Advice for Seniors

Seniors: Please Let ALL the Colleges where You Were Admitted Know Your Plans

Seniors, heads up! It is good form to take yourself out of the running at any college where you have been accepted but know with certainty you will not enroll. That way the college can offer your seat to another student who may want to enroll.

We felt it was worth repeating this plea from Terry Cowdrey, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, issued last year:  

A plea to school counselors: please encourage your students to respond to all of the schools where they were offered admission. College admissions offices are scrambling to determine if we can make offers to students on the wait list and dozens--no, hundreds--of admitted students have not confirmed their plans. We can assume they are going elsewhere but it would certainly be nice to know for sure. And it's just good manners.

So, members of the Class of 2014!, please extend this courtesy to the colleges that took the time to admit you. Think, as well, about your friends on wait lists and how happy and relieved they may feel to know sooner rather than later that they have been admitted from a college's wait list. A simple email will do the job. So, please just do it!


Seniors: No second guessing, no keeping score... and stay committed!

This week we have more great advice for seniors from Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy

The most consistent message from our office to students in senior spring is, "Protect your community." Everyone is taking the first steps towards their own journey right now. Next year each of you will be in a place of your choosing, immersed in your own experience. Your opinions of others' choices, and their opinions of yours, aren't really relevant to those decisions. Support each other. Resist the temptation to keep score, or to try to second-guess the complicated, subjective, and unknowable processes by which admission committees arrived at their offers and denials. Don't take disappointment personally, and don't make it personal if someone you know was offered admission to a place you weren't. Enjoy your final weeks of high school, finish strong in the style you're known for, and stay committed to the activities and friendships that have sustained you until now!

Seniors: No Double Depositing

May 1, the National Candidates Reply Date, is the deadline for formally notifying one college you will accept its offer of admission -- and sealing the deal with a check for the nonrefundable deposit.  Keep in mind that you have signed a certification on your application form promising you will send a deposit to only one institution.  Double- depositing— sending deposits to two or more schools in order to keep your options open— takes places away from other students.  Your acceptance letter is conditional, and it’s easier than you think for the colleges to find out if you have deposited at more than one institution. If you ignore your ethical obligation and send deposits in to more than one school, you run the risk of both colleges rescinding your admission.


Financial Aid Checklist for Decision Time!

It's decision time! Your financial aid award letters will usually arrive with your letters of acceptance, or soon thereafter. Even though you will be celebrating and contemplating your choices, you will also need to be focused and diligent about evaluating your financial aid offers. College advisor Alice Kleeman is back with advice and answers for your questions during this important time.


·        You will often receive financial aid offers (also called "financial aid packages" or "financial aid award letters") with your admit letter or shortly thereafter.  Review these offers carefully. Ask questions at your College and Career Center or Guidance Office if you don't understand your letters.

·        Colleges vary tremendously in their cost of attendance, present their costs in different ways, and offer different amounts of financial aid in different combinations. This can make it difficult to understand which combination of price and student aid award is best. Here are some tools for comparing financial aid awards:  

                      US Department of Education College Affordability and Transparency Center

                      College Board Big Future

Decisions: Do you have the patience...

High school counselor Barbara Simmons joins us today in our ongoing series of reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions. Read on to find out how an ancient Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching, also known as "The Way," may offer some guidance: 


Decision – that word even has the sound of  ‘final’ –landing on the suffix of ‘ion’ – ‘zuhn.’ "Decision” originates from the Latin which means “to settle” on something – having cut off other options.

The definitions provided for decision refer to making a judgment – making up one’s mind – and, perhaps like many of you, I frequently have a difficult time making up my mind – even though I know the satisfied and grateful feeling I have when I DO make up my mind.  But the “trick” or “key” to decision-making comes well before the “making up one’s mind".  Decision making has as its foundation knowing our minds well enough to make our minds up, to settle on something without regrets.

Especially for members of the senior class in high school, there ARE decisions that arise in different times in one’s life that must be made when two seemingly VERY GOOD options appear. But it has also happened that two choices appear that would seem to be clearly marked as “good decision” vs. “bad decision” and circumstance might have us choose the seemingly less desirable option.

Seniors: Everything You Need to Know about Wait Lists

The wait list is probably on the minds of a lot of students this week, so we're bringing you a recap of the next steps you should take if you've been waitlisted, as well as the round-ups of our expert advice on being waitlisted. If you're wondering whether or not to accept a spot on the wait list or move on or exactly how to make your case to a school where you're waitlisted, click on these links and read on… 


There are Lots of Ways to Get Where You're Headed

Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy, joins us today in our continuing series of reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions -- from strategy, decision-making and coping through how to talk about your news with parents, friends and nosy neighbors. Read on to learn about one of the paths through your college decisions that leads to happiness -- and it's scientifically proven!



I remember opening the fat envelope from my first-choice college over twenty years ago. Nobody was home. I got so excited I ran around the living room screaming by myself. True story.

As it turned out, I didn’t go to that college. It was a far more expensive option than the college that offered me a scholarship, and attending that less expensive school was the compromise my parents and I agreed upon. At the time I felt like the universe was really unfair.

Twenty years later, so much of my life’s winding path connects back to seeds planted and passions discovered at my alma mater, which I would describe as having been so perfect for me that it’s laughable I felt so strongly about not attending my “first choice.” I know now that it was a place that probably would have been as good for me, but where I probably wouldn’t have started down pathways that are now essential parts of my identity.

Rejection: "And of course none of it matters very much at all..."

A faithful reader reminded us "It's that time of year again..." and asked us to re-post Joan Didion's essay on being denied admission at Stanford University. So to remind us all there is life after decision season, here you go...


"And of course none of it matters very much at all, none of these early successes, early failures. I wonder if we had better not find some way to let our children know this..."

Ice Cream, Exercise or New Shoes: Managing your Response to the College Decision

Jody Sweeney, Associate Director of College Counseling at Philadelphia's William Penn Charter School, joins us for our next installment of reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions -- from strategy, decision-making and coping through how to talk about your news with parents, friends and nosy neighbors. We like her advice -- "Check your gut." And we love some of her coping mechanisms! 


The envelope please: Whether it be thick or thin, or rather a peek online, the culmination of your college search is here. With May 1st as the National Candidates’ Reply date, it is just weeks until you finally choose where you will spend the next four years.

Decisions, decisions... Sound Bites, No Sympathy and Seizing the Moment for Parents

Beginning today and throughout the next week, we'll be posting reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions -- from strategy, decision-making and coping through how to talk about your news with parents, friends and nosy neighbors. We begin with the always excellent advice of psychologist Michael Thompson, author of The Pressured Child. We have always found Thompson's wisdom and sound bites to be indispensable for both turning points and moments of truth in our family life. We asked him how he got so smart about all of this -- and believe me, he is -- he told us, "Hey, I’ve been working with teenagers for forty-four years.  Some lessons they just insist you learn." Read on to benefit from those lessons so you can support your teenager and seize the moment -- in the best possible way.