Jessie's Blog


Does "Test-Optional" REALLY Mean Optional?

The pandemic has college admissions offices scrambling. They have long relied on test scores as one of the key variables they use to evaluate candidates, yet according to FairTest, two-thirds of colleges surveyed in October 2020 had been forced by our collective circumstances to adopt some blend of the test-optional or test-blind policy. 

MOST parents and students I speak with LOATHE standardized testing. Feelings aside, most still have questions about how to navigate this portion of the admi…

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How to Make the Most of a College Fair Experience

Step by step help from The College Essay Guy!

Got a college fair coming up? A little bit of prep work can reap big payoffs. (Wait, what kind of payoff?) This article by The College Essay Guy is super helpful.

The Quick Synopsis:

First, the student needs to consider what is the goal of the college fair? What's the point? Possible points besides making Mom & Dad happy that can actually help a student get into college:
  • Learn about opportunities
  • Show genuine interest in a school
  • Gather talking …

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Want to take the August SAT?

Register early.


College Board will be offering the SAT and SAT Subject Test exams on August 26, 2017. The word on the street is that seating may be limited.

The following Subject Tests will be available:
  • Literature
  • U.S. History
  • World History
  • Mathematics Level 1
  • Mathematics Level 2
  • Biology E/M
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • French
  • Spanish

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Got Testing Stress? Having a Crisis of Confidence? We've Got Your Back.

Got Testing Stress? Having a Crisis of Confidence? We've Got Your Back.

Lauren Cardinale, CH, CPC, Life Coach and Board Certified Hypnotherapist

When you think of the SAT or the ACT or the AP Exams or the SAT Subject Tests, what's your response? What's your teen's response? Can you feel the weight of all that PRESSURE?  What do you think this stress is doing to your student's performance? (Let's not talk about the mood at your dinner table.)

Many students, of all ages, including my own kids, have…

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Links Worth Sharing: Who Should I Ask to Write my Recommendation?

One of the questions that I am currently fielding from my juniors is who they should ask to write their recommendations. And, yes, the time to line up your recommenders is the end of your junior year. This recent opinion piece by admissions officer from Dartmouth is a beautiful reminder that the most powerful recommendations come from those that know your best self well.

Check This Box if You're a Good Person

by: Rebecca Sabky

Published NY Times, April 4th, 2017, Opinion Pages

Take me to the link!…

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Links Worth Sharing: 4 Tips for Negotiating a Better Financial Aid Package


Sticker Shock! I hear it every day. My husband and I are living it with two kids in college, every day. And if you have a senior and are comparing offers it may be worth your while to ask the question. There are absolutely no guarantees, however, if you don't ask the question the answer is a resounding, "NO!"









  1. Don't Storm the Financial Aid Office (These are some of the hardest working folks on campus, so be nice. They get it.)
  2. For More Need-Based Aid, Be Specific — and Have Back U…

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Wading Through the Middle: What to do while waiting on admissions news

Maybe. Maybe not. Source: Bitmoji

“I’m not good with this waiting business.”

“What if I don’t get in?”

“I just want to know.”

“When will I find out?”

“Why does it have to take so long?”


The above is a sampling of text messages I received from both students and parents over the past eight weeks. Applications to college are out the door, and we now wade through the dark, often angst-ridden middle, what some may consider the most difficult, and perhaps the most nerve-wracking, part. During the waiting,…

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Wrestling With Creating an FSA-ID? (If you're applying for financial aid, you'll need one of these.)



NEW this year! You will need to create an FSA_ID to apply for federal financial aid (FAFSA). Even if you don't qualify for need-based financial aid, but are planning to have your student take out an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, you will need to file a FAFSA. Click here to watch the video.
  • Instructions for creating your FSA_ID. Here.
  • FAQ's. Here and Here.
  • PITFALLS & PROBLEMS to avoid. Learn more from this post by Mark Kantrowitz on Cappex.
  • Acronyms prompting scrambled brain? FAFSA, CSS,…

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EFC, CSS, FAFSA — Three Acronyms That Add Up

fsa-idLast weekend, the FAFSA went live and Prior-Prior is here.

Ok, but wait a minute--what do all of these CAPS stand for? EFC. CSS. FAFSA. These three acronyms add up--to what can be a sum greater than what you paid for your home and maybe your pop-up camper, as well. And, while my children will tell you that there are many topics I love to talk about, money and how much of it my husband and I are spending on educating our children is not one of them. Yet, Bertha (that rather larger financial elepha…

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