College Counselor’s Corner: College is Becoming a Reality to Seniors

College is becoming a reality to our seniors. As we near the end of the first month of school, some applicants are questioning their course choices, wondering if they should redo their essays, and adding some interesting choices to their college lists. The uncertainty is to be expected, but please set up a meeting with me if you have questions. I’m here to help.


On Tuesday evening, I attended “Who Gets in and Why,” a seminar on elite admissions hosted by Tufts University. The presenter, Dean of Admissions and Enrollment Management Karen Richardson, made a clear case for holistic review of applications, in other words, looking beyond GPA and test scores. Here are some important takeaways from the session:

  • Standardized tests are looked at as a measure reflecting a point in time.

  • It’s more important to show a deep involvement in a few activities than to list several activities.

  • A student’s transcript is compared to what’s offered at the high school. As Tufts says, “Getting all As in an easy curriculum won’t impress college admissions officers.”

  • Tufts asks, “How would this person add to the campus community?”

  • Institutional priorities can affect who gets in, and those are out of the applicant’s control. Tufts used as an example of the need for more Russian scholars in a particular year.

The audience participated in a case study-based discussion. Dean Richardson presented seven applicants (on paper, not real time), showing only GPA and test scores. She then asked the audience to pick only three of the seven. Once the audience had selected its favorites, she presented highlights of candidates’ profiles, for example, what activities they ran, what they did in the community, and what skills they displayed. Then, she surveyed the audience and noticed a shift in candidate preferences. The moral: Numbers are important, but they’re not necessarily the only factors that determine who gets in.

Tufts admits 14.8 percent of applicants.


College Board just sent an email reminding me to tell students to register for the November 4 SAT. The question is: Who will benefit from taking an SAT in November? Seniors will only benefit if they plan to use the result to apply to Regular Decision schools. (It’s too late for Early Decision.) Juniors should not take it at all. For those of you who’ve missed my advice, here we go:

  • The PSAT taken by juniors is a wonderful benchmark for standardized test-taking. When your junior gets the results in December or January, we know what to work on.

  • Students naturally mature over the junior year. Why put underdeveloped skills to the test early when the result carries forward?

At Hudson, our aim is not to put undue pressure on underclassmen by making them take standardized tests. Rather, we want our students to learn what these tests are about and apply their core skills. This week, I visited the sophomore and junior English classes to talk about what to expect on the PSAT, administered this year on October 11.

Today in class, a student told me she had heard that SAT Subject Test scores shouldn’t be reported unless they’re over 750. Nonsense! SAT Subject Test scores are great credentials, particularly when they reflect mastery of very different subjects (e.g., French, Chemistry). Any score over 700 is usually considered exceptional.

Another Week, Another Ranking

This was the Wall Street Journal’s week to release its evaluations. Since public research universities are so good—and so popular—I’ll share the findings in that regard. According to the Journal, UCLA was the highest-ranked public university in the Journal’s Top 100, where it took the number 25 spot. The other two highly ranked state universities are no surprise: University of Michigan (27) and UNC Chapel Hill (33). Expect selectivity to rise in the coming application year.

A shot of UNC Chapel Hill taken during Spring Break.

We all know that college is an expensive proposition, but so is applying. LendEDU, an marketplace for student loans, published “Which U.S. Colleges Make the Most from Applications?” It ranked the “500 Colleges that Make the Most from Declined Applications.” Interestingly, the top seven were in California: six UC colleges, led by UCLA, and Stanford. UCLA makes over $5 million just on fees from applicants it doesn’t accept! Rounding out the top 10 were Boston University, Columbia and University of Michigan Ann Arbor. It costs $70.00 to apply to a UC, by the way. The highest application fee was that of Berklee College of Music, which charges applicants $150!

UCLA values students, even those who don’t get in!

Rutgers Application: Early Wins

Rutgers reminds applicants that its online application is ready. Its Early Action deadline is November 1, and Regular Decision applicants must be in by December 1. Students applying early will get a response by late January.

If your student is interested in any of the large state research universities (e.g, Delaware, Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State) it is always a good idea to file the application early.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Hudson will host a financial aid speaker on the evening of Wednesday, October 25. Details will follow. In the meantime, go to Homeroom, the U.S. DOE blog, for more on FAFSA, which goes live next week.

Check out the interesting scholarships on Unigo. For example, writing 500 words on how to use coupons in college could yield $2,500.

Coming Soon to Hudson

International Studies Abroad (ISA): October 3
Hampshire College: October 17
Drew University, Clark University: October 24

Don’t fall for rumors about the college process; make an appointment instead.

Contact Me
Nina Berler
(201) 859-3665 ext. 119
2017-09-29T16:58:11+00:00 September 29th, 2017|
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