Greetings Students and Families,
If you’re a regular reader of my blogs and newsletters, you’ve been following my tips on handling school closings, extracurricular activities on pause, revised AP/SAT/ACT exams and summer cancellations during COVID-19- all of this leaving students and parents wondering about the impact of this uncertain time on educational goals and college admissions. Juniors ’21 beginning their college applications may also be concerned about how all of these changes impact the process and chances of acceptances. Please click to schedule your College Admissions Planning and Year-End Assessment with Online College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD –
Education and College Admissions Tips During COVID-19
College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD May 2020
Your Educational Goals Haven’t Changed! Tips for Updating Your College Plan!
What Do Admissions Officers Want to Know?
Who Are You? Passion, Joy, Discovery, Independence, Community
What Problems Will You Solve? Why?
As regular readers of my newsletters know, college admissions is a holistic– meaning that college admissions officers want to know about how your perceived academic and personal interests were developed throughout high school in coursework (your GPA and your transcript/curriculum matters most!), community service and extracurricular activities that often include attendance at a collegiate summer program. You’ll be submitting your transcripts, test scores and writing essays – all a part of your Common Application.
I know many students and families are confused – how will college admissions for undergraduate or graduate programs be affected by recent campus closings? What about my transcript- I can’t seem to find the motivation in an online classroom and/or my school/college didn’t issue grades for spring? Remember, everyone is equally disrupted — keeping a healthy perspective is important to attaining your educational goals. The most essential thing to do is LEARN! Learning is continuous. Learning now is essential to success in your next academic endeavor and your future career. If you can let go of the grades and redirect your energies on the passion you have for learning and the goals you have set you will be in a better place for College Admissions and in the longer term despite the current disruption.
When Should You Begin College Planning?
It is indeed never too early to begin taking steps to ensure your student(s) have a strategic education plan that fosters their love of learning, solid time management skills and a directed path towards their undergraduate experience.
It’s important to me that each student develop a passion for learning that is intrinsically motivated. This ensures a seamless transition to the undergraduate experience. College Admissions plans, implemented as early as middle school, allow each student to begin to set goals and take steps towards achieving those goals.
As you head into the end of the academic year, this is the time to assess what you’ve learned about yourself and explore whether goals were attained? Some things were out-of-your control – but let’s discuss adjustments to your College Plan and your educational goals so you’re ready for the next year.
As an educator and college counselor with over 30+ years of experience guiding young adults, my message is straightforward- it’s about the importance of young adults finding the joy in all that they do both within and outside the classroom. Young adults who spend their time engaging in the activities that they love are not only successful during the college admissions and college application process, but are more purposeful students and community members once arriving on their high school and college campuses. Happiness can never be overrated!
CONFIDENCE, ENGAGEMENT AND MOTIVATION RESULT WHEN OUR YOUNG ADULTS ARE ENCOURAGED AND SUPPORTED TO EXPLORE AND FIND THEIR UNIQUE AND JOYFUL PATH. SO YOU MAY BE ASKING ME WHAT ON EARTH DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH SUCCESS DURING THE COLLEGE APPLICATION PROCESS– …LET’S DISCUSS JUST THAT!
As the end of the school year is within sight, I invite all students to reflect upon goals set in August. Which of these were easily achievable? Why? What have you learned about yourself and how you approach learning and your time that works well and what will you change for the next academic year? Parents, how have you changed as your student continues to develop their strengths and assume responsibility for outcomes?
Early college planning creates targets and provides assessment and adjustment of your accomplishments both within and outside the classroom as well as identifying opportunities for growth to realize personalized educational goals.
Explore & Discover Extracurricular Activities – Social Distancing?
College Admissions Officers want to know about the student- -WHO ARE YOU? Many, but not all of your extracurricular pursuits were paused as the pandemic took hold. Perhaps you were hoping to attend states for volleyball, math or debate team or travelling to Robotics meets. The are several opportunities to continue to deepen your interests and explore your passions even in these uncertain times. When disappointed students ask me how to spend their summers– I have many ideas – starting with meaningful community service to help those in need, completing college applications ahead of schedule, preparing for next year’s courses, and using the time to study to take/retake cancelled SAT/ACT and SATII exams.
I work closely with clients to build valuable summer reading lists, suggestions for stay-at-home exploration projects in STEM, Business, Arts & Humanities. Your independent research projects can be the basis for submission to a variety of appropriate competition venues throughout the country. Perhaps you are able to seek out a shadowing experience within a virtual setting.
THE ACTIVITIES SECTION OF THE COMMON APPLICATION IS A CRUCIAL ELEMENT OF YOUR COLLEGE APPLICATION AND IT’S WHAT STUDENTS AND PARENTS SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT AS EARLY AS MIDDLE SCHOOL – DISCOVERY !!
As a former admissions officer and current Cornell Alumni representative interviewing prospective students, I can assure you that college applicants aren’t evaluated by the number of activities. College admissions officers want to know about the quality of your time beyond the classroom and the distractions if any that may have limited your participation in activities. Your activities are opportunities to discover and engage in three distinct ways:
Academics– Discover and deepen an academic area of interest- presumably your intended major. In particular, not only will you be noting activities this abbreviated section of the Common Application, but you’ll also be writing responses to essay prompts that ask you how you’ve decided to pursue a particular major. If you need ideas on how to become engaged and involved to learn more about an area of interest beyond the clubs offered at your high school- let’s talk!
“Passion” – You’ll notice that many college essay prompts asks about a “typical” day or an activity that brings joy. At least one or more of your listed activities should represent one way you spent your time that is for YOU! Do you bake cakes, blog, write poems, teach Sunday school or dare I say it- play video games. While parents often scoff when I suggest attending an amateur video tournament- the reality- it’s one way to validate what is otherwise viewed as a less favorably use of a teen’s time. Everyone should have something they truly enjoy and look forward to doing during free time. This passion can also be the motivation to develop better time management skills – “I need to finish my homework by 8 p.m. so I can have the evening to <Fill in the blank>?”
Please don’t wait until the end of your junior year to realize you have a 4.0 and a 1500 SAT but you have only the National Honors Society and 50 hours of assorted unspecific community service hours to note as the “activities” of your Common Application. Take the time throughout high school to engage in the activities that bring you joy and allow you to share something about your unique self!
Implications of Revised AP Exams & Anticipated SAT/ACT Changes?
Students are taking redesigned exams at home. The College Board’s decision preserves the opportunity to earn college credit and/or placement through student’s AP scores. Many of the more selective colleges may not necessarily continue to award credit based on this year’s revised format. More likely – we will see an uptick in college-provided course placement exams for a few years. Don’t be annoyed about this change– it’s important that students demonstrate proficiency before advancing to higher level coursework.
While AP exam scores aren’t a required element on college applications – the optional reporting of scores on your Common Application is an opportunity to demonstrate you’ve mastered materials and can even overshadow the high school transcript. AP exam scores level the playing field across students from a variety of public and private high schools.
We all learned that spring exams- including the June SAT/ACT exams are cancelled, and now contingency plans are being drafted to design an online version of the SAT/ACT if college and schools remained closed into the fall. It’s not only high school students preparing for college admissions that are impacted by COVID-19, but current undergraduates preparing to take MCAT, GRE, LSAT and GMAT exams for medical school, graduate school, MBA and law school applications are also affected and adjustments on are on the horizon for college admissions and higher education in general.
If you are a parent of a rising senior ’21 you may be concerned at the seemingly lack of available test dates remaining. A growing number of colleges and universities that have decided to join the ranks of the over 1000 universities already noted on the Fair Test website as Test Optional.
College Research & Campus Visits During COVID-19?
With a few hundred academic majors and nearly 4000 undergraduate colleges, it’s very unlikely that the high school curriculum and extracurricular experiences enjoyed thus far have put all of the available and amazing options on your student’s radar. With all the hype about ever-shrinking college acceptance rates and record number of applicants, you may not only be worried about where you’ll be accepted, but have been led to believe you too need to apply to several colleges in an attempt to increase your chances of acceptance to your “dream school”. These concerns may have been jolted as extracurricular pursuits were set to pause with COVID-19 and summer plans cancelled-all of these activities an important part of distinguishing yourself from other applicants and finding meaning and direction outside of the classroom. WHAT’S IMPORTANT?
The university you attend should provide an outstanding academic experience in your intended major/minor fields of study, along with appropriate internship and career placement opportunities. This is paramount to selecting where to attend.
There’s a major field of study to match the unique strengths and interests of every young adult! With nearly 4,000 colleges offering an impressive number of traditional and cutting-edge majors and minors, it can indeed be overwhelming to navigate the maze of available degree options.
Your evaluation of academics should move beyond published lists of college rankings. The most important steps include learning how to navigate through the “Academics” and the “Research” tabs to fully explore the curriculum maps, degree requirements and the research projects faculty are conducting. As a former university professor with 30+ years of experience on curriculum planning committees, I’m able to help your family assess “academic fit” and effectively explore your academic options to balance each student’s current and emerging interests and strengths.
Undecided? Consider that “flexible” and universities LOVE to hear about students with multi-disciplinary interests. All of your applications will in fact provide you with an opportunity to explain your choice of major(s) as being formed through classroom and other experiences. Despite campus closures, there is sufficient information about each program of study available – and navigating curriculum maps, faculty research projects and reaching out to undergraduate academic advisors is an initial way to explore.
The social fit is important as each student is looking to find a “home-away-from-home” for their next four years. Is the campus inviting, inclusive and are there opportunities for ongoing social and emotional growth? This is exactly why students visit university campuses before enrolling. Your Educational and College Admissions Assessment will help you determine the criteria that are important to you. Let me help you understand how to have an informative and meaningful campus visit when available and in the interim, how to supplement virtual visits by connecting with students and campus representatives in your major, your potential clubs and other ways to feel the “vibe” beyond a webcam.
- FINANCIAL AFFORDABILITY
Every family faces unique financial circumstances and we factor those into the choices of where to apply and enroll. If you’re ineligible for financial aid, merit aid remains an important option to explore.
THERE ARE MANY CAMPUSES PROVIDING an EXCELLENT EDUCATION offering deep discounts on tuition given your “admissions profile”. I truly want to reassure you that there are universities that don’t actually charge the “sticker price” – more below.
How many colleges should I be applying to on my Common Application?
That’s the WRONG question! WHICH COLLEGES should you apply to – that’s the question your college advisor should help you answer. I’m going to give you the short answer and most strategic stress-free response: Every student should apply to two “safety” colleges that the student would be thrilled to attend- fitting the student academically, socially and financially. Once we identify those choices, we can turn attention to selecting “Match” and “reach” colleges. Every year students learn of acceptances to their match and reach colleges– please don’t apply to 20 colleges- that’s simply too many!
Ignore College Acceptance Rates- Instead Consider MEANINGFUL STATISTICS:
The only statistics to focus upon are those that provide indications of the quality of education you’ll receive at a given university. Here are a few that can help you decide whether the investment is a good one.
Do graduates still find a connection to their chosen field and institution at age 30, 40, 50? Check out statistics on the percentage of alumni giving (also see my earlier newsletter on why this percentage is an indicator of financial aid success).
What’s the percentage of graduates who have a job offer/graduate school acceptance in their field upon graduation? What percentage of students have an offer of employment 6 months post-graduation?
Universities aren’t competing to increase their market share of the available 18 to 24 year old students. Universities are competing to attract the brightest and most interesting students. Are you one of them?
Financial Aid & Scholarships in These Times of Economic Uncertainty?
- Is our family eligible for financial aid?
- When and how do we apply for financial aid and what’s a FAFSA or CSS Profile?
- What Scholarships are available?
In COLLEGE ADMISSIONS TIPS: FINANCIAL AID & SCHOLARSHIPS–PART 1- WHAT TO KNOW?! I discuss many of the important considerations and factors to understand how financial aid and merit based scholarships are awarded. Early college planning will increase a student’s chances of acceptances that will include scholarship assistance.
Every family faces unique financial circumstances and we factor those into the choices of where to apply and enroll. Given the economic uncertainty many are facing in these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s often difficult to imaging how to commit to the cost of higher education. Universities are adapting and adjusting. If you’re a rising senior ’21– you’ll be applying for financial aid during the late fall of 2020 based on your 2019 tax return and the income earned during that year. If your financial circumstances changed, please reach out to discuss how to alert colleges of the change during NOT AFTER the financial aid application process. Whether your family is financially secure or facing serious challenges– the cost of a four-year undergraduate degree is a significant investment. You do get what you pay for-but the sad part– more selective universities with stronger educational programs are the same price as less selective programs. The cost of running a university is the same – and it’s not reflected in the price tag.
THERE ARE MANY CAMPUSES PROVIDING an EXCELLENT EDUCATION offering deep discounts on tuition given your “admissions profile”. Please do NOT navigate to lists such as those published by various publications since these do not incorporate information about your student’s particular college admissions profile and mislead your family.
The past few weeks I’ve been speaking with parents of rising seniors as we hone in on their list of colleges for the 2020-21 college application season. One of the questions most often raised is whether a student should be applying to private colleges if a family has participated in their state’s pre-paid tuition plan? The short answer to the question is that there are many outstanding universities offering both financial need-based and merit based assistance. Colleges want you! Universities provide inviting “discounts” on tuition.
- Some competitive colleges offering full-rides include Penn State, NYU, Miami, Boston, Washington University, Emory, Vanderbilt
- The chances of receiving a lucrative scholarship increase with higher GPA and demonstrated research/competition in your intended field of study.
This is just one of the reasons why I encourage students in 8th-10th grades to focus on setting their educational goals early and taking steps to realize these goals.
Earning a 4.0 GPA is impressive but insufficient to earn prestigious merit based awards! Scholarships are given to students with impressive accomplishments both within and outside the classroom. DO YOU HAVE A COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PLAN?
When Will Colleges Reopen?
Increasingly we are reading that there is a very high likelihood that universities and local school districts may again continue in an online modality for the fall. There are many creative conversations underway by local school districts and colleges to explore later starts or shifting semesters.
Freshman orientation is an elaborate process designed to bring students on campus to build community and work to help students succeed in their transition. Universities will be looking for creative ways to revamp these programs and build community for all incoming students who commit to enroll without yet knowing if campus will in fact reopen or become an online experience.
Many universities around the country are already under discussion about revising the academic calendar– a late start is a proactive way to avoid another term of online learning and also remain in compliance with federal and state mandates. This is a complex decision involving university administrators, faculty and industry partners and is not as obvious or easy as it may seem on face value. Sadly, some colleges will face financial challenges and be unable to weather the enrollment storm with missed enrollment targets forecast for the freshman class.
With over thirty years of experience as a university professor & admissions committee member you’re invited to leverage her extensive knowledge of university curricula and career opportunities to BUILD YOUR COLLEGE PLAN!.
I WISH ALL HIGH SCHOOL AND UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS A PEACEFUL AND SUCCESSFUL FINISH TO THIS OUT-OF-THE-ORDINARY ACADEMIC YEAR. IT’S BEEN SURREAL AND YOU WILL LOOK BACK AT SAD, ODD AND EMPOWERED MOMENTS THAT DEFINED YOUR NEXT STEPS — WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF?! INTROSPECTION IS PART OF GROWTH – GROWTH IS TO BE HUMAN.
COLLEGE ADMISSIONS AND COLLEGE APPLICATION WORKSHOP –
We’ve served clients from the East to West Coasts seamlessly.
BONNIE RABIN, PHD PROVIDES ONLINE ACADEMIC ADVISING, COLLEGE COUNSELING AND COLLEGE APPLICATION GUIDANCE TO STUDENTS IN HIGH SCHOOLS THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES.
Our current and former clients reside in locations as diverse as Metro NYC, San Francisco, Boston, D.C. and Surrounding Communities, Westchester County, Boulder, Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Central NY (Syracuse, Rochester, Ithaca), Charlotte, Denver, Boca Raton, Minneapolis and many more.
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.
Educational and College Admissions Consultant
Professor Emeritus – Cornell Alumni Rep
In-Person South Florida(Boca Raton) and
Virtually – Wherever You Are
I invite you to schedule an online college counseling session with me to begin your college major research, shape your balanced list of colleges and being your Common Application process and college essays.
Our Recent College Acceptances Include:
Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, U. Michigan, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, University of North Carolina, Vassar, NYU, Bowdoin, Wellesley, Emory, U.Illinois, Notre Dame, Rice, University of Chicago, Washington University (WUSTL), Drexel, Tulane, Brown, Purdue, Swarthmore, SCAD, Ohio, Georgetown, Hamilton, Reed, Miami, Johns Hopkins, University of Florida, University of Arizona, Penn State, Villanova, Northeastern, SUNY-ESF, St. Johns, Embry-Riddle, Colgate, Fordham, Columbia, Barnard, Syracuse, Swarthmore, Pittsburgh, Dickinson, Colorado, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Howard, Fordham, SUNY Stonybrook, Duke, Case Western, Rochester Institute of Technology, Parsons, Virginia Tech, Boston U., Hobart & William Smith, Claremont Mckenna, Davidson, Westpoint, Gettysburg, Amherst, Temple, Denison, Howard, UT Austin, SUNY-Binghamton, Hamilton, George Washington, American, Indiana, SMU, James Madison, UF, and many more
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.
Educational and College Admissions Consultant
Professor Emeritus – Cornell Alumni Rep
In-Person South Florida(Boca Raton) and
Virtually – Wherever You Are
Juniors– Class of 2021-
FINISH YOUR COLLEGE ESSAY BEFORE SUMMER BREAK!