Five Apps You Need To Use During The College Application Process


By: Jordyn Staff, High School Junior

College Hunch- For a prospective college student with the average amount of teen angst and parents who want the absolute best for their child, College Hunch is one of the best apps for information about prospective schools. With thousands of schools to choose from College Hunch is easy to navigate with information from average SAT scores, acceptance rates, freshman class size, tuition, notable alumni and popular majors. It also includes a feature where you can “favorite” schools, compare them, and set filters so the app can recommend more schools based on average GPA, test scores, and interests. 

SATFlash- With the workload that Junior year brings and the high demand for tutors, it can be difficult to find a tutor that is available on a schedule that works for you. SATFlash is a tutor alternative that gives you the option to do daily practice problems, practice problems by category, and even full tests. There is a countdown clock at the top of the screen to make sure that you are pacing yourself. It's a great way to get practice no matter where you are.  The app can also find a tutor for you based on your strengths and weaknesses. 

College Advisor- Customized to what you are looking for in a school, College Advisor, by Princeton Review, suggests schools based on the qualities you desire most in a school and your test scores. They also sort the colleges that you have expressed interest in into three categories: safety, target, and dream schools. They have a student review section for each of the schools so that prospective students and parents can get more than just the statistics. 

ACT Prep- Similar to SATFlash, ACTPrep offers a wide variety of study options. They sort their practice tests by difficulty, allowing students to progress from one level to another. They have settings where you can learn by concept, take a practice section, make flash cards, and a “question of the day” section which generates a mock test question every day.   ACTPrep also provides tutor matches and can find a tutor who is able to cater to sections and skills for a specific student. 

Naviance (website)- One of the most popular college planning websites, Naviance, has everything you need to start the college process with confidence. Naviance allows you to compare colleges, rank them, and based on your personality and interests, will suggest colleges. Naviance breaks the process down into multiple sections and is easy to navigate as a student or parent. Naviance provides students with a place to communicate with their college advisors and stay on track with deadlines.

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For most high school juniors across the country and around the world, January signifies two things: the beginning of the second semester and the unofficial start of "The Process."

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Daytripper College Road Trip: Richmond, UVA, GW, American, and Georgetown

We went on a college road trip to The University of Richmond, UVA, GW, American, and Georgetown to get the latest scoop for you. Here are the notes--a sample guide you can use--from our trip. For detailed information visit each school's individualized itineraries.

Day One:  Richmond Virginia


Travel: Fly early morning from NYC JFK to Richmond Virginia, get the rental car then drive to Graduate Hotel downtown Richmond to check in.

Late Breakfast/Lunch: Perly’s

Campus: Tours at 9:45 and 2:15 each day, refuel with an iced tea at Passport Café and check out Heilman Dining Center, observe and talk to students at Tyler Haynes Commons and visit the bookstore.

Afternoon: Short drive to Carytown, quick coffee, and cookie at Sugar and Twine, then browse shops, and spend an hour or so at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Pre Dinner Drinks: 6:30 walk from Graduate to Saison.

Dinner: 7:30 at Pasture (quick Uber from Saison)  


Day Two: Richmond to Charlottesville/UVA


Early Morning Coffee: At Graduate Richmond before checking out

Breakfast: Drive to Church Hill, approximately ten minutes from hotel to Sub Rosa Bakery.

Drive: Leave Richmond 9 am--one hour, 15 min drive to Charlottesville

Stop: Visit Monticello for around 2 hours.

Check-in:  Graduate Charlottesville

Quick Lunch: The Virginian

Campus:  2 pm Grounds Tour, spend time on the lawn, walk around the Grounds and visit the new 1515 Student Center in The Corner.

Refuel: Coffee at Grit Coffee right in The Corner

Dinner: 7:30 PM, Nice walk to Oakhart Social (or quick uber)

After Dinner: Drink at C&O


Day 3: Charlottesville to Washington DC: Georgetown University  


Breakfast: Quick stop at Bodos Bagels

Drive: Leave at 8:30 am heading to Georgetown, approximately 2 hours 15 minutes

Check-in: Ritz Carlton Georgetown or Jefferson Hotel

Visit Georgetown University: Tour at 11:15, if miss do self-guided tour here -- 

Late Quick Lunch: Chaia Georgetown

Coffee Break: Baked and Wired

Dinner Downtown: Zaytinya

Dessert: Georgetown Cupcakes and/or Ice Cream at Thomas Sweets


Day 4: George Washington University


Breakfast: Founding Fathers

Campus: Tour and information sessions at 10 am, spend time in Marvin Center, walk around Foggy Bottom

Quick Lunch: Beefsteak

Afternoon: Visit National Museum of African American History and Culture.


Day 5: American


Breakfast: Before the tour grab a quick bite at Megabytes

Campus: After the tour grab a coffee at Davenport Coffee Lounge, a great place to talk to students or at the Mary Graydon Carter Building.

Time Allowing: Head for a quick lunch in Tenleytown.

Travel: Return rental car, Amtrak Acela back to NYC (2 hours, 46 minutes)


Notes: You could easily combine GW and American (or Georgetown) on one day if you had to, but we feel seeing more than one school a day is overload—for you and your child.

Continue the Tour: Depending on your families college list and time, schools that work well with this tour include: The University of Maryland, The University of Delaware, The College of William and Mary, and John Hopkins University.



Could Early Decision Ever Go Away?

by Stuart Nachbar *


Early Decision is one of the more popular, and most loathed, practices in college admissions. The concept is simple: if you have a first-choice school, apply early. If you get accepted you must deposit, then withdraw all of your other college applications.

Interestingly, few state schools offer the opportunity to apply Early Decision. Most prefer to use Early Action, Rolling Admissions or Regular Decision practices instead. Six campuses of the State University of New York, including SUNY-Geneseo, profiled here, Salisbury University (MD), Governors State University (IL) The College of New Jersey (also profiled here), Ramapo College of New Jersey, Miami University (OH), the College of William and Mary (VA), Christopher Newport University (VA) and Virginia Tech all offer Early Decision.

I recommend Early Decision to parents and students when:

They know that it is the “dream school,” that the student is absolutely sure that s/he will enroll, if accepted.

They are sure that they can afford the school, or have information, expressed in writing to all prospective students, usually on their Web site, that the student has the specific qualifications for a scholarship.

They are being highly recruited for sports or special talents that are likely to lead to scholarships that help to make the school affordable.

The big plus for students and families is that their college search ends early if the Early Decision school says yes. They also have time to apply to other schools if that school defers or says no.

There are good reasons why colleges offer admissions through Early Decision, and even opt to run two Early Decision cycles, one that usually requires applications to be submitted in November, the other that reviews them starting in January.

* Students who apply Early Decision are more likely to have done their homework to learn if their school is their “best fit.” They do not need further persuasion to deposit.

* The admissions office can fill their freshman class faster when they are confident that they can attract a large volume of applications. Gettysburg College,  a school that I recently visited, can attract between 40 and 45 percent of their next freshman class through Early Decision—and that school is neither ultra-selective, nor does it award athletic scholarships.

* The earlier the admissions office receives deposits, the faster they can fill and begin plans to welcome the incoming freshman class. It’s more fun to work in an admissions office that can fill the class by the May 1st deposit date than to work for one that has to attract deposits after that date.

* The larger the share of the class that enters through Early Decision, the smaller the share that are likely to need financial aid. While admissions professionals will encourage families to use the New Price Calculator on the Financial Aid Web pages, they also caution them to examine family budgets and resources. Unless the college has specified information on GPAs or test scores for scholarships in print or online to all prospective students, it is not obligated to make such awards to students who are accepted through Early Decision. In fact, it is not obligated to meet a family’s full financial need as determined through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The school may use the College Board’s CSS-Profile to collect more information, ask for tax returns, and make their own calculations of need. A college may report that they meet 100 percent of demonstrated need—but it is likely to be based on their own estimates, not the Expected Family Contribution that appears on the FAFSA.

But now the US Department of Justice is investigating the Statement of Good Principles and Practices adopted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), a membership organization that includes college admissions counselors, school counselor and independent advisors, like myself. No one knows how the investigation could turn up or how it could turn out to change admissions practices. However, as college bound juniors begin to make their college lists, it is possible that it could change the admissions processes at many schools.

Could it impact Early Decision?

It’s very tough to say. Early Decision favors those who can afford the school as well as those who are assured, like full-scholarship athletes. It works against those who do not understand financial aid as well as those families who know that they will struggle to cover college costs. Early Decision has made the college admissions process less “democratic” at many schools, including some of the most selective colleges in the United States.

I am not sure how the current leadership in the White House or Congress would weigh in on Early Decision. There does not appear to be support for increased Federal financial aid. Most colleges, even the more selective schools, will try to use Federal or State grants to help reduce costs for their students before they go to their own endowments to offer need-based aid. They would likely become more selective if they had to rely more heavily on their own funds to help new students.

According to their proposed education budget for 2018, the Trump Administration proposed that:

* Pell Grants become year-round, while they also proposed that total funding be reduced by $500 million.

* Supplemental grants be zeroed out (from over $700 million)

* That the Federal Work Study program, which provides funding for campus jobs, be cut by nearly 50 percent from just under $1 billion to $500 million.

These are hardly the ideas for making college more affordable and accessible to students who want to attend private colleges that offer Early Decision, but also need significant financial aid. Making matters worse, the most recent tax bill passed by Congress and signed by the president taxes endowments of 61 colleges, including some of the most selective.

The private schools (Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale) that prefer to use an alternative, Restricted Early Action, that limits applicants to only one Early Action school, might even shift to Early Decision. It makes it more likely that the students they admit early will have the resources to come. They have to make up for the tax, and possibly a downward path in the market value of their endowment.

State schools that offer Early Decision could face a different story, if governors face pressure to make admissions and enrollment at those schools more accessible to resident students. The response to such pressure might include lower tuition and fee increases or more state funds for financial aid.  Another option, currently practiced in California, North Carolina and Virginia, is to have more “honors” or articulation agreements with community colleges.

But most other colleges that offer Early Decision admissions would likely want to see them continue in this climate. They would want more assurances of enrollment as well as more students who have the resources to enroll. Early Decision is less democratic. But it is also a financial lifeline for many schools.

Need help in understanding college admissions practices? Contact Stuart at or call him at 609-406-0062.

* As founder of Educated Quest, Stuart Nachbar provides personalized college, transfer and graduate/professional school admissions advisory services to help students and parents make the best-informed decisions their future education. Having worked around higher education for over three decades as an admissions advisor, author, urban economic development professional and senior-level software marketing executive, he knows the “inside baseball” about how colleges do business. Stuart holds a BA and MBA from Rutgers University, a Master of Urban Planning for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Certificate in College Admissions Counseling (with Distinction) from UCLA. He and his wife, Carol, live in Central New Jersey.

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