The Necessary Steps

Developing Your List of Schools

You need to assess your interests, strengths, and future goals, as well as your grades, test scores and past accomplishments.  Many factors must be considered, and we can help you as you create a realistic list of "safe" "target" and "reach" schools.

The Common Application, the Coalition, School-Specific Applications

Schools may participate in The Common Application or the Coalition Application, where you can complete basic information and prepare a main essay which can then be distributed to multiple institutions.  However, many of these schools also require completion of supplemental essays and/or additional questions.

 Portions of these applications can be accessed at earlier stages, and it is beneficial for students to begin work early. This will reduce the stress during the fall of senior year.

The Common App (or Coalition) Essay

While we provide brainstorming ideas and review essays for message and grammar, there are some important things to know about the main essay. First, this essay must be the work of the applicant. College Admissions officers are highly experienced in reviewing these essays and can readily tell when it has not been written by the student. Often, parents fall prey to the competition and feel the need to hire “essay specialists” for this piece. We will refuse to work with any families who utilize such an individual. Often, these individuals have no contact with admissions officers, and the tend to take the ideas from the students to craft essays that end up sounding—while poetic, creative and beautiful—disconnected from the actual student.

Second, the essay serves as a great opportunity for the student to highlight what matters to him/her. While grades, test scores and lists of activities are part of the application, this is the strongest place for the student to ‘take the mic’ and show the admissions committee why this student should be the one selected.


Whether you are uploading an actual document, or completing a pre-set form, it is important to maintain an accurate list and description of activities throughout high school, particularly leadership positions.

Test Scores

You will be responsible for ordering reports containing your SAT, SAT II, ACT and AP scores to be sent to the colleges. This is in addition to many instances of "self-reporting" on the application.

Letters of Recommendation

While the actual letters are likely sent electronically, depending upon practices and procedures at your high school, the human factor is still vital! It is still important to focus on teachers who can best describe you to the admissions committee and remember to ask them -- in person -- early.