5 Tips to Follow Before You Hit “Submit”

After 20-plus years of working with college-bound high school students, it’s not the flawless applications that standout; instead, it’s the scatterbrained mistakes that students didn’t realize they were making until after pressing “submit.” To ensure that your application won’t become another what-to-avoid story, follow these tips learned from others’ mistakes. 1. Beat deadlines. Make a spreadsheet of all deadlines. Don’t plan to meet your application deadlines, but prepare to submit it early. Give yourself a comfort zone in case something happens to slow you down. Not all pieces of the application puzzle are under your control, so allow for even … Continue reading

Determining ACT? SAT? or Both?

Good news! All colleges accept both the ACT and SAT tests without preference being given to one over the other. Some schools are even test optional. So how does a student determine which test to invest in? Consider PRE-Test Scores Up until April 2014, the pre-ACT was called the PLAN test. It was based on a 32 point scale. This scale allowed easy conversion to predictive ACT scores by adding 3-4 points to a PLAN composite. These predictive scores are also listed on your PLAN score report. For students graduating in 2016 or earlier, they are operating off PLAN scores … Continue reading

The Gravity of the CSS Profile

By Beatrice Schultz, Westface College Planning (CA) Seniors: Get ready to complete the CSS Profile! While not as commonly used as the FAFSA, for those colleges that do use it, completing the CSS Profile boosts your qualification for more financial aid, and who doesn’t want some extra money toward their college fund? You may not realize it, but the CSS Profile is required by over300 colleges.  It is very likely that one or more colleges in your personal top 10 list will need of the CSS Profile as well as the FAFSA in order to be considered for all available financial aid. Be prepared: Colleges … Continue reading

Finally, MY TURN! Chapter 1

It’s my turn!! I’ve worked for 15 years as an independent college counselor assisting families on college selection, application, career selection and admission. Finally, I have a high school junior, and I get the privilege (yes, I just said privilege) of embarking on the journey from a different perspective. Most certainly this will result in moments of wanting to pull my hair out (as my clients have attested to me), but hopefully many more of fun and joy. I’m frequently asked, “What would you do if he were your son?” when parents are seeking advice from me. In effort to … Continue reading

Rising Senior Summer – Be Prepared for Fall Apps

For many of you, it’s hard to believe just months from now as senior year is starting you’ll need to be ready to apply to college. That statement may leave many of you feeling behind. So how do you maximize summer so you’re ready and not overwhelmed come fall? 1. Finalize list for application. Most college applications go online August 1st, including the Common App which over 500 colleges use. LEAP recommends you start these apps when they come available to so they don’t crowd your fall schedule when you’ll have a lot more to do. To be ready to … Continue reading

Summer To-Do for Rising Juniors

Sophomore year is coming to a close. Students are thinking they are “half-way through” high school. While that may be true, when you  factor in that by August 1 of the following summer going into your senior year you’ll be ready to apply to college, students suddenly realize it’s time to LEAP forward with college selection. Whatever the grades are at the end of the junior year (and for most test scores – if you plan right!), that is what you’ll apply to college with and that list of colleges needs to be finalized before the senior year begins. To … Continue reading

5 Tips to an Outstanding College Application Essay

Learn, Brainstorm, Write, Revise & Polish. These are the steps in LEAP’s 5-step process to an essay that will make you stand out from the crowd of applicants vying for a spot at your dream school. Creating the optimal essay takes focus and time. August 1st will bring a flurry of activity with most applications becoming available, fall extra curriculars starting and don’t forget senior year starting. Keeping all of the balls in the air, while keeping grades up, requires room in your schedule that can be hard to find. One way to maximize your schedule and develop the best essay … Continue reading

2014-15 Common App Essay Prompts

Unchanged from the last admission cycle, here are the 2014-15 Common App essay prompts with a hard maximum at 650 words: 1. Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn? 3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? 4. Describe a … Continue reading

My 4 Surprises of Greek Life

Welcome to Guest Blogger, Jack Johnson (U of Cincinnati, ’17) When I first entered college, I had no idea what to do with myself. I had more time on my hands than ever before and was looking for ways to make new friends and have a great college experience. Your first day of college can be very overwhelming, as it was for me, but there are ways to adjust to this new lifestyle and make the most of it. I have found that one of the most rewarding decisions a young man can make in college is to join Greek … Continue reading

PLAN B: Dealing with College Rejection

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. ACCEPTANCE. The cycle of mourning may be new to teens who’ve likely not experienced much disappointment in life, but those whose Plan A for college is thwarted by rejection from their first choice college will need to embark on the cycle and move through it quickly. With many decisions already in hand and the rest coming by April 1st, it doesn’t leave much time before May 1st deposits are due. Once you’ve reached the acceptance stage, you need to dig deep to come up with PLAN B. Denial – Not Possible All over college discussion boards, … Continue reading

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