How we will work together

Here are a few simple pointers.

Enjoy the process. Most applicants think about college admission with dread. Think positively, for you have every chance to attend a great college or university.

Forget about the media, the rankings and the competitive stress. There is a huge range of great colleges and universities. Despite the hype, there is no such thing as the perfect fit. There are more great schools for you to attend than you have ever heard of. Part of my job is to help you find them.

More than 80% of students and their parents focus on the public reputation of a college or university. We will work on finding the best schools for you. It is better for you to graduate in the top 10% of the class of the school you choose than to be in the bottom half of a school that is higher in the US News rankings. Together, we will design a list of schools where you have every chance to be a star. The highest ranked schools are not the best fit for everyone. (See my opening reading assignment of a good reason to be suspicious of any rankings in the first place).

My approach to the college selection process is unique. A small number of students will embark each year with me in what I will call an Oxford style tutorial. You will learn how to learn, to ask questions, to seek connections, to imagine beliefs and life experiences other than your own, to become a good listener, to dig behind the surface. These are the basic habits of mind that are critical to success in college and beyond. You will learn ways to communicate effectively that transcend the admission process. My years as a university instructor will come in handy.

For many years I gave the welcoming speech to new incoming international students and parents as they began their educational journey in the US. The advice I now give to students and parents who are starting the journey at an earlier stage is much the same. I want you to have a positive impact on your life, on your country, and yes, even on the world. This may sound grand. I have worked with so many students over the years who have done this that I fully expect each of you to aim high. I promise to do the same. And remember, all of this is going to be fun, too.

Parke with several international students of UVA