Tag: liz stucke

The Sweet Truth

Extinguish obesity with WATER

Article and photo by Liz Stucke, owner of Admissions Prep & Board President of the TN Clean Water Network 


Which beverage has more calories and more grams of sugar?  A 12 ounce cola or 12 ounces of a leading brand’s 100% White Grape Juice targeted for babies and toddlers?   I was shocked to find out that 12 ounces of the White Grape juice has 240 calories and 80 grams of sugar compared to the cola’s 150 calories and 41 grams of sugar.  While most people know feeding soda to their young child is not healthy, who knew that a juice marketed for babies and toddlers is more sugary (still unhealthy, even though the sugars are naturally formed fruit sugars) and caloric than a can of soda?  Read more →

College Planning Timeline

Article and photo by Liz Stucke, owner of Admissions Prep



“Junior year marks the official start of the college search and application process.”

A friend of mine with older children warned me, “As soon as your daughter starts high school, it’s over…. She’ll be off to college in the blink of an eye.”  While I resist the societal nudge toward prepping children for college from the start of preschool, it is true that much of high school is spent with an eye towards college admissions.   Here is a year-by-year guide to help your child nudge towards college: Read more →

The Power of Decisions

Article and photo by Liz Stucke, owner of Admissions Prep



“A student and his family must be confident in both his college choice and in the family’s ability to pay the net tuition after financial aid.” 

January begins decision month at Admissions Prep. Many seniors have received outstanding offers from colleges across the nation. Some have received offers from several colleges, while others have received a single offer to top ranked schools under Early Decision. Which of these students are happier, those with a multitude of choices or those with a single choice? Read more →

Rejected from Ivy? Blame it on the Weather

Article and photo by Liz Stucke, owner of Admissions Prep



“With some of the most selective colleges only admitting 10% and even 5% of applicants, sometimes the final decision does come down to something seemingly insignificant like the weather. ”


Imagine a scenario in an Admissions office: Jane Smith, the Admissions Officer for a highly selective university, is reviewing application files. Before her are two strong applications. The competition for spaces is tight. She can only admit one of these two strong applicants. One prospective student demonstrates more academic strength: the president of the high school chemistry club and intern in a Stanford research lab testing a new cancer treatment drug. The other applicant shines in athletics: a top track recruit who placed first in the 800 meters at the Junior Olympics. Imagine all else is equal. The Admissions Officer, in her oak-paneled office, sips her coffee while staring at the Gothic spires in the distance. It is a beautiful sunny afternoon. Which applicant is she more likely to admit? Based on Professor Uri Simonsohn’s study published in The Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, the more athletic applicant gains an edge. If is cloudy, the chemistry club president has the edge.

Now imagine you and your daughter will visit this highly selective university. Your daughter is torn between this school and another good university, which is better known as a party school. You secretly want your daughter to enroll in the more academically intensive university. In choosing which day to tour the campus, should you check the weather? Yes, finds Professor Simonsohn in another paper published in The Economic Journal. If she visits the academically intensive university on a cloudy day, she is more likely to decide in its favor over the party school. How could the weather, seemingly trivial, influence such an important decision? Although emotions may sway our decisions, we imagine that such important decisions with long-term implications are based on carefully assessing and weighing the material factors. In selecting a college, we typically think of decisions based on financial aid, academic concentration, teaching style, size of classes, athletic and extracurricular offerings, location in a city or rural area, and distance from home. We carefully gather information over a long time period to predict how happy and successful we would be at that school. It would seem counter intuitive that the weather would affect one of life’s major decisions. Certainly the day’s weather conditions should not influence the admissions officer.

The weather adds to the randomness of admission, giving students even less hope of their control over the process.

The Weather Studies

But weather, according to Simonsohn’s two studies, does influence these college decisions. After finding that cloudy days increase students’ desire to participate in academic activities, Simonsohn examines the weather’s influence, specifically that of cloud cover’s influence, on both a student’s decision to attend one school over another and on an admissions officer’s decision to admit a more academic student over a more athletic student. In his first study, Simonsohn reviewed the enrollment decisions for 1,284 students who visited the academically intensive university, and he reviewed the weather and cloud cover on those days. Those students who visited the academically intensive university on a cloudy day were more likely to select that college. In the second study, he reviewed 682 admissions decisions at an academically intensive school. Once again cloud cover influenced decisions. On sunny days, non-academic attributes, such as athletics, were given greater weight; on cloudy days, the academic attributes are given greater weight. In short, the weather affected admissions decisions.


We cannot control the weather. But we can acknowledge how seemingly immaterial factors, like the weather, can subtly influence even high stakes decisions such as college. So what should we do with this information?

1. Long-term college decisions: In the college search process, this research highlights the need for students to make decisions over the long run and not based on one college visit. Before visiting the universities, students should create a list of desired attributes that they seek from their university (e.g., can I study both Latin and molecular biology, row competitively, and walk to town). After collecting information on each college, they should weigh each college against these factors. Then students should be aware of situational factors (such as the weather) that might affect their decision. If it comes down to two schools, perhaps revisit them on a cloudy day.

2. Nature of Admissions Decisions. It is hard to console your son or daughter when they are rejected from their first-choice university. The rejection letter invariably touts the number of applicants and the limited spots. It never mentions the weather. The result is more devastating if someone else at the high school, with similar scores and grades, is admitted. Fortunately the well-being literature shows how resilient we are and finding happiness in new situations. Rather than dwell on the schools or jobs that rejected us, we appreciate the opportunities that came thereafter. So your son or daughter should hedge their bets by applying to several similarly situated schools. With some of the most selective colleges only admitting 10% and even 5% of applicants, sometimes the final decision does come down to something seemingly insignificant like the weather. And if a rejection e-mail or letter arrives from the top-choice, then perhaps blame it on the weather, and move-on.


Liz Stucke, President of Admissions Prep (www.AdmissionsPrep.net) counsels students through the College Selection and Application process. Email questions or set up a free consultation: Liz@AdmissionsPrep.net or call/text 865-951-0639.

How to Pay for College

Article and photo by Liz Stucke, owner of Admissions Prep


Untitled-15 “As the sixth child in my family to graduate from college, my graduation represented a great success for my parents.”


One of my favorite college graduation pictures is of my father posing in front of Georgetown’s Gothic Healy Hall. He is smiling, the typical proud papa smile, but looking closely, you’ll notice that he holds his pockets outstretched to show that they are empty. As the sixth child in my family to graduate from college, my graduation represented a great success for my parents. Not only did their daughter earn a degree, but also they were thrilled to have made it through another round of college payments. I remember my father saying, “Six down, one more to go.” Read more →

Guiding your child through the college application essay

Article and photo by Liz Stucke, owner of Admissions Prep



The University of Washington

Writing the college application essay can be an overwhelming experience for a student and nerve-wracking experience for a parent. For parents, it is like sitting in the white plastic lawn chairs by the pool as your young child struggles to learn to swim. You sit at the edge of the chair, trying not to tip it over, but ready to dive in to rescue your child at any moment. Read more →

Go out, and visit colleges!

Article and photo by Liz Stucke, owner of LS Admissions Prep


StuckeMay2013Summer is crunch time for rising seniors.  It is the time to get college applications in order and finalize a list of schools to which to apply.  While the spring and fall semesters are the ideal times to visit colleges, students could still benefit from visiting colleges during the summer.   Read more →

Summer activities to boost college applications

Article and photo by Liz Stucke, owner of LS Admissions Prep


Recently, I have been listening to podcasts from the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series.  It is inspiring to hear how people think up new ideas and implement plans to create new products and services.  These successful leaders start with an idea, try it out, fail sometimes, but always try again.  A common theme with these leaders is their drive to accomplish their goals and make life better for people. Read more →

The Teen Years: Searching for the 30-Foot Wave

By Liz Stucke, owner of LS Admissions Prep


Teens at an elite prep school in Connecticut got more than they bargained for when they set off for a 3-week educational cruise to Antarctica.  The excursion delivered on its promise to see nature close up.  In addition to seeing elephant seals, king penguins, albatross and whales, they also witnessed the immense power of the sea.  According to the New York Times, while the cruise ship was heading south towards Antarctica they ran into a storm, which produced a 30-foot wave crashing down on the ship and smashing the bridge’s windows injuring the captain and a few crew.  While the students were uninjured, it was undoubtedly a very frightening experience, even more so for parents back home.  One mother expressing her relief that her son was fine looked on the bright side.  “She told him when he left to be on the lookout for a college essay idea.  Now, she said, he has one.” Read more →

College decisions – Class of 2014

By Liz Stucke


Which would you prefer: a choice among five different jams or a choice among twenty different jams?  Most people according to Sheena Iyengar in her book The Art of Choosing, say they would prefer a choice among twenty jams.  However, in her famous “Jam Study” she found that when presented with twenty different jams, customers did not buy any at all.  They walked away, overwhelmed and unable to make any decision.  Read more →