PrepWell Podcast - Ep. 7 | The Myths and Realities of the Ever-Elusive Full-Ride Athletic Scholarship

prepwell podcast Nov 10, 2019

Show Notes:

In this episode, I talk about the elusive "full-ride” athletic scholarship to college. Does it really exist? Who gets one? What are my kid's chances? Are all athletic scholarships created equal? What are the pros and cons of a scholarship? Is it even worth pursuing? Why does it seem that everyone knows someone who’s on a full-ride scholarship somewhere?

If you’re curious about college recruiting and scholarships, Operation Varsity Blues, fake athletic profiles, and the mythical full-ride scholarship, then stick around. I’ll address all of these issues and more during the show. I will cover how athletic scholarships work so that you and your child can make informed decisions - while it’s still early enough to matter. 

One of the big takeaways (spoiler alert), is that many parents (unknowingly) wait too long to realize that their child's dream of playing sports in college is unrealistic. And, unfortunately, by...

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PrepWell Podcast - Ep. 6 | How Extracurriculars Turn a Ho-Hum Application into a Home Run Application

prepwell podcast Nov 03, 2019

Show Notes:

In this episode, I take you “inside” a check-in session with one of my private PrepWell students (we’ll refer to him as John). John, who is just beginning his junior year, has been enrolled in PrepWell Academy since freshman year and has positioned himself well for the college admissions process. He has a 4.5 GPA, takes challenging AP and Honors classes, plays a varsity sport, engages in student government, and scored well on his PSAT 10 in sophomore year. That’s the good news.

What’s the bad news? John has revealed that he aspires to attend a Top 10 colleges. This puts John in competition with some of the most motivated high school students in the country. As I audit his extracurricular activities, it becomes clear that his current path will not get it done. John is a bit surprised. He thinks he’s been doing everything right. What more can he do in the next 10-12 months to be competitive?

This episode...

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PrepWell Podcast - Ep. 5 | Tips & Strategies for Writing the College Essay

prepwell podcast Oct 26, 2019

Show Notes:

In this episode, I discuss how to start, structure, and finalize a winning college essay. We start with how to generate ideas (brainstorming, essence objects, timelines, factoids), how to decide on a format (narrative or montage), how to be memorable, how to bookend your essay, and how to keep tabs on grammar, syntax, craft, spelling, word count, alignment, and feedback. I provide two sample essays from my private PrepWellers that illustrate these principles. If you are in the middle of drafting your college essay, or you want a preview of what’s to come in the near future - give this episode a listen. 
Check out The College Essay Guy for great resources on writing your college essay. 
If you want to support the show, here are three immediate steps to take.  
  1. Subscribe to the podcast where ever you listen to podcasts
  2. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook
  3. Give us a review
  4. Share this episode with a friend
  5. Join...
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How to Be Strategic About your Teen's Summers


How teens spend their summers has become an increasingly important piece of the college admissions puzzle. Objective measures like GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and transcripts can quickly become lifeless numbers in a sea of sameness. (Yup, another 4.0 GPA, check).

Admissions officers are being forced to look elsewhere to find what differentiates students from each other. They often turn to letters of recommendation, alumni interviews, and, of course, summer experiences. 

Let's start with the tactics, then we'll move into strategy.

Here are some options to consider for the summer:

Volunteer Work (FT or PT):

Volunteer work is easy to find, affordable, and can be full-time, part-time, or project-based. Not only does volunteer work show that you care about someone other than yourself, but it also allows a teen to gain real-world experience in a field or industry they enjoy. 

Paid Work (FT or PT):

Colleges love to see applicants who have worked at a paying job - of any kind. Sometimes,...

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PrepWell Podcast - Ep. 4 | How Extracurricular Activities Impact the Strength of Your Child’s College Application

prepwell podcast Oct 20, 2019

Show Notes:

In today’s show, I discuss strategies and recommendations for Extracurricular Activities that take 2-3 years to plan and execute. They are not short-term gimmicks or shortcuts. Pack a lunch.
If you have a child in 11th or 12th grade, it may be too late to implement these strategies to full effect.
This podcast is primarily for conscientious parents who are trying to help their aspirational 8th, 9th and 10th graders do the right things now to help them be successful later (2 or 3 years from now) in the college admission process. Here’s what we’ll discuss:
Topic 1: What Activities are Considered “Extracurricular”?
Topic 2: How Most Families Approach Extracurricular Activities 
Topic 3: How Most Families Should Approach Extracurricular Activities
Topic 4: How Important are Extracurricular Activities in the Admissions Process
Topic 5: How Thinking...
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PrepWell Podcast - Ep. 3 | 10 Life Skills Teens Must Learn During The College Admissions Process

prepwell podcast Oct 14, 2019

Show Notes:

One key insight I’ve learned after working with hundreds of families over the years, is that the particular “college" a student attends, isn’t nearly as important as the “skills" they learn during the college application process. 
The process is more important than the prize
Which begs the question, what are the critical skills that students need to learn to prepare for college - no matter where they go - Princeton or Passaic Polytech?  And how can I help them learn these lessons?
In this episode, I walk through all 10 Life Skills and explain why they will play such a critical role in your child’s future.
If you want to support the show, here are a few steps to take.  
  1. Subscribe to the podcast
  2. Share this episode with your friends
  3. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook
  4. Give us a review
  5. Join our mailing list
  6. Enroll your 9th or 10th grader in the program


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PrepWell Podcast - Ep. 2 | Why Highly-Selective Colleges Seem To Prefer Specialists vs. Well-Rounded Students

prepwell podcast Oct 06, 2019

Show Notes:

Why is it that today, many highly-selective colleges seem to be more interested in students who are specialists, experts, or angular versus those who are generalists, jacks-of-all-trades, or well-rounded? 

Because 30 years ago, it used to be the opposite. 

Back in the day, highly-selective schools were impressed by the proverbial “well-rounded student” who seemed capable of doing just about anything - sports, academics, guitar, community service, work.

And the "specialists" were thought to be more on the fringe, narrowly focused, or maybe didn’t have a broad enough base of curiosity to take advantage of a liberal arts education. 

Well, the tides have turned.

In this episode, we explore the implications of this trend and how your child might fit (or not fit) into this new landscape.

Is your child a generalist or specialist? If they’re still undecided, should you give them a nudge one way or the other? Or stay out...

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Prepwell Podcast - Ep. 1 | Waiting Until 11th Grade To Prepare For College Admissions Is Too Late

prepwell podcast Sep 29, 2019

Show Notes:

If your child does what most students do - and waits until 11th or 12th grade to begin thinking about and planning for college - they will be leaving 70% of their application up to chance. For students who aspire to the most selective colleges - this is not an option. This is a recipe for disappointment, frustration, and missed opportunities. 

If you have a child who is considering Ivy League or near-Ivy league schools (like Duke, Stanford, MIT, Vanderbilt), or a service academy, or is seeking an ROTC or athletic scholarship, please encourage them to engage in the process now - and by now - I mean 9th or 10th grade.

Good news: Given how few people understand how this new reality works, your child can use this knowledge to their strategic advantage when it comes to college admissions. This episode walks you through my thesis and uncovers why most people (including guidance counselors) continue to use 20-yr old advice. 

And, if your child really wants to...

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PrepWell Podcast - Trailer | Get to Know Phil Black

prepwell podcast Sep 22, 2019

Show Notes:

Hello, PrepWellers. Welcome to the first-ever episode of the PrepWell Podcast. I hope you enjoy the show and stick around for all the exciting things to come. I wanted to start off by giving you some background about me and why I started this podcast.

I created the podcast to help me communicate with you in a more meaningful way. Sure, I routinely send emails and post to social media – but these outputs often feel rushed and superficial.

As a busy parent with four kids myself (three going through the college admissions process as we speak), I wanted to create an option for parents who would prefer to listen to my in-depth commentary and advice at their own pace. The longer format allows me to convey details and emotions that can’t be transmitted in a bullet-pointed email or filtered Instagram post.

Since the subsequent shows are packed with my personal opinions and advice on how to help your child (and you) navigate the college admissions process, I thought...

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Why I Co-Read with my 8th-grader

In my opinion, a love of reading is the single biggest academic skill a child can develop prior to high school. A child's relationship to reading impacts their academic trajectory more than any other single factor. 

In a prior blog post, I offer 10 Tips on how to raise an avid reader.

Today, I have to admit that I have failed to achieve this goal for my 8th grader. He will read when he has to, but there is no spark - there is no love of reading.

I have tried many of the techniques and failed. Maybe I wasn't disciplined enough, or I assumed he'd be like his brothers, or I was just too tired to follow-through on the technique.

As a former Navy SEAL, giving up is not in my playbook, so I began looking for more options.

Here are some things I considered:

  1. Bribery: I'll pay you $10 for every book you read
  2. Punishment: If you don't read a book every month, you're grounded
  3. Negotiation: No IG time until you read 20 pages
  4. Fear: If you're not a good reader, you won't get into a good...
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