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Tips from 10 Top College Admissions Experts

I’m so excited to have gotten the best insider tips from 26 amazing college admissions experts during the Dream College Summit, including Lynn O’Shaughnessy herself! These former admissions officers, parenting experts, test prep gurus, amazing essay and application coaches, and financial aid and scholarships pros gave me this amazing advice to help your child apply to their dream colleges.

Alexis Avila

Alexis Avila is a certified K-12 guidance counselor and full-time private tutor who founded Prepped & Polished and hosts a weekly show, The Prepped & Polished Podcast.

Alexis shared some amazing test prep tips for students with learning challenges. One of my favorites was for students who are hyperactive; underlining can be really helpful to get them to initiate test taking.

Beth Probst

Beth Probst of At The Core focuses on helping students define their plans for the future by focusing on their strongest traits, values, interests and preferences.

One of Beth’s insights is that students need to decide three things when preparing to graduate: 1) career 2) major 3) college. They usually focus on college first because career and major are harder. In fact, students should be focusing first on choosing a career then major then college.

Ethan Sawyer

Ethan Sawyer, the College Essay Guy, has been helping students tell their stories for more than ten years. He’s a graduate of Northwestern and UC Irvine.

Ethan’s suggestion for the personal statement: Don’t focus on the prompts. Write the story first then figure out which prompt fits. Just keep in mind, this doesn’t apply necessarily to supplemental essays.

Joe Messinger

Joe Messinger, founder of Capstone College Partners, is on a mission to end the student loan crisis one family at a time.

Joe shared the importance of planning for all 4 years to take advantage of tax credits and subsidized loans. He also recommends not taking more student loan debt than you’ll make the first year out of college.

Lauren Gaggioli

Lauren Gaggioli founded Higher Scores Test Prep, an online SAT & ACT prep company and is the host of The College Checklist Podcast.

When studying for the ACT, she recommends focusing on the score you want to achieve and figuring out how many answers you need to get right. It’s usually fewer than you think. And this allows students to slow down, take their time, and take a lot of the stress out of it.

Meredith Graham

Meredith Graham of Collegewise spent nearly 15 years working in STEM admissions and advising at four different universities, including Cornell University and Purdue University.

We talked a lot about the differences between science, engineering, technology, and math. One really good tip from her was that if you like building stuff but aren’t a big fan or just don’t care about high level math, a technology degree is a great option.

Nancy Paul

Nancy Paul is the founder of Three Wishes College Strategies. Her three daughters were awarded $600,000 in merit scholarships.

Nancy shared that one of the best ways to find merit scholarships is to google search based on the accomplishments or demographics of your child. This will help you find scholarships that not a lot of students are applying to.

Ms. Sun

Ms. Sun is a UC admissions expert who has been guiding students to the top UCs since 2006. Ms. Sun created AskMsSun.com to help students navigate the complex UC admissions process.

Because there are so many applications going into the UC system, corrections to the applications can fall through the cracks and the results can be devastating. Because of that, it’s really important that you double and triple check all of the information on the application including grades, course names, and contact information.

Sara Harberson

Sara Harberson of saraharberson.com and Admissions Revolution is a former Ivy League Associate Dean of Admissions and nationally recognized expert on elite college admissions.

Sara shared with me that the harder essays are the supplements. It’s so important that these essays are just as good if not better than the personal statement.

Shaan Patel

Shaan Patel is a #1 bestselling author, the founder of Prep Expert (Formerly 2400 Expert) SAT & ACT Preparation, an MD/MBA student at Yale and USC, and winner of a Shark Tank deal with billionaire Mark Cuban.

One of my favorite tips from Shaan was to avoid doing a lot of the algebra and algebra 2 on the SAT by plugging in the answers. Another great one is to memorize grammar rules for the SAT writing section. Don’t trust your ear because we often speak with incorrect grammar.

If you want even more tips to help your student get into their dream colleges, get your FREE ticket to the online Dream College Summit, running August 28-31, 2017, and learn from 26 top experts in college admissions, test prep, and financial aid. As a thank you, you’ll receive my Ultimate Guide to the Common App with your ticket!

This post also appears on The Huffington Post.

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