Demonstrated Interest and Your College Acceptance

Guest Blogger: Liz Levine

A parent and her son came to me asking for help in searching for and applying to NY State schools. His core course GPA was in the high 70’s and his total GPA at 82. I had reservations about how successful he would be in gaining acceptance to some of the state schools he wanted to apply to. They were headed upstate NY to visit the state schools near the Canadian border. I advised them to find their admissions counselor, the one that covers our geographic area, and speak with them about how interested they were in attending their institution. They did so and continued the communication after they came back home.

How much interest you show a college may mean the difference between being accepted, or not.  This is called Demonstrated interest.

“Demonstrated Interest” is a term used by college’s that describes how much a student is interested in attending their college. It encompasses every touch point that a student has with a specific college. By touch points I mean visiting a school, Emailing a college admissions officer, sending a thank you note after an interview, completing an information request form on a college’s web site, Facebook “Likes”, Tweets about the college and more. These touch points can improve a students chances of gaining acceptance to certain colleges and is used not only during the application process but prior to as well as if a student is waitlisted.

There are specific software packages that some colleges have that tracks these touch points. They use this software not only to gauge how much a student is interested in their school but also to gain insight on how to better market their institution to students and parents given the competitive landscape in today’s search for the right college.

Each college considers “Demonstrated Interest” at varying levels from very important, in line with consideration of academic GPA, to not considered whatsoever. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 50.2% of colleges consider Demonstrated Interest of moderate importance to considerable importance, which is an increase since 2003.

You can find out how much a college takes into consideration “Demonstrated Interest” by searching on the Internet “Common Data Set” and the college name you are interested in.

Bottom line is, don’t ever underestimate how important a student showing their interest in a college is and how every interaction you have with that school is tracked. It just may mean the difference between being accepted by the school of your choice, or not. 

Federal Financial Aid for College and How it's Calculated

Guest Blogger: Liz Levine

I work with many families helping them understand the college financial aid process and how the Federal government views their assets, as it relates to paying for college.

If you are saving for your child’s college education and there’s a chance that you will be applying for any kind of federal financial aid when your child heads to college, (loans, scholarships, grants…etc.), keep on reading.

Many parents I speak with, as was also my impression when my children were growing up, feel that the money they put away for college should be put into their child’s name.  Unless these funds are deposited into a 529 account/plan, which is a plan that is operated by the state, putting money into your child’s name can actually be detrimental to the amount of funds the federal government will provide to you.

In order to get any kind of federal or even college specific financial aid the student/parent needs to complete the FAFSA form, the federal government financial aid form.  There is a lot of information that needs to be completed and a complex calculation that goes into assessing what a parent/student can pay towards a year of college.  There is one piece of the calculation that relates to what we are speaking about here:

+  20% of a child’s assets may be counted towards aid calculations, meaning how much that child can apply towards one year of their college costs

+  5.64% of a parents assets may be counted towards aid calculations, meaning how much a parent can apply towards one year of their child’s college costs

+  When there is money put into a 529 account though, that money is counted as a parental asset at 5.64% vs. a child’s asset at 20%

As an example, if you have $50,000 put into your child’s name, the government says $10,000 of it can be applied to pay for 1 year of college.  If it is in the parents name only $2,820 will be applied.

The financial aid calculation has many factors that feed into the result but being aware of how you can best manage your funds to gain the best possible outcome can make the difference in not only how much money you can receive but what kind of aid as well.

College Consultant Orange County NY Helps Students with NCAA Requirements

Guest Blogger: Liz Levine 

College recruiting and NCAA requirements and rules can be very complex. It is important to follow all rules diligently, or you may be at risk for being disqualified from the recruiting process and participating in these sports at the college level.

Even when a college has made you a formal offer, grades, SATs, and high school course requirements have to be met for you to play a Division I or II college sport.

One recent client of ours was a football player being recruited by Div IAA and II colleges. He had the courses necessary to meet the NCAA minimum requirements, but his grades, coupled with his SAT/ACT scores were not up to par and bordering not meeting the NCAA rules. Several of the Div I schools withdrew their offer because of his grades. I’m happy to say, after much work and research, he received an offer from a school that met his needs.

Go to the NCAA Eligibility Center online that certifies the academic and amateur credentials of all college-bound student-athletes who wish to compete in Division I or II athletics.

NCAA Quick Reference Sheet

8 Steps to Taking Back Control of Your Classroom!

TEACHERS - Having problems controlling your class?

                 Are you a teacher stuck in the ether of an uncontrollable class? Do you feel like your classroom is disorganized, or full of children who aren't respecting your lessons or policies? Are you afraid that the ability to do your job somewhat relies on a classroom that's willing to…actually…LISTEN, and maybe even respect you?

                 If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, seek no further guidance than the expertise that almost thirty years in this business can give you. You know the deal- you have most likely heard your colleagues discussing specific students that seem to be a constant distraction in class, and probably have a few students of your own in your mind. Here's the bottom line: It ISN'T difficult to teach in a classroom where students are misbehaving. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!

               So how do you implement a system that is strong enough to withstand whatever classroom problems you may be facing? Well, it's actually not that simple. Every classroom is different, yet so many can be the same in some fashion. You might have to adjust some of these Golden Rules to fit your needs, but these are PROVEN building blocks on which to maintain a safe, functional classroom:

              1. No foul language 

              - This is a BIG one. So many teachers allow their students to get away with swearing in class. It's a bit different in context at the collegian level, but in grades K-12, it's something that can really turn a classroom upside down. Allowing students to swear even once could give them the green light to keep it up. Destroy this problem the FIRST time it occurs in class. Give a harsh warning, talk to the student after class, whatever you think is appropriate for the situation, but do SOMETHING. If you don't stop it as soon as it begins, the problem will grow! PROVE to your students that you won't tolerate it.

            2. No hats 

            - Bad hair days are the student's problem. But seriously, a hat in class is a sign of disrespect. You may not think so, and if so, skip this rule. However, remember it's possible that if students see that they can get away with something, they may try to break boundaries in even more areas.

           3. Raise your hand to ask a question

           - In some courses, student led discussions are pivotal. However, as the teacher, it's a smart idea to keep control of class discussion. The last thing you want are students screaming across the room at each other. That is why students MUST raise their hands and be called on to ask a question. The more random blurting that occurs, the noisier and more chaotic the classroom can get. Make it clear on the first day of class that students MUST raise their hand and be called on to make a comment or ask a question. It's YOUR class. YOU are the only one who should be speaking without being called on.

         4. Never throw your work out

         - Why do students always complain they don't have that handout from a few weeks ago? In every course you teach, students should be made aware  that they are responsible for every piece of paper handed out in class. Accidents happen, but generally you want to make it clear to students that they keep all work from the first day until they receive a grade. Do it this way, and there are no more excuses about not having required class materials!

        5. Garbage gets thrown out at the END of the period

         - Don't allow students to wander around class. Tell them that all garbage can be disposed of when class is dismissed, barring unique circumstances. When one student gets up, more will see it's acceptable, and more WILL follow!

       6. The student is responsible for ALL work even when absent

       - Let's get clear- the whole "I wasn't here last class, can I make the homework" speech, and all of its variations you've probably heard; THEY SHOULD NOT EXIST! In 2014, you can send emails or syllabi from one phone to another person's phone. Nearly every student has one, or at least has some sort of access to the internet. If students are absent, they should know it is their responsibility to email either you or another student so they can complete the assignment and hand it in ON TIME. There are still some extreme circumstances, but the more lenient you are with late assignments, the more you will be handed late assignments. There are due dates for a reason! Stick to them!

      7. The Period is over when YOU say so. The bell means nothing.

      - Anyone who has taught even a day knows what the 'bell' really means. Or, more importantly, what a few minutes BEFORE the bell means. It means that some students aren't listening and some are packing up. This cannot be tolerated. You are given your entire class period for a reason. Your students should feel free to pack up AFTER you officially dismiss them. The bell is there to tell YOU that in 5-7 minutes, the next period will start. It does NOT mean that students can turn off their ears and pack their notes away. Two minutes lost per day is two weeks of teaching time! YOU be the bell!

    8. Don't forget to have FUN.

      - Kids love to have fun. Even though you need to be forceful sometimes to keep control of a classroom, it is easy to motivate students by laughing, having some fun, and doing hands-on activities. Reward your students for excellent work with a (relevant) movie day, or class outside in warm weather. Students generally hate sitting in a seat and not being able to move for a whole class period. That is WHY some classrooms can spiral out of control. A balance between fun and seriousness needs to be maintained, and if it is, your class will respect you!

There you have it! This is a small guide to managing a classroom. As teachers, we have two real jobs, which some people who aren't in the business aren't aware of. Mastery of teaching the material and mastery of the CLASSROOM. All that knowledge means nothing if you cannot communicate it to your class. Be clear with your students about what is expected of them and don't bend your own rules. Remember, it's your classroom. What you say goes!

Want more info about Grade Success? Have any questions about teaching methods, tutoring, bullying or parent involvement in education? How about an entire book on classroom management, and collaborative teaching?  Visit our website or like us on Facebook and Twitter, and read some info about The Ninth Period, a handbook designed to help teachers!

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3 Approaches to Collaborative Teaching

“There is no “I” in TEAM.”  Somebody said this, but I don’t know who, sorry.

A book would not be able to cover this topic, but I do want to mention it since:

a.    I have done it for over five years.
b.    I believe in it wholeheartedly and feel it will be used more in the future.

In the best case scenario, if you teach collaboratively, you will be able to choose your partner, but this is not always the case. I didn’t really get to choose my co-teacher but god smiled on me and I got an angel. I don’t mention other teachers in this guidebook, but you can see a picture of her if you go to my website, hint, hint.

You need to respect each other and acknowledge what each of you can bring to the teaching table. It is important to divide and conquer whenever possible. If you think that two people in the classroom reduces your workload, you are sadly mistaken.

You need to do lesson plans together and constantly discuss students in depth. This is a difficult job to do with someone else, but I think it is invaluable to the students. Just think of all the things that have to be delegated.

Lesson planning
Parental contact
And more…

There are many collaborative teaching approaches.

1.    One teaches, one roams
2.    Both teach different parts of the lesson
3.    One does the content and one focuses on various learning styles

Many times you have to learn your rhythm, “on the fly”. You can not create this winning team overnight. My co-teacher and I weren’t really comfortable until our third year together. We are always in the process of tweaking and refining our approaches.

The most difficult thing for me was to give up some of my territory. As I mentioned before, I tend to be territorial.  Now, I am happy to let my co-teacher share the responsibility of delivering the lesson. It gives me time to visit with each student personally during the class period. I feel that I am truly bonding with the students. If done right, Collaborative Teaching can improve the fluidity and functionality of any classroom.