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College Talk Blog

If you have accepted your admission are not done yet. Not reading and acting on email can lead to the cancellation of your admission acceptance.


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Biggest Problem for Accepted Students

Posted on January 13, 2021 at 9:55 AM Comments comments ()
Being accepted at many colleges can be a good problem to have. Aside from making the big decision from many attractive offers, the problem I see that vexes students  the most after students are accepted is that colleges persist in emailing them with VERY IMPORTANT emails that they often do not read.

The reason students say they tend to neglect reading college emails in the late fall and early spring of senior year is that they have received so much email of a recruiting nature that they tend to look at all college email as junk mail.

I caution them to read college email because it is packed with critical information about required tasks, admission status, special user ID's and passwords to access their student portal (that expire), scholarship program application notices, honors program offers, notices about course registration and invitations to visit campus as an accepted student or sign up for orientation.

Will My College Be Open?

Posted on July 22, 2020 at 11:37 AM Comments comments ()
In a word, yes, your college will be open this fall. The question is: how open will it be? College presidents are closely following the requirements in their states which differ greatly from one another. If you are going to a college in Virginia, you will be entering a hybrid approach where some of the year will be in person (covid-19 permitting) and some will be virtual. If you are planning to enter a college in South Carolina, you are likely to be attending college in person. At most colleges, golf and cross country might be competing but many sports are either on hold or seriously cut-back in activity due to the risk of infection.

Looking at college models, a few are opening on an in-person basis for freshmen only in fall and seniors only in spring to allow the students the colleges feel are most critical in fall and spring to attend in person with a private room. Others are opening in person but having students eat with their roommates in cafeterias and stay within a close group of fellow roommates to restrict contact outside class. Many colleges are also allowing students to choose if they want to attend in person or virtually this fall. That option allows students who prefer to be online this fall and those with health challenges to stay home if they prefer. One thing that will be required just about everywhere is a good supply of masks for students and staff.

It is likely that every student attending college in 2020-21 will encounter a virtual aspect of their experience for their own safety and health. Scientists have found that covid-19 is a vascular disease rather than a respiratory disease. It can affect many areas of the body including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and skin. 

Colleges are ramping up health services, setting up protocols for student health monitoring and re-visiting every aspect of campus life to keep students safe. Parents should also become well-informed and share the seriousness of the virus with their kids so that they will know that. even though they are young, they can be seriously disabled or die if they contract the virus.

College in the Era of Covid

Posted on July 17, 2020 at 5:03 PM Comments comments ()
Should you send your child to college during Covid-19? Lots of parents are wondering if they should. But most parents tell me they feel that this is an important moment in their kids lives and they don't want them to lose out on the life-changing experience of going away from home and exploring the subject they are passionate about.

The best strategy for parents is to be well-informed about the opening strategy to keep students safe next fall. Some colleges have restricted who can return and who will study online in order to have private rooms for students. Other colleges are continuing the practice of roommates but restricting where students can go and with whom. Student health services are keeping closer tabs on student health. Nearly all colleges have adjusted their school year schedule to get students home before thanksgiving for a very long break at mid year which coincides with flu season.

Many colleges are offering students the option to stay on campus or attend virtually. The best strategy for you and your child is what fits you best. If your child has a health condition, talk to your doctor about the best attendance strategy.

Student Loan Interest Rates Drop for 2020-21

Posted on July 3, 2020 at 9:45 AM Comments comments ()
Federal student loan interest rates have dropped significantly for 2020-21. Students will pay 2.75% compared to 5.05% in 2019-20. Parent loan interest has dropped to 5.3% from 7.6% in 2019-20. Graduate student borrowers will be charged 4.3% compared to 6.6% in 2019-20.

Both dependent and independent students are eligible to borrow. Students can be full or part time and must carry a half-time load, which is six credits. 

The federal student loan program helps individuals and families fill in the gap between what college costs and any other grants or scholarships the student may have been offered. It makes it possible for students to attend 2 or 4-year colleges. The lower the cost of tuition of the college, the more likely the student can cover the cost with a federal student loan.

Loan payments for federal student loans begin six months after graduation or whenever the student drops below half time enrollment during a school year. Parent borrowers may elect not to go into repayment until the student has graduated. Borrowers may start repaying their loans while the student is still in college without penalty and early payment reduces the amount to be repaid.

Not All Info on the Web about FAFSA is Accurate

Posted on June 14, 2020 at 10:49 AM Comments comments ()
Some are well-meaning. Others are out to make a profit. Whatever their motives, some websites posting information about financial aid and FAFSA are inaccurate.  

For example, the deadline to file a FAFSA is in June each year for the financial aid year that began the year before. June 30, 2020 is the deadline to file a FAFSA for the financial aid school year 2019-2020. What this means is that a student could start college in August 2019 and decide to file their FAFSA at the end of the school year and (assuming they do not owe their college any money) receive a retroactive payment for any grants for which they were eligible (assuming there were grant funds still available). This is not an advisable strategy, but is allowed.

I recently saw a web post from a company that promises to help clients with their financial aid, warning that June 30, 2020 was the deadline to file for aid for 2021. This is untrue.

Be careful where you get your financial aid information. The best sources are the financial aid office at your college, your college advisor if they have expertise in financial aid and the federal financial aid website:

SAT, ACT and Covid-19

Posted on June 13, 2020 at 2:48 PM Comments comments ()
Wondering what to do about SAT or ACT testing this year as a rising senior is enough to make your head explode. And finding out where your test is being held or if it has been cancelled has also been a challenge for some. Long wait times to talk to a representative about those questions has been part of the drill. The secondary source of info, schools, have also been difficult to reach for answers due to school closings.

Tired of the confusion, some students have simply decided not to test in light of the 
impressive list of colleges that have risen to the challenge of testing in the era of covid-19. Before you decide what to do, ask yourself 2 questions:

1) Do I tend to test well?

2) What is the entrance testing policy of the colleges where I am applying?

Students who don't do well on tests and whose colleges are not requiring testing are more likely to be better off NOT testing.

Students who test well and whose colleges are not requiring testing might also skip the test to be safe and avoid being around others.

Students who test well and whose colleges are wishy washy on the subject can go either way.

Students who test well and whose college are still requiring testing (small number of colleges) may decide not to apply at those colleges or to go ahead and take the test.

Parent Tasks Continue in College

Posted on May 17, 2020 at 1:55 PM Comments comments ()
You help pack the car and drop your entering freshman off at Cool U and drive off into the sunset relieved that you've done your job and the rest is up to your freshman and your checkbook, right? Not so fast Mom and Dad. You will likely be completing the annual FAFSA and institutional forms for the duration of your son or daughters time in college. Families often think they are done with financial aid once a student has enrolled for freshman year. They also often think the award for freshman year will repeat. Maybe it will and maybe it won't.

Not planning to complete the FAFSA because you make too much money? Before you make that decision, consult your financial aid and scholarship office to see if your college recommends the FAFSA (and maybe the CSS Profile) for higher income families. Some colleges use the data on those forms to award merit aid as well as need-based aid.

Navigating the Covid-19 College Conundrum

Posted on April 9, 2020 at 2:28 PM Comments comments ()
We are all on an adventure of the 100-year event type. That does not mean we have to be at a stand-still in our lives. Think of it as a pause during which those of us sheltering in place can take full advantage of something we have complained that we never have enough of.....TIME.

High school sophomores can take some of this time to start thinking what they are most gifted at and researching careers that require those gifts. High school juniors can use this time to maximize their scores on the upcoming at home AP tests. Juniors can also get a leg up on college and major research and writing essays. High school seniors-can pay close attention to changing deadlines and instructions from their colleges and be prepared for new deadlines and instructions on how the fall will unfold for them.

The best advice for every student is to be flexible, use this time to get ready for opportunities that will present themselves and stay connected virtually to extended family, friends, teachers and future colleges. It may not seem like it now, but the best is yet to come and humanity is counting on you to help guide us all into the future.

Sheltering in place-what to do?

Posted on April 5, 2020 at 4:32 PM Comments comments ()
Talking to students daily since covid-19 stopped us from circulating in the usual ways in our communities and schools, I find that many of them are wondering what to do. Unfortunately, too many of them report that they are sleeping more than needed because they are bored. The good news is that there is much that students can do from home for their college process. 

To-Do List for Self as a High School Junior:

  • prepare for the SAT or ACT using an online resource such as Khan Academy
  • prepare for at home AP tests by using school online classes/videos or videos
  • start writing college essays
  • create a resume of activities
  • research careers related to areas of strength and interests
  • read and then read some more-read anything-just read
  • write in a journal, we are living through a historic event, record what this is like
  • tour colleges through online resources such as
  • connect with friends and classmates online to help improve morale
  • learn a new skill (play an instrument, speak a language) using online resources
  • do something altruistic or philanthropic for your community using online resources

To-Do List for Self as a High School Sophomore

  • prepare for the SAT using online resources
  • read as much as you can
  • start a journal of your experience with the pandemic-this could be a college essay later
  • tour colleges using online resources
  • research careers

Colleges and Others Giving Students a Virus Break

Posted on March 20, 2020 at 4:45 PM Comments comments ()
Safety precautions related to Covid-19 have caused anxiety among high school juniors and seniors about being able to complete their college process successfully. 

Cancellation of SAT and ACT tests puts juniors in a bind trying to take tests required for admission.

The cancellation of accepted student days means that seniors lost the chance to take one last look at their top schools before making a final choice.

Not knowing what to expect has produced concern that keeps students awake at night and make them feel that their fate could be left to chance. One student said he felt like he was in a crazy chess game in which he was not even a player.

While schools are closed and SAT and ACT exams have been cancelled, there is good news today to help students through the crisis:

1. College Board will allow students in AP classes this year to take their AP testing online at home on two different dates.

2. Colleges are adjusting requirements. Some are going test optional for the high school class of 2020 for SAT and ACT. Some, like MIT, are no longer planning to consider SAT Subject Exams in college admission decisions.

3. Some colleges have moved the deadline for seniors to accept college admission offers from May 1 to June 1.

There are more positive actions under consideration to help the class of 2020 and 2021. Stay tuned!