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Educator Spotlight: Betsy Greaney of College Placement Consulting

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Betsy Greaney is the Director of College Placement Consulting, a college planning team based in Maryland and serving families across the United States. She's a professional IECA member and a new Polygence partner. We caught up with her recently to learn more about her approach to working with students.

First, as a resident of Maryland's eastern shore, where do you send visitors in search of an excellent crab dining experience?

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Great question, we like to buy bushels, pick them and make our own. That is a level of patience best exercised by our oldest son, William, but he shares his bounty.

Your counseling team at CPC looks amazing--what brought this group together?

I work with friends. Each team member is someone that I have been acquainted with through the community – Catholic Church, local schools, volunteer organizations, and even a past client. We all know each other's families, backgrounds, and strengths to complement one another.

I really appreciate your emphasis on giving students the confidence "to stretch beyond original expectations." In your experience, what are effective ways of getting students to dream big about their education and careers?

When our practice first began, many moons ago, the intent was to have students from Maryland's eastern shore expand their options from the local community college or regional state university.

Now that we are working with students from this area and over 50 different high schools, expanding options takes on many flavors. The first step is understanding the possible, which starts with data. The students' key college criteria are academics, campus culture, educational culture, student resources, residential life, and extra-curricular activities. Parent's data is also important, particularly what they can contribute to their student's education through savings, income, and loans. We want parents to know it is ok to retire at 70 years old and a few family vacations into the estimate! The academic profile is also key. What are the student's high school class rigor and profile? Are there areas for improvement given the tools they have in their arsenal?

Our firm invests time and resources in source data to provide advice. Once we map the data, research and creativity outline the possible. If the cost of attendance is a barrier, we might consider regional discount programs, schools that are generous with merit scholarships for A-B students, and early applications. We also help the parent calculate their expected family contribution. If need grants are part of the equation, navigate which schools meet the majority of need that are in target or realistic reach admission probability. Suppose the student's academic profile is a barrier. In that case, we review the high school curriculum early and often discuss summer opportunities to fill in gaps or other tools, including enrichment and admission test tutoring. Tutoring focuses more on making sure the students have the academic skills to succeed in college. We know each school's common data set admission requirements to make sure students leverage the relative academic and non-academic factors on their application.

I know you have a thoughtful approach to data that helps guide students towards the right colleges and careers. (We do too!) What are some developments in college admissions and the job market you're watching for new insights?

Well, we are drinking from a fire hose right now as admission data is fresh and new for the current application cycle. I see many schools defer early applications to the regular decision timeline that they might not have in the past. Student learning has been all over the map. Schools want first-semester Senior-year grades to accumulate more data – more the reason as I tell our Juniors not to back off of classes Senior year, even if their high school guidance counselor states they have finished requirements for their high school diploma.

Many schools see the highest application numbers in their history. Most schools now accept the common application, continue to offer test-optional availability, and of course, uncertainty in students can drive high numbers. I am interested in seeing if the wait lists ease up earlier than May 1 for schools that have not had these application numbers in the past and are scratching their heads regarding yield. Students will find their spot and adapt, but we like to have several good-fit options solid by now. Most students do.

To borrow a line from the Proust Questionnaire, who is your favorite fictional hero?

Who has time to read fiction? Ha!