Author Archives: Robin Abedon

What College Students Need to Know

(NY Times Editorial)

The popular college rankings focus primarily on prestige as measured by the SAT scores of incoming students and how many applicants are turned away. An initiative started last fall by the Obama administration could help families go beyond these limited, and far too easily gamed, indexes to learn quickly and easily how a college stacks up against its competitors nationally on important metrics like graduation rates, what a degree actually costs and how much debt a student can expect to incur by graduation day.

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Reining in College Tuition

(NY Times Editorial)

This article succinctly sets forth the argument for curbing college costs.

Higher education institutions are predictably cool to President Obama’s proposal to shift federal aid away from colleges that fail to control rising tuition. Even though the details of his plan, which would require Congressional approval, will not be fleshed out until later this month, the idea behind it is sound.

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Early Admission

(by Richard Pérez-Peña and Jenny Anderson, NY Times)

As a Broader Group Seeks Early Admission, Rejections Rise in the East

Early asmission to top colleges, once the almost exclusive preserve of the East Coast elite, is now being pursued by a much broader and more diverse group of students, including foreigners and minorities.

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Financial Calculators

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The [financial] calculators will also lay bare some institutions’ methods for distributing financial aid and could lead to conversations about how those methods reflect colleges’ values. Students — and parents, faculty members, board members or anyone else — can experiment with the calculator to see whether an improvement in test scores or grades, or a change in a family’s financial status, would make a significant difference. And prospective students can do the same at other colleges where they might apply, leading to an increase in comparison shopping and making a competitive financial aid policy important earlier in the process than it might otherwise have been. “This is a win for the consumer, and I think long-term it’s a win for institutions that actually do provide competitive financial aid,” said Daniel Lugo, dean of admission and financial aid at Franklin & Marshall College, which recently launched its calculator for need-based aid. “There’s going to be a shaking out. There are a lot of places that maybe on paper, from their sticker price, look like an affordable choice. Once people see what their package looks like, they’re going to get the truth about their institution.” In the past, the details of financial aid awards — or even their broad outlines — were available to only the admissions and financial aid offices. With the calculator, and some curiosity and persistence, anyone could put together a chart of how aid is awarded, generally speaking: the difference between the award for a wealthy but high-achieving student versus an average student with more financial need, or the monetary value of a tenth of a grade point or 100 points on the SAT.

Be sure to read the whole article on a new federal requirement that colleges display “net price calculators,” which prospective students can use to estimate how much they will have to pay after federal or institutional grants.

Applying to colleges? Consultants can demystify the process

(by Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer)

Robin Abedon, a Wellington-based certified educational planner who operates Taking the Next Step and has been on the college counseling “beat” since 1995, said some students apply to 15 to 20 colleges. “Take one good kid applying widely, and he will only pick one of those schools. But his acceptances create enormous pressure for those other kids who might have been accepted,” Abedon said.

Schools also are doing more marketing than ever as enrollment managers seek to increase the number of applications, one of the criteria used to rank colleges in U.S. News & World Report’s annual college guide. “The colleges love to hate U.S. News & World Report. By the same token, they are afraid to ignore it. It’s a dog-eat-dog world on both sides of the equation,” Abedon said. Add to that the admissions processes that vary from school to school, such as early decision, early action, rolling admissions and regular admission, and it’s easy to see why some families turn to consultants.

Dawn and Paul Strenk of Parkland hired Abedon to advise their daughter Sara, now a sophomore at Stetson University. Sara plays the oboe and is majoring in music education. “She had to travel for auditions. I knew that Robin would help her with her applications. The colleges have become very picky,” Dawn Strenk said. Abedon is now working with the Strenks’ younger daughter, Melissa, who is a high school senior. “I want them to get the best place that fits for them. You don’t want to go there and it is not the right place. You spend a lot of time and money,” Strenk said.

The college consultation business has been around for 30 years but did not begin to grow dramatically until five or six years ago, said Mark Sklarow, executive director of Independent Educational Consultants Association. The group’s membership has grown to 1,000 from 550 five years ago, and he estimates there are about 5,000 full-time consultants nationwide. With high school guidance counselors handling as many as 700 students each, there’s little time for personalized attention.”When a student’s need is, ‘I do not know where I want to go to college,’ that’s far down on the list,” Sklarow said.

“A great consultant probably tells parents to chill,” Sklarow said. “There are no great secrets that consultants know. There are no levers to push, no secret phone calls or handshakes that will get an average kid into the Ivy League. But they can help that family find a school that is just right for their particular child.

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Generation Limbo: Waiting It Out.

(by Jennifer 8. Lee, NY Times)

When Stephanie Kelly, a 2009 graduate of the University of Florida, looked for a job in her chosen field, advertising, she found few prospects and even fewer takers. So now she has two jobs: as a part-time “senior secretary” at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville and a freelance gig writing for, a “secret Santa” Web site.

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When Roommates were Random

(by Dalton Conley, NY Times)

Eager to throw off my nerdy past and reinvent myself at college, I wrote “party animal” on my roommate application form where it asked incoming freshmen whether they wanted to bunk with a smoker or a non-smoker. When I told my mother about this later, she laughed and bought me a T-shirt that sported the image of Spuds MacKenzie, the 1980s Budweiser beer mascot, under the words “the original party animal.”

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Ivy League Colleges Solicit Students Rejected for Stake of Selectivity

In an effort to attract more applicants, colleges market heavily to rising seniors making them believe they will be accepted once they submit an application. View these emails and mailings with skepticism. They often raise false hopes.

(by Janet Lorin, May 12, 2011 – Bloomberg)

Nicole Ederer was delighted when Columbia University and Duke University wooed her with e-mails and letters after she scored 214 out of 240 on her preliminary SAT college entrance exam junior year.

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