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 incredibly 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 robust 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 Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Santa Clara University
  • University of Denver
  • University of Portland
  • 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
  • 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:

Campus Visit Notes: Dartmouth College



College: Dartmouth College

Location: Hanover, New Hampshire

Type of Institution: Private research university

Size: 4,400 undergraduates (and 2,000+ graduate students)

Admissions Advice: Like most highly selective universities, the Early Decision admission rate at Dartmouth is significantly higher than the Regular Decision rate (26% vs. 9%), so students who have fallen in love with this college should choose Early Decision. Students should also take advantage of the unique “peer recommendation” option to add to their application, which is something 90% of applicants include with their applications.

Most popular majors: Economics, Government, History, Engineering, Psychology

Words to describe students I met: Outgoing, athletic, spirited, outdoorsy, supportive

Unique academic aspects: Students at Dartmouth get the best of both worlds. They receive a well-rounded education and are taught by amazing faculty who are very focused on their undergraduate students, but have opportunities to to take classes in the renowned business program, and access to medical school faculty and research. They even offer an Early Assurance program for strong students who want to continue on to medical school.

Dartmouth’s academic calendar is also unique. The “D-Plan” is essentially a quarter system but with a lot more built in flexibility, so many students choose to do internships or away terms during the course of their studies. Plans like these encourage students to get out into the world and break up the monotony of the traditional college schedule. Added bonus: Students can study away or take a break from the harsh New Hampshire winters (though that means missing out on the opportunity to ski on Dartmouth’s own mountain)

Unique social/cultural aspects: Dartmouth has long held a reputation as a “work hard/play hard” school, and Greek life can be a big part of a student’s social experience. There are 28 Greek organizations on campus, with over 40% of students participating. However, because of the school’s reputation and reach, there are a diverse range of students here and Greek life isn’t the only social avenue.

Outdoorsy students will love Dartmouth’s location and the endless opportunities to get involved through the Dartmouth Outing Club. During my sunny weekend visit, I happened upon a group of students in capes and sequined pants, blasting music, singing, and chanting. They were anxiously awaiting the arrival of their friends who were attempting “The Fifty“, which is literally a 50-mile hike students do in teams. I had a great time chatting with these spirited students about their college experience, the collaborative and supportive culture of Dartmouth, and, of course, the opportunities to explore the great outdoors.

Colleges that seem similar: Williams College, Davidson College, Duke University, Middlebury College, Colgate University

Concerns about this college: Well, it’s an Ivy League college with single digit admission rates, so getting in is hard.  For that reason, Dartmouth should be considered a reach for every student. Additionally, I still have some lingering concerns about the Greek system and party scene, despite the college’s push to limit drinking in recent years.

Overall impressions: I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Dartmouth and the small city of Hanover, and especially loved visiting when the fall colors were out in full force. The tour guides were all incredibly friendly and articulate, and the students I approached around campus were over-the-moon enthusiastic about their college and community. Dartmouth feels much larger than it is, and I was surprised at the diversity of students I saw and interacted with during my visit.

College Decisions: Class of 2018

It’s decision day! Congrats to my seniors on making their final college choices. Here’s where my small group of 2018 seniors are off to this fall:

  • Emory University
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • University of St Andrews
  • Lehigh University
  • Bard College
  • Reed College
  • University of Redlands
  • Occidental College
  • University of Vermont
  • Chapman University
  • Whitman College

And now on to the next class…