2014 Special Amtrak Campus Visit Discount


For several years, Amtrak has offered a special campus visit discount for high school juniors and seniors, when accompanied by a parent/guardian/adult.  There are some restrictions; such as, blackout dates and certain rails (Acela Express).  Visit http://www.campusvisit.com/amtrak/  for information.  Scroll down for a brief summary.
Special Amtrak Campus Visit Discount
Buy One Full-Fare Ticket,
Get 50% Off Companion Ticket!
Amtrak has partnered with Collegia to make visiting campuses more affordable. Our “Buy one; get one 50% off” Campus Visit® Discount is the smart way for high school juniors and seniors to personally check out their top choices and make sure the college that looks so good in the brochure is really a good fit. Limited restrictions do apply. For example:

  1. Tickets must be booked a minimum of 3 days in advance; no exceptions.
  2. Students must travel with an adult, parent or guardian.
  3. Reservations must be made online through this Web site.
  4. This promotion is not valid for Acela Express, Auto Train, Canadian portions of joint AMTRAK/Via Rail service to Ontario and 7000-8999 Thruway bus series.
  5. Some blackout dates apply for travel time and for when tickets can be purchased (see below).
As soon as you know your travel dates and are ready to make your reservations, here’s all you need to do:
Step1: Fill out the short form and click “Submit” button.
Step 2: Follow the intructions on the “Tips” page that follows.

Brandeis University (MA): Students Exploring and Embracing Diversity (SEED)

Review the announcement below regarding the SEED (Students Exploring and Embracing Diversity) program at Brandeis University for current seniors.  SEED 2014 will be Friday, November 7th – Sunday, November 9th.  The application deadline is Monday, September 15th.  Visit http://www.brandeis.edu/admissions/seed/  to read about the SEED program and click https://admissions.brandeis.edu/register/?id=fae17de0-a773-41dc-99bc-e70b32deb989  to access the application.

Students Exploring and Embracing Diversity



Apply to SEED 2014 here. The application deadline is Sept. 15.

Founded on the principles of pluralism, tolerance and inclusion, Brandeis is a place where exceptional young minds from diverse backgrounds come together to form a unique and vibrant campus community. Students Exploring and Embracing Diversity (SEED) will shed light on multiculturalism and social justice at our dynamic university.

SEED 2014 is Friday, November 7 through Sunday, November 9, 2014.

SEED attendees will stay on campus for a weekend of specialized academic programming and community building. Participants will also attend Fall Preview Day on Sunday, which is open to all prospective students and their families. SEED aims to expose students from diverse backgrounds to the overall Brandeis experience by highlighting on-campus resources that focus on multiculturalism and social justice.

Students who attend SEED will have a chance to:

Travel scholarships: Scholarships are available to cover students’ transportation costs to and from Brandeis. All meals and accommodations will be provided.

Application: Access the SEED application here. Before starting the application, please make sure that you have a copy of your high school transcript available for upload.

Important dates: The application deadline is Sept. 15. Students will be notified on a rolling basis, but no later than Oct. 20, regarding the outcome of their SEED application.

Eligibility: Students must be rising high school seniors and currently reside in the United States to be eligible to attend SEED. Preference will be given to students who are underrepresented in higher education, including first-generation, low-income, and minority students.

We hope you will join us to explore multiculturalism and social justice at Brandeis!

Beloit College (WI): Newsletter and Updates



I am sharing Beloit’s counselor newsletter which offers links to various aspects of the campus, as well as updates in the admissions process.  Beloit College, a liberal arts institution in Wisconsin, is featured in the college resource Colleges That Change Lives.  They have a Test-Optional policy, an Early Decision plan, and they have eliminated the application fee.
Each August since 1998, Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones and experiences that have shaped the worldview of students entering colleges and universities in the fall. We invite you to listen to an interview with the authors, Ron Nief and Tom McBride, and check out their Guide for Counselors.The Beloit College admissions counselor for your region looks forward to being of service to you and your students as you navigate the college search and application process.  Please contact me any time you or your students have questions.  In the meantime, I direct you to the Beloit College website for answers to your or your families’ questions.  Last year Beloit has added an Early Decision plan and eliminated the application fee.   Of particular note this year, Beloit has adopted a Test Optional Policy, allowing applicants to decide for themselves whether or not their test results accurately reflect their academic ability and potential.

We hope to cross paths in the coming year.


Jim Zielinski, Director of Admissions

Beloit College www.beloit.edu

A proud member of the Colleges That Change Lives

www.beloit.edu   |   admiss@beloit.edu   |   800.923.5648   |   700 College Street, Beloit, WI 53511

Explore Bowdoin 2014 Program


Bowdoin College, a liberal arts institution located in Brunswick, Maine, is hosting two free fall visitation programs for underrepresented seniors; September 18-21, 2014 and October 23-26, 2014.  The Explore Bowdoin 2014 program offers high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to visit the campus. Bowdoin understands that traveling may pose a significant financial burden for many families; therefore, the College covers the entire cost of the trip, including all transportation and meals.
The deadlines for the the program applications are August 25th (September program) and September 22nd (October program) respectively. Participants stay with current students in campus housing, attend classes, receive personal admissions interviews, and attend information sessions on admissions and financial aid.
I visited Bowdoin College, September 2011, as an invited counselor tour participant and some of the highlights include:
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a distinguished alum
  • became coed in 1971l
  • approximately 1800 students
  • test-optional but 80-85% send scores
  • 88% out-of-state population
  • NEASC regional accreditation
  • 96% return for sophomore year; 94% graduate in six years
  • all freshmen and sophomores must live on campus
  • Brunswick is 26  miles from Portland; 120 miles from Boston
  • strong alumni network
  • admissions team looks for and/or recommends: rigor in academic profile; achievement and personal success; student’s motivation; letters from junior/senior teachers in academic courses; resume should include less frivolous details-be more concise; 20% admit rate for Early Decision.



Visit for Explore Bowdoin 2014 information:
Access the application at:

Tips for chic, yet appropriate, back-to-school attire

Fashion Young Celebs

The fashionistas are in full swing now, due to the 2014-15 school year.  Some have already strutted their new outfits to school while others are waiting to showcase their purchases in a few weeks.  The hot days of August always mean one thing..back to school!!


As teenagers are planning their school wardrobe, and specifically for the first day, they should make sure their flare for fashion will be appropriate.  If they are not certain, I strongly suggest they read their school’s policy on “appropriate attire,”  before entering the building.  Even adults have to consider the significance of work attire as a “make-or-break” career choice.  Attentiveness to this issue as a high school student is a good career prep.


I’ve known many students who had to call home and ask mom to bring clothes to school; borrow a sweater or cover-up; as well as those who had to turn t-shirts inside-out.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fashion cop and I love to indulge …you should check out my closet.  However, there is a time and place for everything and some fads are not appropriate for school.


Here are some fashion “no-no’s” to use as a guide:

1.  Skirts and dresses that are too short

2.  Revealing tops; exposed cleavage

3.  Gang insignia

4.  Inappropriate language on clothing

5.  Hats/caps (not allowed in some schools)

6.  Tops that are too short

7.  Pants that are worn too far below the waist; mid-thigh area

8.  Undergarments that are visible (boxers, panties)


This is just a general guideline.  Inquire at school, if in doubt, before making an embarrassing fashion statement.  You also do not want to display an inappropriate image, or have a wardrobe malfunction, in front of a teacher or counselor who will be asked to evaluate your judgment or character for college and/or part-time job.


Young men who insisted on wearing low-riders to school had an option when they came to my school counseling office; pull up the pants or stand during our meetings.  Sitting in my chairs in their underwear was not an option; they all preferred to sit.



Eckerd College (FL) Updates


Eckerd College, located in St. Petersburg, on Florida’s Gulf Coast will be offering a new major, Film Studies, and they would like to share information about their Fall Open House and the Autumn Term.  Read the following updates from their Counselor’s Newsletter, Triton Times.


Fall Open House has been scheduled for Monday, November 10, 2014. Please pass along this information to students who might be interested in visiting us.


Eckerd is very excited to announce our newest major, Film Studies. This interdisciplinary program integrates the theory and history of film with an appreciation of cinema as a medium for the expression of ideas and of culture. True to the liberal arts focus of Eckerd, the major requires students to develop a foundation in the elements and theory of film but then provides the flexibility for students to take courses in genre, auteur and topics, film production and other interdisciplinary courses.

Academically, our Film Studies program helps students to continue to develop critical skills in reading, writing and the analysis/synthesis of information. The interdisciplinary approach allows students the opportunity to take courses in areas such as The Horror Film, Chinese Martial Arts in Literature and Film, and Bible and Culture: American Film, among many others.

In addition to the academics of Film Studies, we also have a year-round International Cinema Series every Friday night and are host to a number of different film festivals in the Tampa Bay Area, including the Environmental Film Festival and Surreal Film Festival. For the Surreal Film Festival, our students make films for the competition. Additionally, one of our Winter Term trips each January takes students to the Sundance Film Festival. Perfect for someone who loves film, this gives the students three weeks to watch and analyze film as well as meet with those in the film industry.


Autumn Term is the most distinctive program at Eckerd College. No other college or university in the United States has a program of this kind. Each year, our new students come to campus three weeks before the Fall Term begins. With just our 500 new students on campus (and some Resident Advisors too, of course), students have an easy transition to the academic and social life here.

Academically, Autumn Term helps students get a sense of the educational philosophy and style of an Eckerd education while also helping them understand what the academic expectations are. There are 23 different classes offered each year, specifically designed to be engaging (and fun!) providing a gentle transition to college academics. Some popular classes this year are: Youth Culture and Visual Media, Narratives of Sail, Florida’s Fragile Environment and Bombs, Zombies, Plagues, Waste. A complete list of classes offered this year is available to view on our website.

We also recognize that the social and personal transitions to college life are equally important. Students participating in Autumn Term live in their residence hall, participate in campus activities and explore the St. Petersburg area. There are nearly 100 activities planned during these three weeks. Our goal is to help students make Eckerd their home while helping them connect with each other, finding students with similar interests to their own.

Why Autumn Term? Eckerd is different. Each year, we have approximately 500 first-year students, 83% from outside Florida, and 94% of students (sometimes more) are the only student from their high school attending. Autumn Term helps us connect students to the campus and to each other before the upperclassmen return. When students talk about their Eckerd experience, Autumn Term is always a central part of that narrative.


Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

(800) 456-9009
(727) 867-1166



The STAR Program At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY)

female physician

I am pleased to again share the announcement below from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) regarding their annual STAR (Science, Technology, Arts @ Rensselaer) program.  It will be held October 16-18, 2014, but the registration deadline is September 27th.  The targeted audience is seniors who are underrepresented minorities and women.
I visited RPI several years ago; noted for its distinguished STEM programs as well as a ranked business school. RPI grads are associated with the Ferris Wheel, Texas Instruments, “super glue,” and for discovering fast growing stem cells for burn victims.  Research is a major focus of the college; can be for credit or pay but not both.  The five schools are Business, Engineering, Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences, Architecture, and Science. There are approximately 5000 undergrads; approximately 33-35% female.  Applications overlap with MIT, Cornell U, U Chicago, Rose-Hulman Institute, Carnegie-Mellon U, Harvey Mudd College, and Georgia Institute of Technology.  The admissions committee expects a rigorous high school academic record with strength in grades and the selection of math and science classes.
         OCTOBER 16-18, 2014
           APPLY BY SEPTEMBER 27, 2014
Rensselaer invites academically talented seniors, who are underrepresented minorities or young women, to apply for the STAR (Science, Technology, Arts at Rensselaer) Program. Please share this information with your top students. An official high school transcript is required to complete the STAR application. You may submit an official transcript for your student via email to chaszk@rpi.edu , by fax to 518-276-6573, or by postal mail to the attention of Michael E. Moore, Rensselaer Admissions, 110 8th Street, Troy, NY 12180 prior to the deadline date of September 27, 2014.

Students accepted to participate in the STAR Program will receive a confirmation email from Rensselaer. STAR begins the evening of Thursday, October 16, 2014 with a dinner reception and concludes Saturday, October 18, 2014 at the close of the Fall Open House. At the end of the event, all participants will receive an official letter confirming their participation in the event. We always encourage the students to show the letter to you and/or an attendance clerk so their absence is recognized as an official college visit.

Agenda will include
· Interactive leadership activity
· Academic experience – attend classes
· Undergraduate research overview and tour of laboratories
· Campus tour
· Student panels
· Student organizations and clubs fair
· Lodging and meals with current students

Students may apply online by September 27, 2014 to participate in the STAR Program.

We have been fortunate in previous years to have a limited number of travel grants available. That is still being determined for this year’s program. Considering we have had as many as 200 students participate in recent years, we cannot promise that every student who applies will receive a travel grant. The travel grants are awarded based on need as well as merit. Requests for assistance need to be made in the comment box on the STAR Program application. Once on campus, STAR participants’ meals and other costs directly associated with attending the event are covered by our office. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding STAR or Rensselaer Admissions in general.


Michael E. Moore
Director, Multicultural Recruitment Program
(518) 276-6216

Seven 2014-15 Common Application Tips



The college application season is in session. Starting with the 2014-15 launch of the Universal College Application (UCA) on July 1, followed by the Common Application on August 1, individual colleges and groups of colleges have presented a variety of electronic applications and application requirements.

Online application submission can be a complicated process; be attentive to each set of rules and keep track of details such as system requirements, passwords, and user names.

Before starting, it would be wise to always read instructions and get familiar with each system’s process regarding individual applications. This cautious act will provide greater success when you attempt to submit your form.

Listed below are seven helpful tips for the 2014-15 Common Application:

1. Format. Last year, the Common Application became exclusively online. There is no good paper alternative, as each student experiences the application differently, depending on answers to questions activating drop down menus or other built-in “triggers.” The loss of the paper format is the direct result of the technology introduced through the CA4 last year.

           Hint:   Some non-exclusive Common Application members also provide        paper versions of their applications; college-specific or personal forms. These applications sometimes contain additional or slightly different information about the     application process, but they may be worthy of consideration.

2. System Requirements. The Common Application is accessed via a web browser over the Internet. To learn which operating systems and browsers are supported, click on “System Requirements” at the bottom of the main page of the application. Regardless of browser used, be sure that “cookies” are enabled and popup blockers are disabled. If you think you might need tech support, add appsupport@commonapp.net to your safe sender list.


Hint: Don’t hesitate to change computers if problems persist. It’s sometimes easier to try an alternative rather than spend lots of time fighting system issues.


3. Registration. Before you begin the Common Application, you will need to register. If you registered before August 1, 2014, you will have to re-register for the 2014-15 application. You will need to come up with a password that is between 8 and 16 characters, has at least one upper and one lower case alphabetic character, and at least one numeric (1,2,3, etc.) and one non-alpha-numeric (*, &, $, etc.) character. And you will need to make sure you provide a working and appropriate email address that you check regularly. Registration is also where you provide permission for the Common Application to give your contact information to colleges. If you agree to this exchange, expect to receive mail from colleges on your list.


Hint: Placing a college on your “My Colleges” list may be a form of “demonstrated interest.”


4. Essay Prompts. One of the biggest changes in this year’s application involves the location of essay prompts on the Common Application. Some are clearly located in the section labeled “Writing Supplement,” but others could be tucked into member-specific “Questions.” In order to gain access or make sure you are seeing all essay or short answer questions, if offered, you must first complete all the college-specific questions.


Hint: Some of the college questions act as “triggers” for both the Writing Supplement or essay prompts in the body of the application. Don’t wait until the last minute to complete these questions as you may be in for an unpleasant surprise in the form of additional writing requirements.


5. Green Checks. Green checks are awarded once individual sections of the Common Application are fully completed. You will not be able to submit your application without all checks. Sometimes, a check may not immediately appear. If all required questions appear complete for a particular series of questions and the checks don’t automatically appear, try clearing a couple of questions and then click the continue button to save changes. Go back into the section, replace the answers, then re-click the continue button. Hopefully, toggling the system will solve the problem and you can submit with success.


Hint: If you see a green check mark for any section that you have not completed already, it is because that section is not required for submission.

6. FERPA Waiver. The Common Application recommender system offers counselors, teachers and others a tool for tracking students and submitting school forms online. But before this system kicks in, all applicants must complete the FERPA Release Authorization, which waives the rights of applicants to see letters of recommendations. Applicants at high schools not using Naviance to control the recommendation process may complete the FERPA Release Authorization from within their Common Application accounts by clicking the Assign Recommenders tab for any college on the My Colleges list [students in Naviance schools have a slightly different process]. Note that the waiver is completed only once and covers all current and future colleges and recommenders. Once a student invites a counselor or recommender, the FERPA section locks and cannot be changed. You cannot change your mind.


Hint: Applicants are free not to waive their rights to access letters of recommendation, but be aware that the choice to not agree to the FERPA release authorization could have a significant impact on what recommenders write and how colleges view your application.


7. Print Preview. The Common Application requires applicants to complete an application and begin the submission process before being offered the opportunity to Print Preview their work. Don’t panic and don’t be confused by what appears in text boxes or on the “working version” of your application. Simply work through an application, answer college-specific questions, paste in your personal statement and additional information, if appropriate, and invite your recommenders. Now you can begin the submission process. A PDF will appear which you can save and/or print out. If there are errors in the application you wish to correct, you may stop the process and go back and make corrections. However, after you have submitted an application, you cannot go back and make corrections on that document. You can only change it for future submissions.
Hint: Once you submit your first application, you will only have two opportunities to change your personal statement for typos and content—up to three separate versions are currently allowed by the Common Application. Universal Common Application does not have restrictions.


The Common Application uses Facebook and Twitter, in addition to the Help Center and a growing Knowledgebase to answer questions and keep applicants and their families aware of changes, revisions, and improvements to the application.



Insight into the new PSAT

Students Face Crucial Exams For University


Here’s some quick info about the new PSAT; however, more will be forthcoming as it is further developed.
  • The College Board plans to introduce a redesigned SAT Reasoning Test in March of 2016
  • There will be an opportunity to sit for a trial run with a redesigned PSAT, in October 2015
  • The new PSAT will also serve as the National Merit© Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) for the Class of 2017
  • The College Board will continue to administer the old SAT through January of 2016
  • The redesigned SAT is beginning to look a lot like the ACT
  • There will no longer be a guessing penalty on the PSAT
  • Instead of five answer choices per multiple-choice question, new PSAT questions will only have four answer choices
  • The redesigned PSAT will be substantially longer. In total, the new PSAT will take 2 hours and 45 minutes. The Critical Reading section will increase by 10 minutes; the Math section will increase by 20 minutes; and the Writing section will be 5 minutes longer
  • There will be no essay in the Writing section
  • The College Board promises sample questions to help students will be available on collegeboard.org in December 2014/January 2015, and a full practice test will be available in March 2015




Eleven Prestigious Science Competitions


Summer opportunities

Do you enjoy analyzing and problem solving scientific queries; then later presenting your results to an inquisitive audience or panel?  Maybe it’s time to showcase your potential at a more rigorous platform.  Listed below are eleven highly respected and well-known science competitions where you can present your talent and impress for success.


1. Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. Since 1999, the Siemens Foundation, has provided young scientists with opportunities to win scholarships ranging up to $100,000 for original research in team and individual categories. Registration is now open for the 2014 competition, and the deadline for entries is Tuesday, September 30, 2014.


2. Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. High school teams select an environmental topic related to energy, biodiversity, land management, water conservation, cleanup and/or air and climate. The top team prize awards equal shares of a $50,000 scholarship. This competition typically opens mid-August and ends the following March.

3. Intel Science Talent Search. The Intel STS invites the nation’s best and brightest young scientists to present original research to nationally recognized professional scientists. Open only to high school seniors, 40 finalists are selected to come to Washington DC and compete for the top award of $100,000. This year’s competition is also now open, with all parts of the application due by 8 pm EST, November 12, 2014.

4. National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Individual students compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their original research before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Regional scholarships as well as seven national top awards of up to $12,000 and an all-expense paid trip to London are among the prizes available. Different regions/states run on different schedules.

5. Davidson Fellows. This prestigious scholarship annually awards up to $50,000 to students, 18 and under, who have completed a “significant” piece of work in one of eight categories including Engineering, Mathematics, Science, Literature, Music, Technology, Philosophy, and Outside the Box. The Davidson Fellows application material submission link will open sometime during the summer of 2014.

6. Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The Intel ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, providing an annual forum for over 1,700 high school students from countries all over the world who compete for over $5 million in awards. Competition begins at the high school level and culminates at the International Science and Engineering Fair, which will be held May 10-15, 2015, in Pittsburgh, PA.

7. International BioGENEius Challenge. This competition is designed to recognize outstanding research in biotechnology. Finalists showcase their talent and research before a prestigious panel of expert biotech judges and have the opportunity to win up to $7,500 in cash awards.

8. Google Science Fair. Beginning with online submissions, this competition invites young scientists from all over the world to compete for up to $50,000 in scholarships as well as a trip to the Galapagos Islands sponsored by National Geographic. Finalists are invited to Google Headquarters to present their projects before expert judges. Although this year’s competition is almost over, Google will soon be gearing up for 2015.

9. DuPont Challenge. This competition is designed for science students at least 13 years of age who can craft an original 700 to 1000 word science-related essay. Students are judged on their ideas, as well as on writing style, organization, style and creativity, as well as voice. The 2015 Challenge will begin this fall. Sign up for the LAUNCH e-letter for updates.

10. ExploraVision. Jointly sponsored by Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), ExploraVision encourages collaboration by restricting the competition to group projects. Although all participants win gifts and discounts, the top four teams receive US Savings Bonds worth $10,000 for each student. Material for the 2015 competition will be available over the summer.

11.Microsoft Imagine Cup. Microsoft offers three main competitions—Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship—through which teams come up with original technology projects involving software or a combination of software and hardware. First place teams win $50,000 and all World Finalist teams win a trip to Seattle. The 2015 season will begin in September.


Courtesy Nancy Griesemer, College Exploration, LLC