College Orientation Programs for High School Students and their Parents

Peter Van Buskirk teaches participants how to think about college planning so they can make choices that serve them well in finding and getting into the colleges that fit them best. By challenging assumptions and providing a contextual basis for understanding the college admission process, Peter gives students and their parents the insights and practical tools needed to get from where they are to where they want to be. BCF programs inform, inspire and motivate students as they prepare to compete for admission to college.

The Admission Game®

The Admission Game®Do you ever wonder who "gets in" and "why?" "The Admission Game®" (TAG) takes you inside the admission process for the answers. TAG is a high energy, high impact, interactive, case study exercise for students and parents in which the audience is transformed into an admission committee. In a manner that is more theatre than lecture, Peter audiences immediately in a "conversation" by talking with them in relevant terms that help ease the stress of an otherwise frenzied process. This signature program reveals the "hidden agendas" of colleges and provides insight into how decisions are made. Students learn to find the colleges that fit them best and to make decisions that help them compete for admission. Can be modified for in-school assemblies.

Two hours. Target audience: Students and parents. Audience size: No limit.
TAG Description/Outline

Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to BeAn engaging and motivational keynote program for students and parents, "Getting ... " delivers a five-point plan for achieving educational goals. Special emphasis is placed on self-awareness, finding a good college fit and the consequences of decision-making throughout high school. "Getting ..." is an effective college orientation programming for younger high school students. Often used as a school assembly.

60-70 minutes. Target audience: Students and Parents. Audience size: No limit.
"Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be" Description

The Down & Dirty About the College Admission Process (a.k.a. The Backstory About the College Admission Process)

The Admission Game®Go inside the college admission process to develop a contextual understanding for who gets in and why. Learn from an insider how colleges use Early Decision, Early Action, the Wait List and second semester offers of admission to manage their enrollments. Discover the “Hidden Agenda” and see how testing, demonstrated interest and ability to pay can influence outcomes. “The Down and Dirty About the College Admission Process” is a very practical, logical interpretation of a complex and mysterious process.

90-120 minutes. Target audience: Parents. Audience size: No limit

Dollars and Sense: A Consumer's Orientation to Who Gets How Much and Why

Dollars and SenseFinancing a college education has become an increasingly daunting task for most families. Prices escalate and the process of securing assistance is increasingly complex. This program identifies the five sources of funding for college and examines the role of the college as the "broker" of these resources. Participants go inside the strategic enrollment process to learn how "differential needs analysis" and "preferential packaging" will dictate their out-of-pocket expenses at colleges of interest. They will also be walked through a set of questions to ask financial aid officers in order to gain some measure of transparency regarding cost and affordability in advance of the admission process. (Financial planning strategies are not covered in this program)

90 minutes. Target audience: Students and parents. Audience size: No limit

Make Your Application Count

The Admission Game®Your ability to "tell your story" can make the difference in determining whether or not you will be admitted to a college. Will your application come across as a random collection of information or will that information come together to tell your story? This program provides strategies for using your application to reveal where you have been—and where you want to go—in life. Often used as a school assembly.

90 minutes. Target audience: Students. Audience size: 50-250

College Admission In The Era of COVID 19

The Choices We MakeIn a matter of weeks, the emerging coronavirus radically changed the way students access education. This workshop focuses on higher education and the changes in instruction, campus access, assessment in the admission process and financing that impact student choice. Participants will take away tips and strategies for successfully navigating the college application process in light of these changes.

90 minutes. Target audience: Students and parents. Audience size: no limit

To learn more about these opportunities or find out how you can collaborate with Peter to create programming to meet your constituent needs, contact him at

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I book an event?

A. Contact Peter at 717-808-5462 or

Q. Where did the name, "The Admission Game," come from?

A. The Admission Game® is a metaphor for the competition that is implicit in gaining admission to college. By extending the metaphor, students are coached on how to prepare well in order to compete effectively for admission. "Winning" occurs when students arrive at happy outcomes.

Q. When is the best time of the year to schedule Peter's signature program "The Admission Game"?

A. The first answer is, "When it fits best in your programming cycle." For example, scheduling around your course registration period helps to reinforce messages relating to program rigor. Some schools find it is effective to schedule "The Admission Game" several weeks in advance of a college night/fair in the area.

Q. Which age group is best suited for "The Admission Game" case study program?

A. The key program elements are suited best for Juniors. Younger students who are ready to be engaged in the college planning process can benefit as well.

Q. Is it a good idea to include students and parents in the same session?

A. Absolutely! It's good for the whole family to hear the same message!

Q. What do people have to say about Peter's programs?

A. Here is a sampling of testimonials. Please see Present/Past Clients and Testimonials for more.

"No one from my family has ever attended a four-year university before, so we are appreciative for your advice regarding this complicated process. I know so many other kids are going through the same turmoil as I am with regard to this whole 'admissions game' and would benefit from your advice. I am so glad I attended your seminar, and thank you again for taking the time to set me on the right path."
-Student, Vineland, NJ

"I truly consider you a leader in the field, someone who tells it like it is. That is what sets you apart... I defer to you anytime!"
-Counselor, Bedford, NY

"Brilliant, passionate, fantastic! Thanks for breaking the code and sharing with us."
-Parent, Philadelphia, PA

Q. Is Peter available for keynote speeches?

A. Yes. Peter presents a number of 35-45 minute provocative and/or motivational programs that focus on themes of personal responsibility, effective decision-making, investing in one's self and taking ownership of the future.

Q. Does Peter conduct professional development workshops?

A. Yes. Peter offers customizable, interactive professional development in half-day increments for up to 100 people. Elements of this program continue to be popular preconference workshops at the annual National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) Conference.

Q. Do you ever present multiple sessions during the same day?

A. Yes. At a number of schools Peter presents programs/workshops for students during the day as well as TAG programs for students and parents in the evening. Peter also presents half-day professional development programs during the day followed by TAG events for families in the evening at a discounted package rate.

Q. How much does Peter's programming cost?

A. All inclusive fees depend on the nature of the event, length of the program and geographic location.

Q. Are discounts available for multiple bookings?

A. Yes. Book multiple programs and/or workshops together to receive a reduced rate.

Q. Our budget is tight. Do you have suggestions as to how we might fund a program?

A. Good question! Schools have done the following to make the programming possible financially:

  • Collaborated with neighboring schools to share fees.
  • Promoted the event as a fundraiser and sold tickets.
  • Applied grant funds designated to promote college awareness.