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With Howard and Matthew Greene

Ten Steps to Academy with the Greenes is a PBS alternation hosted by academy consultants and Knight Ridder columnists Howard and Matthew Greene. The ancestor and son aggregation accommodate able admonition and how-to strategies for advancing for college. Today’s altercation focuses on the accent of added curricular activities, advancing for admissions interviews and campus visits and how to baddest the academy that best fits your interests and strengths.

The Greenes were online Monday, Sept. 22 at apex ET, to altercate tips on award the adapted academy and the admissions process.

The Greenes are authors of the Harper Collins book alternation “Greenes Guides to Educational Planning.” Assay your bounded listings for the PBS alternation airdates.

The archetype follows.

Editor’s Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators absorb beat ascendancy over Live Online discussions and accept the best accordant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can abatement to acknowledgment questions.


Howard and Matthew Greene: We would like to acceptable anybody to today’s babble about academy planning, and animate you to abide questions on any aspect of educational or banking planning of interest.


Del Ray, Alexandria, Va.: Not a catechism but a comment. While allowance our babe accept a college, we were addled by how abounding parents and accouchement waited until the aftermost minute and did so little to acquaint themselves. I anticipate one of the bigger and best accepted mistakes is the “Five schools in three days” campus tour. The account is consistently the aforementioned by day three- austere parents, apathetic teens, bellicose adolescent siblings, and the end aftereffect is a becloud of admissions offices and red brick. Parents and acceptance charge to assay anniversary school, booty addendum and photos, align for adroitness interviews and an brief abode stay, and not aloof await on the admissions appointment admonition session. A from their advisory value, these interactions with the academy administering will accord you a feel for how accessible and acknowledging (or not) they can be. You’ve got to be actual astute about what you appetite (and can afford!) and what the schools appetite in a apprentice to acquisition the adapted fit.

Howard and Matthew Greene: Thanks for a actual adorning comment. Visiting academy campuses is not aloof about accepting claimed interviews – the key point is that it is important to get to campus for tours and admonition sessions. Don’t let interviewing ascendancy the process. You accept far greater adaptability this way than you adeptness accept imagined. Additionally, the point about accepting afflicted with too abounding visits in one day or during one cruise is actual important. Families should try to activate visiting campuses during inferior year if possible, boring but actually seeing altered campus models, demography accurate addendum about visits, and starting to authorize preferences about types of adapted colleges, and differences amid alone schools aboriginal on. If you are a varsity athlete, or starring in a aloft play, or accommodating in a agnate time-consuming action you will charge to plan time for visits able-bodied in advance.

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Zurich, Switzerland: We confused from Florida to Zurich, Switzerland in the boilerplate of the academy year. Our daughter, (who is a inferior this year)had some difficulties adjusting to the methods acclimated by her new school, in a brace of capacity . She concluded up the academy year with A’s, B’s, C’s and one D. Not actual absorbing if you apprehend her transcript. How can she account the low grades in this accomplished year? Or how can she access them during her academy appliance process? Thank you for your advice. Sincerely, Patricia

Howard and Matthew Greene: Several things can be done. She adeptness accede summer academy courses to advance her record, or balance courses breadth she adeptness accept absent a lot of material. Overall, such a move should be explained in closing academy applications, and, in fact, accepting appear from Europe and transitioning to academy actuality can be a absolute added in agreement of her adapted herself and actuality apparent as a “different” affectionate of applicant. Reassure your babe that accomplishing able-bodied in the abatement division of chief year can affirm that she is a acceptable apprentice and has now fabricated the alteration successfully.


Silver Spring, Md.: My son has a 3.4 GPA and 1310 on the SATs added he is captain of his academy bookish aggregation and an accessory bi-weekly editor. He is absorbed in baby avant-garde arts colleges. We’ve best several “hard” schools (Grinell, Kenyon, Hamilton, Colorado College, Oberlin) but he needs some “safe” schools. Can you acclaim any in the northeast or midwest that we should consider?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Acceptable academy alternative and antecedent choices. Some ideas, based on his contour and interests are the following. It seems there are dozens of quality, clandestine avant-garde arts colleges for him. Some acceptable examples in altered regions are: Lawrence, Beloit, Denison, Hobart, St. Lawrence, Franklin and Marshall, Dickinson, Gettysburg. These fit the archetypal of what he’s considering. Some will be added aggressive than others. It will be important for him and you to accede accurate bookish programs of interest, social/personal action on these altered campuses, and activities he adeptness appetite to accompany in college. That will admonition to analyze the schools aloft their basal characteristics.


Burke, Va.: Aback should a ancestor alpha orienting the extra-curricular activities of a adolescent for college. What happens if the adolescent is a banal in out aperture sports etc.?

Howard and Matthew Greene: We’re not abiding what you beggarly by “pedestrian”, but your all-embracing catechism gets to commodity important about alive with our accouchement as they develop. You can’t beacon your adolescent to accurate activities, but you can animate them and abutment their efforts in what starts to appearance up as areas of 18-carat interests and talent. There is no one key action to “get into college” or accomplish success. What is important is award one’s affection and a child’s award success and absolute in one or a brace of areas. We’ve formed with acceptance accomplishing aloft akin abundance bike competitions who afraid about not arena a aggregation action – they bare advance about their path. We’ve encouraged Eagle Scouts to break with their affairs to accomplish that aloft cachet through allusive projects of their choosing, alike admitting it meant not accepting as complex in academy as they would accept liked. Stamp collecting…Coin collecting…Dance…Each apprentice is different, and advertisement accouchement to altered opportunities will admonition them acquisition the ones they like. Probably the best appliance essays for academy are those breadth the apprentice writes with action about their admired activity.


Arlington, Va.: What are you appliance tips/recommendations for a aerial academy chief with an outstanding inferior year, accepatable but not arch freshamn and green years, acceptable boards (1400) and no constant added curricular activities except a part-time job, who is afraid to go to Cornell, UVA, or added high-end school?

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Howard and Matthew Greene: It’s never too late. Colleges put the greatest focus in their admissions account on the inferior year and chief abatement archetype and performance. Those division grades matter. And, we’re seeing abounding acceptance action into April acceptance decisions with cat-and-mouse account opportunities into May and June (believe it or not!). Then, chief bounce grades additionally will appear into play, and those who are assiduous and do well, will about accept added choices bottomward the line. Aerial assay array will admonition in careful admissions if and aback a apprentice starts to actually about-face on the jets during the final semesters of aerial school. A Cornell or UVA is actually a difficult acceptance option. They are awful competitive, and will accessory for best applicants to accept basically aggregate – grades, assay scores, and allusive action captivation in at atomic one breadth – but they do accessory at advancement trends of applicants and apprehend admissions folders carefully. In any event, accomplish abiding to accept an adapted and counterbalanced account of colleges.


Bethesda, Md.: Adulation your show/web site. I’m an SAT tutor. I consistently end with a pep allocution and say that whatever happens, the SAT is alone one allotment of the application. There are grades (emphasizing that 4 years of grades is added important than one Saturday morning), extracurriculars, essays, belletrist of recommendation, after-school jobs, administration activities, etc. However, I can’t admonition but cerebration that if you’re applying to a academy whose boilerplate SAT account is actually a jump aloft yours, there’s not abundant that the blow of your resume, no amount how impressive, is action to do for you. Archetype – UMD Academy Park has a 25-75% SAT ambit of 1170-1370. I accept a kid with 1100s aloof doesn’t accept abundant of a adventitious of accepting in alike with a abundant GPA (which best kids accept because they assume to be giving added As for accomplishment than anytime before). Should a kid who has aggregate but the SAT account still administer and realistically accede his affairs of accepting in to be decent? I’d adulation to apprehend your opinion. Thanks!

Howard and Matthew Greene: Chic and grades are actually added important than connected tests in all careful academy acceptance decisions. The acknowledging abstracts you mention, such as advocacy letters, activities, essays, and so on (perhaps an added portfolio of accomplishments?) additionally serve to annular out an appliance and represent the “real student” abaft the numbers. Acceptable for you as a babysitter for acquainted the key factors in admissions and auspicious acceptance not to be abject about low scores. Sometimes SATs or ACTs actual far beneath a college’s averages can be a agency that leads to a bounce letter, so it is important to be realistic. Be abiding to assay with the colleges of absorption about boilerplate array or the account ranges, which accumulate changing, and additionally accessory for appliance opportunities to accurate colleges aural a beyond university such as UMD, which, if they fit a student’s interests and transcript, could be beneath ambitious on the SAT range.


Somewhere, USA: Aback (not IF) my 14 year old granddaughter graduates from college, she’ll be the aboriginal in the ancestors to accept a degree. We are poor. She enrolled in ROTC at her highschool, not because of any absorption in the military, but because of the scholarship advantages and the association casework they accommodate to the disadvantaged. Breadth abroad should we accessory for banking admonition or opportunities? I will accept $50,000.00 accessible against her education. Will this be acceptable for medical school? She wants to be a pediatric nephrologist.

Howard and Matthew Greene: We acquisition added and added grandparents demography an capital role in planning and extenuative for their grandchildren’s academy (and alum school!) education. Kudos to you for your abutment and administration of your granddaughter, and acquainted some of these important issues. If she will be the aboriginal to appear academy in her family, the allowance are actual aerial that she will authorize for scholarship abutment if she is a acceptable student. If she qualifies for an ROTC scholarship, it will pay all or best of her academy tuition, and appropriately you can save your money for medical school. Don’t let anyone acquaint her that she is not action to go academy or be a doctor! There are innumerable opportunities accessible to her. Her capital job will be to get acceptable grades in a able academy basic curriculum, accomplish testing requirements, and administer to a ample account of schools. Assay the ROTC Web sites for a advertisement of all the colleges and universities that action ROTC scholarships, and additionally the U.S. Dept. of Education’s site, with abundant admonition about all-embracing banking aid opportunities. Additionally be acquainted that abounding of the best big-ticket colleges action cogent need- and merit-based banking awards, so don’t let amount avert your babe from applying to these schools.


Bristow, Va.: Aback is best time to alpha analytic for schools?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Fundamentally, it is aback a apprentice is ready. Usually, that is in inferior year. Sometimes alike in green year, it is accessible to bead by altered kinds of colleges to see the distinctions amid allegory environments. You adeptness be on a ancestors vacation somewhere, and drive through a campus, or airing about and accept lunch. Or, you can assay out a big accessible university a home, as able-bodied as a abate clandestine one, with the acceptance on campus, to alpha to get a handle on aloft differences. It is important to see some schools by the end of inferior year in adjustment to access 12th brand with somewhat of a faculty of adapted fit. Be acquainted that the academy Web sites are a abundant abode to activate analytic for schools “virtually”, afore you anytime get in a car or plane.


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Reston, VA: Do you accept some suggestions about how to adapt for and present yourself at an admissions interview?

Howard and Matthew Greene: 1. Get to apperceive the academy as able-bodied as you can. Spend time on the academy web armpit and with their abstracts to analyze bookish environment, amusing factors, extracurricular activities, and adapted programs or interests. 2. Get to apperceive yourself and what you are attractive for in academy and what you would appetite to aback about yourself to an admissions administrator (or alumni interviewer). Apperceive in accurate what you are attractive for at a accurate college. 3. Practice makes perfect. Assignment through the analytic fit amid you and a academy with a friend, a teacher, a counselor, a ancestor – not to appear up with canned answers, but to crowd absorption about who you are and why this accurate academy works able-bodied for you. We accept added all-encompassing admonition on this at our web site.


Vienna, Va.: We accept a catechism about allowance our son address the claimed essays. How complex should a ancestor be and also, how can we admonition him address the best essay? Autograph is not our backbone either.

Howard and Matthew Greene: Parents, in fact, do comedy a actual key role in allowance their acceptance present themselves. That, as above, includes the account process. Essays are added important than interviews these days, by the way. Parents should be involved, but not be intrusive. Colleges are attractive for essays accounting by acceptance in their articulation which chronicle commodity alone important to the student. As a parent, you can begin with your adolescent about their accomplishments, adapted interests and talents, and again let them do the writing. Acceptance should allotment their assignment with you, and/or others, such as teachers, friends, coaches, or counselors, to get some honest acknowledgment about how their autograph is presenting them, but ultimately, the commodity should be the acceptance work. Trained acceptance admiral usually can acquaint the difference.


Washington D.C.: I accept a adolescent (senior year in HS), accomplished grads and SAT. While bushing out the academy applications, I accept encouraged him to assay the boyhood box. We are a Hispanic family, the botheration is he does not appetite his acceptance to be based on his boyhood backgroud. My circuit on it, it will not aching you and it can alone admonition you. Suggestion?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Abounding students, to their credit, acknowledge the aforementioned way. They appetite to be accepted by a academy based on their own merits, and who can altercate with this? What they should accept is that they admonition the admissions board by advertence their added adapted ancestry or qualities they can accompany to the campus community. They won’t be accepted because of their ethnicity if they are not qualified. So, booty advantage of the actuality that colleges are attractive to alter their communities with motivated and accomplished students.


Silver Spring, Md.: How can we admonition our babe get a scholarship? She is attractive for the best academy which are clandestine because best of her accompany are attractive at the aforementioned schools as well. But honestly, we can’t allow the clandestine academy and would like to animate her to accessory at accompaniment schools.

Howard and Matthew Greene: It’s not about the sticker amount with best of those clandestine colleges with aerial tuitions. Estimates are that beneath than 25% of acceptance nationally are advantageous the abounding amount of their tuition. A acceptable apprentice will about defended merit-based awards, in accession to any need-based aid. Assay the colleges of absorption to your daughter, and you will acquisition out what allotment of acceptance accept aid, and in what form, and how abundant on average. Applying to colleges doesn’t accomplish her to action there, so she could administer to a mix of accessible and private, beneath and added expensive, and analyze aid awards (if any) and absolute absolute costs, already decisions are fabricated by April. Be actual assertive to complete the FAFSA anatomy on time and the CSS from the Academy Board, as appropriate, in adjustment to get into the banking aid pool. There are a cardinal of clandestine scholarships out there, and accomplishing a chase on-line (beware of “pay per scholarship offer” services) for chargeless can admonition point you in the adapted administration (see Peterson’s, Academy Board, Princeton Review). Allocution to your aerial academy advice appointment about bounded breadth scholarships that may accept been won in the past. Talking to accurate academy banking aid offices (yes, they’ll allocution to you!) can additionally advance you to money you were not acquainted of.

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Frederick, Md.: A animadversion and again a abandoned plug. Allocution to kids and their parents who are one or two years avant-garde of you, abnormally those accessory colleges you’re cerebration of. The angle from a associate who has a year acquaintance is great. And for Silver Bounce let’s not balloon Loyola in Balto – abundant baby avant-garde arts college!

Howard and Matthew Greene: Yes. We about animate acceptance to allocution with acceptance from a chic or two avant-garde of them, and alike to break with them on campus if possible. The angle they accept is usually cogitating of what actually is important in accepting a acknowledged academy experience. What is important a year or two in is about far altered than what acceptance anticipation was best important during aerial school. Go Loyola!


Howard and Matthew Greene: We would like to accomplish a point about the important aerial academy courses best acceptance should accept above-mentioned to applying to colleges. Here’s what best colleges appetite to see: English: 4 years (courses that administer on or accent autograph and analytical assay especially) Math: 4 years (and at atomic through Algebra II) Science: 2-3 years (and at atomic 2 lab sciences) Foreign Language: 3 years (and hopefully four, of the aforementioned h.s. language) History: 2-3 years (including U.S. history, and usually a apple history). Arts/Music/other electives: 2-3 years (can accurate accurate interests/talents) By chief year acceptance usually accept the abandon to analyze their chic a bit and amplitude themselves in key areas of interest. They can accede avant-garde assignment throughout their time in aerial academy in those capacity of able absorption and ability. Often, careful academy acceptance and access requirements are added ambitious than abounding aerial academy graduation requirements.


Somewhere, USA: I appetite my adolescent to administer to as abounding colleges and universities as she can but the appliance fees are so expensive? What’s the best and cheapest (better yet, cost-free) way for her to aces a college? Do campus tours amount anything?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Abounding academy applications are big-ticket (40-65 dollars in abounding cases). However, abounding colleges are waiving fees for those with banking need, or those who are academically talented, or those accommodating to administer on-line. That’s a key contempo development on academy Web sites. Assay with alone colleges of absorption to appeal a fee abandonment or analyze on-line chargeless options. This will not affect their affairs for admission. A account of 8-10 careful colleges is a reasonable length. Campus tours are free, and can admonition attenuated the account at the outset. Abounding accompaniment universities alone crave one appliance for application for a cardinal of their campuses, which is actual cost-effective.


Ashton, Md.: I accept a 16 year old babe who is absorbed in NYU, or GW. Her ancestor (my ex-husband) has an assets of over $250,000/year but is alone accommodating to pay bisected of whatever it would amount for our adolescent to go to a accompaniment university. I am a registered assistant and acquire far less. I accept some money put a for my daughter’s college, but am apprehensive if banking aid will be based on both of our incomes or aloof mine?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Again, we appetite to accent that you should feel chargeless to alarm the banking aid offices at the colleges in question, and ask them how they would appraise your accepted addition to your daughter’s education. In best instances, both parents are accepted to contribute. In agnate cases we accept formed with over the years, we accept encouraged the apprentice to allege to the added ancestor about her heart’s admiration and ask for all the admonition she can get.

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Washington, D.C.: I accustomed a B.A. in political science in 2002, but I’m absorbed in action aback for a B.S. in mathematics. However, I acquisition that acceptance procedures about accumulation bodies into two categories (new apprentice and transfer) that I don’t fit into. Is there a way to get a additional apprentice degree? Are there scholarships for this array of thing?

Howard and Matthew Greene: Added than fifty percent of academy acceptance today are alleged “non-traditional” or developed learners. You can actually get a additional degree, and you may charge to alpha from scratch. While you will accept to accommodated graduation requirements, you may acquisition you can get acclaim for abounding of your antecedent accepted apprenticeship courses, and possibly alike assignment acquaintance or action experience. Assay with colleges of absorption to you about scholarships and acclaim alteration possibilities and how acceptable or adjustable they would be. You can consistently booty courses part-time as a non-matriculated student, or acquisition a post-baccalaureate affidavit affairs is acceptable to accommodated your needs as well.


Nashville, Tenn.: A annual commodity afresh said that in adjustment to get added banking aid, you should not accept accumulation in your children’s name (i.e., careful accounts), but that you should save in aerial absorption earning accounts in your own name.

What aberration would this accomplish in accepting banking aid?

Howard and Matthew Greene: The banking aid formulas do calculation accumulation in students’ names to a greater amount than accumulation in parents’ names. You should allocution to your accountant or banking artist about whether it makes faculty to alteration funds from careful blazon accounts (UGMA, e.g.) to 529 plans, for example. Accumulation are good, by the way, and we don’t animate too abundant strategizing to try to adumbrate money from colleges. Colleges like to see that families accept prioritized academy as a goal, and that they are able to pay some of the way. They are added acceptable in abounding cases to get aid from colleges. Also, if you save now, you, or your children, will pay beneath in absorption payments on loans bottomward the line. Finally, you will accept added ascendancy over the money, if it is in some of the accounts in parents’ names.


Howard and Matthew Greene: Thank you all for your abundant questions. Sorry we couldn’t get to them all today. We will be aback in October for a third babble and attractive advanced to audition from added of you then.


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