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Applications and Essays

Good morning!

We're hitting the airwaves this morning -- 10:00am EST --  for College Coffee Talk, our live show about college admissions and financial aid news that you can use!  

Here's what's on tap for today:  

How Not to Screw Up Your College Applications and Essays This Summer.

Tune In!


Feel free to pass this note along to any of your friends who could use this info!

Grab a cup of joe and we'll see you at 10am EST (recorded if you can't make it)

- Andy Lockwood

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Ask Your Child This Question (class of 2025 families)

college applications Jun 03, 2024

Tonight, if you asked your child  to answer the question, "Why should a college accept YOU?", how would they respond?

Most kids have no clue. 

Or they come up with a non-answer that sounds like something they think admissions officers want to hear (but could pertain to every college applicant):

"I have a 94 GPA."  

"I'm in National Honor Society."

I'm an extremely "hard worker." 

And "passionate," of course.


“Get me the hard working, passionate kid with the 94 average!” said no admissions officer, ever.

A average?  The A is officially now the most popular grade in high school.  Grade inflation is RAMPANT from coast to coast.  There are no C students anymore.

Honor Society?  Welcome to the top 70% of your class.  Can you say "Academic Participation Trophy?"

While I’m on this mini-rant, here’s my new pet theory:

EVERYONE applying to college is...

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The 100K per year college?

12 College Application Tips Webinar 

Today I read how Vanderbilt University is apparently a few bucks shy of being the first college to cost $100,000 per year, all in (tuition, room and board, fees).  Officially.

Unofficially, this happened a few years ago, if you count unofficial expenses, such as Ubers, reasonable travel expenses, beer money, Door Dash etc. that kids spend Ma and Pa's money on (note to my three college kids:  there's nothing wrong with peanut butter sandwiches once in a while).

Like the college admissions process, there's no apparent rhyme or reason to a lot of this process.  Why should a non-Ivy college in Tennessee run you more out of pocket than an Ivy League school located in insanely high cost of living Manhattan?

I'm sure someone from Vanderbilt could explain that, but they'd be twisting themselves into knots to do so as far as I'm concerned.

Incidentally, it's not just Vandy that's pushing the 100K envelope:  it's virtually all...

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New: 12 College Application Tips

12 College Application Tips Webinar

We're scant days away from the "final" college acceptances, denials and waitlists for this year's crop of college applicants in The Most Confusing College Application Season ever.

Which means that I now have enough intel to share the following tips with Class of 2025 families, in a brand new webinar, Thursday night:

  • How to get into a decent college, today
  • How to construct a strategic and balanced college list
  • How to avoid "Admissions Armageddon"
  • How to answer one of the new supplemental essays about diversity even if you don't feel or look particularly diverse
  • How to earn a 30K per year merit scholarship even if you didn't cure a pandemic or single-handedly build a village in a third world country
  • Test-Optional:  To Opt or Not to Opt (yeah I know that one doesn't quite make sense but you know what I'm trying to say)
  • The New Digital SAT:  right for your kiddo?
  • Merit Scholarships:  how to get 'em without spending six months on stupid...
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College Applications Up By How Much (and does it matter)?

Apparently college applications as of January are up by 22% compared to last year.

High school seniors are applying to more schools, according to one college consultant (not me, but I'm also seeing the same trend in my anecdotal, micro-universe).

Does that mean that it will be harder to get into college this year? Permit me to make a few comments.

First, more applications does not mean more APPLICANTS applying to college.  The number of kids applying is actually trending down, partially due to predicted demographics, and partially because of the pandemic, economy and outrageous cost of college, which has risen every year since the beginning of time.

(Side prediction:  next year's increase in college costs will again outstrip the current, also outrageous inflation numbers reported this week.)

Second, as the Common App data weenies point out, more applications does not equate to more enrollments.  Colleges will still have to scrap tooth and nail to convince...

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What if you get 'dinged" by your Dream School?

Nobody likes to be told "Um, no. Not you." but this is the time of year for Early Denial.

Countless college applicants will be told that they didn't get into the college they "ED'd" to.

Fun?  Nope.

Does it matter?  Highly doubtful.

Typically, this time of year you'll see articles about famous, successful people who didn't get into their top choice colleges (Tina Fey, Warren Buffet, Antonin Scalia - how's that for an eclectic threesome?). The point of these articles is that the world didn't end for these rejectees, and neither should it end for this year's batch of college applicants.

I wrote about this briefly in my "snail mail" client newsletter, and make these comments annually because I think they're worth repeating.  I tell all of my private 1:1 college advising students words the effect of

"You will be successful in life no matter where you go to college, because of your work ethic, intelligence and interpersonal skills.  There is no correlation between where you...

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Blunt advice for parents of college-bound teens

I don't think it's me (I never do) but this year has been CRAZIER than ever.

I'm not only referring to the kids we coach through the college application process: parents have gone bonkers too!

On the kid-side, we had in inordinate number of seniors making last minute, final revisions to their essays yesterday for November 1 deadlines...

Even though we started drafting them in July!

Re:  parents, I cannot begin to tell you how many "helped" their children by stepping in, pushing them aside and completely taking over the essay-writing process.  I see it every year, but I've never seen it this bad.

I'm not just griping.  There's an important point here, that's all-too-easy to get lost in the shuffle:  If you, parent, take over the college applications for your child, you are sending them an unsubtle message...

You can't do this yourself

Not exactly a confidence builder, right?

Trust me, I know how busy our children are, and I understand the impulse to help. ...

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