Many students have completed their applications and some are only just beginning.   At this time of year, there are some recurring questions that my clients ask.   If you need assistance with completing admissions, scholarships or financial aid applications– please contact me:

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??? “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, GC rec, transcripts and test scores).

All that is required is to enter the 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 recommendations.  You are however 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 actually be left blank since official scores are required regardless of what you’ve entered within your application.  Scores are sent through the College Board and ACT portals – and there is a cost.   Some students received Harvey & IRMA 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 the admissions 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 substitute 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 my community, I can assure you there is very little you could actually 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.

Please see detailed comments below about Admissions Interviews and Campus Visits in my earlier blog posting.

???  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 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.

  • 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.    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 probably not eligible for financial aid.  Are there 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 an option for many families. I can assist you with determining your eligibility — please don’t rule out applying for financial aid.

Schedule your Educational and College Planning Assessment with Bonnie R. Rabin, PhD

Bonnie R. Rabin, PhD

Educational & Admissions Consultant