The Montclair Dispatch College Counseling Series–Part 3

This is part three of a six-part series discussing the college process.

Graduates Excited About Their Recent Achievements // Photo Courtesy of Studio042 Photography
Graduates Excited About Their Recent Achievements // Photo Courtesy of Studio042 Photography

All advice and instruction are provided courtesy of Barbara Gottesman, whose company, College Help! Organization and Advising Services has helped hundreds of high school students in Montclair, Glen Ridge and surrounding towns and counties over the years.  She helps navigate the application process, so students can find their place in the college or university that is right for them. It’s important to note that college isn’t for everybody. Barbara is also an excellent asset for students who feel that college is not the right place for them. There is a multitude of great options for students not interested in or ready for college immediately after high school.

By the end of June every year, around 650 to 700 students from Montclair High School (MHS), Montclair Kimberley Academy (MKA), Immaculate Conception, and Lacordaire Academy graduate from high school.

And that number does not include Montclair students who attend high schools outside of the township such as Seton Hall Prep, Saint Peter’s Prep, Mount Saint Dominic Academy, Kent Place School, Newark Academy, and boarding schools. Many of these rising college freshmen are competing with the rest of the nation–and the world–to attend the country’s top colleges and universities. And every year, our high schools consistently send their students to top schools, some of which have acceptance rates as low as 5%.

For many students across the United States, the college process is often the most stressful aspect of their high school careers. Whether it’s the ACTs, the SATs, the Common App, the CAAS, the Universal application, a college’s individual application, garnering teacher recommendations, or writing supplemental essays, an enormous amount of time and energy can be devoted to landing at the right college or university. It doesn’t have to be so time-consuming.

Part three will illustrate the proper steps for your child to take while in the winter and spring of their junior year, choosing activities, thinking about which schools to tour and preparing to fill in those applications.

Based on your child’s GPA (grade point average) as well as any standardized test scores that may have been revealed, they should begin compiling a very flexible and undefined list of schools that they might be interested in applying to. While doing so, your student should also keep their list of activities and commitments organized. Barbara reiterates that this will make life just a little easier when the time comes to submit those applications.

As the spring of junior year rolls around, students and their parents should continue touring schools and should be keeping positive visits in mind. Students and families should also consider whether or not their child is well-suited for an interview with an admissions representative at a college or university of great interest. If so, then one interview preparation session with Barbara, lasting about an hour, would greatly benefit the candidate. However, Barbara stresses that students and parents should only schedule an interview if everyone involved believes it would help chances of admission. They are not required, and a poor interview performance could hinder the application process.

At this point, students are often preparing for Advanced Placement (AP) testing and final exams. Juniors should always remember to keep track of all of their exam scores, as many schools will ask for AP results, which could possibly result in college credit, and hopefully lighten a courseload! During this time, students are nearing the point at which to begin thinking of camps, employment, volunteering opportunities, and other activities to add to their application. Midsummer is an excellent time to start on essays and the application process to stay organized and stay on track.


The author of the article is a Montclair native class of 2017, currently a student at McGill University, studying history and communications within the Faculty of Arts.

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