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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June 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
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Discover the joys of fishing at Bass Pro Shops with free fishing seminars, kids crafts and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
201
Cabela Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
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Telephone: 984-204-2200
Contact Name: Tammy Fonda-Quann

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Discover the joys of fishing at Bass Pro Shops with free fishing seminars, kids crafts and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
801 Bass Pro Ln.
Cary, NC  27513
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Telephone: 417-413-9368
Contact Name: Todd Foxx
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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
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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It`s 1863 at Yates Mill, and the yard is alive with activity! Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal.  Tour fee:...

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

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Hop, skip, and jump over to Crowder County Park as we celebrate Father’s Day! Bring the whole family out for an afternoon of games related to nature. Afterwards we’ll cool off with some...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Search for salamanders, birds, deer and more. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #124938.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Practice your recognition skills through sorting, matching, and more! Move like animals in nature and find park critters in a fun scavenger hunt. For ages 18 months - 3 years (with an accompanying...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Drop by the cybrary for storytime with a librarian. Activity Room 4. Preschool and kindergarten ages. No registration necessary. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Carrboro Cybrary
100 N Greensboro St
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-918-7387
Contact Name: Cybrary
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #124963.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #124691.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Travel 238,900 miles above the earth as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of humans’ first landing on the moon. What's it like to travel in space? With the help of some volunteers, kids...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Orange County Main Library
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Travel 238,900 miles above the earth as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of humans’ first landing on the moon. What's it like to travel in space? With the help of some volunteers, kids...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Orange County Main Library
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Ages 11 and older with special needs stroll through the woods. Register online. Choose course #124383.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Website »

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Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
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Celebrate our #1 pollinator by learning about the busy bees of Crowder Park. Learn the dances of bees and how they communicate, discover how pollination works, and taste different types of honey....

Cost: Free

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

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Come out to the millpond and fish the old-fashioned way - we'll provide you with a cane pole, tackle, and bait, along with basic instructions and assistance with identifying fish species....

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 15.0px 'Times New Roman'; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} span.s2 {font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; font-kerning: none}...

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
Website »

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Preschoolers (ages 3-5 with accompanying adult) learn about different frogs and toads that live in our area and what they sound like.  Make frog sounds, hop along the park trails and look for...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Martha Kane
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Bees are really important in our gardens! Read The Honey Robber and the Bee by Eric Carle and discover the world of bees and honey! Find your fellow bees by following your sense of smell, make a...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Enjoy tea time for the whole family. Samples of hot tea, cold tea, and kombucha will be provided, along with games and family fun.

Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
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Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
Website »

More information

Enjoy an out-of-this world space spectacular event. Preschoolers and their families are invited to fly in for space-themed games, crafts, and more. No registration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

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Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy yoga and breathing exercises. Register online. Choose course #125022.

Cost: $9/resident, $11/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park Community Center
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Bring your own poles or borrow one of ours through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are provided. All...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Meet a staff member at the information desk and follow your guide outside to the garden exhibit or into one of the museum galleries. Look around and listen to a history-related story. Ages 3...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Enjoy giant checkers, giant jenga, bubbles, and special art activities in Downtown Park. All other permanent games (ping pong, bocce ball, chess) will continue to be available.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Park
319 S. Academy St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Kids ages 6-9 discover the wonders of reptiles that live at the Preserve.  The focus will be hands-on outdoor investigation and the study of living things in their habitat.  In case of...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Marti Kane
Website »

More information

Parent and child ages 2-5 water plants in the native wildflower gardens. Register online. Choose course #124907.

Cost: Free

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Join Optimist Aquatic Center as thousands of kids and adults around the world unite for the world's largest swimming lesson. The World's Largest Swimming Lesson will celebrate its 10th...

Cost: Free

Where:
Optimist Aquatic Center
5902 Whittier Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Website »

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p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 15.0px 'Times New Roman'; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 15.0px 'Times...

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty sun catcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

What do Historic Yates Mill County Park and the woodland faeries have in common? They both love nature! Take a short walk near the millpond to search for evidence of faeries (sightings are not...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Enjoy magic, storytelling and origami with Yasu Ishida. Grades K-5.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy an indoor/outdoor vendor market with food trucks, coffee, live music outside and plenty of fun for all ages.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Pine State Coffee
1614 Automotive Way
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
Website »

More information

How many fireflies can you catch? Sign up for an evening of summer fun as we catch and release lightning bugs. Explore what gives them a special glow through hands-on discovery, games, and more!...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

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Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty sun catcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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This celebration of toys features interactive attractions, vendors, toy experiences and more. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $12/person. Free for ages 2 and younger.

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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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
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Young homesteaders learn about the importance of animals and pollinators on farms, both historically and today. Visit with animals, and enjoy interactive games, engaging crafts, imaginative face...

Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Homestead State Historic Site
2828 Duke Homestead Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
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DIY Fest returns with more than 30 artisans and family-friendly activities to support the mission of Durham 150, the anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Durham. 

Cost: Free

Where:
The Scrap Exchange
2050 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

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

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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The fair is for women thinking about getting pregnant, currently pregnant, or recently post-partum. Triangle-area organizations will have tables at the fair to share information about resources...

Cost: Free

Where:
NC Cooperative Extension
721 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: March of Dimes/Duke Family Medicine
Telephone: 678-246-9027
Contact Name: Courtney Simpson
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Ages 5-8 embrace science and nature while developing skills and knowledge about the natural world. Register online. Choose course #124927.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Enjoy all-things blueberry, food trucks, pie-eating contests and more at Vollmer Farms' annual Blueberry Festival. The Back-40 Country Playground will be open and features a...

Cost: $12 advance tickets, $15 at the door. Free for ages 12 and younger

Where:
Vollmer Farm
677 NC Hwy 98 East
Bunn, NC  27508
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Sponsor: Vollmer Farm
Telephone: 919-496-3076
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Enjoy a movie under the stars and play games at 7:15 before the movie starts. 

Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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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.