The College Whisperer™ | Navigating The Road To College

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!


BREAKING: Common App Essay Prompts for 2017-18

February 8, 2017


Okay. Not so big news. But still a heck of a lot better than fake news, right?

The folks at Common App have announced the essay prompts for 2017-18. Something new. Something old. Something reworded. And, back by popular demand, the topic of your choice!

For a good read on what's in store for that all-important personal statement, read on...

The Common App Essay Prompts Are Changing. Here's Why It Doesn't Matter.

For those who like their essay prompts without commentary, here they are, straight from the horse's, um, mouth:

Common App Essay Prompts for 2017-18

And remember, although the Common App does not go live for you high school juniors until August 1, you can get started on it right now. Well, at least the common part, sans essays and supplements.

Questions? Concerns? Want to get started on your journey down that long and winding road to college? Call. Email. Text. Send a smoke signal (smoke signal rates may apply :-). I am always here to help!

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SPREAD THE WORD... Free College Planning Workshop | Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 7:30 PM | Garden City, NY | Hosted by The College Whisperer™ | INFO & REGISTRATION


Ethical Humanists of Long Island to host The College Whisperer™

January 20, 2017

Seldom are the words “ethics” and “humanity” heard in the same breath as “college admissions,” but on Wednesday, March 22nd at 7:30 PM, the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island will play host to a college planning workshop, where high school students and their parents will get the inside scoop of how to choose the “best” colleges, the ins and outs of the application and admissions process, writing persuasive essays, and navigating the maze of financial aid and scholarships.

Seth Bykofsky of College Connection, a/k/a The College Whisperer™, will offer insight and advice to the college-bound, while calming the frayed nerves of moms and dads, bringing his passion, aptitude, common sense and funny bone to the masses yearning to apply and be admitted to their colleges of choice.

The Ethical Humanist Society is located at 38 Old Country Road, Garden City, NY. Register for this free college planning forum at, or call 516-345-8766 for more information.


The Road To College Starts Here!

December 14, 2016


Navigating The Application Process ~ Admission Strategies
Persuasive Essays ~ Financial Aid Essentials
Wednesday, March 22, 2017  7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
at the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island
38 Old Country Road, Garden City, NY 11530


College Connection, Official Sponsor of College Admission Success™, offers a FREE College Planning & Admissions Workshop. Open to students and parents alike, this forum will explore such topics as choosing a college that’s a “best” fit for you, the intricacies and nuances of the college application and admissions process, creating a compelling college essay, and paying for that college degree.

Seth Bykofsky of College Connection, also known as The College Whisperer™, will present an engaging and informative program that is a must attend for anyone applying to college, planning for college, paying for college, or just thinking about college.



College Planning | High School Juniors

November 22, 2016


Why wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Save $500 on our Ultimate College Planning Package! Only $4000 complete, now through January 15. [Payable in 8 monthly installments of $500.]
Don't wait until the end of your Junior year to begin the college application and admissions process. Get started in January!
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.] 
Wishing you and yours a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! (Cue the cranberry mold... ;-)

Guide To FAFSA | FAFSA Deadlines

November 15, 2016

Two important reads regarding the completion and submission of the FAFSA, the starting point for college financial aid...
Filing The FAFSA: The Edvisors' Guide to Completing The Free Application for Federal Student Aid
3 Types of FAFSA Deadlines You Should Pay Attention To
And for those who are applying to colleges that require the submission of the CSS Profile (in addition to FAFSA, required by all colleges, every year), read on:
FAFSA's Lurking, Nosy Cousin: The CSS Profile
Yes, click, read, then call us (516-345-8766) to schedule your FAFSA session. [In-person and virtual appointments are available.]


FAFSA | Don't Pay For College Without It!

October 1, 2016

Yes, FAFSA! Required by every college, not only for student loans, Work-Study, and federal grants, but, in many instances, for institutional aid, including the colleges' own scholarships and merit awards!


FAFSA COMES EARLY FOR 2017-2018! Launch is October 1 of current year, rather than January 1 of next year.

Who must submit FAFSA?
 YOU must submit FAFSA!

Incoming freshmen/Current high school seniors.
 Complete and submit your first FAFSA for the 2017-18 school year on or after October 1, 2016*. [Suggestion: File FAFSA AFTER you submit your applications for admission.]

Those already in college. Graduate students. 
Complete and submit your FAFSA Renewal for the 2017-18 school year on or after October 1, 2016*. 

*The rules on FAFSA submission have changed. 
READ, FAFSA Is Changing: Count Your College Change

Can I File The FAFSA 
BEFORE October 1*? Which part of on or after October 1 did you not understand? 1/2 LOL 

If there is a tuition bill on the horizon, you MUST submit FAFSA.

FAFSA Deadlines.
 FAFSA should be submitted early -- meaning as soon as possible on or after October 1 for returning students, and once applications for those applying to college for Fall 2017 admission have been submitted), or before the college-specific deadline, whichever is first. Financial aid is often doled out on a first-come/first served basis. When the money is gone, it's gone. Be aware, as well, of both State and college-specific filing deadlines. NOTE: The federal DEADLINE for filing the 2017-18 FAFSA is June 30, 2018. State and college deadlines may be earlier.

Which Tax Return Do I Use For 2017-18?
 Your 2015 Federal Tax Return.

Do I Submit FAFSA Every Year?
 Absolutely! If you do not submit FAFSA, you risk leaving money -- very often, FREE money -- on the table.

NEW FOR 2016 - 
The FSA-ID. READ, Pins And Needles; FAFSA, No PINs All students -- new and returning -- MUST have an FSA-ID. [Two, actually. One for the student. One for a custodial parent.]

Sooooo Complicated. Who Can Help Us? 

Umm, Helloooooooo! 
That's what I'm here for. From choosing a college to paying for college, your "go-to" guy is here to help! Call me at 516-345-8766.

More Info, Please! 
Check out Edvisor's FREE Guide to Completing The FAFSADownload it. Read it. Then, CALL ME! 516-345-8766.

What About The 
CSS ProfileYes, if the colleges you have applied to require the Profile, submit it. [For students already in college, check to see if your school requires a new Profile each year. If so, submit it.] Be very careful with deadlines for the Profile. They crop up very early, particularly for those who apply Early Decision/Early Action. And, you bet, I can help with the Profile, as well. Call me. 516-345-8766.

Outside Scholarships? 
Yup, that's where the real FREE money is hidden, just waiting for you to get your sticky little fingers on it! Have you had your session for The Great Scholarship Search? Need a refresher? What are you waiting for? Call me - 516-345-8766.

Whether you are still in high school or already in college, if you are not searching and applying for scholarships, you are losing the opportunity to get FREE MONEY!

Did Someone Say Something About $500? 
Sure did! Simply Refer A Student to me for college planning/counseling (or any part thereof), and for each referral, earn an entry into a random drawing (on or about December 30) for $500 in cold, hard cash (no FAFSA required for this one).

Confused? Overwhelmed? Still Grappling With The Common App? The Coalition App? Proprietary App? [Watch those Deadlines!] For goodness sake, CALL ME!!! 516-345-8766.
 Or text, email, send a smoke signal. [For this week only, NO smoke signal rates will apply! :-)]
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Plan. Prepare. Prevail!

Before college applications, financial aid forms, and the whole college application and admissions process get to you, 
you need to get to us!

Whether applying to college, paying for college, planning for college, or just thinking about college, contact us at
COLLEGE CONNECTIONhome of The College Whisperer™and Official Sponsor of College Admission Success™. No one knows college admissions like COLLEGE CONNECTION. No one! 516-345-8766

Find out why they say COLLEGE CONNECTION is, 
“The best darn college planner on Long Island!”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


Advice To College Freshmen (Batteries Sold Separately)

September 6, 2016

Every once in a while, we could all use sage and sound advice from those who have been there and done that.

Here are a few cues that newly-minted college students may well be wise to take, courtesy of The College Whisperer
™ -

1. Find your comfort zones, on campus and in the community beyond, becoming involved in and out of the classroom. Then, step out of those comfort zones with an open mind, understanding that, in the real world, there are no "safe spaces" and few "trigger warnings."

2. Get to know your roommate(s), your RA, and your professors. They are your lifelines on campus.

3, Read your college newspaper, regularly.

4. Take advantage of student discounts, from local shops to big box stores. And never, ever pay full price for textbooks.

5. Get enough sleep, and not in the classroom.

6. Eat. Remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right after lunch and dinner.

7. Exercise. The best way to keep off that "Freshman 15" and boost energy of body and mind.

8. Stay healthy. Get your flu shot. Change your underwear once in a while. And, for goodness sake, wear a sweater!

9. Read your emails. The last thing you need is to miss an assignment because your prof sent it by email and you never bothered to open it.

10. Phone home, at least once a week. A little Face Time goes a long way!

Have fun, Freshmen! The year goes by way too quickly, and the next three are just a blur. Slow down, every now and again, and smell the clean laundry, even if its pink because you forgot to separate darks from lights.
- - -

At COLLEGE CONNECTION, We've Got Your Back. And Your Best Moves Forward. 516-345-8766 


Early Action. Don't Miss It!

August 10, 2016

Just a quick reminder that Early Action deadlines for many colleges and universities are quickly approaching, with some only days away (UNC-Chapel Hill and the Georgia Tech, for instance, have Early Action deadlines of October 15th).

Most Early Action Deadline fall between November 1 and November 15.

Some schools have what is known as Priority Deadlines. While not Early Action, in the traditional sense, apply by the Priority Deadline for your application to receive the most favorable consideration for admission and/or scholarships.

Be sure to confirm all deadline dates, which can be found, for Common App colleges, under the My Colleges tab and, assuming you have answered the Supplemental Questions, selecting Early Action for the admission plan, on the Dashboard; in Naviance, under Colleges I'm Thinking About or Colleges I'm Applying To; and on the college websites themselves, typically under Admissions/Application Deadlines.

When in doubt, check it out!


***If you would like to schedule a session prior to submission deadlines, or would like an online review of your applications, contact us ASAP***

READ, Early Action. The New Regular Decision!

AND REMEMBER: It is always better to submit a complete and accurate application Regular Decision, than one that is half-baked, Early Action.

Questions? Concerns? S'mores? Call, text, email or smoke signal (smoke signal rates may apply :-).

At COLLEGE CONNECTION, We've Got Your Back. And Your Best Moves Forward. 516-345-8766 


The Best Fit For Your College Plans!

July 4, 2016

COLLEGE CONNECTION VOTED "BEST COLLEGE PLANNER & COUNSELOR OF THE NORTH SHORE." [Of course, our students, and their parents, already knew that! SEE, What They're Saying]

How do you like that? For the second year running, College Connection, home of The College Whisperer , is tops in the category of "College Planning & Counseling," in  Blank Slate Media's Best of The North Shore (Long Island) 2016.

Who's the best college planner and counselor on the north shore? C'est Moi! 

Okay. We know. These "best of" deals in the local newspapers are little more than popularity contests. We value the opinions of our clients all the more, when they say we're the best!

And sure, "best of" anything, be it a college, a restaurant, a bagel. or a potato chip dip, is not only entirely subjective; it's a ranking. And you know what we think about rankings


So, here we are. Simply the BEST! And, well, why the heck not?

For those who think this altogether self-serving... It is! Just remember, boys and girls, ladies and germs -- If you don't toot your own horn, no one else will!

Why is College Connection the very best in college planning and counseling? Why? That's Easy. WE MAKE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS GREAT AGAIN! :-)
- - -
Plan. Prepare. Prevail! 

The College Whisperer™ and Official Sponsor of College Admission Success ™ are Trademarks of COLLEGE CONNECTION.  The road to college begins at COLLEGE CONNECTION! Whether you are planning for college, applying to 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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