Testing Workshop

Chris Ryan ’87 returned to Archmere on April 23rd to share his testing wisdom with Archmere students and families. Chris operates Manhattan Prep a subsidiary of Kaplan that specializes in SAT, GMAT and GRE preparation, and soon will be offering assistance for the ACT.

Chris’ presentation can be here. He focused some of his time on the types of questions generally asked about testing strategies, but many of his recommendations for preparation were philosophical and psychological. He recommended taking practice tests, reviewed the differences between the ACT and SAT, recommended Quizlet, talked about employing energy where points can be gained, shared how to dissect test results and extract insights, and making a game plan. At the same time he discussed things to do if you decide not doing test prep: “Read, Read A Lot, Mostly Good Stuff” – such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Nonfiction articles and books; he also recommended writing and looking up words (saying them out loud helps you remember!), to relax-refresh-rejuvenate over the summer, and striking a mental balance. He discussed that moving around during test breaks is extremely important, as is getting sugar and nourishment. Chris encouraged students to be optimists and preached that intelligence is malleable.

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An introduction to the changes in the SAT Reasoning Test was provided and testing strategies for the class of 2017 where discussed. The new SATs are moving more toward an ACT test. Here are a few slide comparisons provided:

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Chris is offering two services to assist students with test preparation, one free, one at a fee.  The first is a diagnostic test to assist students in attempting to decide which test, the ACT or SAT, might better suit a student.  This test can be found here.  This is the free service!  The second service is a one week SAT Boot Camp offered at Archmere from August 9th to 13th.  There are 15 spots available and the cost is $1250.  Online registration is available now.  The Boot Camp would be geared toward students taking the “old” SAT, which will be offered for the last time in January 2016.  Anyone family choosing not to register because they feel the cost would provide an extreme hardship should see their college counselor.

The Workshop ended with a YouTube video containing an outstanding message – failure isn’t the end, it’s part of a learning and growth process.  Learning, advancing, and improving is a process.  We don’t start at anything as a finished product.  Good luck on the tests and please stop in College Counseling if you have any questions!

College Counseling’s guide sheet to the new/old SATs was previous shared with all students and families, however, if you’d like to access it again you can find it here.


Why Engineering Night

“Engineering is about creativity, it’s provides the ability to create something new” stated Mr. David Beatson, Archmere parent and general manager of Thorlabs Quantum Electronics. “It’s about solving problems, tackling challenges, where you take that is up to you,” Dr. Jenni Buckely from University of Delaware’s Engineering Department chimed in. Lauren Ryan ’11, a mechanical engineering major at Drexel, provided a similar twist to her motivation to want to become an engineer, “I like learning different sciences and applying the to solving problems.”

Other common themes shared at Archmere’s Why Engineering night was the wide breadth of engineering fields that are available, that engineering opens doors in numerous, while challenging and requiring strong science and math skills there are several avenues available to enter engineering programs, and those that enjoy problem solving may desire to explore the engineering field. Our panel was also very agreeable that experiences in industry while in college will provide a leg up on the competition for employment and that the same is true of high school students who hope to gain admission to a strong engineering program. “You need to start building your network now,” said Matt Hyde from the Lafayette admission office. Mr. Beatson agreed and shared that while seniors are always welcome to visit him for senior career experience day, it is important to gain an understanding of the field as early as possible, perhaps prior to the senior career opportunity.


Kathleen Voss from the Georgia Tech (GT) admission office boasted that GT is the #1 producer of women and minority engineers in the country and 99% of their graduates will land jobs with an average starting salary of $61,000. She shared that while the number of women in engineering professions is improving the field is still a male dominated vocation with Computer and Mechanical engineering fields having an underwhelming 11% female numbers nationally. Georgia Tech boasts eight engineering programs, including Aerospace engineering, “which is just cool,” said Kathleen. Kathleen also shared the GT wants to see the most challenging curriculum possible when reviewing applicants for admission, that they are looking for the entire package and while they do not read applications differently by major, that could change.

Matt Hyde shared that a-third of their 2,400 students study engineering and do so completing the same liberal arts core as all non-engineering majors. “It provides connections between engineering and the arts and sciences to more knowledge to solve problems. Your generation of engineers will be solving the problems that challenge us in the year 2060!”

Other useful information provided:

  • Most engineering programs will give you your first year, or more, to decide what field of engineering you’d like to enter. While engineers all have similar characteristics of being strong problem solvers and creative people, their interests in a particular field or using a certain disciplines to solve problems will lead them to a particular major.
  • Mechanical Engineering is the most broad.
  • Chemical Engineering is the highest paying.
  • Google and Facebook will hire engineers because of their creativity.
  • To enter a management field in engineering you will need a Masters or PhD.

Mr. Beatson shared that many newly employed engineers are surprised to find out that they will need to be able to work with costumers. And that part of creating a product is working with a vendor to make a concept a reality. He stated that this is why industry experience, like co-ops or internships, is important in college. He also shared that he asks all job applicants “Why is a manhole cover round?” when interviewing them for a position. “I want to hear or watch the candidate walk thru his/her reasoning of their answer.” He’s rarely received the correct answer over his 25 years of interviewing new college graduates! The answer: A round object is the only object which cannot fall thru itself. All other shapes can be oriented in a way which can fall thru their own shape thus potentially ending up at the bottom of the hole.

Final important takeaways from the program for Archmere students:

  • It is important to challenge yourself with the most rigorous math and science course load in order to prepare for a college engineering program.
  • You do not need to know what type of engineering you need to study while in high school, but experiences that will help you come to this conclusion like shadowing opportunities, summer enrichment opportunities, and conversations with working engineers is a good idea.
  • Engineering is a very strong job market.
  • Engineering is not a narrowly focused field.

Some additional information about different types of engineering programs and the types of classes required (courtesy of Lehigh University):


Top 10 Campus Visit Recommendations (Sequential Order)

1. Schedule Your Own Visit – The college search and selection process is a part of a maturing process that proves to everyone that a student is prepared for the next stage in life. A student must be prepared to take ownership of their responsibilities.

2. Research the School – It is important to know why you are visiting a particular college and be able to articulate that motivation. Know what programs are offered, the reputation of the school, the admission process, size and type of college. Most importantly be able to answer the question “Why are you visiting today?”

3. Prepare Questions, And Ask Them! – The questions you prepare should not be easily accessible to you. If you ask “what is the student to faculty ratio” you are informing a college that you didn’t do #2 on our list and didn’t take the time to prepare for your visit. Do not role your eyes when your mom asks about campus safety!

4. Get Direction – Know how to get to the college. Print up back-up directions in case the GPS batteries run out. Call and ask what to expect from the visit: how to dress, who you will be meeting with, and where to park. Phone receptionists are great resources. Ask them if you will have a chance to meet the office individual responsible for reviewing your application.

5. Make A Good Great First Impression – Smile and be nice to everyone you encounter. Make sure they know you are excited to visit their home. Remember your manners, they are appreciated! Don’t wear another school’s attire to your visit.

6. Leave Your Cell Phone in the Car – Do we really need to explain why? This is also a great recommendation for Mom and Dad.

7. Engage People and Look Engaged – During your entire visit you are evaluating campus: the food, the dorms, the programs, the parking, the tour guide. This evaluation is reciprocal. The college is also evaluating you. Ask questions, show appreciation, compliment people, show interest. You never know who is next to you.

8. Stay After Your Tour – Too many families report for their information session, take the tour, and then leave campus. Ask your Tour Guide and others in the admission office for a recommendation of where students eat and hangout either on or off campus. The admission office might even offer to pay for lunch! Poke your head around, kick the tires, ask random people questions and see what type of reactions you get. If any major areas on campus were not shown on tour, find out, sometimes there is a reason. Find out what campus is like after normal class times.

9. Discuss the Visit – No pillows and iPads on the way home. Discuss the visit as a family. What things did you observe? What did you hear? What did you like and not like? Compare notes and ask yourself, “do I want to visit again?”

10. Follow-Up – When carrying out #7 you should get names and contact information of those that you speak to. Easiest way is to request a business card. Send a thank you email to anyone you came in contact with and a handwritten note to the regional counselor informing them of you excitement and appreciation. If there are any questions in #9 that need answered, send an email.

11. BONUS – For Parents – Let and encourage your child to take the lead the their college visits. Some examples include: student should check in and introduce themselves at a welcome desk or registration table, when being greeted by someone the student should be first to accept a greeting and introduce her family and guests, and allow him to answer all questions to completion and resist the urge to interrupt or add additional comments.

Other recommendations:
– Bring a copy of your transcript and resume.
– Talk to your College Counselor prior to your visit. They may know someone at the office you are visiting or have recommendations for your visit.
– If you are interviewing, prepare for questions. See previous bullet point if you do not know what type of questions to prepare for.
– Don’t try to schedule more visits than can fit in your day. It is insulting to leave a visit early for another school or to be late for an appointment because of another visit.
– Take notes, pictures, even videos. You will probably visit a lot of campuses and visits begin to blend. These will help with #9.

For continually information and recommendations follow us on Twitter @Auks2College.


The College Counseling Office became a 12-month shop this year and families have embraced the ability to meet with counselors over the summer. Over 80 senior families scheduled appointments to meet with new college counselors, Mr. Chris Boehm and Ms. Catherine Souza.

Chris comes to Archmere with over 17 years of experience in college admissions at Albright College and Catherine has transitioned from Lehigh University. They joined Mrs. Liz Lyon, the driving force behind the office, in late June.

Summer activities also included over a dozen college visits, and two workshops attended by over 60 families. The 2014-21015 events calendar, to promote yearly college conversations with all families, is being finalized and the counselors will continue to meet with seniors throughout the fall and expect to host over 100 college representatives between the months of September and December.

Mr. Boehm and Ms. Souza are looking forward to helping the Class of 2015, and beyond, prepare and successfully transition to higher education.  The goal of the college counseling process is to promote student growth while partnering with families to assist students in making educated adult decisions.

Archmere believes that having continual college discussions and available counseling throughout a students high school career will better prepare our students for the process.  This preparation will also reduce the stress level associated with the college admission process.  Less stress and more preparation allows students to make better decisions.

We hope that you will follow our blog which will come out about twice a month and will feature topics including but not limited to creating a list, specific college visits notes, crafting a Common Application essay, testing information, understanding higher education terminology, examining how college’s make decisions, and more!



Archmere College Counseling Team