Blog Archives

CDI Honors 2012 Graduates at Bon Voyage Party

On August 4th, CDI honored its graduating Scholars at the Bauer Community Center in Rockville, MD. In past years, this event–known as the Bon Voyage party–celebrated our high school Scholars. This year, with our second class of Scholars graduating from college, we revised the format to include all of our graduates. Watch the slideshow!

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The CDI Benefit in Pictures

CDI Scholar Victoria Charles with Benefit co-Chairs Nancy Malkin Carr (Board Chair) and Andrea Weiswasser

On Wednesday, May 2nd CDI hosted its Annual Spring Benefit at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC (photos below). Donald E. Graham of The Washington Post Company was the featured speaker. At the neighboring W Hotel, an appearance by President Obama (we think) brought traffic to a standstill prior to the Benefit, making it difficult for our guests to get to our event. But we were delighted at the number of people who braved traffic to attend. What they were treated to was a wonderful evening that included speeches by two of our Scholars (Binh Pham, Lafayette College ’13) and Cristina Devia (Tufts University ’12) and  CDI President Nina Marks.

As in every year since our first class, 100% of the Scholars in CDI’s Class of 2012 were accepted into multiple selective colleges and universities. As Nina highlighted in her speech, “Of the 239 applications filed by 25 Scholars, only 32 were denials and 37 were wait lists.” What makes those figures so remarkable is that colleges fielded record numbers of national and international applications at the same time they also slashed admit rates. Put simply, this year was a very difficult  year to get into college. Nevertheless, CDI Scholars fared extremely well.

Following Nina’s speech, featured speaker Donald E. Graham delivered a powerful keynote address highlighting the importance of supporting low-income, first-generation-to-college students. And at the conclusion of the event, auctioneer Steve Weiswasser led a raucous auction in which we raised additional funds to help support CDI.

A special thank you to all of the gracious individuals and organizations who agreed to donate time and services to our auction: Cal Ripken, Jr., Howard Fineman, and Susan Gage Catering. Look for video from the event on our website soon!

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Many, many thanks to all of our Benefit guests and Patrons!

Clark Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Elizabeth & Michael Galvin
Accolade Partners
Sarah and Winthrop Brown
CityBridge Foundation
Nancy and Robert Carr
Mary and Armeane Choksi
Mary Graham
Carol and Eugene Ludwig
Nina and Jonathan Marks
Quadrangle Development Corp.
Tori Winkler Thomas
The Washington Post Company
Toni and Lee Verstandig
Andrea and Stephen Weiswasser
Bank of Georgetown
Carr Properties
Carla Elliott-Neely
Wendy and Fred Goldberg
Mary and Robert Haft
Melanie and Lawrence Nussdorf
Qatar Foundation International
Jean and Thomas Rutherfoord
Sanford and Doris Slavin Foundation

Collegiate Directions: The Blog

Welcome to the Collegiate Directions blog. I’m Kyle Semmel, CDI’s new Development & Communications Manager. Over the next few months you can expect to see posts each Friday (and possibly on some days in between) on matters related to education, college, SAT/ACT, and just about anything that falls within our mission.

To that end I will post feature stories about CDI Scholars (or interviews with them), notes from CDI counselors, Scholars, staff, and professionals in the field of college counseling and admissions. Of course, what would a blog be without videos and links? So expect those as well. (Reader, if you’ve got a particularly great video or story you’d like to share that matches CDI’s mission, please contact me at ksemmel (at) with your idea and a link.) Gradually, I hope to build this blog up to one with daily posts that include special features such as Monday interview, Tuesday Scholar, etc. But Rome, as the saying goes, wasn’t built in a day. I’m not going to get ahead of myself.

But I will say: Please consider following this blog (easily done by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page or the RSS posts icon at the top). You’ll get an e-mail notification each time I post a new story. Then, if you like what you read, please FEEL FREE to share the post with others. There are other ways to connect with us. We are currently active on the following social media sites: Twitter, Google +, Facebook, LinkedIn. If you’re using these platforms, follow and like us on these sites and you will also be able to see these posts.

For those of you who might’ve missed it, Nina Marks, President and founder of CDI, was recently interviewed by Time Magazine for a very good article on financial aid (“I Owe U”–note: you need to be a subscriber to read the article online) in the October 31 issue. Author Kristina Dell writes:

Nina Marks, president of Collegiate Directions, a nonprofit that provides college counseling for low-income students, recommends that families drill deeper and ask financial-aid officers such questions as, If a college’s cost of attendance increases each year, will financial aid go up too? What percentage of students graduate in four years? A fifth or sixth year could significantly increase debt load.

Smart advice. And financial aid is, of course, of monumental importance to many high schoolers who’re headed to college. Recently, one of my favorite Washington Post columnists, Michelle Singletary, made it the subject of her column: “Student debt hint: Avoid it.

Avoiding “it” may not be easy for everyone to do, but getting a good financial aid package is certainly in students’ best interests. CDI offers plenty of help to Scholars on that front, and CDI is even influencing the “clarity and comparability of student financial aid offer letters.” Nina was a panelist at a Department of Education event earlier this fall promoting a common standard for financial aid offer letters, and following that event she was a guest on “The Diane Rehm Show.” The subject of the show: shrinking financial aid packages. You can read a full transcript right here.

And with that we’ll lead off the first ever CDI Link Up. Each week I’ll provide links to timely web posts on college-related matters (many of which I first linked up on our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google + pages.

How to make the most of your premed advisor (via U.S. News & World Report)

Maryland schools top education ratings (via The Washington Post)

The college essay: why those 500 words drive us crazy (via The Daily Beast)

Early application trends in the Ivies (via The Dartmouth)

Learning to play the game to get into college (via The New York Times). This articles proves, as CDI counselor Ana Hilton says, why organizations such as CDI are necessary.