Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Western Association of College Admissions Counselors (WACAC) in Monterey. Thursday, May 31st to Saturday, June 2nd I attended seven panels that included “Building Skills for a Successful Transition to College,” “Engaging Students for Long Term Success,” “What is ‘the right fit,’ in the Admissions Process,” and “Annual ACT update.”

While I couldn’t get to all of the panels I wanted to, the presentations will be available online in a few weeks for conference attendees, and I look forward to reading them this summer!

I want to share with you a few things I learned:

  • Just as Khan Academy provides free test prep for the SAT, there is now free online tutoring for the ACT!
  • Asking students to “picture themselves in college”– completing an actual drawing exercise can open conversations in productive ways for students who’ve not yet thought much about what sort of post-graduation environment they would like. (There’s less stress and more fun than answering an adult’s pointed questions.)
  • The contact that a student has with a school representative in person, by email, does matter. Being informed, curious, engaged, and respectful count. The term used for this is “demonstrated interest,” and while it’s not at the top of the list in admissions offices, “DI” is on the list.
  • Many smaller colleges today offer short courses to Freshman that teach skills needed for away-from-home living. It’s recommended that parents ask about such offerings. Easier transition means happier student and peace of mind for mom/dad!

During the exhibition hours each day, I met with several people whose weekly emails catch my

Charlie Maynard, the founder of “”— an app that helps students find scholarships. Charlie looks like he’s 22, but he’s a whiz. If your child will be a senior next year, I suggest checking out Going Merry.

Paul Kanarak, the CEO of Collegewise, one of my favorite sites that provides info for students and parents.

And Akil Bello, Director of Equity and Access at The Princeton Review. Akil presented powerful information about the biases of standardized testing.

I also talked with admissions counselors at Pepperdine, UC, Chapman, Pitzer, and Occidental to name a few. All had interesting information, and I left the conference with a head full of new ideas about helping MUSE students on their path to college! Please feel free to contact me about any information here, or anything else related to college prep. I can be reached at