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  • Reecy Aresty

    Title: College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author
    Company: Payless For College, Inc.

    • verified

    College Specializations
    Georgetown University, University of Central Florida, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University, University of South Florida-Main Campus, Stetson University, The University of Tampa, Emory University, Loyola University Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Maryland-College Park, Harvard University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Northeastern University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Princeton University, New York University, Duke University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, Vanderbilt University
    Years of Experience
    Languages Spoken
    English, French

    Colleges I Attended
    U of Akron, Temple University
    About Me
    For over 33 years, I've been helping families send their kids to the college of their choice for less than they ever imagined. My special area of expertise is using legal strategies to qualify families for maximum financial aid. My successes in appealing unappealing financial aid award letters are legendary. Examples: U PENN before appeals - $0; After - $33,000; Princeton 2nd semester bill - $15,252; aid rec'd $18,030! For more info go to PaylessForCollege.com.

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  • Intro Video

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  • Admissions Expertise

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


      Make sure school is in session when visiting. Ask plenty of questions, take pictures, eat in the cafeteria and visit a dorm or 2.

    • Are guidebooks, relatives, and rankings useful in choosing a school?


      Students who graduated in the same field of interest are a much more vital source than a guidebook, US News or someone else's ranking.

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


      Yes & here are a few:

      1. Working with or tutoring the handicapped or disabled

      2. MADD, SADD

      3. Becoming an Eagle or Sea Scout

      4. Working with homeless organizations

      5. Starting your own fund raising organization highly impresses colleges, & I speak from personal experience

      6. And many more

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


      Yes. Criminal behavior could certainly factor in. Calling the college and using foul language when complaining about a lack of financial aid or a conflict about taking a course could surely be grounds, so always be on your best behavior before you enroll or during your college career.

    • Can the number of times you contact a college impact your chances?


      It all depends who you're calling and about what. Surely, no one needs to be a pest with questions that can be answered w/o the necessity of a phone call.

      On the other hand, if the student has developed a rapport (which they should have) with higher ups in admissions, etc., it's an entirely different story.

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


      At need sensitive schools, of which there are few, absolutely!

    • Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?


      No! Virtually no one does.

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


      Almost never!

    • Do you need to have a prospective major, or is it okay to be undecided?


      Undecided is OK at most schools, but verify that with an admissions officer.

    • Does class size matter?


      Obviously a lecture hall of 500 won't afford anyone a 1 on 1 with a professor as a small class of 20-30 will. It's also important to make sure you're taught by someone who wrote the book rather than someone who read the book. Teaching assistants are not as valuable as a professor who has a biography 3 pages long! Be sure to take all this into consideration in the college selection process.

    • Does it matter how many contacts a student has with the school?


      Obviously, this assumes phone & em contacts, but you don't want to be a pest if the answers are available w/o a phone call. However, contacting higher ups who you met (you did meet some, didn't you) on your numerous visits is a completely different matter.

    • Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?


      It could, but just because you were born in Sarajevo or Kalimantan won't assure it. There are just too many variables to answer this question definitively .

    • Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?


      ED for some, & Early Action is recommended in most cases, but many schools have Rolling where you find out much quicker; avoid regular like the plague, unless there's no other option. The early applicant gets the ticket the quickest!

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


      I'm not a social media expert, but it's obviously had both positive & negative affects!

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


      Do an Internet search. Call the school and ask for alums who live nearby or who would be willing to brag about their college experience. Ask around, surely someone knows or knows of alums.

    • How do you indicate to a school that they are your first choose besides early decision?


      Mention it in your essay(s), but it should have been revealed at your interview - you did have one, didn't you?

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


      If all other schools are unaffordable, and it has a curriculum that can lead you in the right direction - go for it & Good Luck!

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


      Over time w/o "using" them. You have to nurture the relationship like you would in any situation, and that takes time & planning. Again, my old adage:

      Plan your work, work your plan. Nobody plans to fail, but too many fail to plan.

    • How do you deal with overbearing parents during the college process?


      As best you can, but don't put them in a corner so they'll refuse to make the college of your choice a reality. Placate them if necessary, but under NO circumstances should they FORCE you to attend any particular college or only colleges on THEIR list. If so, seek out a counselor and have them talk to your parent(s). Your future is at stake, and you surely don't want them to really screw it (you) up!

    • How important can athletics be as a hook for college admissions?


      Again - it all depends on variables too numerous to mention here. If the athlete is a superstar as well as brilliant, they're usually a shoe in.

    • How important is it to visit each college and network with the admissions reps?


      Very important. You don't want to wait until orientation to find out that you hate the campus, etc.

    • How many schools should students apply to?


      At least if not more of what follows:

      2-3 sure admits

      2-3 mid range

      2-3 reach

      Just make sure none of your schools are out of reach!

    • How much do alumni recommendations matter?


      It all depends who the alums are, like a past president or ex-director of admissions. It's not what you know, but who you know - never forget that!

    • How should art students prepare for the college admissions process?


      Well in advance. Here's an old caveat:

      Plan your work, work your plan.

      Nobody plans to fail, but too many fail to plan.

      Make sure your portfolio is the best it can be, and set up an interview. Having an LOR from a world class person in the field can be worth an admission ticket!

    • How should expat applicants approach the admissions process?


      It's really the parents who are & I've had several. The student applies as if they were living in the US, and when financial aid time comes, an experienced person's services are highly desired. Please note, the further away they live, the more of a travel allowance can be requested & rec'd in the appeals process.

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


      With humility rather than a haughty attitude. Know & follow all the rules.

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


      All depends on whether the college has the right curriculum, desirability, meets all your specific criteria & is affordable.

    • Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?


      Often it's financial aid that matters, even though that shouldn't be the deciding factor. The best curriculum is the #1 priority - and always will be!

    • Should students approach the college process differently in this economy?


      Yes. The financial aid process should be approached with the help of an expert or someone who has vast experience - someone who has credentials similar to mine.

    • Should students consider taking a year off in between high school and college?


      Some should, most shouldn't. There are too many variables for a detailed answer.

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


      What % of freshman make it to graduation. The higher the %, the likelier you will too. That's a great stat to look for in any college.

    • What are some differences between rural, suburban, and urban campuses?


      It all depends on where the schools are located, but urban campuses will surely have a higher % of commuters. The possibilities of differences are really endless.

    • What are some questions to consider before applying to an online school?


      Are you an accredited school? What are my chances of transferring my credits if I don't continue here? What's the average % of financial need that you meet?

    • What are some questions you should ask on an overnight stay?


      Is this a typical night in the dorm, or do other things happen I'd be surprised to see?

    • What are some tips for college visits?


      Make sure it when school is in session. try to arrange a meeting with a chairman of a dept you plan to study under, and a meeting with the provost can enhance your chances immensely. Talk to current students and ask pointed questions, and be sure to stay out of the financial aid office.

    • What are the benefits of taking AP exams in high school?


      Qualifying for college credit which saves big bucks in college costs, and enabling the student to concentrate on more electives w/o having to take every required course.

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


      Call the school or ask a current student for assistance.

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


      Curriculum & a backup if you change your direction; dietary needs met, campus location desirability, affordability is last.

    • What are the most important things to do and ask during a college visit?


      First of all, if you did advanced planning, you'd have already had an interview w/the chairman of whatever dept your looking to get into, and more importantly, an appt w/the provost of the university. That surely can be the coup de gras!

      Make sure you eat in the cafeteria if you'll take meals there, talk to students, visit a dorm, stay out of the financial aid office, and take pictures to be reviewed later. Ask the guide what % of need-based aid is usually met, & what % is gift aid.

    • What are the most politically active colleges?


      When I was in college, it was Columbia when Jerry Rubin was active & also Berkeley. Sadly, today students are more apathetic because Congress is so inept at accomplishing what's necessary to fix the economy.

    • What are the quickest ways to research colleges?


      Take virtual tours on the Internet, talk to current & students who graduated, visit schools close by if they're on your list.

    • What are women's colleges like?


      Probably boring for some w/o any guys. However, they're probably great for the vast amount of women students. Being a guy, I don't have the best answer.

    • What can high school seniors do to enhance their chances of admission?


      It's a little late in the game, but here are a few:

      1. Strive for the best grades & test scores as possible

      2. Make sure you've obtained fantastic LOR's

      3. Ace those interviews!

      4. Pile on community service hours

      5. Visit your favorite house of worship and say a few prayers

      6. Whatever else is necessary to fulfill all school requirements

    • What can students do to be competitive if they want to go to school outside the US?


      Be proficient in that country's language, assuming it's other than English, and far exceed whatever requirements are necessary.

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


      Focusing more, getting better grades so they'd get in to better colleges. The possibilities for an answer are endless.

    • What do current students wish they had known when applying to college?


      A lot! But here's just a few things:

      1. That maybe they should have studied harder & gotten better grades, test scores while in high school

      2. That they shouldn't have earned more than their income protection allowance

      3. That they should have had <$100 in their name so they wouldn't have lost so much in financial aid $$$

      4. That maybe their parents should have attended a free admissions/financial aid seminar, and if they did and had a free consultation, hired an expert

      5. And so much more

    • What do students really think about their school?


      Everything from loving it to detesting it.

    • What exactly are US News and the College Board?


      US News & World Report is a world class magazine that publishes college rankings every year. The College Board in the home of more college info than you can imagine. It's also where you fill out the CSS for 200+ colleges that request this financial aid form.

    • What extracurriculars are most important?


      It could be debate, year book, president of a language club, but it all depends on what the student intends to accomplish and focus their energies on.

    • What if you can't visit a school?


      Start with a virtual tour & seek out graduates to get their perspectives.

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


      Need blind refers to a family's financial fingerprint NOT being factored into the admissions process; need sensitive is just the opposite. Very few schools use the latter.

    • What kind of student should be looking at a highly selective school?


      A student at the top of their class, but only if those schools have the particular curriculum the student wishes to pursue.

    • What kinds of obstacles do minorities face in higher education?


      The same ones they face in life - some more, some less.

    • What kinds of students should consider hiring an independent college counselor?


      It's the parents, not the students who will be doing the hiring. Most families should seek out third party experts for a "free" consultation well in advance of the senior year to know what the process is all about and if their family could benefit - and not just financially. What's the value of getting an edge in admissions & being accepted to the college of your choice?

      All the financial aid in the world is useless without that coveted admission ticket, because paying for college is the easy part; getting in is the tough part! After 33 years, I can categorically make that statement.

    • What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?


      I'm assuming this means that the 11th grade is over. If not, be sure to ask special teachers for LOR's. Waiting until the fall can be too late, as they'll be bombarded by your classmates. Make sure that if they work in the summer that they'll earn <$6,000 in 2012, otherwise, for every dollar earned over, they'll lose 50 cents in financial aid! Contemplate starting your own fundraising organization to get a real boost in the admissions process & hire your friends as your asssistants.

      Make sure that if you have to visit a college campus that at least a summer session is in progress. Poor planning resulted in this decision.

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


      You should ALWAYS choose the curriculum first, size and location come later.

    • What should students focus on during the application process?


      Everything that pertains to it. Make a list of ALL components and check them off when completed.

      Here are just a few:

      1. Have an on campus interview w/the chairman of the dept you plan on focusing on & at the same time hopefully meet w/the provost of the university to present your credentials. This should be accomplished as a non-applicant as early as the 10th grade

      2. Making sure all SAT/SATII/ACT tests are completed

      3. Meeting ALL deadlines

      4. You get the picture

    • What should you do if your high school doesn't offer advanced classes?


      Be sure to include that in an essay, and possibly do dual enrollment. As a last resort, see if you can attend another high school or perhaps a private school.

    • What's the best time to visit a college campus?


      When school is in session, and it's never too early, even the 10th grade.

    • When should students start the college search?


      9th grade is the optimum time - and don't think it's too early!

    • Where should students begin with the college search?


      At the local level, next comes the Internet, and on campus interviews follow, but make sure schools are in session!

    • Who should come with you on college visits?


      A good choice would be parents and maybe a graduate that you know personally.

    • Why is it important for students to have a college admissions marketing plan?


      Here's one of my favorite caveats:

      Plan your work, work your plan. Nobody plans to fail, but too many people fail to plan.

      Applying to college is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and EVERY student needs that all-important edge in admissions, so don't screw it up!

    • How important are college rankings when choosing a college?


      It's the fit of the program that a college has to offer rather than how US news rates a school. The perfect school for you could have a low rating - so what!

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


      Yes, so don't!

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


      The optimum time for an on campus visit is as a non-applicant way in advance of entering the 12th grade! If not, make sure school is at least in session when you go.

      Eat in the cafeteria if you'll be taking meals there, visit a dorm or 2 where you might reside, speak w/numerous students about courses, professors, cost of books, or about any other concerns you may have. You should have a prepared list, and check off everything if possible. Take the following advice:

      Plan your work, work your plan. Nobody plans to fail, but too many fail to plan.

    • As a high school junior, what are the most important things for me to do before senior year?


      For students who will take SATII's & the ACT in addition to the SAT, make sure you plan well to be able to take the tests multiple times if necessary to satisfy an particular college's requirements. Also, be sure to pile on as many community service hrs as possible. Make sure your income for 2012 will be <$6,000, or you'll lose 50 cents in financial aid for every dollar earned over that. Obtain great LOR's now to avoid the rush in the fall.

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


      Choose wisely and take virtual tours. Talk to current & students who graduated to get a feel of the college & good luck!

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


      10's of 1,000's of students constitute a large school, while 1,500-2,000 would be a small school. A big fish in a little pond could do well instead of being lost at a school with 50,000 students, but it's the curriculum that's most important - not the enrollment size.

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


      Yes. That assumes you were heavily involved in community service & have at least 100's of hrs.

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


      Not submitting applications on time, never visiting the college, only answering the basic application questions, and not submitting or sending other paperwork. Neglecting to have an interview or not submitting any LOR's, not applying for one of the college's own scholarships. But here's one that's often overlooked - having way too few community service hrs on your transcript.

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


      That legacy students or those whose parents make substantial donations will be accepted in spite of their grades.

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


      If the college has the right program, it doesn't matter where it's located - period! That's the primary reason for getting an education.

    • What is the best way to start researching colleges?


      Talk to your guidance counselor for advice and contact admissions experts for some ideas when you start your own research. Get copies or search the Internet for Princeton Review ratings, CRS (College Raking Service), Best Colleges, and any number of specific reports on engineering, arts, music, drama or other such schools. Be sure to have your checklist out to rate the schools based on your preferences. This is just the beginning!

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


      Public schools will traditionally have stricter guidelines on financial aid, have many more day students, less professors & more teaching assistants. You could wind up being lost in the shuffle. In FL as in many other states, it could take you 5 or more years to graduate.

      There's also less flexibility in course structure.

      Private schools can offer whatever they want in financial aid, and many have huge endowments and can attract the best professors in various fields. The student retention rate is much higher, and most students are assured of completing 120 credits in 4 years or less.

      What really matters is that the school is right for you - big or small, urban or rural Big 10 or smallest 100, you have your criteria & that's all that matters. After you visit & talk to current & past students, you'll have a better idea of just what to expect.

    • What are the most important factors to consider while researching colleges?


      That the schools have the right curriculum and backup programs if you change your major. How much a school has awarded in financial aid is also a factor as well as what % of freshmen are there after 4 years. You should have a checklist of what's really important to you and make sure the school can satisfy all your needs wants & desires.

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


      2-3 sure admits

      2-3 mid range

      2-3 financially safe

      2-3 reach

    • How do I choose between two very similar schools?


      Sometimes it just comes down to dollars & sense.

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


      Early action = sooner notice. ED (only 1 school applied to) is a binding contract that if the student is accepted, they must send a letter to ALL other schools applied to to have their application withdrawn! They're telling the school that financial aid is of no interest, only being accepted is. This can be a nightmare if aid is not forthcoming.

    • What process does an application go through? How many people see it?


      Most applications travel the same course - transcript review by 1 or more, actual application review w/or w/o essay review, which can stand on its own, interview results factored in (there had better have been one), and possibly a committee meeting to make the final decision. Impossible to determine exactly how many people were involved from beginning to end.

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


      Here are a few from your list - you better have one:

      Where's the health center?

      What's the likelihood of graduating in 4 yrs?

      What % of students graduate with job offers?

      What specific scholarships are there, if any?

      How easy is it to trade roommates?

      What's the likelihood of becoming an RA?

      What % of financial need does the school meet?

      You'll surely have your own, but these are pretty good for starters.

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


      Have a meal in the cafeteria.

      Check out a dorm or 2.

      Talk to current students to get some specific questions answered.

      Visit the town if the school is in an isolated or small town setting.

      Try to meet with a professor or 2 in your area of study, because you did research in advance and have tentative appt's.

      If you'll have a car, find out the parking fees & where the lot(s) are located in relation to the dorms.

      If you're Greek minded, check out some frat or sorority houses.

      Naturally, you'll have other things to see that were on your list - you better have one!

    • What does an ideal incoming class look like?


      Ethnically diverse, & geographically as well, plenty of intn'l students & a number of students with various disabilities round out most freshman classes.

    • What does the evaluation process look like?


      It goes something like this:

      The transcript is reviewed 1st, and if it passes the litmus test, the application will be read; next comes essay review, and lastly LOR's & the interview (there better have been one) are factored in.

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


      Those who are in your primary area of study, assuming you have one. Stay out of the financial aid office, so you don't become a "marked" person. Frat or sorority folks if that's your interest, or maybe a coach or 2 if sports is important.

      You really need to have this all planned out in advance, and it all goes back to my favorite caveat:

      Plan your work, work your plan. Nobody plans to fail, but too many fail to plan. The admissions/financial aid process begins in the 9th or 10th grade, and I speak from 33 yrs of experience!

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


      An overnight stay should be very important, and if you get one, be thankful. Make sure to have a change of clothes & whatever happens find out if it's typical or out of the ordinary. Don't assume anything, you can be painfully surprised. Be sure to follow whatever rules there are, and find out in advance - but you should have already known that.

      Hopefully you'll be able to audit a course or 2, talk to some professors on a one-to-one, and possibly present your credentials to some admissions folks & the provost - and don't for a minute think that's out of the question! I've had 10th & 11th graders meet w/chairmen of dept's & presidents of universities when the schools DON'T even have on campus interviews! It's all in the planning if you do it right.

    • What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?


      Having acceptable #'s, a successful interview, has had correspondence with admissions personnel or the Provost or has met them personally. Going out of your way to impress upon them that you want that precious, all-important admission ticket!

    • Should prospective students contact admissions officers during the application process?


      Absolutely - but it's best in person and on campus to present their credentials.

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


      Absolutely! You should have planned this in advance to make it happen. If not, hopefully you'll get lucky & see some higher ups. Admissions folks always like the known vs the unknown when it's decision time!

    • Is there any benefit to checking "no race" on the application?


      Only a robot could check that! Don't be stupid, answer the question. The more varied the better, such as Afro/oriental or Eurasian.

    • What are some common myths about the admissions process?


      That just having the numbers will get a student admitted; students whose numbers are lower than last year's average have no chance of being accepted, an interview isn't important & neither are a resume or outrageous LOR's.

    • What are admissions offices like behind the scenes?


      A madhouse during the process. Paperwork gets lost, and every once in a while a sure admit is rejected 123!

    • Are admissions officers open to establishing relationships with college counselors?


      I would assume so to get a better idea of what a particular applicant has to offer a college other than just their numbers.

      I'm an unknown because of my financial aid strategies that guarantee to qualify families for maximum financial aid, and my successes at appealing unappealing financial aid award letters are legendary. Any college would always prefer to award less financial aid than more.

    • Admissions officers - what is the most memorable experience you've had in admissions?


      Although I'm not an admissions officer, one of my students had the following experience:

      During his interview he brought the 3 things I always recommend one have: a resume, a special essay entitled, "Why I Must Attend [Your college] ", and the coup de gras, a business card. He presented his resume immediately, and after about 15 minutes, he gave him the special essay. When it was all over, he turned to leave and did a 180 and said, "Let's exchange business cards!"

      After he got his acceptance letter, he called the person who sent it and asked specifically what it was that made the final decision, and she said that when he left, the interviewer ran down the hall screaming, "Look what I just got (holding up the student's business card)!" That was the decisive factor.

    • Has the economy affected college admissions offices?


      Certainly not as badly as they'd like you to believe it has!

    • Does gender bias exist in college admissions?


      Naturally, but not as much as in the past & ethnic bias as well - don't kid yourself into thinking that college is a perfect world!

    • Do admissions officers know each high school relatively well?


      Some do, some don't.

    • Do college admissions officers look at applicants' Facebook profiles?


      Some do, so if there's sexually explicit or drug related stuff, you could be SOL (Surely Out of Luck)!

    • Are supplemental materials read? Do they have an effect on admissions?


      Not all the time, but if you don't send any, they won't read yours, so send stuff to every college, unless they absolutely forbid it!

    • How is a student whose grades improved throughout high school evaluated?


      Much better than if they had withered away.

    • How many apps does an officer read over the course of a year?


      There could be 2 class years in a 12 mth period, so several 100 at least.

    • How much time do admissions officers spend on each application?


      No one knows for sure, but my guess is 20-30 minutes max.

    • How much time do admissions officers spend with each application?


      Probably no more than 20-30 minutes, if that long.

    • How does it look if a student chooses to defer admission?


      It all depends on the specific circumstances - there's no pat answer.

    • How has technology changed the admissions process?


      I think it's pretty obvious with the computer age, the vastness of Internet technology, videos, CD's, etc. Most evaluations are done electronically, and too often an acceptance e/m replaces a fat letter!

    • How has the current economy impacted admissions offices?


      Some more than others, but surely much less than they'd like everyone to believe!

    • How are students judged against other applicants from their high school?


      With lots of scrutiny. No college really wants several students from any particular high school, unless they are all superstars in unrelated academic or athletic areas.

    • How are twins or siblings handled in the admissions process?


      At some colleges it'll be an all or none decision, but many simply judge each student on his/her own merit.

    • How do admissions officers choose among applicants who are on the bubble?


      Most likely if they had a chance to personally meet the student that could make the difference. The known vs the unknown can weigh heavily. However, to cover their butts, they could accept 1 and defer and/or wait-list the others. Too difficult to give an exact answer as there are so many variables.

    • How do admissions offices choose between several qualified applicants?


      This is almost the same question as the last one, except now we're talking about more students, but the unknown factor is now how many will actually be accepted.

      Most likely if they had a chance to personally meet the student(s) that could make the difference. The known vs the unknown can weigh heavily. However, to cover their butts, they could accept a few and defer and/or wait-list the others. Too difficult to give an exact answer as there are so many variables.

    • How do admissions offices compare weighted GPAs to unweighted GPAs?


      Some do & some don't. Don't get caught up in striving for a 5. whatever HPA.

    • How do financial aid administrators decide on an aid package?


      Some schools meet financial need 100%, others 50%. There are many factors in addition to the EFC, but the initial aid offer is usually substantially LESS than what can be obtained in the appeals/negotiation process. I've spent 33 years in financial aid trench warfare and speak from experience.

    • What trends have you noticed in admissions?


      The standards are getting tougher. Additionally, there has been some relaxation in ED conditions.

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


      Years ago, when 2 of my students gave the interviewers their business cards - it surely was the deciding factor that put them over the edge, and I've been recommending they have one ever since!

      Another was getting a student admitted in the fall when her acceptance letter was for the winter! That was a real unexpected coup.

    • In what cases would you recommend applying early decision?


      If financial aid is of no consequence, the student is a legacy student, or there are no other schools the student desires to apply to.

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


      Early action gives you sooner notice than regular decision. ED enhances your chances of being accepted as fewer students choose that route.

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


      ED gives you a much better chance of acceptance as the odds will have increased.

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


      At ED schools it's binding & you can get out of it - but in May where will you apply? Wash U in St. Louis has an ED program with a Dec. 31st deposit date; no deposit, no binding contract. But it's still very late in the game to start applying in Jan.

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


      Because they want to gain more information to make a decision about you - so do your best in answering all questions related to it.

    • How can students stand out on their application?


      Having 1,000 or more community service hrs in combination w/a high GPA. Fluency in 3 languages is always a plus as well. SAT/ACT scores from 9th or 10 grade can also be impressive in addition to dual enrollment. These are just a few.

    • How tailored to each school should an application be?


      Only some of the answers can be tailored, as the application itself is a pre-printed form. Try to get it across that this school is your 1st choice.

    • Can students apply to college online?



    • Do all the pieces of the application need to reference one another?


      That's a tough one, but they surely need to be consistent.

    • Do colleges view online applications the same as paper applications?


      Probably, but no one knows for sure, unless it's stated on the college's website.

    • Does it help to include supplemental materials with your application?


      It all depends on the school - some will trash any additional info if it's not requested. Call the school and make sure you ask someone in authority to get a definitive answer.

    • Does submitting your application ahead of the deadline improve your chances?


      Probably, but timing isn't everything - content is.

    • What are some common red flags that can hurt an application?


      Parents being illegal immigrants, poor grammar, misspellings, inconsistent or missing information, resident aliens w/o a TOEFL score, and a host of other things a college might consider a red flag.

    • Is a student-submitted resume suggested? How/when/where?


      On the Common App if the college asks for any additional info you'd like to submit. Just make sure it's not too many characters. Otherwise, submit it directly to the director of admissions, or give it to the interviewer at the beginning of your interview.

    • What exactly is the common app?


      It's found at commonapp.org & used by over 400 colleges, some of which use it exclusively.

    • What is a college admissions hook?


      In my opinion it's something extraordinary that makes the student stand out like Yao Ming does in a crowd.

    • What is the universal application?


      The Universal College Application is an online admissions application consortium for college-bound students, and can be found at universalapplication.com.

    • What are the most important components of the application?


      The essay, GPA, test scores, precise answers, and perfect grammar.

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


      I have a GRID which I give to each family so they can list all items to be submitted to a college and the dates they are due. This way NO deadlines should be missed. Also, have a file folder on each college w/copies of all correspondence.

    • How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?


      If you have great rapport w/that person & they are impressed with your accomplishments.

    • How can planning increase a student's chance of getting great teacher recommendations?


      You read my mind! Here's one of my favorite caveats:

      Plan your work, work your plan.

      No one plans to fail, but too many people fail to plan.

      Best time to get LOR's is after Jan. in the 10th, 11th, or even the 9th grade. At that time of year, teachers are no longer bombarded w/requests from desperate students. They'll have plenty of time to write a great LOR. Be sure to give them the name & address of the director of admissions at specific colleges you're applying to. Otherwise, they may address it, To whom it may concern; that's the same as, Dear Occupant, & we all know where that mail winds up!

      I've had situations where the teacher asked the student to write something & they signed it, but that was only after I enhanced it and it went back to the teacher for their final approval & signature.

    • Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?


      Yes! You read my mind! Here's one of my favorite caveats:

      Plan your work, work your plan.

      No one plans to fail, but too many fail to plan.

      Best time to get LOR's is after Jan. in the 10th, 11th, or even the 9th grade. At that time of year, teachers are no longer bombarded w/requests from desperate students. They'll have plenty of time to write a great LOR. Be sure to give them the name & address of the director of admissions at specific colleges you're applying to. Otherwise, if they address it To whom it may concern; that's the same as Dear Occupant, & we all know where that mail winds up!

      I've had situations where the teacher asked the student to write something & they signed it, but that was only after I enhanced it and it went back to the teacher for their final approval & signature.

    • How important can athletics be as a hook for college admissions?


      Very important! It makes the difference all the time.

    • What should prospective students know about intercollegiate sports?


      Talk to several students who have participated to get a better picture of the programs available and weigh the pros & cons.

    • How do prospective students get recruited for their sport?


      First, they have to be in the NCAA Clearinghouse to get athletic scholarship offers. There are many admissions experts who specialize in athletes. Seek out someone who has had a successful record and take it from there. It's really who you know that can make the difference.

    • Where should I start my college search if I want to major in the arts?


      Check out the various Art Institutes, ask around in various art venues. Again, it's who you know that counts.

    • How does financial aid work for prospective athletes?


      They can get an academic or, depending on the college, an athletic scholarship. Be sure to join the NCAA Clearinghouse so qualify. There are also private athletic scholarships students can qualify for, and the list is endless.

    • When do student athletes need to begin the recruitment process?


      They should hopefully be noticed when they begin high school. They need to be doing research all throughout high school and join the NCAA Clearinghouse as early as possible. LOR's from coaches they personally know can be invaluable!

    • Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?


      No, but I've gotten some off in the past by writing a convincing appeal letter.

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


      If acceptance from the waitlist comes much later that regular acceptance, then the financial aid offer might be substantially less do to the timing. In some instances, it won't make a difference, but usually it will, or at least the college may make you think there won't be enough financial aid for the student. Colleges are known to play dirty tricks on families, just in case you didn't know!

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


      Rather than go off half cocked, talk to a professional & get some free advice. If the school is that important, perhaps hiring someone to appeal on your behalf would be worth it. But remember, they prepare the letter - you sign it!

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


      Review old exams and either take a group course or get 1 on 1 tutoring.

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


      It's best to have an expert in the fine art of negotiation explain it and then decide if you want to hire them to pursue more aid - DON'T TRY TO DO IT YOURSELF!

    • What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT?


      There is no best way - whatever works for you is best. Consider taking a prep course, study old exams, or 1 on 1 tutoring.

    • When should parents begin saving for college?


      It's never too early, but don't wait too long to start.

    • How can you get in off the wait list?


      Yes, but it takes tenacity and a superior appeal letter. In some cases a personal visit to appeal in person & speak w/whoever sent you the letter.

    • How can you get in off the waitlist?


      Previous asked but...

      Yes, but it takes tenacity and a superior appeal letter. In some cases a personal visit to appeal in person & speak w/whoever sent you the letter.

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


      Every school has their own scale of priorities, some public, some unknown. Just do the beat you can, and don't only apply to colleges that are a reach based on past numbers.

    • Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?


      Start your planning early so you'll be able to satisfy each school's requirements. If your scores keep increasing, keep taking tests. Remember this:

      Plan your work, work your plan.

      No one plans to fail, but too many people fail to plan.

    • How do you save money for college?


      529 Savings plans, 529 Prepaid tuition plans, and to keep the money out of the financial aid calculations, tax deferred annuities. There are other ways, but most involve a larger degree of risk. The most important thing is that the money will be there, and proper income planning & asset repositioning will provide you with the opportunity for maximum financial aid.

    • How can a student figure out which standardized tests to take, when, and how many times?


      Every college has its requirements, and the test dates are a matter of public record. As far as multiple tests, if your scores keep increasing, keep going. Start early in the 11th grade so you'll have plenty of time to take all necessary tests & re-test if necessary.

    • Is the SAT still as important as it used to be? If so, how?


      No. Many schools don't even require it, but most do. it's still one of their favorite ways to evaluate students.

    • Are there ways to waive college application fees?


      Yes. Needy families rarely pay for fees. Talk to the admissions office as there may be a waiver form.

    • What is a 529 plan and how can you start one?


      A 529 plan is a qualified savings vehicle that allows the owner to have tax free gains when the money is used for higher education. The best site for more information is savingforcollege.com.

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


      Determine the % of gift aid vs self-help, and the amount of unmet need. Make sure all aid you're qualified for is offered - very often it's not. It's always best to have an expert give you some no cost advice before you make a costly fatal error.

    • Are retirement funds considered on financial aid forms?


      The account value isn't, but the contribution is added back to the AGI (Adjusted Gross Income - 1040 Line 37) and then assessed. In many cases the loss in financial aid is greater than the tax savings on the contribution! Check with a financial aid professional for the best way to benefit from this.

    • Can taking AP courses help students reduce their financial burden?


      Yes. Many schools will waive a course based on an AP score. Best to check with the school first to see what their policy is.

    • Do students have any financial aid options if they have already committed to a school early decision?


      Yes. The same as if they applied regular decision. However, the school may be much less generous, because ED tells the school you're not interested in aid - only acceptance.

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


      Pros - it can increase your scores tremendously

      Cons - you may not increase your scores, or you didn't do enough research and took the wrong course or class or read the wrong book

      Costs - $100's to $1,000's

    • What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?


      You can surely find those answers on the Internet and in many books on the subject. Talking to an expert will help too!

    • Does having a better score on the SAT increase the financial aid available to a student?


      It can. Many schools such as the University of Miami have guaranteed scholarships; if the GPA is x, and the SAT is Y, the student qualifies for Z scholarship. Be sure to apply early as there are deadlines.

    • For students with divorced parents, who is responsible for paying for college?


      That's a trick question! In any family, no matter what the status, it's always the STUDENT!

    • Got any advice to help with the math section of the SAT?


      Get a tutor! You can also review practice math exams.

    • Has the economic downturn affected financial aid?


      At some colleges yes, but at others, just the opposite.

    • How can a student's grandparents help pay for college tuition?


      By NOT having a Custodian Account in the student's name! They can purchase a Prepaid Tuition Plan so it's not considered a parent asset and also make contributions to a 529 Savings Plan that benefits the student, and a 529 Plan needs to be monitored closely. They can also write a check to the college, but I would only recommend it if the family didn't qualify for any need-based aid whatsoever. If the parents have terrible credit, they can also be the guarantor on a PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students).

    • How can families reposition their assets and income to receive a better financial award?


      Into fixed tax deferred annuities & specialized life ins. products. The principal will be guaranteed, safe, insured, outside the financial aid calculations & liquid! If the parents work for a living, it's impossible to have any of their income paid to anyone else, but if they own a small business, they can put all their the students on the payroll and be guaranteed to pay less in taxes. There are other legal strategies I've been using for 33 years, but too numerous to mention here.

    • How did the old federal aid program work? How does the new federal aid program work?


      Here's a simplified description of the basics:

      Stafford Loan

      Old cap on borrowing - 19,000

      New " " " 27,000 - this is actually VERY detrimental, since colleges can now save 8,000 of gift aid per student since they can ALL borrow an additional 8,000!

      Old interest rate cap - 8.25

      New " " " - 6.80

      Old lenders - numerous banks & private lenders w/fees, etc

      New lender - Uncle Sam

      Old PLUS interest rate - 8.5% fixed rate

      New " " " - 7.9% & the repayment depends on borrower's ability to pay

      Old PLUS terms - 1st payment due 30 days after 1st distribution

      New " " - ALL payments can be deferred until 6 mths after graduation!

      Old tax credit max - 1,500

      New " " " - 2,500

      Old assessment on ALL business assets - 5.1%-5.6%

      New " if <100 FT employees - 0

    • How do non-citizens residing in the US approach the financial aid application?


      If they have a Green Card, they're as equal as US citizens.

    • How do US citizens whose parents are not citizens approach the financial aid application?


      With difficulty at a state college, but a private college can treat that student any way it chooses. The student still qualifies for maximum federal aid.

    • How does a step-parent affect financial aid?


      A step-parent is considered the other parent in the formulas, as long as the student lives with him/her and their spouse.

    • How is financial aid determined?


      With the Institutional Methodology (CSS schools), or Federal Methodology (FAFSA). The actual formula is way too complex for this discussion, but both take into account:

      parent & student income & assets, age of older parent, number of students attending at the undergraduate level & the dependent status of the student. The CSS has a home equity assessment, while the FAFSA does not. In the final analysis, the EFC (Expected Family Contribution - the minimum the federal gov't determines a family will pay at any college) doesn't vary by that much, and in some cases the CSS EFC is lower.

    • How much does college really cost?


      It only costs what you pay while attending and when paying back loans - which could be a lot!

    • How much time is spent on each student's financial aid package?


      By the school, or the family who's crying about the bill? It's impossible to tell in either case.

    • If a student is taken care of by his/her grandparents, are they responsible for his/her college education?


      No one but the student is responsible for their own education!

    • If you are a US citizen wanting to study abroad, how does financial aid work?


      Depends where, when, & how long. Going to Oxford might cost 100% with $0 aid or $0 w/100% aid!

    • Is it possible to renegotiate your financial aid package?


      Absolutely! I've been doing just that since 1979 with phenomenal results!

    • Is there a difference in financial award for students who are accepted off the wait list?


      They will almost always be offered less, but a sharp negotiator might be able to get them more.

    • What are some different ways that students can pay for college?


      Scholarships, loans, grants, work, work study, having affluent parents or relatives who will foot the bill.

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


      Students are not in a position to do that; they need professional help. Could a student negotiate their income tax bill?

    • What are the different forms of aid a student can receive?


      Scholarships, loans, grants and federal work-study.

    • What are the most common mistakes students make on the financial aid application?


      The biggest mistake is having the student, and not the parents, complete the application! Like a tax return which is free, have an experienced financial aid advisor offer some free advice - and take it!

      Unless the family has no income or assets to speak of, they probably won't screw up the form too badly, and remember, both the CSS and FAFSA can be corrected if there are mistakes!

    • What can students do if there is a change in their family's financial circumstances?


      Have a professional assist them in writing a detailed letter to the Director of Financial Aid. If the situation warrants, Professional Judgment can be invoked, and the financial aid process can start all over with current numbers.

    • What can students do to increase their chances of getting need-based financial aid?


      Make sure their parents get a free financial aid consultation from an experienced financial aid expert to understand how the system works for and against them. It's quite similar to consulting a CPA before filing one's taxes.

    • What do students need to know about financial aid?


      That there are deadlines for filing forms

      All the basics, such as how does their income & assets impact financial aid.

      Why a financial aid consultation is absolutely mandatory before filing any forms.

      How a divorce or separation impacts on aid

      How private scholarships are mainly designed for families who receive NO need based aid

      Parents need to understand all the intricacies; students should know the basics.

    • What figures should you consider when you evaluate a financial aid offer from a school?


      Your EFC, amount of unmet need, gift aid vs self-help, the amount of your FWS - you did ask for a Federal Work-Study program, didn't you? Also, try to determine the school's average % of need met and in what proportion. Better yet, get some "free" professional advice!

    • What is the best way for students to finance their education?


      Since students have NO asset protection allowance and lose 20 cents in financial aid for every dollar they have, they have to "appear" broke. They do have an Income Protection Allowance (IPA) of about $6,000, but they need to "loan" their earnings to their parents or other relatives so they won't loose financial aid dollars - what a stupid system that penalizes students for their hard earned work!

      Stafford Loans are mandatory, as is a Federal Work-Study program. While in college they should also work, but be mindful of going over the IPA.

      Private scholarships for families who will receive need-based aid from private schools becomes phantom money, as the school will consider them an outside resource and deduct dollar for dollar from their own aid! I recently had a student at Northwestern who lost out on over $25,000 she rec'd in private scholarships - the school kept every dollar for itself to offset their aid!

    • What is work study?


      A Federal Work-Study award is an on or off campus job paid at minimum wage. It's usually $2,000 - $1,000 per semester. The first $1,000 earned goes to pay for the award, anything over that the student gets to keep. As long as the job doesn't conflict with studies, keep working through the college years. At very expensive private colleges, I've been able to get students $4,500 Federal Work-Study awards.

    • What kind of tax breaks might students be eligible for?


      If a dependent student's income is less than $5,800, they will pay $0 income tax. An independent student can earn $9,500 and pay $0 tax. An independent student can also qualify for $2,500 in tax credits if they pay for their own education.

    • What should students do if their non-custodial parents are out of the picture?


      Make sure they're not included in any financial aid forms or questionnaires.

    • What should students do if their parents don't want to pay for college?


      Find someone to co-sign a private loan or attend a local college, work and live at home - a very sad scenario.

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


      Students & parents are at a severe disadvantage in trying to obtain more aid. Ever try do finagle more of a refund from the IRS? Hire a professional like most parents do for their taxes.

    • What is the FAFSA?


      A Dept of Education form - Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The basis for need and non-need federal aid. Virtually all colleges require it to determine the EFC - Expected Family Contribution - the minimum amount the federal gov't determines a family will pay at any college. The EFC is based on parent & student income, assets, age of the older parent, taxes paid, dependent status of the student & how many students will be attending at least half time in the next college year. Three financial vehicles not included in the calculations are: retirement acct's, tax deferred annuities, and the cash value of life ins. policies.

    • What is more important on the FAFSA, income or assets?


      It all depends on the amount of income and amount of assets. Usually, if the adjusted gross income (1040 Line 37) is less than $45,000, a family will receive a Pell Grant. However, if there are substantial assets of say $100,000 or more, it will preclude them from receiving substantial need-based aid. There are too many variables for a simple answer - they're both important.

    • If students know they won't be eligible for financial aid, should they still fill out the FAFSA?


      First of all, how would a student know for sure? The truth is that every filer qualifies for federal student aid, namely a Stafford Loan and possibly a Federal Work-Study award. Additionally, if parents want to defer payments on college bills, then it's mandatory so they can qualify for a PLUS - Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students.

    • Should assets and income of stepparents be recorded on FAFSA?


      NO, unless the stepparent lives with the parent & student.

    • Should students pay someone to help them with the FAFSA?


      Although filing the form is free, so is filing an income tax return. Parents should get a "free" consultation from an experienced financial aid advisor before attempting to file the form. There are numerous legal strategies to qualify for maximum financial aid. I've been doing this for 33 years and can speak from vast experience.

    • How is the FAFSA different from the CSS profile? What is the CSS profile?


      There are only about 205 private and a few state colleges (U NC Chapel Hill is one) that require the CSS, but virtually every school requires the FAFSA. The CSS comes from the College Board; the FAFSA from the Dept. of Ed.

      Unlike the FAFSA, the CSS asks lifestyle questions such as information about home equity, the value of retirement acct's, annuities, cash value of life ins., autos leased or owned, payments to private high schools, etc. They give credits for certain items, and over the years the EFC (Expected Family Contribution) has been pretty close to equal. One year the EFC at Duke was less that the FAFSA EFC. The formulas are too complicated to do it yourself, so use a computer and hope for the best. This year NYU decided to require the CSS & UCLA did not.

    • How do you fill out the FAFSA?


      On line, carefully, and with the help of an expert. It is unwise to do a paper form, so go to www.fafsa.ed.gov, and be sure to avoid www.fafsa.com!

    • How can unemployed parents account for severance on the FAFSA?


      It's usually included on a W-2 or a 1099.

    • How do I manage my student loans?


      While in college make sure your parents pay the interest and take the student loan deduction if they qualify. Now that the feds have taken over the program, your ability to pay will be considered when it's payback time - Thank you President Obama!

    • How did the old student loan program work? How does the new student loan program work?


      The old program had a lesser amount of loans available. The new Stafford Loan program has both subsidized and unsubsidized loans for a total of $27,000 that can be borrowed at the undergraduate level. Graduate amounts have also increased, and more students are able to get subsidized loans even if the parent's income is over $100,000.

    • How can I use student loans to help pay for college?


      Borrow the maximum every year; 5,500, 6,500, 7,500, 7,500.

    • Can students work with loan companies to reduce their loan burden?


      While in college it's impossible. The loan company is now the federal gov't, and the ability to pay is now a crucial factor, so if a student makes all payments on time for 20 years, the remaining balance will be forgiven.

    • Does credit score have an impact on students' ability to apply for loans?



    • How will legislation changing the Federal Student Loan System affect families seeking loans?


      It's always too soon to tell until the legislation is enacted into law, so why speculate.

    • What are the advantages of loan consolidation?


      By consolidating loans, students can reduce the overall interest when paying them back.

    • What kinds of loan terms should students be looking for?


      Students are limited on the amount of Stafford & Perkins Loans, so while they're in school the terms are fixed. Private loans require a co-signor, and graduate students' loans terms are also fixed. After graduation it's payback time.

    • What are the best ways to pay off student loans?


      Negotiating an employment contract where paying off loans is a part of it.

    • What are the most common scholarship scams? How do I avoid them?


      Paying for the opportunity to apply is the most common, so don't pay first.

    • What are the best places to find scholarships for minorities and underrepresented students?


      Those students are most likely to receive phantom money instead!

    • What are the best places to look for college scholarships?


      The Internet, the college itself, even under a rock.

    • Is it better to focus on winning several small scholarships or one large one?


      It all depends on how much time one wants to invest with the unlikely prospect of receiving one.

    • What are Scholarship Selection Committees typically looking for?


      Honesty, sincerity, a long term commitment, and very often substantial financial need.

    • Is it possible to keep getting new scholarships as an entering freshman?


      In this life anything is possible.

    • How are merit scholarship decisions made?


      Usually by a committee. They take into consideration grades, scores, community service hrs, and special academic and community service achievements.

    • How can students use their essay to improve their chances of getting a scholarship?


      Overcoming adversity and being an academic superstar is always a perfect combination or being a care giver for a neighbor or family member.

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


      Unless you won't qualify for any need-based aid, don't waste your time. Otherwise the places to look are endless. Know anyone 6'8" with green hair?

    • What types of scholarships might I be eligible for?


      Depends on ethnic background, time devoted to a community service organization, academic prowess in a certain area. The list is endless, but be aware that for a family who qualifies for substantial need-based aid and receives college aid in grants & scholarships, a private scholarship will almost certainly wind up as phantom money! Virtually all colleges treat it as an outside resource and reduce their own aid dollar for dollar!

    • What can I do to increase the likelihood of getting a scholarship?


      Praying always helps. Seriously though, the more needy the family, the better the likelihood of receiving one.

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


      Set up a budget with help from their family, but like my mother told me when I was 15, "Never begrudge yourself a good meal!"

    • What are some ways that students can make money while in college?


      Tutoring, doing odd jobs for others in the dorm, make sure they ask for a Federal Work-Study program when filing the FAFSA, working off campus, chauffeuring students if they have a car, cooking in your room for others & selling meals, doing research for a professor who has a fellowship.

    • What are some good money-saving tips for students?


      Keep <$100 in your name as students have NO asset protection allowance and lose 20 cents a year for every dollar they have in their name. Contact book publishers to see if there are any defective textbooks or any overstocks you might get gratis or at a reduced price. Sell your old books & any useless stuff you may have. If you have unused meal tickets, sell them to the highest bidder.

    • What are some of the hidden costs of college?


      Many colleges assume students have no health coverage and bill accordingly. Be sure to check this on the Bursar's bill. If so, contact them and ask for a waiver card verifying that there is coverage as a dependent on the parent's health plan. If not, you're SOL (Surely Outta Luck)! There are also a host of misc. fees that show up from time to time, so be aware and ask exactly what & why.

    • How can college students find the best banking plans?


      There really aren't any. As long as there are no monthly charges, go for it!!

    • How can students save money during the admissions process?


      They absolutely, positively shouldn't be saving, since for every dollar they have, they'll lose 20 cents/year in financial aid! However, for EVERY student whose parents own a business they should be on the payroll for at least $6,000. That's the income protection allowance for 2012. The student will pay a pittance in tax, but the parents can save $500-$1,000 or even more - consult your tax adviser!

    • How can students save money during the college search?


      They can't unless they loan all their money to parents or grandparents. Money in a Custodian Account is an irrevocable gift, and can't be removed by the student until they turn 18, usually after they've entered the financial aid system. There are legal asset repositioning strategies however.

    • How can students save money on textbooks?


      Buy used books, trade or tutor other students in lieu of paying for them. Another novel idea is to contact the publisher and ask for a defective or overstocked copy.

    • How can students squeeze cash out of their school?


      It's virtually impossible for students to become expert negotiators - they need professional help.

    • What should students know about credit cards?


      Interest rates, grace periods, ALL the basics & read the small print!

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


      Tutoring, doing research for professors who have fellowships, chauffeur perhaps, campus tour guide, being an RA - no cash, but a substantial housing discount.

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


      Being billed for health ins., as many colleges assume the student has none. All that needs to be done is to submit a waiver card substantiating that they're covered as a dependent. If not, you're SOL (Surely Outta Luck)!

      There are a host of "fees" that colleges tack on for any number of things that are too numerous to mention. CHECK THE BILL FROM THE BURSAR'S OFFICE EVERY SEMESTER!

    • What will I end up spending money on?


      Books, furniture, food, other creature comforts that suit you.

    • Where should I do my shopping?


      On the Internet, used book stores, flea markets, the Salvation Army, 2nd hand furniture stores, or possibly Louis Vuitton, Bloomingdale's or other high profile stores.

    • Should students choose a school based on the size of its Financial Aid offer?


      What's most important for the student is the right fit, the right curriculum available, & a secondary course of study if they change their major. They should really like the campus and be comfortable in their new surroundings. If not enough aid is offered, there's an appeals process that can be done (with the help of an expert) for each of the 8 semesters that the student will be there. If the school is absolutely unaffordable, there better be other alternatives, such as an affordable safety school. There are so many variables for this than a simple answer is difficult, but a whopping financial aid offer isn't always the most important reason for attending.

    • What if the school students want to go to offers less Financial Aid?


      Well there's always the appeals process for each & every semester. I've been appealing unappealing offers for 33 years with tremendous success! Don't go it alone - hire a professional w/a proven track record.

    • Is it possible to negotiate the school's offer?


      Yes. I've been appealing & negotiating offers with great success for 33 years!

    • How can students ask for more grant money?


      Very tactfully, and it really requires the help of an experienced professional. It also depends on whatever the school offered to be able to ask for more, but as I previously stated, there are 8 opportunities to appeal for more aid.

    • What if a student was accepted Early Decision but the Financial Aid offer is inadequate?


      You can always appeal, but it's often an exercise in futility. ED tells the college you don't care about financial aid, only being accepted! The family should have researched the school well in advance of letting their student apply ED. You can almost always be let out of an ED scenario, but it's a little late to start applying to colleges in May!

    • What if students can't afford any of the schools they were accepted to?


      This should NEVER happen, since they should have applied to a few schools that were financially "safe".

    • Should students go to the best school they were accepted to, even if they will graduate with more debt?


      It depends on how much of a better program the school has and how much additional debt will be incurred. This is a generalization; I need specifics to answer this more precisely.

    • What's too much debt?


      Since a student can only borrow $27,000 in Stafford Loans & $27,500 in Perkins Loans, that shouldn't be too much. Parents with reasonable credit can borrow $200,000 or more if necessary under the PLUS program.

      Thanks to President Obama, both student loans & PLUS repayments are based on the borrower's ability to pay, so "too much" is really a vague number. Again, this question begs the point, but a simple answer can't possibly suffice.

    • If students can't find a job after college, will they be able to pay down their loans?


      Parents should at least pay the interest, if they can deduct it on their taxes, but with no job, students can get a deferment until such time as they find gainful employment.

    • What other questions should students be asking?


      When can we set up a chat to get one-on-one answers from an expert?

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


      With those schools & certainly many others it's always a crap shoot, and I can speak from experience as to their admissions policies. Sometimes it's too many students with a specific ethnic background or too many students from the same high school who apply. For very high profile students, it's extremely important to spread your options & apply to 8-10 or even 10-12 colleges.

      To avoid the above situation, students must present themselves differently and out of the box. One of the strategies I use is getting non-applicants on campus interviews in the 10th & 11th grade. It's never too early to begin the process. I like to start working w/kids just before they enter high school or very soon thereafter.

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


      Appeal - yes. Does it ever work - hardly!

      Anything can be appealed, however, the best I've every accomplished was to get the school to accept a transfer application for the sophomore year. Unfortunately, the student's grades (2.8) were below what was expected (3.0), so she was declined.

      In all my 33 years, I've only attempted to appeal a rejection a few times and haven't been successful. I'm sure it's happened once in a while, but it's certainly a rarity today with the over abundance of applications.

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


      Absolutely, unless the school rejected from doesn't take transfer students, but most do. I've done this in the past, & here's my approach:

      1. Confirm from the Director of Admissions that a transfer application will be accepted, but especially under what specific conditions

      2. Keep them apprised of any & ALL positive developments, superior grades, etc.

      3. Send the DOA a Thanksgiving card, Christmas/Chanukkah card, & a Happy New Year phone call

      4. Say a prayer & good luck!

    • How can students get the most out of life in the dorms?


      Be a good roommate & dormie. Respect others, follow all the rules so you don't get put on probation, academic or otherwise!

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


      You should have applied to at least 6-8 schools - big mistake if you only applied to 2!

    • What is the food like on college campuses across the country?


      It varies, but if you have dietary restrictions, it's mandatory to find out that they will be met before application time!

    • What exactly is a Resident Advisor?


      An RA is an upperclassman or woman who helps students with all sorts of problems. They are often like a Father/Mother Confessor. They benefit from free or reduced tuition, and that's a great way to save on college costs. Find out before attending what it takes to become one.

      There's an old caveat that I try to live by; Plan your work, work your plan. No one plans to fail, but too many fail to plan!

    • How can students make the most of dorm life?


      Keep your room clean and respect what your roommate likes & dislikes. Follow the rules, so as not to wind up on probation - academic or otherwise.

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


      You'll have no choice, so you better just consider it your 1st choice!

    • What are some tips for surviving life with a roommate?


      Here's something my 10th grade English teacher said, "Before you begin a debate, you must define your terms." That holds true for any kind of relationship.

      Be cordial, honest and keep your stuff neat & clean. Respect your roommate's wishes so there won't be a conflict.

    • What are some tips on getting along with your roommate?


      Here's something my 10th grade English teacher said that has impacted on my entire life: "Before you begin a debate, you must define your terms." This holds true for any relationship in life.

      Be respectful, considerate, share your stuff & keep your things neat & tidy.

    • What are some quick easy foods that college students can make?


      Anything you can cook in a microwave or eat out of a can, a box, or a jar. Stock up on staples from your parent's pantry when they're not looking!

    • How important is ranking and reputation in evaluating a college?


      They shouldn't be the most important. Your opinion & satisfaction are what count, not what someone else thought. However, you need to be aware of certain points for & against any college you're considering. The school's rank is only in relation to how your needs will be satisfied. Don't believe everything you read. You need to talk to present & past students to hear it from the horse's mouth!

    • How important is the official website in evaluating a college?


      Obviously it's biased, but you already knew that. It's very important. Study it thoroughly, as you might find that the school is perfect or that you wouldn't be caught dead there. Call them to clarify or answer questions, but make sure you know exactly who you're talking to. A student working in the financial aid office only has limited knowledge & could easily give out misleading info.

      In my opinion, the first thing in choosing a college is ELIMINATING schools from your list & concentrating on those that are left!

    • How important is selectivity in evaluating colleges?


      You want to be as selective as feasibly possible, unless you don't care - & that would surely be a poor choice! Nothing's perfect, and you'll have to make the best of it, but you don't want to be miserable doing it, so plan well in advance or suffer the consequences.

      Remember, it's you who's doing the selecting, not some 3rd party!

    • What are the best ways to get unbiased opinions about a school?


      Talk to current & past students, guidance counselors, and college admissions experts who have NO ax to grind! Get copies of student newspapers and see what their comments are. Obviously, there are other sources of info on the Internet; a Google search can reveal unlimited possibilities!

    • What are some important facts or statistics to consider when evaluating a college?


      Here are a few:

      % of students who graduate in 4 yrs

      % of gift aid vs self-help & what % of financial need does the school traditionally meet

      % of teaching assistants, if any

      Prospects for internships

      Study abroad programs available

      % of students who go on to graduate school

      Job prospects upon graduation

      Surely, you'll have some additional ones.

    • What makes a great college essay?


      Here are some favorite topics & subjects to write about:

      1. Overcoming adversity

      2. A life changing experience, whether religious or otherwise - one of my students wrote about her trek up Medjugorje, and it was awe inspiring

      3. Why I must attend XYZ U!

      4. We all know what ABC U has to offer the world, let me tell you what I have to offer ABC!

    • What are some tips regarding video essays?


      Make sure the school will accept one, follow whatever guidelines they have and rehearse until it's as perfect as possible. If there's no mention of one, call the school and get ALL necessary specifics before submitting one.

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


      Do tell the truth; don't lie

      Be concise; don't be verbose

      Focus on the subject you know most - you; Don't write in the style of e e cummings

      Use descriptive words; NO 4-letter words or distasteful words

      Be contrite; don't be trite

      Create imagery; don't describe things in minutia

      There are numerous others in my book, which is free with a consultation.

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


      No one knows the real answer to that question.

    • Is it ok to have someone proofread your essay?


      You better, and make sure they're an expert in grammar or someone with vast experience like one of us!

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


      That's highly recommended if they're experts in grammar, and under NO circumstances should anyone but the student WRITE the essay!

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


      Depending on what the essay's about, it could, but doesn't necessarily have to.

    • How important is the essay?


      It usually is very important, and some colleges attach extra importance, but some don't. No one really knows for sure, so write one that's superlative in both content & grammar!

    • Should students include a resume in their college application?


      Yes, and it better be more than 1 page, or you surely haven't accomplished much. Don't include one if the school forbids it, otherwise, talk to some admissions experts in advance to see if your resume has all the right stuff.

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


      Do write in sound bites

      Make sure your name is in a large font

      List your life's accomplishments in addition to academic performance

      Mention travel & summers

      List your interests

      Be sure to list your numbers

      Mention anything unusual in your family, such as 1 of 11 kids or 8th generation Floridian

      Language fluency can be a plus

      Under Misc you could say something like, I have the respect of my peers. That's actually on MY resume.

      Don't write in sentences

      Don't use other than white paper

      The more you say, the better

      Mention superior accomplishments in middle school, if possible

      No need to mention address, em, phone number; ss# should suffice

      Extensive work history is not important - community service hrs are

      Whatever you say, don't make things up!

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


      Here's what to include:

      Sound bites - NOT sentences!

      Your numbers

      Academic accolades

      Community service hrs

      Athletic performance & awards


      Work History

      Interests - academic & otherwise

      Special areas of expertise - math whiz, Yo-Yo Ma move over!

      Anything unusual in your family like 1/11 kids or Mayflower Compact descendant

      Something personal like - I have the respect of my peers

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


      If this is a job resume, simply list what's on your academic resume, but summarize, since it shouldn't be more than 1 page. This question isn't specific enough to really answer it properly.

      An academic resume w/minimal job experience is perfect.

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


      Very often it can be the deciding factor to tip the scales - one way or the other. Sometimes it just winds up in the trash, never being reviewed. It's always to your advantage to include one, unless you've had very, very few accomplishments in high school.

    • What are the most popular extracurriculars?


      Debate, Yearbook, language club, orchestra, band, sports, etc.

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


      Club teams are usually off-campus, while varsity sports are in at school stadiums with 10's of 1,000's watching!

    • Do employers look at extracurriculars?


      Some do, some don't. It's better to have them than not.

    • Will athletics take away from my academics?


      They could, because a lot of time will be required. If you budget your time properly, perhaps it won't.

    • What are the most competitive extracurricular activities?


      It all depends on the high school or college, ranging from drama to athletics. But it really depends on the school.

    • Can anybody join any extracurricular activity or do I have to be accepted?


      It all depends on the school, but for most you have to be accepted.

    • What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?


      Setting yourself up for a great paying job in the future or getting a great LOR (Letter Of Recommendation) for a job or for graduate school.

    • What are the best ways to land an internship?


      With a great LOR (Letter Of Recommendation). It's also important to realize that who you know is often vastly more important than what you know!

    • How can students make the most of their college internships?


      Do exactly what you're told to do. In many cases it's more important to simply do what you're told, rather than trying to change something to what you perceive is better. Be sure to ask for an LOR (Letter Of Recommendation).

    • How important are internships for college students?


      They can be extremely valuable if you play your cards right!

    • How does the interview work?


      Some colleges don't have any, but for those that do they must be arranged in advance. There are: on campus, off campus, interviews w/alums, students, and/or admissions staff.

      It is highly advisable to have one so as to present yourself in person, rather than just as a series of numbers and statements. The interview can be a make or break situation, so it is advisable to do interview prep w/an expert in the field. I could write a book about what follows (actually it's part of a chapter in my book), but that's for a brief free consultation.

    • What are some tips for acing the college interview?


      Some colleges don't have any, but for those that do they must be arranged in advance. There are: on campus, off campus, interviews w/alums, students, and/or admissions staff.

      It is highly advisable to have one so as to present yourself in person, rather than just as a series of numbers and statements. The interview can be a make or break situation, so it is advisable to do interview w/an expert in the field. I could write a book about what follows (actually it's part of a chapter in my book), but that's for a consultation - brief (free) or otherwise.

    • Who conducts the college interviews?


      On campus - students, admissions personnel, admissions higher ups/

      Off campus - alums and all of the above

      Learn how to get an on campus interview when the college doesn't give them! That can be the coup de gras in the admissions process!

    • Does the college interview really count?


      It has been a pass/fail, make or break situation for years!

    • Is it possible that a college interview could be conducted by a student?


      That's a distinct possibility, but treat them as someone from the admissions dept.

    • How can a student prepare themselves best for a college interview?


      Since the interview can be a pass/fail, interview prep with a professional is surely worthwhile. If that's not possible, rehearse with friends or parents and visit a book store and read up on some interview strategies. You should also be aware of the 3 things you MUST bring to any interview.

    • What are the best ways to answer the question: Tell me about yourself?


      "Obviously, I'm qualified or I wouldn't be here. I'm honest, friendly, have a passion to learn, I'll surely make a difference here, I have the respect of my peers and elders alike, and I have a burning desire to join the Class of '16. Surely these traits will make me acceptable."

    • Are there things a student should never say during a college interview?


      No foul or sexually explicit language, and don't mention other colleges or make comparisons!

    • Is there anything I need to know about interviews, not just for college, but for scholarships and jobs too?


      Plenty! Like how to present your credentials, what 3 things you MUST bring to every interview, and why you're there in the first place!

    • Can body language and position impact the interview?


      Absolutely! I've been doing interview prep for years, and crossing one's arms is a no no! Eye contact is of utmost importance, and answering questions succinctly is also a must. If a question calls for a yes or a no - don't elaborate!

      Here's my favorite question to ask, but only if the interviewer is an alum. "What's the one thing you're sorry you didn't take advantage of when you were a student that I must absolutely avail myself of?" You have no idea how far that can get you. By the way, do you know the 3 things you MUST bring to every interview?

    • How can having a theme song help ace the college interview?


      If the interviewer is a frustrated tenor perhaps! At least they could do a sing-a-long with you.

      It's a little different if you're having an audition to enter the College of Music.

    • Should minority students approach the application process differently? How so?


      By all means explain your family's history, but only your your race is unusual, such as Afro-Asian or Indo-Hispanic. A culture mix is appealing to admissions officers as it broadens the makeup of their student body.

    • Is there any benefit to checking “no race” on the application?


      NO! Only a robot could check that.

    • Are there any financial aid or scholarship offers specifically for minority students?


      Yes. Do a Google search, and you'll find an endless amount, and maybe you'll qualify for one or more.

    • What exactly is Affirmative Action and how does it affect minority students?


      Affirmative Action is when a less qualified minority individual gets picked before a more qualified individual. This also applies to students, but not as much now as it did in the 60's.

    • What are some current issues facing minority prospective students and college students?


      Being picked for the least popular jobs in the Federal Work-Study Program. This also applies to internships and jobs in the real world. Unfortunately, prejudice exists in many forms and in all areas of life.

    • Should LGBT students approach the application process differently? How so?


      Sexual preference is not a question on any application, however, to avoid possible issues w/roommates, etc., I recommend full disclosure.

    • Are there any financial aid or scholarship offers specifically for LGBT students?


      Yes, The Point Foundation is one of many. Do a Google search for more.

    • What are some current issues facing LGBT college students?


      Many of the same acceptance issues they faced in high school and will face throughout their life.

    • Which schools are known for being LGBT-friendly?


      Here are a few:

      Stanford University, Bennington, Emerson, Macalester, New College - FL, NYU, Prescott College, Sarah Lawrence, U WI Madison, Wellesley

    • What questions should LGBT students be asking during the college search?


      Make sure your sexual preference is acceptable - to professors as well as students.

    • How many schools should I apply to?


      Al least 8-10, or maybe more.

      2-3 sure admits

      2-3 mid range

      2-3 reach

      0 - out of reach

    • Is early decision important for international students?


      Yes, since there's no federal aid, and maybe none from the college, they need an edge in admissions.

    • TOEFL or IELTS, which test is better for college admissions?


      The TOEFL.

    • How many TOEFL exams should I take before the application deadline and can I ask for a fee waiver?


      If you think you can continue to improve your score, go for it!

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


      Your numbers are your numbers, but you're a unique individual. Write about your life experiences, travel, etc., and especially how a 4-year education at XYZ will benefit you. Be specific in naming names, and you're sure to enhance your chances of getting in.

    • Is a college admissions interview necessary for an international student?


      Necessary & highly advisable. It's always better for the college to meet a student so they can have a better chance to evaluate you on other than your numbers.

    • Should I apply for financial aid as an international student?


      You can't file a FAFSA, but many state & private colleges have special forms for intn'l students. Ask first, rather than be disappointed later.

    • Are there similarities between US college admissions and the Chinese domestic college entrance exam?


      In China college applicants must first pass this test. In the US, your test scores have already been sent to the colleges to be evaluated with all other admissions documents. There's a finite test score requirement in China, not quite the same here in that respect only.

    • I am an international student, how do I select the correct major?


      As far as selection goes, I have my own formula:

      1. Take out a sheet of lined paper, draw a line down the bottom making 2 columns

      2. Name 1 Will Study, name the other Won't

      3. Narrow down the Will side and there's your answer

      Obviously, if you're not 100% focused, the above will only serve as a guide to get you on your way.

      In my case, I had a facility for languages and took 4 yrs of French in private school. After college I turned down a teaching job in a language institute and went into sales. I got into financial services in 1977 and have been in financial aid trench warfare since 1979 - longer than most!

    • How do I select my first year curriculum during online registration, and how does an ESL program factor in?


      If you had these thoughts in mind, it'd be a no brainer:

      Plan your work,

      Work your plan.

      No one plans to fail,

      But too many fail to plan.

      Every college has their own ESL program, but you should have already known that!

    • What can international students do to enhance their chances of getting financial aid?


      They can't file a FAFSA, but a personal meeting with the director of financial aid is highly recommended, and many colleges have special financial aid forms as well.

    • What financial aid is available for international students?


      Only what a state or private college chooses to offer, and it could be a lot from a private school. Nothing from Uncle Sam though.

    • How are international students evaluated?


      With more scrutiny than ordinary students, but they are often multi-lingual, very well traveled and have much to add to the diversity of the student population. Colleges also verify that they can afford to pay w/$0 in financial aid.

    • How do students compare which school is right for them?


      The same way any student does with a complete checklist of what's offered, & available & meets the student's needs & desires. If so, then that school's a perfect choice.

    • How do students know whether they will be supported?


      They need to find out well in advance if there are on campus support groups or in the community where the school is located.

    • Should students choose (or not choose) a school based on how supportive the environment is vs. other factors that might be important to them?


      Some students need more support than others, so for them it would be a necessity to have a very strong supportive environment. For others, it might not be that important.

    • What if the school students want to attend has below average support structures in place?


      Then maybe that's the wrong school for them.

    • What questions should students be asking?


      Questions like what support services are available, how much financial aid is available, are there group meetings and the like, in addition to all the basic questions from the student's checklist - you did have an extensive list didn't you?

    • What questions should students with learning differences be asking during the college search?


      Will my disability be taken into consideration when I apply & to what extent, & how will I be accommodated if I enroll?

    • Should students with learning differences contact the admissions office during the application process? Before applying? After applying?


      Before applying is the optimum time to contact colleges. Get all the particulars first. If there are no drawbacks, then apply. If so, look elsewhere.

    • Are there certain schools that cater to students with learning differences more than others?


      Yes, and here are a few:

      Landmark College, Putney, VT

      U AZ

      Beacon College, FL

      Curry College, Milton, MA

      Northeastern University

      U CO, Colorado Springs

    • How should students address their learning differences on the application?


      Honestly, directly & thoroughly. You can't hide one, or you could be looking at an early exit from the campus.

    • Grades and test scores aside, can a learning difference affect a student's chance of acceptance?


      it can be a positive or negative result, and it better be revealed completely on the application - or else!

    • How do students compare which school is right for them?


      If getting around will be a snap, then that's probably number 2 on the check-off list. Number 1 is if the school has the right curriculum; financial aid is number 3.

    • How do students know whether they will be able to get around freely?


      Check out the campus well in advance, and explore various issues that could be present and be a problem for the student. If most scenarios work, that that school is a sure possibility.

    • Should students choose (or not choose) a school based on the accessibility of its campus?


      I surely would & I'd believe that virtually ALL students would. Again, no exactly right answer.

    • What if the school students want to attend has below average accessibility?


      It all depends on YOUR accessibility. If it can satisfy your situation, go for it! If not, look elsewhere.

    • What questions should students be asking?


      Here are a few:

      What's the best number to call in an emergency?

      Where's the health center & nearest hospital - just in case?

      Are you absolutely certain that you'll be able to satisfy all my issues on this list (you better have one w/lots of questions!)

      What support groups are there on campus or in town or nationally?

      What students, past or present, with my particular disability can I talk to?

    • Does having a learning disability impact your chances of admission?


      It could, but it all depends on the college's requirements, how they evaluate and how they can accommodate one's specific learning disability.

    • How does a student establish college eligibility for disability support services?


      Call the college & simply ask what the requirements are.

    • Is there a resource with information on DSS offices throughout the country?


      The National Center on Workforce and Disability is the place to start your specific search.

    • Should students disclose a disability on the admission application?


      Absolutely, so they can be assured that all necessary steps are taken to satisfy it if the student decides to attend that school. Otherwise, it could be a disaster!

    • Is the disability support services provided in college the same as those in high school?


      Minors are treated differently than adults, and college is an around the clock experience. There are differences too numerous to mention.

    • What are the best ways for students with disabilities to find the right college?


      Have an in depth discussion with the DSS office & support staff well in advance of applying or making a campus visit.

    • Will the DSS staff have expertise in every student's disability?


      Don't assume they do. Call the school first before applying.

    • When should a prospective student make contact with the disability support office?


      Before they apply, or applying could be an exercise in futility!

    • Can I get extra time on the SAT if I have a learning disability?


      Most like yes, but call in advance.

    • How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?


      Just like any other student, but it depends that everything related to your disability can be satisfied.

      When I was in college, a blind girl was in one of my classes. Someone took notes for her, and she got around the campus (Akron U) faster than you can imagine! She was also in a fire and was disfigured.

    • How do colleges view a gap year?


      Some are for, some are against, and it all depends on what, when, where, how & why the gap year was spent. Juvenile hall could be a serious negative. Working with tornado or other natural disaster victims would be a real plus.

    • How should students frame their gap year on the college application?


      Include the following:

      What you did; where you did it; how you did it; why you did it; when you did it. Also, what valuable lessons were learned & how will this affect the rest of your life.

    • In what ways, if any, can taking a gap year be beneficial for an applicant?


      Here are a few:

      If you were fortunate enough to travel extensively & see other cultures

      You'll surely develop a sense of maturity being out in the real world

      It will broaden your horizons

      You'll get a taste of how others live beyond the confines of suburbia

      You'll probably see poverty you never imagined & living conditions that were abominable

      You'll have a sense of accomplishment by helping others if you become involved in community service or disaster relief

      Helping those less fortunate always gives one a warm fuzzy feeling

      And much, much more...

    • In what ways can taking a gap year be harmful to an applicant?


      If any of the following resulted:

      You spent time in juvenile hall

      You signed on as a ship's mate & became violently ill with seasickness

      You went to an arctic climate & wound up w/severe frostbite

      You went to a jungle & caught some rare & horrible disease

      You went to work in the inner city & became a crime victim - or worse

      Or any number of other harmful results

    • How should students spend their time during a gap year?


      Here are a few suggestions:

      DON'T WORK!

      Sign up for community service or do disaster relief

      They can write a book or pursue a course of study such as, "Who Killed Kennedy", Causes of the Disappearance of the Dinosaurs, or some other academic pursuit

      Be a volunteer in your own community or elsewhere

      If you're bi-lingual, assist those who have trouble w/English

      If you're politically motivated, become a campaign volunteer

      If you're talented in the arts or music, put on free concerts or art shows for the less fortunate, not just the well to do

      If your family has the dough, go on a worldwide trip and see as many cultures as possible - by ship, or preferably by land or rail travel

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


      Based on your college criteria, they can do Internet searches, and as far as applications, they can review them for content, input & errors.

    • If your parents are too involved, can they hurt your chances?


      Yes. If they're too overbearing it can make it a very frustrating experience. Keep them in the background, but don't hesitate to ask for help when necessary - like reviewing your paperwork for errors.

    • How can parents help students with the application process?


      By reviewing all work for errors, either grammatical or otherwise. Stay in the background, but always be available for your help & support.

    • Do colleges keep parents informed of their child's academic progress?


      Some do, but most don't, and you'll need a Philadelphia lawyer to get a copy of their transcript!

    • Any advice for parents on paying for college?


      Plenty! For the past 33 years, I've been helping families send their kids to the college of their choice for less than they ever imagined! I'm also the author of, "How To Pay For College Without Going Broke." Here are just a few tidbits of advice:

      1. Make sure ALL students have <$100 in their name. In the financial aid formulas students have NO APA (Asset Protection Allowance), and lose 20 cents/yr in financial aid for every dollar they have. Siblings under age 19 are sometimes included, so that's why they all need to be broke.

      2. Parents do have an APA, and in a 2 parent family, with the older parent 50, the APA is $46,600. A single parent age 45 only has $14,200! Assets include: cash, checking, savings, savings bonds, Prepaid Tuition Plans, 529 Savings Plans, stocks, bonds, mutual funds & real estate other than the home. Any assets over the APA will cost the family 5.64%/yr in lost financial aid. There are legal asset repositioning strategies, but too numerous to mention here.

      3. For those families who own a small business, put your kids on the payroll! Students have a $6,000 Income Protection Allowance, and the tax consequence will be infinitesimal, but the business could save $1,000's!

      4. Consider a PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) as a way to pay your EFC and any unmet need. Payments are deferred until 6 mths after graduation, the interest cost is 7.9%, and if they qualify parents can take the Student Loan Interest deduction of up to $2,500. Check with your tax preparer.

    • What should parents do during campus visits?


      Be sure to stay out of the financial aid office! Try to take a back seat, but if certain questions aren't asked on the tour, make sure to ask them for your student.

    • What role should parents play as their children are applying to college?


      Try to be somewhat in the background, but be sure to review everything as a fail safe measure. You better have some ground rules about how much you are willing to pay, and remember this old adage - Before you begin a debate, you must define your terms.

    • How can I help my kid manage the stress of the application process?


      Consider hiring a professional; you're too close to the situation. What would your kid recommend if you were stressing out about your income taxes or a pending separation or divorce?

    • How should I deal with my parents stressing me out?


      Not knowing your family personally, there are way too many variables to give you expert advice.

    • How can I help my child pay for college?


      You better! Since students are limited on how much they can borrow, if you have a high EFC, and a large amount of unmet need, if you don't help, they won't be going to that college.

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


      Here's what to consider:

      You're giving up the known for the unknown

      You may not be able to transfer all your credits

      Amount of financial aid you'll get

      Friends you'll leave behind

      Did I weigh all the pros & cons, and is this the best course to take

      If the ends will be justified by the means, go for it! This can be a life-changing experience, so make the most of it, and always consider the previous sentence.

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


      Answer all questions honestly & accurately.

      If there's a question about why you're transferring, brag about their school & how you'll be a great addition to it.

      If there are specific reasons about the transfer, don't hold back. Include your resume info if possible. Hopefully you'l have some great LOR's (Letters Of Recommendation) that will accompany it. Also, you should have had a personal interview & maybe you can reference it somewhere.

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


      It depends on which way the wind is blowing, but...

      Will all my credits count

      Will financial aid be abundant

      Will I be able to graduate on time

      What are the job prospects with a degree from this school

      What's the likelihood of getting into a great graduate program if necessary

      Another kind of red flag is in the reason why you're transferring in the first place. It depends on how one interprets the question.

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


      Check w/the school in advance & get it in writing that your credits will be transferable! Make sure the college receives whatever necessary paperwork is required for a smooth transfer.

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


      You should be aware of the numbers required so you'll be qualified. A valid reason for the transfer is obvious, and hopefully an on campus interview to solidify it and make one acceptable.

    • What do students need to know about transferring?


      They need to get all the stats in advance of their chances of getting in, what credits will be transferable, and how much aid might be available.

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