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Peggy Stabile: Not everyone gets admitted...

Posted: August 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Having spent 20 years as a counselor at both Valencia and Hart high schools, an adjunct counselor at College of the Canyons and, most recently, a college application specialist with Pegasus2edu, I have had the pleasure of guiding countless students and their parents through the college application process.

After reading Tim Myers’ article "The Great College Admissions Scam Revealed — Part 1," I felt as though my life’s work had been meaningless.

Upon looking more closely, however, I discovered that Mr. Myers’ article was fraught with omissions, generalities and, in some cases, outright erroneous statements.

Although not made clear in the article, it appears that Mr. Myers’ comments may be restricted to only state (public) institutions of higher learning.

The majority of institutions mentioned, the UC and Cal State system, Arizona universities and the Pac 12 and Mountain West schools are specific to the western region of our country.

He mentions no private colleges or universities, only one Midwestern school, and otherwise ignores the rest of the country. Also, the top 100 national universities are excluded from his article.

In writing about western region public colleges and universities, Mr. Meyers states, "Everyone gets admitted to (most) of these universities."

Using Arizona State as a frame of reference, he says that if an applicant sends in SAT/ACT scores, transcripts through junior year, and has a 3.0 GPA coupled with test scores in the 53rd percentile, that student will receive an admission decision within two weeks.

While it is true that ASU and many other state universities both within and outside California do have 3.0 GPA and 510 or less on the SAT sub-tests as requirements for acceptance, Mr. Myers does not mention that these are minimum standards and do not take into account impacted majors and impacted schools.

With impaction comes a drastic rise in admissions standards. In fact, my student Katie, after extensive research, learned that Mr. Myers’ advice, which may have gained her admission to ASU, would most definitely NOT allow her to be admitted to ASU’s Finance program, which requires a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.6 and either 25 on her ACT or 580 on each of her SAT sub-test scores.

Not everyone gets accepted, Mr. Myers. Homework must be done to ensure that students enter college with a viable action plan that allows them to meet their academic and career goals. Otherwise, applying merely for the sake of applying, applying because "everyone gets admitted," will result in wasted student time, a college not suited to his or her needs, and the expense of one or two extra years spent in completing undergraduate work due to poor planning or no planning at all.

In speaking of extra-curricular activities, Mr. Myers is emphatic when he states "They DON’T mean a whit for college admissions."

Once again, while many state universities may not factor in activities, virtually every private college or university and many of the more selective state universities throughout the country weigh heavily the level of involvement that students demonstrate during high school.

As a matter of fact, the merit scholarships that Mr. Myers refers to as "discounts" for out-of-state students rise exponentially when the student demonstrates leadership ability, special talent, extra-curricular activities, community service, and volunteer and/or work experience.

Mr. Myers’ tone seems somewhat disparaging when he says that the UC system actually limits the number of activities that one can submit. Actually, the UC application has at least three areas in which students may list accomplishments ranging from honors and awards to extra-curricular activities and sports to community service, volunteer and work experience.

Up to 15 entries can be made. Activities may also be mentioned in the two required essays and in one other section referred to as "Additional Information."

To tell students and their parents that extra-curricular activities don’t matter is to do a grave disservice to those seeking a quality college education.

It is true that there are many individuals who claim they are college planning experts, who guarantee students admission to particular universities and who promise extraordinary financial-aid awards to vulnerable families.

These individuals may be scam artists, promising much but delivering very little. But those of us who have the credentials, the experience, and the desire to help families who are feeling overwhelmed at this juncture of their teen’s life should not be lumped among these unscrupulous "consultants."

Peggy Stabile is a Santa Clarita Valley resident as well as president and educational director of Pegasus2edu: The College Application Specialists.


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