Getting Some Guidance From Counselors

High school counselors gave us their opinions of our rankings and education coverage.

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High school counselors met with U.S. News.
High school counselors met with U.S. News.

Editors from U.S. News met today with a cross section of high school counselors to get their input on various education issues. We found this meeting highly beneficial and heard many new ideas that we are studying.

The high school counselors who attended were:

  • Shirley Bloomquist, Great Falls, Va.
  • Jayne Fonash, Academy of Science, Sterling, Va.
  • Marjorie Jacobs, SAR Academy, Riverdale, N.Y.
  • Jim Jump, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, Va.
  • Annalee Nissenholtz, Ladue Horton Watkins High School, St. Louis
  • Susan Rexford, West Springfield High School, Springfield, Va.
  • Missy Sanchez, Woodward Academy, Atlanta
  • Brian K. Smith, Baylor School, Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Here is a sampling of the topics that were discussed:

    • America's Best High Schools rankings—how we did them and how we could improve them, including the possibilities of adding the International Baccalaureate test and creating a separate ranking for open-enrollment high schools

    • The impact of the America's Best Colleges rankings on the college search process

    • The pros and cons of having high school college counselors being asked to rate colleges

    • Is it worth the money to go to an expensive brand-name college instead of a state school?

    • Many parents are confused about the impact on them of the new financial aid plans announced by Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and many others. What will they actually pay? What will it mean for the less wealthy schools?

    • Why paying for college is such a burden on the middle class

    • Has the Virginia Tech tragedy changed views on college safety among applicants?

    • The importance of mental health issues, particularly what resources colleges offer and the appeal of those services to many college applicants

    • The importance of visiting colleges to help students choose which one best fits them

    • College sports and how much more difficult it is to get an athletic scholarship than high school athletes realize

    • Why the common application has been a positive force

    • Gender differences in colleges admissions: Why is it easier for boys to get in now than girls?

    • What are "plus" factors or "hooks" on a student's college application? Do these really give a student an advantage to get in?

    • How we can improve the next edition of the America's Best Colleges guidebook? What stories should we add, drop, or do again?

    • The Paying for College section: How can we improve it, and what stories should we add (or drop)?

    • The U.S. News education website

    • What education stories should U.S. News be covering?

    • Advanced Placement: Some schools are expanding it; others are dropping it.

    • How to deal with widespread cheating in high schools* Should cellphones be allowed in high school?

    • Undocumented students and their difficulties in applying and enrolling in colleges