How to Email a College Admissions Counselor

Check Your Email Address First!

Yes, you were given a formal name at birth and you may be a creative individual who wants to express yourself with a unique email address, but suddenly you realize might not be the most appropriate email address to use. Who is your audience? What impression will you leave on the admissions officer?  Every bit of information you reveal tells the college admissions office something about you. I often ask students to think about how their grandparents might react to the address. It may be safer and more appropriate to use your school email address or create one that will be used for all your college correspondence. Read more on clues on emailing your the college admissions counselor.

Can’t Get to a College Campus? Why Not Visit from Home?

Visiting the campus is probably one of the most important steps in actually choosing your college. After all, you may be choosing where you would like to live for the next four years.  If you do not have the opportunity to visit, or have a chance to meet an admissions officer at a college fair in your hometown, it will be important for you to take a virtual visit:

  • Do your research about the college online.
  • Know your own goals and what questions you would like answered.
  • Know your PSAT, SAT and/or ACT scores, and GPA.
  • Understand your own strengths in the academic arena as well as in extracurricular activities.
  • Focus more on academic and student life opportunities.
  • Be honest on with yourself and what you are looking for.
  • Never underestimate the value of a tour whether online or in person. Click here to visit college virtual tour websites.

The Common Application 2016-2017 Essay Prompts

The summer break from school offers rising seniors time to focus on college planning tasks such as the college essay.ScreenHunter_1212 Jun. 05 08.27  Here are the essay prompts for the 2016-2017 Common Application. Take some time to review, mull over your ideas, and begin to develop your response to your choice.

The Common Application Announces 2016-2017 Essay Prompts

The Common Application has announced that the 2016-2017 personal statement essay prompts will be the same as the 2015-2016 prompts. By conducting a review process every other year, rather than annually, we can hear from admissions officers, as well as students, parents, and counselors, about the effectiveness of the essay prompts.

These prompts are designed to elicit information that will strengthen the other components of the application. “We want to make sure that every applicant can find a home within the essay prompts, and that they can use the prompts as a starting point to write an essay that is authentic and distinguishing,” said Scott Anderson, former school counselor and current Senior Director for Programs and Partnerships for The Common Application.

Among the more than 800,000 unique applicants who have submitted a Common App so far during the 2015-2016 application cycle, 47 percent have chosen to write about their background, identity, interest, or talent – making it the most frequently selected prompt; 22 percent have chosen to write about an accomplishment, 17 percent about a lesson or failure, 10 percent about a problem solved, and four percent about an idea challenged.

With the release of the essay prompts and the announcement that student accounts created now will roll over to 2016-2017, counselors can introduce their juniors to the Common App now, or whenever they are ready.

2016-2017 Essay Prompts 
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Build Your College Planning Library!

It’s that time of year where students, parents, and educators stock theircb-2015-front-cover (2) shelves with college planning tools. Dr. Christine Hand Gonzales has written several books you may find helpful to you in the college search and application process,  as well as the financial planning and scholarship search.

Top recommendations include College Bound: Proven Ways to Plan and Prepare For Getting Into the College Of Your Dreams,the companion workbook, My College Bound Plan, Your College Planning Survival Guide: Smart Tips From Students, Parents and Professionals Who Made It Through, and Paying for College Without Breaking the Bank: The Ultimate Students, Parent and Educator Guide to Over 500 Financial Aid and Scholarship Resources  ( Read more about book choices – click here.

 “College Bound” and the companion workbook, “My College Bound Plan” guides you through the college planning timeline, the search and mcbp-2014-proof-cover[1]application process, and campus visits, with additional tips and resources. It will show ways to approach counselors, teachers, or moderators to request an effective letter of recommendation, give tips on self-marketing through the college essay, provide suggestions for a top-notch resume of extracurricular activities, and offer advice for taking standardized tests. If you are a budding artist, a competitive athlete, or interested in a military career, or transitioning from being home-schooled to college, this book is for you. If you have special needs or a disability, this book is for you. If you are thinking about learning a trade or attending community college, this book is for you. Interested in understanding the “nuts and bolts” of financial aid and where to find scholarships? This book is for you. Looking for an extensive list of publications and internet resources that is beyond compare? “College Bound” is for you – giving you all these resources and more.Each book offers timelines, checklists, reliable internet resources and much more. See more books here!

How Can a Rising Senior Make the Best of Their Summer?

If you are smart, you will follow an action plan!

Build your foundation list. You may have created a foundation list of schools at this point. The list may include 2-4 double reach or dream schools, 2-4 target schools, and 1-2 sure-thing/safety schools of which one should be a “financial safety.”

Start your campus visits. Devise a schedule to visit the campuses for the summer and fall. Remember, visiting the college during the summer will feel different than visiting during the fall when all the students are back from summer break. If you can’t visit, take a virtual tour on  or attend an online college fair through

Build your resume! Have you finished your resume of activities? This resume may come in handy for interviews, scholarship applications, college applications and letters of recommendation. Include leadership in activities, summer jobs, community service, as well as awards and honors. Check out Microsoft’s free resume templates at Read more about planning for senior year by clicking here!

Graduates: Here is What to Do While On the Waitlist

Re-evaluate your list. Prioritize those wait-list schools.

A Speedy Response. Hopefully you responded quickly and honestly as some schools look at response time to be on their wait-list. Did you tell your college why they would be a good fit for you and why you want to be there?

Be Realistic. Some schools will respond to those on the wait-list and some will not so keep in touch, but don’t overdo it. If you have something substantive and new which has taken place since you last wrote, mention it.  It’s not in your best interest to send weekly or daily emails.

Know that the decision is out of your hands.

Make the best of your situation.

Embrace the acceptances. It’s tough when a dream school defers a student, but being placed on the wait list might be a signal to move on. While there is a chance that a student may be admitted in the late spring or summer, it is best for students to embrace the schools that have accepted them.

A Wild Card. Once your letter is off to the school, focus with all your heart on making your best choice among the places you have been admitted. It is best to treat the wait-list school as a “wild card;” deal with it when you receive it.


Taking an Online Class This Summer? Read Quick Tips on How to Succeed!


How to Impress Your Instructor Online:  Quick Tips to Success for the Virtual Student A Must-Read Guide For Anyone Thinking About Pursuing Their Degree Online!

How to Impress Your Instructor Online: Quick Tips to Success for the Virtual Student by Harold T. Gonzales, Jr. Ed.D., is the essential resource guide for online students and a must-read for educators working with students in higher education settings. The author offers an overview of the keys to success for the virtual student as they delve into their online learning experience and provides tips to impressing their online instructor. The book covers a broad range of topics including learning styles, time management techniques, online etiquette and communication skills, evaluation, and the challenging problems of plagiarism and cheating. Every stu­dent who is cur­rently tak­ing online courses for credit — or is con­sid­er­ing doing so — should order this no non­sense book for straight facts about par­tic­i­pat­ing in the online edu­ca­tion expe­ri­ence.

Available for $4.99 in eBook format or as a Paperback for $9.99 on

Free Reader Apps for Mac, PC, IPad and other devices – click here! Also  available at, too! Read reviews and more about the author by clicking here.

Can I Appeal the Admissions Decision?

You may be asking yourself if you can appeal a decision of denial from a college.  There may be a chance you can.  Some colleges have very strict policies stating if you were denied acceptance to their institution, the decision stands and there is no appeal process. Other colleges will allow for an appeal. My suggestion would be to contact the college directly to see if this is an option. Check their website or speak directly to the admissions office.

If you have a legitimate reason to appeal you may want to discuss this with you admissions representative.  Some of the circumstances that might warrant a review could include: