The College Solutions Blog

Valuable insights from Lynn O’Shaughnessy
a nationally recognized college expert.

Admission practices
Featured image for “Why college essays are more important during COVID-19”
July 29, 2020

Why college essays are more important during COVID-19

College essays should be more important during the 2021-2022 college admission season than in any other admission cycle in modern times. Why would the college essay be so critical for this admission cycle? Simple. It’s because most colleges – including the vast majority of the most elite and prestigious institutions – have gone test-optional due to the pandemic. Without standardized...
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Featured image for “8 things you should know about final college plans during the pandemic”
July 6, 2020

8 things you should know about final college plans during the pandemic

Colleges have been running out of time to release their final plans for the start of the fall school year. Higher-ed observers assumed that colleges would have to start revealing their final plans sometime in July. Problem was, the vast majority of schools didn’t want to go first. A Midwestern college, for instance, would be loath to announce it was...
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Featured image for “During a pandemic, getting more money from a college”
June 8, 2020

During a pandemic, getting more money from a college

During the COVID-19 pandemic, plenty of colleges are worried about not only attracting enough freshmen for this fall, but also for the 2021-2022 college admission season. Many colleges have made the calculation that it’s better to pay too much to attract a new student than to lose that prospect – and the revenue he or she generates – all together....
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Featured image for “Extracurricular tips for college admissions during a pandemic”
May 6, 2020

Extracurricular tips for college admissions during a pandemic

One of collateral damages from COVID-19 is the ability of teenagers to participate in extracurricular activities before applying to college. Right now, you can’t participate in a school marching band or play Shakespeare on a stage. Showing athletic prowess on a track, ball field or court ain’t happening either. You can’t debate in competitions or run a school club. While...
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Featured image for “Will College Campuses Open in the Fall?”
April 28, 2020

Will College Campuses Open in the Fall?

Will college campuses open in the fall? It’s frustrating that no one definitely knows yet if colleges campuses will be open in the fall or if online education will predominate or there will be some hybrid of the two scenarios. In the interim, however, The Chronicle of Higher Education has been regularly updating a list of tentative plans that colleges...
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Featured image for “Researching Colleges During a Pandemic”
April 13, 2020

Researching Colleges During a Pandemic

I’ve gotten questions recently about how to research colleges during the COVID-19 pandemic when you can’t visit campuses. I talked to a mom from Seattle over the weekend, whose daughter was choosing between seven colleges that stretch from the state of Washington to New Jersey. With merit scholarships deducted, the cost of all these schools for the Seattle family were...
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Featured image for “Tackling common college questions during COVID-19”
April 8, 2020

Tackling common college questions during COVID-19

This is an incredibly stressful time for families who have to navigate college admissions during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a practical matter, this (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime experience has generated a great deal of college questions from anxious students, parents, educational consultants and high school counselors. Some answers are known. We know, for instance, that the Advanced Placement tests, with a radically...
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Featured image for “Appealing a Financial Aid Award During COVID-19”
March 24, 2020

Appealing a Financial Aid Award During COVID-19

COVID-19 has made the college admission and financial aid process unbearably stressful and scary. As my small way of helping, as I remain holed up in my house in San Diego, I decided to start answering your college questions beginning today. Via my blog – The College Solution – I will tackle at least one question on most week days....
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Featured image for “Why you need to use college net price calculators”
February 14, 2020

Why you need to use college net price calculators

Before you let your teenager apply to colleges, you need to use each college’s net price calculator. Unless money is no object and you can afford to pay full price for any colleges, turning to net price calculators is critical. If you don’t know what these calculators are – and most parents don’t – here are 10 things you need...
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Featured image for “Applying Early Decision: What You Need to Know”
October 14, 2019

Applying Early Decision: What You Need to Know

Should your child apply early decision to college? This is the time of year when high school seniors aiming for more selective to elite colleges and universities must decide if they will apply early decision. When students submit an early decision application, they promise that they will attend if the institution accepts them. A student accepted via early decision must...
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