All about the Tubmans*: Money and Motivation in Students’ Decision to Attend College


Today’s students of the millennial generation are more motivated to attend college by extrinsic financial reasons more than learning-focused ones compared to earlier generations, according to a recent study from the Journal of Social Psychology.

It’s no surprise that this study, which tracked generational differences in values for students from 1966-2009, showed that extrinsic reasons for attending college become more important during times of economic turmoil.

This study reminded me of a discussion we had over the weekend in the course I co-teach in Penn State’s Organizational Dynamics program. We talked about the idea of WIFM which means (What’s it in for me?).

Individuals work best together when competing priorities around goals are mutually understood, according to our research about teams conducted at Wharton Executive Education (documented in Committed Teams by Mario Moussa, Madeline Boyer, and Derek Newberry).


But how do college students begin...

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15-Minute Resume Hack for College and Graduate School Applicants


Dear Prospective Students:

Need college admissions, MBA, or graduate school application advice? It is absolutely essential to align an authentic presentation of your personal qualities with the goals of your college or graduate school(s) of choice.

Now is a great time to update your resume. Commit an uninterrupted 15 minutes per day to your resume, and the quality of your application will be the reward!

Here is the hack: 10 questions that you can use as a framework to describe your involvements outside of the classroom/workplace.

1. What is the name of the organization with which you are affiliated? What inspired you to pursue involvement in this organization?

2. What is the work (duties) and mission (goal) of the organization?

3. What is your title in the organization, and what are your specific duties?

4. What was your impact on the organization and the population(s) it serves? For example, did you raise a certain amount of money for a cause? Serve a particular number of students...

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Why High School Students Should Enroll in Summer Pre-College Programs


Do you have a freshman, sophomore or junior in high school at home?

As former Director of the Leadership in the Business World pre-college program at The Wharton School, I can tell you that participating in a pre-college program not only contributes to a student’s growth and development, but also to his/her future college applications.

While there is not a direct link between participating in a summer program on a college campus and university admission, students can find many benefits in participating in one of these programs.

Besides important lifelong friendships formed during these programs, the outcome of a summer pre-college program experience is that students receive insight about their academic/career interests and college choices.

I have read through many admissions applications in my current college counseling practice and it is clear that many students have very little idea about why they want to study their intended major or go into a particular career field....

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Announcing the Launch of My Podcast "College Admissions Stories" - Millennial Trains Project


I’m excited to announce the fall 2016 launch of my podcast, “College Admissions Stories.” The podcast is made possible by the generous support of The Millennial Trains Project (MTP) and a Chinese sponsor. Through MTP, I will embark on a cross-country train trip to ve U.S. cities this summer.

[The Millennial Trains Project (MTP) is an award-winning series of crowdfunded transcontinental train journeys for young innovators to explore new frontiers.]

I am launching my podcast through MTP because – while at Wharton – I found that there was limited information available for Chinese students to help them in navigating the U.S. college admissions process. Because of the lack of resources that would help them better understand the U.S. college admissions processes, many Chinese students do not have a shot at being admitted and of course the process was very competitive for all applicants.

Sadly, the reputation of Chinese students is impaired by questionable...

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What to Do When You Receive a Deferred Decision from a College


Receiving a deferred decision from your top choice college or university as an early decision (ED) applicant can be a very discouraging, frustrating and confusing experience. There are two primary reasons why a candidate is deferred:

1) The admissions committee wants to see how the applicant fares relative to the regular decision applicant pool.

2) There is a gap in knowledge about the student’s scholastic performance or personal qualities.

While the financial admission decision is out of an applicant’s control (and hopefully this relieves student/family anxiety in some way), there are strategies that students can use to stand out after receiving a “deferred” decision*:

1) Students: Send an email to thank the admissions officer for their thoughtful consideration of your application; reiterate that the college or university where you applied continues to be your top choice. Ask for 5 minutes of the admission officer’s time to discuss your application so...

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You think you’re getting help, but you’re wrong: An open letter to Chinese students and families 自以为受益?你错了!一封沃顿前招生官致中国家长和学生的信 !


As I sit here speaking with Chinese parents and students, I am awestruck at their respect and admiration for the U.S. system of higher education. There is a lot to respect and admire about the U.S. system of higher education to be sure; however, not all colleges and universities are created equally.

Given that Chinese families have a limited knowledge base of the U.S. system of higher education, Chinese families are extremely vulnerable to receive bad advice and to experience financial strain.

By the end of the educational cycle, Chinese students and their families will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on education expenses including agent fees, tuition, room/board, and travel expenses. Very often, the end result of all of these education expenses is no different than other Chinese students who remained within China for university. There is no accountability body monitoring whether these agents to do good work on students’ and families’ behalf and there are no...

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Cheating the System: International Students and College Admissions


Thanks to for the publication. Short excerpt below.


Many of my international students dream — their word — of going to college in the United States.

Each year, I work with dozens of students — the majority of whom are from China — as an independent educational consultant specializing in college and graduate school admissions.

What’s the problem?

While it is encouraging to know that higher education in the U.S. is favored on the world stage, my perspective allows me see a different picture, one that shows the lengths to which applicants are willing to go in order to gain acceptance to American colleges and universities. In my past experience in admissions, Chinese students, the most populous group of international college applicants, were — for the most part — regarded by admissions of officers as “guilty until proven innocent” of cheating on their college applications. For instance, it was not uncommon for students...

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