Pamela K. Pik College Consulting, LLC • 30 Old Kings Highway South, Darien, CT 06820 • 203.984.6837 •
Pamela K. Pik College Consulting, LLC

Ask Pam – a Certified College Consultant

College Admissions Counselor Preparing and Planning for CollegePreparing and planning for college can be overwhelming and confusing, but a college consultant can help you through the entire process with ease.

“Ask Pam” is a free resource for students and parents to ask their questions. Enter your question below and Certified College Admissions Counselor Pamela Pik will respond.  Each Question and Answer is archived below for other students and parents to browse and learn from.

Question & Answer Archive

Pam- Fairfield County resident. Son and daughter in 8th and 6th grades. Trying to pull together list of community/volunteer organizations in the area for them to choose from, areas of passion to stay involved in through high school and beyond. Do you offer assistance in this area, in terms of identifying those areas that would enhance the down the road college applications?
Author: Toby Lewis
I know that most colleges "superscore" the SAT, but what about the ACT? My daughter has good section scores from taking the ACT twice, but her composite is the same both times.
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Good question! Many colleges do not superscore the ACT, but I recently received a list of those that do. Here it is:
Author: Janice
My son's college list is getting out of control - 14 at last count! What is the ideal number to apply to? Jim
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There is no magic number. I would just make sure that he has a reasonable mix of reach, target, and "likely" schools, and that he would be happy to attend any of them. I usually recommend 8 to 12 schools on a final list.
Author: Jim
Hi Pam! Any suggestions re: applying to a top tier state school if you're from out state? For example, my daughter really likes UVA. However approx 30% of incoming class seats are 'reserved' for kids from out of state the rest are held for kids from VA. Plus, as UVA is such a hot school in a place like Fairfield County, she's competing against her own classmates. From what I understand, colleges don't usually accept multiple students from one HS unless it's a standard 'feeder' school. Thoughts beyond having a standard hook which helps (i.e. top squash player, fencer, mini-entrepreneur, etc.)? Thanks!
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Yes, many out-of-state universities are quite selective, partly due to the quotas for in-state vs. out-of-state students. For example, University of North Carolina only accepts 18% of its students from other states! So, other than being the best student your daughter can be, and having some meaningful extracurricular activities, she might want to apply Early Decision to her top choice school. Since I don't really know your daughter, feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail for more specific advice. I have direct experience with students who have been accepted to University of Virginia and other well-known state universities.
Author: Elizabeth
How important is it for my son to visit colleges he is interested in? It's difficult finding the time to see them all.
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Clearly, the best way to know if a college is a good fit is to visit the school in person. Also, most admissions folks state that a visit by the student is a great way to gauge "demonstrated interest", an important factor. See this recent article:

If any of the schools on your son's list are really far from home and too expensive to travel to, then I believe that is an exception to the rule. In this case, I recommend contacting a regional representative to see if he/she will be in your geographic area in the next few months.
Author: Cynthia
My daughter will be applying to colleges next year. I'm not sure if she qualifies for financial aid - how can I find out?
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A quick, rough way is to go to the "Net Price Calculator" on every college's website. It asks you for information from your most recent tax year, and gives you a rough idea of your "Expected Family Contribution" for that school. It's only a ballpark until you fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and forms next year, but it can possibly help you with your planning.
Author: Paul
Hi Pam, Great blog. Where did you do your internship? I am just starting the UCLA courses but will be looking for an internship in Fairfield County.
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Hi Beth, My internship was during the winter of 2010 with Whitcomb Haney, a college consulting firm in New Canaan. Good luck!
Author: Beth Manners
If I am deferred from my first-choice, Early Decision school, should I apply to my second choice EDII? I think I would have a better chance of being accepted at my second choice if I apply ED II.
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This dilemma actually came up with one of my students last year. I encouraged her to "hang in there" with her first choice school; after all, she was deferred, not rejected. In her case, she was accepted at and decided to go to a third school, where she is very happy. My point here is that you cannot always "control" the process as much as you would like, but that it will still work out in the end.
Author: Theresa
My son did not enjoy his freshman year, and is looking to transfer to another college. Is it easier to get into a top college as a transfer student than as a freshman?
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The qualities that a transfer applicant has are looked at differently than those of a first-year applicant. The transfer students' performance since high school is more closely looked at than high school grades and SAT scores, although those may be also factored. Colleges also want to know the student's motivation for transferring in an essay.
Author: Jackie
If a high school athlete wants to play in college, when is the best time to approach college coaches?
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The short answer is, “It depends.” Generally, an athlete who knows he/she wants to continue to play in college should start thinking about a plan during sophomore or early junior year. There is a lot of research to be done, including whether to play at the Division I, II or III Levels. Each level involves different recruiting policies. I have found that a student’s high school coach can be very helpful with suggestions, even connections at the college level. I suggest the student start with the website for more information.
Author: Melinda
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