The College Whisperer™ | Navigating The Road To College

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


Finding Your Niche In The Rankings Of Everything

September 14, 2017

Rankings. The best of the best. Top dog. Number one seed. Whether of colleges, basketball teams, tennis players, or pizza parlors, somebody is ranking them, and everyone is reading about them. Suspect as they are -- and they are, on so many levels -- we are drawn to rankings like so many moths to a flame (or was that, so many flies to... you get the idea). Rankings give us a sense -- often a non-sense -- of someone else’s idea of which school, which restaurant, which airline, which dry cleaner, is numero uno. Whether U.S. NewsForbesPrinceton Review (among many others) on colleges, or the Long Island Press on local barber shops and delis, there are rankings and listings galore, few of them amounting to a hill of beans, mind you, but all geared to get your attention, and, lest we forget, sell magazines, newspapers, books, or website ”hits.” Now comes Niche (the once college and scholarship search engine formerly known as College Prowler), with their take on the best of the best -- a ranking of the Best Public High Schools In America. By the way, Niche also ranks Best Middle Schools and Best Elementary Schools, for those who may want to track these things. Can "Best Nursery Schools" and "Best Lamaze Classes" be far behind? Just what, exactly, does Niche know about high schools, let alone middle schools and elementary schools? Apparently, everything. Or at least enough to bring you to the website, and, once there, your entree to that which may make Niche commercially viable. Of course, having little actual knowledge about anything has never stopped anyone from professing complete knowledge about everything. Come up with a formula, a set of analytics and defined metrics, set forth your criteria, and voila, you are now an expert on ranking something. Okay, everything. You will morph, as Chegg, formerly just a seller of textbooks (I like to think of Chegg as Chicken or the Egg, one of my favorite spots to eat on Long Beach Island), has done. Gobbling up Zinch, a college and scholarship search engine, and now, leading the field (there’s a pied piper for everyone to follow), in college enrollment management. Who knew? Probably no one. Not even Chegg. But if we could sell you something... I never put much credence into rankings, and often talk -- or should I say, rant, almost ad nauseum -- about how the only ranking that matters, in anything, is YOURS. Which college, supermarket, smart phone, cellular plan, or bagel emporium is BEST for YOU! Still, those silly rankings are fun to read and interesting to talk about. Bragging rights of, say, Jericho High School (number 6 on Niche’s list of Best Public High Schools In New York), and Garden City High School (number 58, but trying really, really hard). There is a certain irony here, which should not be lost on college-bound high school students and their already weary parental units. [Perhaps we need a ranking of irons. Call for a meeting of the Ironing Board!] When it comes to gaining admission to college, particularly a college that is “popular,” students may have an easier time, relatively speaking, getting in to a “top” college, from a school district that is not high on the “best” list. The competition is less fierce. And face it, colleges can't take everyone from the top ranked school districts, where students apply, en masse, to top ranked colleges. So, as I tell students I counsel, half in jest, your parents made a big mistake moving to Syosset (#11), Jericho (#6), Great Neck (North #16), Roslyn (#17), or Old Westbury (Wheatley #27). They would have been better off, in terms of getting you in to that highly ranked college, moving to Elmont, Freeport, Hempstead, or Wyandanch (all unranked by Niche). The horror on their faces...  Maybe we need a ranking of “best” high schools from which to get into the “best” colleges. How about a ranking of those who make the rankings? Better still, every student, in any high school, needs to find his or her own niche in which to thrive. In college. In careers. In life. Find a niche. Make it your own. The one true barometer of success -- your litmus test of “best” -- is happiness! --- Let COLLEGE CONNECTION help you find your college niche. Call us TODAY for a FREE telephone consultation - 516-345-8766.


So Many College Applications. So Little Time...

June 21, 2017

Just when you thought it was safe to start your college applications, you have to decide where to start them, how to submit them, and who will truly give you the easiest access, the most bang for your buck, and the greatest likelihood of success.

Most of those applying to colleges are familiar, for better and for worse, with the
 Common Application (with 600+ colleges), replete with it's spinning wheels of death, initializing bars of doom, and the very antithesis of commonality, college-specific supplements. [The Common App goes "live" August 1, but with the "rollover" of this year's data, students may begin completing the common areas of the application now.]

Beyond Common App, there are other online mass applicators (aside from the proprietary applications still utilized by many college).

 Universal College Application, home to some 34 college applications (down from 44 last season), which will go "live" (or is that, life support?) for 2017-18 on July 1.

The still not quite ready for prime time application of the
 Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, with 90 colleges on board for 2017-18 (up from 58 last year). The Coalition application is available now, but, as applicants will notice, mileage may vary as to availability of member college apps.

And, if all of these college applications were not enough, well... Wait, There's more!

Coming soon (officially, August 1 for 2017-18), or maybe even now (it was technically launched last September, but few knew), the Cappex (as in, the folks who bring you college and scholarship searches) application. Here's the
 Cappex Application, whose member colleges, though not necessarily on everyone's radar screen (which could be a good way to stay far from the madding crowds), offer a free-for-all. [Literally. There is no fee to apply via the Cappex Application!] EDITOR'S NOTE: Have yet to have a student utilize the Cappex App. Has anyone? Would love to get some feedback. Read more about the Cappex application HERE.

So, which application is right for you? [Ask your doctor, or, better still, your
 independent college counselor!] Common App? Universal App? Coalition App? Cappex App? The college's own application? [Compare to Brand "X" and save? Perhaps, "create a college application platform of your own."]

Which will entice you? Which is more likely to appeal to the college admissions office? Does the portfolio "Locker" of the Coalition App allow you to more fully develop who are? Does the "fee free" aspect of the yet unseen Cappex App keep more money in your pocket, and its relatively simple format keep so-called "supplements" on the drug store shelves, where they belong? Who uses the Universal College Application, anyway? And what about Naviance, which, to date, only connects with and through the Common App.

Maybe it's the essays?
Common App essay prompts 
Universal College Application essay prompts
Coalition Application essay prompts
Cappex Application essay prompts

  • Required Essay: Tell us a story about yourself that is key to understanding who you are. This could be a moment when you changed, grew, or made a difference or an everyday moment that reveals something people count on you for (600 words or less)
  • Optional Essay: The goal of this application is to reflect your unique interests, experiences, capabilities, and pursuits. To this end, is there anything else that you’d like to express?
And let's not forget the new and improved University of California essay prompts, better known as "insights."

Oh, the humanity!

If your head isn't spinning yet, just wait until those elite colleges require not only a DNA test, but your Apgar scores, as well. [No doubt to be submitted via College Board, for a fee to be determined, of course (Add $35 for Apgar scores to arrive before 2025).]

And if you think, but for a nanosecond, that U.S. News, Forbes, The Princeton Review
, and Niche, among countless others, aren't waiting stealthily in the wings to rank the plethora of college application portals, well, I have a year's tuition at Trump University to sell you!

As if the college-bound, and their parents, had nothing else to concern themselves with as they start down that long and winding road to college.

Mind-boggling? Confusing? Overwhelming? Just plain ridiculous? You betcha! The folks who brought us the Collegiate Industrial Complex, where even the heretofore simple act of boiling water has now become "nuanced" and "complex," wouldn't have it any other way!

* * *
The College Whisperer™ is the Trademark of COLLEGE CONNECTIONOfficial 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

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 

Essential Reading On The Road To College

May 12, 2017

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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College Planning & Counseling | Now's The Time!

March 24, 2017

 Save $500 on our Ultimate College Planning Package! Just $4000 complete, now through April 28. [Payable in 8 monthly installments of $500.]
Don't wait until the beginning of your Senior year to begin the college application and admissions process. Get started NOW!
Here's just some of what our college planning and counseling package includes*:
      ·         Comprehensive college plan customized to student’s needs and           goals                                                                              

      ·         Individualized consultations with personal college counselor (includes up to 15 in-person sessions with your counselor*)

      ·         Unlimited access to College Cafe, Essential Links & Resources

      ·         Unlimited e-mail access to personal college counselor

      ·         Unlimited telephone and text access to personal college counselor

      ·         Review of prior academic accomplishments

      ·         Advice on course selection

      ·         Recommendations for extracurricular involvement and summer activities

      ·         Testing recommendations

      ·         In-depth interview on college preferences of both student and parent

      ·         Career planning - evaluate career interest and personal styles inventory

      ·         Preparation of a selected list of "best fit" colleges uniquely suited to the student

      ·         Advice on making successful college visits

      ·         Action Plan with organizational timeline

      ·         Essay Brainstorming session

      ·         Editing of personal essays

      ·         Editing of the activities résumé

      ·         Editing of supplemental essays

      ·         Review and enhancement of applications

      ·         Assistance with submission of applications

      ·         Advice and action plan on scholarship, grant and financial aid sourcing

      ·         Assistance with completion and filing of College Profile and/or FAFSA

      ·         Recommendations and practice for college interviews

      ·         Help with making final choice when decision letters are received

      ·        Analysis and maximization of financial aid award
*Moreover, you get ME, The College Whispererevery step of the way! Now what could be better than that? 
For those who who may need less hand-holding and more self-guided navigation through the college application and admissions process, we offer customizable plans, discounted e-Planning, and affordable hourly rates. [Check out the Nuts & Bolts, then call us at 516-345-8766 to schedule your first session.] 


Tips For Students (and their parents) Applying To College

March 11, 2017

1. Five top tips for college bound students

- Seek out colleges that are the "best" fit for the student, rather than what is "best" for Forbes, U.S. News, or The Princeton Review. Rankings make for fun reading and can offer valuable insight, but students need to do their homework to find colleges that are right for them, and not merely popular or trendy to others.

- Apply early. If a college offers Early Action (non-binding), and the student is motivated to have a complete, accurate, and read-worthy application, submit as early in the process as possible. Colleges that offer Early Action often fill upwards of 30% of the incoming freshman class through early admission programs. 

- Search and apply, apply, APPLY for scholarships. Free money and financial freedom beat out student loans and a lifetime of debt every day of the week! And ALWAYS submit FAFSA!

- Demonstrate interest. Visit campus (virtually and in-person). Ask questions of Admissions (yes, you can email). Request info from colleges you are interested in (they do keep track). Follow colleges on social media such as Facebook and Twitter (everyone likes to be Liked).

- RELAX! Don't sweat the small stuff. And remember, when it comes to the college admissions process, it is almost all small stuff. With over 4000 accredited colleges and universities in the United States, you will get in to a college that's right for you. Going to college is fun. Getting in to college should be at least half as much fun! 

[One more for good measure: Always carry, and occasionally rub, that magic rabbit's foot. Never discount sheer luck in the college admissions process!] 

2. The best question/most frequent question you’re asked by parents of college bound students

"The college application and admissions process is confusing and overwhelming. Where do I begin?" The best place to start is always at the beginning! While college admissions is often perceived as (and, in reality, truly is) a mind-boggling game without any rules, one can find method to the madness if each aspect of the process (the college search, the essay, the application, financial aid) is approached methodically and sensibly. Remember when applying to college was so easy, even a 17 year old could do it? Well, broken down into its component parts, given the appropriate insight, being prepared in both planning and execution, it still is!

3. When and how parents should approach the discussion about college with their student; how to encourage students to begin the college search

Certainly, saving for college should begin early (think, right out of the womb 1/2 LOL). Open a 529 plan, and contribute to it regularly.

As for discussing college, this varies depending on the student and the circumstances. Parents who encourage learning and value education will, almost innately, promote interest in college from the time their kids are in pre-school. Some students look forward to planning for college and actually getting into the fray, anticipating their every move (in selecting rigorous course work in high school, engaging in meaningful extracurriculars, etc.) from the moment they step into high school. Others, already high school seniors, need to be motivated by more pressing means, as in, "The application deadline is at 11:59. Don't you think you should get started on your college application?"

Find a happy medium with your child -- or go for that contented extra large. When the college discussion is just that, a conversation, hopefully leading to something that is perceived to be enjoyable and worth doing (rather than an interrogation akin to water-boarding), students will be more inclined to pick up the ball and run with it.

4. Factors to consider when choosing a college

-Fit (academic, social, cultural) 
-Costs (always consider affordability)
-Interests (sports, clubs, fraternities)
-Location (Close enough to come home for the occasional weekend for Mom's cooking and clean underwear, yet far enough away so that your parents don't show up unannounced at your dorm room door on any given Sunday).
-Return On Investment (ROI) Which, to me, is summed up not in earnings or career enhancement, but rather, by the one true measure of success, whether in college, on the job, or in life -- HAPPINESS!

5. How would you define the parent’s role in the process of applying to/choosing college? And what mistakes should parents avoid?

The role of the parent in the process of applying to and choosing a college is quite simple -- it is that of a parent. Mentor. Advisor. Advocate. There to offer sage wisdom on the one hand, to keep mouth tightly shut, on the other -- and knowing when to speak and when to remain stoically silent. 

We live in the age of helicopter parents, on one side of the street, doing almost everything for their children, hovering over every assignment, each meal, and even the innocent play date, and free range parents, running loose in the streets, who basically allow their children to "go play in traffic" until dinner is ready. [Remember, the free range chicken is often healthier and happier. That is, until the free range fox catches up with him...]

Try to find what works with your student, much as you would with the way you've managed his/her day-to-day through the first sixteen years. Family dynamics, be that what they are, are unlikely to change over the course of the college application and admissions process. That said, they can, much like a college essay or one of those crazed supplements, be tweaked, reigned in, and refined so as to reduce the angst and increase productivity. 

Do keep in mind -- this is the student's college application, not the parents'. The student should be doing the legwork in researching colleges, choosing colleges to apply do, writing essays and answers to supplemental questions, searching and applying for scholarships, and, ultimately (within parameters as may be set by parents as to cost, location, etc.), deciding which college to actually attend.

Throughout the process, it remains the parents' role to advise, suggest, encourage, support, and, yes, to review applications and essays (even Pulitzer Prize winners have editors), and, when the going gets tough (as it may when faced with deadlines, awaiting decisions, or handed a deferral or rejection), to provide comfort and relief (which, to me, often comes in the form of a pint of Forbidden Chocolate ice cream).

6. Where do you suggest parents go for additional resources?

- High School Guidance Office (the first line of defense).
-The Internet. Always to be taken with a huge grain of salt. There is a wealth of information out there in cyberspace, including that which can be found on social media. WARNING: It is easy to be led astray by erroneous or misleading information. Consider the source. Do your own homework.
- Independent College Counselors. Back in the day, when students had only a college course guide, completed college applications by hand, stuck them in an envelope with proper postage, sent them off to two or three schools, and then waited patiently and calmly for that acceptance letter, having a college coach (if you could find one) was a luxury. Today, given the competitive nature of the process, the selectivity of colleges, and the altogether absurd TMI (Too Much Information) coming at both students and parents from every direction, the cool-headed, focused, determined, and, unlike that of parents, un-clammy hand and impartial thoughts of an expert, has become a necessity. [The old, "If everyone else has lawyered up, you'd better too!"] 

For better or for worse, the entire college application and admission process (or, as I call it, the collegiate industrial complex) has taken on the life (if you can call that life) of a Frankenstein monster. It is, in the words of college admissions folks themselves, "complex and nuanced" (it really isn't, but, as we all know, perception counts for more than reality). 

Never be afraid to ask for help!
At COLLEGE CONNECTION, We've Got Your Back. And Your Best Moves Forward!

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