iOS app Android app

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

Applying to College Is Different This Year--Here's How

(3) Comments | Posted August 25, 2014 | 3:36 PM

School hasn't even started for most students, but the college application process is in high gear for the Class of 2015. Students, parents, and counselors familiar with the ins and outs of essays, deadlines, and recommendation forms have already noticed three big changes to this year's application landscape. While there...

Read Post

White House Counseling Summit Raises Hopes, Questions, and Possibilities

(1) Comments | Posted July 30, 2014 | 9:35 AM

This week's White House Summit on College Access was an historic day of recognition and reflection for school counselors. Held less than six weeks after First Lady Michelle Obama called for its convening, the summit brought together many of the best minds in the college access field and asked them...

Read Post

White House to States: Help School Counselors Now

(8) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 9:19 AM

School counselors got their summer vacation off to a great start, as many are attending the annual conference of the American School Counselor Association in Orlando, which featured First Lady Michelle Obama as one of the keynote speakers. After thanking the counselors for all they do, Mrs. Obama touched on...

Read Post

Two Michigan College Titans Leave Their Field, and Their Mark

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 12:36 PM

Gratitude for the college options we have in Michigan always comes to mind this time of year, as high school students move on to college, and college students move on to what's next. This is especially true this year, as two leaders in Michigan's college community move on to new...

Read Post

Marty O'Connell on the Lessons this College Season Offered

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2014 | 10:13 AM

College admissions offered a number of twists and turns this year to veteran college counselors-- but how was this year perceived by a college counseling newbie?

I asked Marty O'Connell to address this issue, as only she can. This is Marty's first year working as a college counselor at Garrison...

Read Post

Better College Advising? In Michigan, There's a Bill for That

(0) Comments | Posted April 24, 2014 | 2:29 PM

April is college decision month, and it's bringing more than its share of anxiety this year. Applications are up at many popular colleges, which means more students were denied admission--and no is always hard to hear, no matter how hard you prepare for it. Combined with Brooke Kimbrough's...

Read Post

A High School where Every Counselor is College Ready

(0) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 9:18 AM

It' s time to make good on a debt.

Last fall, I challenged America's school counselors to improve college advising in their building by requiring every new counselor to take a course in college counseling. These courses are a must if any school is to make headway in...

Read Post

Six Words of Advice for Parents of College-Bound Juniors

(0) Comments | Posted April 10, 2014 | 10:34 PM

One group is more anxious about this year's college admissions decisions than the parents of this year's seniors -- and that's the parents of next year's seniors. Junior parents love their children, and they would welcome any advice colleges could offer that would give their child's application an inside edge.

Read Post

Don't Count on a 'Hook' to Get You Into College

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 12:15 PM

As the number of students applying to college continues to grow, there's also an increase in the number of students who hope a special talent or life's story will give them that extra plus needed to get noticed -- and admitted -- by the college of their choice. Sometimes known...

Read Post

What This Year's College Results Mean to Next Year's Seniors

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2014 | 12:57 PM

The smoke is still clearing after the last college notifications were sent to the Class of 2014, but it isn't too early to use this year's results to offer advice to next year's seniors. Here are the major trends that emerged or grew this year that are likely to impact...

Read Post

What to Do When You Hear From Colleges

(0) Comments | Posted March 27, 2014 | 10:01 AM

Many seniors will be hearing back from their colleges in the next couple of weeks. Once the decisions come, it's important to have a plan for receiving the news and responding to it. Here's what to do before -- and after -- you hear from your colleges:

Open college mail...

Read Post

Defending the SAT. Really.

(2) Comments | Posted March 20, 2014 | 10:18 AM

After College Board updated the SAT in 2005, critics called the test user unfriendly and irrelevant. The 2005 version continued to test students' understanding of arcane words--like arcane. In addition, the new essay portion was ridiculed for rewarding students who wrote in ways contrary to the effective writing methods needed...

Read Post

SAT Changes, and Advice for Ninth Graders

(1) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 10:28 AM

There's been a good deal of news about the changes to the SAT--so much news that it seems to be causing confusion among students and their parents. To help you keep things clear, we'll begin with some of the basics:

-- First, these changes will take place in 2016, so...

Read Post

MCAN, Charter Schools, and Moms--I Apologize

(0) Comments | Posted March 6, 2014 | 6:44 AM

Even though I haven't tried to hurt anybody's feelings in this space, there has been an instance or two where a column made people write me in the last few years--and when a couple of folks write to ask about a piece, I know a few dozen more are thinking...

Read Post

Objections to Better Training in College Advising

(1) Comments | Posted February 27, 2014 | 7:54 PM

Readers of this space are more than familiar with my favorite topic--but in case you're brand new, here's the summary:

• Most school counselors receive little, if any, training in college advising.
• Students and families look to counselors for help in selecting a college, and are

Read Post

Choosing a College: The First Search

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2014 | 10:56 AM

"Hi Mom. Sorry I'm..."

"Oh Bobby. Thank goodness you're home. I need your help."

"My help? But Mom, it's..."

"I know you're busy, but I can't get the hang of this Christmas gift you gave me. What's it called again?"

"An MP3 player, Mom. And you're just opening it now?"

Read Post

Mr. President, School Counselors Are This Close to Being Happy(er)

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 9:44 AM

Mr. President, it's easy to tell you've been thinking about school counselors, and we really appreciate it. The recent White House summit on college access highlighted how college is becoming more affordable and accessible, and that's good news for both school counselors and the students we serve. Combined...

Read Post

What the First Round of College Admissions Decisions Told Us

(0) Comments | Posted January 22, 2014 | 4:38 PM

High school seniors are finally turning their attention back to learning, after a winter of discontent in the world of college admissions that would have made Richard III stand up straight and take notice. Between online application miscues and record applicants at many colleges, it's understandable if high school juniors...

Read Post

College Friends Home On Break? Drink This In

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2013 | 9:00 AM

Note: In 30 years as a college counselor, I've never talked with a student or former student about this issue. I guess that's why I wanted to write this column.

"Dr. O'Connor?"

"James! The college freshman returns to his alma mater!"

"A little older and wiser. Thanks for your help...

Read Post

Hearing Back From Colleges Soon? Read With Caution

(0) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 10:47 AM

High school seniors across the country are keeping a close eye on their inboxes and mailboxes, as dozens of colleges prepare to send out admissions decisions this week. Many of these applications were submitted as early decision agreements, where the student agrees to attend the college, if they are admitted...

Read Post