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Facebook Live Recap and Bonus Questions: Ask America's College Counselor (2.19.17)

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

Whether you're a high school student or the parent of one, the college admissions process can be a stressful time and leave you with many questions. I answer those questions for you live from the comments section during my rapid-fire FB Live Q&A called Ask America's College Counselor. If you didn't get to see my most recent live stream, you can watch the video below. And don't forget to scroll down to the BONUS section for even more information!


Specific Programs and Activities

  • What do I need to know about nursing programs?
  • What are some summer program ideas for rising seniors who are undecided on a major?
  • If their preferred major is creative writing, should a student absolutely do 4 years each of science and math? Or should they free themselves up to take an additional English course?
  • Is it worth attending a summer program at a university? Does it help with getting an offer to attend?
  • How do you have depth in extracurricular activities? Is it okay to have 2 or 3 if they are time consuming? Can they be a little diverse?

Choosing a College and the College Admissions Process

  • I'm confused about which college I would like to go to. I got accepted into my top school but am also thinking about staying locally. What should I think about when choosing which college to go to?
  • Will an ExPat currently living in Qatar be considered an international student even though she is a US citizen?
  • How do college admissions offices track a high school student's interest in their school? What's the best way to show up on their radar multiple times?

Financial Aid and Merit Scholarships

  • Can my son use his state university, 4 year tuition scholarship as leverage with other preferred schools that have not offered as good of a financial aid package?
  • Any advice for improving the chances of getting merit aid besides the obvious of raising test scores?

College Preparation While in High School 

  • What should I expect from my high school college counselor?
  • Can my daughter who is taking 6 extremely hard classes as a junior next year (2 AP/2 Honors, Pre-Calc and Chemistry) opt out of a 7th class? How will colleges view that?
  • What and when is the best time for high school students to start applying to colleges?
  • How important are athletics as part of a well rounded activities list?


1. What's the best thing besides grades for my daughter to accomplish in high school in order to get into a good college?

Grades and rigor of the curriculum are the most important. Then test scores (if required). If it's a selective college, then her extracurricular involvement (leadership and impact too) and letters of recommendation will factor in as well. For more information, check out my blog on the benefits and impact of extracurricular activities

2. How do I help my junior child who is overwhelmed with the process of admissions, testing, scholarship applications and deciding on a major?

The college admissions process can be overwhelming for students and adults. As for students, I don't want them to feel any extra pressure, especially during the school year. For a junior, they should focus on their classes and grades. And, if they can take the ACT or SAT at least once (maybe twice) during junior year, then they are right on schedule. Extra test preparation can wait until the summertime. Filling out applications can too! Picking a major should be in the back of her mind, but she has plenty of time to choose it. As I mentioned during the Facebook Live Q&A, just having an interest can help with picking the major as most colleges don't require that the student declare a major until the end of sophomore year. So if she's good at a subject matter, then she'll have evidence to back it up (i.e. higher grades, rigorous courses in the subject matter, high Subject Test scores in the subject matter, and possibly some hands on experience in the field). One step at a time. But summer is when most of the application work will begin.

3. My son is deciding between a small liberal arts school and a larger state school, both with good academics. Will a small school provide enough to do socially?

Most small liberal arts colleges will still be bigger (sometimes twice or three times the size of a student's high school). But if they want to be a big fish in a small pond, the small liberal arts college environment can turn a regular student into a scholar, leader, and visionary. The smaller environment benefits the student who may want more help/attention from professors and/or feels like he/she wants a tight, intimate community. If the student wants to be a part of a large community, with more students, more clubs, more things to do, than a larger state school might be a better match. I went to a small liberal arts college for my undergraduate work and felt like it was exactly where I needed to be. I was a pretty sheltered teenager and wanted a safe, tight-knit community. I went to a large research university for graduate school, but by that point I was ready for a bigger environment.