The Montclair Dispatch College Counseling Series–Part 6

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

High School Graduates Preparing to Enter the World // Photo Courtesy of Studio042 Photography
High School Graduates Preparing to Enter the World // 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.

This final installment of our six-part series will discuss the right course of action for students and parents to take, from the winter release of college acceptances, until May 1st, when final decisions must ultimately be made. The following advice will make the final stage of this process run smoothly.

Throughout the fall and early winter, seniors will start receiving decisions if they applied through an early action, rolling, or early decision program. The anticipation of the letter or online notice, combined with the possible acceptance or rejection puts a level of strain on anyone. But, regardless of any decisions that a student receives or has to make, Barbara has some key pearls of wisdom.

Following the mid-December decision, if you are deferred, waitlisted, or not responded to, do not worry. Use that time to show an educational institution how proactive you are. Contact your regional admissions representative or the director of admissions at the college or university of your choice.  Pass along positive information regarding your GPA, making first marking period and first semester grades extremely important. Keep admissions officers up to date regarding your extra-curricular activities, and continue to participate in sports, the arts, and other passions or projects. And, demonstrate a serious interest in the school backed up by concrete accomplishments and actions taken.

Fast-forward a little, to the Spring of a student’s senior year. After the first week of April, the student should have received their decisions for every school they applied to. Now, it is ultimately the student’s turn to decide. If a senior is having a tough time deciding which school to commit to, students and parents should have a final meeting with their consultant or coach. There, they can weigh the pros and cons of each possible school. Students change a significant amount over the course of high school. Students who are are thinking of entering a single-sex school may now want a co-ed institution. Students who were interested in a liberal arts education may now be interested in engineering. It is important to remember the key aspects that made a school desirable in the first place.

With that, The Montclair Dispatch series on the college admissions process is complete. We hope that the information that was provided was beneficial and hopefully relieved a bit of stress or confusion. The Montclair Dispatch also thanks Barbara Gottesman for her esteemed guidance and generosity.


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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