Skip to main content

Sonoma Family Life Magazine

College Wise

By Greg Kaplan

In the face of skyrocketing competition, your children should use changes to colleges’ admissions processes to increase their odds of earning admission and even reduce their cost of attendance. Consider the following as your children prepare to apply:

Less required entrance exams. Yes, you read that correctly. Many highly selective colleges no longer require submitting two or three SAT II subject tests on top of the SAT I or ACT. The University of California system, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and other highly selective colleges have all dropped the SAT II subject test requirement. Check to see if the colleges your children are interested in attending require the SAT II. Your children should continue to focus on scoring high on the SAT I or ACT.

Applicants are using social media to earn admission. Long the mainstay for keeping up-to-date 24/7 with friends, social media is now helping applicants earn admission to their dream colleges. ZeeMee, a social media site dedicated exclusively to undergraduate and graduate school admissions, allows applicants to create a free profile. They can post a video, photos, awards, and other information to show their personality and bring their application to life. Applicants can share their profile with admissions officers by putting a link to it in their college applications.

Changes to the financial aid process. At many colleges, financial aid is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is usually what financial aid officers use to determine an applicant’s financial need. Until this year, the FAFSA was based on the tax return from the prior year. Many families who filed for tax return extensions were unable to submit their FAFSA forms before their tax returns were complete. This delay jeopardized their ability to receive financial aid. Now, FAFSA will be based on tax returns from two years ago instead of the prior year. This will enable all applicants to turn in their financial aid applications on time and be eligible to receive the maximum amount of financial aid for which they qualify.

In addition to receiving financial aid, your child can apply for scholarships. Local scholarships sometimes receive few applicants and provide your children with excellent odds. Consult with your children’s guidance counselors and use to find applicable scholarships. Start the search in the ninth grade, and dedicate a couple of hours a month to it.  

Greg Kaplan is a college application strategist, author of Earning Admission: Real Strategies for Getting into Highly Selective Colleges (2016), and the founder of Soaring Eagle College Consulting. See for more information.