Meredith Reynolds - Head Start College Blog

Archive for January, 2008

College Sophomores: Don’t Get Lost
January 31st, 2008

I can’t believe its almost January, half-way through freshman year! I saw an interesting article in Inside Higher Ed and thought I would share its message with you. 
Many colleges and universities across the country are realizing that perhaps as important to retention as freshmen activities, advising, small seminars etc are similar efforts to keep sophomores “connected” with school community. For many, sophomore year is the time to move off campus and cook for yourself which inevitably will lead to a sense of disconnectedness.
Recognizing this concern,  many colleges with adequate housing are requiring staying on campus sophomore year. Colorado College offers Sophomore Jump program which includes among other things once-a-month dinners with faculty members. Many schools stay connected with students while assisting them with planning a study abroad program for junior year.
My message to students (and parents advising their students) is find a way to stay involved in your school community all four years that’s where the memories are made.

CA Public Universities: More Students Fewer Spots, Finding a Way
January 31st, 2008

Before you begin yelling “the sky is falling on California Public Universities” please remember that getting a college education is more important than ever. The next few years will present high school graduates with sunami-like challenges to achieving that goal. But perservere they must, needing parent and family support more than ever.……

With threatened state budget cuts, the California public universities are being forced to reduce the available spots for incoming students despite record numbers of applications. 504,832 applications were sent to California State Universities, an increase of 11 percent. This year University of California applications increased 9 percent. And the competition is not just at the high profile campuses–Cal State Monterey Bay had a 38% hike in applications received this year.
Historically, the UC system has accepted “eligible” students to at least one campus, but Executive Vice President Wyatt Humes said that given the grim budget situation, administrators can’t promise the tradition will continue.
For this year’s seniors all there is to do is wait and begin to explore alternatives for next year “just in case”. Now is the time to complete all financial aid applications. The right aid package might make the private school on your list more of a possible than a dream. Community Colleges are much more affordable, but are suffering from the same state budget cuts making it harder and harder to get the required classes to qualify to apply to four year universities.

So support the college dreams of those high schoolers in your lives. Help them believe that somehow they will “find a way” to have that college education we all know is so important.

Online College Matchmaking for who?
January 31st, 2008

QUICK FIX (Wall Street Journal 1/29/08)

The Right College Match
January 29, 2008; Page D1

Problem: Finding colleges compatible with your child’s interests and academic performance.

Solution: Create a profile on Cappex (, a free Web-based “matchmaking” service that pairs students with colleges looking for specific types of candidates. Cappex also helps facilitate introductions between colleges and students by forwarding student profiles to admissions offices. Hone in on schools using factors such as cost and location at College MatchMaker, an online service from the College Board ( Or generate a list of your child’s personal top schools using the ranking feature on Admish, an online college admissions community ( with personal ranking criteria students choose from a master list.

Caveat: A Web site isn’t a substitute for a visit to a college, where prospective students can see for themselves whether the school is a good fit.

…………my thoughts.
It seems these online matchmaking services are multiplying at dizzying rates. College MatchMaker has been around many years, but CAPPEX ?? why did WSJ pick this one? I decided to check out who was behind it. I contacted WSJ freelance reporter who immediately forwarded me to a PR firm in Chicago (her contact) who forwarded me to the head of marketing for CAPPEX. As it turns out the CAPPEX founder was the founder of FastWeb (financial aid site now sold). My best guess is that the CAPPEX college match service is the bait to get student data (which CAPPEX students are free to release or not release) to financial institutions and colleges. Dont be confused, I dont think it necessarily bad that students are courted by financial institutions and colleges. It is however, important to be aware that the college match may very well be driven from the college’s and financial institution’s perspective, rather than the student’s. To avoid guilt by association, I do not believe College MatchMaker falls in this category.

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Kiplinger’s 08 Top 100 Public Universities: Surprises!
January 18th, 2008

Even if the larger four-year public universities are not on your radar, it is interesting to see another ranking system at work. We all know comparing apples to apples is important. The Kiplinger report annually surveys public universities weighing academic factors two-thirds and financial factors one-third coming up with a ranking of “best” 100. At least this year the south is where its at!
Universities are ranked separately for in-state and out-of- state students. In both categories the University of North Carolina was ranked number one followed by University of Florida.The University of Virginia ranked 4 for out-of state students behind its neighbor College of William and Mary at 3.
Some surprising results! The University of Washington lead the Pac 10 with a ranking of nine.
 Looking to  California universities (for in-state students) UCLA (10), UCSanDiego(11), UC Berkeley (18), UC Irvine (21), UC Santa Barbara(29), Cal Poly SLO(41), UC Davis (48), UC Riverside (99). Missing from the top 100 at least this year is UC Santa Cruz.
Long respected public universities…University of Michigan 19, University of Wisconsin 23, University of Texas 35.
One of my personal favorites, the University of Delaware, beautiful campus, great location ranked 8 for out-of-state students!
Other popular destinations for high school students in the west are: University of Colorado Boulder (91), Northern Arizona Univ (71), University of AZ (95), University of Oregon (92), Washington State Univ (88), and Arizona State Univ (98).

CSU Shortens Application Period to Cut 10,000 students
January 17th, 2008

Though most seniors are happily celebrating the submission of that “last” application…if any out there are still considering adding a Cal State to your list …new as of this week you will need to get it in by Feb 1 for most Cal State Campuses…for individual campus information check
In an article found in yesterday’s Sacramento Bee:
In anticipation of drastic budget cuts next year, the California State University system wants to save money by shedding 10,000 students and laying off the non-tenured staff it would take to teach them. To reduce enrollment, it announced early this week that the application period for high school seniors and other first-time freshmen is shortening by about six months – from mid-August to Feb. 1. Late Wednesday, CSU announced it would extend the application deadline to March 1 for seven under-enrolled campuses, including Sacramento State.
This policy decision by CSU will push these students to the already crowded community college system making it even more difficult to get the classes to carry a full load of 15 units.
Perhaps most important for the entire family, the Head Start College program paces students to complete their applications by Thanksgiving.


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