Hey High School Seniors and Families!

Many of you have likely already submitted one or more of your college applications on the Common App 2022-23  If you’re an Early Action/Early Decision applicant- you are well aware of earlier due dates and I urge Juniors – thinking ahead to put that thought aside until next fall.    For all seniors- whether early decision or regular decision applicants- once you submit your application-you’ve seen the screen on the Common App – digital confetti!!  Congratulations!! But the process is far from over– let’s talk about that.

If you are totally lost as to what to do –this week I’ve left a few posts about last-minute tips and urge you to reach out if you are still considering changing your list of colleges- and adding more “safeties” or reach universities to your balanced list. We  will get you up to speed fast -and I encourage you to reach out to your high school counselor or connect with me to discuss your educational goals and college admissions process ASAP.


There’s a few things that need to occur- but the most notable is to check for confirmation on a regular basis– even if you think you submitted– lots can simply go wrong.  First, head over to the dashboard of the Common Application and confirm that your Common Application was submitted.  If it isn’t displaying right after your confetti– something isn’t right.  Within 24 to 48 hours, the icon showing the submission will switch over to an icon showing that the college has actually downloaded your application.  That’s the easy part– now you have to manage and track your college application status and ensure that all the externally moving parts arrive into your file by the due date.

In  my recent blog,  I talked about when and how to submit your high school transcripts, teacher recommendations and any test scores.  I also discussed the difference between Score Choice and Super Score. Please familiarize yourself with each college’s requirements to ensure you are sending the official scores where required.  You DO NOT SEND AP scores- this question surfaces often- please speak to your GC or give me a shout out to discuss how and if your AP scores will support or harm your chances of acceptance.  Each circumstance is unique.

College Planning -
College Application – Planning with College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD

???  After you’ve applied—……Do they have my file??!!

The most immediately noticeable confirmation will appear on the Common and Coalition applications showing a time/date stamp when you’ve submitted.  Within a few days, you’ll also observe when a college has actually downloaded your application.  ***This is important information for students who are planning to change/personalize their core essay for each college. Don’t make any changes until we know that the college-specific information has been downloaded by College X allowing you to change things when submitting to College Y.

IS YOUR ADMISSIONS FILE COMPLETE? (That is not the same question as “Did You Send Everything?!”)

Despite many email and newsletter reminders, every year there are a handful of students notified about a missing component of their application file.  In previous years, it was a transcript (she had received the email confirmation that it had been sent (this is different from an email confirmation of receipt); and for another student, December SATII subject test scores weren’t received. One time, a student viewed another’s test scores in his file (and they weren’t higher!!).  Sadly, many students learn that teacher recommendations are “missing”.

Please check, check and recheck all emails received from colleges to ensure your file is complete. Each college has its own unique features and not all colleges will notify you that your file is incomplete.  You are responsible for verifying that everything was received (as opposed to sent). Don’t overlook transcripts, test scores and recommendations.   I also highlight that at this time of year, FAFSA and CSS Profiles are also due. One parent recently suggested that because first quarter senior grades weren’t stellar – since the transcript was sent in August reflecting the GPA thru the end of the Junior year, they would NOT send another transcript. SIGH!! The parent felt they would wait until it was requested. Sure fire way to have their ED and regular application rejected – simply on the basis of being incomplete. But mostly- you don’t get to wait until colleges reach out- even with those automated emails.

Please LOGIN to the college portal you were provided immediately after submitting your app on the COMMON APP. Set up the credentials/account and then get into the habit of weekly file checks. Is the file complete, are missing materials received and are the once receive materials still showing as complete? This is a fluid less-than-perfect setting and students- you have to check.

  • DAILY e-mail Check!!   Don’t ignore any emails from any of your colleges as you may   overlook time sensitive requests .

*** A time sensitive request may be an invitation to apply for Honors College or a competitive scholarships!  These are firm due dates – no exceptions.

If you haven’t received confirmation and/or your file is incomplete– contact admissions by phone to clarify and send a follow-up email to an actual person.

???? I made a mistake on my application – what do I do?

If it is a minor error, let it go rather than calling attention to the situation.   If you have concerns on what is defined as “minor” – give me a call ASAP and we can determine if notification is helpful or harmful.  All your essays and activities should have been proofread by a student, parent and your GC or favorite teacher. You are responsible for the accuracy of your demographic/personal information, classes etc.  If you made a typo- official scores and transcripts will be received.  Keep in mind, your reader will spend 5 to 10 minutes on your file  == outside of a glaring spelling error, not likely to be a headache.


Nearly all colleges require applicants to submit Mid-Year grade reports (please check individual college webpages and admissions checklists).   Don’t contract senioritis—your grades continue to matter!

This is the perfect opportunity to update your file and to express continued interest. First and foremost, regardless of whether you were deferred from the ED pool or if you are a RD applicant, this is the time to share any noteworthy accomplishments since submitting your application.

If you need assistance preparing your “update letter”, please contact me on appropriate tone and what to include.  Some examples of achievements to share: earning certifications, advancing to state or national competitions in any of your extracurricular activities, new competitions (essay, science, dance, sports?), completion of an individual project (wrote an APP, finished a story, participated in a Maker Faire, attended a poetry SLAM?) or  achieved/sustained a high GPA (especially for students with ‘rough start’ GPAs.)

Ideally, I encourage students to ask their H.S. Guidance Counselor to share noteworthy information for you directly.

You will also receive login information on where to check your admissions decisions on a specific date.  Mark your calendar!

Read all emails from all colleges as you may be notified of selection for an internal scholarship that requires additional essays and other supporting materials.

*** Every year one to two very sad students phones me to say they missed an email and can they reach out to the college and still be considered for a scholarship.  NO!

Review the admissions and financial aid website to locate and apply for any competitive scholarships for which you are a solid candidate.  Contact me to strategize essay content.  Nearly every college has “competitive” scholarships.
For example – Here are a range of colleges offering highly competitive merit based scholarships unrelated to financial aid
CLICK: Vanderbilt Internal Merit Based Scholarship
CLICK Boston University Merit Based Scholarships
CLICK WUSTL Merit Based Scholarships
CLICK EMORY Scholars Program
CLICK Drexel Merit Based Scholarships
CLICK University of Maryland Presidential Scholarship

  • Last Minute College Choices

Some of you may be concerned about choices and becoming stressed about the process and the wait.  My first advice is to distance yourself from conversations taking place at school and avoid making comparisons to other students.
That said, as noted above,  if you want to revisit your list of colleges and discuss adding another 1-2 safety colleges, please reach out to me.  Any college on your list – safety or reach must be one you would be thrilled to attend. Don’t settle for the wrong “fit” in either academics or social opportunity.  We can still add colleges and I am guide you to revisiting the process of college choice even at this late date.

Yes, the world is fluid — and now even more uncertain. Nearly 100% of my undergraduates are attending the majority of their classes in a virtual setting- that’s even true for two freshman medical students! Many clients are living at home or off-campus. All of this leaves families wondering about the investment and so having options that you can accept should the pandemic be with us fall 2021- makes a ton of sense.

*** Seniors- you’re invited to continue working closely with me to learn more about your major and potential related fields. Even if your applications are done, please meet with me to continue academic exploration .


Please ensure you are still maxing out your  high school GPA.  A significant decline can result in being admitted on academic probation as a freshman! (I’m sure none of my students needs this warning!!).

  • AP EXAMS: Reminder, if you haven’t already been engaged in regular practice for the AP exams, let me motivate you further: ED applicants are typically accepted to very competitive colleges for which only a “5” will be accepted for credit.  What does that mean? If you don’t earn the needed AP score- you’ll repeat Calculus and/or Chemistry, etc.
    It’s also more fun to place out of freshman writing  (AP Lang or AP Literature are accepted nearly everywhere as substitutes for Freshman Writing) and be able to take a more interesting English elective of your choosing.  Even if you earn a “5” you might decide to retake the class at your college and we will discuss the merits of retaking some STEM classes sometime prior to your freshman advising later this summer.

My initial thoughts- it cannot hurt.  Once of the advantages to you as a high school student is the opportunity to view the full profile of alumni interviewers.
Once you are admitted to college and pay your deposit, you’ll immediately have access to a huge alumni base- and that’s where the real exposure begins.  It’s hard to imagine but this time next year- (yes really)- you will be attending your first on-campus summer-internship job fair !  I can help you build your first draft of a Linked In profile and demonstrate how to use the internship search features to your advantage.   You may even find a great internship this summer right in your own backyard!
CLICK: LINKED IN Guidelines for High School Students

CLICK NY Times: Linked In and College Admissions

To all of the Freshman, Sophomores and Juniors– It’s NEVER too early to build our College Plan- Let’s talk!


ADAPT – REMAIN FLEXIBLE– KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON GOALS – and the Journey will be yours to take!

As noted, your student’s GPA and transcript are the most significant determinant of admissions and academic success. High school is a time for academic and personal discovery.  Developing and sustaining a passion for learning cannot be overstated.  Sometimes that discovery is sparked by coursework and other times it is through an extracurricular experience.   There’s very little variation in curriculum options across high schools in that all students will complete four years of english, four years of social studies, complete a foreign language and enroll in the math and science classes at a level they can manage. The differences across high schools and across students are in the electives taken and in whether students enroll in Honors or AP/IB/AICE levels of classes.   Don’t waste your electives ! Accept a challenge you can comfortably manage. Please don’t follow the crowd!     Students who are successful not only in college admissions, but as actual undergraduate students, are those who have well defined interests, nurtured as early as middle school and further developed throughout high school.  Having an academic niche or a personal passion outside the classroom builds motivation, focus and academic success.


What inspires your student?    CLICK TO Schedule your Educational and College Admissions Assessment today – Build Your College Plan! It is indeed never too early to begin Educational and College Admissions Planning!

College Admissions Planning- Start Early- Increase Your Chances of College Acceptance

Whether you’re ready to write your college essays or just beginning to research colleges and majors, or perhaps you want to create a customized reading, learning and time management plan to explore or deepen an academic/personal interest, I invite you to contact me to schedule your Educational and College Planning Assessment available for current seniors and all middle and high school students.

Best wishes for an absolutely meaningful and enriching balance of our school year and a Happy & HEALTHY Holiday Season.


Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. Educational & College Admissions Consultant brabin@collegecareerconsulting.com

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