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Rising Seniors: It's College Application Time!

Welcome to your last year of high school!

Here are some tips to read before starting your college applications!

Cost and scholarships!

The “cost of college conversation” is an important one to have with your parents. It will have an impact on where you apply, if loans are required, and allow you to calculate potential debt. It’s important that you are informed prior to applying so that you are targeting feasible universities.

Figure out how much each university will cost you! Every university has a net price calculator on their website. This tool allows you to get an estimate of how much your family will pay for each university, based on income. You and your parents should do this together.

Research the scholarships available at every university you are applying to, and be realistic about the possibility of obtaining those scholarships. Do you have the GPA, the scores, and meet all of the criteria for those scholarships? Keep a running spreadsheet of those scholarships you will be applying to, and pay attention to the deadlines!

College Choice!

The right fit is so important! Every student has their own path so they will apply to a different list and number of universities.

If possible, visit each university on your list - at least virtually! Make sure to research all aspects of each university: programs, professors, scholarships available, career center, research and internship possibilities, housing, study abroad programs, campus, activities, and social life.

Remember that you only get to apply to college as a freshman once - so dream big! Apply to at least a couple of reach schools and a few target schools. And don't forget to apply to at least two safety schools! These safety schools should be universities that offer excellent programs in your major, are financially feasible, and are sure to offer you admission.


Kudos to seniors who have already finished their testing! Most seniors, however, still need to tweak their scores by taking the fall tests. And yes, that means prepping for them this summer!

The good news is that SAT offers a new August test so you can have two chances to better that score (second SAT is in October)! And the first summer ACT will be offered in July 2018!

Most universities accept the first two SAT tests or first ACT test taken in the fall, but always verify the last ACT or SAT test accepted by each university you are applying to.

Highly selective colleges: SAT, SAT Subject, and ACT tests: verify all testing requirements for any highly selective colleges you are applying to. Some schools require 2-3 SAT subject tests, some in specific subjects for STEM programs; a few allow you to just submit an ACT score and avoid taking the SAT subject tests. If you are taking SAT subject tests, make sure that you take them around the time you take the AP class. For example, if you are taking AP Chem, you will take the AP test in May and the SAT subject test in June since you have studied and are prepared.

College applications!

Start those college applications as soon as the universities have them up! I have lots of advice and tips on my website.

This can be an arduous, overwhelming process! We are here to help! Just schedule an appointment!


Once you have your final list of universities and know what applications are necessary, you can review the prompts and start your essays. These essays (in particular those for the highly selective schools) are not an essay that you can write in a day, a week, or even a couple of weeks. You should start them in early summer and continue revising them, bettering them, tweaking them. You should get assistance - from me, an English teacher, a writing coach or at least a parent.

What should your topic be? I strongly suggest that you make it personal, and write about something that admissions will not find anywhere else in your application. Admissions reps want to hear about your quirkiness, your personality, what makes you different. They want to know what is important to you, who you are, what obstacles you have overcome, how you have grown and matured in high school.

One tip: if you are writing multiple essays, a general rule is to write each essay on a different topic. And do not underestimate the very short essays (such as "Why Duke? Why your major?" in 150 words) as they can be the hardest, given the word count and concise content that must be submitted in that small space.

Make an appointment with us today so that we can help make the college application process easier! We provide assistance with every step of the college application process and assist you with financial aid and scholarship applications.

For more information on what you should be doing senior year, check out my Senior Checklist.

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