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  • Tammy Smith

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  • Admissions Expertise

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


      Give your teachers the basic facts, which they can use to strengthen the points they’re making about your character.  If your biology teacher wants to write that you take initiative, it looks good if she can back that up with a comment, say, about how you led a project to the wetlands the month before.  If your math teacher is also your tennis coach, help him remember that you were a Math League participant as well as a state-qualifier in Doubles.

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


      A waitlist is an actual list and you might be towards the top or towards the bottom. You are well within your rights to call and ask what your status is and to politely withdraw yourself from consideration if you feel you are too far down to have a real chance of getting accepted. If you want to remain on the waitlist, contact the school to let them know you’re still interested.

      But, whether you’ve been waitlisted or deferred, don’t bombard the admissions office with calls, emails, letters of recommendation, questions, or testimonials from family friends. There’s a fine line, as everyone who has been on a date knows, between being persistent and acting like a stalker. If you win a new accolade, ask your high school admissions officer to call the school on your behalf. The news will seem more significant coming from a third party.

      In either case, keep your grades up as schools will continue to monitor your academic progress. If you are offered a second interview, take the opportunity. You may be able to communicate your enthusiasm better in person.

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


      Before writing your essay, take notes! Even though you have only 25 minutes to write, you'd be surprised how much taking a couple minutes to outline your essay can help in the long run. Now of course, we're not talking a super-neat outline that you'd turn in for a project. It only has to be legible to you. The test-makers know you have only 25 minutes to write the essay, so they are not expecting something that is final-draft quality. Essays that earn the highest possible score may still have mistakes or style problems, but they should have a strong general structure. Taking a minute to outline your thesis and supporting points will help big-time in this regard.

    • How do I manage my student loans?


      Consolidation means taking all your federal student loans and combining them into one big loan under one lender. the easiest way to figure out whether or not you should consolidate is to pay attention to your loans’ interest rates. Are they variable or fixed? If they’re variable, look into consolidation. If they’re fixed, you might not want to consolidate. You should generally wait until July 1 if you do consolidate because that’s when the rates for student loans with variable interests reset. On July 1, 2008, borrowers with variable-rate Stafford loans saw their interest rate drop from 7.22 percent to 4.21 percent. 

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


      There are no guarantees in life, so have a backup plan.  Talk as a family about what the options are if no college acceptance letters arrive in the mail. Students can work, volunteer, take classes at a community college, or take a gap year.  All of these things build both resumes and character and will likely give students a much better chance of getting into college the following year. Talking about and planning for the worst case scenario is imperative for reducing stress, should the worst actually happen.

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