#100 Can You Really Trust What Colleges Say Matters in Admission? with Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski, David Blobaum, and Becky Priest Transcript


Lisa Marker Robbins  01:03

Welcome to a milestone episode. It’s the 100th episode of College and Career Clarity. It’s hard to believe that this was just a dream in my head two years ago, we’re shaking things up this time around with a stellar panel that I’m really excited about. We’ve got experts in college counseling, test prep, financial aid, school counseling, and of course, yours truly here to guide your team to their best fit college major and career choices. Now, what you our listeners don’t likely know is that every year the member Colleges of the National Association of College Admission Counseling, spills the beans on what really matters when it comes to admitting students. Since the pandemic, the game has shifted quite a bit, which we discussed back in episode number 61. I’m going to link to that one in the show notes. Though the top contender is still those excellent grades from challenging classes. There are some under the radar factors that you and your team should be aware of. Our experts today will help shed light on those and much much more. I’m Lisa Mark Robbins and I’m be on thrilled to have you join us on this special 100th episode of College and Career Clarity brought to you by flourish coaching. Let’s jump right in and get the N sites rolling. Hello, my panel of some of my favorite people. Welcome to the show. I think you Now normally I get the bio of the expert in on the intro. But this time with four of us I think we need to introduce ourselves. So I’ll just say I most will know me. I’m Lisa Mark Robbins. I am the owner of flourish coaching where we guide teams to their best fit college major and future career. I’ve been doing this work for 25 years. It’s hard to believe, and 100 episodes of the podcast. So Rebecca, I’m gonna let you I’m gonna let each person kind of give a quick introduction. I’m in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rebecca, you’re up next.


Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski  03:19

That’s great. Thanks for having me, Lisa. I’m Rebecca Stewart or Loski I own or Loski college consulting LLC. I’m in San Diego and I have been an independent educational consultant for 12 years. It’s hard to believe my background is actually in special education. But I also have a college counseling certificate from UCSD and I specialize in twice exceptional students homeschooled students, talent based students and students who are sort of off the beaten path. And I’m really excited to discuss this topic today. David,


David Blobaum  04:00

hi all my name is David blow vom. I am the co founder and co owner of Summit prep in New Jersey, we have two locations there. I’m also the Director of Outreach for the National Test Prep association. So I’ve done over 30 TV appearances at four op eds in national media outlets. And basically I just advocate for the appropriate use of testing in college admissions, informed by data and evidence.


Lisa Marker Robbins  04:26

Excellent. And Becky. Hi, Lisa.


Becky Priest  04:30

Thanks for having me on. My name is Becky priest, and I am the college counselor at the Cambridge School which is a classical Christian School in San Diego. I have been in this job for 10 years as we’re a newer school and we are just graduating our seventh class this year. So our school is small, but I have worked with a lot of people in the community because my background is college financial aid. So I worked in the The Financial Aid Office at Washington University in St. Louis for 10 years, and worked in the part of the office that process financial aid awards for incoming freshmen and transfer students. And I also managed to the college work study program at one point. And currently, our school is a member of the Society of classical learning network of classical Christian schools, and I co lead workshops every year for new college counselors and help them get build their departments and get their feet under them in their schools.


Lisa Marker Robbins  05:36

Awesome. Well, Rebecca, you’re the one who’s to blame for this episode. Credit with the idea. Because as I realized a couple of months ago, or just last month, I was like, Oh, my 100th episode is coming up, we need to do something special. And I was considering all sorts of ideas, and your LinkedIn post, which is the best place for people to follow you, I know, kicked off this idea. So why don’t you go ahead, Rebecca, and just share what the net CAC survey is what we learned from it, and get us started?


Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski  06:21

Sure, yeah. So that Thanks, Lisa, I did post on the survey, because as you said, they release it, you know, once a year. And while I didn’t really comment a lot, I didn’t give my personal opinion on the survey, I did know that there’s there is a shift. So previously, test scores, according to the survey were more important, and they are de emphasizing test scores, and continuing to emphasize, you know, GPA, which is interesting, I hope that we’ll tease that out a bit. And then they’re kind of, you know, raising the bar on positive character attributes. So really, I sort of summarized it, you know, briefly in, you know, de emphasis on test scores, continued emphasis on, you know, GPA and rigorous classes, and then a rising emphasis on character attributes. But I think, you know, Lisa, you approached me because the survey seemed incomplete, at best, and perhaps disingenuous, at worst, because there were a lot of things that those of us who work in this business realize that colleges didn’t really talk about in this survey. So there’s a lot left unsaid.


Lisa Marker Robbins  07:37

Absolutely. You know, I think at the heart of what all of us do, is our hearts just to serve the family, so they can make wise and informed decisions. And at first glance, the results of the survey would feel like, oh, it, they’re arming the families with the decision that should guide their college bound journey, but as experts in various niches in this field. Well, David, I think you said it best. When we started, you said, there’s actually nothing that you like about the survey. And I’ll say there’s very little I like about it. So David, expound share.


David Blobaum  08:25

So I would say this is misinformation masquerading as information. So I think it does more harm than good. So when we look at I mean, I’m focused on test scores. You know, that’s really what I advocate on. And that’s what I read, I would say, every single study, probably that’s been put out in the last 40 years on SATs and AC T scores and college admissions. So just, you know, quickly when this says that 30.8% of their colleges put no importance at all on SATs and AC T scores, that’s either not true, or they use a completely biased sample set for these colleges. So really, nationally, it’s 8% of colleges don’t consider SATs and AC T scores. So if you’re there 30.8, that’s 4x times the number of colleges that actually don’t consider SATs and AC T scores. And then when we look at the number that say that they put considerable importance on those scores, that’s 5%. Again, it’s either just a lie, or it’s a completely misrepresented his sample size because we know that more than 95% of colleges, at least colleges that you would want to go to put considerable importance on test scores. The other thing about that is what is their definition of a considerable so you know, when when you look at the common data set that each college puts out, that’s where I think the the better information is so in my opinion, the survey was unnecessary because you can already look at what Kyle edges save themselves that they care about. And you can see it in more context. So for instance, Harvard says that they consider SATs and AC T scores. But they also say the exact same category for grades. So they can Harvard considers them, but they consider them equal to grades, they don’t even put anything, it’s very important on the common data set for Harvard. So the vast majority of colleges you would want to go to their tests required, or most are test optional. And they do consider test scores.


Lisa Marker Robbins  10:30

Yeah, you just refer to two things, I want to say I’m gonna link to them in the show notes. So this survey the capture of the data, we will link to it in the show notes. And because of some previous episodes that we’ve had, I actually have shot a video to show families how to find the common data set. And I’m going to link to that in the show notes. Because we don’t want to just sit here as experts and say, okay, you know, this is wrong, and not show them the data, show them the data that we’re pulling. So if any of my experts on the panel, go, Okay, I’ve got some data for you, Lisa, they’re gonna send it to that we head on in this episode, they’re gonna send it over to me, and it will be in the show notes. I promise that because we believe in transparency. And I would say like, I don’t think that this survey is very transparent. And that is something that we’re advocating for. So families can make informed and aligned decisions. Rebecca,


Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski  11:31

I was just going to add one thing to what David said, I work with a lot of homeschoolers. And, you know, maybe they’re a smaller percentage of the applicant pool, obviously. But don’t think for a moment that most schools are not looking for a test score from home schoolers. In fact, you know, I appreciate the ones that have policies like Chapman University, which is here in California where I am, that says, we strongly recommend test scores for homeschoolers. And so I have to actually inform my homeschoolers of that, because I’ll have homeschoolers who want you know, because I sit here in California, where the University of California and Cal States are test blind, right? So they don’t need to worry about that. But if all of a sudden they want to, you know, apply to the school down the street, Chapman University, guess what, you need a test score. And so I have to bring that bad news. So I agree with you, David, you know, in my world, you know, I’m encouraging students to take tests, you know, unless they are only applying to the University of California or Cal States.


Lisa Marker Robbins  12:26

Well, and how many students you know, when their end of your sophomore and early your junior when they should be testing, and I know some of it, push it later, David, but how many students really have a final college list? So you need to position yourself to make sure that you’ve got the arsenal of everything that might benefit you. And I often talk about, like, gosh, you know, extracurriculars are optional and the college application, would you not? Would you recommend to a student that they don’t submit any extracurriculars? Which by the way, extracurriculars are something that they talk about? You know, they say, here that 6.5% are saying then and I got to look at are of considerable importance on extracurriculars, and 44.3% of the schools say they’re of moderate importance. So their their extracurriculars are pretty important as well. So yeah, we don’t ignore things just because they’re optional. Becky? Yeah. David, go ahead. Just


David Blobaum  13:37

to add on to that, I mean, yeah, not only our test scores, they can be helpful for admission, right? I mean, if you’re, if you have low test scores, don’t submit them to a test optional school. But not only can good test scores, help students get into a school, but they can really help students afford school. So it’s not just about getting in. It’s also about affording College, and 100% of state scholarships, use test scores, they’re not mandatory always, but they use them. 96% of institutions are using SATs and AC T scores. And there are plenty of colleges where you get an automatic scholarship if you submit a good test score. So I like to bring in that piece as well, because college is such a huge expense. It’s not just about getting in it’s also about affording


Lisa Marker Robbins  14:25

Becky that’s, you know, you’re from your previous life and financial aid at Wash U in St. Louis, you have experienced on that affordability side and when I’m looking at this survey, there’s not one thing on here that says anything about ability to pay, financial aid, anything like that. What what like can you shed for us on that topic as it relates to what colleges really want?


Becky Priest  14:55

Yeah, that’s that’s a tricky question because ultimately A lot of that data is not available. Because, you know, unless you, you have to put together a bunch of a bunch of pieces to, to understand kind of how, you know, typically, like a very expensive, highly selective college, the ones that are in the $85,000 a year cost range, they might say something on their website, like, you know, 60 or 70% of our students receive financial aid. And that’s where you parse like, okay, that means 30, or 40% of students are paying the full $85,000 per year. And then what what does that look like for the rest of the students? And so for that 30 or 40%, of an admitted class, that is paying full price? That’s the part that the survey doesn’t cover, right is how, how much does that factor into the decisions that an admissions officer is making, and where I worked, and admittedly, things probably have changed there, since I’ve worked there. But at a school that does have that does meet 100% of financial need. The admissions and the financial aid pieces do often operate very separately, like they don’t they don’t look at each other. But that’s probably not the case at the vast majority of schools, because there’s only about 60 schools in the nation that even meet 100% of financial need. And so, and even within that it’s a little dubious as to how many are actually like not where admissions and financial aid are not talking to each other. We don’t know answers to those kinds of questions. And so that’s where it does. You know, it’s very tricky to know how much that ability to pay factors in. Yeah, Rebecca, what were you I was asked


Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski  16:54

you a question, because there’s the two terms need blind and need aware. And even though they might meet 100% of need. I just remember years ago, Becky, actually at your previous institution where you worked. And again, it was a rumor. So this is why you know, surveys like this are opaque at best, but it was, the rumor was if you get on the waitlist at WashU, you know, if you have a lot of need, you’re not getting off that waitlist, because they’re going to be looking for someone who has the ability to pay. But of course, I don’t think that’s you know, that’s out there. This was a rumor, maybe it’s out there, but I don’t see it in the data.


Becky Priest  17:32

Exactly. That’s not in the data. And some colleges will freely say, Yes, we are need blind, except on the margins, when we’re filling the final spots in the class or except when we go to the waitlist, then we are looking for full pay families, because maybe we’ve already spent all of our financial aid budget on the first the you know, the main group of people that we admitted. So some colleges will say that outright. Others are very vague, and they won’t they don’t say anything. And so I always wonder what the difference is like why why some will just freely offer that information, what top down directive do they have to? To be transparent or to not I wish, I wish more colleges would just say when when house exactly how need belied versus need aware plays into the equation.


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:27

I think that also plays into and we we got into this in Episode 61. When we talked about like, what’s changed in college admissions since COVID. And the three of us that were on that episode, we believed that institutional priorities are taking a greater priority than ever before. That was a big change since COVID. And I do think that relates directly to this idea of ability to pay. And David test scores, right. So you know, institutional priorities, being for every institution, they have a certain strategy behind who they’re going to admit where they’re headed as a an institution. I’ve got a good story on that years ago, probably like 2018 or 19. The area rep from the University of Oregon reached out to me so I’m in Cincinnati, she reaches out and she said, we have an initiative here at the University of Oregon, that we want to do a better job enrolling students from the Midwest and specifically Ohio. And she said so I’ve been doing my homework. And I am every time I’m you know, Googling or looking up things related to Cincinnati and Ohio and college. counseling, you know, your blogs keep coming up the work that you’re doing keeps coming up. And wondering if you can connect me with school counselors in the area, you seem to be well connected. And they call it local college fairs, aside from the neck fair. And I did do that. But it’s a perfect example of institutional priorities. The University of Oregon, for whatever reason, and it’s up to them to choose their reasons, decided they wanted Ohio students, and so they were going out seeking those. I mean, I remember when the University of Alabama decided that they wanted to recruit, you know, outside, and this was, gosh, at least 10 years ago now, but they really wanted to up their recruitment efforts outside of Alabama. And you could get really great, you still can get great scholarships there. But you know, what, once they started to achieve their institutional priority, the scholarships are not quite as good for those students now, as they used to be even back in 2016 1718. So that role of institutional priorities I think, fits with both, Becky what you’re saying, and David as well.


Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski  21:13

And I actually, that’s, I’m so glad that you talked about institutional priorities, because I was thinking that’s sort of complete. I mean, it sort of covers some of the topics in this survey, but it’s really completely missing as a category. And let’s be honest, you know, that’s, that’s a huge reason why they’re admitting students. I wish there was this video still available. It was on YouTube, they pulled it, but it was the featuring Christoph Guten Tag, the Dean of Duke undergraduate admissions. And he actually mentioned that 25% of their early decision applicants that they admit are what they call, you know, we’re enrollment priorities. So he mentioned athletes, Legacy talent base, dancers, musicians, etc. And students from underrepresented categories like geography, first generation, right. So even though we’ve had a SCOTUS decision that they can no longer can consider racial factors in admissions, they still have ways of recruiting, you know, these institutional priorities. But that’s that is missing from the survey completely in my mind. Yeah. Go ahead, David.


David Blobaum  22:28

Oh, and just to follow up with what you said, Lisa, about institutional priorities, and also how that plays into test scores. So when you look at the income in submitter distribution, it’s bimodal, which means the it has two peaks on it, it peaks for the least wealthy students, they’re much less likely to submit test scores, but still be able to get admitted, those are the students who qualify for Pell grants. And really, there’s a steep increase when a student qualifies for Pell Grants. The second that they their parents have enough income that they don’t qualify for a Pell grant their admit rates drop off a cliff, and then it peaks again for the wealthiest students. So that’s really who tests optional admissions helps the most is the most wealthy, who can still get in without test scores, because they have everything else they’re more likely to be recruited athletes are more likely to be full pay, they’re more likely to do early decision, they’re more likely to have those good essays that were, you know, coached or heavily edited. So the students who really, I think get hurt most by it, or the students in the middle. For those students, they don’t have a hook. They don’t, they’re not Pell Grant, and they don’t have lots of money. Their hook needs to be test scores. So that’s really the students who really should be working really hard. And for me, you know, I mean, my dad was a pastor, my mom was a teacher assistant for kids with special needs. The only way that I went out, went to the University Chicago was working really, really hard, getting a good test score. So for me personally, I just want, you know, those kids out there that don’t have a hook to know, hey, you can work really hard you can do well on these tests, you can stand out to top colleges, that can be your hook.


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:12

Excellent test scores are never going to hurt or hurt anyone. You know, I once was on a webinar, it was in 2020. And George Washington University, they’ve been test optional since 2015. And I think they are one of those schools that is sincerely test optional. And the individual who was on the webinar said in there were several for institutions represented said directly, it will never hurt you to have a good test score, and it’s very valuable to have one in your back pocket. So therefore, everybody this is coming from a school that is supportive of test optional. They say test do well and then decide. So I want to go back to Rebecca, what you had mentioned you, you mentioned, the SCOTUS decision. So affirmative action no longer has a place in college admissions. And, you know, we don’t see on this list, anything Dei, at all, but we were talking before we hopped on and you made a good point of an uptick that you’ve seen among college essays. Why don’t you go ahead and share? Yeah,


Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski  25:29

exactly. So I mean, the survey does have a general category of essays. But if I’m looking at the survey here, it looks like, you know, essays are it says very important to 18.9%. But I think that’s, I think that’s low. So yeah, so there’s a huge uptick in change in this essay that asks students to talk about their lived experience, you know, their diverse background. So colleges are finding ways of While not directly, you know, including race as a factor, they are looking at background. Now, again, this survey was taken before the SCOTUS decision. So you know, I will, I will, you know, give a nod to that. But I think it’s important for your listeners to know that that question is showing up on almost every, you know, college that has essays and many colleges change there, you know, I’ve seen you know, Stanford change their essay, you Chicago things, Northwestern, which classically for years had the white Northwestern, they’ve totally shifted to a tell us about your lived experience. So, you know, that doesn’t, again, that doesn’t and I would say even before this survey, even before the SCOTUS decision, I think, again, this survey doesn’t really say, you know, we are looking for students with diverse backgrounds, students who are underrepresented in some way, because, you know, the goal for many colleges is continues to be diversity, equity and inclusion. So, yeah, I think that’s just really important for listeners to know. And it can be difficult sometimes for students to know how to answer those essay prompts. So it is good to work with someone like me.


Lisa Marker Robbins  27:17

Well, I’m glad you worded it the way that you ordered it, because I think a parent or a student would look at that question the way it’s worded and not really understand, you know, what’s your lived experience? I think a non a kid from a non diverse background would just think like, Oh, you want to hear about my sports or my extracurriculars, or things like that? So I love that you kind of dissected that and think no, this is a question that’s really getting at the heart of the diversity piece of this because SCOTUS knocked it down. And I want to I just did while you were talking, I did some math. So David said earlier, like, you know, considerable importance, what does that really mean? Because it’s, it’s sort of subjective, right? What I might consider, because we’ll say, for our listeners, there’s four ways that the colleges can rate each of these factors, right. So they can either say is of considerable importance, moderate importance, limited importance, or no importance at all. And there’s, I don’t think there’s anything that all colleges say is not important at all. So that that tells you one thing, so what considerable means to me might mean something different to David. So, Rebecca, while you were sharing those insights, I added together for the essay writing sample, because you said I think that’s falsely low at 18.9. But you add considerable importance at 18.9 and modern importance at 37.3. That’s 56.2. So that’s the majority of schools are saying your essays are going to be moderately important. And I’m gonna get on my college major and career soapbox here, because I don’t see anywhere on here, where it talks about admission by major assessing fit to the major I can say is probably embedded in four of these categories. As I looked at them. You know, I had Andy Borst on the podcast. He’s now at University of Georgia, but previously was the Director of Admissions at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign he was on so it’s easy to remember his date that was on the podcast because was Valentine’s Day 2023 If you want to go back and listen to it, I will link to it. But you know, Andy talked about the importance of four UI UC of assessing fit to major and I’m like, that’s not on here. Any place in the majority of schools are admitting to major and I find all So that even schools that aren’t admitting directly to the major, they still ask most of our students to list what is your major of interest. So it’s still playing a factor, which is why I double down on college major and career coaching back in 2008. So besides Rebecca, you are you had said like the why Northwestern essay and how it went away? Most colleges, many colleges are asking why us in the second most popular essay, or the USA specialist can correct me if you disagree, but I feel is the why this major essay, which I talked about in episode 84 of the podcast, how to write it. But if that’s the second most popular question that they’re asking on the college essays, then it says to me, like that probably belongs fit to major probably belongs in this survey, Rebecca.


Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski  30:56

Yeah, I mean, I’m so glad you brought that up, it does belong in the major. And I know that Becky can talk about this too. But that’s a huge essay that we work on. Because a lot of times kids, you know, I could go on and on forever about computer science and nature. But you know, I steer kids away from computer science, you know, 95% of the time, because it’s you mentioned, you know, I love Andy Boris, by the way, you should totally follow him on Twitter. But you know, you mentioned you IUC, right, overall, admet rate is 40 41%. Computer science now is down to about 6%. And so, you know, again, that fit to major isn’t a huge deal at a school like that. And you know, that recently, I’ll let Becky speak in a minute. But recently, there was an article here in California featuring a young man who applied to all you know, highly rejected colleges. And, you know, he got into to he got into to great schools, by the way, UT Austin and University of Maryland, but you know, my Bay Area parents are freaking out. But I’m just like, well, if I had advised him, I would have said, you know, that’s a pretty that’s a pretty realistic result, because computer science is such a competitive major. And so not only fit two major, but then all the other factors that we’ve talked about, like enrollment priorities, those two go hand in hand. But Becky, I know you were gonna say something to AI


Becky Priest  32:23

in terms of essay prompts, I think fit to major Yeah, it’s it’s up there. But I honestly I see the more the why us is the why us essay is so popular. And the tell us about your background, I’d say those are the two that I’m spending the most time on with my students this year, but fit to major Yeah, it’s to completely lacking from the survey. And your, your liberal arts colleges. Emphasize, we don’t want you to declare a major, we want you to come in here, undeclared. And that’s how I honestly advise my students is I want you to go to college and explore college. I mean, unless you always have known and you’re 100% convinced and you’ve actually done some job shadowing or internships or something that you know, at 17 years old that you for sure want to be an electrical engineer, or something like that, then go for it. But honestly, most of us at 17 have, we might have a small idea, but we really don’t know. And so yeah, it’s almost an unfair essay question. And we even have even talked to my students about how to write. One of my students wrote an essay one time saying I am gloriously undeclared. Because that’s the beauty of going to college. Right. And it really worked for her. But yeah, for a college like what Rebecca is talking about with University of Illinois, you know, yeah, it’s, it’s a different story. And so it really depends on you have to know, the colleges you’re applying to. Yes,


Lisa Marker Robbins  33:51

So I have a course that that’s all we do that good. I know we’ve not talked about this before is help kids figure out what the college major in the career is because we do a personality assessment. We we encourage them to double down on high value extracurriculars that can give them clarity on that take the right courses, because what the majority of, of state schools, public institutions do admit directly to the major. And the majority of students who go to college, attend a public university. So I think your advice is fantastic for a kid who is, you know, a great fit for a liberal arts and where they do encourage and are very open with that. And there are some career paths that that’s not going to be offered at a liberal arts university where the name of the major kind of matches the career. So you know, I encourage kids to do the work, starting 10th 11th grade, and if they haven’t, and they are are feeling like undecided or an exploratory studies program is the fit for them, then really do your homework because that I think it’s even more important for that group of students that they really look at that college list. You know, it’s like Purdue University has a fantastic Exploratory Studies program. And if you start there, they say on their website, there’s little to no chance that you could ever get into aerospace engineering, because it’s just that competitive. Or like Andy shared Becca, you’re right, he did say it was 6%, a computer science at ui UC, and they will not even reveal the percent that they admit for out of states and international students into computer science at UI, UC. But at ui UC, if you don’t declare computer science, your senior year of high school on your application, you can never switch into that major ever, it’s not an option. And that’s the case for, you know, majors at quite a few schools where it’s limited, or the doors closed by the time you get there. So I agree with you, Becky, like, we have to be really clear on our college list based on what we know with where we are right now. And,


Becky Priest  36:11

and one of the things that, that we haven’t even mentioned yet with this neck X survey is that the sample number of colleges, if I’m reading this correctly, is only 185. Colleges. So that’s not very many colleges. And we don’t know who’s in that group. You know, is it the highly selective colleges or the liberal arts colleges? Is it state schools, that’s the other complicating factor is, that’s a very, very small sample size. Given that


Lisa Marker Robbins  36:41

there’s Go ahead, David. And


David Blobaum  36:43

just to fill out the rest of the conversation on major, you also had to have very different qualifications for different majors, which we’ve kind of been getting at. So a lot of schools don’t publish this information. And they stopped publishing this information once this information actually started to be widely used. But University of Pittsburgh, for instance, in 2021, their rate of students who got into the Detroit School of Arts and Sciences without test scores was 54% of students got in without test scores. Your look at the School of Nursing, it was 11%. So 89% of of students had to have test scores to get into the school of nursing, very, very different rates. So that’s just across the board, students need to be very aware that there’s going to be different, different expectations for different majors.


Lisa Marker Robbins  37:34

You know, I had John Rice on the podcast, I think it was in July of 22. See, this is what happens, you get to 100 episodes, and you start to forget, which I guess is good, right. And he was he works at the University of San Francisco, he had left his back there. So clearly, he loves it there. And nursing for them is one of those majors that if you don’t apply as a senior, the doors closed, you cannot get in you can’t go there hoping to switch into that major. But this goes with test scores. David, he made the point that because of how rigorous nursing is and how much testing there is during your program, and then having to get licensed to be a nurse, which requires passing a test, he basically came out and said, like, I would never apply to nursing without test scores. Because if you’re not a poor test taker, if you’re a poor test taker, you’re not likely to become a strong test taker, and you’re not going to cut it in nursing. Right?


David Blobaum  38:37

It would be malpractice to let those students in, right, and which I think is the case in a lot of schools. To be honest, I mean, 34% of students are not graduating in six years of those who don’t graduate 48% are in default on their student loan debts. So if you let students in who are unlikely to succeed, you are very likely to shackle them with debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. So schools really should only be letting in access is very important. But more important than access is actually getting students out the door to actually give them that success in life. You’re not helping students succeed if you’re giving access to students that you believe are more likely to fail. Wow,


Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski  39:19

that’s such an amazing point, David, that people don’t talk about enough, you know, tying debt to the lack of preparedness. Yeah, that is, boy, I think we could have a whole episode on that. Lisa, just how important that is. And I think David, people don’t want to talk about that. You know, people don’t want to say, you know, we’re admitting students that, you know, are perhaps not prepared. And I think we’ve seen that post COVID A lot. You know, we’re, I have this conversation a whole lot and I try to help my families be really realistic kids. They desire to go away to college, they you know, okay, they’re going to take on some debt, but you know, me Having me having personal experience with students, you know, personally who either weren’t ready or needed to transfer, you know, our, our family philosophy was zero debt, like, we’re not going to borrow like if you, you can’t afford it, you’re not going there. So that’s us. But I think a lot of these families get stars in their eyes without going to, you know, name brand schools or whatever we’re just trying to get through school. But, boy, you know, when you’re not prepared, you stay in college longer and longer and longer, and, you know, the debt racks up and for what? So that’s a real tragedy. But I’m glad you brought that point out. Yeah.


Lisa Marker Robbins  40:37

I think families don’t realize, I hear people, Rebecca, to your point, say, Oh, well, we’re gonna let them take out student loans, because they’re chasing that brand name. And they’re enamored with that. And what they don’t realize is the only loan a student’s going to be able to get, you know, unless they’re, you know, Pell Grant qualified, lower income, the only loan your student can go out and get on their own is the federal student loan. And that is capped at Becky 31,000. Right? For the undergraduate money 27,000 27,000. If you if you max it out all four years. Yeah. And so that they don’t have an avenue without the parent co signing and taking on that risk? And, gosh, if you have a I have three kids, you know, are you able, are you even able to qualify to do that for all of your children. So I any any parting thoughts, I’m going to take let each of you say like, any parting thought to our audience, and if somebody wants to follow you, or reach out, or learn more about what you do, Rebecca, I’ll start with you.


Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski  41:51

Yeah, I would just say that we always have to take these surveys with a grain of salt. But really, I encourage families to do their homework, I do encourage families to work with professionals or to work closely with their, you know, school counselor to really understand the nuances of college admissions, because until things change, it continues to be very opaque. And I just, you know, in my social media on Facebook and LinkedIn, I try to bring as much information so that I can empower families to understand the realities. You know, my big, my big push is managing your expectations, understanding what the reality of college admissions is, and rather than, I mean, we could blame the system, but manage your expectations. Really, you know, don’t be afraid. You know, I sit in California, where we have a great community college system, you know, if that’s what it takes for you to move forward. Awesome. Don’t be afraid to do that.


Lisa Marker Robbins  42:53

David. Oh, wait, Rebecca, where can they find you?


Rebecca Stuart-Orlowski  42:58

Oh, yeah, so sorry. Yeah, LinkedIn. So are Loski college consulting, LLC, Rebecca Stewart are Loski, LinkedIn and Facebook are it I actually don’t have a website and plenty busy without it. But yeah, you can definitely reach out or you can email me directly at the letter r.my. Last name or loski.consulting@gmail.com.


Lisa Marker Robbins  43:19

I’ll put all these in the show notes. Thank you, Rebecca. David.


David Blobaum  43:22

My closing thoughts would it’s tangential. But it’s related to what we’ve been talking about with higher education. I just want to help families understand the education crisis in the United States right now. So according to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, they’ve been doing a national freshman surveys since 1966. And 1966 21.8% of students going into a four year ba granting University had a averages. So A’s were relatively rare in 1966. Last year, and 2022, it was 80.6% of students going on to four year universities had an average. So we went from a span of 60 years, we went from 80% of students not having a averages to 80% of students having a averages so completely flipped. Now, if the quality of education in the United States had improved that much, that would be fantastic. But we know definitively that that is not the case. So we literally have the lowest AC T scores on record. This last this year 2023. For the data from last year, it’s now at a 19.5 is the national average. Now, that’s not just lower, it’s dramatically lower than it’s ever been. It is 1.1 points lower than I had ever been pre COVID That is an education crisis that I think we should all know about. And we should all understand what grades mean versus what actual standardized measures of academic achievement acknowledge me. To


Lisa Marker Robbins  44:57

episodes that come to mind we have had one and the fall of 22, on great inflation with Brian UWF injure who David and I both know. And I’m going to link to that because he has data. Again, we want data to have informed families, right? So I’m going to link to that because I think it’s enlightening parents are thinking, Oh, my kids doing great. Every kid appears to be doing great when they look at their GPA. And then I actually had representative rose Babbington. She’s Senior Director of state partnerships for AC T, she came on in January to actually address this fact that we are at an all time low on the AC T and the test has not changed. The AC t really doesn’t go through many changes where the SATs seems to be constantly changing, which is a whole nother topic. But what you said those are two episodes that give us data that further builds on what you just said, David, so how can people stay in touch with you, David, people can


David Blobaum  46:00

reach me through summit practice summit prep.com. And then they can reach out to me personally at David blow bound.com.


Lisa Marker Robbins  46:07

Excellent, Becky,


Becky Priest  46:10

thanks again for for doing this podcast, Lisa. And I wish you well with just celebrating your 100th episode. But I guess as a school counselor, I one of my what I feel like is part of biggest part of my job is to bring peace and joy to the process of applying to college, because there’s so many stressed out parents and kids we talked about stressed out kids all the time, the mental health crisis. But there are a lot of really stressed out parents and I understand that from having been a parent and navigating this process myself too. But I’m sure you’ve had episodes talk about college fit. But I think if I could provide a word of encouragement to people is that, you know, approach this whole process. As an informed person, I echo everything that Rebecca and David have said, you know, get data get, get some help through the process. Don’t walk it alone. But also to to know that there there is a college for every student, if that’s the path that If college is their path, there is a fit, and we haven’t you know, college fit, I’m sure you’ve done episodes on that there’s a fit for every student. And if you if you let the college, Wag the tail and you know and you’re the tail, that’s then you’re going to be chasing things that are going to make the process very difficult. Whereas if you’re the one writing the dog and and driving this process with an intentionality and a purposefulness and a joy, then it goes I think it goes much, much better in the long run. So and as a financial aid counselor, I would just encourage families to to be again to be informed. And also to, to know what kind of college you’re looking at know what kind of aid is out there not to chase the a lot of the random outside scholarships, but to just really know that that college can be affordable if if you build your college list in the right way. It’s really


Lisa Marker Robbins  48:11

having a responsible college list. Now I know you’re not working privately with families. But where can they learn more about your school where you have created this fantastic College Counseling Program?


Becky Priest  48:22

Oh, well, thanks, I I’m on LinkedIn so they can follow me on LinkedIn. But my the school I work at is the Cambridge School in San Diego, and the website is Cambridge classical.org.


Lisa Marker Robbins  48:34

Excellent. I will, I want to wrap it up by saying and this has been my mantra for a couple of decades. If I don’t give good advice, instead of popular advice, I’m not worth a single penny that anybody would ever pay me. And so I serve to give good advice, not popular advice of maybe what you want to hear. And I know sometimes what we’re sharing is disappointing and there’s a lot of feelings that go into that. But let’s lead with the facts, which the facts tell the story the data tells a story and you can have a better college bound journey. I agree with Becky on that wholeheartedly. It can be fun and your family can actually become more connected through the process and enjoy it. When you go at it with intention. You don’t wait till the last minute you don’t put your head in the sand. And you know for me part of my truth telling my main truth telling is colleges are admitting by major and when you don’t start to do the work early. You could be walking into a closed door and I educate people on that with my video that can be found at flourish coaching co.com forward slash video and floors coaching code.com forward slash video. It’s just how to make wise decisions around college majors and careers. Well, this is my walk This episode, my most number of guests, and maybe one of the most fun I’ve had. So thank you all for joining me. It’s been a privilege to be in your company, as we all continue to guide families to their very best future. Thank you, everyone.