Interview Preparation; Essays and Applications; Senior Spring
Some colleges—both elite and otherwise—do not offer interviews at all. Many, however, do conduct some form of individual interview—though the trend at the elite colleges is not to provide them on campus but to offer interviews by alumni in your local area. If you do have individual interviews when you visit on campus, we would help you prepare for them. To get you comfortable with the interviewing process, we conduct a mock interview and then suggest ways to improve your interviewing skills. We advise you about various demeanor issues and also how to dress. We familiarize you with the types of questions that often are asked in interviews and help you to prepare your lists of questions to find out information that is not available in catalogs or on college websites. We find it is helpful for a student to hand the interviewer a one-page résumé at the beginning of the interview. Often it can guide the interviewer to ask you about subject areas that are your strong points. We help you prepare a short résumé to put your best foot forward and set the stage for the rest of the interview.
Obtaining Strong Letters of Recommendation
In Phase One, we advise you regarding forging friendships with your teachers and guidance counselor who will be writing letters of recommendation. In Phase Three, we advise you in selecting the teachers to ask for recommendations. We also guide you in preparing some brief materials to give to the teachers and counselor to refresh their memories and help them write more meaningful recommendations about you.
If you are applying for financial aid—whether need-based or merit-based—we can advise you regarding your various options. We also can help you and your parents prepare the various financial aid application forms, including the FAFSA form and the CSS Financial Aid Profile. We can guide you to various resources for identifying college-based and non-college-based merit-money scholarships that may be appropriate for you to pursue. In addition, we can help you when financial aid offers arrive [link to Senior Spring].
Essays and Personal Statements
Writing application essays and personal statements provides a great opportunity to show college admissions officers who you are, what you think and feel, and how you stand out from the pack. The essay is a perfect forum for you to tell the admissions people—in your own voice and in an engaging way—various things you want them to know about you, but that aren’t fully expressed in the rest of your application. Often students are daunted by the essay and get bogged down trying to come up with a topic. We can help you with brainstorming techniques designed to get you thinking about possible themes or experiences to write about. We also show our students how to organize and structure an effective essay. Where appropriate, we can make suggestions about how to adapt an essay so it can be used for certain additional applications. We can review your drafts and give you feedback, with a view toward your revising and strengthening them. Our overall approach is that we will guide you and provide support for you to do your own writing. That’s what is appropriate ethically, and it’s also what will produce the most effective product. Only you can express your personal voice, and that’s exactly what the colleges want to hear in your essays and personal statements.
In addition to the essays and personal statements, the rest of each application must be prepared with rigor and care. The application as a whole—including the essays and personal statements—should portray a clear and consistent theme of what the applicant has that the college wants. We oversee the entire application preparation with a view toward conveying that theme clearly, consistently, and effectively.
As much as possible, each application should be tailored to the particular college that you are applying to. We can help you strengthen your application to a particular college by using information you have gained during your research process. We advise our students to avoid the many application pitfalls, including those encountered preparing online applications, such as the Common App. We discuss with you the most effective ways to present the information requested on the application forms, and we give you feedback on your drafts.
Additionally, we can advise you regarding the possible submission of portfolios—such as visual arts supplements, and DVDs showcasing athletics or performing arts talents.
The entire process of preparing each application—multiplied by ten or twelve—takes a lot of time. But the effectiveness of the product is worth it.
Senior Year Spring—Evaluating Your Options; Accepted Students’ Visiting; Strategies for Dealing with Waitlists and Financial Aid Packages
After you receive your admissions decisions, we can discuss your options and help you make the best choice from among the colleges that have accepted you. We can advise you about attending the spring visiting sessions that many colleges conduct for admitted students. (All of a sudden, the roles have switched, and the colleges you so fervently were trying to impress are now marketing like crazy to convince you to accept them!) If your wait list schools come into play, we can help you evaluate the options and prepare appropriate additional submissions to update your file and demonstrate keen interest and good fit. We can help you to evaluate the financial packages that have been offered to you, and advise you regarding the possible filing of appeals with various colleges to try to increase your financial aid packages. We also advise students regarding ethical standards and responsibilities that apply to them, and also to colleges, concerning reply dates, deposits, and other notifications.
Dona Heller, J.D.
College Dimensions LLC