrated interest” in their admissions process.
  • Pay attention. Nothing annoys a representative more than students talking during the whole presentation or, even worse, students taking a nap. I’ve seen it all.
  • Ask your questions during one-on-one time or at the end of the presentation.
  • Take a business card from the representative and follow-up with a short “thank you” email within a week of the visit. If you were able to chat with the representative one-on-one or ask questions during the presentation, reference those interactions to help jog their memory.

Good luck!


Campus Visit Notes: Seattle University



College: Seattle University

Location: Seattle, Washington

Type of Institution: Private Jesuit university

Size: 4,800 undergraduates and 7,200 students total (including graduate and professional programs)

Admissions Advice: Seattle U’s application process is fairly straightforward, though students applying to competitive programs with direct entry (such as Nursing) will have a little extra focus on test scores in the review. This university awards merit scholarships in the $16,000 – 22,000 per year range, making SU a good financial option for families who won’t qualify for need-based aid.

Most popular majors: Nursing, Business, Engineering, Psychology

Words to describe students I met: Open-minded, friendly, progressive, savvy

Unique academic aspects: I got to learn a lot about the Honors program from my excellent tour guide.  SU’s Honors program satisfies the core curriculum requirements and is broken out into three different tracks: intellectual traditions; society, policy, & citizenship; and innovations. All of the tracks start with ancient civilizations and work their way forward to modern society. They emphasize interdisciplinary learning and writing and are a great option for students interested in a rich liberal arts education. Note: Engineering students cannot complete Honors at SU, but all other majors are eligible.

Like many of the other west coast Jesuit colleges, the percentage of students who identify as Catholic is actually fairly low with only 25% reporting a church affiliation. The school does still require students to take two religion courses to graduate. One of them is a bit more centered around Catholicism, and the other focuses on world religions.

Unique social/cultural aspects: Seattle U’s location is pretty incredible. It is right in the heart of the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, a short walk from downtown, and is surrounded by amazing food and nightlife. For students looking to attend college in a vibrant urban area with some traditional campus spaces as well, SU is hard to top.

SU also takes its Jesuit mission seriously. Social justice, activism, and community service are huge on this campus. For example, their annual dance marathon raises $100,000+ for Seattle Children’s hospital!

Colleges that seem similar: University of San Francisco, Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University, Pacific Lutheran University

Concerns about this college: Though the student body is fairly ethnically diverse, the socioeconomic diversity is somewhat lacking. SU is launching a new program called SU Bound with the hopes of attracting and supporting more students from lower-income backgrounds. 

Overall impressions: I thoroughly enjoyed my formal tour of Seattle U and had a really positive experience interacting with students on the campus. The admissions staff is great and really goes out of their way to make sure families have a wonderful visit. For students looking for an urban college environment with strong pre-professional programs, SU is a great option, a gem in the middle of my beautiful city!

College Application Boot Camp

I am pleased to offer a College Application Boot Camp for rising seniors!

When: Wednesday, August 8th – Friday, August 10th from 12 noon – 3 PM daily

Where: 2910 E Madison St. Suite 109 Seattle, WA 98112

This intensive 3-day course will provide comprehensive college application support for a small group of rising seniors. Students will complete the following tasks between in-person class time and evening homework:

  • polished personal statement
  • college ready resume
  • target college list
  • completed Common Application
  • brainstorming/outline for one supplemental essay

This course is intended for rising seniors seeking to jump-start their college application process in a highly-structured, fast-paced environment. Please contact me for more information or to register: