Building a Better College Admission Process


Busting college admission myths is an important part of any counselor’s job, but do the subtle messages sent by some high schools and colleges undermine efforts to get young people to embrace a more balanced approach during application season?

Last summer, NACAC member Lisa Micele shared tips for all those involved in the process with NPR’s Here & Now.  Her goal? To help students build a college list of no more than 10 schools, all of which they would be happy and proud to attend.

Micele, director of college counseling at the University of Illinois Laboratory High School, offered the following advice.

For counselors: “If you work at a high school that ‘brands’ itself based on college outcomes, please stop—and talk with your administration. Make sure that you are not focusing on the ‘top-tier schools’ as bragging rights. What message does that send to your community? To your students?”

For colleges: “Please broaden your view—and think about your purpose—when you put together “college panels” in various cities and states. … Does it really serve our students well when they hear a talk with five or six “reach schools”—all admitting under 12 percent (and some under 5 percent)? … We need to see … a more representative sample of how to build a healthy and balanced college list.”

For students: “When you determine your college list, remember that your ‘likely’ schools must be schools you love and want to attend. Too many times, students look upon these as their ‘backups,’ or the consolation prize. Please stop this! Every school on your list should excite you—academically and socially—and also be a fit financially.”

Read all of Micele’s tips and read more about how to determine the right college fit.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at

2 thoughts on “Building a Better College Admission Process”

  1. I love your comment about colleges planning their panel presentations with a variety of admissions represented; such a great idea. I had not thought about this before. Since many of these programs offer a counselor breakfast program the next day, it would be great to hear from schools that bring different things to the table. Thank you from a school counselor with 32 years of experience and counting.

    1. Thanks Cindy! Appreciate your reading and sharing your comment. Congrats on your 32 years in counseling. I’m celebrating my 26th year this March.

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