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  • Kristen Tabun

    Title: Director of College Guidance
    Company: Woodlynde School

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  • Admissions Expertise

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


      While you may not have found an extracurricular activity of great interest, consider subjects that you might be interested in.  This year, I worked with a senior who had very limited extracurricular activities to speak of.  However, he was always interested in astronomy and hoped to have that as his college major.  He had done a great amount of investigation outside of school and was able to design an independent study course in astronomy during his senior year.  The independence and initiative he displayed did, I believe, somewhat compensate for his lack of structured extra-curricular activities. Happily, he was accepted to his first-choice college.

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


      In a given year, about half of the students I work with choose to attend college out of state. One drawback of attending college close to home is that some students take advantage of their proximity to go home frequently, especially during their first semester of college. As a result, they may take a longer time acclimating to their new life at college. Students who go further away from home often develop a greater sense of independence sooner. It's important to reflect on how much independence you're ready for before you make that final decision.

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


      Several years ago, a student entered our school whose challenges with learning were so significant that his parents were told from various professionals there was a chance he would not graduate from high school.  Fortunately, he was not deterred by these comments and chose to work hard and accept the help he was offered.  Throughout high school, he pursued his passion for the environment and took advantage of every opportunity to learn both in and out of the classroom. He not only graduated high school, but earned several college acceptances with merit-based scholarships.  This student never stopped seeing the possibilities for himself; his efforts were justly rewarded as a result.

    • How can I work with schools to boost my financial aid? Are there other sources of student aid?


      You should contact the financial aid offices directly at the colleges you're considering.  In the case of federal aid, schools can use what is known as "Professional Judgment" to adjust a student's aid eligibility when special circumstances arise such as a reduction in income.  Decisions will vary from college to college. This would also be the time to ask about payment plans the colleges can set up for you over the course of the semester or the whole year.

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


      When conducting your scholarship search, use one of the many free clearinghouse sites available, such as fastweb.com.  While it's tempting to focus on the big-ticket scholarships, remember that those smaller scholarships add up fast and may have less students applying for them.  Most scholarships require essays, so take the time to write an individual essay for each one you apply for.  Be as thoughtful with those essays and scholarship applications as you were with your college applications and it will pay off.

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