Communication and Kindness: An approach to the college applciation process

I am really loving Brennan Barnard’s article in Forbes: A New Year In College Admission. He goes through each population involved in the college application process with the lens of Communication and Kindness.

Barnard covers students, parents, high schools, and colleges and how each can communicate and be kind. My favoirte was for parents and how communication about finances and be honest your personal bias impact how you talk about college in general as well as specific colleges.

For kindess he says, ” We must listen to what they are saying and allow them to stand on their own two feet before they have launched off to college. By modeling kindness and dedication to others, we can show our children that it is who they are and what they do that matters, rather than acceptance to any given college.”

What the best fit is for you as a family financially is key. What the best fit is for your student is essential.

Thinking about a Gap Year? Don’t forget to still think about your financial aid.

An interesting Wall Street Journal article talks about why students planning on taking a year off should still complete their financial aid.

First, no matter how much money you think you make and that your not eligible for financial aid, you should always fill out your FAFSA or
Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Why? Because many colleges also use the FAFSA and the College Board’s CSS Profile (if the school requires it) to determine merit aid too.

The Wall Street Journal article notes plans change. Maybe your student might actually go in the fall (stuff happens). Also, you absolutely should check how a gap year can impact your aid (same with credits you might transfer).

Check out the article!

Early Admissions Numbers

Many students wonder if they should do early admissions or not. More and more colleges are seeing applications early. Some colleges offer early decision versus early action.

Early Decision – If you know what is your top choice and that is where you will go, then going early decision may be the way for you. This is a binding choice and you should know if you get in, you are expected to attend that institution. Your application will clearly note that this is binding.

Early action is not binding. You can turn your application in and the school usually makes a decision about you a little earlier than the regular disicion.

No matter what you decide make sure to read what you are signing! Some schools call early decision and early action different things.

To get an update on the early admissions numbers by institution – check out this article

Entrepreneurs to College

This is a quick article from CNBC with Mark Cuban (that guy from Shark Tank).  He talks about how teaching kids to be entrepreneurs is a great stepping stone to everything else in life. If you follow my Savvy High Schooler’s Path to College, you know we talk about the same thing Mr. Cuban is – find your passion. What do you enjoy doing? Why do you enjoy it? It’s always nice to be validated by a successful celebrity!


Check out the article!

Video Game Scholarships (no I’m not kidding)

That’s right some colleges are creating video game teams to compete! And you thought your kid was just wasting time! This Dayton, Ohio’s WHIO Channel 7 news story explains there is scholarship money for competitive video gaming. There is a National ESports  is the association that colleges are part of to compete.

Check out the story here:

Free Testing Prep Options for SAT and ACT

Who doesn’t like free? This is a great article from Elearing Inside about some options for free SAT and ACT!  Khan Academy is well known of the three discusses and generally focuses on the SAT rather than the ACT. I’m a big fan of Khan Academy but that doesn’t mean the other two sites aren’t worth a look.

Union Test Prep (which I wasn’t familiar with) had a great user interface and very clear help for the ACT.


The 3rd mentioned in Prepfactory is also offers both ACT and SAT help.


Check them out and see which works best for you! Check out the article for more information!

3 Free SAT and ACT Test Prep Resources, and Why You Should Use Them

Education Week’s Importance of SAT, ACT Scores Dwindling in College Admissions

It’s that time of year – yeah sorry not the turkey, tree-trimming time of year, but rather the “we’re freaking out because the last tests of the ACT and SAT of the year are almost over.”

I just read the Education Week’s article: Importance of SAT, ACT Scores Dwindling in College Admissions and I fully agree that the importance of the SAT and ACT have lessened over the years at schools. And yet, there are three clear areas SAT and ACT scores matter – highly selective schools, homeschool students, and academic scholarships.

Highly Selective Schools-

Highly selective schools (which include NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill, not just Duke) rely on tests scores to deal with their overwhelming amount of applications.  It is used as a weeding out process – you don’t have a certain score and you are put in the “no thanks” pile.

Homeschool Students –

Colleges really love homeschool students.  They find they are usually more prepared for college than their traditional school peers because they are usually strong writers and independent learners. The only hiccup for colleges is making sure the homeschool student really has the college chops as GPAs are usually not as valued.  This is where the tests come in.  It is a clear sign to colleges that the homeschooler is just as qualified as a traditional student.

Academic Scholarships –

Academic awards for financial aid are highly coveted.  One way they are allocated is based on your GPA and test scores.  If you are looking for academic awards at a school where it is a reach for your student, they are less likely to get much in merit aid.  However, if you are looking at merit aid at a school where you are an academic star, you are more likely to get more merit aid.

Check out this article from Education Week and their thoughts on the weight of SAT and ACT test scores.

Education Week’s Importance of SAT, ACT Scores Dwindling in College Admissions

Money Magazine’s 10 Top Colleges That Don’t Care About Your SAT Scores


Are you feeling stressed about the SAT and the ACT? Fear not – Money magazine has pulled together a list of 10 colleges that don’t measure you based on some test.  Homeschool students should note this may not apply to you as the SAT and ACT are frequently heavily used by colleges to determine if you are college ready.

Spoiler Alert – Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC and James Madison University of Harrisonburg, VA made the list!


Money Magazine’s 10 Top Colleges That Don’t Care About Your SAT Scores

How to Take the SAT, ACT for Free

How to Take the SAT, ACT for Free –

Here is a great article from US New & World Report on how to take the SAT and ACT for Free for those that qualify (click here).  In Wake County Public Schools, students are offered the ACT for free and typically take it during a regular school day.


Here is the fee waiver information from the SAT (College Board)

Are You Eligible?

SAT fee waivers are available to low-income 11th and 12th grade students in the U.S. or U.S. territories. U.S. citizens living outside the U.S. may be able to have test fees waived. SAT Subject Test fee waivers are available for students in grades nine through 12.

You’re eligible for fee waivers if you say “yes” to any of these items:

  • You’re enrolled in or eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
  • Your annual family income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
  • You’re enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., Federal TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).
  • Your family receives public assistance.
  • You live in federally subsidized public housing or a foster home, or are homeless.
  • You are a ward of the state or an orphan.

What Fee Waivers Cover

  • The registration fee for up to two SATs, with or without the SAT Essay
  • The registration fee for up to two SAT Subject Test administrations (take up to three individual SAT Subject Tests on a single test day)
  • Four limited-time score reports plus four to use at any time (see details below)
  • Four college application fee waivers
  • Question-and-Answer Service (QAS) or Student Answer Service (SAS) if ordered at the time of registration (QAS and SAS aren’t available for SAT Subject Tests)
  • A fee reduction for multiple-choice score verification or essay score verification
  • Coverage of the SAT Essay if you are an SAT School Day tester whose school or district covers only the SAT but supports essay testing
  • Coverage of the non-U.S. regional fee for fee-waiver-eligible U.S. students who are testing abroad
  • Up to eight CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® fee waivers to use to apply online for nonfederal financial aid from colleges, universities, professional schools, and scholarship programs, for free.

The ACT is similar –

Here are the breakdowns of income before last year’s taxes:

1 person  family (including student)- $22,311

2 person family (including student) – $30,044

3 person family (including student) – $45,510

4 person family (including student)  – $53, 243

5 person family (including student)- $60, 976

(for each additional family member after a 5 person family add $7,733)