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Facebook Live Recap and Bonus Questions: Ask America's College Counselor (12.16.17)

In case you missed it, here's a recap of my recent Facebook Live Rapid-Fire Q&A!

During my rapid-fire Ask America's College Counselor sessionsI answer students' and parents' most pressing questions about the college admissions process. If you didn't get a chance to see my most recent Q&A live, you can see a list of the questions I answered and watch the full video below. And don't forget to scroll down for three BONUS questions that I didn't get a chance to answer live!

  • What should you do if you get deferred? How can you increase your chances of getting admitted in Regular Decision?
  • If you apply Early Action, are you required to give an earlier response or can you wait until all decisions are in before choosing?
  • I got into my Early Decision school. How should I word my letters withdrawing all other applications? What else should I do?
  • Can a child appeal a financial aid package from an Early Decision-accepted school before pulling applications from other schools? Also, what is the best way to appeal a financial aid package?
  • What is a PSAT Index Score and how is it used to qualify for National Merit?
  • Could being a finalist or semi-finalist for National Merit help you get admitted to a highly selective college?
  • What score would my son need to get on the SAT that would be better than the 34 he already has on the ACT?
  • Is it a good idea to fill out financial aid forms if you don’t believe you will be awarded any financial aid anyway?
  • If your child isn't applying Early Decision, why do some schools let kids know in December and other schools make them wait until late March?
  • What are your suggestions for best courses for PSAT prep? What is a realistic goal to increase scores from 10th to 11th grade?
  • My son is a junior in a very competitive high school and is planning to apply Early Decision to University of Pennsylvania. Will my son be compared to other students in his school for admissions or be viewed compared to other applicants in general?
  • For a student that wants to go to medical school, is it recommended to go with a well-known, big research college for undergrad? Will they be at a disadvantage if they go to a private, smaller college for undergrad?
  • My child's high school is very competitive. Even with a great GPA and rigorous classes, the school ranks students and my child is lower ranked while his friends in other schools with the same GPA are ranked higher.
  • Should I submit both SAT and ACT scores or just submit the higher one?
  • Do you have an idea of how many kids trying to get into an Ivy use essay coaches?
  • Does it hurt your child if they are enrolled in a higher number of electives, but doing well in academic courses? My child takes orchestra, band, and theater, but only four academic courses.
  • How many APs should you have by senior year?
  • Are SAT Subject Tests more important than AP tests?
  • Should you take APs based on your interest?
  • Do Ivy League colleges limit the number of students they accept from a specific public high schools?
  • How do colleges look at regular classes that a student aces vs. AP classes where they're doing well, but not stellar?


1. Is it realistic to apply to a top school with nothing that makes you stand out and lower grades than most applicants to that school? Can you just get lucky and be admitted for being first generation or a minority?

At a highly selective college, first generation and being an under-represented minority can absolutely help. The student still needs to have good grades and scores, but they don't have to be perfect or near-perfect.

2. What sorts of things in applications are automatic turn offs to admissions officers, or will get you kicked out by the computer algorithm?

All applications will be "read" but the following things will decrease the amount of time they spend on the application: any type of honor code violation, disciplinary action, etc; little to no involvement with no clear reason why; C's or lower at highly selective colleges; lower test scores; a teacher/counselor recommendation form which marks off "average" or "good" check boxes versus "outstanding" or "top of my career.”

3. My daughter is dyslexic. Is this an advantage or disadvantage to mention in essays or in the admissions process?

There's a lot to consider for a student with learning differences. It used to be a guaranteed detriment years ago when I first started in admissions in the 1990's. Clear discrimination. Part of it was that there was a symbol on these students' SAT score report if they had extended time or special accommodations when they took the test. That's no longer available. Colleges would never know if a student has an LD unless they (or one of their letter-writers) mention it. If the student's record and scores would never reveal an LD because they're so strong and the student feels like this is a huge part of who they are (and why they're so successful), they can share this information in an essay. I've seen a handful of very powerful essays about an LD that a student overcame.