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  • Susan Sykes

    Title: President
    Company: SS Advisor

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  • Admissions Expertise

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


      By planning ahead, you can be ready to hit the ground running in senior year. Do what you can this year, beginning with SAT and ACT testing. Try to take each twice in second semester. Learn about the options: large v small; urban v. rural or suburban; liberal arts college v. university. Don't "think" you know the differences--take time to see samples of each. Do this at schools near you--you'll learn how to "do" a college visit and be ready for serious campus visits in the summer and fall.

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


      If you must budget closely your first year in college, it will seem as though every quarter counts. And while you may encounter unexpected expenses for classes (a specific notebook here, a special tool for an art class there), most of the surprises will come on the social front: pizza in the dorm; would you like a Coke; tickets for a concert—and a souvenir program; an invitation to a party—and “something to wear?” It all adds up and you may find you have too much month at the end of the money.

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


      First, sit down and compose a letter to your second-choice school. Tell them you remain interested in their college and hope they will admit you from the wait list. Include new information you might have such as third quarter grades (which you haven’t allowed to slip!) and recent accomplishments or awards that may have come your way. Then revisit the remaining options. Consider your initial ‘wish list’ and research each school in that context. Rank order these schools. Finally, visit as many schools as possible to help you decide. 

    • How many schools should I apply to?


      If you have made a careful self-analysis and have also reviewed colleges that fit the criteria you set for yourself, you may be able to apply to as few as three or four colleges. If you're a person who isn't sure what kind of environment you want or if you believe you can be happy just about anywhere, you probably will apply to more than this. A good guideline is to apply to one or two colleges you recognize are "reach" schools--you have only a15-20% chance of being admitted--and apply to a minimum of three schools where you have a good chance of being admitted. Then select between two and four schools where you have about a 50-50 chance of being admitted. This would result in between six and nine applications. One thing I would not advise is to apply to all the most-selective schools on the theory that you "might" get into one of them. Colleges read applications looking for "fit" and will know you haven't done your homework!

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