Greeting Students and Familes!
Whether you are a parent of a high school senior wrapping up college applications and applying for financial aid or a freshman navigating courses and extracurriculars, I invite families to schedule a conversation about your educational goals and to build your college admissions plan. I’ve also posted links to my earlier newsletters. My next topic will focus on Summer Collegiate Programs and Competitions/Extracurriculars– stay tuned!

What Should You Know About

College Admissions Planning and High School?

All families have many questions about how to help students leverage their strengths and interests to find a meaningful, joyful and enriching path.
  • How can students continued to remain motivated and focused as students/schools continue to shift in and out of virtual learning – often with little warning?
  • Which courses will prepare our students to address their academic challenges in perceived emerging interests- STEM, Business, Humanities, Creatives (Art/Music) and multi-disciplinary paths? How many and which AP /IB/ AICE classes should students consider?
  • Which extracurricular opportunities will help students discover their strengths and offer joyful and impactful opportunities to learn more about themselves? (Without overextending!!)
  • How and where do students and families begin researching majors and colleges – especially given limited opportunities for campus visits?
  • Which major area of study and a research interests excite me the most- and then – how to engage at school, within communities and during summer breaks to discover and deepen these emerging interests?
  • When and how do we apply for financial aid and what’s a FAFSA or CSS Profile?
  • What Scholarships are available?
  • Under what circumstances should we consider a private college in lieu of our state’s public universities-?(especially if you’ve participated in your state’s college planning 529 plan such as the Florida’s Pre-Pay program.)
  • How does early college planning increase chances of college acceptance and finding internal scholarships?
*** But mostly- why does early college planning lead to independence, motivation and academic success throughout high school and beyond?
All of these questions are part of an ongoing conversation – and I invite you to reach out to start / continue that process. Every student is unique – it is an amazing and also a challenging time to be a teen. Please don’t wander social media nor listen to misinformed information about college admissions or compare your teen to others. Everyone finds their path — and part of the best way to do so is to engage and discovery- with joy and purpose.
This fall, you’ve received some very detailed newsletters answering many of these questions above. Early academic planning can be invaluable to positioning each student to realize educational dreams.
Young adults have long days and they work hard at (virtual/hybrid and in-person) school. There should be opportunities to find joy and direction in their personal lives. It is my hope that your student’s passion for learning and involvement in activities outside the classroom continues throughout the school year and prepares them for a seamless transition from high school to their undergraduate community. Independence and intrinsic-motivation are achieved over many years; they aren’t provided in the freshman dorm welcome package!
The “fit” between a student and a university is based upon three pillars:
The university you ultimately 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. I encourage my students to engage in discovery as early as the freshman year — not discovery of colleges- but discovery about the types of problems and questions that are the focus of academic fields. At 14-15-16 years old- absolutely nothing is off-the-table.
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 of college websites 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 and advising undergraduates- 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.
The social fit is equally 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. This is a challenge during the ongoing pandemic. In my earlier newsletter this fall I talked about how to engage with currently enrolled students and participate in programs to learn more about campus vibes.
Your Educational and College Admissions Assessment will help you hone in on the criteria that are important to you. Let me help you understand how to have an informative and meaningful campus visit.
Every family faces unique financial circumstances and we factor those into the choices of where to apply and enroll. Extensive details were provided in my recent and very detailed newsletter on all things financial aid and scholarship. financial aid page. If you’re ineligible for financial aid, merit aid remains an important option to explore. It pays to be a “stellar” student- defined by much more than your academic profile.
THERE ARE MANY CAMPUSES PROVIDING an EXCELLENT EDUCATION offering deep discounts on tuition given your “admissions profile”.
What Are Your Goals -including both Personal & Academic objectives?
In my practice, I meet so many wonderful teens each filled with excitement about their future and yes, a bit of angst about the perceived challenges of college admissions– especially with the uncertainties we are facing and have faced since March 2020. At my initial meetings I try to reassure every family that there is a perfect fit- one that suits the student academically and socially and one that fits the family budget.
But I also consistently speak with young adults who have become overwhelmed with the pressures and demands of their classes, and who experience unnecessary angst over standardized test preparation and whether they are engaged in “enough” extracurricular activities. When I ask students what’s their favorite class, it’s sometimes disheartening when there isn’t an immediate response and sometimes there aren’t even any positive responses. Why is that??! (read on)
Is your student so busy to have overlooked the joy of the actual learning taking place in classes!?
Regular readers of my newsletters and blogs know that I encourage EXPLORATION and DISCOVERY throughout high school.
I invite you to reach out for some personalized attention to guide your student to customizing a plan for doing just that!
As a former university professor, and as a parent of two STEM millennials, I can tell you without qualification that the single most important goal of high school is for each student to develop a love of learning both within and outside the classroom.
Having an Educational and College Admissions plan results in Motivated, Self-Directed & Confident Young Adults Ready to Succeed!
With over 25% of students changing majors and alarming rates of students facing difficulties adjusting to the demands of college life-enjoyment of learning and independence are skills to foster in high school. How can we assist our students?
Who are You?
As part of my practice, I read a great deal about trends in education and college admissions as well as reading about issues impacting the emotional well-being of young adults. Pandemic or not- the issues of high school that challenge our teens are very real. Last year, I shared an interesting article that continues to resonate with me. But clearly the title of the article hit a chord with many others engaged in college admissions as the same theme is actually reverberating across the Common App as a the prompt in college specific supplemental essays across several colleges.
In CHECK THIS BOX if YOU’RE A GOOD PERSON, Dartmouth Admissions Officer Rebecca Sabky spoke about the admissions process.  She is national voice urging teachers, guidance counselors and parents to foster a sense of awareness in the young adult population. My clients know (and some joke) that I push this point a bit much– asking students “how do you envision you’ll change the world when you’re 35, 45—why wait– what can you do now to get started in that direction” !
I also guide college research on majors so that students feel eager and ready to answer this question by the start of their senior year of high school: “what’s the problem you want to solve?”
THE POINT >> Good people just don’t check off earning degrees– good people receive an education for the purpose of applying their education in impactful ways– affecting people in communities locally and globally. College admissions officers want to know what you’ve been up to and what you’d like to be doing when you join the campus community!
(You’ll see these very points in required college essay prompts!)
Sabky’s thoughts are highlighted below and reflect my own personal experience as a university faculty member reading hundreds of admission files.
“The problem is that in a deluge of promising candidates, many remarkable students become indistinguishable from one another, at least on paper.”
“Yet in the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations,
one quality is always irresistible in a candidate: kindness”
“Letters of recommendation are typically superfluous…. they generally fail to provide us with another angle on who the student is, or could be as a member of our community. “
So here we are a few years after her article was written and you might ask why am I raising this point again and again? Very simply, not only are we living in a very challenging time – besieged and deluged with a daily news cycle about “civility” and “divisiveness”, but because this point is important.  To live with purpose isn’t a fleeting slogan on a yoga mat– it’s a way of life – that we embrace in all that we do at home and in our communities.
Where Will Your Impact Be– !
As parents, educators, or in any capacity that requires us to help young adults become productive members of society, our “advising” begins way before high school even starts. We all have the responsibility to (gently) guide our young adults to engage in discovery about themselves– their strengths, their interests and how they engage with others.
And yes, all students also need to reach their highest academic potential. But if the entirety of the message they hear from the adults around them, and the conversations taking place are focused solely on maximizing their GPA, we miss an opportunity to help each student lead fulfilling experiences to prepare them for personal and academic success now and in the future.
Experience gives each young adult the power and confidence to be themselves!!

It pays to be a “stellar” (Interesting) student!!

Kindness Matters!

In Want to Raise Well-Adjusted Kids?, John Write spoke about the benefits of hosting an exchange student. What the article shares in common with the seemingly unrelated NY Times piece on Dartmouth admissions is that both authors speak to the importance of young adults engaging in character-developing opportunities outside-of-the classroom ultimately raising their awareness of their connections with others within their communities.
The Common App also thinks Kindness, Joy and Community are important- so much so that for the first time in nearly a decade- the Common App Personal Essay (Core) prompts changed — this new prompt was added for 2021-22:
# 4
Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
So how does this all relate to college admissions and academic success at the high school and undergraduate levels?
As our young adults embrace their academic potential, perhaps even more important is that each emerging adult be inspired to find their place within their community. This begins at home with guidance to seek out opportunities to discover and enrich their passions and their strengths.
What is your student passionate about? Now is the time for discovery!

COLLEGE PLANNING ad College Admissions

I can guarantee you that there’s no magic formula for being accepted into a selective university, but I can guide you to navigating the college application process as well as increase the likelihood that your student will be successful throughout high school and have a seamless transition to their undergraduate community.
College Admissions – building the freshman class.
Admissions officers go way beyond seeking students with perfect GPAs and test scores. As I wrote in an earlier blog: College and Ivy League Acceptance Rates – 2025.  The class of 2025 was balanced across intended majors, gender, location and a host of other factors. Your student has the intelligence to succeed at several colleges, but recognize that a freshman class cannot be comprised entirely of female Biology majors from your zip code. If rejected, it’s truly nothing personal nor necessarily a statement about a student’s inability to succeed.
A student’s GPA and the curriculum are still the most weighted factor in rendering an admissions decision. That’s a threshold to cross- but it’s woefully insufficient and you will be sorely disappointed to hear that your accomplishments are insufficient to earn an acceptance at a “dream” college. Engage in joyful, impactful and meaningful experiences so you are YOU and stand out from the sea of students with perfect GPA and test scores.
Universities seek out students who have taken on leadership roles and who have a variety of genuine interests. That said, every student must reach a bar of academic accomplishments to be a viable candidate.   Confused about whether to take AP, AICE, IB or even dual-enrolled classes? Once you recognize that there’s very little difference in curriculum choices across high schools across the US, your focus shifts to selecting electives taken beyond the core required curriculum (4 years English, 4 years Social Studies, etc.).  Challenge and explore!
So Why YOU?
After universities select a huge pool of applicants that have the desired academic credentials, that is when the differences among students begin to matter.  That’s what brings us back to the content of the first half of this newsletter.   Admissions officers look to find the “real you” evidenced in your essays, your listing of extracurricular accomplishments, your recommendations and perhaps even your interview.
You cannot present someone you’re not, and most important-the someone you are-that someone has been shaped well before high school.
What ignites your curiosity? How do you spend your time?
The experiences our young adults enjoy at home, at school, at extracurricular activities and within their communities are in fact “defining”. Those experiences allow admissions officers to build a balanced freshman class. Are you a natural leader, risk-taker, or have a quest for learning (a popular essay prompt). Do the experiences you’ve had describe someone ready to engage? Do you demonstrate an innate empathy, curiosity, or discipline and commitment to “something”?
Universities would like to be your first choice.
I’ve written about “demonstrated interest” which can be expressed sincerely by knowing what ignites your interests in Biochemistry or Politics, etc. so that you are an informed consumer. That’s right ….you’re a consumer!!  While there are a few thousand campuses you can study these and other traditional and unusual majors, it’s essential to do your research.
Learn how to read curriculum maps to understand everything that distinguishes one university from another. Let me help you discover how to conduct the research that will allow you to find a perfect fit academically, socially and even within your your financial means.
It is indeed never too early to begin taking steps to ensure you have a long-term strategic education and college admissions plan fostering a love of learning, solid time management skills and a directed path towards the undergraduate experience.


Does your student have an Educational & College Admissions Plan? On Target?
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.
Personalized Educational & College Admissions Services
South Florida 561.509.0021
Boulder/Denver 720.737.9944
Nationwide Online 833.MY.ESSAY
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Build your personalized Educational & College Admissions Plan!

College Consultant Bonnie Rabin with STEM student and College Admissions Acceptance Letters

Congrats!!! A SAMPLE of our recent College Acceptances Include:
UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, UPenn, Princeton, Cornell, U. Michigan, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Barnard, Columbia, Smith, Stanford, University of North Carolina, Vassar, Brown, Bowdoin, Wellesley, USC, Emory, U.Illinois, Notre Dame, NYU, Rice, University of Chicago, Washington University (WUSTL), Drexel, Tulane, London School of Economics, 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, and many more!…