Posts Tagged ‘miami college advisor’

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:


Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

To report the AP test or not to report the AP test, that is this week’s question. 

After taking one of the many various AP tests, there are usually three ways a student will feel:  Great!  Good.  And Awful.

If you think you did great or good, congratulations! 

If you’re sure you did awfully and scored a 1 or a 2, or you’re not sure how you did. You can withhold or cancel your score. 

Because AP grades are released in July, any request for changes in reporting must be received by June 15.

Note that it’s not likely that any one AP grade you submit, no matter how low, will fatally wound you.

Canceling vs. Withholding

Canceling AP grades

Canceling an AP grade permanently means you’ll never, ever see the grade and it’s deleted from your record forever.

The option to cancel a score helps a number of students.  Some of those students took an AP course but found it didn’t cover all the information on the test.  (And this happens more than we’d like to think.)  This option also encourages the risk takers, the students who take an AP exam in a subject they might not have taken the class for. (They’re the ones who study a lot on their own).

To cancel a score, you must notify the College Board by sending them assigned request by mail or fax with your signature. You should include in your letter:

  1. your full name, home address, birth date, and AP number(s)
  2. the year(s) that you took AP Exams
  3. the name, city, and state of the college you specified
  4. the name(s) of the exam(s) for which you want a grade canceled. 

This service is free but note that the grade report that you and your school receive will indicate that the grade has been canceled.

Withholding AP grades

Withholding a score means you may have one or more grades withheld from the colleges you indicated on your answer sheet.  This gives you the chance to see your scores before the colleges.

You may later release the grade to that college by sending AP Services a signed written request and a small fee.

What we suggest to the students we work with at International College Counselors is to not send your scores to any colleges in May.

Our reasoning is as follows: with your test, as explained to me by an AP representative, you only get to send your scores to one school free, any others are $15.   In other words, if you choose to withhold your scores from all the colleges until you see them, you’re only “losing” $15.   Many students can think of the $15 as “insurance”.  It’s easy to see your scores and then end them in if you want to.

You can withhold a score if you already sent them in, but if you took them this year, we recommend waiting until early July.  Beginning July 3, grades by phone are available for the 2009 exams.   It’ll cost you a few extra dollars to get your scores by phone, but it’s a very small price to pay in the larger scheme of things. 

To withhold a score, you must notify the College Board by sending them a letter with your signature. You should include in your letter:

  1. your full name, home address, birth date, and AP number(s)
  2. the year(s) that you took AP Exams
  3. the name, city, and state of the college you specified
  4. the name(s) of the exam(s) for which you want a grade withheld. (All your grades will still appear on the reports sent to you and your high school.)
  5. a check for the exact amount due made out to “AP Exams.” There is a $10 fee per grade, per college.

Note that unlike a canceled score, a request to withhold a grade does not permanently delete your grade. A withheld AP grade counts in your AP average and affects AP scholar designations. This means you can choose the scores that work to your advantage and feel confident to take some extra AP exams.

For more information on AP grade reporting services straight from the College Board go to:

If you need a college advisor or 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 this International College Counselors website.

Mandee Adler, Founder of International College Counselors and lead college advisor



College Tuition Hikes and What to Do

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Parents or guardians with students who plan to join Florida Prepaid College Plans (which I highly advocate) or get a Bright Futures Scholarship should read this:

An overview:
With universities warning of dire budget problems, the Florida Senate overwhelmingly approved a plan that could give universities the green light to raise tuition by an additional 7 percent, for a total of 15 percent.
Now the House approved it too and it’s being sent to Gov. Charlie Crist, who is expected to sign it into law.
Senate Bill 762 (SB 762) allows all 11 state universities to charge a tuition differential, or supplement, which is a power previously awarded to the University of Florida, Florida State, South Florida, Central Florida and Florida International.
What will happen if they pass this bill?
Bright Futures won’t be so bright next year for Florida’s top university undergraduates, who are likely to be paying a greater percentage of their tuition costs.
The latest budget offer keeps the Bright Futures scholarships at current-year levels and does not increase the funding to match even the base increase tuition of 8 percent likely to be approved this session.  This means 
scholarship recipients will have to pick up the extra tab. The Bright Futures’ scholarship fund is funded by Lottery proceeds and currently allows many students to pay little or no tuition at state universities.
The additional increases for the Prepaid Florida Plan — known as “differential” increases — would not apply to students who attended universities before July 1, 2007. Also, they would not apply to families who had Florida Prepaid contracts before that date.  However, they will raise the prices greatly for parents who want to join in the next enrollment period.  

What can parents and guardians do?
Let the Governor know that you think this is a bad idea. Tuition could nearly double within five years for those with teenagers, and more than double for those with toddlers. 
We voted for them. Now it’s time for them to support us.  They need to find another way to cover Florida´s budget shortfalls so our kids will be able to go to college.
Our kids are our future. Tell Governor Charlie Christ to vote NO on the college tuition hike bill.
For parents and guardians who are not invested in the Florida Prepaid College Plan, even if they raise the costs, it is probably worth it.  Who knows what the economic picture will be in the future and anyone who buys a prepaid plan has a contract with the state of Florida, so your payments will be locked in from the time you sign up, and the state must foot the bill for college regardless of future financial conditions.  You can enroll now in Florida Prepaid but are subject to prices effective October 2009.  These have not been made public yet.  

For information, go to or call 800-552-4723.


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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