Collage Preparation Blog

People say that junior year is critical for the college admission process since it is the last full year of grades that colleges will see when making the admission decision.  But that doesn’t paint the whole picture.  Students need to think about more than just good grades.  In fact, most college admission officers will tell students that from January of their junior year on it is “Full tilt towards college!” all the way.  But, what does that mean exactly?  In this article, I outline a timeline for students to follow for the remainder of their junior year of high school and highlight some of the important tasks that need to be completed.

College Visits:

If a student hasn’t visited a college yet, now is the time to do so.  The campus visit has taken on more importance than it used to.  Many colleges now look at demonstrated interest when making their admission decisions.  It also [...]

In this episode, James speaks to David Dorfman, dance professor at Connecticut College and founder of David Dorfman Dance.

Interested in studying for a major in dance, or the performing arts? David gives his advice to students applying to a liberal arts college  or conservatory as well as the all important audition.   Lastly he gives a run-down on what options students might have after graduating with a major in dance and general advice for students preparing for a career in dance.


Listen to episode 6 below:

In the 5th episode of the College Tips Podcast, we discuss the college admissions essay.

Jacqueline Jewett Director of education outreach, parent engagement, student relations at Mitchell College in New London, CT.  Jewett gives her advice for students writing their admissions essay, and what admissions officers look for.

Listen to episode 5 below:

Members of the class of 2019 and 2020 will be able to access their PSAT PSAT Score Explainedscores online on December 11. Schools and guidance counselors will have earlier access to their students’ scores, starting December 4.  After seeing their son or daughter’s scores, many parents will ask the same question: What do these mean?  

Parents who have an older child may find these scores strangely unfamiliar.   The scores have gone back to the future and returned to the 1600 scale instead of the 2400 scale.  There are two scores on the test now: A math score and an evidence based reading and writing score.  Each of these is scored from 160 to 760, and those scores are combined to give you a score from 320 to 1520. A PSAT score is [...]

In the 4th episode of the College Tips Podcast, we discuss the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

James speaks to Todd Kelly, financial planning expert and founding partner of  Kelly talks about why all students should be filing for the FAFSA and what to expect when filing the form,

Listen to episode 4 below:

It is hard to believe that students have been back in school for a few weeks already. We are moving quickly through September, which means that some important dates are coming up for college applications. Early Decision and Early Action deadlines start around the beginning of November. If high school seniors have not started yet on their college applications, then they should begin as soon as possible. The application is not something that you want to rush, so it’s better to start earlier than you think you need to. Still confused on the difference between Early Action and Early Decision? Check my YouTube video series, the First Choice Five, for a good primer on things to consider.

Students should be lining up teachers for letters of recommendation, meeting with their guidance counselors, and starting their Common Application. The Common Application [...]

This is the third outing for the College Tips Podcast, an informative series presented for the benefit for college bound students or students thinking of attending college. The tips and ideas presented are guaranteed to help anyone get closer to being accepted by their first choice college.

In this episode James speaks to Keirsten Sires, CEO of, a site that ranks top college coaches and sheds a light on the college recruiting process.
Listen to episode 3 below:

Common Application and Essay Assistance

Last edition, I started sharing some of my observations of families who (in my opinion) successfully navigated the test preparation, college selection, and college admission processes.  In this edition, I would like to share a few more observations on how some of these parents best helped their students to succeed.

Realistic Expectations

One factor that can negatively impact a student’s SAT or ACT score is the stress of taking a timed test.  Many of us know smart students who excel in their classes yet do not perform well on tests.  While there are strategies that can be utilized to help mitigate the stress, parents should be realistic about how much improvement they can expect to see from their students’ scores.  Adding on the pressure of an unrealistic parental expectation is rarely helpful to already anxious kids.  In fact, often is has quite the opposite effect.  Try to avoid the trap of comparing your [...]

This is the second podcast in an informative series presented for the benefit for college bound students or students thinking of attending college. The tips and ideas presented are guaranteed to help anyone get closer to being accepted by their first choice college.

In this episode James speaks to Christina Hamilton, director of admissions at Sacred Heart University.

Listen to episode 2 below:

Review of UWorld SAT Prep Tool

At First Choice, our driving mission is to give students greater opportunities in their lives. We have a number of approaches and products, but primarily we do this by helping our students better prepare and conquer the one piece of their admissions package that can be improved in a tight time frame – their SAT and ACT scores. Unlike GPAs, community service, or extra-curricular activities, their standardized test scores are snapshots of single moments in their academic careers. Because of this, we can coach them to success by emphasizing both test preparedness (strategies for approaching the test, as well as how to handle time and anxiety pressures) and subject matter expertise.  Each student has different needs within both areas, and creating concrete improvement requires commitment by the student and tailored instruction by our tutors. I am always on the look out for tips, tricks, approaches, or materials that can [...]

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