Let’s be Grateful for this Great Year

You’ve had an incredible, stressful and transformative ride so far as a college applicant. You may not realize the scope or impact of what you’ve done to prepare for and complete your college applications yet, but you’ll soon realize the outcomes of your hard work.

Based on my article I wrote for Jewel’s website (I’m dating myself, do you know who Jewel is? She was a big deal when I was in high school.).

My life hasn’t always been easy and it’s not always easy now. But I have many things to be grateful for and you do too.  

We must remember to be grateful when we’re feeling stressed, low, and out of control – frequent emotions that overwhelm us as we wait for college decisions. (I got pneumonia while in the middle of my college application process, so I certainly know the feeling!)

Studies show that expressing gratitude helps you feel better and less overwhelmed. Some of these exercises might help (and some come from...

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4 Tips for Completing The Final Stretch of Applications

Need a last-minute push? Try my four tips for completing your applications efficiently and effectively!

The Final Stretch of Applications


1) Change your scenery to get it done. Get out of your bedroom and go to the local coffee shop, café, or library depending on how much noise you like to have in the background while you work.

2) Try Pomodoros. This is a productivity hack. Set a timer for 20 minutes. While the timer runs, work exclusively on the task you have at hand—whether it’s polishing your essay, editing your resume, or checking your Common App. After 20 minutes, take a 5-minute break. A true break! No email/cell phone to check your other notifications. Just a pause – and think about grabbing yourself a snack or a cup of tea. 

3) Use a writing app like Omm Writer. Free for use on your computer, this app will help you to minimize distractions and focus on the task at hand. Putting your cell phone in another room, turning off email and social media...

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Do you need to demonstrate interest?

Do you need to demonstrate interest?

Here’s the college consultant’s answer: it depends.

According to NACAC (Nat’l Association of College Admissions Counseling), 21% of colleges rated demonstrated interest as considerably important to their evaluation.  Demonstrating your interest will show that you’re engaged and interested in the college. You may, therefore, be more likely to attend this college – which is a big deal to colleges when they’re figuring out who to admit (# of admits who attend affects their ranking).

Ways to demonstrate interest include college visits, alumni receptions, follow-up phone calls from your school counselor, communication with admissions officers and professors, writing “optional” essays, legacy connection and the timing of your applications (e.g. Early Decision 1 or 2).

 Even when a college does not formally consider demonstrated interest, it can count favorably for you to find a way to...

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10 Questions You Might be Asked in College Interviews

Ideally, a college interview provides an opportunity for a relaxed conversation between you and an alum. That said, you want to prepare some answers to questions in advance of the interview. what do they ask in college interviews.Here are 10 possible questions you might get:

1.  What do you want to study and why?

2. What do you hope to do someday?

3. What has been your favorite class in high school? Why?

4. What activities do you most enjoy and why?

5. Why are you interested in attending [this particular college]? Have you visited yet? If so, what did you like about the college?

6. Where are you from?

7. What’s it like living there? Do you like it?

8. Did you grow up in [city] or ?

9. How many students are in your senior class?

10. Do you have any questions for me?


Bring a...

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4 Ways to Kick Butt at Your College Interview

Maybe you’ve already had a few interviews or you’re planning to prepare for your first one. Here 4 Ways to Kick Butt at this interview:


1. Conduct in-depth research about the college where you’re interviewing. This will allow you to ask the interviewer specific questions about your areas of interest. Looking back at your essays and reviewing the school’s website are good places to start.

2. Bring your résumé so that you can walk the interviewer through it when questions come up. The resume will also help spark questions for the interviewer to ask. 

3. Dress right. You should be comfortable, and should also consider the location/setting to give cues. For example, a coffee shop on a weekday after school is much more casual than if meeting with the alumnus at an office building, or on-campus. For ladies, be careful of short skirts and low-cut shirts. For ladies and gentlemen, make sure clothing has no wrinkles. 

4. ...

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How do colleges use interviews to evaluate you?

The first thing I tell my students is not to be too nervous about their college interview. Why? Because the interview can’t hurt you, it can only help you. 

I’ll repeat that: The interview can’t hurt you, it can only help you.colleges use interviews to evaluate

Alumni interviewers get very limited information about you because the admissions office want an unbiased opinion about your personality and interests. What these alumni are looking for is a chance to get to know you and your interests related to the particular university you're interviewing for.

It might not help you though. For example, if you’re nervous and give incomplete or difficult to follow answers, there won’t be much for the alum to write about.


When I was an alumni interviewer for Penn, I met a lot of amazing students. Ultimately, these students were accepted or rejected because of what was written and demonstrated on their application--not because of anything negative or...

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Help! I’m stuck on my essay and advice on college essays

The college essay is one of the most painstaking aspects of the college process for many students. Remember, most of the time, the college essay will not be great if you don’t get any feedback. So don’t keep it all to yourself. If you get stuck, just do the following steps: 

Help! I’m stuck on my essay and advice on college essays

•       Just start. Turn off your cell phone and computer. Pull out a pen and paper. Write for 15 minutes once per day for a week. Don’t be surprised if the topic comes to you in a surprise inspiration while in your writing session.

•       Get a brainstorming buddy. A college counselor or friend who knows you well can help you come up with topics if you’re having trouble getting started.

•       Don’t over-edit your essay. If you follow one of the systems to write your essay, you will get it done to...

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How to Write Your Common App Essay in 7 Steps

It may not be what you want to hear, but it’s true. The only way to make your essay great is by taking a deep dive into yourself. Admissions officers want to know how you work. Particularly, what motivates you and what you’ve learned along the way in life so far.

The Common App essay helps admissions officers get to know you and your worldview.

Taking a deep dive into yourself is easier said than done. The good news is, you don’t have to take the dive alone and without support.

Follow these 7 steps to complete your essay, and the deep dive will happen along the way:

1. Compare your 7 Common App prompt options. Which prompt strikes you as most like you? I wrote a blog on the strengths and pitfalls of the essay topics to help you make a choice.

2. Assess your strengths. You can use a free survey (you have to register your email) like the VIA survey.  After learning about your strengths, answer for yourself: What’s an example of a scenario...

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How to Write An Essay that Kills (advice on college essays)

Standup comedians either “kill” (win over audiences) or flop (get no laughs, or get booed). While the reaction of the admissions officer may not be so dramatic, their reaction will fall somewhere on the spectrum between “kill” and “flop.” 

There are three components How to Write An Essay that Kills Or advice on college essays.

1) Clear Context. Have you ever picked up a book and turned to page 53 out of 200? No one usually does – why? Because you the reader won’t understand what happened before or what will happen after without some kind of introduction. This introduction orients a reader to what’s going on. Similarly, you need to make sure your essay is understood by an outside reader without asking a lot of questions about how and why this story came to be.

2) Persuasive voice. Many students fall into the trap of finding the “smartest” sounding words in the dictionary without an...

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What to Do When You Contact Admissions Officers

I mentioned last week that there are four “places” from which you can build relationships with college admissions officers, professors, alumni, and administrators.

Where to Contact Admissions Officers

1) College tours. Some Regional admissions reps will be willing to meet face-to-face with students. JHU, for example, has admissions officers who offer admission interviews.

2) Email. To request a meeting (if you go on a tour) or an informational phone call. You can ask your questions over email and offer them the chance to talk with you at their convenience.

3) School and regionally-based college fairs. Regional reps will show up to your local area to represent their college. Before these events, come prepared with questions and do your research ahead of time.

4) Local alumni networks. Learn about campus life by connecting with alumni in your community. This also includes alumni of your high school who may attend colleges you’re interested in.

Now,...

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