How many schools should I apply to?

Posted by Neal Schwartz on August 17, 2022


8, 10,12,15, 15+ ?

I get this question more this year than ever before. Unfortunately, there is no answer that applies to all students. There is a wholesale change happening in college admissions that needs to be considered. There are so many different categories of admissions–Regular, Rolling, Early Action, Priority, Restricted Early Action, Early Decision, Early Decision 2–it is no wonder that parents and students are confused. But, more importantly is the fact that this confusion can impact a student’s admission’s chances. 

College Admissions is in a truly outrageous situation at the present time. The various admission categories have been morphing for years and when combined with the Covid/Test Optional catalyst, application growth has been explosive. This has resulted in what some may view as irrational behavior. 

For example, when parents learn that Mary didn’t get into any of the 12 schools she applied to, one conclusion that has been floated is that Mary didn’t apply to enough colleges. So, the logical next step is to apply to even more schools, maybe up to 15+. We can all understand how that will increase the volume of applications and lower admit rates. 

But what is even more disturbing is the perfect storm that has also developed for some savvy colleges. With more applications floating into the system, schools are looking for better ways to ensure that their yield is reduced–even as applications increase.  It appears that they have succeeded and nearly perfected their ability to gauge a student's true interest. Even while ignoring the increase in applications, and noting that the number of seats remains the same, some top colleges have lowered the absolute number of students that they admit.

So, what is the answer?

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, early decision, early action, early decision 2, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, regular decision, college planning, admitted students

How to Navigate the Merit Aid Puzzle

Posted by Neal Schwartz on January 11, 2022

When it comes to financial aid, all situations are different. There is no formula to perfectly predict what you’ll get, because a common misconception is that financial aid is the same from all schools. It isn’t. Factors that play into financial aid distribution are Early Decision, private versus public universities and school ranking.

Early Decision has always been a way for colleges to increase their student yield. When students apply early, they show their commitment to a school and a school can be sure that they will attend if accepted. As noted in our previous blogs, recent test optional policies have also increased the number of applications. However, even though this option seems uniquely beneficial on both sides, colleges with Early Decision programs are not necessarily motivated to communicate that if the aid package doesn’t suit a family, they can disengage from the binding agreement.

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Topics: early decision, Financial Aid, college counseling, high school senior, fafsa, high school junior, college finances, college financial situation, college sophomore, college plans, choosing a major, Fin Aid Calculator

"So, what are your plans for college?"

Posted by Neal Schwartz on December 13, 2021

This is the big question that a lot of high school seniors might be dreading for the upcoming holidays if they haven’t applied Early Decision, heard back from schools, or want to entertain questions about their college plans. All most students want to do is have a good time with family and not think about applications and the future for a minute, but this question will inevitably be asked, probably multiple times on multiple occasions.

Can you blame your family? This is certainly a decisive time for you, but also for them. Most of the time, your family has the best of intentions. They are either genuinely interested or making appropriate small talk. In any case, it’s important to keep in mind that less is more.

If you know the answer, say it loud and proud, but if you don’t, there are a variety of approaches that can dig you out of a sticky situation.

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Topics: college preparation, early decision, early decision 2, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, regular decision, college plans

How to Ace the Alumni Interview

Posted by Neal Schwartz on October 18, 2021

How to Ace the Alumni Interview


For college applicants, the fall of senior year is a time to be alert. Just because the applications might be ready or already sent doesn’t mean it’s time to relax just yet. During the fall is when certain students might be taking part in alumni interviews. Here’s everything you need to know about the alumni interview and some tips for how to make the best impression.


What is the alumni interview?

 The alumni interview is offered to certain applicants as a chance for the college and alumni to get to know the student better. Not every student will receive an alumni interview, however. While not receiving an alumni interview is not necessarily a bad thing, the interview can only help your chances of getting admitted. To increase the probability of getting an interview, students should consider applying Early Decision or Early Action.

The alumni interview is a little bit like a job interview. It’s a chance for the interviewer to see how the student could fit in with the school, and how well the school adapts to the student’s wants and needs. By asking a series of questions from academic to personal, the alumni gets to know the information that is not necessarily obvious from the application. This is the chance for the student to have their voice heard and personality shine. Here’s how to ace it.

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, early decision, early action, early decision 2, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, alumni interview, admissions interview

Will this year's College Admissions be any different?

Posted by Neal Schwartz on September 09, 2021

Following the toughest admissions year on record, will it be different this year?


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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, early decision, early action, early decision 2, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, test optional, college lists, recommendations


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