Counseling Help for Rising High School Seniors

Question_markThe summer is almost over and high school students’ minds are returning, perhaps reluctantly, to the school year at hand.

As independent college counselors, we’ve been getting more incoming inquiries, particularly from rising seniors or their parents, about getting the senior year right in terms of preparing for the college admission process and taking the right classes this year.

A couple of inquiries that are on point:

“Immediate questions about course selection for Senior year….what do colleges look for as far as rigor in your Senior year in HS? Our daughter is looking at competitive colleges, but concerned about GPA, Class Rank and SAT scores as emphasized on CollegeBoard website.”


“Hi, I am a rising senior in high school. I am interested in finding out more about the college admissions process. I would like assistance in the essay, interview and selection process. Please contact me to discuss.”

It’s not too late to get your ducks in a row in terms of taking the right courses in your senior year and rounding out your extracurricular experience. The counselors here at JD College Consulting have real work high school counseling experience as well as deep relationships with dozens of college admissions professionals.

Don’t’ wait until Thanksgiving to consider college options. We can get started helping you today.

High School Students – Prepare for the Summer and Next School Year:

Well high school students, the year is almost over. If you’re not a senior, you have a summer ahead of you that does not include going-to-college prep. Or does it? While it is riley-mexico-1important to have some fun and forget about school for a while, the long game dictates that there are some things that you can do to help your personal development and maximize your chances of getting into a good college.

  1. Do something. Securing a summer job, internship or volunteer opportunity improves your resume and application – for any student. Adding summer experiences to an Activity Resume shows initiative and that you are a well rounded person.
  2. Academic classes for enrichment or advancement can still be signed up for at this point and preparations made for getting to and from those classes.
  3. Make a summer reading list. Most schools require some reading but simply reading newspapers, current events magazines or other periodicals can be done to stay sharp.
  4. For some students, SAT and ACT course preps need to be signed up for to take in late July or early August in advance of the Sept ACT and/or Oct SAT.
  5. Student going into grade 12 should begin finalizing their college list. Make time to complete a rough draft of the Common Application (CA) for practice, and to see if you are lacking anything. The updated CA for next year will be available shortly.
  6. Plan some visits to schools for the summer, or do some long-term planning of college visits for the fall, so you have time to work around your parents’ schedules.

Finally, if you aren’t sure what you could or should be doing this summer, you have a couple of weeks left to talk to your guidance counselor. The doctor is in.

PA Football Star Loses Scholarship Over YouTube Rap Video

The was originally posted by our friends at

Warning: Explicit content ahead 

A lot of news outlets started out this week reporting a strange, borderline feel-good story this week – that star football player Jay Harris from Downingtown High School East in Exton, PA turned down a full football scholarship from Michigan State to pursue his dreams as a rapper.

It turns out that the real story is somewhat different.

Sources now say that Michigan State revoked the scholarship after they saw videos posted by Harris to YouTube, which include marijuana smoking by the athlete and extremely graphic and foul language. I don’t blame them one bit.

It’s another reminder to parents and student athletes of the very real risk of what you choose to put online coming back to haunt you, with sometimes permanent consequences.

Harris goes by the rap name Jay DatBull, and it turns out that his Twitter account, which now has almost 1,000 followers, is no walk in the park either.

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Athletes looking for a scholarship opportunity should take a very hard look at how their online persona would be viewed by a college recruiter.

It’s Not Too Late – Space Available College List from NACAC

If you are a high school senior pondering a change of plans about where to go to college next year, it is not too late. If you thought you weren’t going to attend college next year, but have had a change of heart, you may be in luck. Also, current college students wishing to transfer may still have time. Some institutions still have availability for incoming freshmen or transfers.

According to NACAC:

“At least 210 colleges and universities still have space available for qualified freshman and/or transfer students and all have financial aid to offer, according to the results of the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual Space Availability Survey: Openings for Qualified Students. The survey queries NACAC member four-year colleges and universities on the availability of space, institutional financial aid and housing as of May 1, 2013. Now in its 26th year, the survey is designed as a tool for counselors, parents and teachers as they assist students who have not yet completed the college admission process.”


NACAC list of space available colleges for 2013/14.


If you have questions about last minute admission opportunities, please let us know. We are here to help.

Want a College Athletic Scholarship? Clean Up Your Social Media

There has been a dramatic increase in the lengths to which college recruiters go to vet scholarship candidates, including looking at their online activity.

athletic-scholarshipIf you are a high school athlete dreaming (realistically) of landing a scholarship, you have probably spent thousands of hours in practice, games and the gym. A free ride to a great school would be a tremendous boon to your and your family, and a handsome repayment for your effort. If you’re a typical American teenager, you’ve probably also spent a lot of time online.

The fact of the matter is, the folks who will decide whether to give you an athletic scholarship or move on to the next guy will look at more that your sports stats and your GPA.

“We look at social media constantly,” one Mid-American Conference School’s recruiting coordinator said. “We have several eyes looking at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all the time. Most of the kids seem to not get the fact that social media is open to the public. They also seem to not understand that scholarship offers have been lost because of things we’ve seen on social media.”

The above quote comes from a Chicago Tribune article last week about how college recruiters are scrutinizing prospects’ every move on social media. The article in particular and the topic in general are not getting enough attention, in our opinion.

Even if you think that your social media history is clean, it might make sense to have someone take a second look before a college recruiter does. There might be an account on a network that you’ve forgotten about or don’t use any more, or perhaps an online argument that you had with someone might be viewed as a bullying incident. Even the amount of time that you spend online could raise questions. And don’t forget that people won’t just be looking for things posted by you, they also may find something posted by others about you.

At JD College Consulting, we partner with a technology expert to audit high school prospects’ social media profiles and history to make sure there is nothing that will preclude a student athlete from being offered the scholarship that he has worked so had to earn. Contact us now for more details.

Parent Solutions for Teen Internet Headaches

This post originally appeared at

My friends over at S2R Solutions have come up with a great service that I think deserves more attention. It’s called ThirdParent.

helpThirdParent was built by parents for parents – parents who are worried that a careless mistake, bad decision or oversight made by their teen could come back to haunt them in a very real way.

Parents understand that they should take a real interest in what their kids are doing on the internet, especially if is a negative behavior. In order for a parent to effectively counsel a child as to appropriate internet use, it is helpful to know what is actually happening. In addition, there are several real world situations in which a person in a position of influence might search for a young person on the internet or social media:

Bullying accusations – Much of the bullying that goes on these days happens on the internet, especially on social media. If a school official receives a report of a bullying incident, one of the first things they are likely to do is check online for evidence of the bullying.

College admission – It is no secret that more and more college admission officers are at a minimum doing a Google search and checking Facebook pages for new applicants. In addition,  scholarship opportunities could be affected by unwise internet behavior.

Job searches – The expression “everyone Googles everything” is not such an exaggeration any more. If a future employer, even for a part time job, did an internet search for your teen, would everything check out OK?

Predators – Misuse of privacy settings leave many young people open to the risk of being preyed upon by someone with ulterior motives. With the ever-growing number of social networks, all with their own privacy settings, it is a daunting task for parents to make sure their kids are safe.

ThirdParent offers a complete internet audit of all public-domain information on your child. Parents can arm themselves with the information they need to teach their kids how to use the internet wisely and safely, and take corrective action should something be posted by or about their teen before any damage is done.

Visit ThirdParent for more information about helping parents monitor teens, internet activity.

For all your college counseling questions, please visit us at JD College Consulting.

5 Things to Teach High School Seniors Before College

Hello, parents of high school seniors.

It is March 20th. That means if your senior has chosen to go to college, you have 5 months to teach him a thing or two, or five, about what it is going to be like on campus without mom and the team doing the behind the scenes work. I don’t know about your child, but I run into a lot of Gen Y kids who have a lot to learn about taking care of themselves. I also run into a lot of high school seniors who think they know everything.

stresses-studentIn the event that your high school senior is not already be a high-functioning adult, here are 5 things you could work on in the coming months:

Laundry – It’s not going to do itself. Take a weekend or two in the next few months to supervise your teen doing his laundry for himself. In that way you can avoid him returning home at Thanksgiving with a huge bag of dirty clothes, suitcases full of faded multi-colored ruined stuff or a big laundry bill.

Shopping for essentials – If you drive your student to school yourself in August, or fly with her, you will probably do this then. A better idea is to do a dry run or two from home before you leave, and the bright lights of Frosh Week are in your teen’s eyes.

Shopping for food – You know that there are many considerations in food shopping, some of which your child hasn’t considered yet. Nutrition, cost, calories – a dorm food plan will take care of some of this but I don’t remember seeing an actual dorm room without some extra food supplies.

The value of money – Even if tuition, room, board and books are taken care of, your teen will have to manage day to day and entertainment expenses. We suggest sitting with your student and putting a budget on paper before she leaves. The sooner she starts thinking about how much everything costs, the better she will be able to deal with budget shortfalls.

How to get help when you need it – Teachers, parents and guidance counselors have banded together to ensure a good high school result for your teen. In college, there is much less help and support available unless a student asks for it. In addition, the early warning system for when a student is failing or falling short is much less robust. You can plan ahead with your child and develop a plan for what to do if results are as strong as expected.

The real list is longer than 5 things, and perhaps much longer depending on the child. At JD College Consulting, we do periodic group programs and individual programs  for soon to be freshmen looking to get ahead of the game. Email us for more information.

College Admission – High School Counselor vs. Independent Counselor

We hear this question all the time, from high school students and their parents. Should we rely on our high school counselor to guide us through the college admission process or hire an independent counselor?

jdcc-studentIt’s the wrong question, or rather, shouldn’t be asked at all.

High school counselors are a wonderful resource that comes at no extra cost. They have lots of experience, often years, and have worked with large numbers of students, many or most of whom went on to college. They draw on their experience to offer the best advice at their disposal. By all means, take advantage of your high school counselor to the fullest exponent possible.

In our opinion, the reason that some may view the assistance afforded by high school counselors as insufficient is that their caseload is far too high to be able to deal with special circumstances for every student one on one.

If this is the case with you or your student, a great solution may be to enlist the aid of a qualified independent counselor in addition to using your high school counselor.

The key to make it work is to choose an independent counselor that prioritizes working in a complementary manner to what guidance has already been provided by the high school counselor. Avoid big egos and firms that employ a one process fits all students methodology.  There is no need to ignore or undo what a high school counselor has already done, or is willing to do.

Contact us today to hear how independent counseling can add on to the efforts of your high school counselor to help you attain your best result in terms of college admission.

6 Reasons High School Students Should Volunteer

Listen up, high school students. I know you’re busy. I was a high school student once too. Even though you’re busy, you should consider making time to do some volunteer work before you even think about college. You may not have considered some of the benefits.

  1. It looks great on a college application – Volunteer or community service work is one of the best ways to show college admission officers that you take initiative and are willing to work. In a competitive application environment, this can separate you from other applicants.
  2. It can give you an idea of what to pursue in college – Volunteer work is work after all. You can either pursue volunteer work in an area that might interest you as a career post-college, or end up working in types of jobs that you find you have no aptitude for or interest in, which could affect what you study in college.
  3. It exposes you to new people – in the course of you doing volunteer work, people will notice you. Perhaps they will be your supervisors or someone for whom you perform a service. You never know when one of these people will offer you a paying job, provide a reference or help you in some other way.
  4. It makes you appreciate your free time more  – In the same way that having too much free time leads to boredom, having less free time makes you value it more highly.
  5. Your parents will cut you more slack – I’m a parent, and I know from personal experience that when I see my kids do something “good”, it makes me more likely to say yes when they ask for something later.
  6. It’s good – It never hurts to do something just because it helps someone else.

April is National Volunteer Month. You can start now and get a jump on the process.

Experience Matters – Independent College Counselors

Are you the parent of a high school student who is looking to hire an independent counselor? Good for you – you are on the right track to getting your teenager into the best school possible.

college_logosLots of parents we talk to rely on referrals to find an independent counselor, which is understandable.  A recommendation from a trusted source can be very valuable, obviating the need to do a lot of research on whom to hire.

If you are going to do the research yourself to find a counselor, the good news is that the internet has a wealth of resources at your disposal. All large counseling operations and many smaller firms or even sole proprietors have websites that will tell you a lot of what you need to know.

One thing I’d like to highlight that is worth considering is the work experience of the counselor who is actually going to be working with you and your teen student.

You may not be aware of the following fact: many independent counselors’ relevant work experience is limited to having worked in the admissions department of a single college. That would be great if that counselor worked at the college that is your child’s first choice, but the vast majority of the time, that is not going to be the case.

At JD College Consulting, our founder, Jonathan DeSimone, has over 16 years of high school counseling experience, has worked extensively with over a hundred different colleges, and has deep contacts at dozens of them. In addition, we only hire affiliate counselors who have a similar background in high school counseling with practical experience working with multiple schools.

Experience counts when selecting a college counselor. Need help with any aspect of the college admissions process? Email us. We are here to help.