FAQ for Seniors – The Questions that Keep Popping Up….
??? “I cannot submit my application because my teachers haven’t submitted their recommendations and/or I’m retaking the SAT/ACT and awaiting my new scores”
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE-hit the submit button.  As I’ve noted in numerous informational newsletters, your application can be submitted prior to the receipt of any external supporting documents (i.e., teacher recs, transcripts and test scores).
Enter the teacher contact information on the “recommender invite” tab. Once submitted, these will be matched up to your file. Think about this logically for a just a moment-your teachers may actually forget to write /submit or sadly delay until winter break.  Your application is due and you aren’t held accountable for the timing of external materials.  You are required to have a complete file before a decision will be rendered (more about how to verify file completion status follows below).
Test scores can be reported on your applications or this section can be left blank since official scores are required regardless of what you’ve entered within your application portals.  Scores are sent through the College Board and ACT – and there is a cost.   Some students received Hurricane waivers for scores and CSS Profiles (a fee-for-service financial aid form required by some colleges).
??? Do I have to send all my scores?
This requirement is set by individual colleges.  Please check these websites to determine requirements on whether all or some scores are required.   Official AP scores are most certainly NOT an admissions requirement. The exception- colleges using test-flexible features will allow substitution of AP/SATII Subject tests for ACT/SAT scores.
???? “Where / When do I sign up for alumni/ admissions interviews?”

This process varies across colleges. If interviews are optional – treat this as required as any additional opportunities to showcase your strengths and demonstrate genuine interest should not be overlooked. For example, some colleges such as Johns Hopkins allow you to request an interview prior to submitting your actual application.
As a Cornell University alumni interviewer in Florida, I can assure you there is very little you could say to adversely impact your chances. We recognize some students are nervous. This is an opportunity to learn more about the college.  I cannot think of any of my peers who would go out of their way to sabotage your application. At worst, you’ll get a lukewarm report and at best, you may bond so strongly with an “influential” alumni to receive a positively glowing interview report.  The impact of your interview on the admissions decision is very small.
???  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 to an essay until you have confirmed that the college-specific information has been downloaded by College X allowing you to change your essay 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.
  • 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!

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.    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.
 ??? We’re probably not eligible for financial aid.  Are there any scholarships?

Yes there are many unique merit based and need based forms of aid. If you need assistance with finding and applying for scholarships or completing your FAFSA/CSS Profiles, please reach out to discuss your unique situation.

You will be surprised to know that financial aid is likely for many families. I can assist you with determining your eligibility — please don’t rule out applying for financial aid. The most common misconceptions that lead families to avoid applying are those dealing with parental income vs. assets as well as divorce/blended family situations. Give me a call to discuss your unique situation.
Admissions/Alumni Interviews: 


Some tips for a successful interview!
  • Alumni Interview invites: 
Timely response is required-24 hours! Some alumni interviewers can email you with very short notice. It’s acceptable to ask to reschedule if you simply cannot make the suggested appointment.  Please contact me for suggested language on accepting, rescheduling and thanking your interviewer.
First and foremost- be yourself because everyone else is taken! That’s not cliché-it is truly the most important piece of advice I can provide.
Please contact me to schedule your mock interview.  To prepare for a successful interview, make sure you have done your homework!  First and foremost, know your interviewer.  Check their LinkedIn profile and do a Google search- looking for common bonds to share.  Some of the most successful interview experiences are those where we learn that you and your interviewer have only one-degree of separation! Do your homework!
Some of your alumni interviewers will have received your Common Application — but most will not.  You have more “control” over the flow of the conversation when you bring your interviewer your “Activities Resume”.   Please contact me to review recent accomplishments and to ensure you are using a format that will showcase your strengths and capture the interviewer’s attention.   A one-page resume is sufficient!  (A second page can include an abstract of any noteworthy research projects.)
Be prepared to ask questions about campus life, academics and research opportunities in your chosen field.   There should not be a single surprised look on your face when the interviewer speaks of a club (related to your expressed interest), or anything about the curriculum in your intended major.  You should very clearly show the same level of “informed interest” as you demonstrated in your application essays.  The more you know about the college, the interviewer will understand that you are very very very interested in attending the institution.
Be a good listener-alumni LOVE to talk about their alma mater.
As a Cornell University local representative, I can tell you I’ve seen it all! I’ve interviewed hundreds of high school, undergraduate and graduate students in mock and actual academic and employment settings.  I often observe the same mistake:  students spew out long lists of accomplishments without taking a breath! Each sentence you speak should make a unique point.  (Seniors – we had the same issues in essays!)
For example, if you want to talk about your experiences in Science Olympiad, expand that thought by connecting to scientific research opportunities on campus.  Use the opportunity to mention a particular faculty research lab that you might like to join.  Don’t list all your accomplishments in one sentence: “I enjoyed my time in high school participating in Science Olympiad, organizing the Girl Scout Cookie drive, volunteering at the Hospital, Teaching Sunday School and Playing Clarinet in the Concert Band.”  Each accomplishment is worthy of its own sentence! Each accomplishment can be connected to a similar initiative at the undergraduate community you would like to join.
Exude heartfelt passion about the university, demonstrating you have done your homework and that you bring something special to the freshman class!  Your alumni interviewer should look forward to welcoming you into the Alumni Association in the not too distant future!
FASHIONISTA – ABSOLUTELY NOT! (Unless you are an art or performance major!)
I’m often asked what to wear for the interview.  I can more easily tell you what not to wear. (This is the part where I probably sound pretty much like your parents). Do not wear ripped jeans however fashionable. Do not wear sneakers. Do not wear excessive cologne/perfume.  Unless you are an aspiring Business student, in general, a pair of slacks and a clean button-down shirt/blouse are sufficient.  If you are a finalist for a competitive scholarship, men should arrive in a tie at minimum.   Modest, tasteful and business casual are the general guidelines for interview dress.
Side note: If you know you tend to sniffle, have tissues on hand should something in the environment cause a flare-up.
If a challenge for you-practice practice practice your eye contact and sitting up straight.
If your interviewer is rude enough to ask this question directly or hint indirectly (you must have applied to some very competitive schools!), the best way to handle this question is the way you would handle any intrusion. You don’t have to respond but you do have to be polite.  One possibility: “I’m thrilled to be meeting today and learning about X University.  I am very interested in attending and while I have applied to other equally competitive colleges, for all the reasons we have discussed today, I would be honored to be accepted to the class of 2022.”
Please send a thank you note to your interviewer (or panel) within 24 hours. Include something in your note that you appreciated learning from your interviewer.
Above all, be prepared, confident and be yourself.  You may not necessarily impress the interviewer, but please relax knowing that it’s virtually impossible to say anything so outrageous to adversely impact your chance of admission.
Bonnie R. Rabin, PhD
Educational & College Admissions Consultant