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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Preparing Teens to Launch Successfully

 by Katherine O'Brien ThD Candidate, Certified College Planning Specialist

Butterflies are beautiful! With their large delicate wings and surprising coloration they captivate us.

As we know, they start as caterpillars, then hide away in a cocoon to transform, eventually emerging after a slow wriggling struggle to work their way out of the confines of that small space.

Our children also go through a transformation process, not quite as all-encompassing as the change from caterpillar to butterfly, yet incredibly complex nonetheless.


We love our children and want them to do well. Guiding them through the years of transition is challenging, requiring much discernment and effort. Over my two decades of working with teens, I have noticed two major mistakes that well meaning parents make. The first is to stifle all growth, keeping teens tightly controlled. The second is an extreme hands off, laissez-faire approach. There's another way that avoids the pitfalls of both.


Protecting our children from the dangers of the world is definitely one of our responsibilities as parents. When they come to us, they are completely defenseless. By the time they leave, we sometimes forget, they need to be able to defend themselves. Transitioning them, step by step, is a delicate process, a process that requires knowing one's child very well and constantly discerning what information to share at what depth at each stage of their growth. Pain is a part of life. Pets and beloved friends and relatives die and loss must be borne. Friendships come, and friendships end.

Over the past twenty years, opportunities for young people to take on increasing responsibility for themselves continue to exist. However, the willingness of parents to permit, furthermore encourage, this growth has diminished steadily, then shut down completely during the pandemic. Far too many bright, capable youth have never cooked a meal, washed their own laundry, or held a job. Every year I work with seniors about to finish high school, only months from leaving home from college. I work diligently with them all, orienting them to college academics and life. I am stunned by the number who have been driven door to door all their lives, scheduled by their parents, and catered to in every way. With no opportunities to take on responsibilities, these students, in steadily increasing numbers, arrive at college completely ill prepared for anything but the schoolwork. This needs to change!

Teens need to learn to get themselves where they need to be prepared and on time. They need to manage their own calendars, organizing their various responsibilities. They absolutely need to have responsibilities in the home, whether it's handling their own laundry, preparing meals once a week, caring for the yard, or something else. Regular routine tasks that they are responsible for and held accountable to take care of. If they have extra activities that preclude completing their chores for a time, they need to make arrangements for someone else to accomplish those tasks, and they need to see that  their substitute did them well!


Having a job is now a rarity. What an incredible opportunity for growth! Being responsible to someone who is not in your family forces you to grow. There is no "wiggle room." A boss expects you to be on time every time, ready to do the work at hand with a good demeanor, etc. This accountability to people outside the family is absolutely key to teen growth.


Some teens are completely unfettered, allowed to pursue their interests as they desire. They are encouraged to explore and supported with freedom to roam through the opportunities in life. 

This allows young people freedom to discover interests outside the confines of the courses offered at school and the standard clubs and sports. Our society has so many interesting possibilities. I've spoken with young blacksmiths, pilots, and international travels, to name just a few. I've worked with young people who were responsible for much of the care of their grandparents who were ailing, needed medication management, doctor's visits translated, mobility assistance in the home and more.

Some of these teens have thrived, to an extent. Many struggled with a sense of having been abandoned. While they appreciated the opportunities, they were pained by the lack of support or guidance that came along with the license and freedom they'd been given. This was very difficult for them to navigate, these feelings of both gratitude and resentment they felt.


Just as a caterpillar turned butterfly must work its way slowly, millimeter by millimeter, out of the chrysalis, so our teens need opportunities to grow, step by step, into adults. They need both enough freedom to explore and try and fail and guidance and support and protection so they learn from their mistakes, have the necessary discernment to decide which opportunities to take and which to skip. as well as encouragement along the way.

Opportunities for teens to work with adults who are not their parents helps them mature, explore their strengths, learn new things, take on responsibilities, and more. My sons, for example, were involved in the Boy Scouts for years (I have three Eagle Scout sons to show for it!), a program designed specifically to inculcate maturity and solid values (trustworthiness, courage, helpfulness, friendliness, reverence, etc.) in youth. Many of our priests were Scouts as teens (read more).

Mentors are essential in teens' lives. Adults who are not their parents can be sounding boards for new interests. Mentors are invaluable, assisting teens through failures, helping them through the sting of the loss as well as guiding them to learn from those experiences. 


A significant part of my work with teens, especially during their freshman and sophomore years is mentoring them. I guide them as they adjust to high school life, explore various interests, and test their wings in various leadership roles. With me, they explore possible careers and college majors, learning more about what those fields are and how they, with their gifts, talents, interests, and personalities might do in them. When they are ready, the teens involve their parents in that conversation.

We need to give our kids the gift of time with other adults so they can sort themselves out. Sharing their interests with parents is a significant step. They want us to be proud of them. They need parental encouragement, as well as our carefully worded concerns. They need to know that their relationship with their parents is strong, despite the upheavals along the journey from childhood to adulthood.

To schedule a family meeting with Katherine so your teen can discuss his or her accomplishments and hopes and dreams, you all can get your college prep, admissions, costs, and aid questions answered, please email her: or call her at (858) 705-0043.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

How to Not Waste a Campus Visit


by Katherine O'Brien, ThD Cand., Certified College Planning Specialist

Visiting campuses is an important part of choosing a college. However, the way most families do it helps the colleges more than it helps themselves. In their desire to be accepted by colleges they esteem, both students and parents can forget that colleges are businesses. The admissions department has two purposes. Yes, it sifts applicants and accepts or denies admissions. Admissions is also the marketing department for the college.


Do your homework. Why is this college or university worth the time and effort to visit? Which of their academic offerings has piqued your student's interest? What else about the campus makes it interesting? Location? Size? Athletics? Other amenities? In short, research your schools, evaluating them according to your own criteria, NOT THE RANKINGS, and determine which schools to visit. During your research, notice what questions come to mind. What information do you want that isn't on the website or part of their virtual tour? BE PREPARED for your visit.


Having identified interesting programs, majors, departments, clubs, organizations, and the like, reach out to them and make appointments to see them before or after your tour. At some schools (typically smaller campuses), the admissions office will happily arrange this for you. Others will tell you it is forbidden (ignore them; they are the gatekeepers keeping a flood of non-serious inquiries at bay).  Ask the departments and programs and groups directly. Arrange for your student to sit in on a class or two. (If you can't certainly spend some time in the classrooms, student union, or cafeterias and talk with students. If possible, make a fifteen minute appointment with a professor in your prospective major. Come prepared with a short summary of your background and interest in the program and have questions for the professor. Pay attention to the interactions between students and professors. Ask about the availability of professors for help with learning course material, for research and other deep learning experiences. You'll find a wide range of campus cultures. Some have opportunities for students to engage in research and other outside the classroom learning opportunities from freshman year on while others have a select number of such opportunities restricted to upper class students in the major.


I'm always astounded when families tell me they drove through a campus or walked around a campus on a Saturday, doing a self-tour. While they may have SEEN a college, they certainly did NOT VISIT the college! A college is a community of people. In order to visit a college, one must interact with the people on the campus. Yes, touring the facilities, academic, living, and recreational, is important. Talking with actual students, staff, and professors is ESSENTIAL.

So, start with the tour. Listen carefully. Ask questions. Expect a different level of answer from student tour guides than you will receive from admissions staff. Do not expect complete transparency from either of them.

If you are visiting a large university, you may need to attend multiple tours. Some have general admissions tours as well as tours particular to the colleges on campus (the college of engineering or of music or of business, for example). Go on both if at all possible.


Even if you are NOT Catholic, this is a VERY HELPFUL part of your visit. The Newman Center is the Catholic parish on campus. Campus ministers regularly work with students from all over campus, from every college, program, and major. They talk with undergrad and graduate students as well as staff and professors. They hear about the dorms, the sports, various programs. They hear it all. They are also well connected with the mental health and other support programs on the campus. The Newman Center staff does not work for the university so can provide a non-biased perspective based on current student experiences. You can also learn about their events and programs. It's great to have a place on campus that you know is safe. No spiked drinks or wild parties here!

You can find the contact information, as well as a summary of the campus ministry programs, for all 300 or so colleges or universities with strong Catholic communities on campus in Every Catholic's Guide to College. Get a copy of this invaluable resource today!


Keep in mind YOUR goals for college, YOUR learning style, the experiences and opportunities YOU desire. Then evaluate the campus you just visited. What was offered? Whom did you meet? What was the overall campus culture like? Is this a place, a community where you can see yourself growing, developing, and thriving in? What else do you need to learn about them in order to answer that question.


College preparation is a multi-year, multi-faceted process. Having well prepared, focused students find the right colleges for them at the right price point for the family takes effort and expertise. To schedule a one hour consultation for your family to discuss your student's needs, email Katherine at For more information about her college consulting services, please visit

Thursday, April 4, 2024

A Look at Ten Recent Admissions Trends


 by Katherine O'Brien, ThD Candidate, Founder of Celtic College Consultants

Admissions trends are interesting. With thousands of colleges, each having its own slant or take on how to evaluate applications and select which students to issue admissions invitations, which to waitlist, and which to decline, pinpointing their rationale is impossible. Nonetheless, as my colleagues and I share our notes and observations on the outcomes for the Class of 2023, various trends emerge. I have gathered and categorized the comments of many colleagues. I am grateful for their public candor, sharing what they have seen with others in our professional communities.

Analytics Screen

1. Increased Use of Enrollment Management Tools

Underlying much of what we see happening are statistical analysis tools used by most colleges to predict yield (the likelihood of each candidate to attend that college if s/he is admitted). This is used to help admissions offices offer the correct number of acceptances in order to yield the number of students the college desires to have for the next class. This information is nuanced in many ways, for example, to ensure that a particular college or major within a university has an appropriate number of students or that the percentage of in state and out of state students is what they desire it to be or to balance the full pay students with students who need deep discounts in order to attend (revenue yield). Correlated to this is the increase we have seen in the laws enacted in many states, setting forth regulations regarding various aspects of college admissions.

2. Larger than Usual Tuition and other Cost Increases

Ascribed to COVID costs and inflation, costs have increased at an increasing rate. Numerous schools now have a cost of attendance of over $90,000 per year. To have the total cost of one year of college nearing the six figure mark is a fact which leads many families to remove those schools from their lists. Either they fear they will not be able to afford even the net cost at these schools (or their student will feel out of place because designer clothes, etc. will not be their norm) or they are affluent families simply unwilling to spend so much on college. College costs have long increased at a rate exceeding other costs and income increases; the jumps in those increases in recent years has been notable, breathtaking even.


3. The Common App is Less Common than it was just a couple of years ago

The Common Application is a platform used by more than 1,000 colleges and universities. It includes common information (demographics, activities, courses and grades, and a main essay) which is sent to every college the student lists. Colleges also include particular questions and supplemental essays which are specific to the college or the major or program the student is applying to. In the past couple of years, the number of these mini-essays has increased significantly. The inclusion of various diversity questions among those supplemental essays has also increased significantly.


4. Student Abilities, A Huge Increase in both Superstars and Poor Communicators

On one end of the spectrum, high achieving students are accomplishing truly incredible things. However, the number of these superstars is also increasing significantly. This means that the pool of top notch students has broadened. Students typically fail to recognize this shift so do not respect the reality of the admissions pools they join. 

On the other end, for several years now, we have noticed a precipitous drop in the caliber of student writing. Composing a sentence has become a major challenge for many. Writing a coherent paragraph is a major accomplishment for most. The introspection and internal reflection required to write truly excellent personal statements, admittedly difficult for teens, has become even more elusive. 

5. Application Inflation

At the same time as we are seeing a swelling in the number of top applicants, we are also seeing an uptick in the number of applications each is submitting. Both of these factors lead to increasingly selective admissions results. Keep in mind that selective admissions tends to work like a magnet for those colleges, attracting even more top notch applicants. Applying to wonderful schools that your peers are not applying to is a prudent practice.


6. Early Decision and Early Application shifts

For high fliers, ED has become a key strategy. Previously, most of us widely discouraged ED applications, because of the commitment they entail, to all but the most dedicated to a particular school students. Now, with many, many colleges and universities filling half or more of their classes from the ED pools, applying Early Decision is key for our top notch students. 

Among our EA applicants, we are seeing farm more deferrals, followed by waitlist placements, rather than acceptances. These factors are making us rethink the advice we give our students.


7. Grade Inflation is Rampant/Test Optional Policies are Smoke and Mirrors

Somehow, 70% of high school students appear to have a 4.0 or higher GPA. One of my colleague mused, wondering if an A now indicates that a student has completed all assignments and requirements. I recently shared the school profile with a student who thought she was a tremendous catch for any college. I showed her that she was in the middle of the pack in her own high school, furthermore in the applicant pool. This sort of reality check is needed all around.

Related to this is the steady return to requiring test scores for admissions. Test optional policies, in many cases, truly are a secret code. They mean: send us your scores, unless you are low income, or have some other significant impediment to taking the tests. If you have such an impediment, it better be evident on the application, along with validation for your academic prowess, whether that be college courses and grades or IB or AP scores... For those of you still unsure, be aware that a higher percentage of the pool of students who apply with ACT or SAT scores is admitted than of the pool of students who do not include those scores.


8. Alternative Avenues to Admissions are Significantly Increasing

Perhaps this is happening in order to have these students not impact the enrollment yield and admissions rate percentages. We are noticing a significant increasing in alternative pathways to college, including summer start, spring start, guaranteed transfer, and first semester abroad programs. One of my colleagues commented about these, capturing the sentiments many of us detect underneath these acceptances, "start here as a second class citizen, so we don't have to count you in our admission rates, etc." (Karime Jankauskas)


9. An increase in Rejections and Wait List Placements

Following from several of the points above, we are all seeing an increase in rejections, particularly unexpected rejections, this year. Several commented that they have seen this, even with demonstrated interest. This trend is particularly difficult for families who have a limited college budget so have chosen schools where their student is overqualified. They are rejected because the colleges don't believe they will actually attend that college, that the applicant is using them as a super-safety school. This is also related to the flood of superstars in the applicant pool as well as various other factors mentioned above.


10. Students Ignoring Advice

This has always been something with which we have to contend. It goes with the territory of working with teens. However, we are noticing a significant increase in students ignoring advice, data, and facts from ourselves, trained, seasoned professionals, as well as from other informed adults in their lives. Instead, we are seeing an increase in students doing their own thing, applying to schools never discussed, etc.



College admissions has never been a straightforward process. One trend which has not changed is that students working with a college consultant fare better in admissions and in their college careers. They are better prepared, have more appropriate college lists, and more polished and authentic applications.

To discuss working with Katherine, kindly email her to inquire regarding her availability. In order to provide top quality personalized services, she limits her cohorts for each graduating class. Her email address is:

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The Critical College Prep Question Almost No One is Asking


by Katherine O'Brien, Th.D. Candidate, Founder of Celtic College Consultants


I am endlessly amazed as I look around the college prep profession and see the complete omission of THE most important consideration from my colleagues’ awareness and efforts.


THE Critical college prep question:


Why go to college? 


Let me expand on that a bit: What’s the point? What are your goals? What do you seek by going to college? 


This question requires us to examine the end, the purpose, of the endeavor of going to college. Looking to the end requires no small effort, I will admit. However, this effort is essential for a successful journey. Rarely does a person begin a journey or a project without a destination or goal in mind. Let's explore this by considering an example.


If I prepare my workbench by bringing out a pile of lumber, nails, drills, sanders, hammers, and the like, but have no goal, all I have is a mess. At the same time, having a goal, while absolutely essential, is not enough. To continue with my example, if I have decided to build a table, that’s a good goal. However, I am not yet ready to begin my work, am I?


Once a goal has been set, it is important to take a bit of time to evaluate whether it is a good goal. Why do I want a table? Will I sell it? If I keep it, where will I put it? What sort of table do I want? Will it be an elegant dining table, or a tilt-able artist’s or drafting table, a simple table for beside my bed, or some other sort of table? Once I have decided what type of table to make, determining whether it is a worthwhile goal is essential. I'll need to ask questions like: If I want to keep it, do I have need of it and room for it? If I wish to sell it, are there interested buyers, can I at least break even on it, or even earn a little profit? Having gained clarity that the goal is worth pursuing and has outcomes which, as far as I can discern from my research, seem desirable, I must then consider the realism of the goal. Do I have the skills and tools necessary to craft such a table? Can I obtain the necessary materials and tools and workspace? Do I have the time needed for the project?


Having set and refined a goal, we can finally move on to the step of creating a plan to build the project. I will need blueprints; I might draft or obtain them from another source. From the blueprints, I can then derive a list of necessary materials and tools. I can also create a project plan, the steps and timeline for the project. Only at this point, am I ready to begin working on my project.


Please note how much effort has gone into the creation of a table before a single board is selected, furthermore measured and cut to the proper length. With this process in mind, let us turn our attention to the college preparation process.


Preparing for college takes just as much, if not more, preparation than preparing to build a table does. This is complicated by a few realities. Because human beings are involved, going to college is necessarily a multifaceted endeavor. Students are educated both by intellectual undertakings as well as by their life experiences on campus. Their character is shaped in significant ways, psychologically, spiritually, and socially by their college studies and experiences. Because of all of these factors, the definition of “college goals” is necessarily complex, involving intellectual and career preparation as well as personal development considerations.


College preparation includes a few additional complicating factors. First, the primary person involved, who must, necessarily, remain at the heart of the process, is an inexperienced, immature human being, a teenaged person who has very limited life experienced and who is not fully developmentally mature. This young person is at the heart of the process since it is his or her life that is being considered.. It is absolutely imperative that our young people have support and direction provided by caring adults. The nature of this period of development indicates that parents are not typically the best providers of this guidance. The youth is exploring his or her identity and interests and needs their parents support and guidance as well as the freedom to experiment. By the nature of the parent-child relationship, a weightiness exists. Parents want their children to do well; children want the esteem and affirmation of their parents. These are natural goods that God embedded in these precious relationships. The freedom to explore and experiment with possible future endeavors is often impeded, however, by the weightiness of these relationships. Young people relate to other adults differently than they do with their parents. Opportunities to evaluate freely the multitude of possible careers and academic fields of study exist with these extra-familial relationships.


From my first conversation with every student, I ask questions, prodding him or her to begin to consider these various facets of the question, "Why do I want to go to college?" Over the past twenty years, I have had the privilege of mentoring countless teens through this process of self-examination and discovery, exploration of the possibilities for their futures, and of crafting the goal, the blueprints, the steps and timeline, as well as coaching them as they take those steps toward their goal, while continuing to evaluate and refine the goal. Please ensure that your teen has the opportunity to receive such support and mentorship from middle school through high school and through their post-high school steps into adulthood, whether they include college or not.

To schedule a consultation for you and your teen to meet with Katherine, email and she will help you schedule your personal online meeting.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Exploring Various Paths through High School

by Katherine O'Brien, ThD Candidate, Certified College Planning Specialist, Founder of Celtic College Consultants

  In addition to the fundamental choice of high school setting, between homeschooling, traditional public school, Catholic or other private school, or a classical high school, the academic program chosen will have an impact on college admissions. Success in a particular setting and program will depend on a number of factors as well. Here's a rundown of the options:

1.     Traditional, basic high school: a student can take high school courses, graduate, then move on to further studies as desired


2.     College Prep high school:  a student can include some AP classes and/or AP or CLEP exams into high school, thus demonstrating academic proficiency via the classes and tests, as well as, depending on the college's policies, possibly earning some college credits


3.     College Prep high school + college classes: a student can include AP classes and/or AP or CLEP exams as well as take college courses during high school, accumulating college credits which, like AP and CLEP scores, will be accepted by the degree granting college per their policies. This student completes high school and applies to college as a first year student. After acceptance, the registrar's office decides what credits (and test scores) to accept toward the fulfillment of their degree requirements. Some colleges have policies that force students with more than a certain number of (often 24) credits to apply as transfer students; most do not. These policies are described on the admissions pages of the colleges' websites.


4.     IB College Prep high school: a student in a public HS that offers it can opt to complete an IB (International Baccalaureate) program. This rigorous program provides excellent preparation for college with its intensive writing requirements and in depth interdisciplinary approach to learning.


5.     AA rather than HS diploma: a student can opt to not complete a HS diploma, rather shifting to community college during high school and completing an associates degree. At this point, colleges will consider the student as a transfer student. With 60 credits, consideration of the HS transcript is not typically part of the transfer application process (but can be).


Regarding SAT and ACT and CLT scores, most colleges do not require them for admission. For homeschooled students, especially, it is very helpful in the admissions process to have some sort of official test scores to validate the caliber of the high school coursework. These can be AP, CLEP, National Latin exam, National math exam, CLT, ACT, or SAT scores. There is a small, but growing, number of colleges reinstating ACT or SAT test score requirements for admissions; these are primarily very selective schools.


Making the choice to include college courses in a student's high school coursework depends on academic, maturity, temporal, and financial considerations, as well as the ramifications for college admissions. The family will need to make some adjustments as well, since the student will be affected both by peers encountered through their college coursework as well as by the personal growth required to handle college coursework. Of course, developing career and college goals as well as leadership traits are also important components of the college preparation process.


To discuss these options, as well as other college prep topics, with Katherine, please email her to schedule a private consultation with yourself and your teen. email or text 858-705-0043.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Out of State Enrollments are Up!


                                                (Photo by Domino,

by Katherine O'Brien, ThD cand., CCPS, Founder of Celtic College Consultants

Over the past twenty years, 45 of the 50 public flagship universities have seen an increase in the number of out of state students. In some cases, that increase is 20% higher in 2022 than it was in 2002. U of Alabama leads this trend with almost 42% more out of state students. U of Arkansas is close, with 41% more. Also above 20% are U of Hawai'i, Louisiana State, U of Massachusetts, U of Oklahoma, U of Oregon, U of South Carolina, U of Tennessee, U of Washington, and U of Wisconsin.

This trend is significant. Out of state students pay more than in state students. Consequently, as state budgets tighten, universities have turned to this additional revenue source. At the same time, in some places, state funding has been lowered in response to the increase in out of state student attendance. As with all things relating to college, this, too, is complicated.

A few states have, over that twenty year period, lowered the percentage of out of state students. These flagship universities include U of Nevada and U of Maryland, 7% each, and U of Minnesota and U of North Carolina. The University of Michigan maintained the same percentage of in and out of state students.

There are numerous "undergraduate exchanges" around the US. These agreements offer significant discounts to out of state students from other states in the region. Of course, these agreements are only between public universities; private colleges charge the same tuition no matter where their students' homes are. Exchanges exist in many parts of the country. Often, specific majors such as nursing, engineering, and business are excluded from the exchanges' tuition reduction programs. Each student must research his or her possibilities. Typically, out of state students who participate in the exchange pay 150% of instate tuition, typically saving as much as $15,000 per year, or $60,000 over the course of four years. There is usually no additional paperwork required; qualified students are identified by the colleges and the discount is applied automatically.

While four year graduation rates tend to be above 50% at the flagship universities, it is not always the case. Proper preparation for college is a significant factor in a student's ability to complete an undergraduate degree in four years. Students in "impacted" majors may find it difficult to take the courses required to graduate since "impacted" is a euphemism for overcrowded. Additionally, some campuses don't offer enough sections of fundamental courses required by a number of majors. For example, English composition, first year Calculus, and first year Physics are all required for many different majors.

For students desiring a strong Catholic community on campus, I am happy to report that there are nearly 300 public colleges and universities that have them. For all the information about them, please see the college guide I wrote: Every Catholic's Guide to College

Preparing students well and researching colleges are my specialty. To schedule a consultation for you and your 8th - 11th grade college bound student, please email Katherine at

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Essential Life Skills Teens Must Learn Before They Leave Home

Photo by Kipras Štreimikis on Unsplash

Article by Katherine O'Brien, ThD candidate, Certified College Planning Specialist

This is what we hope for when we visit our children in their first apartment or dorm suite. Such a scene, full of cleanliness and orderliness, does not happen automatically.

 While many of us are aware of good study habits, carefully course selection, the ability to attain top test scores, and basic time management as skills we need to help our teens develop, there are a host of additional skills they also need in order to flourish once they move out of our homes, whether to work or to study at university.

Here is the list I use when I work with my students, particularly during the Spring of their senior year.

Domestic Skills

Meal planning, shopping, and preparation

Cleaning a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living area properly

Maintaining a yard - in every season

Laundry - treating stains, sorting clothes, proper care of garments, proper storage, use of a hamper, not the floor for dirty and wet clothes and towels

Cleaning hair out of a sink, shower, and/or tub drain

Pushing chairs in after use/ Tidying up after yourself in general

Trash management - use the bin, not the floor!

Clipping nails over a waste basket

Be a Good Roommate

Say please and thank you as necessary

Make eye contact during conversations

No electronics during meals and around company in general

Be kind to strangers

Be on time 

Keep promises

Be trustworthy

Don't gossip

Know how to resolve conflicts and work through difficulties

Financial Skills


Know how to pay bills - online, cash, with check

Understand how insurance works (home, car, life, health)

Understand how debt works, and how to avoid it, and how to get out of it as needed

Understand taxes - how they work, how to file, state, federal 

Self Care

Make own appointments

Arrange own transportation - walk, bike, car, taxi/uber/lyft, bus, train, plane

Manage time

Know how to get help when needed - practical, repairs, counseling, tutoring, medical, etc.

Learn from mistakes and failures

What strategies can you use to manage stress? 

Pay attention to yourself. Are you flourishing or surviving?

College (and Life) Plan/Goals

What do you want to learn? Academically, personally, socially, etc.

How do you want to show up? Be intentional.

What experiences do you want to have? To avoid?

Networking - who and what kinds of people do you want to meet? social, professional, professors, mentors, peers, etc.

What programs/opportunities do you want to participate in during your junior and senior year? How can you prepare for them?

How can you best organize your tasks and your time?