Question: A school wants my daughter to commit to their acting program. It is great to be wanted, but the deadline to commit is before many schools she auditioned at send acceptance letters. Is it okay to commit to a school and then change our minds if a better offer comes around?
There’s a long thread about this on the College Confidential discussion forum (see http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/1615432-are-you-being-pressured-to-send-a-deposit-before-may-1-p1.html ) and reading it has confirmed for me that many colleges are putting pressure on seniors and their families to commit before the May 1 deadline.
So, to answer your question, yes you can commit now and the college is obligated to return your deposit if your daughter notifies the school that she has changed her mind BEFORE MAY 1. However, if this college also asks you for a housing deposit, you may not get it back. Extracting non-refundable housing deposits from undecided (but nervous) families seems to be a loophole that the National Association for College Admission Counseling hasn’t yet closed.
Congrats to your daughter on this acceptance and good luck on those yet to come. Acting programs can be so unpredictable … “Harder than Harvard” is what I often call them.
Posted in College Admissions
Question: For the college I got accepted to and am going to, I put on the application that I was taking the ACT and SAT another time. Will this affect anything if I decide not to take the tests again? I already have a really good score.
No, as long as you took the test(s) that your college required and submitted your scores, then you don’t have to re-test, even if you thought you would do so at the time that you submitted your application. You don’t even have to notify your college that you are not re-testing.
Congratulations on your acceptance!
Posted in College Admissions
Question: I got accepted to UNCP with just my ACT score. I haven’t took the SAT. Do I still need to take the SAT even though I already got accepted into the college I want?
The University of North Caroline at Pembroke requires either the SAT or the ACT … not both. So, you are all set and do not have to take the SAT. Congratulations on your acceptance.
A word to the wise: I know that the admission process is confusing, and you may have even gotten conflicting advice along the way. But as you head off to college, you will have to fend for yourself more than most high school students typically do. So get in the habit of looking for—and reading—information and instructions carefully. “The Dean” found the answer to your question right on the UNCP Web site in about 30 seconds, and you could have too.
Posted in College Admissions
Question: My son a high school senior – got accepted to large out of state university in their honors programs and with a significant merit scholarship. His ACT was a 33 and GPA 3.4 at selective public highschool. He is currently taking AP Physics and really struggling – currently with a D+ for the year. Getting support from a tutor – and his other grades (AP Govt – A; Engineering A, English B, Spanich B and Calculus B. Concerned about best direction to take with the class – he does not need it to graduate – could drop, could move to regular physics, or tough it out and hope. Not sure how to discuss with his university.
Unfortunately, your son needs to bite the bullet and contact the university directly and explain his situation, just as you have explained it to me. He must ask if his acceptance will be rescinded if he drops the course. In cases like these, it’s actually more common for an acceptance to be revoked if the student drops a challenging class like AP Physics without telling admission folks than if the student continues with the class and gets a D in it, as long as the student has clearly made an effort to do better.
Thus I suggest that he does this:
1. Calls the university and asks for the name and email address of the admission staff person who oversees applicants from his high school (if he doesn’t already have this information).
2. Writes to that official and explains his situation
3. Follows the advice he is given re continuing or dropping the class or moving to regular physics
If he doesn’t get a response to the email within several days, he should follow up with a phone call. I advised that he should begin with an email so he will have the response in writing. But, ultimately, he may find that a phone call is the most efficient way to reach his admission rep, especially at a big college.
You do have to steel yourself for the possibility that this single low grade could have an impact on the acceptance, merit grant, or honors program invitation, but I still feel that your son is better off explaining the situation now and seeking advice from the university. As I pointed out above, if he tries to fly under the radar by dropping the class without reporting the change, it’s likely to hurt him in the summer when the college gets his final transcript from his high school counselor. So it’s better to deal with that possibility promptly, while there’s still time to make other choices if necessary … although hopefully it WON’T be.
Posted in Uncategorized
Question: My daughter is a straight student, 98-100 average at top NYC HS. AP classes etc. She has permanent residency card, but cannot apply for citizenship until she is 18, we expect her to be a citizen by freshman year but if there is a delay how will this effect chances getting into some colleges and financial aid which we will need? thanks!
“The Dean” … who too often has to dole out bad news … is happy to give you good news this time: Permanent Residents and U.S. Citizens are treated the same when it comes to college admission and financial aid.
So, because your daughter holds a Green Card, you don’t have to worry about how a delay of her citizenship could affect her college process. Keep in mind, however, that the most sought-after colleges and universities turn away many strong students with credentials like hers, so all of these institutions should be considered “Reach” schools for everyone. But, if your daughter is not admitted to her top-choice schools, I promise you that it won’t be due to her citizenship status, and–if she creates a balanced college list–she should have many enviable acceptances and financial aid options.
Posted in College Admissions, Financial Aid
Question: My son has applied to nine colleges and was only able to visit three. He may not be able to attend many of the accepted students days (assuming he is accepted!) because of an unavoidable family trip. How important are the accepted student days in making a decision? What are the downsides of making a decision on a school without going to accepted students day? He can schedule an overnight visit earlier or later in April, as an alternative to the formal accepted students day. He has no clear favorites so the April visits will be important to his decision.
There are pros and cons to attending the accepted-student events, so your son will lose out in some ways but gain in others by not being able to take part.
One advantage of these events is that they would allow your son to eyeball a big batch of his potential classmates. Granted, it will be impossible for him to tell which ones will eventually enroll, so perhaps the gaggle of Goths (or lax bros) that most (or least) attracts him could be gone by September. These all-comers events are also usually well organized and rife with panels and other formal presentations that allow prospective students to get a helpful glimpse at a broad swath of the college experience (academics, athletics, clubs, etc.) in a short amount of time.
BUT … typically these events are SO well organized that the accepted seniors see mostly what the admission officials want them to see and may not have a chance to test-drive life as a “real” student at that school, just as looking at a store window display at holiday time may be far more enticing than what you’ll find on the racks beyond it. Also, with so many prospectives on campus, it can be hard for visitors to tell the “real” students from other guests. Lunch time conversations may be dominated by parents playing “Do you know?” across the table, and the hand-picked student hosts are apt to be “on” for 24 hours and are perhaps more likely to be their “salesman” selves than their genuine selves (although this can happen on any overnight visit, including a solo one).
The bottom line is that it’s fine that your son won’t visit on an admitted student day and perhaps even better than fine because it will give him the opportunity to explore in depth what he most wants to see (Library? Laboratories? Weight room? Bathroom?) and not what the college honchos think that he should see.
Happy hunting and good luck to your son on the verdicts ahead!
Posted in College Search
Question: If we have a high EFC and extenuating financial circumstances should we send a letter to the financial aid office asking for special consideration before we receive their financial aid award or wait until we receive it?
You should definitely send an explanatory letter to colleges at the time that you apply for aid–or as soon thereafter as possible. Do not wait until you receive your aid award. If you have documentation that backs up your explanation (e.g., the nursing home bills you pay for Grandma), send copies with your letter.
However, like most things in the admissions world, the responses to your situation may be inconsistent. One college might take your extenuating circumstances into account; the next school might not.
So, once your child has received all aid awards, you should contact the financial aid offices that were not responsive to your needs and try to appeal … unless, of course, these are not colleges that your child wants to attend.
If a college–let’s call it “College A”– does not seem to consider your special needs but another school (“College B”) does, you may be able to leverage one aid award against the other, if you prefer A over B. However, this rarely works unless the admission standards at both schools are comparable, and–even then–you have to keep in mind that even similar schools can have dissimilar financial aid policies … or budgets. Even so, it can’t hurt to try.
Posted in Financial Aid
What is your question?:A colleague recommended that my daughter, who is seeking admissions to two Ivy League schools, ask her guidance counselor (he said her “college placement person”) to call the schools to let them know how strong a candidate she is and how well she would do at the schools. Do you agree with this recommendation?
Colleges … especially the most sought-after ones … do not want to hear from guidance counselors by telephone right now, during their craziest season, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Presumably, your daughter’s counselor advocated for her acceptance when submitting the transcript and “School Report,” which includes a required counselor recommendation.
So the counselor should only contact the colleges by telephone if there is some new or revised information that should be reported pronto. This could include anything from, “Hilda’s AP Physics teacher ran off with the babysitter last Tuesday, so that’s why there’s no science grade yet on her latest report card,” to, “When I wrote Hilda’s recommendation back in December, I didn’t know her well. But in recent weeks we’ve served together on our school’s Racism Awareness Committee and I’ve been blown away by how wise and articulate she is …”
However, colleges also ask for an official Mid-Year Report, which guidance counselors usually submit right around now. So, if there is indeed new information to impart, the counselor can put it in that Report—if it hasn’t yet been sent–and there is no reason to deliver it by telephone. (Once in a great while, when a school counselor has a long and strong relationship with the college admission representative who oversees applicants from that school, the counselor may call the rep to sing the praises of a particular applicant. But this isn’t common, and it isn’t something that your daughter can request. The school counselor will know if it’s apt and, if so, will do it without prompting.)
More typically, if the school counselor calls Ivy League colleges this month to serve as a cheerleader for your daughter’s candidacy, it’s probably going to make the counselor look like a rube in admission offices. This isn’t necessarily going to work against your daughter but it won’t help her either.
But if your daughter is eventually waitlisted by any of her top-choice schools, it WILL then be appropriate for the counselor to call the colleges to lobby on her behalf. While some colleges do not accept phone calls of this nature, the majority will, and sometimes this added show of support from a guidance counselor during the waitlist phase of the process … but not during the Regular Decision round … can help push a folder toward the In pile.
Posted in College Admissions
Question: I am considering dropping my Spanish class. I have taken Spanish all four years of High School. I am currently in Academic Spanish, level 5. I currently have a B in the class. I have been accepted into 5 colleges so far, and have a 3.9 GPA. Would it be fine if I withdrew from Spanish 5? Would any colleges revoke my acceptance.
It seems highly unlikely that colleges will revoke your acceptance if you drop Spanish, but you would be wise to call and ask before you do. If you’re told, “No problema,” be sure that you write down (and save) the name of the person you spoke with, just in case you are questioned later on. (You can try making contact by email first, but you probably want a response quickly, so a phone call might be a better bet, although email gives you “written” proof of the verdict.) You should also contact any college where your decision is still pending.
College folks can be persnickety about students who finish the school year with a less rigorous course load than the one they applied with. So, although you’ll mostly likely be fine if you make this change, I can’t say for sure that every college that admitted you will be happy with it.
Posted in College Admissions
Question: My daughter takes AP CHem but will need to repeat chemistry at college so we rather not spend the money to take the AP exam. The high school she attends says she has to. Can they insist on this?
My son took AP Chem and he also goes to a high school where AP tests are required for all students who take the corresponding class. This information is made very clear to students and parents before they elect the AP class. I don’t know if anyone has ever challenged the policy and … if so … what the outcome was when they did … or how much legal wrangling was involved.
But here are a few thoughts:
1. You can pursue this with the school administration but, if they are firm about the test requirement, you might have to enlist a lawyer, which will end up costing a lot more than an AP test will cost. (But if the high school did not make the test requirement clear before enrollment, you will be in better shape to contest it.)
2. If your daughter does not take the AP test and thus does not report a score to colleges, some admission officials will wonder WHY she didn’t report a score (especially if they are aware of the mandatory-test policy at her high school.) It could reflect poorly on her because they will assume that she got a bad score. Of course, she can use the “Additional Information” section of her applications to explain that she didn’t take the test for financial reasons and also because she had no need for the chemistry credits in college. Colleges may or may not accept this reason as valid. And their view of it might depend on their cursory assessment of your household finances. For instance, a student from a single-parent home with an unemployed mother will be regarded differently than a student from a home with two professional parents. In the latter case, the college folks may question the validity of your daughter’s excuse and this could work against her … at least in some small way.
3. The fact that your daughter will have to repeat chemistry in college will have little bearing on this issue, if you knew up front that the AP test was required. In addition, if she earns a high score on this exam, most (though not all) colleges will count these credits and they don’t necessarily have to replace a chemistry class. In other words, your daughter would walk through the college gates on Day One with college credits under her belt and she might be able to use these credits later on to make up a failed class in another area or to compensate for any shortfall that occurs for a range of reasons. Colleges have widely varying policies when it comes to the ways they allow students to use AP credits, so your daughter’s choice of school will obviously affect the value of the credits she might earn from faring well on the AP Chem exam.
Bottom line: if it were my own son in this situation, I would tell him to take the test. But if the money is a serious concern, go to the high school officials first and see what they recommend. You can also try asking other CC members on the Parents forum if they were ever in this situation and how it played out.
Sorry that I can’t give you better news, but I think that you may be on thin ice with this one.
Posted in Other College Issues