Ariel is a Computer Science Ph.D. candidate at MIT. He dreamed of going to MIT while he was in high school. He shares how the path he took to get there and the decisions he made along the way that helped him realize that dream.

Bonus Episode 4: The Most Important Conversation to Have

This time of year parents of high school seniors are experiencing sticker shock. Their students worked hard to earn an admission to their dream college, and then the financial award letters start coming in.

Researching the cost of attending a particular school needs to be a critical part of that process. It can be a difficult conversation to have with your student, but if cost will be a factor, the earlier you can have that conversation the better.

Links mentioned in the episode.

College Navigator
College App Spreadsheet

Click here for my blog post on this topic


Test Prep Professionals

What are your options for to prepare for the SAT and ACT? What are the different approaches companies take to creating their programs? What should you look for in finding a test prep partner?

I sat down with two of the best test prep professionals in the country to get their perspective on the SAT, ACT, and college admissions as they are today.

Brian Eufinger owns Edison Prep, based in Atlanta, GA, with his wife Silvia. Pranoy Mohaptra owns PM Tutoring, based in central New Jersey. Both also offer online tutoring. We talked about our different approaches to how we do this test prep thing and what it means for students.

Find out more about Edison Prep

Find out more about PM Tutoring


Planning Courses for Selective Schools

Selective colleges are now expecting students to have completed courses in high school that require planning to take that course several years in advance. In this bonus episode, I share what those expectations are and when that planning needs to take place.


Professional Videographer

When Eric started in the theater program at USC, one of only 12 students selected for that program, he was confident his path was clear. Then life happened. He shares the amazing story of how he went from 2005 Best One-Act actor in the state of Texas to working behind the scenes as he builds his own dream in a different way.

This episode is a fabulous look at working through the plans when the plans don’t work as planned.


Things to know about “Test Optional” admissions

Last Spring the majority of colleges and universities created an admissions process where students did not have to submit test scores. The shorthand for this process is “Test Optional”. A year later, we’re seeing 2 very interesting developments from that process.


Parent Perspective

For many of us helping students apply to college today, the process is vastly different from what it was when we applied to college. It’s even worse if you weren’t educated in the U.S. Richard shares his perspective on what parents educated overseas can expect from the U.S. process.

Richard Smith has 2 daughters who went to the University of Oklahoma. One graduated last year (Ciara Smith in episode 7) and the other graduates this year.

In addition to talking about how to manage the differences in the system, we got into a great conversation about what employers are looking for in college graduates.


Creating a college list

In these bonus episodes, I’m going to focus on items that are typically difficult for students. The tough part about creating a college list is knowing where to start. In this short segment, I share the resources we use to help students create a list of 7-10 schools that are right for them.

Episode 13: CHELSEA McCALL

University of Texas at Arlington

A great conversation about an experience so many students have. In high school, Chelsea knew she wanted to get away from home, so she decided to go to UNLV. After a semester, she realized it wasn’t for her. She shares how she came to that realization and how she STILL managed to graduate from the University of Texas at Arlington in just 3 years after a transfer and some bad advice from her college advisor. We also talked about getting that first job, leaving that first job, and what she’s up to now.


California Institute of the Arts

Gabriella Smith, professionally known as Gabriella Mykal, graduated from SMU with a BFA in Visual Art and a B.S. in Economics in May of 2020 and is pursuing an MFA in Film/Video Production at the California Institute of the Arts. We track how she discovered her passion for film and the work she is doing today as well as what the future plan are. We also take a look at how her unique grad school is structured.


Episode 11: TOM BEASLEY

Flight Instructor

Tom is a flight instructor training pilots to fly corporate jets. We talk about how he became a flight instructor as well as the state of that industry for both corporate and commercial pilots. He also reminded me of some of my less glorious moments in the classroom.

Episode 10: KELLEY JUETT

Professional Musician

In high school, Kelley was an exceptional athlete. When he headed off to Sam Houston State, he planned to study Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. Three years into that plan he discovered a passion for music that has led him to become one of the best rock and roll guitarists in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. His band Mothership has produced 4 albums and he is now working on a collaboration with other artists around the country.

We talk about his journey to becoming a professional musician, how the pandemic has affected it, and how he has adapted.

Discover more about Mothership at http://mothershipusa.com/

Episode 9: SYDNEY ROSE

University of Texas at Arlington

Sydney was originally accepted into the University of Texas CAP program. The CAP program offers students who want to study liberal arts the option of spending their first year at a feeder school before transferring to UT-Austin.

After her first semester at UTA, Sydney realized she would have more opportunity to achieve her goals if she stayed at UTA than if she transferred. And was she ever right. We talk about those amazing opportunities as well as how she is preparing for the future.

To find out more about The Archer Fellowship: https://www.archercenter.org/archer-fellowship-program.html


Founder and CEO of TuitionFit

Mark Salisbury is the founder of TuitionFit, an organization dedicated to providing transparency to the cost of college. His website tuitionfit.org lets families research colleges that fit their academic and financial profiles and gives them insight into how their costs compare to others. TuitionFit.org is the CarFax of college costs. We discuss what those financial letters mean and how families can be certain their getting the best value for their college costs.

Find out more about TuitionFit.org: https://www.tuitionfit.org/

Episode 7: CIARA SMITH

University of Oklahoma

Ciara graduated from the University of Oklahoma in May of 2020 with a BFA in theater. Her choice to go to OU for theater surprised me, but she had done her research and knew the sort of unique opportunities she would have there. We talk about what those opportunities meant for her as an undergraduate. We also discuss what the future holds as she prepares to move to New York City and pursue her dream to be a costume designer on Broadway.

You can check out Ciara’s artwork at: Ciaraniamhsmith.com


SMU Dedman School of Law

Mackenzie graduated from the University of Alabama and is in her 2nd year of law school at SMU. I had the good fortune to teach her for two years. When she was my student, I knew she was hardworking and reliable although undeniably practical in her approach to academics. So when I heard she was going to law school, I wasn’t surprised that she’d made the decision as much as unaware that it was something she wanted to do. We talk about her own discovery about law school being a path for her as well as early indications that she might be good at finding loopholes.


President of Improving (Houston)

When I asked Devlin to be on the podcast he didn’t feel like his story was would fit because he didn’t finish college. I told him that is exactly why I wanted to talk to him.

Devlin started at a community college while working in a warehouse for Tyson chicken. The story of how he went from a warehouse worker to the President of Improving (Houston) is fantastic. I hope you’ll enjoy it.


Senior at Texas A&M University

When I found out Lindsay had been accepted to UT Southwestern’s Physical Therapy program, I knew I needed to talk to her. She sheds light on the process of becoming a physical therapist in addition to how she discovered that passion. In high school, Lindsay was a nationally ranked gymnast. The work ethic that gymnastics took also made her a fantastic student. That same drive has led her to compete in CrossFit competitions at the national level.

Episode 3: JULIE NORS


Julie is the mother of a sophomore at Texas A&M and a freshman in high school. We talk about the concerns parents have, the ones that matter and the ones that don’t, as well as how children from the same parents can be so incredibly different.

Episode 2: JAMIE KIRBY

Senior, New York University

Jamie applied to NYU with the plan to double major in business and art. She credits her Tommy Tubbs, her physics teacher, with inspiring her to pursue engineering. However, her college plans didn’t go as planned. She changed to Science and Technology and ended up taking a couple of years off. We talk about delaying graduation, the cost of college, and what comes next.


University of Colorado-Boulder Class of 2020

Yazan graduated from CU Boulder in the May of 2020. We talk about how COVID disrupted his last semester of college along with how it impacted the job search. We also talk about mistakes he made early in college and how he overcame them.