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  • Hannah Serota

    Title: College Counselor/Idependent Educational Consultant
    Company: McLean School/Creative College Connections

    • verified

    Years of Experience

    Colleges I Attended
    Oberlin College, B.A. George Mason University, M. Ed.
    Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree
    Professional Affiliations
    Prior Job
    Oberlin College
    Prior Title
    Associate Director of Admissions
    About Me
    I am a full-time college counselor at an independent school and a part-time educational consultant with Creative College Connections.

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  • Admissions Expertise

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


      My Top 10 List of Mistakes in the College Admissions Process

      1. Choosing your colleges based on where your friends are applying

      2. Not taking the SAT and the ACT. Take the time to find out which one of these is the better test for you.

      3. Not taking the senior year seriously. Your course selection and grades in the senior year are very important.

      4. “Sticker Shock” - assuming colleges will be unaffordable. Many colleges offer need-based and merit aid. You won’t know if you can afford it unless you apply. In fact, sometimes the private college with the big sticker price ends up being the best financial offer.

      5. Not thoroughly researching admission requirements. Make sure you know what each college requires in terms of high school coursework, testing, recommendations, essays, etc…

      6. Not paying attention to deadlines. Plan ahead and take those deadlines seriously. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply. Also, meet any deadlines your school may have to ensure that your transcript and recommendations are sent to colleges in a timely manner.

      7. Not talking with the high school counselor. Make sure your counselor knows who you are - your interests, your activities, your goals. That counselor needs to submit your transcript and a letter of recommendation. Give the counselor a resume or information about you to help the counselor support your application.

      8. Getting your heart set on only one college. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. There are several colleges where you can be happy and successful.

      9. Being careless with cut and paste. Your “Why College X” essay better be about College X and not College Y! Double check your work. Edit. Pay attention to details in your application.

      10. Being a “stealth” applicant. Many colleges tend to track something called “demonstrated interest.” Visit the college website and complete a prospective student questionnaire. Attend college fairs and complete the info cards even if you are already on the college mailing list. Visit the campus if at all possible. Request a local interview if offered. Attend any local reception or high school visit that may take place. Email an inquiry about a program or activity of interest. Make sure that your application is NOT the first official contact you have with a college.

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


      If you decide to attend a college far from home you need to factor in travel expenses.  How often will you go home?  How will you get back and forth?  What about climate differences?  If you’re going from home in Florida to college in Maine, you’ll need to purchase a very warm winter coat, hat, gloves, snow boots, warm socks, etc. What about clubs and organizations?  It costs money to join fraternities and sororities. If you go to college in an urban area expect to spend more since city life can get pricey. I suggest having a conversation with your parents about setting a monthly budget for all those extra expenses.

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


      First, alter the way you label the colleges that have offered you admission.  If you think of them as “back-up” schools you may prevent yourself from getting excited about colleges that are terrific for you.  Next, spend some time becoming familiar with these colleges.  Remind yourself of the criteria you used for selecting colleges and then put these schools to the test.  In what ways do they meet (or not meet) some of the essential characteristics of a good fit for you?  Compare financial aid packages to determine actual cost of attendance at each college.  I bet you discover that you have some wonderful options before you. 

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


      Parents play a very important role in the college search and application process - a supporting role. Despite the temptation to micro-manage this process, it’s important that the student take the lead. After all, you will not be going to college with them! Communication is important. Have honest conversations about what’s important to you as a parent. And listen patiently to what your son or daughter considers priorities. Help your child get organized. I often suggest establishing a calendar that is designated as the “college calendar” in a central location, like the kitchen. That way, you both have daily reminders of important upcoming dates. You’ll need to help with the logistics of any travel for campus visits. But, there’s no reason why a student can’t take the initiative in registering for campus visit programs. Encourage and allow your son or daughter to take as much responsibility for this process as possible. By doing so, your child will be demonstrating some of the independence and maturity necessary for a successful transition to college.

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