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Choosing a College When You Don’t Like Your Options

college choices|college choices
Ian Brook Fisher

Written by Ian Brook Fisheron April 21st, 2016

I began my career in admissions by walking backwards as a student intern, giving guided tours, interviewing students, and reading applications for my alma mater, Reed College. After graduating, I began full-time work in admissions, reading thousands of applications primarily from the Western United States, especially Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. (I got to eat the best food on my travel!) In my last three years at Reed, I directed admissions for the entire continent of Asia and served as the director of marketing and communications for the admission office, honing our official voice for web, print, and social media. This helped me to develop a sharp eye for what works (and what doesn’t) in college essays. While Reed is not known (at all!) for sports, I was able to find my competitive outlet with the ultimate Frisbee team as a player and, when I graduated, a coach. After nine wonderful years at Reed, I left Portland to pursue a M.A. at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. When I graduated and joined College Coach, I was living in Palo Alto, California, an experience that helped me learn so much about the UC and CSU system and high school programs all around the Bay Area. In the end, I missed the rain too much, and moved back to Portland in the summer of 2016.
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Getting the Student Perspective Last week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, hosted by Sally Ganga, continued the trend of welcoming a current student to discuss her college selection process. Zainab Bindher, a College Coach alumnus and current student at the University of Michigan, introduced us not only to her application process but also the first year at UM. It was really intriguing to hear her description of her “Living Learning community,” a residential offering that enables her to connect with others with the same values both inside and outside the classroom. Because of her interest in social justice and aspirations for law school, Zainab’s participation in this community has been a huge part of her UM experience. For more stories from Zainab, including favorite courses and future goals, give the show a listen! Finding the Bright Side In the second segment, Karen Spencer arrived on the scene to provide a spoonful of sugar to help that tough decision medicine go down. The topic was ostensibly, “what to do if you’re not happy with your admissions decisions,” but I think it can more accurately be described as “how to look on the bright side.” Karen and Sally shared great tips for helping your child see the positive in her admissions decisions, regardless of what her aspirations may have been just four or five short months ago. Answering Your Finance Questions Finally, we turned to you the listeners for our final segment, in which Beth Feinberg-Keenan answered financial aid questions. Why submit the FAFSA if you won’t qualify for aid? Do colleges “front-load” funding for ED or EA students? Check back in the archives to hear Beth’s responses and identify whether they’ll be useful for you and your child going forward in this process. As always, we’re happy to field additional questions. Please submit them at On this week’s show, which airs later today at 4pm EDT, we’ll be discussing an approach to take if you and your child don’t agree on a college choice, offering tips for the student that doesn’t have any acceptances at this late stage in the process, and in providing details on the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program. Join us on Getting In: A College Coach Conversation! Getting-In-CTA


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