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Facebook Live Recap and Bonus Questions: Ask America's College Counselor (9.23.17)

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

My rapid-fire Ask America's College Counselor sessions are a great opportunity for parents and students to ask me their most pressing questions about the college admissions process. If you didn't get to see my most recent Q&A, you can watch the video below. And don't forget to scroll down to the BONUS section for even more of my expert advice!

  • Do highly selective schools value an alumni letter of recommendation or is it best not to send one?
  • Should summer activities be included in extracurricular activities?
  • Is an October standardized test too late for seniors?
  • How much weight does a grandparent legacy carry?
  • Do schools still offer merit scholarships to Early Decision applicants?
  • Does the independent hobby need to be part of the list of extracurricular activities? Can it ever be in video form or a YouTube link?
  • My daughter is a US citizen. However she is completing her high school from India and has IBDP program and English HL. My question is will it be required for her to take TOEFL?
  • What are the top things students should be doing in 9th and 10th grade?
  • When reporting SSAR, if your school gives you a grade for each of the four marking periods and a final grade at the end of the year, how do you report that?
  • Does being an Eagle Scout offer any admissions advantage? Or is it weighted similar to a varsity sport captain?
  • Must one letter of recommendation come from a school counselor or instead may they come from two teachers?
  • What's the best resource for finding computer science scholarships and schools?
  • Is there a certain ACT score that significantly increases merit scholarship opportunities?
  • Can you please explain the super scoring process?
  • Is there any disadvantage to applying Early Decision with regards to financial aid packages?
  • My son took AP history and did not pass the test. Will that affect the credits or have any other negative effect?
  • How lenient are highly selective schools about SAT scores if everything else is outstanding?
  • Can extracurricular activities done in middle school or the summer before high school be listed on the application?
  • Can you apply to a restrictive Early Action school and apply to others at the same time?


1. When do you suggest taking the SAT or ACT for the first time? Then how many times after?

Unless the student is an extremely strong test-taker, I would take either the SAT or the ACT by winter or early spring of junior year. I don't recommend more than 3 times. Best time to take it for the last time would be August (SAT) or September (ACT) of senior year.

2. When do colleges start looking at completed applications? Is it after the application deadline or ongoing?

If it's a traditional Early Decision or Early Action program in the fall, they usually don't start reviewing applications until AFTER the deadline because most admissions officers are traveling up until then. For Rolling Admissions programs, they'll read applications and make decisions as they come in. And for Regular Decision programs, admissions officers usually aren't reviewing applications until AFTER the deadline (maybe a few before) because they're so focused on their Early Decision or Early Action pool first.

3. Is it okay to accept free application fees if colleges give that option?

You can absolutely accept the fee waiver! It means they want applicants and probably need your student to apply, get admitted, and enroll.