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Patrick O'Connor
Patrick O’Connor is associate dean of college counseling at Cranbrook Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a counselor educator at Oakland Community College, a past president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and author of College is Yours 2.0. He can be contacted at

Entries by Patrick O'Connor

A Change in Store for College Admissions?

(0) Comments | Posted January 20, 2016 | 1:20 PM

It's been called an academic arms race, the race to nowhere, the rush to rankings, and more. Thanks in large part to the ridiculous idea that there is one best college for everyone, applying to college has turned into a parody of Reality TV, where students spend thousands of dollars...

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Better Career and College Advice Is a Phone Call Away

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2015 | 1:33 PM

It looks like things are starting to turn around for Michigan's school counselors. Saddled with the fifth largest caseload in the country (with 704 students per school counselor), the counselors in our state are used to being overworked and under appreciated, but they've been hoping things might change that would...

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Before You Scream at Your School Counselor

(10) Comments | Posted December 2, 2015 | 12:27 PM

You've worked so hard to schedule, prepare, and nudge your high school senior to apply to college on time. You shared that small thrill when they hit Submit with time to spare, and you thought you were all set.

Until they got the e-mail.

"Our records indicate your application is...

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Report: Despite Public's Desire, Training in College Counseling Lags

(0) Comments | Posted October 5, 2015 | 8:16 AM

Every year, the Center for Michigan conducts Community Conversations throughout the state to determine what's on the minds of Michigan citizens, and this year, the number one topic was college and career readiness. In startling fashion, the Center's report shows that two out of every three conversation participants...

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What Changed In College Admissions This Summer

(2) Comments | Posted August 8, 2015 | 3:35 PM

If they've done it the right way, members of the Class of 2016 are just coming back from their Best. Summer. Ever. to realize it may be time to get serious about college. Since many college-bound families started their search in junior year, the biggest question they have right now...

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No College Counseling Class, No Job

(1) Comments | Posted June 9, 2015 | 12:12 PM

A fable. For now.

"Principal Williams?"

"Yes. You must be Ms. Sanders."

"Valerie. Here to talk about the school counseling position."

"Of course. Please sit down. You've just completed your training?"

"I just earned my Master's from Southeast Michigan State, and completed 600 hours in internship."

"And what have you...

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Great Summer Apps and Websites for College-Bound Juniors

(4) Comments | Posted June 4, 2015 | 11:47 AM

Juniors, you're in a tough spot. You want a summer filled with beach; your parents want a summer filled with college prep, and writing essays on the sandy shore is out.

What to do? Share one of these tech resources with your parents every few days of summer. You learn...

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It Isn't Too Late to Un-Double Deposit

(0) Comments | Posted June 2, 2015 | 10:40 AM

(The time: August, 2015)

"College Counseling, this is Patrick O'Connor."

"Are you the college counselor?"

"Why, yes, yes I am. How can I help you?"

"Well, I'm a freshman at Smedley College, and I need your help."

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5 Key Questions to Ask on a College Visit

(1) Comments | Posted May 26, 2015 | 7:53 AM

As high schools say goodbye to the Class of 2015, members of the Class of 2016 are making summer plans that include college visits. Often built in as part of a family vacation, summer campus visits can give students a chance to see a college that's too far away to...

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Advice for the High School Class of 2015

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2015 | 9:28 AM

Another year has come and gone too quickly. I've had the good fortune of working with some wonderful young people who are destined for great lives, and they will always be a part of me, even though it's likely I will not see most of them ever again.

As is...

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Detroit Discourse Takes a Turn for the Better

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2015 | 9:33 AM

Nolan Finley's column used to be the toughest part of my Sunday morning. Part of my weekend ritual is catching up with the Detroit media, and in the interest of walking the talk I give my political science students, I read the editorial pages of both the Detroit News and...

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Choosing a College? Don't Do This

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2015 | 10:08 AM

It's getting down to the wire for members of the Class of 2015, who have until May 1 to put down a deposit at the one (and only one) college they'll be attending. I tell my students there's only so much data they can use in this decision, and they...

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Skip the SAT? Why?

(0) Comments | Posted April 9, 2015 | 4:39 PM

To be very fair, this isn't College Board's fault. The dizzying din that is taking attention away from the accomplishments of this year's seniors isn't coming from the SAT but from those who are speculating about the new version of the SAT, set to debut in the spring of 2016....

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SAT or ACT? College Testing Advice for Michigan's Tenth Graders

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2015 | 2:39 PM

Tenth graders in Michigan were pushed into the mania of college testing a little early. The tumult began when the Michigan Department of Education announced it would be offering the SAT as the required state test for college admission, starting in the 2015-16 school year. This change ends a seven-year...

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What Your College Application Decisions Won't Tell You

(2) Comments | Posted December 11, 2014 | 1:16 PM

With many colleges releasing early admissions decisions (MIT will drop their decisions on 12/13/14 at 15:16), seniors are creating more parallel universes than the Matrix movies combined. This "what if" game is so intense, it's easy to think you'll know all about your future life, once the college says yea,...

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Better College Advice for Michigan Students Is a Phone Call Away

(1) Comments | Posted December 4, 2014 | 6:22 PM

It's been an incredible month for school counselors who help students and families make good college decisions. In mid-November, leaders from 30 states convened at a White House Summit to develop and discuss plans to expand and improve college access and college counseling for all students. Many of these individual...

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Celebrating Detroit Gratitude This Thanksgiving

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 3:17 PM

This Thanksgiving seems to be falling in a greater circle of tumult than others, making it hard to appreciate all the good that's happened, when world events suggest there is so much more good that needs to be done. That said, hope is the seed of possibilities that ultimately bears...

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A School Counselor's Updated Request to Michelle Obama

(1) Comments | Posted November 13, 2014 | 11:34 AM

It's been almost a year since Michelle Obama raised the importance of college awareness and college opportunity, and almost a year since I asked Mrs. Obama to make sure this discussion included awareness of the need for better training in college advising for the school counselors....

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Help Out a School Counselor? I'm In, With #hscc2015

(0) Comments | Posted November 4, 2014 | 7:45 AM

There is a movement afoot to help out public school counselors in a very important way. Here's how it's worked, so far:

When it comes to helping students apply to college, there's nothing like the annual conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. About 6,000 college...

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Do This to Improve Your College Chances

(5) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 10:44 AM

October is the busiest month in the college application process. Most public universities review applications on a "first come, first serve basis," so it helps to apply now. Many private colleges will tell you before Christmas if you apply before Halloween, so it helps to apply now. Anxiety goes up...

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