Author Archives: Molly Burke

Carolyn’s College Corner – December

This past fall I attended two conferences, one in Indiana and the other in Florida, where I was able to sit in on seminars full of hot topics. From financial aid, generational differences, social media, LD issues and higher ed, my head was spinning!

While on these trips I was able to visit schools in the vicinity; in Indiana I saw Butler, Rose-Hulman, Purdue, DePauw and Earlham, and in Florida I saw Eckerd, University of Tampa, and Florida Southern College. I saw firsthand how schools are working to keep their curriculum fresh and pertinent and how they are working towards building and measuring programs that manifest into outcomes for their graduates. Here are some of the takeaways confirming what I have been observing while on the road visiting colleges and universities and professional development seminars.

1. Education = look at Career Framework =>who are you=> what are your academic options => career options

My observation is as higher education changes and becomes increasingly expensive, it is critical for colleges and universities to provide value and outcomes for their students and their families. Today’s parents want to know what the outcomes are. Will they get a job? How do you measure success in this area? Schools paying attention to trends of thought are ahead of the game as they build college/career planning side by side for each student.

2. Silos of thought or disciplines are going away. Cross pollination is evolving into an integrative approach to higher education. While STEM has been on everyone’s mind, it really is now STEAM, STEM +ART, creating innovation and creative, thoughtful problem solving.

3. We will be seeing more Interdisciplinary Incubators – innovation and growth stimulated by multiple areas of thought coming together and working toward a common goal.
Hot College Majors:

Biomedical engineering
Big data
Public policy
Forensic science

Other markets with nonlinear pathways:

Green design – city planning, landscape
Energy and water systems management
Sustainability management
Policy opportunities
Engineering – need to ask questions not just solve problem
GIS – Geographic Information Systems

6. It is not about problem solving anymore, it is about asking the right questions!
In order for colleges to be competitive for students they must adapt to the new climate
Schools are increasingly adding 4 year career counseling into their curriculum
Experiential learning
8. While a college education is our hope for our students, it would be remiss for me not to mention that not every student is meant for a 4-year college curriculum. Currently the trades and other middle skill jobs (those that require a 2-year college degree, occupational license or certification) are suffering from attrition due to workers hitting retirement and empty pipelines to replenish these skilled laborers. These middle skill jobs include, but are not limited to:
a. Coders
b. Financial service sales agents
c. Insurance and Real estate brokers
d. Technical sales
e. Machinists, tool-and-die makers
f. The trades – electricians, welders, plumbers, mechanics

Carolyn’s College Corner November >>

Carolyn’s College Corner: November 2014

As an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC), part of my job is staying current on all topics related to college admissions. Professional and educational development is offered to me all year round and as a “student of colleges” I always incorporate visits to schools wherever I happen to be visiting.

I have had a busy fall traveling; Indianapolis for NACAC (National Association of College Admissions Counselors) and I just returned from Orlando where I attended the IECA conference. While these conferences offer us the opportunity to connect with others from all over the world, the best parts of school visits and the seminars we can participate in. There is no topic left unturned as part of my ongoing education; from generational trends, to social media and teens, to financial aid, to Learning Differences and the college process I receive a wealth of information to help me better serve students and their families.

My trip to Orlando gave me the opportunity to visit three schools, all very different, but each with its own distinctive “vibe”!

Eckerd College

I hate to say I have biases, but as with anything we have our favorites. I have always loved Eckerd and as this was my second visit there, I fell in love with it all over again. Located in St. Petersburg, FL, on a spit of land and surrounded on three sides by water, you can’t go wrong on this gorgeous campus. Relatively young, it was founded 58 years ago and has grown significantly in the last decade. With 1800 students, class sizes are small and student engagement is very high. They are known particularly for marine science, biological science (brand new building), environmental studies, communications and creative writing. A new arts facility is in the works housing such things as photography, film, and ceramics.

Abroad opportunities abound at Eckerd. Many students do a winter term (January) abroad with study options all over the globe, from London to China, to South America to Africa. All applicants are automatically considered for merit aid and also need based aid. About 80% of need will be met. There are scholarship opportunities in art, marine science, and business. 3-2 engineering is available as well.

Career services consist of a step by step 4 year plan encompassing internships, experiential learning and study abroad.
The students at Eckerd characterize themselves as adventuresome, global and liberal thinking.

University of Tampa

Located in the heart of Tampa, UT reminds me of the University of Denver in many ways. A private, midsized urban school, UT has more than 160 areas of study in four colleges. There is the College of Arts and Letters, College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education, College of Natural and Health Sciences and the Sykes College of Business. Tampa has 351 days of sunshine a year (beating Colorado out by a few days) and an average temperature of 72 degrees. Class sizes averages out to 21 and the student/faculty ratio is 16:1.

The Business School has an international emphasis which includes a language requirement and study abroad. The school itself has a high percentage of international students – about 20%.

The most popular majors are International Business, biology, management, and marine science. To this end there is an Entrepreneurship Center, marine science field station and nursing program.

UT has an Honor’s Program which requires a 3.5 GPA, 1200 SAT or 26 ACT. This includes an Oxford Semester, honor’s courses and research opportunities. Internships are both locally and elsewhere are available and study abroad is offered in semester and yearlong segments.

Students characterize themselves as metropolitan, active and independent.

Florida Southern College

Located in Lakeland, FL, FSC is the oldest private college in Florida.
With 2200 undergrads, FSC likes to boast of their distinctive guarantees. They are as follows:

  1. Guarantees graduation in 4 years and if your student is unable to graduate, they will cover the cost of remaining tuition.
  2. Guarantees every student an internship
  3. Guarantees every student a travel-study experience at no additional cost.

Top majors are marine biology, sports communication, marketing and management, musical theater, dance, Doctor of Education and Master of Accountancy. There is also a nursing program with a state of the art “dummy lab.” They even have a Citrus major if you are an orange grower. Pre-professional programs are available as well.

Selectivity is moderate and financial aid is very good with 96% of students receiving some kind of aid. There are merit awards up to $17,500, talent awards, awards by department and need-based aid.

FSC is beautiful campus with an active, outdoors student body. A Division II school with 27 athletic championships, including water skiing, there is no end to the activities students can participate in. Fraternities and sororities along with clubs and other organizations give students plenty to choose from. While there are many things to do, I did not sense any polarizing tension on campus. Everyone seems to get along well – a very harmonious school.

While not critical to the college list, I have to point out this was the only school I have ever been to where laundry is free.

I have posted pictures of all these schools on my Carolyn Francis Consulting Facebook page – please feel free to check them out along with articles and commentary about the college application process.

First Theater Performance in New School >>

The Sophomore Class Presents: Our Town

Please join us for the Sophomore Class Performance of Thornton Wilder’s classic play, Our Town. This three-act play is set in the early 1900s, and is a poignant reflection on everyday life in a small town. In addition to being a wonderful theatrical experience that students and families in grades 3 and up will enjoy, this production is the first ever to grace our new Festival Hall stage! You don’t want to miss this. Admission is free, and concessions will be available for sale. Tell your friends and neighbors – let’s fill the house for our sophomores.



Where Do I Park? New Map >>

Where Do I Park? Check this map…

Please click the map below to see it full-size in a new window:



Please refer to this map when visiting our school or dropping off/picking up students. We ask that all cars enter from the south driveway entrance on Pennsylvania St. and exit via the north driveway. This will ensure that traffic moves in a one-way direction through the lot. Thank you for your cooperation!

Carolyn’s College Corner: Colleges of Wisconsin

Carolyn’s College Corner

COWS: Colleges of Wisconsin, or a Tale of Four Colleges

In early May, I toured four different colleges in Wisconsin as part Wisconsin-Cropof a Continuing Education program for educational consultants. These schools put on these tours a couple of times a year in an effort to bring students to this much-maligned state! Personally, I fell in love with Wisconsin. Granted, I was there at the beginning of spring, a time when love is in the air, the birds are chirping and flowers and trees are budding. That being said, I am sure the winters bring new meaning to the word cold, but each school chips away at that objection ably. I would not hesitate to send one of my own children to one of these schools. For those of you who know me, my oldest went to Maine for college – a fact he has not let me forget! Good news is they appreciate their home and where they came from. They realize how good they have it in sunny Colorado!

First stop – Marquette University in Milwaukee. A wonderful option in the Jesuit school consortium, Marquette is often over looked by Coloradoans in favor of Creighton or Gonzaga. Marquette University is:

  • Jesuit – lifelong learning is the foundation of the Jesuit tradition. Inquiry and critical thinking is the cornerstone of the education. Service is a strong component here – 97% of students do some kind of service learning
  • Diverse – 30 foreign countries are represented here encompassing all cultures and religious beliefs.
  • Urban – wonderful downtown location with easy access to all many activities and cultural events city has to offer. The biggest surprise to me was how cosmopolitan and hip Milwaukee is – it is like a mini Chicago. I loved it!
  • University – there is a University Core of Common Studies with requirements across 9 disciplines. They are not crippling to a schedule, in fact, I believe they help students open their minds to areas they would not have normally considered.

Marquette is comprised of 83 majors, 7 colleges, boasts a 4 year graduation rate, and 1 campus.
Colleges are as follows:

  • Klingler College of Arts and sciences
  • College of Business Administration
  • Diederich College of Communications
  • College of Education
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Health Sciences
  • College of Nursing

Student apply directly into a specific college, usually a 1st and 2nd choice are required. It can be hard to move from a college into Engineering as it has very sequential course work.
Admissions are conducted in a holistic manner, meaning the entire application is considered, not just grades and scores. GPA is unweighted, rigor of curriculum is considered, essays are read and evaluated, and then test scores are reviewed – in that order. Mean ACT score is 27 and mean SAT is 1210.

There are multiple scholarships available as well – see the website for more particulars.

Second stop – Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. An unusual school in the higher education firmament as it is one of the only schools that offer a music conservatory side by side with a liberal arts program. Some highlights are:

  • ¾ of the school is arts and sciences and ¼ the conservatory of music. About half of the students double major in a conservatory/arts and sciences major, a 5 year program
  • One application for everyone. Music auditions for the conservatory or mandatory with 4 on campus auditions and 12 regional auditions
  • The most competitive disciplines are voice, piano, and strings. Always looking for students with talent in more obscure instruments
  • Classes in music for non-music majors
  • Non-music majors can participate in music programs including chamber groups, symphony and vocal ensembles.
  • All concerts are webcast
  • Language requirement – 200 level
  • Capstone for all students – paper, recital, and/or presentation.
  • Laboratory research common with access to paid summer internships

The Lawrence Personality

  • Curious students
  • Engaging
  • Collaborative (you kind of have to be in music!)
  • Positive and friendly
  • Energetic
  • Academic but well balanced

Lawrence has a residential campus – all 4 years, and is located in Appleton, a medium size community along the banks of a lovely meandering river.

Third stop – Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin. South of Appleton and north of Beloit, Ripon is set in the rolling hills of central Wisconsin. Named one of the “Coolest Small Towns in America,” downtown Ripon boasts an eclectic mix of architecture, shops, restaurants and coffee shops in one little down town. Ripon College consistently shows up on lists of colleges that offer the best value, which measure value, quality and overall student satisfaction. Ripon’s rating hovers around 95%. Here are a few facts:

  • 32 majors, 48 minors and pre-professional programs are available
  • Pre-professional programs are customized course plans setting the student on track for competitive placement in engineering, law, and medicine, among others.
  • 80% acceptance rate to medical school – twice the national average
  • Committed to affordability with 98% of students receiving aid awards
  • Scholarships range from $10,000 to full
  • Awards from $1,000 to $5,000
  • Grants college/state/federal from $600 to $19,000
  • Federal loans
  • 4 year graduation guarantee, assuming student is in good standing academically and does not change majors
  • Median class size is 17 with a 12:1 student/faculty ratio
  • Study abroad programs available
  • Division III athletics with 21 varsity teams

Fourth stop – Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. Beloit College has always been one of my favorites. As a Colleges That Change Lives school, it produces top notch students. A few fun facts:

  • Top 20 college for producing future PhD’s
  • Top 21 college for training future leaders in science, international relations and business

The town of Beloit has come a long way since I first visited it 5 years ago. A former General Motors town, it has had to pull itself up by the bootstraps to overcome the economic crash and reinvent itself. Both the town and the college have an eclectic mix of things going on:

  • Believe it or not, Beloit is the home of the Beloit International Film Festival.
  • Organic potato chip factory
  • Organic market
  • Home of The Mind Set List; a list published in August with a snap shot of how the incoming freshman class views the world
  • Study abroad and international studies are strong with over 30 programs.
  • One of the best museum studies program in the country with a world class Archeology department and museum. The Indiana Jones character is based on an actual professor from Beloit, complete with bullwhip and hat!
  • 85% receive financial aid

Students coming to Beloit are:

  • Not likely to follow the crowd
  • Risk takers, out of the box thinkers
  • Interested in many things – open minded
  • Leaders, not followers
  • No core curriculum
  • Every student’s course of study or major is different

Carolyn’s College Profiles: Lewis & Clark >>

College Profile: Lewis & Clark College

by Carolyn Francis, College Counselor

Lewis_&_Clark_College,_Frank_Manor_House,_View_from_Reflecting_PoolLocated just on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, Lewis and Clark sits on an old estate complete with lush gardens and forest pathways. The campus itself is split in two by the forest – academics on one side and student life and dorms on the other. It seems appropriate for this campus to have these two different worlds, as Lewis and Clark is proud of their rich academic and intellectual life on one hand, and social diversity and the outdoor world on the other. When applying to Lewis and Clark consider this interesting option: you can submit a portfolio of work instead of test scores. This speaks to their desire to have diverse, well-rounded class rooms.

With a relaxed atmosphere and inclusive community, Lewis and Clark is one of the leading small liberal arts schools on the west coast. There is a Core Curriculum that highlights exploration and discovery. Freshman year includes Freshman Seminar, which is centered on reading and writing. After that, 3 semesters of language, 2 classes of international affairs, 1 lab science and 3 sections of quantitative reasoning are required to graduate. Credits are distributed in thirds; one third major, one third electives, and one third liberal arts core.

With an emphasis on international study as part of their core curriculum, 6 out of 10 students study abroad at some point during their time at Lewis and Clark. Ranging from 6 months to a year, there is no limit to what is available to students. Financial aid is transferable to abroad programs, making it easy for all who wish to engage in experiential learning to take part. Internships are available as are research opportunities with faculty.

Lewis and Clark also has two graduate programs, one in Law and the other in Educational Counseling. Undergraduates total 1,985 and graduate students are 685 in Law and 758 in Education.

Lewis and Clark has representation from students around the world, which is a point of pride for them. With their Northwest location, over 90% of students participate in the outdoor rec program. Well supplied with equipment and students running the programs, there is not much students can’t do here. A free shuttle bus runs from campus to downtown Portland 7 days a week from 7am to the early morning hours; a plus for students wishing to take advantage of Portland’s arts and culture without the hassle of driving.

Residential life is 2 years on campus with “living and learning” options. About half of students stay on campus all four years. Lewis and Clark is also generous with merit aid, need-based grants, loans and/or work study.

When I asked my guide to sum up Lewis and Clark in 3 words, he struggled, so I allowed him to fudge a little. His words were: beautiful, intellectual and complex with an interesting social fabric. There is more below the surface at Lewis and Clark than what you see on the surface.

Carolyn’s College Corner >>

Carolyn’s College Corner

August 2014

With summer winding down and the new school year upon us, the College Corner is back in business! Our new building is very exciting for the high school: new gym, a dedicated performance space, playing fields and so much more. On a smaller level, I am excited as I move into my role as the College Counselor alongside Mr. McHenry. Look for the college bulletin board in the hallway announcing college visits, testing dates, college posters, college fair dates and other pertinent college information. I already have a number of schools asking to stop by and talk with interested students, so please make sure to look at the board and sign up for the visits you are interested in. All students are welcome, and it is never too early to start thinking about the next step after high school.

Juniors – I will be teaching the college prep class second block on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We will cover all aspects of the college admission process, what to expect, what matters, how to build a college list and what makes a “good fit.” We will work on resumes (high school version), talk about test prep and do some exercises to get your brain in gear for the upcoming spring and fall application seasons of 2015. Thinking ahead to test taking, college visits, essay writing and all other aspects of the college admission process will lessen your stress and make the process an enjoyable one. Remember, all your years of high school are important, but your junior year and senior year you must work at keeping your grades up!

Seniors – This is it! Your fall semester will be filled with juggling sports, extracurriculars, homework and getting your applications done! I will be running Sunday Jam Sessions beginning September 7th and running throughout the fall. I will send a separate email with dates and cost.
The Colleges That Change Lives Fair is coming to town! Please make sure to go if you can. It is the night you get home from the high school camping trip, but if you can make it I would highly encourage the extra effort to get down there.

The following dates are listed for your convenience:
Colleges That Change Lives Fair
August 26, 2014 7:00 pm
Hyatt Regency – Colorado Convention Center
650 15th Street
Denver, CO 20202

Denver Performing and Visual Arts Fair
October 22, 2014 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Cherry Creek High School

SAT & Subject Tests
October 11, 2014, November 8, 2014

ACT Dates
September 21, 2014, October 26, 2014, December 14, 2014

FAFSA available as of January 1, 2015

Gap Year Fair
January 15, 2015 5:30 – 8:00 pm
Denver Academy

I will keep you posted on events and announcements on a timely basis. Please look to this column for updates or you can contact me at or check out my website at

Picture Day Details >>

Planning Ahead for Picture Day

We’re thrilled to be working with Jen Harris of JLH Photography for our school photos this year. Below, check out more information about the dates for your child’s picture taking session, and lots of details about how to order photos.

DWS Picture Day Information from Jen Harris