The College Admissions Scandal from the Perspective of an Admissions Consulting Firm

Naturally, the public is wondering: Is this what independent college counselors do?


Published:

Image courtesy of Seanbear/Shutterstock.com

In the wake of the instantly infamous Varsity Blues scandal, our admissions consulting firm, College Transitions, has received a flood of interview requests from media outlets along with countless queries from the general public. This torrent of interest is to be expected following revelations of such a sensational and lurid tale involving Hollywood starlets, Ivy League coaches, bribery, forgery and corruption among society’s 1-percenters. Naturally, the public is wondering: Is this what independent college counselors do? Is the entire system even more rigged in favor of the wealthy than previously thought? Is “independent/private college counseling” simply a euphemism for a quid pro quo purchase of a spot in an elite college for the progeny of the uber-rich?

It’s not uncommon for one indicted “bad apple” to arouse suspicion of an entire profession. Whenever headlines reveal another physician caught in an opioid prescription scam, a leading investment professional involved in a massive Ponzi scheme, or a high-ranking military officer embroiled in a political scandal, inquiring minds rightfully question whether the misdeed at hand is representative of a more widespread problem. If an individual in a profession perceived to be noble can do horrific things, might something be rotten in all of Denmark?

The short answer to whether this well-publicized criminal conspiracy is representative of the entire independent college consultant industry is an unequivocal “No.” Of the roughly 12,000 independent college counseling businesses in the U.S., it is our belief that 99-plus percent adhere to the ethical guidelines put forth by esteemed organizations like the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (of which we are members). Could there be another bad apple or two still resting amidst the otherwise clean bunch? Sure, and it is the hope of the ethical independent college counselor community that any other dishonest actors are ultimately exposed and expelled from the profession, as occurred with William Singer, the central player in this most recent conspiracy.


Why Do People Need (Ethical) Independent Admissions Counselors?

The growth of the independent college counseling profession is a much-needed response to the increasing complexity of the admissions process and an ever-declining system of college-related support previously offered by our high schools, even those which serve largely affluent populations. The National Association for College Admission Counseling and the American School Counselor Association both firmly recommend a student-to-counselor ratio of no greater than 250:1. Unfortunately, most high schools, even many well-funded public ones, fall well short of this ideal. In fact, as of 2018, the average ratio in the U.S. was 482:1 and many states were not even close to that mark. Arizona sports a ratio of 924:1, California 760:1 and Michigan 729:1.

As an added impediment to personalized post-secondary assistance, counselors in public high schools report only being able to dedicate 22 percent of their time on college-related counseling. In the end, the average American teen receives a meager 38 minutes of college-related advice during the entirety of their high school career.

Though independent college consulting services are often not affordable to low-income students, this reality should not discourage college consultants from filling the void where they can. When students of all income levels suffer from a lack of college guidance, the appropriate response isn’t to denounce the individualized guidance that some are able to secure. Instead, and until our colleges develop more simplified and equitable ways of evaluating applicants (not an easy task, despite what some journalists may have you believe), we need to ask how all students can be sufficiently supported within our current system. Fortunately, independent college planners can play a very important role in this regard, even for those families who cannot afford private services. Later, we’ll discuss what we do, in particular, to promote college knowledge across the income spectrum.


What Do Independent Counselors Actually Do?

Aside from helping students navigate each phase of the application process — a program of support that, as discussed above, is needed by many and for which we make no apologies — ethical and competent independent college counselors also engage in a variety of tasks that maximize a student’s prospects for academic and career success, not just college admission. These tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Identifying good-fit colleges.
  • Career/interest assessment and other career-exploration activities.
  • Identifying/researching prospective college majors.
  • Financial aid and scholarship guidance.
  • Developing a program of study for high school and college.
  • Securing accommodations for students with learning difficulties.
  • Pointing students to campus-based resources and other supports that provide for a successful college transition.

Altogether, completion of these essential tasks, along with tasks directly related to preparing college applications, may take up to 35-40 hours of one-on-one work with an independent counselor, a far cry from the 38 minutes available to you at your local high school.


What Do Ethical Counselors NOT Do?

It goes without saying that all of the highly illegal and immoral acts committed by Singer, founder of The Edge College & Career Network (also referred to as The Key), are at the top of this list. Bribery, cheating on standardized tests, falsifying student’s credentials and any of the other grotesque, beyond the pale acts associated with Varsity Blues are, of course, not on the menu at any legitimate counseling firm. Of course, not committing felonies is hardly the moral bar set in our field. Ethical standards for independent counselors include tenets such as:

  • We do not guarantee admission to any particular college.
  • We do not write essays for students.
  • We do not encourage or allow any level of dishonesty or exaggeration in chronicling one’s activities, distinctions or awards.
  • We do not offer compensation to, or accept compensation from, university officials in exchange for any influence in an admissions decision/recommendation.
  • We do not enter any situation in which we have a conflict of interest.

In sum, ethical counselors do not do anything that is a) criminal, b) dishonest, or c) not solely in the best interest of the student.


Hate the Game, Not the Honest Players

Outside of this most recent headline-grabbing scandal, there are many aspects of the present admissions landscape that undoubtedly deserve criticism and increasingly loud calls for reform. Such issues include the pervasive anti-meritocratic practices involving legacy admissions and athletic recruiting, the pressure-cooker admissions process at elite schools that impacts teens’ mental health, and the constantly rising, already exorbitant tuition rates that set students up for crippling debt that will follow them well into adulthood.

By engaging in the practice of independent college counseling, we are not asserting that the present system of college admission is ideal. Rather, we are demonstrating a commitment to guiding students and families through an increasingly complex process and helping them realize returns on an investment that can easily reach $250,000-$300,000. Seeking expert guidance when considering making a large purchase is hardly a novel concept in other realms. Hiring a quality independent college admissions counselor can be pricey, but so is hiring a good accountant, realtor, personal trainer, financial planner or lawyer. In the end, the upfront investment can pay for itself many times over.


Do Independent College Counselors Only Help the Rich?

One might deduce from the Laughlin-Huffman, et al. scandal that the only people who hire independent counselors are celebrities or high-powered executives with Harvard MBAs seeking to ensure that the next generation maintains an Ivy League lineage. This reductive takeaway would fall well short of representing reality. While a portion of the population employing independent college consultants is indeed wealthy, parents from many different backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses employ our services. These include:

Middle Class Families Looking to Save Money

A family who makes too much to qualify for sufficient need-based aid but not enough to cover college costs on their own is a perfect candidate to hire an independent counselor. An expert consultant can provide guidance on how a student can go about procuring merit aid directly from a university. By targeting the right schools, tens of thousands of dollars can be shaved off of the sticker price, sometimes leading to a six-figure discount over four years. Savings this dramatic make paying the consultant’s fee seem quite reasonable.

First-Generation Students

Mom and Dad never attended college, or they attended college outside the U.S. Now, their teen child is entering the college selection phase and, bombarded by unfamiliar information about everything from FAFSA forms to SAT Subject Tests, they realize that professional assistance is needed in order to maximize their child’s post-secondary opportunities. Academic research on the topic backs up this decision, as first-generation students are far more likely to incur unwise debt, attend schools that are below their academic ability (read more about “undermatch”), and less likely to obtain a degree than their non-first-generation peers.

Students With Learning Needs

Getting into a “good fit” college is of the utmost importance for any student with a learning disability or attentional issues. Statistics on the college admissions and persistence fronts for students with disabilities are profoundly troubling across the board. In part, due to a failure to fully understand/disclose their own disability or sufficiently explore/take advantage of disability services and programming on campus, this population has a very high drop-out rate. Careful college planning and support can arm LD students and parents with the knowledge they need to carve out a path toward collegiate success.

Homeschooled Students

For the over two million students in the U.S. who are homeschooled, the looming admissions process is a somewhat different gauntlet than that which awaits traditional high school students. Issues of documentation, additional testing requirements, and the building of an extracurricular resume are just a few of the multitude of challenges that an independent counselor can help to tackle.

Community College Transfers

You’ve saved a good deal of money by completing a year or two at a local community college and are now seeking to transfer into a four-year college. Now comes the hard part — navigating the transfer admission process. If that school happens to be a selective or highly-selective institution, you will absolutely benefit from one-on-one counseling with an independent counselor.

Students Applying to Ivy League or Ivy League-Equivalent Schools

For those of any socioeconomic background who aim to gain acceptance at an elite college, excellent grades and test scores, while necessary, are no longer sufficient. “Ivy-minded” and other high-aiming students will also be judged — for better or worse — on a variety of intangible factors that speak to their authenticity, intellectual motivations and the ability to make distinct contributions to a particular campus. In this context, personal interests, extracurricular participation and other seemingly ancillary components of a student’s profile assume center stage and may make or break an application. Consultants work to identify and cultivate the best of what a student has to offer — through course selection, activities planning, college essay coaching and other things that improve his or her prospects for college admission and personal fulfillment.


College Transitions is Not All About Profit

While a certain percentage of our clientele are people of means, it is possible for independent counselors to assist more affluent families while expanding access to higher education. In spite of what some may believe, the two activities are not mutually exclusive. Our firm, College Transitions, engages in a number of pro-bono activities, advising dozens of low-income and other underrepresented students on the college admissions process each year. In addition, we put in hundreds of man-hours each year maintaining and updating our no-cost and advertisement-free Dataverse. This resource page contains sortable databases designed to help students learn everything from which schools are the most generous with merit aid to early decision acceptance rates to the institutions that feed America’s top tech companies. In total, we offer over 100 such up-to-date data sources. We also host free webinars and in-person presentations on various aspects of the college admissions process, compose monthly newsletters designed to keep the parent community abreast of important admissions-related developments, publish weekly blogs to disseminate timely tips for all teens in the throes of admissions mania and deliver free copies of our recent book to numerous under-resourced high schools.


In Closing

As dedicated independent college counselors, we do not have control over the entire ecosystem in which we operate; and there are indeed aspects of the admissions process we detest. However, despite this (and perhaps because of it), we remain firmly committed to independent college counseling; because when done right, it can help students overcome the same education-related obstacles that this recent scandal has brought to light.

Moving forward, we will continue to reflect upon and work with the “greyer” areas of our field, always evaluating and re-evaluating our role within the larger system of college admission in America, and always striving to do good and ethical work.

 

Andrew Belasco is a licensed counselor and published researcher. His experience in the field of college admissions and transition spans more than one decade. He has previously served as a high school counselor, consultant and author for Kaplan Test Prep; and an advisor to the U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admissions and financial aid.

 

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About this Blog

College Transitions

Expert advice for finding the right fit


About This Blog

College Transitions is a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. As counselors and published higher education researchers, we aim to bring perspective (and some sanity) to college planning, and we strive to provide students with the support they need to enroll and succeed at a college that is right for them. Learn more at collegetransitions.com

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Calendar

September 2019

For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy local bands, arts and crafts vendors, car show, kids' area, fun contests and games, plus a barbecue cook-off contest featuring veteran cooking teams.

Cost: Free

Where:
River Park
114 E. Margaret Ln.
Hillsborouh, NC  27278
View map »


Website »

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Visual artists from near and far will showcase their work, and 75 performing arts groups provide continuous music, dance and entertainment throughout the festival including extended Saturday...

Cost: $5 suggested donation; free for children under 12

Where:
Durham Arts Council
120 Morris Street
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2719
Contact Name: Susan Tierney
Website »

More information

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

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Take the family for a showcase of popular and folk music and art, dance performances, educational booths, children's activities and food from different regions of Latin America.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
Fayetteville St. City Plaza
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

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Did you know that beavers are actually large rodents? Join us at the park and discover the parts of a beaver and what they like to eat. Test your knowledge in a round of trivia and take a walk in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

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Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

This cultural exp features live entertainment, a kids zone, food vendors, games and much more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
494 Knightdale Station Run
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

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It's 50% off ALMOST EVERYTHING! The word GREEN or BLACK will be written under the price on tags and you won't believe what's left!!! Check us out on facebook at Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Towne Centre
1105 Walnut St
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
Contact Name: Gail Walker
Website »

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Take the family for a balloon artists, face painting, carnival games, obstacle courses, arts and crafts and a magician. This event celebrates the grand opening of the David R. Kahn Community Campus...

Cost: Free

Where:
David R. Kahn Community Campus
12804 Norwood Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Website »

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Enjoy all things pepper, kids crafts, live music, artisans, local farmers and much more.

Cost: $5 – $25

Where:
Downtown Pittsboro
Pittsboro, NC


Website »

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PepperFest is a celebration of sustainable agriculture, farmers, and the creativity of the Piedmont’s top chefs, brewers and artisans. This outdoor event is held in NC’s...

Cost: $5-$30

Where:
Downtown Pittsboro
205 Lorax Lane #5
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Sponsor: Abundance NC
Telephone: 919-444-9300
Contact Name: Tami Schwerin
Website »

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The autumnal equinox signals the beginning of fall. It is the point when there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Mark the change of seasons by heading to the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The autumnal equinox signals the beginning of fall. It is the point when there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Mark the change of seasons by heading to the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Grab your magnifying glass and help solve the many mysteries along the Old Beech Nature Trail. Who left the pile of acorns by the rotten log? Whose scat is that? Use your senses and detective...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The autumnal equinox signals the beginning of fall. It is the point when there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Mark the change of seasons by heading to the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Let’s celebrate the arrival of fall! Make a craft inspired by the leaves’ changing colors. We will bring the materials if you bring the imagination! For all ages (adult accompaniment...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Rags to Riches Theatre for Young Audiences presents the classic tale for all ages. 

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Let’s celebrate the arrival of fall! Make a craft inspired by the leaves’ changing colors. We will bring the materials if you bring the imagination! For all ages (adult accompaniment required...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Learn about the annual, long-distance movement of the migratory birds in our park. We will learn the difference between summer migrants, winter migrants, and permanent residents and then go on a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

The library invites you to celebrate and enjoy poetry with a series of events for all ages hosted by Hillsborough’s Poet Laureate, Dee Stribling! On the last Wednesdays of the month throughout...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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In honor of Chicanx and Latinx Heritage Month, we’ll enjoy poetry written in English and in Spanish written by Chicanx and Latinx poets.  Following questions and discussion, those attending will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Apple Day features fresh North Carolina apples, an apple dessert and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Rodeos, a mule-pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, carnival rides, street performers, bluegrass shows and more are all part of Benson Mule Days. See website for hours.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Benson
500 S. Market St.
Benson, NC  27504
View map »


Website »

More information

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 “Shinrin-yoku” is a Japanese healing technique which means "taking in the forest atmosphere." Developed in the 1980s, it has become a cornerstone of preventive health...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

This family-friendly urban bluegrass festival features a dance tent, workshops and exhibit hall with instruments and gear in the Raleigh Convention Center, food vendors, a youth stage, juried...

Cost: Free-$60

Where:
, NC

More information

Enjoy down time in nature, or take part in guided art making, herbalism, outdoor yoga, storytelling, or basic women’s camping skills. Dinner and breakfast included, but take camping...

Cost: $50/member, $55/nonmember.

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

More information

Come out to the 5th Annual Wolfpack Games at Willis R. Casey Aquatic Center on Friday, September 27th at 6 PM. Enjoy a fun atmosphere and get an exclusive sneak peek at the 2019-2020 NC State...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Willis R. Casey Aquatic Center
2611 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
View map »

More information

Enjoy free bowl cuts by Arrow, Worm Farms; a Most Annoying Sound Off; and Costume Contest. Wear a best orange or blue tuxes. Gates and food trucks will open and begin at 6pm with the movie starting...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Raleigh Meadows
Campus Shore Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: VisitCentennial
Telephone: 704-651-3179
Contact Name: Jude DesNoyer
Website »

More information

Mums and pumpkins take center stage at this festival featuring live music and food trucks.

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
810 N. First Ave.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Rodeos, a mule-pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, carnival rides, street performers, bluegrass shows and more are all part of Benson Mule Days. See website for hours.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Benson
500 S. Market St.
Benson, NC  27504
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
Website »

More information

Welcome fall's arrival with a food truck rodeo, car show, face painting, a craft show and more.  

Cost: Free

Where:
125 U.S. 1-A
Youngsville, NC  27596
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate the Fall Harvest with the Cary Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday, September 28 along West Chatham Street in Cary! There will be contests and games, craft booths and food trucks lining...

Cost: Free

Where:
West Chatham Street
Cary, NC  27511


Sponsor: Cary Downtown Farmers Market
Telephone: 919-244-6463
Contact Name: Lindsey Chester
Website »

More information

Take part in a 1.4-mile walk for inclusiveness. Registration and activities begin at 10 a.m.; walk begins at 10:30 a.m. Enjoy refreshments, games, raffle and a decorating station. All ages and...

Cost: $15/family, $5/individual

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Campbell Law School will host a bike ride from “The Creek to the Capital” the morning of Saturday, September 28 as part of its yearlong anniversary celebration. Riders of all skill...

Cost: $40 fee includes T-shirt/lunch

Where:
Finish line @ Campbell Law School
225 Hillsborough St
Raleigh , NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Campbell Law School
Telephone: 919-865-5978
Contact Name: Lisa Snedeker
Website »

More information

Enjoy a day at the park and listen to stories from professional storytellers in this event presented by Wake County Public Libraries and Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Website »

More information

Live Entertainment all day, including a Talent Contest. Win the Raffle. Enjoy at least a dozen international options prepared by parishioners-- Mexican, Irish, Filipino just to name a few. ...

Cost: Free festival admission. Food and raffle incur fees

Where:
J. Ashley Wall Towne Square
J. Ashley Wall Towne Square W. Third St. & W. Cypress St.
Wendell, NC  27591
View map »


Sponsor: St Eugene Catholic Church
Telephone: 919-449-5234
Contact Name: Susan Welsh
Website »

More information

Enjoy live performances, cultural exhibits, children's activities, dragon boat racing and more. Taste a wide collection of ethnic foods and delicacies created by local chefs.

Cost: $5 advance tickets; $8 at the door. Free for ages 12 and younger

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Travel to Germany without leaving the Triangle at this German-inspired festival featuring live music and food, as well as the ever-popular wiener dog races.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lafayette Village
8450 Honeycutt Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Website »

More information

This family-friendly urban bluegrass festival features a dance tent, workshops and exhibit hall with instruments and gear in the Raleigh Convention Center, food vendors, a youth stage, juried...

Cost: Free-$60

Where:
, NC

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30 & 3:00 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

In 1979, the NC Legislature designated the Eastern Box Turtle as our state reptile. Learn how you can help conserve this valuable state symbol. Meet Lake Crabtree's adopted turtle, Shel...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Take the family for live music, crafts and food. See website for hours.

Cost: Free

Where:
Carrboro Town Hall
301 W. Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


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Mums and pumpkins take center stage at this festival featuring food trucks and great music. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
810 N. First Ave.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
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Railroad Days' 44th consecutive year features the Railroad Days pageant at 7 p.m., where a queen in five age divisions will be crowned. The festival continues Oct. 4-5 in downtown Selma.

Cost: $12/person for pageant admission

Where:
Selma Elementary School
311 W. Richardson St.
Selma, NC  27576
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Rodeos, a mule-pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, carnival rides, street performers, bluegrass shows and more are all part of Benson Mule Days. See website for hours.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Benson
500 S. Market St.
Benson, NC  27504
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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2018-19 Education Guide offers 678 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools, academic resources and an Exceptional Child special section.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.