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  • Rebecca Joseph

    Title: Executive Director & Founder

    Company: getmetocollege.org

    • verified

    Years of Experience
    20

    Colleges I Attended
    Harvard (BA) Towson (MAT) UCLA (PhD)
    Degrees
    Doctoral Degree, Professional Degree
    Certifications
    UCLA Certificate in College Counseling
    Professional Affiliations
    NACAC, WACAC, NCTE, AERA
    About Me
    I believe all kids should have the option to go to college. I train urban teachers and counselors and am a national expert on writing powerful college application essays. I devote my services to helping all students make it to and through college and have a private college counseling practice as well. I work with high school and transfer students.You can learn more about how to get to and through college at getmetocollege.org. I also have an IPhone app--All College Application Essays--that lists

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

       

      TOURS--Don't judge a college by its tour guides. Not all tour guides are created equal. If the tour guide is a dud--leave the tour and go off on your own. Don't count out a campus because of that. On all tours, see what else is going on around campus. Plan on going back and visiting. Perhaps classes are getting out and you can go speak with kids. Maybe there is an activity going on in the quad. After tours and info sessions, plan on spending some time on your own (away from family and friends) exploring the campus. INFO Sessions-Go with a list of questions to info sessions and listen to what other people ask as well. Introduce yourself after the info session and get the card of the presenter. Perhaps that person can introduce you to some professors or programs on campus.

    • Are there activities/organizations that impress highly selective colleges?

       

      i think colleges are more impressed by passions rather than activities/organizations. I do believe they want to see you doing authentic activities rather than paying for expensive programs that are just for privileged kids. Please find internships and other ways to get experience. Please join non-profits that do work that you share. Please start your own business or student organization. Please try something you never thought of trying. That is what matters. Selective colleges want kids who are deeply involved and committed to pushing themselves and their communities.

    • Can colleges revoke admissions offers? What behaviors can cause this, and how can students protect themselves?

       

      Yes, yes, yes. I have seen it happen. Colleges do revoke admissions if you do something to break their faith in you. 1. A huge drop in grades senior year has led to colleges revoking admissions. 2. An arrest or a huge behavior problem at school can also lead to problems. 3. Lying on applications can lead to colleges taking back offers. Schools understand senioritis, but they don't understand kids who enter what I term "black holes" senior year. So PLEASE, please make sure you don't collapse. I have seen kids get offers revoked and then have no place to attend other than a community college. Don't let that happen to you.

    • Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

       

      Sadly, for many private colleges that are struggling financially, yes your ability to pay matters. They ask for this information on their applications and take it into consideration when admitting students. Other colleges are need blind and do not take your family's finances into consideration. These colleges are fewer and fewer. Public universities do not typically evaluate students based on who can pay full tuition, yet many are admitting larger numbers of international and out of state students who pay significantly more tuition than those in state.

    • Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

       

      No, prep school students do not have an automatic advantage. In fact, the majority of kids who attend colleges--all colleges--come from public schools. Prep school kids do have advantages--more contact with their college counselors, smaller counselor to student ratios, more access to test prep, more access to school organized college tours and more. Public school kids often have to do more on their own, so that's why sites like Unigo are great.

    • Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

       

      Yes, wealthy children do not have to worry about financial aid and can make college application and acceptance decisions based on pure desire. They can visit colleges, pursue amazing activities at home and away from home. Also colleges that are not need blind often accept kids that don't require financial sooner than kids who do as that enables them to offer aid to other students.So yes, life always gives advantages to rich kids.

    • Has social media impacted the way colleges communicate with students?

       

      Absolutely. Colleges use all means possible to communicate with students. They use FB, Twitter, and other social media to communicate what is new, what is cool, and what is great about their campuses. They provide immediacy, and are some of the only ways to get in touch with the college's future customers. The more colleges rely on effective social media the more they can help attract potential students.

    • How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

       

      You build a good relationship by following all of your counselor's requirements. Attend all required meetings, complete all required tasks, and then begin to personalize your interactions. Go visit your counselor once or twice a month. Ask different questions about colleges, classes, summer programs, or more. Don't be a pest but try your best to get your counselor to know you as much as possible because counselors write letters of recommendations for you. Always focus on strengths and try not to focus on negatives with counselors. Ask for advice and try your best to thank your counseor as often as possible.

    • How do you go about contacting alumni from a school you're interested in?

       

      Alumni can provide all kinds of great info and access to colleges. First see if you or anyone in your family, community, or school knows alumni. If not, go to the college's website and see if they offer alumni interviews. That way you will meet an alumni anyway. You can also attend local college fairs as many times alumni staff them. If you want more, you can contact the college and ask to be introduced to an alumni with your interests in your area. You can also use Facebook or twitter to track down alumni. Alumni, especially recent ones, can really help you learn about a college.

    • How do you know if community college is right for you?

       

      Community college is often the second chance that many students need to make up for a tough high school experience. Other times it is for kids whose families are experiencing tough economic times or who are wary of letting them go away to college. Yet you must be more organized and tough than ever to go. You need to be willing to go to more than one community college to get the right classes you need. You need to get involved in jobs, activities, and service. You need to take classes that fulfill GE and major requirements. You must enroll in classes as soon as possible and get to know some professors. You need to form study groups and be pro-active. You can do it!!!

    • How should you approach a college visit as an accepted student?

       

      Pretend you are going to attend that college. Then visit classes, spend the night in a dorm with a current freshman or sophomore. Eat in the cafeteria, meet with different people on campus, and get a feel for what your life will be like. Remember that you will spend four years at this college. Do you think you may outgrow it? Can you change majors? Ask the key questions that matter. The admissions officers are there to help you decide so they will help connect you with all kinds of people. Also see who else you may know at the campuses to help make your visit truly personal.

    • Is it better to stick close to home or go to school far away?

       

      Should I stay or should I go? These are questions that only you can answer. Some kids like to stay close to home so they can have mom do laundry, visit easily on weekends, or even live at home. Others like to venture further away and explore a new area of the country, live in dorms, and take advantage of amazing learning opportunities. I get sad when kids stick close to home because parents want them to. Of course, finances play an issue but there are many ways to finance attending a college that is further away. I believe kids should be able to go away and experience the joy of learning at the best college for them. Dorm life is unique and attending the best college for you is the goal. If you need help convincing your parents to let you go away, let us know. We have plenty of parents who have taken the big step and will speak with you or your parents.

    • Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

       

      First, be proud of yourself for getting into colleges that match your talents and interests. Next, eliminate the colleges you know you don't want to attend. Let them know so they can accept kids off of their waitlists. Then there are several things you need to do. 1. Finances. Did any of the colleges give you better aid packages? Talk with your family about how finances play a part in your decision. 2. Talk to kids who attend the college from your city or high school. Ask them about what makes the college a good fit for them. 3. Attend local admit events. You can meet people from the college--alumni, current students, admissions officers--you can help you. 4. VISIT. Please, please visit...spend the night in a dorm. visit classes and events. Research academic strengths, social life on and off campus, and support programs. 5. Then come home and make a list, a chart, a plan. YOU CAN CHOOSE THE RIGHT COLLEGE. This college will provide access to programs and people that will change your life for the better.

    • What are freshman retention rates and why do they matter?

       

      Do freshmen come back? Freshman retention rates measure how many freshmen come back after the first year. This rate is important for many reasons. I work at a university where many students struggle in remedial courses freshmen year. They often leave and go to a community college and then come back. That is usually the reason kids leave. These rates matter as they also mean kids are coming and going and that can make making friends a challenge. But I rarely see this affect kids at most competitive colleges.

    • What are some tips for college visits?

       

      Make the most of your visits by trying to see what the campus has to offer you-academically, socially, and with activities, sports, and service. Go beyond the basics of tours and info sessions by walking around campus. Talk to students. Try to visit with anyone you know on campus. Spending the night in a dorm is awesome. Based on your interests, you can see if you can visit classes, meet with professors or coaches, and attend sports or theatrical events. If you can interview while there, even better. Remember to take notes and collect cards from anyone you meet. Always, always write thank you notes. But one final tip: please visit while the college is in session. Empty campuses or campuses filled with high school programs are not he same as an in-session visit.

    • What are the best ways to navigate a college's website?

       

      College websites are so different. Some are very user friendly, while others require patience. If you are writing a college app essay about a college, using the website can really help you. First, go to academics. Follow the academic links to programs that interest you. Find courses, professors, and programs that sound intriguing. If you're not sure about academics, search first year programs and see what kinds of freshman seminars and other programs they offer. Also search for student life and find out about community service and other extracurricular activities. Look for current info as many student groups are outdated. You can also research club and intramural sports. Finally, look for blogs. Many colleges are now posting student blogs about all kinds of topics. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to explore each college's website. It's worth the time.

    • What are the most important factors to consider when choosing a college?

       

      Can you imagine yourself being happy there for four years? That is the first question you should ask. Can you see yourself making friends, taking great classes, getting involved in amazing activities? Can you see yourself as part of the community? What does the college do to help freshmen get involved and connected? What does it do to help you progress all four years? These and many other questions can help kids decide. VISITING is key as it helps kids SEE. Also finances often play a deciding factor. Is one school offering you so much more financially that it becomes your top choice?

    • What do college students wish they'd done differently in high school?

       

      So many college students wish they could go back in time and change one or two major things. Some would say I just wish I had taken 9th grade more seriously. Others say I wish I had used my summers more productively and gotten even more active in extracurriculars and community service. While even others wish they had taken harder classes and gotten help earlier in the year when challenges in key classes occur. Finally others wish they had taken their SAT and ACT readiness more seriously. You can make a change. Follow passions. Take your work and life seriously. Don't look back with any regrets.

    • What if you can't visit a school?

       

      With transportation costs, schedules, and the economy, many colleges know you can't visit. But you can establish contact in so many other ways. Most colleges go on the road in the fall and spring. They visit your cities-schools, hotels, college fairs. Find a way to go to one of these events. Many schools offer alumni interviews in your area. Some are now even offering Skype interviews. These interviews help you demonstrate your interest for the college. College fairs are another great option. Now, if you can't do any of these, use the Internet. Go online and find the admissions officer in charge of your area and send him or her an email expressing your interest and asking some very specific questions. They can connect you with students and professors and help you get to know the college better. You can demonstrate your interest in so many ways.

    • What is "need blind" and "need sensitive" admissions?

       

      Simple. Need blind= colleges do not look at your finances when making admissions decisions. Need sensitive= colleges consider your finances when making admissions decisions. Despite this--you still need to pay for the colleges via scholarships, grants, work-study, loans, and family finances.

    • What should students consider when choosing between a small and large school?

       

      You can make a large school smaller but you can't make a small school bigger. This rule is fairly true. At a large school, you can take advantage of a myriad of resources and have all kinds of academic options. You can join activities and social organizations to help make the university smaller. You can also run the risk of having graduate students teach some classes and may not be able to live on campus all four years. Small colleges are perfect for someone who wants a truly personalized education. You can get access to professors and intense programming. You most likely can live in the dorms as long as you want. You will know pretty much everyone on campus and have an amazing time. So make a list of what you want and see what each campus has to offer.

    • Who should come with you on college visits?

       

      If you are visiting a campus far from home, it's ideal to go with a parent. Your parent can go on the the tour and info session with you and then disappear for the rest of your visit. Parents are great at arranging tours and coordinating how many schools you can see during a trip. They can also rent cars and help with travel arrangementse. Sometimes, they help to remember things on a campus visit and to ask some helpful questions. If not, go with a friend. But remember, to get to your appointments on time and visit all kinds of great places on campus. Take some time to explore the neighborhood around the college and even visit the dorms. ALWAYS take notes so you can use them later on in the campus process.

    • Can what I post on Facebook affect my chances of getting accepted?

       

      There is no more privacy-is there? If admissions officers have time to look at your pages, they have too much time on their hands. They should recognize that you are a teenager and do things teenagers do There are things you can do to protect your privacy. First of all, until you are admitted, change your FB name. Get rid of your last name or make a cute name. Second. make your page and all pictures and videos private to anyone who doesn't know you. Third, use a different email address for colleges than the one you used to set up your FB page. Fourth. HIDE YOURSELF. No one who doesn't know you should ever be able to see you. I've never heard of anyone get rejected from a college because of a FB posting.

    • We don't have time or money to visit some schools I’m really interested in. What can I do?

       

      Kids frequently get into colleges they don’t visit, yet colleges take demonstrated interest very seriously. You are lucky as many colleges send representatives to visit schools, college fairs, and hotels in your area. ATTEND!!! Ask questions and introduce yourself. Get the representative’s card. Send an email explaining what you learned, offering more about yourself, and asking a detailed question that requires a response. Request an alumni interview and “like” the college on FB. Talk with friends who attend that college. Finally, spend great care with an essay asking you to describe why you and a college are a good match.

    • What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

       

      Goldilocks found the perfect porridge, chair, and bed. And you can find the perfect colleges to put on your list. A good place to start is Steven Antonoff’s book, College Finder. It lists colleges under every conceivable category. Look at the categories and then go explore the colleges. You can start in your own area to see whether you like city, suburban, or rural locations. Think about size and cost. Think about closeness to home and weather. Think about the match to your academic and extracurricular strengths. You can develop a great list and go from there.

    • If I haven’t found the right extracurriculars, can I still appear to be a dedicated student?

       

      Colleges want kids who are active during high school and will contribute in significant ways to their campuses. They seek consistency, development, leadership, and initiative. Stick with one or two things and explore them. Take a risk and add a new twist to an existing activity. Sharon rode horses and noticed that the stables threw out the horse poop. So she convinced the stables to use the poop as fertilizer and to give the excess to local farmers and residents. Jackson volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and noticed the need for ESL classes for the residents so he developed a pilot program.

    • What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

       

      On her campus tour, Lisa saw that her tour guide was not wearing any shoes—neither were hundreds of other kids on campus—as the students were sharing their passion for a particular injustice in the world. Lisa asked more questions on the tour and during her interview and later back home, wrote about amazing connections between her and the campus. Students often don’t spend enough time getting to know the colleges on their lists. Many colleges count demonstrated interest and even have college specific questions on their college applications. Students need to learn much as possible about colleges. Lisa did and the college agreed.

    • What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?

       

      That college is not affordable is an exaggerated myth for many students. Low-income students can find colleges all around the country that seek them and will pay the majority of their expenses. MIddle class students can find inter-state consortiums and apply to schools that have merit scholarships. The more strategic you are, the more options you will have.

    • I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I’m there?

       

      You only have so much time during a campus visit. So use your time wisely. You need to check in the office of admissions so they know you were there. Ideally. 1. Go on a campus tour and info session. 2. Book an interview if possible. 3. Spend the night in the dorm...many colleges offer this to seniors in the fall. If you know someone who goes to the school, even better. 4. Visit some targeted classes-a seminar in a content you like or a regular lecture class. 5. Eat in the cafeteria. 6. Talk with students you meet on campus. 7. Go see a professor you've made an earlier appointment with. 8. Just chill in the quad and take it all in. 9. Go to a sporting or theatrical event. 10. Always take notes and grab business cards so you can write thank you and follow up emails when you get home. Then save up your notes to write a great targeted application essay about why the college is a great fit.

    • Tuition aside, what benefits and drawbacks exist by going to school in-state vs. out-of-state?

       

      Geographic, financial, and familial boundaries often determine where students attend college. In-state costs of public universities are often ½ to ¾ of out-of-state public or private colleges. However, many public universities have hiked costs in this economy, so some out-of-state and private colleges are powerful choices. Did you know many states participate in consortiums of colleges that reduce out-of-state costs (e.g. the Western Undergraduate Exchange)? Yet choosing a college should center on fit--academic, social, size, spirit, extracurricular. And sometimes out-of-state private and public colleges offer merit scholarships that make them financially possible. So discuss these possibilities early and often.

    • What are the main differences between large public universities and small liberal arts colleges?

       

      The main difference is cost and access to resources. Large public universities, especially for in-state students, are much more affordable. They come with risks during these tough economic times---larger class sizes, limited classes, overwhelmed professors and campus workers, and tuition increases each year. At larger public universities, students must be independent. They need to find communities right away and establish connections as many kids live off campus. I recommend joining a frat or major activity right away. At small liberal arts colleges, the campuses make kids feel at home with smaller class sizes, dorms that kids live in for 2-4 years, and all kinds of resources. Professors at small liberal arts colleges focus even more on undergraduates.

    • How many colleges should I apply to? How many reaches? Safety schools?

       

      It's not the number--it's the type of colleges. Most students should have an equal number of reach, stretch, 50-50, and likely schools. If your list is top heavy, then you will need to have more colleges on your list. Start with 8 to 10 colleges and see if that's enough. If it's not, then add on. The online process makes it easier, but applying to colleges takes time and lots of effort. Don't apply to any college, you would absolutely never attend. That's one wasted effort.

    • How do I choose between two very similar schools?

       

      First, be happy that you have this challenge. Make a chart of pros and cons. Look at location, programs, social life, etc. Is one dramatically more expensive than the other. Is one closer to a city? Go back to each campus and spend time in classes, dorms, and activities. If you still can't decide, then pretend for one entire day you are going to one of the schools. How does it feel? Then do the same for the second. I worked with a girl who couldn't make up her mind until the last day. She flipped a coin, and then realized she knew which one to accept. She and the other kids who have been in this lucky situation, always wind up at the right school. .

    • What are the most important questions to ask a tour guide on a college visit?

       

      The most important questions to ask on a college visit are questions that are important to you. Don't hog the tour and share the space. Tour guides love their campuses and can even give you suggestions about what else to do while on campus.

    • What exactly are the differences between early action and early decision?

       

      EARLY ACTION=NOT BINDING. EARLY DECISION: BINDING. Many kids want to apply early and find out out from a college. Students typically apply in October and November and find out before Christmas. If they apply EARLY DECISION, they must attend that college and pull out applications from others. EARLY ACTION applicants, do not have to attend if they get in. Early applications tend to privilege those who can afford college as Early DECISION is legally binding, and families have to be willing to accept the one financial aid package. They also privilege kids who do not need to rely on senior year fall grades, late fall test scores, and other factors to help promote them. EARLY DECISION acceptance rates tend to be much higher than regular acceptance rates. EARLY ACTION rates are not often that different. So families and kids have major decisions to make.

    • What should I make sure to do and see on a college visit aside from the tour?

       

      I would try to get to know the campus and area around the college as well as possible. You can eat in the cafeteria. You can visit classes or meet with professors. You can even spend a night in the dorms with a current student. You can meet with college officials, attend athletic events, and walk around the campus and speak with students. Do your research and explore the area around the campus---restaurants, stores, etc. See if the campus has any special programs targeted to your interests, culture, and academic passions.

    • What types of students, faculty, and staff should I try and speak with while visiting a college?

       

      Visiting colleges can be so vital in deciding where to apply and ultimately where to attend. Students should try to meet with actual admissions officers for interviews and meetings. They should try to see if faculty in areas that intrigue them are open to meeting. They should stay in dorms or meet up with students who have graduated from their high schools or who host students. Students can also meet with athletic coaches and arts-related professors and staff. Try to create a tour that enables you to truly see what a college is like.

    • Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

       

      Overnight stays are AWESOME. if you can do one during the fall of your senior year that is great. If you know someone at the college, try to stay with him or her. Sophomores and juniors are ideal. If you don't know someone, go through the admissions office. Check out the dorms, go to classes, eat in the cafeteria. Be a real student. You can even meet with professors and coaches. You can write about your visit in college specific essays. Overnight visits are also key for making a decision. If you can't decide where to attend, doing an overnight in the spring of senior is essential in helping make a college come alive for you!!!

    • Should I try and network with admissions officers or professors during a college visit?

       

      The more you get to know a campus and let the campus get to know you the better. So if you can meet with admissions officers during your visit, take the opportunity. Find out the representative in charge of your area and try to make an appointment. If you have academic passions, see if you can meet with professors in that field. Admissions offices can often help you coordinate those contacts. You can also attend classes and even visit a professor during his or her office hours--these are usually posted online. Always follow up with a thank you note and make sure to mention these interactions in your application.

    • In all of your years working with students, what were some of the most unexpected admissions successes you witnessed?

       

      Senior year Bryan got rejected from both USC and UCLA because his test scores were so low they couldn’t make up for great grades and extraordinary activities. After one successful, active year at a private east-coast college, he still wanted to attend UCLA or USC. So he became a swirl. He returned to LA, attended a community college where he joined the Scholars Program, completed all of his transfer requirements, aced his classes, and got a job. Now with no testing requirements, he prepared great new applications and got admitted to both USC and UCLA. College dreams can come true-just at different times.

    • In what cases would you recommend applying early decision?

       

      Apply EARLY DECISION only if: 1. If you LOVE LOVE LOVE the college!!! Applying EARLY DECISION lets them know you want them and only them. 2. If you actually have a shot of getting in. Don't waste an early decision application on a school that you have no chance of getting into. 3. If your record is strong as it is. You don't need December test scores or fall grades. 4. If you don't want to know what other colleges you can get into. 5. If you and your family can afford the college. 6. If you have some connection to the college, and EARLY DECISION is where you get benefits because of that connection.

    • What are the benefits of applying early action or early decision?

       

      There are many benefits. One, if you want to know where you are going early, you can know by Christmas. Applications are due in October or November, and decisions come out in December. If you don't want to apply to a zillion colleges, you can again know by Christmas. EARLY DECISION applicants have fallen in love with a college and commit to attending if they get in. Acceptance rates are usually higher for Early Decision Applicants. Getting in EARLY ACTION, also has benefits. Students who get into a school early, can remove colleges from their regular list that do not really suit them.

    • Do I have a better chance of getting accepted if I apply early action or early decision?

       

      Colleges will say usually say there are no benefits of applying early. That is not true. There are. The research shows that if you apply Early Decision you increase your odds of getting into a target college. Read these stats and see how kids who applied early had higher percent acceptance rates. http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/college-admits-2012/. Since many colleges take up to 40-50% of their class with early applicants and since fewer students apply early, the stats are in your favor. But more and more kids are applying early and more and more kids are getting deferred into the regular pot. So just be prepared. .

    • Is early decision really binding, or can I still get out of it?

       

      EARLY DECISION IS LEGALLY BINDING. There is no real way to get out except if you truly can't afford to go. Then perhaps you would go to a community college or lower level state university as no other private college will allow you to accept once they know you got into EARLY DECISION college. So you need to know that you love the college and that you and your family can afford it. Buyer's remorse is typical, but you need to work your way through it.

    • Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

       

      While more than 500 colleges accept the Common Application, more than 50% create supplements because they want more information. Some of the information is informational, while others are additional short answers or long essays. These essays truly vary. Some are long second responses. Some are "why are you a good fit for us?" Others have short responses that probe different aspect of your experiences and character. View each supplemental essay as a gift. It's another opportunity to share more stories and unique qualities you have to offer a college.

    • What exactly is the common app?

       

      The common application is a beautiful thing. It helps you apply to more than 500 colleges with one master application. It enables you to complete one application with your vital information, activities, and long and short essay. It also enables you now to send in online teacher recommendations. More than half of the schools also have separate supplements you must submit. So in that way the application is also uncommon. Also remember, you don't have to submit test scores or grades through the common app. You submit to each college separately and you need to pay each college separately. So keep a chart and keep track of the application, supplements, and payments.

    • What is the universal application?

       

      The universal application is another free application service. There are more than 70 colleges on the application and some overlap with the common app and some don't. It is basically the same as the original common app, and the essays overlap. Some colleges have supplements. I wish there were only one application as the universal application is confusing to many kids. But it is there, and it is worth doing if more than two colleges use it that are not on any other application service.

    • What are the best ways to stay organized during the application process?

       

      Be patient. Save all usernames and passwords on your computer and on your cell phone. Make sure you have a checklist for each college and all of your high school deadlines. You can be as organized as you need and never stress.

    • Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

       

      You may not like this answer, as there is no clear answer to this question. Colleges are increasingly placing kids on longer and longer waitlists. Yet some schools really draw on waitlists, while others rarely go to them. In this competitive era and access to easy online applications, students apply to many colleges. Yet you can only attend one, so while you accept one, you refuse others. That means that spaces open up at those colleges, and there is a trickle down as kids say no to colleges you may want to attend. However, don't hold your breathe. As colleges draw on waitlists, they often look for kids from certain regions or who can pay entirely. It is sad that colleges now waitlist so many kids as the waiting is agony. And the lists are so long as they place some kids on their not to hurt the feelings of their high school or family. So please find happiness with a school that accepted you outright.

    • What is the difference between regular acceptance and acceptance off of a waitlist?

       

      Acceptance is acceptance. Accepted regular or off a waltlist, you got accepted to the college!! And no one will ever know that you got in off of a waitlist. You are a student at the college with all the rights and privileges of all students. The only difference may be access to freshman housing. As you may have missed the housing deadline, you may go to the end of the housing list. But that is a small price to pay for getting into a college you really want to attend.

    • How do I understand my financial aid package and which tips and tricks can maximize my aid?

       

      Submit your 2010 tax info NOW for the best offers!!! Financial aid packages differ. Make a chart by college of 1) grants and scholarships (free money), 2) loans, 3) family contribution, and 4) your contribution via work. Which colleges give you the most money you don’t have to ever pay back? Private colleges that cost $20K more than public colleges often provide better packages. Explain to your family that loans are tax deductible, low-interest, and safe. Ask colleges if they can match the offers of other colleges. Choose the best college you graduate from with the least amount of debt.

    • How important are standardized test scores compared to other pieces of the application?

       

      In a world where all things are not equal, standardized test scores are the one way many colleges elect to compare students across the country and the world. Sadly these tests do not always reveal how well a student will do in college. But they are here, and we need to realize that they are one of the top factors many colleges use while evaluating students. So students need to find schools that match their scores, and even find ones that do not require them if testing is not their strength. Please realize that your test scores can improve if you are willing and able to get assistance and study. Believe it or not, reading is also one way all students can improve their scores. We need to find ways to get all students access to test prep, however, to truly level the playing field.

    • How can you get in off the wait list?

       

      You can do many things to help set yourself apart from other students on the waitlist. First, make sure to communicate anything new that has happened to you since you first applied to the admissions office. Highlight academic accomplishments, awards, activities, etc. Then have a senior year teacher write you an additional letter of recommendation. Also have your counselor contact the college. Send in a project or paper that you wrote recently that reflects your intellectual or activity strength. Visit the campus after May 1 and check in with the admissions office. Don't overwhelm the college but keep submitting this information until you hear. But remember that none of this means that you will get off the list as it is often factors way beyond your control that affect who gets off a list. You can and will find happiness at another college.

    • How can you get in off the waitlist?

       

      Wait, wait, wait. Be patient as you may not hear until the day before school starts. First of all, select a college to attend from the list of colleges that already accepted you. You should have great choices that are much better than the school that waitlisted you. Second, recognize that most colleges only take 10% or less off of their waitlists so don't take it personally if you don't get in. THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN DO TO INCREASE YOUR ODDS. 1. Write an updated email to the admissions office. Tell them about new and exciting things have happened to you since you applied. Highlight academic achievements, awards, and accomplishments. 2. Ask a senior year teacher to write you an additional letter of recommendation. 3. Visit again, if you have the time--Ideally after May 1, when admissions officers are now looking to waitlists. 4 Have your counselor contact the admissions office. 5. DON'T BE A PEST DON'T EVER HAVE YOUR PARENTS MAKE ANY OF THESE CONTACTS. Recognize, that colleges often take students who can pay outright and other students that meet regional or specific academic needs.

    • What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

       

      Be realistic. The odds of getting accepted from a waitlist or deferral are not high for most colleges. So please, please fall in love with a a college that accepted you. You will have so many great choices. If you do really want to try to get into the waitlisted or deferred college, you can follow my tips---update college of your interest, ask a senior year teacher to send in a letter of recommendation, ask your counselor to call, go visit the campus again, and send in any great paper or project you completed. If you do these things, then you can never regret if you do or don't ultimately get accepted. Every student I know finds happiness at a college that really wants him or her.

    • What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

       

      Do as many free diagnostic tests as possible (outside of your home) to simulate the real SAT experience. Taking the tests more than once benefits many students as senior year is when students’ scores peak.  Classes and private tutors can help; many tutors work with small groups to save costs. For those whose critical reading scores need to rise: read, read, read. The Scarlet Letter is the best book around to develop your SAT vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. For those for whom testing is a challenge: go to fairtest.org to find great colleges that do not require test scores.

    • What's the best way to evaluate an offer of acceptance after being waitlisted?

       

      Do you still love the college? Will you life be so much better there? Can you afford the college? Can you afford to lose the deposit at the school you accepted? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you should consider evaluating the offer of acceptance from a college that waitlisted you. You may need to go and visit again. You will want to find out about housing and access to classes first semester. You will want to compare financial aid packages and talk with your family. Many kids get off waitlists and don't accept the offer as they have fallen in love with a college that accepted them. While others, take the offer and jump.

    • What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

       

      If you can afford it, do it. Test prep matters. It can help with test strategy development, focus on areas of challenge, and so much more. It is not fair as all kids deserve some kind of test prep. The basic form is test prep books. The most sophisticated are group classes and individual tutoring. Find what you can as test prep can help. In this competitive world, do what you can to maximize your test readiness.

    • What are the best ways for students to negotiate their college tuition?

       

      Take a look at each financial aid package you receive. Then contact colleges that did not offer as much and see if they can match the aid you received at another colleges. They are competitive and may offer you more. Be very detailed in what you can offer the college. Also if your family's financial situation has deteriorated, you can file an updated financial aid form this fall and appeal your current package.

    • To find scholarships, where should I look, what's needed of me, and which ones seem craziest?

       

      An under-represented student who wants to pay for college on your own? Crazy scholarships? Yes, they exist…there are some for kids who love to race cars, raise dogs, or whose parents work for certain companies. Start looking for next year but never pay to apply. Remember, colleges want students like you, so find the colleges that cover all of your needs. That’s crazy for your parents because they don’t need to pay anything. Also apply for scholarships that match your race, culture, legal status, and interests. They do exist. I know kids who have paid for college on their own.

    • What are the best ways for students to manage their college expenses?

       

      College students need to make a budget. They should map out the mandatory expenses and put those aside....tuition...fees...rent...food...books...Then they can see what money is left for non-essentials. For students who need some extra money, they can look for jobs on or off campus. But please do not take jobs that interfere with school work or participate in activities, internships, or more. Your job is to go to college.

    • How can students save money during the college search?

       

      They can save money during the college search by never paying money to use any websites. Websites and their resources should be free. They can also attend local college fairs, receptions, and interviews. They can contact current students at a college via Facebook. They can contact admissions reps via email. Diverse students can visit colleges for free during the fall of the senior year. Making sure you use all local resources first is the best. Some money may need to be spent to see colleges up close, but many students can do that when they are accepted.

    • How can students squeeze cash out of their school?

       

      Squeezing money is most likely the wrong term. Maximizing money is what students should look to do. They can be very strategic in getting extra money by 1)applying for scholarships from external sources thus reducing loans, 2)getting jobs on campus and making real cash, and 3)being very careful with their finances and thus having some cash left over for expenses. Applying for campus scholarships is another way to get extra money.

    • What are some convenient, well-paying jobs for students who need to work while in college?

       

      Elsie loves sociology and just got a work-study job helping her SOC 101 professor on a research project. Mike loves helping kids get ready for college and got a campus job working in local high schools and giving tours for the admissions office. Working on campus is ideal as you get to follow passions and build up your resume. You can work your schedule around your class hours. You can work in a coffee shop or a bookstore as well and still get great benefits. Most work study jobs are connected to financial aid but you can exceed the minimum hour requirements.

    • What are some of the most unexpected costs for incoming freshman?

       

      Unexpected expenses occur frequently for college students from where to store their belongings to fixing a busted computer to spending $250 for one textbook. Kids should speak with older students and RAs about strategies. Many of them will have a friend who is local who can store their stuff or they can find a company who specializes in storage. They can get great discounts on new computers and equipment as college students. They can use all kinds of online book rental and used book sites to reduce book costs.

    • How can a student get accepted at Harvard, rejected from Brown, and waitlisted at Yale?

       

      That actually happened to me. I couldn't believe it when it happened more than 30 years ago. After getting over my sadness about Brown and confusion about Yale, I visited Harvard and the other colleges that accepted me. I gladly chose Harvard. Welcome to the agony and ecstasy of applying to Ivy League colleges. They get so many applicants, that they accept form 5.9 to 16% of them. That means that thousands upon thousands of stellar students get rejected. Last year, I had a kid who got into Harvard and Penn but rejected from every other Ivy League college. I had another just accepted to Brown but waitlisted to Harvard and Yale. These two students were and are extraordinary. There is no rhyme or reasons with these top candidates. Each campus is looking for something different, and they can choose from an amazing group of students. Applicants to top colleges should be happy just to get into one top college. I was, and I never looked back.

    • Can students appeal a rejection? Does that ever work?

       

      Yes you can appeal rejections at many colleges. It RARELY works. I only recommend that students appeal if some key evidence was missing from the original application. Did you forget to send test scores? Did a teacher neglect to send a letter? Did you leave some activity or accomplishment off of your application? I had a kid win an appeal by connecting with a particular department that really wanted him. I suggest that you send in any additional materials the college allows you to submit with an appeal. Then I recommend you move on as appeals rarely work but at least you know you tried.

    • If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

       

      I have seen this approach work in several instances. It truly depends on some key factors. How strong was your original application? Does the campus still require SAT scores (key if your scores were low)? Do the college take many transfer students? Can you do more to strengthen your application to meet the standards of your top choice? If you think you can make yourself qualify even more for the college--then go for it.

      That means you need to get busy. Your senior year grades must be high. Your summer after senior year must be busy with work or service. Your freshman year of college becomes your junior year of high school all over again. You MUST do well in your classes. You must get very busy and engaged on campus. You must go back and visit your top choice and fulfill all the transfer requirements. Some schools won't require SATs after 30 units, but some will. If tests scores were your nemesis and the school still requires them, then I'm sorry. Barring that, I work with kids all the time who get into their top college as sophomore or junior transfers.

    • I was rejected from my top school and waitlisted at my second choice. How do I pick a backup?

       

      Ideally, you applied to a nice range of colleges. I have many kids to whom this happens and they end up better than kids who got into their top school. Look at the colleges on your list and go visit. I had a girl do this and she fell in love with a university that was originally a back up. Many backups have better programs, campuses, and opportunities. You need to give colleges a chance.

    • How can students make the most of their second choice?

       

      Second choices are often best choices. I have worked with so many kids who don't get into their top, top choice college, BUT they NEVER look back. They realize their second choice has everything they want. They find great academic resources, amazing activities, and truly remarkable and fun friends. In fact, most second choice colleges are truly the top colleges for these students.

    • How important is selectivity in evaluating colleges?

       

      You should be as selective as selective colleges. Selectivity means how hard a college is to get into. It is determined by the number of applicants/numbers of acceptances. Some colleges are highly selective, while some are not. That does not always mean the quality is less with less selective colleges. You should match yourself to colleges that meet your qualifications and needs. Have a variety of colleges on your list. You should be selective to in which colleges you elect to apply to.

    • What makes a great college essay?

       

      A great college essay grabs your attention from the first sentence. It takes readers into, through, and beyond the story in 500 words or less. A great essay tells a a unique story that communicates key qualities you can offer the college. That is why a great college essay is personal.This great essay is very visual and helps make you become 3-D for the reader. It starts right away with a specific story from running a marathon in the rain to spilling water on customers--twice-- and keeps us engaged from the first word to the last. You can contact me for samples as I collect great essays from the students with whom I work.

    • How important is the essay?

       

      College application essays are the one thing high school seniors have complete control over senior year. They do not guarantee admissions to your top colleges, but they certainly help break ties and can tip you in. I just presented with an admissions officer from the University of Michigan, who said essays make students pop off the page and become 3-D for colleges. Essays are fourth in importance--behind grades, test scores, and rigor of your high school program--for many admissions offices. But so many kids squander this opportunity to focus on stories that reveal their leadership and initiative. Admissions officers get so bored reading many essays. Use this opportunity to sell yourself and tip yourself into many of your match colleges.

    • How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

       

      The college essay should complement the rest of the application. It should not repeat what is clearly present in other parts. It should provide a great opportunity for the reader to see the applicant as a living, breathing student who will make a great contribution to the college if admitted. It should connect to who you really are and help the admissions officers see you in real life. That's why the best college essays help complete a great application.If necessary, this essay can truly help the admissions officer understand some deeply personal issues. I recommend that you think deeply about how this essay will strengthen your application without ever making anyone worry about you.

    • What are some tips regarding video essays?

       

      Be creative. Be unique. Don't spend lots of money on it or have your best's friend filmmaker dad do it. Colleges know that kids have lots of video experience but make it real. Use this opportunity to show them what makes you so wonderful. Go online and see some samples. You can even ask the college for some samples. Good luck.

    • What are some do's and don'ts for the admissions essay?

       

      Do tell a great story that communicates some unique qualities you offer a college. Do tell a specific story that grabs the reader's attention. Don't let anyone else write the essay for you. Don't focus on a negative event or a struggle without spending more time on what you learned or gain from it? Don't write about a person without spending 2/3 of the essay focusing on how that person shaped you--specifically. Each essay should focus on different qualities and events, and should help you become 3-D for the admissions officers.

    • Is it ok to have someone proofread your essay?

       

      Ys. I mean Yes. It is ok to have someone proofread your essays. Proofreading, however, is not the same as editing or rewriting. The essay must be yours and in your voice. Yet there is no excuse for spelling or grammar mistakes. So have a trusted teacher or friend (ideally not a parent), proofread the essay for you. That can make a huge difference as application readers have little patience for sloppily or carelessly written essays.

    • Is it okay for parents to help edit their child's college essay?

       

      Oh my, this is a dangerous question. If you knew many of the parents that I work with, you would be shaking your head vigorously right now.That is not to say that some parents don't do a great job of critiquing their child's essay(s), but significant editing or rewriting is not recommended as adult voices don't match teenager's voice. Parents can help their child brainstorm topics, encourage them to write multiple drafts, and help him or her meet deadlines. Some parents should not even read their kid's essays as they want to change too many elements that make the essays lose their unique adolescent voice. I know this is the touchiest of topics, but I always beg parents to believe in their child. And then they are pleasantly surprised when admissions officers write acceptance letters with personal notes about their child's fabulous essays.

    • Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

       

      College admissions officers are very busy and only want to read essays that help them make admissions decisions. So if colleges ask for essays, they read them. How many officers read the college essay varies. Some colleges have a team of people read each file. Others divide them up, and then only share files that require further discussion. There is not one way that all colleges work, so I always tell students to assume everyone in the admissions office could their essays so that they cannot write anything that anyone and everyone cannot read. Also I believe that students should believe that the more people who read an essay the better as these essays should really captivate and engage readers and help them see why you belong on their campus.

    • What are some do’s and don’ts for an applicant’s resume?

       

      Don't buy it. Colleges can smell fabricated or inauthentic resumes. You need to follow your passions. Don't feel you have to go overseas or attend expensive programs. Following your passions is key. Please spend time on crafting a real resume that is filled with your development through several activities during the school year and summers.

    • What are colleges looking for in an applicant’s resume?

       

      Passions, passions, passions. Colleges want kids who will actively engage in all campus activities. From your academics to your activities, you will be evaluated based on your commitment to what you do and you leadership and initiative. Some kids are outliers with outstanding athletic, artistic, scientific, or other talents. The rest of us try out things but try to make a difference through our commitments. Please do not sit still. Be active. Find out what you like to do. Experiment. Get a job. Volunteer. That's what colleges are looking for: authentic, active resumes.

    • How should a student with little job experience go about crafting a resume?

       

      Resumes for college are not about jobs--they are about activities and engagement. Of course, jobs are not as they reveal maturity and responsibility. To make an impressive resume, you need to begin early with activities-in and out of school. Try different activities and commit to a few. Try to get responsibilities and show your leadership and initiative. You can built a resume through your willingness to participate in different activities.

    • How important is a resume compared to other parts of the college application?

       

      The resume is vital to a college application. Whether it is a formal resume or an activity list, colleges are looking for students who have been active throughout high school. They want students to be active on campus. They are looking for where students show consistency, development, leadership, and initiative. The more you can show what you have achieved through power verbs and strong sentences is key.

    • What is the difference between Club teams and Varsity sports?

       

      Varsity sports are based at schools while club teams are community based. Varsity athletes play for their schools and, while club athletes can come from the entire community and even broader. Clubs are perfect for athletes who want to push themselves to higher levels and to play off season from school sports. If you're planning on playing at your college or professionally, you will need to consider club sports.

    • What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

       

      Experience, experience, experience. You literally get experience within certain fields. If you're interested in video games, you can get an internship with a video game company. Though you don't paid, you come out way ahead with experience in the field. Unpaid internships help you try out different career fields. You can get as much exposure as you want. These internships can make you stand out in the college admissions' process, give you something to write about in your essays, and ultimately help you decide which career you ultimately pursue.

    • What are the best ways to land an internship?

       

      First, start with who you know. Family friends and relatives can help you find internships. You can also check with your school. A number of organizations will contact your school or city with internships. Finally, contact organizations or groups on your own. Many are eagerly awaiting your assistance. Be persistant. Be creative.

    • Does the college interview really count?

       

      College interviews count in several ways. They all show your demonstrated interest in a college. For some campuses, interviews are evaluative--that means they count. The interview writes up a report that goes into your file and is considered by the admissions committee. Other colleges have informational interviews where you meet with a student or admissions rep but the interview is just to help you learn more about the college and does not count in the formal admissions process. No matter what, you can write about interviews in your college specific essays and even start email dialogues with people your interview directs you towards on the college campus. YES, they do count.

    • How many schools should I apply to?

       

      Everyone's college list will differ in number. It depends on how competitive your list is. I have the following categories-reaching for stars (all Ivies and then colleges at and above your record), stretch (still challenging), 50-50, and likely. If you have many reaching for the stars colleges, then your list will be longer because you need to balance it out. If you are someone with a mixed record (with one weaker area), you need a larger list as well. Other kids just have a few schools because their academic interests are so focused, they know where to go. Having a long list also means much more work with applications but the work now is worth having great choices. later.

    • I am an international student applicant, how do I write an effective college admissions essay?

       

      Many international students hire people to write their essays. That is a major mistake as colleges can smell adult written essays. So international students need to write an essay that matches their English writing skills as revealed by the TOEFL or SAT. These essays serve to show your writing and your life experiences. More importantly, international students need to reveal some core qualities that will show admissions officers how you will contribute to campuses. So focus on an activity or an experience that enables you to demonstrate your leadership and initiative. Please talk about recent experiences and please tell only stories that are true. Follow our into, through, and beyond approach and tell a story that makes you pop off the page.

    • How can parents help students with the college search and application process?

       

      I hear this plea often, so parents remember college is your gift to your child. So help but don’t control the process. Help organize their application and financial aid requirements with a real and virtual filing system for all college communications.  Coordinate college visits as they affect your child’s view of a college and chance of acceptance. Use NAVIANCE’s amazing resources. If your school doesn’t use that, help develop and post an excel chart of all requirements—application, essays, and financial aid. And finally, make sure your child finishes senior year strong. Senioritis often derails many college dreams. 

    • What should students consider before making the decision to transfer?

       

      If you are at a four year college and unhappy, please think carefully before deciding to transfer. Being a freshman is tough. Did you find the right balance of classes? Did you try to join some interesting activities? Did you find a way to exercise? If you are doing everything you can, and you are limited academically, socially, or just plain unhappy, then yes consider transferring. If not, give the college a chance. The earlier you transfer, the more colleges will rely on high school and test scores. The later you later you transfer--sophomore year--the more colleges will rely on your college experiences--so do well academically, use your summers, get involved on and off campus. Transferring is complex, and you need to track all requirements for the colleges to which you hope to transfer. See our transfer tips: getmetocollege.org/transfer

    • What are some tips for transfer students with regards to the application?

       

      Plan. Organize. Each college has its own application requirements. There is no Naviance for transfer students. The Common Application has not yet gone paperless for transfer applications, and schools have all kinds of different requirements. So students planning on transferring need to make a master chart and go to each college's individual websites to find exact transfer requirements for applications, including test score requirements, transcripts, recommendations, high school and/or counselor forms, and more. Deadlines also differ dramatically so students need to start getting ready as soon as possible. Fortunately, the essays tend to be fairly similar, and really focus on what students plan to gain by transferring.

    • What, if any, are some red flags for transfer students?

       

      There are many red flags for transfer students. Transfer students often do not do well at their original college because they are depressed. Low grades are very hard to explain. Other red flags are a lack of involvement at current colleges. Transfer students need to be busy with activities, internships, service, and work. Other red flags are large numbers of withdrawals in classes. Learn to drop classes before the W takes over. Also don't miss out on core transfer requirements. The major red flag occurs when transfer kids complain about their original college in applications or interviews. That makes new colleges very nervous. So focus on how you've outgrown your current college and how the new colleges have more tailored academics and activities for you.

    • What are the best ways for students to make sure all their credits transfer?

       

      That is easier said than done if students are applying to multiple colleges as transfer students. So students should always check with potential transfer colleges about their GE and major requirements. Start online. Often some classes don't count, especially from private universities. So make sure you keep copies of course syllabii and course descriptions. Call the transfer office of a college and ask if you have specific questions. Also keep track of transfer requirements. Most public colleges have very specific requirements, as do private colleges, like USC, that take larger numbers of transfer students. Other private colleges are more complex, so never take a class that you're not sure won't count for at least one college.

    • What are colleges looking for when admitting a transfer student?

       

      Colleges want transfer students who can ease right into the community. They want transfer students to have been doing well at their original campus. They want students who are exploring different fields and beginning to immerse themselves in major classes. They want students who are engaged on and off campus. They also want students who have formed a connection with a professor or two and expect students to use their summers after senior year and after the first year of college well. They want students to work, intern, or study. THEY ultimately want happy, engaged kids. I know that's hard for some kids. But that's what campuses want, and I see the great results all the time.

    • What do students need to know about transferring?

       

      If you plan to transfer from a community college or four year college, you need to view your freshman and sophomore years of college as your junior year of high school. You need to have your highest grades ever. You need to work, be active on campus, or volunteer. You need to do something each summer. Then you need to make sure you are fulfilling each school's academic requirements. Then you must connect with a professor for recommendations and make sure you complete the paperwork for each college. Unfortunately, the Common Application still requires you to use paper recommendations and forms. So keep a chart of all requirements, including which transcripts and test scores you need to send. Deadlines differ for each school, and some allow winter and spring transfers. Let me know if I can help with applications as I help many kids with transfer readiness and applications.

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