How to Get Ahead of the College Admissions Game

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You may be hearing from friends and family that their kids are finding it tough to get into the colleges of their choice these days. That’s because a greater percentage of American students are pursuing higher education, according to Mira Cohen, M.Ed.”Today, 34 percent of working Americans hold four-year degrees,” she said.

Between 1960 and 1980, by comparison, that number was under 20 percent, Cohen said. Moreover, California schools are becoming increasingly highly regarded. “UC Berkeley was just ranked #3 globally and UCLA at #8 by US News and World Report–that’s not nationally but globally,” she said. “As a result, we are also seeing an increase in out of state and even out of country applications in California.”

So how can a student seeking higher education get ahead? More and more are turning to college counselors like Cohen. A college counselor offers specialized expertise in the field of college planning, applications and admissions. “Most importantly, a college counselor provides individualized support throughout the entire process from developing your interests, leadership skills, finding your personal voice, your fit and guidance through scholarship and financial aid as well as testing,” she said.

A counselor will set goals and deadlines as well as check in with the student and his or her family to work with changing circumstances and goals as the process evolves. “Most importantly, your independent counselor will really get to know you and what makes you special,” she said. “Your independent counselor can help you push your application package to the next level.”

Cohen observes that in a lot of ways, colleges are looking for what students are seeking–a great fit for their particular institution. “Many private colleges are looking to get a sense that you really understand and appreciate who they are and would benefit from and contribute to campus life and culture,” she said. “You and your college are making an investment in each other and both you and the university admissions staff want to make sure you are making fulfilling choices.”

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Mira Cohen, M. Ed.

That said, grades and test scores have to be where or close to what colleges are looking for. “It is important when creating your college list to generate safety schools, match schools and reach schools,” she said. “There are many schools which will fit into each category for you.”

There are over 3,000 four-year degree granting colleges and universities in the United States, she points out. “Many of them are excellent and chances are, you haven’t heard of most of them,” she said.

Think that state schools are a safer choice? Think again. According to Cohen, as greater percentages of students apply to college, major universities have become very competitive and state schools are able to attract higher performing students. “For instance, San Diego State University just reported admitting the most competitive and highest achieving class in their history,” she said. “The average high school GPA of their current Freshman class is 3.69 with an average SAT score of 1118 up from 1115.”

Cohen holds a B.A. in history with minors in government and dance from Oberlin College and a Master of Education degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.  She also earned a Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA Extension. Her services include the following;

  • Interest inventory and assessment
  • Personalized planning for high school scheduling, including extra-curricular, volunteer and work opportunities
  • Helping students find their “fit.”
  • Research and developed personalized, specialized and extensive college application lists for students.
  • Provide recommendations and make arrangements for college tours for students and families
  • Make recommendations for and attend college fairs and events with students.
  • College interview training
  • Helping students find their voice and create their college essays
  • Create timelines for application process
  • Recommend individualized materials such as podcasts and reading lists
  • Regularly engage with students and families to ensure students maintain appropriate deadlines
  • Guidance with scholarship research and applications as well as financial aid guidance.

Most importantly, she takes “the stress off of families throughout the process and help make the college applications process fun.”

An Agoura Hills mother of three, Cohen has been in the field of education for over 20 years. Her experience includes teaching at Beverly Hills High School, writing and being an education manager. She also worked in the Office of the President at the University of Maryland, College Park. “As a teacher, I worked with kids from all different backgrounds and every academic level from remedial to advanced placement,” she said.

Cohen advises to start the process at the end of Sophomore year; however, she says any time is the right time. “Senior year is crunch time and definitely not too late,” she said. “Right now is a great time for essay writing and interview guidance as well as scholarship and financial aid research and guidance.”

For more information and to schedule an appointment with Cohen, call 818-599-7376 or email her at [email protected]

 

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