3 Tips for Finding the Right College for Business Majors

Is your teen planning to major in business and having difficulty deciding which colleges should be on their list? Keep reading for my top three tips for finding the right college for your teen who wants to pursue a career in business. 

Look at the functional areas within “Business” If you search online for “business majors” you will come up with a list of thousands of colleges, so when students say they’re interested in business, I ask them, “What are the specific areas of business that interest you?” There are many different functional areas within the business realm, such as:

  • accounting
  • marketing
  • finance
  • operations

Looking specifically at one of these areas will help guide them to different sets of colleges. If your teen is looking into a liberal arts college that doesn’t offer business, they could try looking into economics which will touch on business. Again, the first step is thinking about the functional area of interest.

Research summer programs for business majors

One of the key things I recommend to students who are interested in business is to consider a summer program to learn more about specific areas of business, such as programs focused on investment banking, finance, marketing or entrepreneurship. There are countless summer programs out there, many virtual.

What Does the Program Offer?

After your teen considers their functional area of interest and looks into summer programs, my next tip would be to look at what the college programs offer. For example, the University of Southern California has an international program in different areas of business that allows for the opportunity to study abroad. There could also be organizations within the college to help get your teen more involved and around other students in the same field.  

Side Note: Another thing to consider when your teen is fine-tuning their list of colleges is the math requirements for different programs; many require that you take calculus in high school. If they’re not on track for that, it can hurt their chances of being admitted. For some business programs, there may be an option to test out of that course. If that is the case, make sure they take that test by the end of junior year. 

Recap for Finding the Right College for Business Majors 

If your teen is considering majoring in business, they should first look at the functional areas within business to find their area of interest. Narrowing their interests down will help with finding colleges that are a good fit. Secondly, your teen should look into summer programs as a viable way to learn about the functional areas of interest. Finally, look at what the colleges offer to support your teen’s success so they can thrive while they’re there and have rich career opportunities afterwards as well. 

Junior year is a critical year for the college admissions process. I want to make sure that your teen is successful throughout the school year and not overwhelmed by this process. If their initial list is too overwhelming, your teen may lean towards popular colleges they’ve heard of before and that’s not going to serve them well.  

Grab your copy of our College Prep Toolkit now to ensure your success in helping your teen navigate through this school year

Summer Programs for “Undecided” College-bound Teens

It’s perfectly OK if a high school student doesn’t know what they want to major in during college! The most popular major for college freshmen is “Undecided”. In fact, when a high school student is so fixated on a particular major, that’s when I start to worry.


Anyone who has researched summer programs knows there are plenty of options for students interested in medicine, pre-engineering students, and those interested in business majors. Well, if you’re not so sure about which major interests you or just plain want to explore different fields, there are many summer programs that cover a range of topic areas through courses, cultural immersion, and community service.


For my high school students who are unsure of a major for college, I recommend that they try something totally new to get an idea of what they like or don’t like. We set basic program criteria, like the length of program, location, or extracurricular activities to focus our search for summer programs. Whether we focus on academic courses or community service depends on whether there are gaps to fill on their activities resume. The key is finding a summer program that’s a good match for exploring and discovering new interests.


Here are several summer programs that have different program options to choose:


Wake Forest Summer Immersion Institute – while Wake Forest offers many programs focused on specific future majors, there are also ones that are more general, such as health & well-being, leadership, technology and writing for life.

Putney Student Travel – whether a student wants to study abroad or do community service, this program has a range of options. Students may choose to do community service, or language learning, in addition to studying on a college campus.

Northwestern College Prep Program – available in two formats (IN FOCUS for in-person and E FOCUS for virtual) participants get access to professors during a variety of 2-week programs. 

LEAD Global Summer Institute – in this 3-week hybrid program (one week online and two weeks in person) participants will end the program equipped to “think differently” about how they learn and how to apply it. 


What general summer programs have you found to spark new interests?


5 Tips for when your teen returns to the classroom

Transitioning from online to in-person learning brings another set of challenges.

For a lot of the parents and high school students I’ve talked to, it’s exciting. For others, its’s daunting. One thing I know is no one is returning “back to normal.” Schools have changed. Routines have been upended. Familiar students and teachers may have moved and new ones entered.

Get Ready. Get Set. Change Again.

The number one thing you can do to help with returning to the classroom is recognize how difficult a change can be. It’s going to be just as hard to flip back into school as it was to embrace virtual.

Even if your teen is returning to the same school, they are not returning to the same environment. I know I’ve changed. Really, who hasn’t been changed by the past 18-months? There may be different routines, new rules, safety procedures and for some, spending all day in a mask will be an added difficulty.

Some kids will feel a loss going back to school. They might miss the family time. Home might have felt comforting. Social interactions in-person may bring renewed worries about their hair or clothes or fitting in- really about anything and everything.

As you consider how you can support your teen with this “new normal”, here are 5 quick tips to consider.

What Parents Can Do

Begin by recognizing back-to-the-classroom may be stressful. Helping them adjust to yet another new normal starts with hearing them and feeling for them. Remember optimism is contagious so spread some around.

Set A New Schedule- Since the previous commute was from the bed to the laptop, they may have forgotten how to build in enough prep time. Help them in planning enough time to eat, shower, dress and commute. Getting up earlier means winding down earlier is crucial.

Get a Renewed Grip on Screen Time – Keep in mind any good screen limits you had before the pandemic probably flew out the window. Work again toward a healthy screen time balance. Gradually reducing electronics time by swapping with in-person activities is a good method.


Tip- One tip I’ve found that really works is to have your teen charge their phone in your bedroom overnight. Not having instant access to every text or platform will help them get back into a good sleep-wake routine.


Get Informed- Read up on your school’s return-to-school policies. Know how they will handle infection outbreaks, mask requirements and rules on social distancing. This is also a good time to discuss ways to handle difficulties with your student. They are going to encounter vaccine-no vaccine controversies, people who disagree with Covid-related policies and outright misinformation. Asking them how they will handle someone whose opinion is different than their own is a good way to get into that discussion.

Offer Coping Ideas – Give your kids some strategies for first-week butterflies. Remind them everyone is feeling the same way. Suggest if they make someone else feel comfortable, it will also make them feel better. It’s as simple as smiling or just saying hi to the person next to you.

Talk It Out – Help them verbally explore how they have changed during the time of Covid. Remind them their old friends will seem familiar but may have changed too and there will be chances to include new people in their friends’ circle.

Keep an Eye Out – Watch for behavior changes that could mean they are stressed. It takes time to adjust to changes so remember to allow them time to accept their new normal.

Take time for you – Self-care is not selfish. With so many more demands on your time as you manage career and family, it’s even more important for you to take time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. I encourage you to find ways to integrate self-care into your routines every day. For example, an easy self-care practice is keeping a daily gratitude journal.

The week of August 2 is Back to School Week on Keep C.A.L.M. for Moms, my LinkedIn Live show. Join me daily for timely tips and insight to make this the best school year ever. 

If you have a college-bound teen, be sure to check out our College Prep Toolkit here: https://bit.ly/toolkit_5

5 reasons College-bound Teens must Set Goals

campus visit teen

Every school year brings surprises, so teens can’t plan ahead for every event. However, setting 3-5 foundational goals each school year can make a difference in its success. Examples of goals that my own teens and teen clients have set include:

  • Maintain a _____ GPA
  • Meet with a teacher after school each week
  • Increase volunteer hours at _________________ by 1 hour per week
  • Start a ___________ club at my community center
  • Complete art portfolio with __ drawings by end of semester

WHY GOALS?teen with parent

Setting goals during high school can help a teen in numerous ways even beyond college . . . for life success:

  1. Have a Purpose – Goals gives teens something to work for – a sense of purpose and direction. One of the first questions I ask my teen clients is “Why do you want to go to college?” If a teen can articulate why they want to go, then it makes it easier to help them find the best fit as well as have a reason to continue being their best.
  2. Stay Motivated – Goals give teens that extra boost to keep going, especially if they start to waiver.
  3. Believe in Yourself – Goals give teens the inspiration to aim for something that they may not have thought possible.
  4. Be Accountable – Goals remind teens at the end of the semester or school year of what they have accomplished or NOT.
  5. Get help – Goals give teens a way to be more specific when they ask for help. The best help comes when others know how to help


The question for every college-bound teen – What are your goals for this semester? School year?

Responding to this question is the first step towards a successful school year. Please share your high school year and goals.


Should my teen study for the PSAT?


Each fall, parents with 9th, 10th and 11th graders ask me about the PSAT and whether their teen should study for the PSAT. As with most things in college readiness, it depends.

Let’s start with a general description of the PSAT to make sure we’re all on the same page. It’s considered a preliminary SAT exam and students often take it to get an unofficial look at the SAT. “Unofficial” means that this test is “off the record” for college admissions purposes. It’s rare that students would submit these scores for consideration in college admissions.

PSAT for 9th graders
Most high schools do not offer the option for 9th graders to take the PSAT. Although I have seen it offered at several independent schools.

Typically, I do not recommend that students take the PSAT in 9th grade. It adds too much unnecessary pressure and anxiety. The 9th grade is such a transitional period that the year is better spent acclimating to the new school environment, making friends, and getting to know teachers.

PSAT for 10th graders
Taking the PSAT in 10th grade can be a good idea, if your high school offers that option. 10th graders who take the PSAT can get familiar with the format and determine their own level of comfort with the question types. The results would also closely project SAT scores.

In addition to the PSAT in sophomore year of high school, I would highly recommend that students also consider taking the pre-ACT. The pre-ACT is an unofficial preview of the ACT. Again, taking the pre-ACT would be an opportunity for sophomores to get familiar the ACT format and determine their level of comfort with the question types.

The results of the PSAT and pre-ACT can then be compared, using an SAT-ACT comparison tool to determine if a student should take the SAT or ACT in junior year. It’s a waste of time and money to take both tests, so I highly recommend that students stick with one test . . . either the SAT or ACT!

Sophomore year is an important year for students to discover their interests and further their academic preparation. Spending time to study for the PSAT or pre-ACT is not a good use of their time. Certainly, students may look at practice questions, if they like, but I would not suggest prioritizing PSAT and/or pre-ACT test prep over homework assignments and reading for pleasure.

PSAT for 11th graders
The majority of high schools in the US require that high school juniors take the PSAT. The PSAT is used in junior year as the qualifying exam for National Merit Scholarships. Even when students take the PSAT in junior year, they must still take the SAT or ACT to meet college admissions requirements.

I have recommended that my students study for the PSAT in only a few cases. When I recommended that my students study in junior year, they met these criteria:

1. Had taken the PSAT in sophomore year
2. Had scored in the 99%ile on the PSAT in sophomore year (Each state has their own National Merit Scholarship baseline so be sure to look it up for your state.)

Those students were in striking distance of qualifying for National Merit Scholarship so it made sense for them to study for the PSAT in advance. Their study plan often included completion of two or more practice tests before the test date and thorough reviews of reading, writing, and math.

Rule of thumb: Test prep should never take precedence over maintaining a strong transcript whether a student is 9th, 10th or 11th grader.

Please let me know your thoughts and/or comments on this topic.

5 tips for college-bound 9th graders: What parents must know

college-bound tips for 9th graders

School is back in session!

The transition from middle school to high school is a critical point in your teen’s educational journey. 9th graders are part of a new community, and their teachers, school counselor, and administrators are there to help them explore this new journey!

As a parent, you may notice some of the emotional ups and downs that come with navigating a new school, making new friends, learning from new teachers, balancing new time and academic demands. I have been there with my own teens and go through it each year with my students . . . in other words, “I feel you”.

Freshmen may not understand the importance of 9th grade in the overall college admissions process yet, but it doesn’t hurt for parents to be informed. Parents can be helpful to their college-bound freshman without “taking over” or being accused of helicoptering. Here are my top 5 tips that parents can follow and still look good.

  1. Start a file of important papers such as test scores, report cards, articles, scholarship opportunities, etc. Although you are starting the file, please remember to give it to your teen well before junior year so that they can be accountable for tracking their progress.cornell campus


  1. Set aside time to meet with your 9th grader to develop their 4-year course plan. Mapping their courses for each year of high school will challenge them to set realistic goals and balance academic rigor with interests. Sign up for our monthly freshman roadmap and you will receive our Compass ReadiGuide for Course Planning.


  1. Emphasize the importance of building positive relationships with ALL of their teachers. Your teen will need teacher recommendations for summer programs, scholarships, and college applications. A challenging goal for your 9th grader may be to meet with 1-2 teachers each month. Taking these consistent small steps can lead to a positive relationship where your teen gets to know the teacher and the teacher gets to know your teen.


  1. Encourage your 9th grader to schedule a meeting with their school counselor. School counselors may have interest/career inventories, ACT/SAT practice tests, as well as information about summer programs or scholarships.


  1. Assist your 9th grader in finding fun and interesting ways to volunteer. Volunteering in the community provides an opportunity to develop a sense of care for others, learn your capabilities, broaden experiences, and grow interpersonal skills.


This brief checklist highlights what parents can do this school year. However, if you’re a busy parent like me, you may not remember these tips in winter. Perhaps a regular “check-in” reminder would help you stay on top. . .

What other tips for 9th-grade success would you suggest? Please post in comments below.

Should my Teen study for the PSAT?

santa clara campus

College-bound teens take the PSAT every year in mid-October. The PSAT is the test that high school juniors take to qualify for National Merit recognition, although more 9th and 10th graders are taking this test each year. In addition, the PSAT gives students practice and feedback for the SAT. After taking the PSAT, students will get a full report which details the questions they missed. This report can be a useful guide to prepare for the SAT.psat logo

Many parents ask me every year whether their teen should study for the PSAT. My answer (like for most things related to college admissions): It depends. The first question in all things college admissions is why. So, I ask parents to tell me why they think their teen should study for the PSAT. Based on the reason, I can then suggest whether it’s worth the teen’s time to study for the PSAT.

Reasons to Study for PSAT  

  • To get a higher score than last year
  • To have a chance at a National Merit recognition
  • To present stronger scores for a summer program application

Reasons to NOT Study for PSAT

  • Did not take the test last year
  • Scores from last year were below 750 for each section
  • Academic course load is demanding
  • ACT is best test for student

In most cases, students do not need to study for the PSAT. It’s an annual test that plays a marginal role in college admissions. If a student’s best test is the SAT, then they would be better off focusing their prep efforts on the SAT, instead. The best time to prep for the SAT is usually 8-10 weeks prior to the scheduled test date. If the PSAT date coincides with the SAT prep then it’s a win-win.

Is it too soon for a Campus Visit?

Parents ask me all the time “Is it too soon to go on a campus visit?” Unfortunately, the parents who usually ask that question are indeed asking too soon. There is such thing as too soon for campus visits because too many students get burned out on-campus visits when they start their visits well before the application process.

Campus visits matter most in junior and senior year of high school. When students are visiting colleges at a time when it’s relevant then they tend to learn more from the experience. Also, for colleges that track “demonstrated interest”, having an official visit during that time can help with admissions prospects. The other benefit of visiting when students are actively engaged in the application process is that the visit helps with writing a more compelling essay about why that particular college is a good fit.

Rice campus
Rice has a beautiful campus, much like an urban oasis!

There are a few colleges that may host special events for 9th or 10th graders. I think those visits are OK to attend, perhaps as part of a family trip to that area. I don’t suggest making a special trip out of the way just to attend.

What I see more often is that parents are taking their middle schooler or 9th grader to visit the more prestigious, selective universities. That adds a lot of unnecessary pressure and stress. Yes, Princeton may have a beautiful campus, but is it really necessary to visit when it’s not even certain that Princeton is a good fit for your teen? It can even be a bit tricky when a parent takes their child to a reunion event. That too can set the expectation that your child should attend or at least apply to your alma mater.

The best time for students to visit in the winter and spring of the junior year after researching where it makes the most sense to visit. The summers are good for visits, but families should keep in mind that the campus vibe may be a bit quieter and less impressive. Some colleges offer special overnight visits for seniors. These are great to take advantage of but it can be hard to fit into the senior schedule, especially if a teen has a fall sport.

So the short answer to our initial question on is it too soon to do a campus visit is “Yes!” If your teen is a middle schooler or 9th grader, it’s too soon for a campus visit. Those years are better spent doing well academically and making good choices socially. The end of sophomore year is the earliest I would recommend a campus visit.

When are you starting your campus visits? Please post comments below.


4 Tips to Help your Teen Study Better

It is best to start building study habits in the middle school years because poor study habits will quickly come to light during high school when the demands of high school academics and homework load are much greater. Even if your teen is on the 12th, it’s too late for them to learn how to study better. The study skills they build in high school will greatly serve them in college.

Here are 3 time-tested tips that will make a difference in developing your teen’s study habits: (I’ve used them myself and know that they work!)

  • Help your teen set a daily study routine. This daily routine can be 4 to 6 pm for afterschool activities, 6-7 dinner time, then study from 7 to 10 pm. Part of setting this routine is making it realistic for how your teen is involved outside of school and in the community. To really stick with this routine, stay flexible. You can make adjustments when necessary on a week-by-week basis until your teen feels comfortable with knowing that if it’s Wednesday evening at 7:30, they should be studying and not watching a movie on net flicks.
  • Remind them to review their class notes each day. You may be thinking . . . I don’t have time to hover over them while they’re studying. I don’t mean to imply that at all. This means that from time to time, perhaps when they discuss a grade that was lower than expected, you suggest that they should consider reviewing their class notes each day. Another thing they can do if they have a study period is look ahead to what will be covered in class later that day.
  • Designate a quiet space at home (or library) to avoid distractions, i.e. texts, music, and friends who socialize. Designated space at home can be a desk in any room, a dining table, a comfy chair or couch as long as it’s free of obvious distractions. If studying at home isn’t an option, then perhaps suggest that your teen studies at the local library for a few hours.
  • Have dinner together. In all the research that’s been done on what makes the most difference with doing well academically, it’s having dinner together. This can be tough to schedule especially if you have more than one child, nevertheless, it’s been shown to have the greatest impact, even more so than doing homework.

Please let me know what you’ve tried that works.

Check out What Parents Need to Know about Testing for College-bound Teens!


What 9th graders can do now to get into Best College

Attention 9th graders, the college may feel like a long way away. In some ways, it is. But, in more ways than one, it’s really not. College-bound 9th graders are part of the college admissions process, whether they know it or not. In fact, our firm starts working with many teens in their freshman year of high school.

Long before students start receiving college mailings, they can get prepared. 9th graders can take these three steps to get into the best college for them:

  • Get to know yourself – At the same time that 9th grade may be an exciting time socially with making new friends at school, it’s also a great time for freshmen to explore and find new things that they like and enjoy doing. This may mean checking out a new club at school, starting a hobby, or trying out a summer program in a new subject area. Self-awareness is key in knowing what you want for college!
  • Plan your courses for all four years of high school – Setting your schedule ahead of high school graduation is a great way to build a strong foundation of coursework. It will also help you see where there may be courses missing. In those cases, perhaps you could consider an online or summer course. If your high school offers an Honors graduation, the four-year planning will help with determining if that’s a path you want to pursue.
  • Develop good study and organization skills – It’s not too early to find ways to improve your study and organization skills. The coursework in 9th grade is typically more rigorous than 8th grade, so consider how you manage your time after school or how you take notes during class. There are note-taking systems, time management tools, and organizing techniques to try that can help you develop habits that will serve you well throughout high school and beyond.

Ninth grade can be a great year to jumpstart success in high school and getting into the best college. The journey begins with the student!

What other suggestions do you have for 9th grade? Please post comments and questions below