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Student Success Without Stress

The college counselor is a sounding board, someone to help clarify goals and make connections to educational opportunities. Tish will help you devise an efficient personal process, an individual strategy to reach your dreams.


One practical strategy is to build the list from the bottom up, that is, firstidentify programs of interest at colleges where the student is likely to be accepted, and later move up the selectivity scale. The applications for target and safety schools should be completed first. Then, if time and energy remain, shoot for the stars with a few more competitive colleges—if the student is capable of accepting the outcome without making it a referendum on self-worth.

Watching my friends continue to struggle for months after I had submitted my applications and been accepted to my first-choice college made me realize how efficient and stress-free my process had been."


The Coalition Application is an entirely new portal to about 100 top colleges, which was used for the first time in 2016. The coalition colleges created and own the Coalition App, in part because they felt they had abdicated too much control to the Common App, which has evolved since 1975 to serve as a single online platform used by nearly one million students each year to apply to 625 colleges.

The Coalition App hopes to give students a place to record their achievements starting in ninth grade, to invite and store assessments by teachers and other mentors, and allow far broader forms of expression to be evaluated by professors competent in appropriate fields. The intrepid students who venture through this portal, rather than with the thousands who file with the Common App, will stand out in the applicant pools at those colleges that created it.

Before you respond to any essay prompts, answer this question: What do you want colleges to know about you? Summarize yourself in three to five words; associate specific accomplishments, activities, attitudes, and aspirations with each one. Now use each college application to communicate this information.


A financial strategy is also essential: variations in college cost are akin to pricing for airline seats. The first step to establish a budget for college cost is to determine the EFC or Expected Family Contribution. Using Net Price Calculators for individual schools will establish parameters. But testing your expectations by applying to one or more non-binding Early Action colleges can help predict the amount of financial aid, correct a course, or offer an early end to a time-consuming process.

Tish advised us to apply to select schools that offered an ‘early action’ decision, an excellent strategy which resulted in acceptences from four ’perfect match’ schools by the end of December, each with a substantial merit scholarship award. Early notice of these excellent options reduced stress and allowed our daughter to put the admission frenzy behind her.

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