Category Archives: Get Wisdom

College Search and Sources

How do you learn more about your colleges of interest?

Students are often driven to learn more about colleges through websites like College Prowler, College Data, US News World & Report, and much more. Although these sites can be very helpful, they can also provide information that is inaccurate. So, how do students know what to believe and where to go for the correct information? I hope that my suggestions below will clarify these questions.

  1. What is the source data?
  2. How old is the data that you are reading from?
  3. Are the comments or information valid?
  4. Where are the comments and information coming from? And Why? Is it a thread of questions, is it straight from a university, and/or is it from an upset student?
  5. What is the reason for the author’s bias?

If you are reading an online article or a talk thread, be sure to find out when it was published, who wrote the article and why or why not is it a source of good information. Some articles are strictly feedback from angry students, upset parents or even the other side, happy consumers! When someone criticizes a school or anything about the community, it could be a lack of understanding on a particular circumstance, issue or problem that occurred on campus. Different authors have different opinions. It is important to challenge your own biases by gathering current information from the university. Therefore, visit the college’s website, speak to the Admissions Department and/or Department of interest. A great suggestion is to have the same three to five questions for all of your schools and compare them by answering the questions and verifying your source. Good luck!


Make a plan to graduate college in 4 years!

We all want to save money… especially during an endeavor as expensive as college, right? Come to find students can save tens of thousands of dollars by graduating in 4 years. Though it is more work compacted into a shorter time span, It allows the student to get their studies finished and reap the benefits of their chosen career sooner—not having to drag out school and deal with the consequences that may yield.

Many students fail to graduate in 4 years due to 3 reasons: 1.) either they take too many classes that do not count toward their majors, 2.) they take too few of classes resulting in a longer college experience in order to earn the required amount of course credits, 3.) they work or become too involved with outside activities that interfere with their studies and result in neglecting their studies. It is immensely advantageous for the student to try their best to keep these 3 obstacles from hindering their ability to meet the goal of graduating in 4 years.

Students neglect to consider the cost of even one additional year in school; Complete College America estimates that an extra year of college can cost as much as $68,153. Not only are students who take more than 4 years to graduate missing out on the income they would earn in their new job with their new degree, but they are paying for room and board (if they are living on campus) and they are paying additional years of unnecessary student fees (“The Price of Not,” 2017).

Colleges realize that it benefits not only the students, but that institution as well, fas when students graduate in 4 years, there is a decrease in the dropout rate (meaning more money for the institution). For this reason, initiatives have been set in place at a number of schools to encourage graduation in 4 years. One initiative some schools have incorporated includes a flat rate for a semester of tuition as opposed to paying per course/credit.

For students to be on track to graduate in 4 years, students should pace themselves by taking (5) 3 credit hour classes a semester (15 credit hours total a semester). To graduate even earlier or if you find that taking 5 classes a semester simply isn’t compatible with your schedule, most universities offer a summer semester in which you are able to take 2 or 3 classes over the course of 2 months in order to keep on track to graduate in your choice timeframe.



Ward, Lisa. “The High Price of Not Completing College in Four Years.” The Wall Street Journal,                    Dow Jones & Company, 8 June 2017.

College Rankings

Emory University is ranked #21 in the 2018 edition of “Best Colleges: National Universities”. Harvard University is ranked #1. The University of New Mexico is ranked #181.

We get so caught up in these numbers, likely because they are easy for us to understand. There’s something wrong with this. The whole college experience cannot be measured by a series of data points, and everyone is different—including the researchers that take the data as you will notice that the rankings differ among the different companies that join in on the ranking hype and contribute their findings and data points.

Student A may desire to attend a college with a well known basketball team because he plans to join the team. He also wants to attend a school in a small college-town located no more than an hour drive from his parents house; he also wants his school to have an excellent exercise science program.

Student B may desire to attend a single-sex college near the beach that has a superb choral program as she aspires to be a choral conductor.

Student C is only attending college because her parents will be disappointed if she doesn’t, so she is going to attend and make the most of her situation by embracing the social scene. Her major is undeclared; all she cares about is going to a college that has top-notch greek life. She has her eye on Phi Mu.

All three of these students are looking for completely different characteristics in their college search.

My point is that we should look at the rankings, consider them slightly, then let them go as we realize that the aspects that were important to the researchers who took and calculated the data in order to find the rankings may not be concerned with aspects that you or your student may be concerned with. Just like no two students are the same, no two schools are the same—much less able to be set on a ranking scale.

How do I calculate my GPA?

Cumulative Numeric Average:
1.) Add up all of your class grades
NOTE: Use the grade from your transcript as each school differs in how many points (if any) are added to AP and Honors classes
2.) Divide the total from step 1 by the number of classes you have taken (include all classes listed on your transcript, including any failed classes)
3.) This value is out of 100

Academic GPA:
MOST colleges use the scale of A=4.0, B=3.0, C=2.0, F=0
1.) Go through each of your ACADEMIC classes on your transcript and assign each of them a number according to the scale above (ex: if you made a 94 in science class, assign that class a 4 because it’s an A)
2.) Add all of the assigned the numbers from step 1 up. Divide the total by the number of ACADEMIC classes taken. This will give you your estimated academic GPA.
3.) If your college adds additional points for Honors or AP classes, do so. If you are getting your grades off your transcript and your high school adds a certain amount of points to Honors and AP classes but your college doesn’t add points, be sure to take those points off of the individual classes before assigning them a 4-0.
NOTE: This is simply a common way of calculating Academic GPA; however, each college may calculate their GPAs differently. Please contact your college’s Office of Admissions to inquire about how they calculate their GPAs.

HOPE/Zell Miller GPA:
To qualify for HOPE, students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher. To qualify for Zell Miller, students must have a 3.7 GPA or higher.
1.) If looking at a transcript to find grades, remove all extra points that have been added for Honors or AP classes (if applicable).
2.) Find all HOPE eligible classes. Not all classes are counted in this equation.
3.) Assign final grades of classes (without additional Honor/AP points) a 4 if an A (100-90), 3 if B (89-80), 2 if C (79-70), or a 0 if F (69-0).
4.) Add .5 to any AP or college classes. (ex: if you made a 96 in AP science class, assign that class a 4 because it’s an A, but then assign the .5 because it’s an AP class = 4.5)
5.) Add up all of the numbers assigned to each grade in step 4 (including the .5 for each AP or college class). Divide this total by the number of HOPE eligible classes you have taken.

Get Actively Inspired

As the New Year begins and the old one fades away, I urge all of you to not make a list of resolutions but instead to choose a few inspiring words to reflect on throughout the year and to create a positive universe around you. Make this year the year that you give rest to your fingers from texting or scrolling on that phone or computer and exercise your mind and your tongue by actual conversations with people sitting next to you. Take time to appreciate the ones that you love by actually spending time with them. Take time to have your own thoughts and exercise your own mind by slowing down and processing your ideas.

When we see a new year approaching, we begin to think longevity and how we can improve our body, our bank accounts and more. Instead of thinking 6 months ahead or an entire year ahead, slow down and start with the one that you are facing – January. Don’t get me wrong, I love to plan, but in todays fast pace society sometimes we loose track of our goals because they are so far away from the present. Goals are great; however, for this year think about weekly or monthly goals too.

I encourage you to make January the month to get actively inspired. Try something different like painting, playing an instrument, reading a book, writing stories, taking hikes, meditating, or simply having real conversations.

Make this year the year that you live a balanced, healthy life for you and your community. Please share with me the way that you plan to get actively inspired.

Happy New Year!

Get Wisdom from the Director of Admissions of Curry College

Wendy Williams asked Keith Robichaud, Director of Admissions at Curry College to give some insight about admissions from his perspective. What you will read below is not only insightful, but also great reasons to visit Curry. They have a lot of exciting things happening on campus!

Each fall, as high school seniors begin to take the final steps in their college search – making last minute edits to their college essay, collecting letters of recommendation from their favorite teachers, or attending open houses at the handful of colleges at the top of their list – College Admission offices, like mine at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts, are busy making the final decisions on what qualities we’ll be looking for in the “right” student. While average GPA and SAT scores change from year to year, one thing remains constant – at Curry, we believe the “right” student, the student that will be successful in and out of the classroom, the student who we can best serve, and who can best serve our community, is the student who has managed to find a balance between their academic and extra-curricular lives. At Curry, we feel strongly that a student who has demonstrated the ability to maintain balance – doing well in the classroom while at the same time, doing well on a field, in the work-place, or in the community – is the student who will find a place within our engaged student body, with a strong sense of community. It is this engagement and citizenship that a student can add to their application that often makes the difference in our admission decision. It is also the commitment continue this engagement on our campus that can make the difference in the kind of experience that a student will have at Curry.

At Curry, admitting a student who is active and engaged is important because it is at the very essence of who we are. As we define in our mission, it is our responsibility to “…educate and graduate students prepared to engage in successful careers and active citizenship.” This begins by admitting students who have a passion to be active not only in their learning, but also in a sport, in a cause, in a hobby – so that our community continues to be built on the foundation of engagement.

As we continue to build that community this coming year, I am excited to announce new additions to Curry’s academic portfolio and to the campus. In Fall 2015, Curry will begin its very first cohort of students in our newest Biochemistry major. With the Curry campus located just seven miles from downtown Boston, a major hub of the pharmaceutical and bio tech industries, students will have ample opportunity for internship and career options.

Additionally, our Communication department recently added a Multimedia Sports Journalism Concentration for students interested in pursuing careers in sports media. With internships in organizations like The Boston Globe, New England Sports Network and the Boston Bruins, students pursuing this concentration will find amazing opportunities that will help prepare them for the sports media jobs of today.

In Fall 2014, Curry opened its newest residence hall, Alexander Graham Bell Hall, named after an early Chancellor of the College, which provides a state-of-the-art living/learning community for students participating in one of our many academic cohorts, including our Biology cohort, Pre-Med and Pre-Health cohorts, and the Curry Honors Program. The building was designed to promote the continuation of learning outside of the classroom, in the resident hall common areas, classroom space, small meeting rooms, and large conference areas.

These, along with the many other amazing opportunities at Curry, are reasons why students from all over the world have found their place at Curry College. I welcome you to discover Curry for yourself to see if it just may be the place for you as well!

Click here to visit Curry College online.

Get Wisdom from a parent regarding the college process

What did you find most challenging about the college process and how did working with Wendy Williams help you? What advice would you give another parent about the college process?

The college selection process was pretty overwhelming for us. Even though we had great councilors at our school, Carli’s “undecided/undeclared” status did not make for easy answers. Choosing Wendy to help us absolutely made for a much smoother process. Wendy did so much work with Carli to really understand what she was looking for – and Carli is not your typical kid. I know we all say that, but Carli had requirements around some unusual topics. She wanted a challenging, respected, diverse school near whitewater rivers, a different ideological culture from where she grew up, a cool urban feel yet not too big – and a must was an authentic coffee shop. Well, this is the sort of challenge that Wendy is made for – with Wendy’s guidance and evaluation tools in hand we visited many campuses that helped Carli come to terms with her needs and wants. An objective – and in Wendy’s case, very approachable – professional really helps with some of the friction that families can encounter in this process. So here we are, with Carli off to her first year of college at The University of Vermont and she couldn’t be more excited and optimistic about the next four years.

Lola and Tom Beisel

Get Wisdom from Bed Bath & Beyond

As Manager of Bed, Bath & Beyond, you must have a lot of students and parents coming in for help with their new living environment. What have you found to be the most important items to purchase for college students? Do you have any advice for parents who are trying to create a safe and comfortable learning environment for their student? 

What 3 items are a must have for students who are living in dorm rooms?
1.)  STORAGE!!!  Moving from a large bedroom to a small living space presents challenges.  Look to get any kind of storage solutions to help make your dorm organized.  Over the door storage, over the door hooks, hanging garment storage, slim line hangers, double closet rods, and storage totes are some of the many options out there.

2.) COMFORT- There are not many places in a small place to relax.  The mattresses provided are thin and have an uncomfortable plastic  exterior.  Look to get padded mattress pads, fiber or feather beds or memory foam bed toppers.   In addition, futons or comfortable seating can provide an area in the dorm for down time between classes. 

3.)  FOOD- Having a small refrigerator, microwave and coffeemaker can help make dorm life seem like home life.  The ability to grab a quick breakfast in your room or a study pick me up makes dorm living more enjoyable.

What advice do you have for parents who are helping students get comfortable in their new living environment?
Helping your child get set up and organized in their new space is important.  Once they are unpacked and organized, it’s time to go.  Let them have time to get comfortable in their new space and meet new friends.

Try not to be a helicopter parent,  No Hovering.  The college experience is not just about studying and getting a degree.  The college experience teaches life skills, managing finances, being accountable for deadlines, managing work vs free time and navigating social relationships and skills.  Let go and see what happens.  Mistakes are not failures but lessons.

Answers provided by Erin Fitzgerald, Manager of Bed Bath & Beyond