Talking Points for Parents with College-bound Children

Addressing Financial and Health Issues

- Power of Attorney - gives parents the right to sign documents, pay bills, oversee financial accounts, etc., in case the child cannot take care of these items for some reason.

- Health Care Proxy - gives parents the right to make decisions for the child in cases of emergency. Whoever is appointed the proxy should be identified on a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, form to give medical professionals permission to share information about their patient. If your child is attending college out-of-state, check in with your health care provider. Medical directives are also specific to the state in which your child will be attending college.

- Living Will - states your child’s wishes regarding the extent of life-extending medical treatment that they would want to receive in case they are incapacitated, as well as their interests in donating organs. A will is especially important for families that have invested in estate planning techniques aimed at passing wealth down through the generations, because the adult child's assets will go back up to parents if nothing is in writing to stipulate otherwise.

- The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is when a student turns 18 years old or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, then all rights afforded to you as a parent under FERPA transfer to the student ("eligible student").

However, FERPA provides ways in which a school may — but is not required to - share information from an eligible student's education records with parents, without the student's consent.

For example:

➢ Schools may disclose education records to parents if the student is claimed as a dependent for tax purposes. ➢ Schools may disclose education records to parents if a health or safety emergency involves their child. ➢ Schools may inform parents if the student, if he or she is under age 21, has violated any law or policy concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance. ➢ A school official may generally share with a parent information that is based on that official's personal knowledge or observation of the student.

Miscellaneous Items for discussion:

➢ Traffic Tickets – sometimes even one ticket can impact insurance rates

➢ Parking Tickets – impounded cars incur costly fines!

➢ Rental Agreements / Security Deposits (Renter’s Insurance) / Co-signer’s Responsibilities

➢ Credit Card Debt / Bank Overdrafts

➢ ID Theft

➢ Property Theft such as expensive electronics and computers, jewelry

➢ Repaying student loads . . . is real, regardless of your situation. Be aware of what you are signing up for – see

➢ Upcoming changes with filing for aid

- FSD ID -

-IRS plans to stop faxing and mailing 3rd party tax transcripts -

Schools have better security than ever, but students are ultimately responsible for their own safety. Safety tips to discuss with your child include:

- Know your surroundings and trust your instincts - Keep campus safety phone numbers in your cell for emergencies - Lock your door. Don’t loan your key to friends. - Don’t accept drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) from others. Remember alcohol is the #1 date-rape drug - Students should let someone know where they are going, who they will be with, and when returning - Students should not prop doors open - Students should be careful about posting personal information and statuses on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites

- Safety first . . . Students should understand what steps upper classmen take to maintain their safety. Check out some of safety apps available for your phone such as Circle of 6, Guardly, bSafe, Panic Guard, MyForce, On Watch - Check the Education Department’s Campus Safety Resources - - Students should understand their rights covering Sexual Harassment Protection and Due Process - - Students should educate themselves in regards to Hazing Awareness and Prevention -


For more on emotional well-being and what to expect, see The Jed Foundation -


The 86th Texas Legislature passed a few bills related to graduation. The list below includes links to the full text and history of each bill (more available at Texas Legislature Online).


SB 213, Relating to the use of individual graduation committees and other alternative methods to satisfy certain public high school graduation requirements.

  • Signed into law on May 7

  • Extends IGC options to September 1, 2023

  • Note the rules for special education outlined in current version of TAC §74.1025 (n), with no anticipated revisions to this subsection:

“A student receiving special education services is not subject to the individual graduation committee requirements in the TEC, §28.0258, or the provisions of this section. As provided in §89.1070 of this title (relating to Graduation Requirements) and §101.3023 of this title (relating to Participation and Graduation Assessment Requirements for Students Receiving Special Education Services), a student's admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee determines whether a student is required to achieve satisfactory performance on an EOC assessment to graduate.”


HB 165, Relating to providing for endorsements for public high school students enrolled in special education programs.

  • Signed into law on June 10

  • Effective immediately; Applies beginning with the 2019-2020 school year

  • Expands the opportunities for students with disabilities to earn an endorsement with modified content to any course

  • Key language:

    • a student “may earn an endorsement on the student’s transcript…. with modification of the curriculum, provided that the curriculum, as modified, is sufficiently rigorous as determined by the student’s admission, review, and dismissal committee.

    • The ARD committee “shall determine whether the student is required to achieve satisfactory performance on an end-of-course assessment instrument to earn an endorsement on the student’s transcript.”

  • Expect revisions to TAC §89.1070


Always Choose a College Consultant who is affiliated with the highest ethical organizations

Today’s college admission scandal is a reminder of why it is important that families choose an IEC who is a professional member of either IECA, HECA, NACAC, TACAC and AICEP. I hold professional memberships in all of these organizations.

 • Why Choose a Member of the IECA?

• 10 Important Ways IECA Members Are Unlike Other IECs:

• Principles of Good Practice:


Heading Off to College - Take some Bruni advice with you

Frank Bruni’s piece in the New York Times provides perhaps the most valuable advice our students can use at college (August 17, 2018)

a mammoth study by Gallup, Purdue University and the Strada Education Network has found what really makes a difference in student outcomes. Previously known as the Gallup-Purdue Index and now called the Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey, it has questioned about 100,000 American college graduates of all ages about their college experiences, looking for connections between how they spent their time in college and how fulfilled they say they are now.

The study has not found that attending a private college or a highly selective one foretells greater satisfaction. Instead, the game changers include establishing a deep connection with a mentor, taking on a sustained academic project and playing a significant part in a campus organization. What all of these reflect are engagement and commitment, which I’ve come to think of as overlapping muscles that college can and must be used to build. They’re part of an assertive rather than a passive disposition, and they’re key to professional success.

See New York Times for full story.


Public Loan Forgiveness


To clarify for this opportunity, a borrower must have done the following as outlined by Dept of Education:

-  Submitted the Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Application for Forgiveness and had that application denied because some or all of the payments were not made under a qualifying repayment plan for PSLF

-- Worked at least 10 years of full-time employment with a qualifying employer, certified by the employer, and approved by the Department

-- Made 120 qualifying monthly payments under the new requirements for the TEPSLF opportunity while working full-time for a qualifying employer or employers

Borrowers who believe they may qualify for the TEPSLF opportunity should email a request for reconsideration to


From the New York Times:

"So now comes the fix-it fund. It could allow some of the people who were in a list of formerly ineligible repayment plans into the loan forgiveness program if they apply for the exception before the $350 million runs out (or after Congress allocates more money, if that ever happens). Only people who paid more than they would have under an income-driven repayment plan on their most recent monthly loan payment and the one 12 months ago (and thus were consistently overpaying, in effect) will be eligible.


If this sounds like it applies to you, you need to do the following things in the following order. First, you need to make 120 on-time payments in the right job, with the right loan; you can't go looking for relief yet if you've made only 90 payments, even if you already know that 30 of them, five or more years ago, were in the wrong repayment plan. Then, you need to ask FedLoan, your servicer, to begin formal forgiveness proceedings. It will then reject you for being in the wrong repayment plan for part or all of that 120-month period.

Only once that happens can you apply for the money, by sending an email to FedLoan. (The address is on the Department of Education's website.) The department has a template there that you can follow."

Michael Rose, Director for Government Relations, NACAC


TEXAS Releases its 'Corrective Action Response' for Special Education Programs

Over the last year and a half, Texas Education Agency has acknowledged gaps in services for students with learning disabilities and has recently submitted a plan to correct and improve public school practices in its Special Education Programs. Families of children with learning disabilities should understand how their child might have been impacted and how future plans will affect their child's learning environment.

The TEA released the 42-page draft strategic plan after a 15-month federal investigation concluded Texas had not been providing kids with disabilities the tools and services they needed to learn, likely failing to educate thousands of students and violating federal law. Federal officials found the state was effectively incentivizing school districts to keep their special education numbers low and that many teachers fundamentally misunderstood the legal requirements around educating kids with disabilities. (Update, April 26: The TEA released its finalized plan on April 24, taken Texas Tribune.)

The final version of the plan comes after months of draft proposals and feedback sessions with parents, educators, education advocates and students. The state is aiming to repair a decade-old practice that drastically reduced the number of students receiving special education services. TEA officials have repeatedly said the 8.5 percent benchmark was not a cap but an “indicator of performance.” But in practice, districts used the number as a cap, the Department of Education found, and denied or delayed services for children across the state ( taken from


ACT to Launch Online Learning Program for ACT College Entrance Exam

ACT to Launch ACT Academy, a Free, Online Learning Program Designed to Help Improve ACT Scores, College Readiness



Find the text of the full Jan 23, 2018 press release below or the link can be found here

IOWA CITY, Iowa—ACT today announced plans to launch ACT® Academy™, a free online learning tool and test practice program designed to help students master the skills they need to improve their ACT scores and succeed in college and career. The program will be launched in the spring. 

ACT Academy will help students improve their college and career readiness by providing them with video lessons, interactive practice questions, full-length practice tests, educational games and other materials targeted to their academic needs. Each student will receive their own personalized study plan based on their scores from the ACT® test, PreACT®, official ACT practice tests, or diagnostics within ACT Academy.

“ACT Academy will help students improve their readiness for the ACT test and college and career by giving them the resources they need to increase their understanding of core academic skills,” said Suzana Delanghe, ACT chief commercial officer. “And the fact that ACT Academy will be free to all students is yet another way ACT is working to close gaps in equity, opportunity and achievement for underserved learners.”

ACT Academy will provide students with engaging content and materials developed by ACT, the Khan Academy, NASA, PBS and other learning organizations in one convenient place. All of the content will be sorted by efficacy, so students receive the resources that have been proven to be most effective for each skill. It will include the high-quality materials of ACT’s OpenEd, the leading online resource library for K-12 teachers. 

ACT Academy will be compatible with all devices and will allow students to work on building their skills anytime, anywhere they have internet access. Parents, teachers, and counselors can also use ACT Academy to help students study and learn. 

One unique advantage ACT Academy will provide students is the ability to drill down and pinpoint building-block skills they have missed. Every user will have access to thousands of ACT resources, as well as ACT’s proven tips and strategies. 

For more information about ACT Academy, visit:



Press Release for USA Gap Year Fair at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Austin, TX

February 3, 2018


St. Andrew’s Episcopal School will host the fifth annual Austin-wide USA Gap Year Fair on Saturday, February 3, 2018 from noon to 3 pm.  About 45 gap year programs will be present at the fair, representing a wide variety of domestic and international gap year experiences.


The program will begin from noon-1 pm with a panel presentation in the St. Andrew’s Upper School Chapel.  Speakers will be presenting various perspectives on gap years and identifying what to look for in a program and how to find a good fit. Following that presentation, the USA Gap Year Fair will be open from 1-3 pm in the Upper School Cafeteria.


St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is located at 5901 Southwest Parkway in Austin.  Parking will be available in the main lot and in the gym lot.


For further information, please contact Elizabeth Guice at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School (  



Southwest and Southeast Texas Schools & Colleges adjust for Hurricane Harvey Aftermath


Texas Schools, Colleges Postpone Classes To Assess Harvey’s Damage

NACAC Post 8/30 & 8/29

Over 1 Million Students In Texas Affected By Harvey.

USA Today (8/30, Toppo) reports because of Hurricane Harvey, Houston schools are closed as are “systems throughout the region.” Superintendent Richard Carranza “said he hoped to begin classes on Sept. 5.” The Texas Education Agency said the story affected “more than 1 million students in 244 public and charter school districts statewide.” Apart from those schools that are closed, some “in nearby districts” are “serving as shelters.” Some schools have been inspected for water damage, while many others are inaccessible due to flooding. To help, ED “activated its emergency response contact center” and “is taking part in daily briefings led by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.” It is also granting “‘administrative flexibilities’ on federal student aid rules.”

        Houston Students To Receive Free Meals For The Year. The Houston Press (8/30, Fanelli) reports, “The Houston Independent School District has announced that all HISD students will receive free meals for the 2017-2018 school year.” That is due to waivers being granted by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Agriculture which fund the school meal programs.

        ED Easing Financial Aid Rules For Students Affected By Harvey. The AP (8/30, Danilova) reports ED “is easing financial aid rules and procedures for those affected by Harvey.” ED has issued a statement saying that schools may use “professional judgment” in deciding “to adjust a student’s financial information in the aftermath of Harvey” and “may even be able to waive certain paperwork requirements if documents were destroyed.”

The Wall Street Journal (8/28, Korn, Hobbs, Subscription Publication) reports the Houston Independent School District, the seventh-largest district in the nation, was scheduled to start the new school year on Monday; however, Tropical Storm Harvey caused unprecedented flooding that filled a number of classrooms and district facilities with water. More than two dozen southeast Texas public school districts will remain closed through at least Sept. 5 for damage assessments, and regional colleges and universities have suspended classes, relocated students living on campus to other housing facilities, and postponed events.

        Dallas ISD Ready To Help Students Displaced By Hurricane Harvey. The Dallas Morning News (8/28, Smith) reports, “Dallas ISD is making plans to help students displaced by Hurricane Harvey.” DISD news and information director Robyn Harris said, “we’re certainly ready to help out our brethren from the Gulf Coast.” Those hosted at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center shelter “will be offered seats in three DISD schools: North Dallas High School, Spence Middle School and Kennedy Elementary School,” with proof of residency, birth certificate, and immunization records requirements waived and the district providing transportation. Harris also “said that the district would have its counselors, social workers and psychologists on-call to help students deal with the emotional impact of the hurricane and its aftermath.” According to a Facebook post by DISD trustee Miguel Solis, the district plans to offer “information, on-site enrollment and counseling services” at the shelter and the Texas Education Agency will work with the district’s Food and Child Nutrition Services to provide food to the evacuees.

Khan Academy to offer more AP Support

Khan Academy has announced its plans to offer more AP support to teachers, as well as students.


The new supports will provide students with meaningful feedback that will increase their understanding of course content throughout the year. Among them is the AP Question Bank, the most commonly requested resource of the AP teacher community. The Question Bank is a library of real AP Exam questions—sortable by topic and skills—that teachers can use to create practice tests and assignments for students to help identify and address potential learning gaps.

The new supports will provide students with meaningful feedback that will increase their understanding of course content throughout the year. Among them is the AP Question Bank, the most commonly requested resource of the AP teacher community. The Question Bank is a library of real AP Exam questions—sortable by topic and skills—that teachers can use to create practice tests and assignments for students to help identify and address potential learning gaps.

Dartmouth and the other Ivies


Task Force to Explore Pros and Cons of a Larger Student Body




A task force will soon begin work to explore the opportunities and challenges of increasing the size of the undergraduate student body as a way for Dartmouth to have a greater impact in the world and to increase flexibility in shaping incoming classes.


In his annual address last fall to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, President Phil Hanlon ’77 said that investigating an increase in enrollment is one of the strategic issues facing the College.


“The most compelling reason to contemplate growth is that Dartmouth aspires to better the world by preparing graduates who have the skills and ambitions to go out and change the world. A larger student body would lead to more graduates, which would amplify our impact on the world,” says President Hanlon.


The investigation is just that, says Hanlon, a chance to study the pros and cons of growth and consider the potential effect of growth on the institution. “We’ve not made a decision, far from it,” says Hanlon. “We want to take a look at facts and see what we can learn from them.”


Before any decision is made, the College will seek comment from all members of the Dartmouth community. The task force will present an initial report to Hanlon, Provost Carolyn Dever, and Executive Vice President Rick Mills by the end of October, with a final report due in mid-March.


With its 4,310 undergraduates, Dartmouth has the smallest number of undergraduates in the Ivy League. The small size makes it more challenging for the College to enroll a new class that represents interest in a variety of academic disciplines and activities outside the classroom and come from diverse backgrounds. The task force is charged with developing a hypothetical implementation plan that considers undergraduate student body growth of between 10 percent and 25 percent.


Over 15 years, ending in 2015, the percentage growth in the undergraduate student body has seen double-digit increases for half of the eight Ivy League schools, according to U.S. Department of Education figures. Cornell led the group, with 66 percent growth to just over 14,200 students. Dartmouth’s growth was 4 percent over that time, and in terms of the number of students, Dartmouth had the smallest undergraduate student body over the 15-year period. Yale is in the midst of significant undergraduate growth, expecting to increase the size of incoming classes by about 15 percent over four years.


A number of Dartmouth departments have advocated for greater representation in incoming classes, and there have been requests to admit more international students and students from a wide range of backgrounds and with differing interests outside the classroom.


The task force’s charge includes the requirement that any potential growth plan must at least break even financially. As the task force develops a plan, it will look for ways to maintain or enhance the quality of the educational experience for all undergraduates. The group will also consider whether there are economies of scale to be achieved—ways of more efficient operation that could be realized by increasing the number of students.


One thing that won’t change, says Hanlon, is the unique access students have to faculty and the ability to do research with these remarkable scholars. “We pride ourselves on the bonds that are established between members of our community and we’re not going to alter this hallmark of the Dartmouth experience,” he says.


Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Smith and Dean of the College Rebecca Biron will chair the task force. Its other members are Dave Hodgson, a College trustee; James Feyrer, an associate professor of economics; Mark McPeek, a professor of biological sciences; Reiko Ohnuma, a professor of religion; Scott Pauls, a professor of mathematics; and Andrea Tarnowski, an associate professor of French and comparative literature.

Ask Patricia Nehme, CEP - Educational Consultant more about the Ivies or any college -

International Students - Good Guidance through the Admissions Process

  • If we start with the premise that the college counselor is already quite adept in advising the international student (a Certificated Educational Planner, UCLA College Counselor Certificate with International Student coursework, professional member of OACAC, HECA, IECA and NACAC), then the time constraints are perhaps the most pressing challenges for this advisor. There are numerous sequential parts encompassing both the immigration and financial aid processes. Each piece seems dependent on the previous step and the approaching deadline(s). Every facet of the process seems very much interrelated. A counselor’s ability to create a student plan four years out (when you consider the testing and language piece too), and schedule the processes based on the individual preferences is crucial.

    For the counselor with a large case load, finding the time to adequately understand the needs of each student, identify and develop a strategy for that one individual, then communicate and monitor the processes to ensure the optimal outcome, will undoubtedly involve more of the counselor. Starting early is essential. Gaining a clear sense of family dynamics (communication and logistic issues may be formidable), providing colleges with a sneak preview of the applicant by mid-junior year, then advocating for the student will require more of a time investment.

    Identifying institutional fit early enough to have the COF in place for an Early Decision application, yet making sure that bank statements and other supplemental documents are current with timely submissions may pose challenges too. Having an independent consultant / private college counselor help oversee deadlines brings a tremendous asset to the international student. 

    For those students already attending US high schools, the counselor’s piece in the matriculation process is more involved with submitting the I-20 soon after graduation. Advising students on waitlists may involve summer availability.

  • As your private college counselor and independent educational consultant, I (Patricia Nehme, CEP) will play a more pivotal role in advising about immigration issues, in researching college options and financial aid resources, in advocating for the student, in facilitating the various processes and in continuing to be a resource after high school graduation.

Majors - Think about Double Majors

As I was looking at research on double majors, I ran across the PBS News Hour piece - Does It Pay to Get a Double Major in College, by Christos Makridis

Christos Makridis is a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University, where he is earning doctorates from the Department of Management Science and Engineering and the Department of Economics and specializing in areas of labor and public economics.

His research suggests, however, that students who are eager to expose themselves to more frames of thinking and disciplinary knowledge may well be investing in the very foundation that prepares them for a successful and innovative career.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.



International Applicants - a word of caution with the stats

  • some of you may have read NACAC’s Today in College Admissions (4/4) post taken from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars’ recent survey, citing a drop in international applicants for the University of California and the University of Missouri systems. I note this piece because of the March 16th New York Times article Amid ‘Trump Effect’ Fear, 40% of Colleges See Dip in Foreign Applicants - which also cites this survey, only later to receive some push back from a March 29th WSJ article - Other Than That, The Story Was Accurate; An economist waits for the New York Times to retract its report on foreign students - citing Mr. Cowen’s blog (an economics professor at George Mason University). Quoting the WSJ piece, “Mr. Cowen decided to examine the survey for himself and discovered the following results published on the very first page of the report, listed first among its “key findings”: “39% of responding institutions reported a decline in international applications, 35% reported an increase, and 26% reported no change in applicant numbers.” The WSJ and Mr. Cowen’s point – “If you look at all the data, they probably are down, but by no conceivable stretch of the imagination should the 40% figure be reported without the other numbers.”

    Whatever the numbers, we understand there are growing challenges that our international applicants face. As an independent counselor, my job is to be ‘in the know’ so that I can provide timely and pertinent information to families as they determine their college list, invest their time and resources, and wisely navigate through the admissions process. Understanding their challenges better is one of the main reasons I enrolled in this class. The questions posed to us at the end of the lecture helped me to frame some of issues that face our international students.

    Of course, there is the obvious - the Trump’s proposed policies with their implications for international students (such as the ability to persist to degree, travel and safety concerns). But I think even more consequential are factors shaped by individual US colleges and universities. Understanding colleges’ missions and agendas, their volume and source of international applicants, the focus of the school’s research dollars, the nature of impacted majors, institutional philosophies and everchanging enrollment practices, will be essential for me if I am to bring value to these applicants.

    Just today, while attending an IB College Fair in Hurst, Texas, I was more aware of these international admission dynamics. One admissions rep shared that her university is very intentional in how they admit students from country to country, while at a similar university, a single country may enjoy up to 60% of the total international admits. Another rep, from Temple University Japan, shared that some of their international applicants are now more likely to consider a degree from an American university located in another country. Temple in Japan happens to be in one of the safest cities in the world – Tokyo.

    Another challenge, as we read and I have personally witnessed, is that of the growing number of international students attending US high schools. This phenomenon creates certain admission advantages for such students and provides some understanding of a colleague’s recent post:
    “Despite his impeccable credentials: perfect GPA, top standardized test scores, 12 AP classes, state and regional science and math achievements, college research experience, athletic championships, and musical awards – he wasn’t quite strong enough to get into his top schools. International students must truly be among the very best in their birth country and have achieved some level of ‘national prominence’ in order to get into the top U.S. universities.”

    While this statement may be a bit of an exaggeration, it does seem to have a ring of truth. Open Doors is a great resource for more on stats.

College Admissions - Demonstrated Interest Guidance from Patricia Nehme

  • From both the college and student applicant perspective, demonstrated interest is an important piece of the admissions process. One could even make the argument that demonstrated interest is that intangible, indispensable emotion necessary for a healthy relationship between two entities before they enter a more formal commitment with one another.

    For those colleges that track demonstrated interest, they have provided themselves with a tool to determine fit, to predict a certain level of campus engagement and academic achievement, a persistence to degree, and to measure loyalty to their brand (growing their alumni and future legacies), as well as enhance their enrollment management model for a more robust yield.

    But because universal applications, such as The Common Application and The Coalition, a casual, more expansive approach towards applying to colleges has become very common. This growing student practice has left many colleges with little choice but to gauge ‘genuine’ interest as best as possible.

    In turn, I believe these institutional practices of tracking applicant interest serve students well. Serious applicants should already be doing things like establishing college rep contacts, researching points of academic and social interests, completing interviews, connecting on social platforms and, when possible, touring campuses, meeting faculty and college students. These activities help the student determine fit, and make matriculation an easier transition.

    Despite the mutually beneficial outcomes, tracking demonstrated interest has a dark side. Many colleges are not as transparent about this admissions practice. If colleges were more explicit, stating clearly ‘we track demonstrated interest; here are the ways in which we do it . . . ’, including the purchasing of student data from the exact sources (e.g., College Board, ACT, etc.), students would be more aware and hopefully, more thoughtful in crafting their college list (maybe / maybe not). Unfortunately, there would still be those students who would create false impressions of their affections for schools in which they only want an acceptance and never plan to matriculate to.

    Finally, I think that some of this student behavior – especially the trophy hunting, may be the result of high school expectations. Having worked with students from very prestigious private schools and elite public schools, some of these schools want to brag about their students’ acceptances. Some of these schools encourage students to apply to many colleges. Many schools’ profiles boast large numbers of selective college acceptances. Just as colleges use predictive models to shore up financial backing, high schools take ‘college acceptance’ lists to the bank too.

    Demonstrative interest is so very essential to ‘fit’. Unfortunately, the student applicant is not the only one gaming the system, but also the college, with its lack of transparency and secretive use of data, and the high school’s need to maintain a stellar profile of college acceptances. Educational Consultants who are Certified Educational Planners like Patricia Nehme can help you understand more about 'Demonstrated Interest'.

College Admission Essays - Summer Before Senior Year - Educational Consultant

  • Ideally, every student should come to the essay prompt with a wealth of ‘self-reflection’ inventory. Students, in the best situation, have already done the time-consuming work of completing biographical questions, several types of assessments and surveys, and if they are fortunate, a counseling session where the reflections and surveys are discussed and questioned for verification, making the inventory all the more rich with unique details of the student that simply could not be discovered elsewhere in the application. When a student finally comes to the essay, the prompt is primarily offering the student a device in which to share a slice of the inventory – of self.

    In approaching each prompt, students must balance what they want to express about themselves with what colleges must know about the student. So many of the prompts seek to know several basic, essential traits about the student, such as the following:

    - Is the student resilient; how does the student handle stress
    - Is the student likeable and teachable; can and will the student work and live well with others
    - Can the student navigate the complexities of college life – of campus life; is the student resourceful; and does the student take initiative
    - What will the student add to the academic conversation and research of the university; what might the student give back as an alum
    - How is the student’s major selection supported in their comments
    - How much and how will the student engage and contribute to the residential life and in creating community

    While admissions will be striving to ascertain this type of information about the student, the more selective the university is, the more they will want to discover evidences of ‘demonstrated interest’. With yield rates so paramount, these colleges will want to know what the student really knows about their college, their particular programs, etc.. The ‘why us’ question can only be answered through genuine research on the student’s part.

    Helping students understand these admissions dynamics when approaching each essay prompt is an important piece of what a good college counselor offers to each student. See Patricia Nehme for more details -

IRS Data Retrieval Tool Reinstated for Student Loan Borrowers

In March 2017, the Department of Education took down the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), which helps students accurately complete the Free Application for Student Aid and apply for income driven repayment plans (IDR), due to security concerns. 


On June 2, the Department announced that the DRT has been reinstated for student loan borrowers. In the announcement, ED noted that "New encryption protections have been added to the Data Retrieval Tool to further protect taxpayer information. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will return Oct. 1, 2017, on the online 2018-19 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form."

Houston area event - Feb 12th National Ctr for Learning Disabilities Conversation

Feb 12 Mitchell College Houston.png

Join Us For An Evening With


Janet Steinmayer

Mitchell College President




Mimi Corcoran

 National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) 

 President & CEO


Sunday, February 12


Business Attire


River Oaks Country Club

1600 River Oaks Boulevard 

Houston, Texas 77019 | 713-529-4321


RSVP to Jacqueline Jewett at




How to Check Accreditations - reprint from Private School Review, June 2016

There are two ways to check whether a school is accredited or not. Most schools will proudly list their accreditation on their web sites and other publicity materials. The second way of confirming information about a school's accreditation status is to visit one of the accrediting organization sites listed at the end of this article.


How to Find the Right School

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges offers some excellent suggestions on how to find the right school for your child. The accreditation process gives parents confidence that they are making the right choices for their children's education. A private school education requires a substantial financial investment over a period of up to thirteen years assuming your child goes to private school from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. A private school education should ideally be a continuous good experience from the early childhood years right on through high school.


Another point to consider is that the National Association of Independent Schools requires that its member schools be accredited by one of the regional accreditation organizations listed below. 


Schools which belong to the following associations frequently seek regional accreditation. These schools hold a dual accreditation, one with the specialist association and the other with the regional association. This offers parents an additional measure of comfort because they know that the school meets the spcialist standards, for example, of the Waldorf Schools, as well as the standards of the regional accrediting association.

  • The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)
  • The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA)
  • Catholic Dioceses

The Benefits of Accreditation

"Accreditation fosters stakeholder involvement and commitment by providing opportunities for greater involvement in charting the direction and future of the school. Accreditation offers a mechanism to involve constituent groups in creating a vision of the future, not just allowing it to happen." [Source: Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools]


Obviously in a short piece like this one I am skimming the surface of the subject. However, to me the above statement says what I as a parent want to hear, namely that my involvement as a stakeholder is wanted and appreciated. Indeed it is vital to the accreditation process. That is one of the fundamental reasons why I would send my child to a private school. My voice will be heard. We won't just be another number. When your child attends private school you become a partner in the education process. The school, you and your child are partners - stakeholders - in her schooling.


  by  striatic 


Accreditation then is important to us parents.  Accreditation gives us the assurance that an independent, objective peer review of the school has been performed in the past, indeed, in many cases, probably quite a few times. Accreditation reassures us parents that the school has a plan in place to achieve its vision and attain its objectives.


Accreditation is one more box we parents should be able to check as we review schools which we feel might be a good fit for our requirements.


List of Accreditation Organizations for Private Schools


Middle States Commission on Colleges and Schools

Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools


New England Association of Schools and Colleges 


Commission on Independent Schools


North Central Association of Colleges and Schools


Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (CASI)


Southern Association of Colleges and Schools


Council on Accreditation and School Improvement


Western Association of Schools and Colleges


The Accrediting Commission for Schools