Senior Families
   (and a preview for everyone else)!
This year, many of my students applied Early Decision and non-binding Early Action. I know you’ve all marked your calendars with college decision notification dates.  What should you be doing between now and then?  What do you do if you’re deferred to the Regular Decision pool?
PARENT REMINDER:  FAFSA and POSSIBLY CSS PROFILE:  Now is the time to file your FAFSA.  I previously included a detailed note about the ins and outs of financial aid and scholarships.   By now you are also an expert in understanding the differences between the two.
If you have any questions about your FAFSA – unusual situations, blended families, declining income, high medical expenses and “assets” -talk to me.  If you already filed, talk to me – as the forms can be amended.
Please check EACH college website to see if a CSS Profile is also required.  If so, call me if you have questions.  One of questions I really like within the CSS Profile is the free-response question allowing you to detail any additional information.  I can assist with making the best case for your “unusual situation”.
A few of you asked how to submit more than 10 colleges on your FAFSA.  It’s  very easy- you simply delete colleges once information is submitted (about 3 days later) and select “UPDATE MY FAFSA” – adding more colleges.
The precise process is detailed here with a few other options including making a phone call.
Parents- please contact me for assistance on how to provide critical financial information impacting your ability to pay. The appropriate timing of your presentation is March. We will be appealing award letters at that time !
Mid-Year Grade Reports:

Nearly all colleges require these (please check individual college webpages for admissions checklists).   This is the perfect opportunity to update your file and to express continued interest.

Whether you are deferred from the ED pool or if you are a RD applicant, January is the time to share any noteworthy accomplishments since submitting your application.
Please contact me for assistance in preparing your “update letter”, including appropriate tone, what to include  and how to submit.  (And we want the GC to corroborate your note– especially for truly amazing news!)
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 MakerFaire, attended a poetry SLAM?) or  achieved/sustained a high GPA (especially for students with ‘rough start’ GPAs.)
IS YOUR ADMISSIONS FILE COMPLETE?  (That is not the same question as “Did You Send Everything?!”)
Despite many email and newsletter reminders, I am confident a few of you will be notified mid-January that a required component of your application is missing .  In previous years, it’s been a missing transcript (even after receiving the email confirmation that it had been sent), teacher recommendations and December SATII subject test scores.
*** If your teachers haven’t yet submitted, you can provide a gentle reminder by giving your teacher an envelope with your supporting materials (I did suggest this back in August) : list of colleges, your activities resume, and your essay(s).
Please check, check and recheck all emails received from colleges to ensure your file is complete. You are responsible for verifying that everything was received. Don’t overlook transcripts, test scores and recommendations.
*** Make it a habit to check your files and emails every 3 days for any information.

 *** Last year one student overlooked an invite to apply to a prestigious scholarship.   Her files were complete– and she simply was irresponsible in reading college communications (She’s doing fine and loving her  choice.)  I can help you with almost everything -except reading your emails!
Once your mid-year grade reports have been submitted, dare I say it, you can breathe a sigh of relief. While you should always aim to do your best, this is no longer a time to sacrifice sleep for your GPA.
The second semester of your senior year is a time to focus on the transition ahead.   Use this time wisely, perhaps pursuing a volunteer opportunity or hobby you have not previously had the time to discover. Perhaps you might experiment with a different pattern of sleep or how you approach your studies.
Seniors: Do the second semester of grades matter?
Yes! Of course grades matter! 

Yet your grades do not matter for the reasons they did a few short weeks ago.  A student’s motivation and inspiration for academic success needs to continue to shift from external recognition (grades, class ranking, etc.)  to the intrinsic value of learning.   (Montessori students learned this lesson long ago!)
If your second semester senior grades decline (slightly) because you shifted time towards a meaningful extracurricular activity, that is entirely different than declining grades caused by senioritis!  Senioritis is highly contagious and if there are younger siblings in the house, out of respect for house rules, please avoid contracting a disease which can rob your family of peace!  
Do be mindful that a  significant GPA decline can result in being admitted on academic probation as a freshman! (I’m sure none of my students needs this warning!!).  If you anticipate transferring within the initial years of college, your high school transcript will continue to be evaluated until you have earned 60 undergraduate credits.
A final point about your high school accomplishments, unless you win a national competition, earn a noteworthy award, pretty much nothing about your high school record will be relevant to your resume from this point onward.  However, once lost, self-respect is most difficult to reclaim.   
Work-Life BALANCE is important and learning how to achieve it is both  an art and science.  Students- At this point onward in your academic career, you and only you are responsible for the decisions you make!
Second Semester Seniors: What matters most January forward—- Your AP scores!
And yes, for the 10th time- if you haven’t already been engaged in regular practice for the AP exams, let me motivate you further:  Many of you have aspirations to attend colleges for which only a “5” will be accepted for AP credit.  What does that mean? 
If you don’t earn the threshold AP score, you’ll repeat Calculus and/or Chemistry, etc.  Even if you earn a “5” you might decide to retake the class as a freshman and we will discuss the merits of retaking some STEM classes sometime prior to your freshman advising appointment later this summer.  If you’re accepted to Caltech- placing out of Calculus and Chemistry is NOT an option!
Placing out of freshman writing (AP Lang or AP Literature are accepted nearly everywhere as substitutes for Freshman Writing) enables you to take a more interesting English elective of your choice.
A “5” should always be your goal on all AP classes!
Best of luck to all Early Decision and Early Action applicants who receive notifications this week!
Bonnie  R. Rabin, PhD
Educational and College Planning Consultant