In 2008, Steve Lake visited his 500th college campus, a quest he unknowingly began on his honeymoon in 1984. Five years after his "retirement" from designating vacation trips specifically to visit college campuses, Lake will be at Park City High School (PCHS) to share his wealth of knowledge with students and parents.

This is Lake's seventh year travelling to Park City for vacation during the summer season. While he has presented and lectured several times here, it has always been about gambling: he has just recently retired after 20 years as a pit boss at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nev.

Nancy Michalko, Scholarship Advisor at PCHS, "lured him in" to present at the school by speaking with him about her own extensive college-visit experiences.

"I've visited over 300 colleges, but not anywhere near as in-depth as Steve," said Michalko. "We are just so lucky to live in this beautiful resort town that Lake will be visiting and is generous enough to donate his time to speak to our students and their parents."

Michalko came to PCHS from higher education, having worked as a fundraiser for universities like Yale, the University of Buffalo, and West Virginia.

This presentation is the first of several monthly lectures Michalko has set up for PCHS seniors throughout the rest of the year. She said that the effort to get them graduated and apply to college begins when they enter PCHS as sophomores.

Once they are seniors, they are required to attend "Senior Seminar.


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" Each senior English class met in the lecture hall to speak with Michalko and other faculty members about college last Thursday and Friday.

"We start college visits all over the country from September to December," said Michalko. "There is an intense senior focus at this school."

Michalko hopes that Lake will broaden students' horizons in terms of venturing out of state for college. While most students gravitate toward schools along the West Coast, Michalko wants to get students thinking about going to school all across the rest of the country.

In that regard, Lake is planning to offer parents and students several tips that they might not have considered before. He believes the key to getting into college, besides good grades and test scores, is standing out.

"Arrange appointments with professors in the courses for their possible majors if you can," said Lake. "When they get home, have them write a hand-written note to thank them for their time."

Expressing this interest is a sure-fire way to leave a lasting impression on a professor who may let the dean or the admissions board know that your child is going the extra mile to attend that college, he said.

Michalko believes that successfully graduating from college is all about "fit," which means that a student must love the program, the place the college is located, and the people that attend the college. If they enjoy all of those things, it is much more likely that they will finish and graduate, she said.

"Most parents will take their kids on the official college tour while visiting, but I would encourage parents to consider letting their kids stay on campus for a day or two," said Lake. "Have them pick up a school newspaper or local newspaper or read it online."

Lake believes this is the best way to get a feel for that school and discover whether or not it is the right "fit," Michalko's "key to success."

Lake will offer more tips and advice for students and parents in the lecture hall at PCHS today, Wednesday Sept. 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.