The College Whisperer™ | Navigating The Road To College

The Common App Goes "Live" August 1...

June 18, 2018

... Will You Be Ready?

Yes, the 2018-19 
Common Application, online portal to nearly 800 college applications, will be rolled out on August 1st. Other college application platforms will follow.

Do you know which colleges are "best" for you? Will your applications get your foot in the door, let alone over that ivy-covered gate? Will that essay "wow" the college admissions team? And what about financial aid, scholarships, and the ins, outs, and in-betweens of the college admissions and financial aid process?

Don't Go It Alone!

Call us at 
COLLEGE CONNECTION, your expert guide to everything college. 516-345-8766.
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At COLLEGE CONNECTION, We've Got Your Back. And Your Best Moves Forward!


NEW FOR 2018! The DIY College Planning Package...

June 18, 2018

...With A Little Help From The College Whisperer

  • For the independent student who simply needs some direction and support. A three-hour in-person session the "need to know" on topics such as choosing colleges, completing the applications, writing the essays, finding scholarships, applying for financial aid, and all the good stuff. [In-Person service limited to Nassau, Queens, and  western Suffolk. Out of area? Ask about working remotely.]

ONLY   $500.00

Check out all of College Connection's college planning packages at

Then call (516-345-8766), email (, text, tweet (@GetCollege) or smoke signal (smoke signal rates may apply) for more information and to get started!


Prelude To College Applications: A Primer On Getting Started

June 9, 2018

If there is a single question The College Whisperer™ is asked most about the college application process, it is, "Where do I begin?"

My typical response is, "At the beginning, of course!" ;-)

Seriously, though, getting started down that long and winding road to college admissions, as it is with many things in life, is often the most difficult part of the journey.

So, what will follow below is a basic (very basic, as in, just to give you a push) primer -- a "To Do" list, if you will -- to set you on your way as you prepare to embark upon this grand adventure known as the college application and admissions process.

Before we run down that list, however, here's a simple, yet critical thought to keep you on track -- if not relatively sane -- during your journey: 

Whenever you have or create a login/password combo (i.e., Naviance, CommonApp, College Board/ACTstudent, college websites, scholarship search engines), write it down in a notebook. [May we suggest a good old composition notebook. Or, for the environmentally friendly, a decomposition notebook!] In this way, you will always have those pesky logins and passwords at hand, and never find yourself saying, "Damn. I thought that was the password..."

And now, that list:

1. Build that Resume on Naviance. This is first and foremost, and a prelude to the resume you will create on Common App, if not elsewhere. Remember, Guidance and the teachers who will write your recommendations often rely upon your Naviance Resume, and colleges, through Common App, will have limited access to it. Find the Resume Builder in Naviance in the About Me section, under Resume. Be sure to include every activity, including academic, extracurricular and community, since 9th Grade. 

2. Complete the Naviance Game Plan*. This will help to narrow down your college choices. Find this in the About Me section. 

3. Complete Naviance Brag Sheets*. Pat yourself on the back a bit and toot your own horn. Complete the Student Brag Sheet, and ask Mom and Dad to complete the Parent Brag Sheet. Important reference tool for Guidance and in completing the application process. Brag Sheets are found in the About Me section, under Surveys To Take

*High schools utilize different versions of Naviance. Not every category (i.e., Game Plan, Brag Sheets) will be found in all editions.

4. Complete the Naviance SuperMatch College Search. This is a useful tool that will help match your interests, academics, career goals, grades and scores to colleges that are a good fit for you. Not a perfect tool, but a good place to get a feel for your target and safety schools. Find SuperMatch in the Colleges section, under College Research. Also narrow your college search by registering and completing detailed profiles on such search engines as and

5. Get A Dedicated Email Address. Consider getting an email address exclusively for your college applications, scholarships, etc. [Most students find Gmail works well.] You will avoid the spam, lost messages, and the problems often associated providers such as AOL. Something simple like would give you a dedicated portal for everything college. It also appears "professional" and serious to college admissions officers!

6. Sign Up & Register with Scholarship Search Engines. All great places to begin your search for FREE money for college. Be sure to complete the profiles on each search engine after you sign up. Then, search and apply for applicable scholarships, both on-site and via the emails you will begin to receive. [Again, a dedicated email address is helpful here!] An early start (as in, yesterday LOL) in the scholarship search could mean real money when that tuition bill arrives. Also, take advantage of the scholarship search tools on Naviance (in the Colleges section, under Scholarships and Money) and on the College Board BigFuture website.

7. Register and Practice for Upcoming ACT and SAT. Be sure to register at ACTstudent for the next available ACT and on the College Board website for the next available SAT as soon as possible. Space will fill up fast for these exams. Then, take as many practice exams (you can find many FREE practice tests online as well as through the various test prep centers) as you can between now and then. [Consider a tutor if subject matter, focus, and/or time management are issues.] Practice is truly the best way to raise your scores! [If that old standardized test doesn't prove to be your forte, you may also want to consider "Test Optional" colleges. At least having a couple of these schools on your list, while no guarantee of admission, should increase your comfort level.]

8. Begin to Work on the College Essays. Remember, outside of grades and scores, the essays (personal statement and supplemental essays, if any) are the best way to show college admissions officers who you are, who you hope to become over the next four years, and what you would bring to campus and the college community beyond. A strong, compelling essay can make all the difference in the world! [Check out the 2018-19 Common App essay prompts!]

9. Visit Campus. If not in person (that can wait until the fall), then certainly online via virtual tours, such as, and

10. Register and create your Profile at CommonApp. While the Common App for 2018-19 launches August 1, you can (and should) register, complete the online profile, and work on the "common" portion of the Common App now. Your info and data will rollover. [Hint: Do NOT work on college-specific supplements or writings. Assuming they are available, they may change come August 1.] NOTE: While Common App is home to some 750 colleges utilizing its application, making it the primary online application for most students, there are other online application aggregators (i.e., Coalition for AccessUniversal College ApplicationCappex App, where there is no application fee for the 125 participating colleges), some of which are used exclusively by certain schools. Check the Admissions/Perspective Students page on websites colleges of interest to see the available or preferred method of application.

11. Call COLLEGE CONNECTION, your Sherpa Guide through the college application process, and Official Sponsor of College Admission Success™! 516-345-8766 [Hmmmm. Maybe this should have been #1! ;-)]

Again, just a relatively short list of what you should be working on now. More to follow. Stay tuned. . .

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Plan. Prepare. Prevail! 

Contact us at COLLEGE CONNECTION, home of The College Whisperer™ and Official Sponsor of College Admission Success™, for all of your college planning needsNo one knows college admissions like COLLEGE CONNECTION. No one! 516-345-8766

For up-to-the-minute news, apps, info and insights on college applications, admissions, scholarships and just about everything college, follow The College Whisperer™ on Twitter at


The Knowledge Of College In Black, White, And Shades Of Gray

May 22, 2018

College is closer than it appears in the rearview mirror!

That said, here is a short list of required reading as we prepare for yet another exciting college application season:

And, for those who are absolutely enamored with the Ivies. . .  An Anecdote For Ivy-Envy Let the college admissions game begin! 
As always, the answers to your college questions are only an email, text message, phone call, tweet, or smoke signal away! [Smoke signal rates may apply :-)] 
- - - At COLLEGE CONNECTION, We've Got Your Back. And Your Best Moves Forward!

GET THE KNOWLEDGE OF COLLEGE... Now scheduling college planning & counseling sessions for high school students.  CONTACT US!

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Free College Planning Workshop

January 11, 2018

College Planning 101 | The Knowledge of College

Monday, May 21 2018 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM

Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island

38 Old Country Road, Garden City, New York 11530

    Space Is Limited | REGISTER TODAY at


What High School Juniors (and even Sophs) Should Be Doing Now!

November 29, 2017

At College Connection, we help you navigate the college application, admissions, and financial aid maze. We welcome the opportunity to work with you, should you choose to use our college planning and counseling services.
Meanwhile, you can get a jump start on those college plans.

It's not too early to start planning and preparing for college. In fact, the time is just right...

READ, High School Juniors: This Is Your Moment! 

Questions? Concerns? Leftover turkey and trimmings? Give a holler. We are always here to help. 

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On Turkeys, Tuition, & Trolling For Scholarships

November 21, 2017

Almost time to stick that Thanksgiving turkey in the oven (and can that Christmas music be far behind?). [By all rights, if the heralding of Christmas (1 day) begins the day after Halloween, the festivities for Chanukah (8 days) should start right after Valentine's Day. Just sayin'... ]

Early Action. Early Action II (like hitting the snooze button?]. Regular Decision.Now is the time to put those finishing touches on the yet unsubmitted applications. Dot the i's. Cross the t's. Answer the optional supplemental questions. Be mindful of deadlines. Do not wait for the last minute.

Portfolios. For those with Art or other program-specific portfolios, remember that these must be submitted separate and apart from your applications (usually, through Slideroom). Be aware of portfolio deadlines.

Report Test Scores. Remember, you MUST report test scores (ACT, SAT, SAT II, AP) to colleges you apply to (when they require scores for admission) directly from College Board and/or ACTstudent. The unofficial report of scores on your applications does not cut it for most schools.

NOTE: For those awaiting complete scores (including the essay) from the October ACT, they are scheduled to be available online on November 28. Update your applications accordingly, and do submit official score reports to the colleges you'd like to see them.

Update Naviance. After you submit your applications, be sure to update Naviance (under, Colleges I Am Applying To). Keep Guidance in the loop! [Submit all forms as may be required by your high school.]

Read Your Emails! 'Nuf said... 

Check those "Application Checkers" Regularly. Log on to the college web portals at least once a week. Make sure they have everything they need (transcripts, recommendations, school reports, test scores) to consider your application. ALLOW FOR LAG TIME. It could take a week or two, after material is received, before the website is updated. Be vigilant, but be patient!

Prepare and Submit the CSS-Profile. For those colleges that require this College Board administered fin aid form. Yes, it is primarily used to determine eligibility for need-based aid, but some colleges use the Profile as their application for merit aid and internal scholarships. If a school you have applied to is on the Profile college list, complete and submit.

NOTE: The FAFSA, required by ALL colleges (and not just for student loans and Pell grants), can - and should - be completed and submitted as soon as possible. Do NOT wait until Christmas! [As the FAFSA is required to be submitted for every school year, returning students should file their FAFSA Renewals at this time.]

***You Need An FSA-ID. For those new to FAFSA,, or other federal aid websites, you must create anFSA-ID to gain access.

NOTE: For the do-it-yourselfers - You need to create TWO (2) FSA-ID's. One for the student. One for a parent. 

The Great Scholarship Search. Because free money trumps (no, not THAT trump) student debt. Know where to find scholarships, which ones to apply to, and the best practices for actually getting your hands on some of that free money. Go Beyond Fastweb in your quest for scholarships. 

Speaking of Scholarships!  It's November. Have you applied this month for the $2000 No Essay Required Scholarship? [I didn't think so... Still waiting for Ed McMahon to knock at your door?] There are dozens of scholarships out there just as easy to apply for. Monthly. Even weekly. But you have to be in it to win it!

P.S. Ask me about the IJMIU form. No. Really. Just ask... 

The College Whisperer™ is the Trademark of COLLEGE CONNECTION, Official Sponsor of College Admission Success. The road to college begins at COLLEGE CONNECTION! Whether you are applying to college, planning for college, paying for college or simply thinking about college, COLLEGE CONNECTION can help! Call TODAY for a FREE telephone consultation. 516-345-8766



In Search Of A "Best" Fit College

November 1, 2017

There are many superlatives bantered about these days. “Best” seems to trump all. “Best” hotels. “Best” restaurants. “Best” haircut. [I once knew a man who only frequented what he believed to be the “best” of everything. He died. As I recall, he had the “best” funeral.] And then, there are those best of the “best” -- “Best” colleges. Ahh, yes. The “Best” Colleges In America (or the world. The Universe?) Rankings of the “best” 100, the “top” 25, and the “elite” 15. “Best” for Forbes, for U.S. News, for Princeton Review. The real question, however, is which college is “best” for you? With nearly 4000 accredited colleges in the United States, the task of finding a college that is a perfect fit can be daunting. Of course, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the entire process (often referred to as the equivalent of The Long March), from choosing colleges to which to apply, to brainstorming essays, to completing applications, to selecting a school in which to enroll, to securing the money you need to pay for four or more years, should actually be fun. So, where to start... Naviance -- Use the College Search tool (found in the Colleges section) to get a feel for which colleges offer what you are looking for. As with other search tools, narrow the field by interests (academic and otherwise), location, campus attributes, and so on. College Board -- Yup, College Board, the folks who brought you AP tests and the dreaded SAT. While we are loathe to recommend College Board for anything, their college search tool, along with other tidbits found in Big Future, is useful. And, unlike most things offered by College Board, it’s free! -- Register. Complete the Profile. Search for colleges. Then, click on the What Are My Chances tab to get a guesstimate as to the likelihood of being accepted, based on prior years admissions. [Not the Gospel, mind you. And past performance does not guarantee future results. Still, no harm in asking the question and shaking the old eight ball to get an answer, for whatever it may be worth.] -- Scientific? Hardly. Nevertheless, a good way to begin to research colleges that may be the perfect fit for you. Virtual College Tours -- Time and money will keep you from visiting every college you may be interested in. And while the Internet can make the college application and admissions process seem overwhelming, it is extremely helpful in checking out colleges without ever having to get out of your pajamas. [Not that you were planning on getting dressed for class, anyway...] Take a look at sites such as and (because was already taken, no doubt). Take that virtual tour. See the campus and hear what each school has to offer. No, you won’t be able to jump on the dorm room mattress, or taste the tacos in the dining hall, but you will get a sense of whether that college is worthy of an actual visit some time down the road. College Web Sites -- Where could you possibly learn more about a college than on its very own website? Probably nowhere, short of buying someone’s guidebook offering personal insights and dorm room minutia. Most colleges offer virtual tours on their own websites. Lots of rah, rah and self-aggrandizement, but you expected that, right? [Take such tours, and everything that appears on a college site, with a huge grain of salt. No college is going to tell you, “Hey, we suck. Stay away!” Websites are, after all, marketing tools, answering the inevitable supplemental question, “Why this college?”] Indeed. Peruse the websites of colleges that interest you. There will be a quiz later! The Guidance Office -- Guidance? Yes. Guidance. You’ve probably passed it by on your way to the lunch room or to catch the late bus. Stop in some time. Say hello to your Guidance Counselor. He or she can guide you as you begin your search for that “best” fit college. Guidance is the front lines of college admissions (and you wouldn’t believe the wealth of college scholarship opportunities crammed into those metal filing cabinets). Pick their brains. Put your parents’ tax dollars to work! Did we forget any resource? There are so many. Oh yeah. Here’s one more... College Connection -- Call (516-345-8766). Text. Email. Tweet. Snapchat? [No, not yet :-)] We are always here to offer advice, to lend a hand or a shoulder, to calm, to empathize, to commiserate, and to help you navigate that long and winding road to -- and through -- college! College Connection on Twitter Follow Us The College Whisperer Like Us On Facebook


Free College Planning Workshop | Garden City, NY | October 26

October 5, 2017

WHAT: College Planning Forum For High School Students & Parents

WHEN: Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 7:30 PM

WHERE: Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island | 38 Old Country Road, Garden City, NY 

WHY: Because the more you know, the better prepared you'll be!

Whether planning for college, applying to college, paying for college, or just thinking about college, this workshop is a must attend for high school students and their parents.

Seth Bykofsky, a/k/a The College Whisperer of College Connection, shares his wisdom and wit on such critical issues as finding the best fit colleges, the complexities and nuances of the application and admissions process, the college essay, and navigating the financial aid and scholarship maze.

From the Common App to the Coalition for Access, CSS Profile to FAFSA, penning a compelling essay to making that college application stand out, the journey to college starts with College Connection!

Space is limited. REGISTER TODAY!


Info On FAFSA for 2018-19

September 14, 2017

The FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for the 2018-19 school year launches on October 1. [Just like Common App went "live" on August 1, that doesn't mean you should complete and submit the first day, or even the first couple of weeks. Give FAFSA time to work out the kinks, like the issues with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which was hacked last year.]

YES, you WILL be submitting the FAFSA, regardless of income and assets, real or perceived. Colleges use the FAFSA to calculate student loans, ParentPLUS loans, Pell Grants, Perkins loans, and, in many cases, scholarships, both merit and need-based.

NO, you cannot submit the FAFSA for 2018-19 before October 1. [You may, however, use the FAFSA4caster to get an estimate of federal aid you are likely to receive. (No FEMA application required :-)]

YES, both the student and one (1) custodial parent will need to create FSA-IDs in order to access and electronically sign the FAFSA. You may create the FSA-IDs at any time, even before October 1. 

*** Good reads on the FAFSA: Can't Miss Resources for the 2018-19 FAFSA7 Things You Need Before You Fill Out The 2018-19 FAFSA Formand FAFSA: Everything You Need to Know for the 2018-19 Application

YES, some colleges require the CSS Profile IN ADDITION TO the FAFSA. This should only be completed and submitted if required by the colleges you have applied to. CSS Profile for 2018-19, like the FAFSA, will become available on October 1. [While submission of the FAFSA is required for every year of college, returning students should check with the college financial aid office to see if the CSS Profile is required after initial filing.]

NO, you should not submit the FAFSA or the CSS Profile until AFTER you have submitted your EARLY ACTION applications. [We do not want "Need Blind" colleges to become "Need Aware."] 

YES, I can help you prepare and submit the FAFSA, the CSS Profile (as may be required), and any proprietary financial aid forms that may come your way. I will begin scheduling appointments for preparation & submission of financial aid forms, including the FAFSA, in mid-October. Give a holler at 516-345-8766 for more information.

NO, you shouldn't worry that you'll miss out on anything. That's what you have me for! [You don't have me? You don't know what you're missing!] 

YES, you should be searching and applying for scholarships! [Remember, Ed McMahon will not be coming to your door with balloons and a check for $10 million in hand. (I know. I know. "Who's Ed McMahon...")

YES, I am always here to answer your questions, lend a helping hand, and eat your Mallomars (which are now arriving in stores by the truckload. Stock up!). 

High School Seniors: Keep on working on those college applications, essays, and supplemental writings. [Yes, I can help with those, too!] Believe it or not, Early Action Deadlines are just around the corner...

The College Whisperer™ and Official Sponsor of College Admissions Success™ are Trademarks of COLLEGE CONNECTION. The road to college begins at COLLEGE CONNECTION! Whether you are applying to college, planning for college, paying for college or simply thinking about college,COLLEGE CONNECTION can help! Call TODAY for a FREE telephone consultation. 516-345-8766

For up-to-the-minute news, apps, info and insights on college applications, admissions, scholarships and just about everything college, follow The College Whisperer™ on Twitter at

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