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Season 3 Episode 42 Original AirDate December 18, 2019

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#42 Ross Mankuta: The Reality of 30K+ Valedictorians, Class Presidents, Football Team Captains

There are over 30K high schools, which means there are 30+ valedictorians, class presidents, team captains, etc. While the average acceptance rate to colleges across the country is over 60%, if your child has a "dream college" on their mind, you won't want to miss this episode. How will s/he stand out among a pool of thousands?

Be Present. Be Open. Be Uncomfortable.

Today, our guest, Ross Mankuta, offers his tips, tales, and lessons on how teaching your child to be present, be open-minded, and be willing to explore and be uncomfortable is the best preparation for the college admission process. And if YOU, as the Parent, can find a way to teach your child to do all of that, well, my friends, you are raising  a courageous doer and college-bound teen!

As the Director of College Counseling, Ross discusses Early Action, Early Decision, and the reality of applying to highly competitive institutions. Ross Mankuta also offers surprising tales of two of his most memorable students and applicants, and explains what made each one so compelling in the admission process. Ross Mankuta truly puts the Community in his school, Milken Community School.


HIGHLIGHTS from this episode:

IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE, JUMP TO MINUTE 30 AND LISTEN FOR 15 MINUTES. I asked Ross Mankuta to share a tale about a student that stands out from his entire career. Ross Mankuta gives a detail description about two students who stood out in the application with their PQs. They found their "coolness" factor and leverage that in the application process. One is a C/B average student in school, but wins a top award while in the middle of application season. The other becomes known in the admission office as "Train Boy" because of application to USC's Policy, Planning, and Development School. Both applicants use their passions to guide their journey to college. They didn't do what they thought they "should" do, but rather, what they wanted to do.

You are in for a treat. Take the 15 minutes!! I promise you, it will be worth it.


Originally from Long Island, NY, Ross D. Mankuta earned his Bachelors and Master’s degrees from the George Washington University (GW).  After spending time working in politics in both the House of Representatives and The White House, Ross Mankuta made the transition to the world of higher education by working in the Undergraduate Admission Office at GW.

After two years at GW and two more at the University of Southern California (USC), Ross Mankuta came to Milken Community Schools to join its College Counseling & Academic Planning office.  During his time at Milken Ross Mankuta also served as an assistant coach to the baseball team as well as worked to assist the admission office by conducting interviews and sitting on the admission committee.  In 2018 Ross Mankuta was on the steering committee for Milken’s CAIS/WASC accreditation process.

This past summer, Ross Mankuta took on added responsibility and was named Milken’s Director of College Counseling, Alumni Relations, & Strategic Partnerships.

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