#065 How Your Teen Can Get Admitted to the College They Love with Marni Levine Transcript



Lisa Marker-Robbins  00:58

The college bound journey from the beginning of high school until choosing and enrolling in the college that admitted your student is a marathon, not a sprint. The more your family views it through that lens, the better prepared you all will be for the roller coaster ride that is college admissions. Marty Levine is an independent educational consultant who journeys with families to keep them positively connected to each other through the process of creating a well-balanced college list. driven by the data from the colleges, the students she works with will shine where they land. And she’s joining me today to share some of her best tips for your students to also be celebrating in the spring of the senior year. I’m Lisa Mark Robbins, and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a Flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. Welcome Marni.


Marni Levine  02:01

Hi Lisa, so happy to be here today.


Lisa Marker-Robbins 02:04

And this is gonna be full of pure gold. And I’m gonna start with one of your amazing words of wisdom that I have heard you say before, that, I think is a great way to lead this conversation. Because it shows your heart for families to help them achieve their dreams, but keep them really a solidly good place. And I have heard you say before that it’s completely fine to shoot for the stars while making this balance less. But you also want to support them and learning to love. They’re likely what do you mean by that?


Lisa Marker-Robbins 02:44

So, I find them when families begin this journey. They start with the schools that they might know from all those infamous lists that we all, you know, can help but looked at over time. So, you know, we look at rankings and we look at where we went as parents and we look at sweatshirts and bumper stickers. But we don’t necessarily look at that in a context of our own child and our own family and our own brand. And why do you often the school that is best for your child isn’t the school that’s best for your neighbor, or number one on those infamous ranking lists. So, it’s really important that as a family, you look at everything checked out, all the partners on the dance is like, great. Ah,


Lisa Marker-Robbins 03:41

I love that one.


Marni Levine  03:43

So, you know, if you’re going on vacation, and you are visiting a school that you are, you’re in an area where you never seen a school that happens to be in that town or that area. Let’s see if you love it. There are great reasons to attend even the likeliest school for your child,


Lisa Marker-Robbins 04:03

then by likely you’re meeting like the school where you’re looking at that student’s profile. You’re leaning into the data of who was accepted in the most recent year. And you look at that as an independent educational consultant. You’re like, oh my gosh, yeah, this kid is likely for being admitted there. I mean, we’ll never tell somebody like Yes 100% But you’re looking at that going to likely Right?



Marni Levine  04:27

Right. There’s no more safe schools when we were applying to college you received was even when I started doing this business, there were safe schools. But today we call those light read because we’re not percent sure, foreseeable again, and but it’s lightly and typically we look at data that says okay, it has a high admit rate, our it’s your state institution, or they’re looking for kids, who are your child’s major. Those schools to me, end up on a likely list where your child statistics their grade point average their test scores. picture of who they are the major that they want. That fits in the highest level of back schools’ profiles. So, they’re looking for students like yours. And what’s important about that is number one, it’s hopefully going to be a yes. Which is great for students’ self-esteem, self-esteem.


Lisa Marker-Robbins 05:17

Now that first Yes, feels so good. I mean, you just see kids light up, don’t you? And they’re like, I gotta Yes, I got somewhere to go.


Marni Levine  05:25

It’s so important once they know they’re going to college. But it’s really important when we develop this, that we want them to be proud about the school that is that first, yes, where that is their likeliest. And the reason to be proud or to love that, like me, is because number one, maybe you’re getting a nice thick scholarship there that makes you feel good. Maybe you’re going to be invited to an honors program at that makes you feel, but maybe you’re getting directly admitted into the major that you want, where it’s really competitive to get in at lots of colleges, but you bought in at that college, maybe you’re getting a special research opportunity, or a special living learning situation. So, for me, or it’s maybe a school that’s very highly acclaimed for the major that you’d want, or the sport you want to play, or an activity that you want to do like marching band. And yet, it’s not one of the most well-known colleges, or the number one or two or three colleges in this country. So, you want to learn to love that school, because it’s a fit for you. Yeah, well,


Lisa Marker-Robbins 06:33

you’re also speaking to how unique each family is. And each student is, you know, because there’s, you just gave us a myriad of reasons why somebody could be excited about that acceptance to that likely school. So, I love that it’s like you really need to in this is one of the things I teach my college major career course, my first step is know yourself really well. And I’m doing it to find alignment for the right college major to apply to, which helps you build out your college list. But as I hear you saying that it’s like, again, know yourself really well. And when you do your unique reason for celebrating that likely that first acceptance falling in love with the schools that you’re likely to get into. It could be for a whole host of reasons. But as long as it’s aligned with who the individual is this good reason,


Marni Levine  07:25

That’s the most important thing, because it doesn’t matter what your bumper sticker says, or your sweatshirt says, If you are not successful at the college that you’ve landed at, you’re not going to be happy. And if you’re not happy, nothing matters.


Lisa Marker-Robbins 07:40

So, when you I want to hear more about, you referenced some stuff about finding those likelihoods. And we also know, you’re not telling your kids not to shoot for the stars, either, like a balanced list is going to have the shoot for the stars, the likelihood and the in between right


Marni Levine  07:55

100%. You know, we develop a list that involves maybe a couple of light leaves, and a few targets, and one or two, you know, shoot for the stars type of school. And those schools might be in early decision school, they might be really hard to get into. They might be a school where your best chances as an early decision applicant, which is a binding decision that you’re offering up to the college and saying you’re finally admitted, I’m going to come, you’re my first choice. If you don’t get into ed one, you might get into Ed two, same thing. You know, you’re my first choice now. But I feel like we always want to have those, what we want to keep perspective about the likelihood of getting it. And the best way to keep perspective on that is to truly dig into data, not just to look at Oh, my student as a four point out, I’ve got the SATs or the AC T scores that are college one. And so I’ve got a chance at this school that has a 10% Admit rate, it doesn’t really work like that it gets divided out by lots of other factors. So, the types of classes that you take in the rigor of your course load that’s really important today, there are about 60% of kids in this country who have a 4.0 grade point average post COVID. And I know Lisa, you and I have talked about that before and I know you’ve


Lisa Marker-Robbins 09:24

done I mean the grade inflation is we’ve actually two really popular past episodes that lean into that idea of really what you’re sharing is like parents, the 4.0 of your day is not the 4.0 of today. Too many kids and I hate to say like too many kids have a 4.0 But the reality is, there’s a lot of kids with a 4.0 You know, I’ll link to those two episodes. I had Brian neuf injure on he’s down in the Atlanta area, and he has really great data on this. The GPAs and and great info Leyshon in general. And then I had rose Babbington on she’s from AC T she’s and so we were actually yes, I had her on about AC t because AC T scores have hit a historic 30 year low for what the average is, which is disconcerting, but yet we have more kids with a 4.0. And so, both of those go back to this, like there’s a lot of kids with a 4.0. So, parents, the 4.0 of your day is not the 4.0 of today. So, we’ll link to those episodes in the show notes. Because I think both of those lean into to your point data. And it’s taking a data driven approach to understanding how grades work in this formula. And really, you’ve got to look at some other data to know if it’s a target a likely or a reach school because there’s too many kids with a 4.0.


Marni Levine  10:51

Exactly. And so, the differences in those 4.0 is common many ways, right? They come in the rigor is your student, a 4.0 kid who’s taken all great classes, but never taken an honors class, never taken an AP class never taken an IB class never taken a dual enrollment class have the taken son, but not all have the team maxed out the rigor that they could possibly take if they looked for academic pursuits outside of the high school event. So not every floor Oh is the scene and not every college, the beloved center for the scene when the dugout their own date from it. So, you can’t just look at that number, you got to look at what is the admit rate for males versus females are looking for more girls and STEM is this college looking for more boys in nursing, maybe that can help assess whether your child has a better shot or worse shot at a particular school? Is it in state or out of state, you cannot look at at State Public flagship in a different state and expect that you have the same chance of getting in as a student who lives in that state so that the statistics are considerably higher, or Caden’s out of state. Both of


Lisa Marker-Robbins 12:13

those that’s I mean, that varies. Let’s dig into that one for a second. Because I think that’s a hard one for families, you know, and a state public flagship, they here have some schools who actively recruit out of state students, right. So those schools exist. I mean, Alabama has been known for that for a very long time now. So, they hear that story and think, Oh, well, everybody’s going to be friendly. But, you know, that is not the case. You know, Andy Borst was on. He’s director of admissions for University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. And he flat out said, you know, we favor our Illinois student’s period. And I appreciated the transparency in that not all colleges are transparent with that, you know, an Andy sad, it was funny, he was talking about how overall they’re admitting, I don’t know, it was around 50% of students who apply. But that’s all students who apply, not in state versus out of state. And then he said, you know, he uses a good example. And I know you want to talk about major as well, because that’s one of the data points that we have to dig into is, even though the university is admitting 50% of students, the college if, for work, computer sciences, is only admitting about 7% of students, and I asked him, What about the out of state students as your overall net rate to computer science? Can you break that out in state out of state, and he wouldn’t go that far on this transparency, but it’s a really great episode to go and listen to where I appreciate him just saying, like, go to your state flagship, if you didn’t get in here to your first choice


Marni Levine  13:53

major. He was so honest, I listened to the episode and shared it with so many people because he did give some statistics, right, he did say we met about 8000, or we’re looking to see a class and about 8000 freshmen, and 6000 of those will be Illinois kids, and 1000 will be out of state kids and 1000 will be international. And so, when you look at that, you can see that he’s telling you out of state, and then you’ve got a 6.7% and net rate of homicide, or you know, something, also that might be impacted like business or psychology. And, you know, you have to look at that and say, well, what are the odds that I’m going to get in, okay, I’m going to try, but if I don’t get in and chant, you know, jump off a roof, I have to say, I’ve got other great options. And there are schools out there who want me, you know, there are schools out there where I have something to offer and you know, my child has something to offer. Sorry. And, you know, I’m gonna go someplace where I’m gonna get the opportunities We’re all going to get to the top of the class where my professors will know me where I will get research opportunities. That is what education is truly about, in my opinion, is getting those opportunities, those hands-on opportunities, not just sitting, you know, in a class, kind of struggling at the bottom, I think it’s better to be somewhere at the top and get noticed for it. Well,


Lisa Marker-Robbins 15:22

if I mean, that goes back to I preach this all the time, begin with the end in mind. I mean, as you’re intending for your student go to school for four years, you know, they’re gonna go work for 40 years. And this is there’s a myriad of reasons to go to college. And college has a lot of benefits beyond just the career piece, but the primary driver is to get into a particular career get credentialed have the experiences to do so. So that intentionality of beginning with the end in mind, is really important. And if that, if there’s colleges on your list, who are going to be able to get you there, and really help and not just get you the degree, but give you I love your point about like, can I, at this university, get connected to my professors get the research opportunities, the co-op and internships, like what are the opportunities for me, so important. So important, I call kids all the time that this process starts over everything that we’ve done on how to get into college, is also how to get out of college and get a job, right. So developing that picture of who you are making sure that you’re a good human that you’re, you know, having service opportunities, or volunteering in your community, that you’re a leader, that you’ve developed good relationships with your teachers or professors so that you can, number one, learn from them, but also decorate recommendation letters, or find out about opportunities for jobs or research that they might recommend you for. That’s so important. And this all starts over in college. So, it’s really important to that wisely and not just we’re a big name where,


Marni Levine  17:04

you know, yeah, you can sneak in somehow through some way by being some crazy nature that you really are interested in. And is it going to get you the outcome that you want, and college is expensive? It’s, you know, yeah, it’s fun. You know, my kids, they all want big rah rah schools. I don’t, you know, I understand that. Well, it is about fun, and adulting, and all those, you know, great things also. But the end goal, like you said, is to come out and be able to get a job, you know, and that or to go to graduate school, so that that then gets you the job. But you need all those pieces in place. In order to get out in maybe four or five years of blade she yet go on to that next piece? Well,


Lisa Marker-Robbins 17:56

you know, Andy talked about I know, you and I have talked about before we were even on at another time, you know, when they hear 10% Get when families hear 10% Get in, you know, their hearing, oh, there’s a chance is that a hearing 90% of students who apply don’t get it. I mean, that’s really, I feel like how we should start saying it right instead of 10%. And met rate 90% rejection rate is what we need to hear, because you’ve told me one of your goals with the families that you work with, is to keep prevent students from feeling demoralized.


Marni Levine  18:31

It’s so because mental health is at an all-time low for these kids. COVID crushed them. We didn’t even realize how badly during the time; everybody was so busy playing board games and thinking this is great. We’re all together. And it’s pretty family time. But COVID really for mental health. And when a parent comes in and says, you know, we’ll all pay for a great school, but I’m not war, he could just go to our state flagship that kills me because sometimes the state Black Ship is better it meant the school that the parent is thinking their child can go to and, you know, I think you have to look at schools for what they have to offer. And I think we want to build our students up and every house should be celebrated. And a list should be built. So that opportunity exists not so that one will fix you if you buy the 10 but so that you get maybe eight or nine or 10 yeses, there’s nothing wrong that that doesn’t mean you didn’t try hard enough that you didn’t shoot high enough. It just means that you created a really great list that made your kid feel wanted and valued. And know that they are set up for success


Lisa Marker-Robbins 19:50

wherever they land. I love that you met you referenced in there, the role of the parent. And so, with the role of the parent, can you talk a little bit as we’re wrapping About what there is a role for the parent, we’re not saying, abdicate and leave it 100% at the feet of your teenager, what do you advise the parents should do? What’s their role and what’s not their role?


Marni Levine  20:15

There are so many roles and parent and I actually started my business because I was very involved in the process. The woman who I first hired to do this for my son, I felt she was kind of pushing me out. And, you know, there are lots of ICs, who believe in that, you know, process. For me, I think parents want to be involved, and there are places where they can’t. So, number one, honesty is really important. I think with a child, I think that financial parameters, be honest from the star, tell your student if you’re going to be paying for college, for them, tell them what your budget is, don’t let them fall in love with a school, that’s $85,000 a year if your true budget is 25, or 30, or 40, or 50, or 60, or 70, you know, so let them understand what you’re going to be contributing and showing them that, okay, they could go somewhere else, if they’re gonna take out loans, or if you can’t contribute at all, help them understand financial aid calculators, and that price calculators and understand what loans are. So I think that’s honesty is really important. I also think honesty is important when you talk about how far you’re gonna let your child now what are what you see as their strengths, and where, you know, they maybe don’t see those strengths, right? Do you think they want to go to a big art school, but you know that they have a learning difference in they do better at a school that has great support, that will still be fun, but maybe is a little smaller. So, I think honesty and having real conversations are really important. I think parents should also let their children be honest. That’s the input, right? Let them choose their major, I get very often parents who will say my child is only going to go if they can go for computer science, or business or engineering or medicine, but the student wants creative writing, or communications for history. And I think it’s really important to let the student choose that, because that goes into what you that could help them with the SEBRAE in okay, this is I’m a history major, what can I do that will pinnacle, you’re gonna have that. But I don’t think it pays to send a kid to school when they don’t want it.


Lisa Marker-Robbins 22:35

I see him you know, as I’ve worked in our college major and career course supporting, I always say the college bound, I think you and I are very aligned on this college bound journey is a family journey. And one of the biggest things is support your student and give them the resources to get there. But when I do the college major piece, I’m starting with what’s that career that fits. And when you’re doing the exploration of careers, and curating all the experiences based on knowing the student’s wiring and what aligns for who they are, what I find is that the parent actually gets to know their kid better and in a different way. And it is easier for them to then support them and choosing that major, because they see that it’s aligned with that, again, having the end in mind, the career and the light bulb can sometimes go off and it’s easier for the parent then to like, not step into that lane. And and not only choose the major, but give too much guidance, because you’re right, I’ve seen that too. You know, parents are a lot of times just looking at majors that could lead to lucrative careers possibly. And, you know, I think I was an education major and I make more than a teacher. And but I’m still a teacher, right? There’s a lot of ways to engineer that piece. But you got to know yourself well. And I see parents really kind of light up when their kid gets to know themselves and they’re making natural and good connections to career.


Marni Levine  24:06

And they’re getting involved in owning the process and Madea important. So that’s where a parent I think, you know, can guide but step back. I think if you’ve gotten an advisor, be honest about those things. Also, I think that’s the parent, then the parent can do lots of other things, right parent can help plan visits. That’s a great help for kids. A parent can help keep a student on track. timing wise, a parent should not write a student’s essay could I ever brainstorm you know, either us that just, you know not forbearance is saying, gee, you know, I remember when you were in kindergarten, you always had a wheelie backpack and your teacher have mentioned you know that you are already carrying more books than the other kids. Maybe you are a natural student from that. You are giving a student ideas and memories Some things that maybe are a little bit out of the box, I think is behind for parents. I do not think parents should write the essay and many times I get, you know, parent written essays and you know, right away because the line Oh,


Lisa Marker-Robbins 25:12

it’s so obvious in the college admissions officers know right away as well, like that


Marni Levine  25:18

is done yourself. That’s a tell-tale sign. And then I also think parents should be celebrating the kids win. That’s a great,


Lisa Marker-Robbins 25:27

that’s a great note to end on. You know, is, I think your strategy I love your strategy, Marty. It is so heartfelt and student centered. Because right there what you just said, celebrating the wins. And if you are and you’ve got that healthy list, then those students are not going to be like you said demoralized by the time they’re graduating and they should be celebrating in the spring of


Marni Levine  25:53

Celebrate everyone, you know, those are kind of I hate to say those are those four P’s that you know, you and I have talked about, you know, you want to be purposeful, help them create a well mount list. Look at everything like these targets, reaches cities, suburbs, big, small, look at everything, be purposeful in that, you know, make sure that you’re helping them to look at all the right things. Help them be prepared, right, there’s going to be deferrals and wheatless, and disappointment. So help them to understand that those are going to come. We’re going to feel sad for a moment or we’re gonna follow up and give more information. But don’t wallow in those disappointments. You’re gonna move on, you’re gonna be positive, right? That’s another thing. Be positive. celebrate all of those wins. Celebrate everything that your student has done, celebrate even your community, all the people who have hold your child get to this exciting time in their life, and then be proud you, you know, you created this amazing human, they are going to college or they’re going to the military or they’re going to vocational or they’re starting a business. Whatever the ID is, that is your child’s journey. Be proud, celebrate them and be proud of yourself to pat yourself on the back. Ah, this kid Nura saw.


Lisa Marker-Robbins 27:17

Yes, purposeful, prepared, positive and proud. Great advice, Marnie, thank you for joining me on the podcast.


Marni Levine  27:26

Thank you, Lisa. This was awesome. I’d love to come back another child.


Lisa Marker-Robbins 27:30

Absolutely fantastic when he fires. Thank you. What great actionable advice from Marnie, my college bound challenge this week is to sit down as a family and divide the tasks along the college bound journey into a parent list and a student list as morning said, parents there is a place from you. But for both of you, the challenge will be then stay in your own lane. Once you have your assigned tasks, then parents curate a conversation around your own expectations that morning mentioned, what your college budget is and how far you are willing to allow them to go from home are among the most important topics, and you’ll likely have some ideas of your own to add to the list. When you share this episode with a friend. You are generously helping another team get on the path to a successful future. Thank you for listening to the College and Career Clarity podcast, where I help your family move from overwhelmed or confused to motivated clear and confident about your team’s future.