How To Make The College List: An Interview With Dr. Brittany Maschal

Dr. Brittany MaschalDr. Maschal has held positions in admissions and student services at a number of higher education institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania at Penn Law and The Wharton School; Princeton University (undergraduate) and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; and the Johns Hopkins University – Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Additionally, she has been invited to serve on admissions committees with American Councils for International Education and served as an alumni interviewer and admissions representative for the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is also currently an active executive member of the Education Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Dr. Maschal, please tell us a little bit about yourself and the work you do with college applicants.

I founded B. Maschal Educational Consulting in the summer of 2012. B. Maschal Educational Consulting provides individual postsecondary planning services at the undergraduate and graduate level. Guiding my work is the recognition that each applicant is unique, and these unique qualities can be highlighted throughout the application to best position students for admission. It is my strong belief that there is a postsecondary option for everyone; accordingly, critical to a successful admission process and, ultimately, college or graduate experience is determining what schools will be the most appropriate and best fit. To assure this, I provide students (and their families) guidance and support on all aspects of the process based on my professional experience in higher education, and my approach is highly customized. I try to make the entire college admissions process, whether we start our work together in 9th grade or 12th grade, as easy and stress free as possible! In addition to college admissions counseling services, I provide guidance and support to students and their families regarding transfer admission, pre-college and college internship opportunities, as well as summer, bridge and gap year programs. To further enhance my clients’ experience, public speaking and workshops are two things I am trying to spend more time taking part in, as well as continuing pro bono work through College UnDocumented, an organization I founded in 2014.

There are now nearly 5,000 different colleges in the United States students can apply to. With so many options, what can students do to start narrowing down the choices? What should they be considering in order to restrict their search?

Students’ priorities vary. And at the early stages, their priorities are almost always different than when they actually begin to craft their “real” list. This has to do with reality setting in, like GPA and test scores, shifts in parental involvement, and for many students financial considerations. This is where speaking to a counselor can be very helpful.

I think the first thing to think about is what characteristics in a school are of greatest importance to you (location, campus environment, major options, degrees offered, career services/placement, size, location, etc.). Your test scores and GPA are also of great importance. Although most schools do not have “minimum” GPA’s or test scores, students should look at the class profiles for schools of interest and focus their search on schools that are within reach. This means schools where their GPA and test scores are within the 50% band. For example, if a school’s average GPA is 4.0 and ACT 50% score band is 31-33, then you need to have a GPA around 4.0 and an ACT of 31 for this to be a target school. There are other factors to also take into consideration, like your high school’s acceptance history with the school. For example, if ten students apply every year and fall within admitted student averages, but none of them get in year after year, this is poor school history. Even if you fall within the averages, your chances here seem to be slim. On the other hand, if every year ten students apply and 7-8 get in, that is great school history, and your chances are seemingly better. Again, there are other things schools take into consideration, like extracurriculars, the quality and content of your letters of recommendation, and institutional priorities (legacy applicants, recruited athletes)—so it is important to know that just because your test scores and GPA fall within the accepted averages does not mean you will get in. You can gauge that you have a fair shot, but other factors will come into play.

If possible, start to visit college campuses early on in your college search in your junior year or the summer before junior year. Sometimes just being there in person and being able to catch the “vibe” of the school is just as important a component of determining what school or schools will be the best overall “fit” for you. Lastly, if financial consideration needs to be taken, students need to know about this up front. Students should ask parents directly how much they can afford to pay for college per year and factor this into their search, too.

So school characteristics (the things you want in a school that are important to you); the admitted student data; your schools acceptance history to schools of interest; the overall vibe you get when on campus; and cost are the main factors I would take into consideration when coming up with your school list.

Just to stress this—because I feel like it’s such an important factor that’s too often only considered late in the game—tuition and financial aid considerations should always factor into making the college list?

Absolutely!!! Students should talk to their parents at the start of the process so everyone is on the same page in terms of college and finances. Families should talk openly about how much they can afford to pay in tuition per year, the “other” costs associated to attending college (travel, books, etc.), as well as the pros and cons of students taking out their own loans to pay for college.

How important is it to consider your possible major or career interests when making the list?

Very important! If you have a very specific major or career in mind you need to make sure the schools on your list have that major or the majors that will allow you to pursue a certain career path. If you are unsure of your career path or intended major, it would benefit you to choose schools where you will be able to explore your areas of interest. It is much easier to switch out of a major and into another major at a school that has the options you want than to begin at one school in a very specialized track and not have any options at that school if you decide it is not the right path for you. That being said, most schools have a wide variety of majors that cater to nearly all students interests, unless you are interesting in something very niche or in a trade school.

What are some common mistakes to avoid that students make when assembling the list?

I think one of the biggest mistakes students make is that they feel like they need to find one school that they love. It can sometimes be hard to find just one school to be head over heels with that is actually a reasonable choice (reasonable = where they can get in). Everyone falls in love with reaches, with dream schools, but falling in “like” as I like to call it, with 4-5 schools, is much harder. You need a list with breadth and depth, with a wide range of schools that you could see yourself at, not just one or a few that you love.

Once a student has a specific idea of what he or she is looking for in a school, what’s the best way to identify and learn about colleges that are a good match?

Go to the school’s specific website and check out the admitted class profile. If your school uses Naviance, check your schools acceptance history vs. your data (GPA, test scores). Where do you fall? Are you above the averages? This means it may be a likely school. Are you within the 50% band? This means it is most likely a match. Are you below the 50% band? This school is a reach then in most cases, only have a few of these on your list! Talk to your counselor and also your parents, too! They can help you work through all of this data and help you determine which schools are reaches, matches and likely schools.

When do you recommend students start work on the college list?

Summer before junior year, but know that it will be a work in progress, as most students at this time do not have standardized testing finalized and there could be some GPA movement by the end of junior year. I suggest seeing a few schools at the end of August and into fall of junior year, utilizing the breaks that students have in spring of junior year, and then starting to finish all visits in the August leading up to senior year and into that fall. By October of senior year the list should be set!

Let’s talk specifics about the list itself. How many schools shoul be on it, and should they be broken up into reach, target and safety schools? Should it be the same for every student?

I think 8-12 schools are sufficient, although some students may apply to fewer.

Here I what I think is the ideal breakdown:

Reach: 2-3

Match: 4-6

Safe: 2-3

Could you speak about a great college list that one of your clients put together—what was so effective about it and how did it pay off?

Just about all of my student’s have appropriate college lists. I think the key to a great list is being realistic—very realistic. A realistic list looks like the breakdown above. It results in a student getting in to most of the schools they apply to and feeling great about the process when it comes to an end. Not a lot of surprises or disappointments here.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about the college list?

Be realistic :). This is one of the biggest mistakes I see applicants and their parents make: they think applying to more schools will result in a greater number of positive outcomes, but this is just not true. There are very few, if any, cases where you just “throw an application in” to a reach school and you get lucky and get in. Even if a student and their family recognize it is a long shot, and say there will not be hurt feelings, there almost always are and that’s no fun.

You can visit Dr. Maschal’s website at BMaschalEdConsulting.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Developing Outstanding Extracurriculars: An Interview With Steve Schwartz

Steve Schwartz College AdmissionsSteve Schwartz is a professional college admission counselor with more than a decade of experience. He’s written the popular Get Into College Blog since 2009, moderates Reddit’s college admissions forum, and now hosts a podcast, College Admissions Toolbox.

Steve, please tell us a little bit about yourself and the work you do with college applicants.

I wowed Columbia’s admissions team with a college essay about my experiences lobbying government delegates at a United Nations conference in South Africa. (The real UN, not Model UN.) Delegates from government and non-profit organizations wrote my letters of recommendation. My résumé described my leadership in a national youth organization advocating sustainable development. Soon after Columbia accepted me, friends, neighbors, and people I barely knew began asking for advice on how to improve their college applications.

Today, I help students craft college essays that showcase their strengths. I also moderate Reddit’s college admissions forum (come check us out!), write articles on college admissions for my website, Get Into College Blog, and host the podcast College Admissions Toolbox.

It seems like today’s students are involved in more extracurriculars than ever before. Is that a good thing? What’s the “right” number of extracurriculars for a student?

It’s all about quality, not quantity. Focus your time on one thing (or a few) that you truly care about and would enjoy doing even if you knew that colleges wouldn’t know you’d done it.

Can you give us an example of what would make for a good extracurricular?

Suppose you’re a student interested in marketing. Here’s one step-by-step approach I might recommend to help you discover an extracurricular that will stand out and make for a compelling story:

* Talk with lots of small entrepreneurs / nonprofits in industries that interest you.

* Keep a list of the ones you like.

* Propose an idea you think your favorite would like and offer to carry it out for them.

* If they say no, see if you can figure out something else for them.

* If not, move on to your next-favorite.

* Repeat.

This one extracurricular could end up consuming all your free time, leading you to have only one. However, you’ll be a much more compelling applicant than one who “did” several, but did nothing truly meaningful in any of them.

Are there any common mistakes students should avoid when it comes to extracurriculars?

Too many students join a million clubs simply to “build their resumes,” do nothing significant in them, then list them on college applications. Those don’t “count.” Again, if you want an EC to “count,” you should do something that you enjoy. Otherwise, you won’t have anything compelling about it to include on your application.

If everyone is involved in extracurriculars these days, what can a college applicant do to stand out? Is just “being involved” enough?

Most people stay on pre-defined paths, whether they’re in high school, college, grad school, or the working world. However, if you want to do something unique and meaningful, and you want to stand out, you can’t follow a pre-defined course.

Don’t just “be involved.” Students who do this and then ask “how to stand out” don’t get it. Forging your own path isn’t easy. You don’t do something unique simply by trying to do something unique. It’s something that’s hard to relate to unless you’ve already done it, and the path there is seemingly random in nature.

By definition, you can’t try to be unique. At least, you can’t have a specific goal in mind. Instead of starting at Z, start at A. Don’t compete with people like yourself, and don’t work within established programs. Instead, explore your interests, use your skills, and do things outside the system. Things other people aren’t doing. This gives you the freedom to do things that will not only sound impressive, but will actually be impressive. And you’ll eventually get to do something that leaves a mark on the world.

You can follow Steve’s various projects and resources by checking out:

College Admissions Toolbox Podcast
Get Into College Blog
Reddit’s College Admissions Forum
Facebook and Twitter Pages for College Admissions Toolbox

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Financial Aid: An Interview With Dr. Dean Skarlis

College Financial Aid SkarlisDr. Dean P. Skarlis is President and Founder of The College Advisor of New York, Inc., a comprehensive college counseling practice serving clients in New York and across the U.S. Dean’s unique model integrates all aspects of college admissions counseling with financial strategy. Dr. Skarlis has more than 24 years of experience in education including 7 years as a consultant for ACT. He has taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and has been quoted often in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, on ABC World News, and other national media outlets. He has trained thousands of CPAs and financial advisors on the intricacies of financial aid and scholarships. He and his staff of 9 have helped thousands of students and families navigate the complex and expensive college admissions and financial aid process. Dean holds a B.A. in Psychology from Allegheny College, an M.A. in Psychology from Duquesne University, and a Doctorate in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a graduate of the Harvard University Institute on College Admissions.

Dr. Skarlis, please tell us a little bit about yourself and the work you and your consulting practice, The College Advisor of New York, do with college applicants.

I have been in and around higher education for 25 years. I have worked at two universities and for ACT, the company that makes the ACT exam. I hold a Master’s in Psychology and a Doctorate in Education from The University of Pittsburgh. I have helped thousands of students and parents through the college admissions and financial aid/scholarship process for the past 11 years. Our goal for each family is to help the student find, and gain admission, to a college that’s a great fit socially, academically, programmatically and financially.

When during the college admissions process should families begin to think about financial aid?

In the student’s sophomore year of high school. Why so early? Because parents need to understand their affordability as early as possible so their child doesn’t get emotionally attached to a college that they cannot afford. This has become much more important now that many private colleges (and not just the Ivies) have eclipsed $65,000/year or $260,000 over four years. The financial aid “clock” begins ticking in the student’s junior year of high school, and most families can do considerable planning before then to maximize financial aid and/or scholarships.

What steps can students take during their high school years to help them increase their chances of eventually securing merit aid for college?

Do well in challenging courses in school. This is of significant importance. In addition, prepping for the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests is important as well as strategizing on which test to take and how many times to take it. We offer an SAT/ACT Hybrid Diagnostic for our students which gives them detailed information not only on which test, but which portions of the exam they did well on, and where, in specific terms, they need to improve. This helps kids work on precise skills to improve their scores. There is also considerable strategy on when and which scores to send to colleges. These decisions are critical. In addition, very few people understand that the application essay can often affect merit scholarships as well. In these ways and others, the college selection/admissions process needs to be integrated with the financial aid/merit scholarship process to yield the best results. Very few families fully understand this concept.

What are some common mistakes families make when it comes to financial aid?

There are many. Assuming you will not qualify, and not applying for it can be a huge mistake. Many people also complete the forms incorrectly. I’ve seen parents list assets that they are not required to present. This has caused them not to get any aid, when in fact, they were deserving of it. In addition, there are planning strategies – in some ways that are analogous to tax planning – that can help families save thousands of dollars per year. This is an area of focus for our company.

Can you share with us one of your favorite financial aid success stories from a family you’ve worked with and what we can learn from it?

One of our families had several million dollars in assets, but still qualified for need based financial aid. This family saved about $44,000 off the cost of college at a selective, private school. We saved them money, not be helping them implement complex planning strategies, but instead simply by building a list of schools that did not assess those million dollar assets in its financial aid formula. This is what I mean by integrating the college selection/admissions process into the financial aid/scholarship process. Colleges assess a family’s ability to pay in radically different ways, so by teaching the family this simple fact, we helped them find a great school at which the student was happy, and it cost about $44,000 less over four years.

Are there any downsides to applying for financial aid? Can doing so harm a student’s chances of admission at certain schools?

Yes, but it completely depends on the school. Applying for – and qualifying for – need based aid at many of the elite colleges actually increases your chances for admission to those schools. At most colleges, however, it has the opposite effect, so depending on several factors, it may not be wise to apply for aid.

How negotiable are financial aid offers once a student has already been admitted to a college? Should families try to negotiate?

Absolutely they should, except they need to use the term “appeal” rather than “negotiate.” This gives the college the power they seek in these dealings, and helps the family acknowledge that the school does, in fact, have the final word in these dealings. There is an appropriate way by which to appeal an offer of need based or merit based (scholarship) aid. In short, the families who understand the process and appeal based on that knowledge are those who will receive the most money. Hiring an experienced college admissions consultant, who also understands the financial aid process (many of the most experienced counselors do NOT understand it), can save you thousands of dollars. Financial aid terminology is like a different language, and the parents and students who take the time to learn it will be in a much better position when it comes to appealing their aid decision.

What do you tell students who receive unfunded offers from brand-name schools but funded offers from less prominent institutions?

This is exactly the situation in which most of our families find themselves…and we do this by design because it forces them to clarify why “Elite School X” is $22,000 per year (or $88,000 total) BETTER than “Good Fit School Y.” This is a critical point that causes families to make logical decisions based on social, academic, programmatic, and financial fit. While it’s anecdotal, I’ve found that more families have begun to choose the LESS expensive, non-brand name school simply because the prices have gotten out of control. Over the past year, I’ve had several families choose lesser name schools OVER Georgetown, Tufts, Boston College, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Pennsylvania (U PENN is an Ivy League School). This tells me that at $65,000/year, even the elite schools are beginning to price themselves out of the market. If that is the case, what will that mean for the less elite schools who do not give scholarships and who charge about the same amount???

How can a family be sure that pledged financial aid will continue beyond freshman year?

They cannot. I’m dealing with a situation now where this is not the case. If the aid award changes substantively, they must be pleasant but firm. And they must be sure to understand the logic and the terminology that financial aid officers will appreciate.

Financial aid is admittedly very complex, but if someone asked you for your three favorite financial aid tips that families should remember, what would they be?

First, do NOT assume that you will not qualify for aid. Second, plan strategically (much like many do regarding their taxes) so that you maximize aid. Third, understand your affordability EARLY in the process, and plan to look past the elite, brand-name schools in order to pay less.

You can follow The College Advisor on Facebook or visit their website at CollegeAdvisorNY.com.

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The Campus Visit: An Interview With Abby Siegel

Abby SiegelAbby Siegel is an independent educational consultant based in New York City. She helps families from all over the world navigate the college admissions process.

Abby, please tell us a little bit about yourself and the work you do with college applicants.

I am the founder of Abby Siegel & Associates, LLC, an educational consulting firm that specializes in navigating high school students through the college admissions process. Before starting my private practice, I worked at New Canaan High School (CT) and Stuyvesant High School (NYC) for several years. I received my BS from Vanderbilt University and an MEd in College Student Personnel and School Counseling from Loyola University Chicago. The services provided by Abby Siegel & Associates, LLC include, but are not limited to: researching and identifying colleges that are the right fit for each student, reviewing student transcripts to assess academic strengths and weaknesses, establishing a standardized testing schedule, organizing and planning campus visit itineraries, preparing for college interviews, reviewing college essays and applications, and educating families about financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

We always hear that it’s important to visit colleges in person. With students busier than ever and applying to so many colleges, however, does this advice still hold? How many schools should a student try to visit?

I will never stop stressing to my students how vital it is to visit colleges of interest. There are several reasons for this. Many (but not all) colleges will track demonstrated interest. They want to know if a student has taken the time to get to know them before they make a commitment with an acceptance letter. A college could look great on paper, but an on-campus visit will help students better decide if it’s really a great fit.

As for the number of schools a student should visit it really depends on the individual. I usually recommend families schedule “cluster” visits where they can visit several schools in close geographical proximity of one another.

I also want to emphasize the importance of visiting “favorable” or “safe” colleges on a student’s list. Just because a student has the test scores or the GPA to be admitted doesn’t mean they automatically will be – they should also show an interest in wanting to attend by visiting campus if possible. This is especially true for colleges that use a holistic approach to admissions as opposed to those who just admit based on numbers.

What would you say to students who are unable to visit a campus?

If a student is unable to physically visit campus, there are other ways to demonstrate interest. Students should sign up to be on college mailing lists so they will receive information via email and snail mail about events occurring in their local area. Students can also meet with admissions representatives who visit their respective high schools and at local college fairs. Many colleges also offer alumni interviews where students meet with local graduates to ask questions about their alma maters. There is also the opportunity to go online and do virtual tours. There are over 850 virtual tours available for viewing on www.campustours.com.

How have some of the families you’ve worked with successfully handled the logistics of multiple school visits?

I encourage all of the families I work with to plan ahead. Look at the school calendar and map out when students will have school vacations or time off for holidays or teacher development days over the high school years. Then look at the colleges on the student’s list. If there are colleges within driving distance of each other try to plan a “cluster” visit to maximize your time. Depending on the location I sometimes advocate flying or taking Amtrak to a location and then renting a car to save on driving time. One of the services I offer is to assist with designing itineraries for campus visits. I am very familiar with which colleges are within close proximity of one another and the easiest transportation methods to use.

How can students make the most of campus visits? What things should they absolutely be doing?

Students should try to spend as much time on campus as possible rather than rush the visit. They should absolutely take a campus tour and attend an information session given by the admissions office. In addition, I highly recommend students do as many of the following as possible: interview with an admissions officer (if offered), pick up and read student publications such as the campus newspaper and literary magazines, eat in a cafeteria/food hall on campus, attend a class or two, meet with a professor in a department of intended study, contact and set up a meeting with leaders of clubs and activities of interest, stay overnight on campus with a current student, visit the career and counseling center and TAKE COPIOUS NOTES. They will be highly useful later if and when students have to write an essay such as “Why are you applying to College X?” essay. Students should put on paper (or in Notes on your iPhone) both positive and negative impressions of the campus. For example, they should write down what they thought about the campus, residence halls, food (if they ate on campus), what the student mix was like, etc. Was there anything specific about the college that caught their eye? Could they see themselves attending that college, and why? Also, TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS. It’s easy to snap a few shots on your phone and then organize them into a folder in iPhoto after a tour. DISCUSS. If you are driving between visits talk about the experience. Parents and students often have wildly different perspectives about a campus visit.

I always encourage my students to reach out to friends or acquaintances they know on a particular college campus. The best way to gain information is from current students. If a student doesn’t know anyone on a particular campus they could ask, whether through social media or another method, if any friends of friends could link them to current students.

What can a family do to get a true sense of the school—one that goes beyond the beautiful brochures and the official campus tour?

Again, talk to as many people as possible who are on campus – admissions officers, professors, students, campus employees (they love to chat it up at the bookstore!). I enjoy staying overnight in town and exploring the surrounding area. I encourage talking with locals to inquire about the college’s relationship with the town in which it is located. Are students welcomed? Do they interact with the community? Is it safe?

What other aspects of a college should families be thinking about?

Other aspects about a college a family should consider include, but are not limited to:
• What kind of security does the campus offer? Are there blue light security poles? Campus shuttle? Police escorts to walk students home late at night?
• How are students assigned an academic advisor? Is it a professor or administrator in their major or randomly selected? How often do they meet?
• What kinds of health services and medical facilities are available to students, both medical and mental? Is it difficult for students to see a doctor or mental health specialist?
• What kind of financial aid is offered and what forms are required?
• How will the college best support the student in meeting his or her academic goals?
• What services are offered through the career center? Do they assist with resumes, finding internships and/or post-graduation jobs? Are you assigned to a specific career counselor? Does the college host career fairs?

Could you give us an example of a really successful visit one of your clients experienced and what they did right?

I worked with a student who was on the bubble for admission to a selective liberal arts college. During her initial visit to campus she had an informative interview with the admissions officer for her region in addition to taking the campus tour and attending the information session. Once back in her hometown she attended the information session the same admissions officer held at her high school. She sent him a thank you note and followed up via email with some additional questions. They developed a rapport, and during another visit to her hometown the admissions representative invited her to meet for coffee. As her college search progressed, this particular college became the frontrunner and she considered applying Early Decision. To be certain she was making the right choice my student spent the night on campus during a follow up visit. She ended up applying ED and was accepted. While she was on the bubble for admission, I am confident it was the efforts she made to really learn about the college to see if it was the right fit for her helped secure her acceptance.

What are some common misconceptions you’ve encountered about the visit or mistakes students make on it?

A lot of students do not budget for enough time on campus. They will do a tour and information session and that’s it. Try not to rush and ask a lot of questions. If you know someone who attends that school try to spend the evening or do an overnight visit with them. I’ve had so many clients who thought a school was “THE ONE” until the overnight. I also have many students who judge a campus based on the tour guide. As someone who tours at least 20-25 colleges a year, I know how easy it is to do this. However, it is just ONE student giving the tour and representing the college as opposed to the hundreds or thousands of other students on campus who may be awesome. Another mistake is to be unprepared for an interview. Most interviews are informative in that it is a chance for the admissions officer or student interviewer to answer questions the student and family may have about the school. Come prepared with questions – and not ones that can be answered by viewing the school’s website. Ask insightful questions that will spark an interesting dialogue and showcase your personality!

Now in terms of dress….I often take tours with other college counselors, but many times I am on a visit with families who are touring. Students should be dressed appropriately. Please don’t wear ripped jeans or a sweatshirt bearing the name of a rival college. No baseball hats and PUT DOWN THE PHONE. How are you supposed to learn about the school if you are texting the entire time?

On your website you have a map showing the many schools across the country you yourself have visited as part of your “College Check Trek.” Could you share your own number one secret that you use to get the most out of each visit?

I ask a ton of questions! I love to chat with the tour guides, admissions office counselors, random students walking by me on campus or standing next to me in the cafeteria line while waiting for food (yes, I have done this on many occasions), the groundskeepers, and even employers at local shops or restaurants to learn more about the relationship between the college and community. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. Some sample questions I ask include:
• What has been your favorite class on campus?
• If you could improve anything about your college what would it be (not including food or parking)?
• What specifically made you choose this college, and what would you have done differently?
• Will there be significant construction on buildings and facilities in the next few years?
• How would you characterize the degree of academic pressure and competition amongst the students?

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about the campus visit?

Try to enjoy the time together as a family! It may be one of the last opportunities before the student leaves for college that you will have to spend quality time with one another. I also encourage parents to please observe and listen during the visit. The STUDENT is the person who will be attending college and it should be him or her asking the majority of the questions. Let the student own the process. I ask that parents be supportive and positive during this stressful time. At the end of the day it is all about finding the right fit for the student.

You can follow Abby on Facebook or visit her website at AbbySiegel.com.

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