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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

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.

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

(1) 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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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

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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?"

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Will Michigan Students' College Dreams Come Unbalanced?

(2) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 9:26 AM

This has been a big week for Michigan's future. A federal judge allowed Detroit to continue its journey into bankruptcy, a decision that has caught the attention of city pensioners, art lovers everywhere, and soon, a federal appeals court.

Change was also the subject of conversation this Monday, when...

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Applying to College Well Before Santa Comes? Ho, Ho, Ho!

(0) Comments | Posted December 4, 2013 | 8:27 PM

Well, you made it.

It's December 4th, and all of your applications with December 1st deadlines are in.

It wasn't easy. You had five applications to complete, and that technology glitch at 3am Saturday morning almost threw your submission plans off. You'd spent two hours writing that essay, so...

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College Applications and Thanksgiving

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2013 | 3:31 PM

This holiday season brings plenty of good news for high school seniors. Thanksgiving is as late as it possibly can be, creating one more week to complete college applications before the holidays begin. This also gives you one more week to hear back from colleges that have your completed applications,...

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Applying to College: The Admissions Interview

(0) Comments | Posted November 14, 2013 | 1:41 PM

If your application is in, and the college hasn't called to schedule an interview, should you worry?

The answer here is no. Most colleges don't require interviews, and those that do are very good about contacting you to schedule them. Most students breathe a sigh of relief when they hear...

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College Readiness, the Cristo Rey Way

(2) Comments | Posted November 7, 2013 | 3:26 PM

I have long said there is no such thing as a new education trend and a trip this week to Detroit Cristo Rey High School proved my point. From curriculum to college planning to real-life experience, the Cristo Rey education communities are setting more trends in education than Education Week...

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Incomplete College Applications? Been There, Faxed That

(0) Comments | Posted November 7, 2013 | 12:14 PM

"Hu -- hello?"

"Dr. O'Connor?"

"Last time I checked, yes."

"Dr. O'Connor, it's Robert again."

"Hello Robert. What time is it?"

"It's two AM, Dr. O'Connor. I'm sorry I woke you up."

"Not a problem, Robert. I had to get up to answer the phone anyway. What's up?"

"I felt...

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Next Week's Election and the Power of Six Votes

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2013 | 4:20 PM

A major election is going on next week, so it's time to talk about Mike.

About 10 years ago, Mike was in the American Government class I teach at Oakland Community College. We were talking about elections, and I told the class that running for office was a great way...

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