Posts Tagged ‘college counselors’

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.

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:

Homeschoolers and college

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

As a college counselor, I know that college is hard to get into for everyone. They are looking for the best and strongest candidates.  Some of those are homeschooled students.

This week I signed three homeschooled students to my college counseling business, International College Counselors.

First I want to say, good news for homeschooled students and their parents — the college admissions process for homeschooled students has become easier, and more and more homeschooled students are entering colleges. 

In the past, homeschooled students had to fight hard for equality in the admissions process because federal government guidelines made it unclear to universities how their eligibility to receive federal funds would be affected by admitting homeschoolers. This changed in November of 2003 when the U.S. Department of Education sent an official letter to all universities. The letter stated that the admission of homeschooled students to college would not jeopardize federal assistance and clarified the position on compulsory age and self-certification of completion of secondary education.

Subsequently, colleges made adjustments in their admissions process and, today, a majority of colleges, including Harvard University, evaluate homeschooled applicants using the same college admission requirements as those for traditional students.

Requirements for college admission vary by institution but the most common requests include a homeschool transcript, SAT, ACT or SAT II test scores, written essays, external recommendations, and an interview. Other requests may include a GED, student portfolios, a list of texts used, and/or entrance examinations. In addition to academics, schools are looking for well-rounded individuals who have participated in varied extracurricular activities.

The key is start early!  If you’re not working with a college counselor, like the ones we have here at International College Counselors, check with the admissions office to find out what the colleges you’re interested in require, and stick to the guidelines.  Keep detailed transcripts and make sure your student takes the classes required. Colleges prefer an ideal four-year preparatory program. Colleges also place more emphasis on other criteria when one, such as class rank, is missing.

Like traditionally schooled peers, homeschooled students can also qualify for federal financial aid like Pell grants, work-study, and federal student loans to

help pay for college.  You will need to check the requirements for these.  Start early so you have the time to prepare. 

On thing to note, the number of homeschooled students is rising.  This means, that like traditional students, they too will have to work harder to set themselves apart. 

 Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors 

College Advice for Summer Savings and Scholarships

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

 In this economy, it’s understandable that high school students are looking for jobs. As an alternative, if students can’t find a way to earn money, summer can be used to save money. Picking the right summer activities can equal money in the form of a scholarship or big savings at your student’s school of choice. 
Through the dual enrollment program, students can take classes at a local college- free of charge. Dual enrollment allows high school students to earn postsecondary credit toward a career and technical certificate, an associate degree, or a baccalaureate degree. That saves money for a summer activity, and when it comes to paying for college!   Depending on your student’s major, classes in this category may include: languages, maths, sciences and English.  The college credit earned can also be applied to most schools students eventually attend.  This will save them (and you) the cost of the class they took.  

Going further, certain scholarships are available for students who show high interest in pursuing certain careers. By using the summer to take a qualified interest to a higher level, your student may become eligible for these scholarships. Taking classes at a local community college or school can also show colleges a deep interest in a particular scholarly area that may make your student eligible for school scholarships.

If you have any other college questions, I’d be happy to answer them. Please write me here or at my personal email which can be found on my 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 



Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

If you have a junior in high school, they should be well aware of the above date. It’s the last SAT of this academic year- and you don’t want to miss it!   Miami college counselor Mandee Heller Adler of International College Counselors is here to help.

Although seniors can take the October test, results of this test must be sent directly to schools to meet early decision/ action deadlines. That’s a lot of pressure, especially given the new “score choice” where you can choose which SAT scores to send.

Did you know that the SAT has changed since you were in school? In 2005, the College Board, which owns the test, made it harder and longer. There are now 3 parts instead of two. The new section tests writing and the maximum score has changed from 1600 to 2400.


Students will no longer have to suffer analogies but an essay segment was added. The math portion was changed to more closely parallel what’s being currently taught in high schools.

The best advice I can give your students is practice, practice, practice. The best strategies always involve test familiarity, tips on when to guess, and how to manage time.

Like it or not, the SAT will most likely help to determine which colleges a student will be able to attend. Some people attempt to discount the test, as simply one of many factors, or believe that it is not very important. The reality is that unless you are a professional level athlete or a Native American math whiz with a Nobel prize, the SAT will likely play a major role in your college admissions.

It makes sense to get the highest score possible.

Some high schools provide SAT prep courses as part of their curricular offerings and a variety of community-based organizations have prep programs.

Private tutors and private prep programs can teach your student strategies tailored towards their learning level and ability. Many study books can be found online and in the bookstore. On the web, study aides are available.

For example, the College Board’s website offers practice questions for each section of the test.

For your edification (a SAT word), the test is now as follows:

Critical Reading

Total 3 sections


Reading comprehension: Questions based on

Single paragraphs

Longer passages

Paired paragraphs

Paired longer passages

Sentence-level reading

.Question types

Multiple-choice with 5 answer choices

Critical reading which includes single, paired, and longer paragraphs

Sentence completions


Total 3 sections

One 25-minute essay requiring you to present your viewpoint on a topic

Two multiple-choice sections

Question types

Multiple-choice with 5 answer choices

Identifying sentence errors

Improving sentences

Improving paragraphs


Total 3 sections

These will test Algebra I and II, geometry, data analysis, statistics and probability

Question types

Multiple-choice with 5 answer choices

Mandee Heller Adler

Posted by MJHAdler at 8:35 PM 0 comments

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

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