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Admissions Admissions Trends college admissions Common Application COVID-19 Ivy Admissions Ivy League Admissions

Do College Rankings Really Matter?

In September, U.S. News & World Report, the leading authority in college rankings, announced the 2021 U.S. News Best Colleges list. For the 10th straight year, Princeton University has earned the #1 spot, followed by Harvard University and Columbia University. Likewise, on the list of National Liberal Arts Colleges, Williams College has maintained its #1 position, with Amherst College and Swarthmore College coming in at #2 and #3, respectively. Now that prospective students are unable to attend traditional on-campus info sessions and campus tours, rankings carry extra weight as students turn to “expert data” to create their college lists.

HOW MUCH COLLEGE RANKINGS MATTER

This year more than ever, we have been asked how much college rankings really matter. And if, in the past, these rankings have been directly correlated with standardized test scores of accepted students, what are the new metrics that have been used to determine this year’s list as colleges go test-optional? How reliable are these methodologies?

In response to the pandemic’s ongoing disruptions and ripple effect on college admissions, this year’s US News rankings include three new topics: student debt, social mobility, and test-blind admissions policies. For the first time, they have also ranked schools that don’t use the SAT or ACT for the purpose of admissions.

U.S. News has published the updated breakdown of key data used to determine overall rank. The six factors are weighted as follows:

Outcomes (40%, previously 35%)

Its success at retaining and graduating students within 150% of normal time (six years). We approach outcomes from angles of graduation and retention (22%), graduation rate performance (8%), social mobility (5%) and, new this year, graduate indebtedness (5%).

Faculty Resources (20%)

U.S. News uses five factors from the 2019-2020 academic year to assess a school’s commitment to instruction: class size (8%), faculty salary (7%), faculty with the highest degree in their fields (3%), student-faculty ratio (1%) and proportion of faculty who are full time (1%).

Expert Opinion (20%)

Each year, top academics – presidents, provosts and deans of admissions – rate the academic quality of peer institutions with which they are familiar on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (distinguished). We take a two-year weighted average of the ratings. The 2021 Best Colleges ranking factors in scores from both 2020 and 2019.

Financial resources (10%)

This is determined based on average spending per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures in the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.

Student Excellence (7%, previously 10%)

The ACT/SAT scores and high school class rank of accepted students.

Alumni giving (3%, previously 5%)

The average percentage of living alumni with bachelor’s degrees who gave to their school during 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.

While this updated breakdown has reduced the weight given to SAT and ACT scores, high school class standing, and alumni donations in response to the shifting admissions landscape, these factors still matter and are a significant part of the raw material that informs the final list. Furthermore, as noted on their website, the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic means that the “current” policies and procedures collected in spring 2020 may have changed since the rankings were determined.

CHANGES IN COLLEGE RANKINGS –BUT NOT ENOUGH

H. Holden Thorp, the Editor-in-Chief of Science, former provost of Washington University in St. Louis, and former chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has publicly called for the suspension of college rankings during this time of crisis. In his article, published in May, he makes his case clear:

“A truly transformative move in this moment of crisis would be to suspend testing requirements and college rankings. This is not a time for undergraduate institutions to be using precious resources to chase these numbers. Rather, they need to support struggling students and other members of the academic community so that education can resume this fall in a manner that is fair to all. Some schools are already making test scores optional for the time being, and hopefully that requirement will never return. Ranking colleges and universities changed higher education, mostly for the worse. Now is the time for institutions to suspend those rankings and, when the crisis is over, bring them back in a more progressive form.”

– H. Holden Thorp, the Editor-in-Chief of Science

Other college rankings, such as the Washington Monthly’s 2020 rankings, have responded to this social pressure. Although they still published their rankings in August, they have made an effort to emphasize diversity and social consciousness in their calculations and approach. As they explain, “It’s our answer to U.S. News & World Report, which relies on crude and easily manipulated measures of wealth, exclusivity, and prestige.” To calculate a college’s commitment to diversity, for example, they use IPEDS data “to measure the percentage of students at each institution receiving Pell Grants, and College Scorecard data to measure the percentage of first-generation students at each school.” For the first time, they have also listed the schools that make sure majors popular with Black students (social work, criminal justice, and sociology) lead to well-paying jobs. See that list here.

Money’s annual Best Colleges for Your Money ranking, published in August, used a methodology based on 27 factors in three categories: Quality of education (30% of weighting), Affordability (40% of weighting), and Outcomes (30% of weighting). In response to the economic outlook this year, they increased the emphasis on affordability. They also added two new net price figures to “capture affordability for students from middle-income backgrounds alongside our existing measure of net price for low-income students.”

Finally, this year’s Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education 2021 rankings consider similar metrics to assess colleges in four areas: Outcomes (salary graduates earn, debt burden they accrue), Resources (the spending schools put into instruction and student services), Engagement (student survey), and Environment (diversity of the community). It is critical to note, however, that, due to the pandemic and shutdown of college campuses, the student survey (20% of the ranking) was canceled for this year. As such, the WSJ/THE rankings use the scores obtained by institutions last year.

THE BOTTOM LINE

In many ways, these rankings will only continue to exasperate the inequities in higher education, made more acute by the ongoing pandemic. While the ranking organizations have made some efforts to add transparency to their process, the data is simply not consistent or dependable at this stage, and a considerable amount of data this year was re-used from the 2019 lists, which did not take into account new admissions procedures or the reality of campus life during COVID-19. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the rankings are largely the same as years past. While some of the metrics offered by these publications can be useful, they should be consulted with care and some degree of skepticism. For personalized guidance and a winning application strategy that takes into account the ever-shifting landscape in real time, contact us today about our Private Counseling Program or Application Boot Camp.

Categories
Admissions college admissions Freshmen Ivy Admissions Ivy League Admissions

5 Tips for Freshman Year: It’s Time to Take Action

We are currently enrolling freshmen in our Private Counseling Program where you will work one on one with one of our premiere college admissions counselors. Work with us to craft your academic niche and learn how to go above and beyond to make sure you aren’t closing any doors on college choices.  We typically fill up by October, so call today.  

Starting high school is always a big transition, but this year feels especially daunting amidst all the uncertainty around re-opening in the midst of the global pandemic. And the shifting sands of college admissions are adding even more stress to soon to be high school students.  Standardized testing is in transition, colleges are dropping sports with no warning, incoming students are deferring their acceptances, faculty hiring is frozen, and colleges are scrambling to teach remotely and cut costs.

JUNIOR YEAR = TOO LATE

High schools rarely begin college counseling until a student’s junior year, but this is too late in our opinion.  We work with our students to organize early and maximize their choices, both in high school and as we craft their application strategy.

Because we only work with a limited number of private clients and fill up well before junior year, we want to share our top tips with our Top Tier Admissions community in the hopes that we can help lessen the stress for thousands of incoming high school freshmen who are patching together their education between Zoom and oddly timed in person classes.

5 ACTIONS TO TAKE NOW

  1.     Plan Your Four-Year Curriculum

The choices you make freshman year will have a ripple effect throughout high school, especially when it comes to rigor of course load. And, rigor matters in admissions! Think strategically about your goals for junior and senior year (for instance, AP classes or perhaps dual enrolling in college courses) and map out what prerequisites you will need to make that happen. Many schools have specific “streams” or course progressions that can be fairly inflexible. If you get off track early, it will be difficult to rebound by the time you apply to college. Not taking high level courses will impact the range of schools to which you can apply.

  1.     Design Your Standardized Testing Plan

Once you know your course line up, you can begin to identify which standardized tests you will take and when.  While colleges are score optional during the pandemic, by the time you are further along in high school that will almost certainly change.  Maximize your testing by thinking ahead.  Subject Tests, AP Tests, IB Tests, ACT or SAT: plan them all in advance.

  1.     Curate Your At-Home Classroom

If your classes are online, it may be difficult to feel as though you are fully in “school mode.” To make the mental shift to your classroom, designate a private, quiet space in your home to use as your workspace. Think about curating an intentional, professional backdrop and commit to making your classroom a “no-phone zone” to avoid distractions. Choose a study area with natural light and find comfortable seating. If possible, this should be a space other than your bedroom. Before the school day begins, switch out of your loungewear or PJs and put on professional attire to signal you are at school. Once in person school fully resumes, maintain this study space for homework if possible.

  1.     Engage in Your Community

Many of our private counseling students were featured in the national press for their initiatives during COVID to help others in unique ways.  They coupled their interests and talents with the needs of their communities and made a concrete impact.  Ask yourself what it is you can offer your immediate community. Think outside your bubble of high school and engage.  You may not be able to volunteer in person during COVID restrictions, but think outside the box and take initiative!  Pick up your pen, lend a hand, bake some cakes, fix a problem, share your talents.

  1.     Master Organization

Successful students are not all just born geniuses, rather they work hard and create a structure and are accountable for themselves. This is your chance to reinvent yourself as a scholar vs the class clown or whatever you felt your identity was in middle school. Complete tasks early and with clarity.

LAUNCH INTO FRESHMAN YEAR

While these 5 tips will launch you into high school with structure and help you become a successful student, following through will also help you prepare for college admissions.

Categories
Admissions BS/MD Programs college admissions Insider Tips Top Tips

Fast Facts: Combined BS/MD Programs

NEWS ALERT…

Washington University in St. Louis is no longer offering their University Scholars Program in Medicine (USPM) due to budgetary restrictions.

Most students apply to medical school after they complete their undergraduate degrees. Others, who have dreamt of being a doctor their whole lives, are ready to commit to a medical program much earlier. If this sounds like you, it is worth researching the 80 or so institutions that offer a combined BS/MD program (or “direct medical program”). This competitive option allows undergraduates to proceed directly into medical school without having to go through a separate admissions process. Once accepted, students can obtain their Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree along with their MD in 7-8 years (depending on the program). Brown is the only Ivy League school to offer this “fast track” to an MD, in partnership with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

BS/MD PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Requirements: The exact requirements and features of these programs vary by school. While “Combined BS/MD Programs” accept high school applicants into the college and medical school at the same time, other programs, “Early Assurance Medical School Programs,” wait to formally admit a student to the medical school until sophomore or junior year. Either way, during the undergraduate portion of the program, students are expected to fulfill the standard pre-med requirements, and are sometimes limited in terms of the majors they can select. Students must also complete their undergraduate studies successfully while maintaining a minimum GPA (at Georgetown, for instance, the minimum GPA is 3.6).

The application materials for these programs can be quite intensive and require a number of secondary essays, similar to the standard med school application process. Brown, for instance, asks three required essay questions for seniors applying to their joint-degree program:

  1. Committing to a future career as a physician while in high school requires careful consideration and self-reflection. What values and experiences have led you to believe that becoming a doctor in medicine is the right fit for you? (250 words)
  2. Most people describe a career as a physician/doctor as a “profession”, beyond a job. Describe for us what “professionalism” and “the profession of a physician/doctor” mean to you. (250 words)
  3. How do you envision the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) helping you to meet your academic personal and professional goals as a person and as a physician of the future? (500 words)

Our senior counselors can help guide you through these essays and offer proven strategies as you craft a compelling application. Click here for more information about our Essay Guidance Package.

In addition to strong essays, you will need to demonstrate significant experience in the medical field such as shadowing a doctor, research and clinical experience, or related volunteer work in addition to high AP and subject test scores (especially in the sciences).

At the Northwestern University Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME), one of the best BS/MD programs, the acceptance rate hovers around 2% (19-23 students per incoming class). The average test scores from the 2018–2019 application season were:

SAT ERW: 762

SAT Math: 792

ACT Composite: 35

SAT Chemistry: 777

SAT Math Level 2: 790

PROS & CONS OF A JOINT DEGREE PROGRAM

Pros: Why should you pursue a joint degree program? If you’re 100% sure you want a career in medicine, this joint program allows you to skip the highly stressful med school application process and guarantees you a spot at a prestigious medical school. This saves significant time and money since you won’t need to visit schools for interviews later on. Additionally, most schools that offer this program don’t require their students to take the MCAT, which alleviates a significant source of stress.

Cons: College is often a time to explore a range of academic interests and take advantage of a flexible curriculum. By committing to a medical program so early, you are limiting your ability to take a diverse array of classes or change your career path. You are also no longer able to apply to some of the best medical schools in the nation (Harvard, Stanford, etc.) since you will have already committed elsewhere.

TOP FIVE BS/MD PROGRAMS

TOP FIVE EARLY ASSURANCE PROGRAMS 

Who’s eligible? Middlebury College and Dartmouth College Students

Who’s eligible?  Georgetown undergraduates only. Must be in your fourth semester at Georgetown and completed 4 of 5 pre-med courses by the end of May (one of the four completed courses must be Organic Chemistry).

Who’s Eligible? Tufts University sophomores. Tufts also offers an early assurance program for their Maine Track program, which is focused on rural medicine. Students who are sophomores at Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, and all University of Maine campuses are eligible to apply.

Who’s Eligible? Undergraduates at Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Carleton College, Colgate University, CUNY Hunter, Hamilton College, Haverford College, Middlebury College, Swarthmore College, Williams College, and Xavier University of Louisiana. Students apply in May-June following sophomore year.

Who’s Eligible? Wake Forest undergraduates only. Note: EAP acceptance is conditional upon completing the MCAT with 509 or higher prior to matriculation.

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Top Tips Transfer Admissions

Transfer Tips: Make the Most of Freshman Year

Are you working on your college transfer applications, or considering the transfer process? If so, you are not alone, and it’s not too late! Roughly 4 in 10 college students will transfer schools, sometimes more than once, in order to find the best fit. As March transfer deadlines rapidly approach, it’s important to stay organized as you tackle the many components of these applications (are your scores up to date? Have you created a transfer account with the Common App? Do you know how to request your transcripts?). As a potential transfer student, you won’t get the same benefit of the doubt as you did when you applied to college while in high school. Admissions officers want to see concrete evidence that you have made meaningful contributions to your current college and that you are working towards clear academic goals. With this in mind, here are 5 tips to ensure you’re making the most of freshman year to be a competitive transfer applicant!

TOP 5 COLLEGE TRANSFER TIPS

  1. Go to Office Hours

If you’re currently enrolled in large, introductory classes, it may feel intimidating to visit your professor’s office. The best way to secure a glowing recommendation on your transfer applications, however, is to ensure your professors know who you are and can speak to the ways you’ve made an effort in their class, regardless of your current performance. Additionally, most professors include class participation/attendance as a percentage of your final grade, and a few visits to office hours is a great (and easy) way to boost this score. If your professor has office hours by appointment only, don’t hesitate to reach out and coordinate a convenient time to stop by and introduce yourself. You can think of a specific question about an assignment or simply continue a conversation that began in class. Whatever you do, do not use office hours to argue your grade or ask your professor why you didn’t earn an A. Your interactions with faculty should, above all, demonstrate your love of learning and not come across as grade grubbing.

TTA Tip: Not sure what to say during your meeting or how to begin your conversation? Do a quick Google search to find a recent article that relates to topics you’ve covered in class and bring it with you. Professors love to see how you’re making connections between their lectures and the “real world.”

  1. Stay Involved

After four years of high school, where you were kept busy with countless extracurricular activities and an overbooked class schedule, college may feel like the time to sit back and enjoy your free time. If you are unhappy at your current school and know you want to transfer, it may be especially difficult to motivate to join the community in a meaningful way. As part of your transfer application, however, you need to make the case that you have taken advantage of every opportunity available at your current institution. If possible, find ways to demonstrate leadership freshman year through academic clubs and research opportunities. The more you can do now to prove you’re a serious student on a specific academic path, the better!

  1. Seek Out Enrichment

Maybe you’re looking to transfer because your current college lacks the major that interests you most. Instead of giving up, or holding out for a new curriculum at a new school, use this winter to sign up for an online course. This demonstrates your academic commitment, your scholarly aptitude, and your willingness to find enrichment opportunities even when they’re not readily accessible on campus. Not sure where to start? We love Coursera, Yale Open Courseware, and the Great Courses.

  1. Don’t Forget the Paperwork

Most colleges accept the Common App for Transfer, which includes a number of forms you will need to complete as part of your application. Other schools (like Columbia) only take the Coalition Application and some schools (like Georgetown) use their own application portal. Be sure to plan accordingly and create accounts for these platforms. In terms of paperwork, some forms will need to be signed by college official(s) who have access to your academic and disciplinary records. This can take time, so don’t delay!

Double check each college’s transfer webpage for an exact list of application requirements, but you can anticipate needing to submit the following items:

  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Official high school transcript
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Two instructor evaluations from faculty who have taught you at your current college
  • The College Report
    • Once you fill out your section of this report, you need to give the form to a dean, advisor, or other college official and ask them to complete the academic portion of the form.
  • The Midterm Report
    • After you complete all the relevant questions, you will need to give this form to instructors whose courses you are enrolled in at the time you file your application and ask them to provide a general indication of your performance, including your current grade and (if they wish) additional comments.
  1. Write Compelling Essays

Finally, after your scores and grades put you in range, your essays will set your application apart and improve your odds of admission. For transfer applicants, the essays play a particularly important role since they help demonstrate how serious you are about a particular school and the concrete ways you would contribute to a new college community. In other words, admissions officers want to know you would hit the ground running if they were to accept you.

TTA Tip: Our College Transfer Essay Program, works well for students who want to focus on the essays themselves. This package includes 5 or 10 hours of essay guidance with our Transfer Specialist.

TRANSFER GUIDANCE? WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED

Interested in transfer guidance? Not sure where to start? We would be happy to help you identify schools in range and guide you through the essay process. The Transfer Analysis and Guidance package includes an assessment of your admissions chances, a list of target schools, a personalized transfer report, a one-hour phone consultation, 3 hours of essay guidance, and the Top Tier Admissions Transfer e-Guide.

Questions? Contact us today!

Categories
college gifts Top Tips

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Parents and the Students They Love

We’re back with our annual holiday gift guide for students and parents alike! Our end goal for both our own families and our TTA family is one and the same –enrichment and rejuvenation of mind, body and spirit, working to ‘live our/your best lives’ and of course, enjoying the heck out of life. Hopefully this guide provides some stress-free options for you and yours to enjoy this coming year!

TOP TIER’S 2019 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

Stress Relief and Rejuvenation

Huggaroo Neck Wrap

Huggaroo Microwavable Neck Wrap
This wrap can be used hot or cold and wraps around your neck and shoulders like a capelet. Amazing for tension headaches, muscle aches and migraines with the added bonus of herbal aromatherapy built in!

Tata Aromatic Mood Collection

Tata Harper Aromatic Mood Collection
This organic line is from Vermont and we feel relaxed just thinking about these scents.

Stress Balls

Stress Ball – 3 Pak
Yup, need to have one next to your computer.

Stress Less Cards

Stress Less Cards
As their description indicates, “these cards are your first aid kit for reducing stress” and with 50 mindfulness and meditation exercises included, we’ve no doubt your mind, body and spirit will be feeling better in no time!

Liquid Multimineral Sleep

Liquid Sleep Multimineral
No kidding, this stuff works and magnesium is good for the brain.

Portable White Noise Machine

Portable White Noise Machine
This portable sound machine is perfect for home, travel or the office! The earphone jack allows you to create your own sanctuary of quiet while working and traveling and with 30 soothing sounds and 32 different volume levels you’ll find the perfect melody to send you off to sleep.

Lavender Essential Oil Patches sleep

Lavender Sleep Comfort Essential Oil Body Patches
These aromatherapy body patches made in Vermont are the real deal and will help you rest easy and relax!

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Research says that all our technology does a number on our sleep.  Pop these on as the sun goes down and see if your sleep improves.

Healthy Living

Nutribullet Pro 

NutriBullet Pro
Can you say “healthy smoothies” in a flash. Add greens, fruit, plant milk and nut butter to make a delicious and healthy breakfast on the go. This one even comes with a hard cover recipe book!

blender bottle

BlenderBottle Radian Glass Shaker Bottle
Drink your water in stainless steel not plastic. Better for you and better for our environment!

Wildway Healthy Granola

Healthy Granola
100% real food and the perfect snack on the go or addition to your yogurt!

Stocking Stuffers

Smartish iPhone Wallet Case

Smartish iPhone Wallet Case
For the student or parent who likes to travel light! Carry only the essentials (3 cards and cash) and still have everything you need!

Portable iPhone Charger

Portable Charger
Charge your iPhone, iPad, Android or Bluetooth speakers with this portable charger. It comes with a built-in lighting and micro-USB cable plus an open USB port and can charge up to three devices at once. Small enough to carry in your coat pocket! KEY for keeping stress down knowing you can charge up anytime.

Tile Sticker

Tile Sticker
If you have a student who tends to lose things, look no further than the tile sticker! These small, waterproof Bluetooth trackers adhere to most anything. ‘Ring your things’ by using your phone to make your tile ring. Works within a 150-foot range.

Books To Inspire

I'm Proud Of You - Fred Rogers Book 

I’m Proud of You: My Friendship With Mr. Rogers
This is a touching story of a true friendship between two men.

The Uninhabitable Earth book

The Uninhabitable Earth
David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth is a book that breaks your heart when the facts of climate change are so clearly laid out. That said, it’s a must read for everyone and especially teenagers who can take action now.

Game Changers - Dave Asprey

Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life
Based off Dave Asprey’s interviews with hundreds of cutting-edge innovators and thinkers, Game Changers offers proven ways to become smarter, faster, and happier. Inspiring for teens and parents.

Talking to Strangers - Malcolm Gladwell

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know
Loved this latest book by Malcolm Gladwell – thought provoking.

Character Counts

Crane Co. Thank You Cards 

Thank You Cards
Have these on hand so you can easily jot a handwritten note to thank a teacher for writing your college recommendation or a friend’s parent who went out of her way to drive you to an event.  Make old fashioned note writing a habit.

The 5-Minute Journal

The Five-Minute Journal
Writing down your gratitudes each day doesn’t take much time, but can shift your mindset.

Time To Chill

Big Joe Bean Bag Chair

Big Joe Milano Bean Bag Chair
Seeking a comfy spot to head with your laptop to finish your chem homework or just to read your book? Look no further than Big Joe!

Portable WiFi Mini Projector

Nebula Capsule, Portable WiFi Mini Projector
A bit on the pricy side but worth it if you enjoy the movies or even just Seinfeld reruns! Older kids can transform their dorm room into a private home theatre with this portable WiFi mini projector.

Weighted Blanket

Weighted Blanket
Many of our students say having a weighted blanked does help them relax more deeply than they ever expected.

The Cookbook For Teens

The Cookbook for Teens
Become a whiz in the kitchen with this incredibly simple cook book created for teens and novice chefs alike. Do not leave for college without being able to cook yourself a decent (simple) meal or three!

College Admissions Guidance

The Years That Matter Most - College Makes or Breaks

The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us
One of the best books about not just college but the College Board and testing – this year’s “must read.”

A Is For Admission

A Is For Admission
Dive into the murky world of college admissions with Michele as she breaks the ancient code of silence to reveal the inner workings of the most highly selective colleges with the best-selling A Is For Admission. Thorough, direct and written for results, this is a great stocking stuffer for students and parents!

Don't Worry, You'll Get In

Don’t Worry, You’ll Get In
For winning tips for stress-free college admissions, look no further than Don’t Worry, You’ll Get In. Filled with practical advice from Mimi and Michele, this is a great stocking stuffer for students and parents!

Top Tier’s Essay Guidance Program & Common App 911
We consider these the gifts that keep on giving… if your student missed the early round consider our 2-hr step-by-step walkthrough of the Common App coupled with our 5- or 10-hours of virtual, one-on-one essay guidance with our expert writers.

Outdoor Enthusiasts

Are you an outdoor gear person who ventures out in winter (A LOT) like Michele? In keeping with the season, she wanted to share some of her cold-weather favorites that help keep her warm in the coldest weather. If your kids or you ski or do anything outside in the cold, don’t miss out!

Crowley Compression Merino Wool Tights 

Women’s Crowley Compression Merino Wool Tights
Outside Magazine’s Gear of the Year choice and one of Michele’s personal favorites. “I run/walk outside in Vermont’s winter climate and stay warm. Size up one size!” There are less pricy versions of these as well to try but there’s a reason these were named Best Women’s Running Gear of 2020!

RAB Jacket

RAB
Check out RAB for their awesome gear that excels in cold weather and is Michele’s staple for all winter adventures – check out their jackets!

Icebreaker Top

Icebreaker
Check them out for the best merino from New Zealand, Michele’s “go to” base layers for top and bottom.

Norrona
Norwegians know cold weather—Michele owns a ton of pieces by Norrona and they are among the most technical pieces she owns, perfect for all winter adventures.

Nokian Studded Winter Tire

Nokian Studded Winter Tires
Driving outside in winter? Make sure you have Nokian (Finnish) snow tires- everyone else will wonder why you aren’t sliding off the road!

Have any great gift ideas of your own you’d like to share? Be sure to mention them in the comments so we can check them out!

Happy Shopping!