Posts Tagged ‘college advisors’

Great Ways for Parents of High School Students to Spend Their Tax Refunds:

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average 2012 tax refund is roughly $3000. Here are some great suggestions for what to do with the money you get back if you’re a parent of a teenager who plans to attend college:

1. Pay for Tutoring. The importance of grades for colleges cannot be ignored. The GPA is the single most important part of a college application. Not only that, colleges want to see a challenging high school curriculum. If your student needs help in one or more subjects, spend some money on tutoring. (It may even pay off more in the form of scholarships.) If you need help finding an amazing tutor, contact your International College Counselors college advisor for more information.

2. Put money into a 529 plan. Even if your child will be a junior this year, it’s not too late to make a tax-preferred investment for college. Many states, including Florida and New York, provide a tax deduction for 529 contributions even if you’re investing for only a short time.

3. Invest in a summer enrichment program. Summer enrichment programs can help propel your student toward college and gain acceptance into a school of their choice. Let your student explore a subject of interest or bolster volunteer work credentials. College advisors at International College Counselors know there are programs for all interests, including engineering, career exploration, robotics, entrepreneurship, women’s leadership, music, drama and test prep. Nearly every school, including the Ivies, offer a summer program for high school students, allowing students to experience life on a college campus. Some programs offer college credit.

4. Go for the test prep. Next to grades, test scores are one of the most important factors in college admissions. Please contact your college advisor at International College Counselors for the name, number and email address of a (SAT word alert) splendiferous SAT, ACT, SAT subject test, AP and TOFEL tutor who can help you increase your test scores.

5. Visit colleges. College visits can be costly but worthwhile. Your student just may find their top-pick school is nothing like they imagined. Visiting a school may also increase chances of gaining admittance and of getting a better award package, if only slightly. Taking the time to tour campus shows commitment.

6. Encourage summer college courses. Summer college courses can give your student the opportunity to attend school classes with undergraduate students or other select high school students and earn college credits.

7. Hire an independent college counselor. If you are not a client of International College Counselors, what are you waiting for? Our expert college advisors can give your student the individualized attention to properly tackle the college admission process. With new offices now in Coral Gables, Boston, Miami, New York and Palm Beach Gardens, and advisors who speak fluent Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, we can better meet your needs. From help choosing colleges, going on interviews, editing essays and more, we will give your student the tools to find and get into the college of his or her dreams.

If you need help evaluating and choosing a summer opportunity for your student and/or want information on tutoring, and are a client of International College Counselors, please give your college advisor a call or send an email.

Get Your Teacher Recommendations Now

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Juniors, we’re talking to you.

Even if you don’t know what schools you’re applying to, the time to ask for a Letter of Recommendation is now. If you’re applying to almost any private college at all, you’ll need a Letter of Recommendation.

By asking for a letter early, college counselors know you’re

1. Making life easier for yourself. You will be busy next year.
2. Making life easier for your teacher and he or she will appreciate it. More importantly, that appreciation may be reflected in your letter!

By giving a teacher more time to write the letter, you’re giving him or her more opportunity to write a letter tailored for you. The best letters of recommendation say something special about you. They provide insight about you, your talents, abilities, strengths, positive qualities, merits, achievements and more.

Choose who you ask wisely and carefully. Make sure you choose someone who likes you. You will most likely never even see the letter that is written about you so it needs to be someone you feel comfortable with.

Different schools may require different formats for Letters of Recommendation. However, the majority of students will be using the Common Application to apply to schools. This means it’s suggested that your teacher writes a general letter for you. Also, the idea here is that the teacher will store your letter on the computer and thus be able to paste it into whatever official letter of recommendation form you provide when the time comes.

International College Counselors note to International Students: Don’t feel you need to ask an English teacher because you think they’ll write the best. The letters need to be in English if you’re applying to a U.S. school, but the teacher can “Google” translate it or have someone in the school translate it. An exception to this would be if you know a school’s admissions office accepts recommendations in other languages and has someone on staff who can read them.

Please click here to read How to Ask for an Early Letter of Recommendation

If you have any questions on Letters of Recommendation and are a client of International College Counselors, please give one of our college advisors a call or send an email.

College Admissions Officers Use Blogs and Facebook

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

In the era of,, podcasts, blogs, and instant messaging, there’s definitely been an increase in prospective college students using social networking tools to find out about and apply to colleges. Let’s take Facebook. Schools are reaching out to students with Facebook pages of their own and many applications exist that can provide users access to information about colleges. These include collected student opinions on offered courses and students reviews of professor. Notably they’re brutally honest opinions as they’re written by students who have nothing to gain or lose. Another Facebook interactive application allows prospective students to research information on more than 5000 colleges. Future college students are also reading blogs, checking out YouTube, and watching podcasts to get a better idea of the schools. As we’ve seen at International College Counselors, these students know how much money is at stake in tuition and in future earnings, and they’re being smart and savvy consumers.

At International College Counselors, our expert college counselors encourage students to use online presence and social networking tools to their advantage. Many colleges do look at student pages and blogs, especially if those students are being considered for a scholarship. The more prestigious the scholarship, the more they’ll scrutinize.

Many of us have heard the horror stories of students being denied admission or scholarships thanks to what they’ve posted. But, used smartly, a positive difference can be made with online presence. Online, a student has the opportunity to distinguish himself or herself as the type of person they are in a positive way, to showcase their achievements and accomplishments, and to reveal some of their goals and aspirations. In other words, prospective college students can turn their personal Facebook or MySpace pages or blogs into ways to sell themselves to admissions offices. Athletes can post highlight videos. Science students can show and talk about a project they are working on.

The downside is, students want to see social networking sites as a private place where they can communicate with people on a personal level. Unfortunately, these “private” pages are really public and online behavior can have consequences for young people that they might not think of on their own. Undoubtedly colleges and students disagree on the privacy issue. Most students see the checking up as an invasion of privacy. But then, no school wants to announce a winner of a significant scholarship only to have embarrassing pictures be discovered online a week later…

If you have any other college admissions questions for a college counselor, I’d be happy to answer them. I work with international students (9 countries and counting!) as well as those in the U.S. Please write me here or at my personal email which can be found on my International College Counselors college counseling website.

Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors

By the way, my college advising company is opening a new branch of International College Counselors in NYC so now you can visit our college advisor NYC as well.

State Department Makes Time to Speed Up Visas for Scholars

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

By Mandee Heller Adler

Here’s some good news for families with foreign students who are applying for visas to study in the U.S.:

The U.S. State Department is moving to significantly speed up the delay-ridden visa-application process for foreign students and scholars. Apparently, the delays were caused by an increasing numbers of visa applications, staff shortages, and governmental security concerns

Amazingly, the department’s goal is to take a process that has been known to drag on for months and reduce it to two weeks.

To alleviate the situation, the department has brought in additional staff members, including both permanent and temporary workers, to deal with the backlog of visa requests and handle applications. The department has also revamped procedures to accelerate reviews.

What made them get their move on? Academic groups and scientific organizations like the National Academy of Sciences and the Association of American Universities were loudly complaining that researchers from abroad who are seeking to obtain or renew visas have frequently encountered months-long delays. As a result, some scholars who left the United States had been stranded, the groups say, while other researchers and students were discouraged from traveling to the United States for work or for academic meetings, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Visas weren’t always so hard to obtain. The tougher visa rules were established after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Those rules were meant to weed out students or scholars who could be threats to national security but what also happened was that the tougher regulations caused visa delays that forced academics to alter their travel plans, deterring many from coming to the United States.

A total of 56,000 students or scholars world-wide were screened last year.

If you have any other college admissions questions for a college counselor, I’d be happy to answer them. I work with international students (9 countries and counting!) as well as those in the U.S. Please write me here or at my personal email which can be found on my International College Counselors college counseling website.

Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors

By the way, my college advising company is opening a new branch of International College Counselors in NYC so now you can visit our college advisor NYC as well.

U.S. News College Rankings and Their Meaning

Monday, June 8th, 2009

U.S . News & World report first published their America’s Best Colleges issue in 1983.   Since then, parents and students have been using this issue as a way to sort out schools in an organized way. 

Of course, as soon as the issue comes out, colleges see them too.  And the forces there begin strategizing how they might raise their college up in the ranks in the next issue.

U.S. News bases its rankings on multiple statistical measuring sticks, each weighted differently, and spread across seven major categories. These include: academic reputation, student selectivity, student retention, faculty resources, financial resources, alumni giving and graduation rates.

Clemson University’s fast rise in rankings from “38’ to “22” gives s a clearer picture of how rankings can be manipulated for more harm than good in terms of influencing public perception and student choice. 

As the New York Times reports, Clemson centered on reducing class sizes — many of them to below 20, a U.S. News benchmark. Clemson, according to the article, has also “more or less” stopped admitting “full-time, first-time undergraduates who are not in the top third of their high school classes” and is “constantly reassessing its SAT average through the admissions cycle.” 

The university has also reported to U.S.  News that it has ratcheted up the faculty salaries by about $20,000, which it has achieved by actually increasing spending (paid for largely through increased tuition), continues the article. 

Clemson also runs “multiple definitions to figure out where [they] can move things around to make them look best” in the rankings. The university has also encouraged as many alumni as possible to send in at least $5 to help bring up their giving rate.

In a separate article, the rankings of U.S. News have been criticized for making up numbers in the absence of real data.  In this case, Sarah Lawrence’s president, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post that because her college no longer collects or examines SAT scores, U.S. News officials have said that the magazine will just assume that the average SAT would have been one standard deviation (about 200 points) below the average of Sarah’s Lawrence’s peers.  In the rankings this translates to a college losing points in the category of “selectivity” because the report assumes that not using SAT score means a college is admitting less capable students.  Of course, this shouldn’t be presumed true. 

In this college counselor’s opinion, U.S News rankings are nothing more than beauty pageant as valuable as  Miss America.  The only way to truly rank colleges is in what the value is to you. Prospective students and families need to assess what really counts which is how well a college meets a student’s learning style and academic interests, how available the faculty are outside the classroom, whether students can get the courses they need to graduate, and what graduate schools and employers welcome its graduates.

If you have any other college admissions questions for a college counselor, I’d be happy to answer them.  Please write me here or at my personal email which can be found on my International College Counselors college counseling website.

Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors




The original article sourced by the times and by me can be seen at


The other article referenced can be found at


In this interesting article, mathematicians have taken on the U.S. News & World Report for a whole different take on the rankings:

3-Year college degrees can save time and money, but is it worth it?

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

To save families time and money, there’s a new idea circulating around colleges and offices of college counselors everywhere: shaving a year off undergraduate programs.   In other words, shortening the usual four years of study into three. 

Different schools are looking at different approaches to making this a reality.   Some colleges will require summer work, others will cut course lengths and some might cut the number of credit hours required.

Proponents say a three-year program could, and will, provide the course requirements for a major and some general courses that have long been a standard of American education.


According to an article in The Washington Post, the four-year bachelor’s degree was designed in large part to provide a broad-based education that teaches young people to analyze and think critically, considered vital preparation to participate in the civic life of American democracy.

The three-year degree is the common model at the University of Cambridge and Oxford University in England. Such programs have also existed for several years at a number of schools, including Bates College in Maine and Ball State University in Indiana, which offers three-year degrees in about 30 areas.

A new survey conducted by Junior Achievement and the Allstate Foundation found that 55 percent of teens had changed their college plans because of the economy.

Some of the pros and the cons of the 3-year plan include:


• Three years give a boost for ambitious students who know what they want to study.

• It will be easier for families to afford college

• Students enter the workforce quicker and/or go on sooner for graduate study.


  An undergraduate’s social experience could be compromised.

  College would tilt more toward job training and away from the broad-based education that many U.S. schools offer.

• Employers may then insist on a master’s before they employ anyone and this will increase the cost to students of the future.

• Parents will pressure their students to enter a 3 year program and then students will have a miserable time, taking an overload of courses, and missing the experience of college.

  Students should enjoy these four years of freedom.  They have the rest of their lives to work. 

 From my experience as a college counselor, my thought is, if you’re smart and dedicated enough to graduate in 3 years, you can figure out how to do it on your own.   AP credits, summer courses, and college credits gained during high school can be used to reach this goal.  I work with a few high school freshmen now who are accumulating college credit. Their life goals may change in the next two years but the college credit can work favorable for them no matter what college or major they enter. I know more than a few students, including my sister, who graduated in three years or less without their colleges having to create a special program.

If you have any other college admissions questions for a college counselor, I’d be happy to answer them.  Please write me here or at my personal email which can be found on my International College Counselors college counseling website.

 Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors

 For the article that served as a basis for these college counselor thoughts, see:

College: Then and Now

Friday, May 29th, 2009

I came across an article I found interesting.  It lists the 17 biggest differences between college today and college 10 years ago and it’s amazing what a difference a decade can make. As a mother of two children under 5, I can only imagine how much more it will change in the next 10 years. 

For space reasons I am only going to list four of the ways college campuses have changed and these are the issues we find ourselves addressing most with the domestic and international students we work with at International College Counselors.

I’ve listed the two points that interest me the most at the top but otherwise this is exactly from the article. I have also included the URL below for those who’d like to read the entire piece.

1. Obsession about majors. Many schools encourage students to declare majors right when they come in. Many parents discourage students from considering majors in which there isn’t a clear path to a high-paying (or, at least, some kind of) job. And many students think it’s a point of special pride to do a double (or sometimes even triple) major. Not to mention picking up a minor or two on the side.   

2. Longer time to degree. The four-year college degree has largely faded, despite much hue and cry: Today, five, six, or even seven years is more common. Some reasons: more onerous requirements, bad advising, students working while at college, and students taking more semesters off. But the gravy train might be coming to an end: States are beginning to place caps on the number of semesters students can attend while paying in-state tuition. Hey, times are tough everywhere (especially in California and in Florida).

3. Community college explosion. Community colleges are flourishing, with new ones sprouting up all over the place. Indeed, more than 40 percent of U.S. college students now are enrolled at community (or junior or two-year) colleges. As before, community colleges are attracting students who are interested in getting associate degrees or some college experience before transferring to four-year colleges. But in a new twist, some students at four-year colleges now are picking up courses at community colleges from time to time–when they want to be closer to home, need less expensive credits, want to take classes with a professor rather than a TA, or can’t get into classes they need at their own school.

4. New online opportunities. In addition to distance-learning institutions, such as the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, and Devry University, a number of big-name schools have put up selected courses at free, “opencourseware” sites. This is something great: top-notch professors in your own living room at no charge! Check out (for Yale University), (for MIT), (for UC-Berkeley), and (for a general, worldwide directory).  


17 Ways College Campuses Are Changing

If you have any other college admissions questions for a college counselor, I’d be happy to answer them.  Please write me here or at my personal email which can be found on my International College Counselors college counseling website.

 Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors


College Admissions: FACTS every high schools student should know part 2

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Fact: Early Decision is still the “easiest” way to get into a top school
Rationale: If a student wants to go, he/ she will apply early
What you should do: Don’t wait until December to choose a school- you’ll miss the Nov 1 deadlines!
Fact: Money talks
Rationale: Schools are struggling financially and many (note- not all) are considering ability to pay when making admissions decisions
What you should do: If you don’t think you will get aid, do not apply for financial aid.  Parents can call financial aid offices to see if they are eligible in advance of sending in applications.
Fact: Science budgets are booming, and applicants (in particular FEMALES) are still not expressing interest in their applications. (I had two top admissions officers say to me- “if you have a female interested in science, we want them to consider our school!)
Rationale: As finance goes down, attention to engineering and the sciences is going up

What you should do: If science is a strength or interest, be sure to include it on your application

Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors           

College Admissions: FACTS every high school student should know

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

I just returned from a whirlwind visit to NYC. I met with a myriad of schools and admissions officers, and came back with some interesting information I thought I would share. Some of it may be new news, some simply reminders of what is already known.  But, it’s all very current and helpful to keep in mind as we embark on the college admissions process:
Fact: Due to the collection of email addresses via the PSAT and PLAN, schools are able to reach out to more and more potential applicants via email.  
Rationale:  Schools want to sell YOU too!
What you should do:  RESPOND to emails if they ask you to.  Show interest and get involved.  It will help you learn about the school, and keeps you on the radar.

Fact: A key deciding factor for many admissions reps is how well you can communicate the “Why xxx school question.”  
Rationale: Schools want to know that you’ve done your homework, and they are simply not another checkmark on the common app.
What you should do:  When you visit schools or explore schools via the web, be sure to keep an eye out for programs, professors or clubs that interest YOU in particular.  Take notes (so you don’t forget), and don’t forget to communicate your knowledge in essays and interviews
Fact:  Schools are very focused on “increasing access” to minority groups, first generation students going to college, international students, etc.   
Rationale:  Schools are looking for diverse classes- not just diverse students
What you should do: If you are identified with a minority group, be sure to include it on your application. Also, get involved with something that reflects a connection to the minority group you are claiming to belong to (ie Latino Association, African Association, etc.)
Fact: The SAT scores are often judged in “bands,” especially when combined with a top transcript.  So, for example, Penn considers 1400-1600 a “band.” Below that 1400 and you are in a different category, but anywhere within the 1400-1600 is considered a strong score.
Rationale: Give or take a few points, a 1400 is still a good score, most especially when it is combined with a strong GPA
What you should do: Don’t stress about getting 10 more SAT points, focus on your classes and your career direction. Your transcript means the most!

Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors 


Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

“Congratulations on being nominated to attend the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.”, reads the fancy script on the expensive feeling card complete with gold seal.   The card promises  “lifetime advantage” and valuable resume padding.  It’s hard to miss the words “elite”, “distinguished,” and “select.”
The letter is a marketing scam. These particular leadership conferences won’t enhance your college applications any more or less than that art club you joined but never attended.
Your child will meet other kids who are interested in government, attend workshops, hear speakers, and sightsee, but getting invited isn’t an “honor”. College admissions officers and college advisors are aware that attendance for most students depends on their ability to pay.
Solicitations for programs like these begin filling mailboxes, virtual and real, as soon as students reach middle school, and continue coming through college. Dozens of messages may be sent from one program, reminding you of enrollment deadlines and offering testimonials from participants and fundraising tips.  
According to the New York Times, The company that organized the conference, a direct-mail powerhouse called the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, runs an alphabet soup of such conferences that it says are attended by 50,000 students a year. It solicits recommendations from teachers and alumni of previous conferences, and it culls names from mailing lists, for which the council paid $263,000 in 2006 alone.
Other companies in this business include: the National Student Leadership Conference, People to People Ambassador Programs, Leadership Classroom, Envision, and the Congressional Youth Leadership Council.

Personally, it seems my name has ended up on someone’s list as well, and in the last week alone, I’ve fielded Congratulatory calls from America’s Who’s Who, the Cambridge Who’s Who, the princeton Who’s Who, and a couple of others.  And, for a mere $200-$900 dollars, I can have a plaque on my wall, a trophy, or a leather bound book in my office.  🙂
Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors 


International College Counselors
3107 Stirling Road, Suite 208
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33312 USA
(954) 414-9986

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