Well, now what? Navigating college auditions during a pandemic.

Well, guys, this is strange, right? 

The world changed so quickly and took with it a lot of important moments, celebrations and normalcy for us all. We are adjusting to online learning, making the most of quarantine and wondering how this is going to affect the next year.

So, on the count of three, let’s take a collective inhale and exhale together. 1… 2… 3. Okay, now let’s get real, together.

Things are going to be different. We know this. But how deeply will this impact college auditions? Should you be preparing now? Will Unifieds happen? You’ve waited for this for a long time and I know you are probably feeling anxious. Let’s start by saying that the information I am going to be providing during this post is purely speculation at this point. As of now, I am going to continue to hold the faith that new systems will be in place by the time college auditions roll around for this next season so that you can have the normal, stressful, crazy whirlwind college audition season you’ve always imagined

If – again, speculation! – things change drastically for this process in the Fall/Winter, this is what you should be prepared for:

1. More Prescreens

If it turns out to be a necessity to have fewer people at a live audition/dance call, etc. the schools are going to need a way to control the live audition numbers. I could see more schools jumping on the prescreen bandwagon than ever before. Frankly, beyond the benefit of knowing right away if you have a shot at a school, this is good for everyone to avoid any unnecessary travel this year.

2. Recorded Auditions

There are a good number of schools that already allow students to send in audition videos in place of a live audition if a family is unable to get to campus. I could see this becoming an option for many more programs.

3. “Live” Digital Recorded Auditions

I could see a reality in which a student goes online, performs their audition rep, and gets interviewed all while being recorded live. Camera turns off – and poof! All done with your audition. Then the panel can review the auditions afterward.

4. Actual Live Digital Auditions

Similar to the above, but with a faculty member tuned in live virtually. Same format as a standard live audition, but online. Don’t shoot the messenger! 🙂 I know what you are thinking or maybe yelling at your computer screen: “how will they get to know me if I can’t be in the audition room with them?” Or, “I’m definitely better live than I am while being recorded, how can I be prepared for these scenarios?” Good questions. And I think it requires you to switch your mindset a bit. If this is the reality for college auditions, now, more than ever, you need to:

  • Create a functional, gorgeous Digital Audition Set-Up at home. Create a set-up filled with great lighting, an appropriate back-drop, and a solid tripod to eliminate shaky hands.  Feel confident in this set-up so you can do your best work.

  • Start getting comfortable with Interview Prep now. While you may think you’ll get asked fewer questions in the above scenarios, I just simply don’t think that will be the case. At Unifieds and busy on-campus auditions  – a good majority of the time, they don’t have enough time to ask any questions to those auditioning. You are in and out of the audition room sometimes in less than 5 minutes. In the digital scenarios, I could see you given much more time/space to chat. If this freaks you out, start to build interview Prep into your training schedule.

In summary, don’t delay your training and preparation! I know this can feel immobilizing and difficult to be motivated to prepare. However: while the processes could change surrounding the auditions, we do not anticipate the timeline for college auditions changing. Which means: prescreens deadlines will still very much be a thing, the necessity to get your applications in early will be crucial and there will still be early auditions happening as soon as October.

If it’s any consolation, much like everything else with this virus, everyone will be on the same page. No one has the upper hand in any of these potential audition scenarios. It will be a learning curve that everyone undergoes together.

So, guys? Instead of dreading this Fall, let’s get ahead of it. Stay motivated, stay focused, and keep your ear to the ground to stay in the loop with any changes. Procedures might shift, but you can only control what you can control: your 5 minute (amazing, powerful, prepared) audition. Along with our coaching, we have a full suite of ways you can train with us this summer.

PS: I will be addressing and updating everyone on this topic in every webinar I do this season, please join me! Starting this Monday, May 11th for our first (and FREE!) webinar of the year!

Summer Plans for High School Students during COVID-19

COVID-19 has turned most students’ summers upside down. How can they still leverage their summer to improve their chances of college admission? Join us to discuss these options and much more. These are some of the questions we will answer:

-What can a student do?

-How do they find that opportunity they enjoy?

-Do colleges care about summers?

Watch this 30-minute video to get some ideas  https://youtu.be/pQWEGLOvRQI .


Webinars Coming Soon, Register Now!

Students learn in a myriad of ways and as the pandemic cycle fluctuates, so too may access to a traditional in-person classroom experience.
Now more than ever, students must learn skills such as self-advocacy, time management, flexibility, and persistence. 

Join our panelists from Beyond BookSmart, experts in Executive Function. We will discuss how to build essential skills for success in college and beyond. We will take questions during this live webinar Wednesday, May 13 at 1 PM EST.

Register Now: https://tinyurl.com/ResilientStudents

College Admissions and the impact of Coronavirus

We present a weekly 30-minute webinar on the college admissions process and the impact that the coronavirus has on higher education. You can subscribe to the webinar and our newsletter on our main web page: https://www.collegesolutions.com/

Below are links to the webinars:




Advice From A 2019 College Graduate To High School Students

The College Search: The Ups, The Downs, and Everything in Between

By: Melissa Bendell

I remember my first college visit. It was exciting and I walked around with my eyes wide open trying to take everything in. But that excitement later turned to fear and some anxiety when I realized that I needed to make what, at the time, was the biggest decision of my life. Before my junior year of high school, the hardest decision I ever had to make was if I should cut my hair by two inches or three! Making difficult and life-changing decisions when you’re seventeen years old is extremely intimidating, so I’m here to offer some advice that I wish I knew during the college search process.

  1. The university you attend does not determine the rest of your life’s trajectory.

Yes, we all know that the Ivy League schools are associated with prestige and status, but there is more to a college experience than having the name of a university on your diploma. The most important part of higher education is actually receiving an education. It doesn’t matter if that is done at your local community college, at a 60,000-person university, or at a school in between. As long as you work hard toward your goals, you can and will succeed.

  1. Everyone is different – don’t compare yourself to others.

When I was applying to colleges, my friends and I would talk about where we were applying, what our SAT/ACT scores were, what the school’s acceptance rate was, and hundreds of other aspects of the college application process. I mentally compared myself to my peers: Did they have higher SAT scores than me? Were they applying to more “prestigious” schools than I was? But I soon realized that comparing myself to them wasn’t helpful. Everyone is different and is looking for different things in a school, whether it’s close to home or far away, a large or small student body, a city school or a school with a campus. What is perfect for your best friend might not be right for you and it’s important to keep in mind what will help you succeed, not what will make you look better to your peers.

  1. College is what you make of it.

One of the most exciting things about college is the ability to choose what you want to study and for the first time, really make your own decisions. You can be in 10 clubs, join Greek life, study abroad — what your college experience looks like is up to you. Take advantage of all of the amazing opportunities your school offers because you’ll regret it if you wait until your senior year to get involved.

  1. With more independence comes more responsibility.

For me, college was the first time that I was able to branch out and become a more independent person. However, the more independence I gained, the less I had someone to help keep me accountable. Something I wish I learned before I started college was good time management skills. The work piles up pretty quick and it can be difficult to catch up if you fall behind. I kept a very detailed planner with due dates highlighted and made sure to start papers at least two weeks before they were due so I would have time to review them before I needed to submit them. College grants you more freedom, but it’s important to find the right balance between fun and your priorities at school.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Living in a new city, meeting new people, and not having the support system that I relied on for my whole life was scary when I first went off to college. The amount of work and pressure college students face can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one feeling intimidated or anxious. The great thing about college is that it has resources available to you, including on-campus counseling, tutoring, and office hours where you can speak with your professors after class. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Your professors want you to succeed, and if you take the initiative, they will understand how you are feeling and will be more willing to give you an extension or extra help.


Melissa Bendell graduated magna cum laude from American University with a B.A. in Public Relations, Marketing, and Spanish. While in college, she was secretary of her sorority, Phi Mu, and studied abroad in Madrid for a semester. She now works as a Digital Communications Producer at the Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.

Georgetown Attracts Strong Diverse Students For 2019

This year’s Early Action applicant pool fell slightly (-7%) from last year; we see this as a larger reflection on the pressure many applicants are feeling to commit to an Early Decision school, as opposed to a reflection on interest in Georgetown. On the other hand, the maintained strength that we saw in our Early Action pool serves as testament to the strength of the Georgetown brand. Looking ahead, our Regular Decision pool appears to be tracking higher than previous cycles, so we anticipate an increase in total applications come January.

The Early Action pool continued to reflect Georgetown’s commitment to enrolling a diverse class. This year’s pool was 11% Black/African-American, 13% Hispanic/Latino, 16% Asian-American, 8% International, and 1% Native American.

The academic quality of the pool was as strong as ever, making admissions committee decisions immensely difficult. We admitted 12% (919) of the 7,802 applicants. Students were admitted from 49 of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 41 foreign countries. Admitted students were, on average, in the top 5% of their class. The SAT Verbal middle-50% range for admitted students was 720-760, and the SAT Math middle-50% range was 740-790. The ACT continues to be popular, with almost half of our applicant pool taking the ACT. The ACT middle-50% range for admitted students was 33-35.

In the charts below, you will find additional statistics for this year’s Early Action pool, as well as Early Action application numbers by undergraduate program.

 2018 Early Action Results

  Georgetown College Walsh School of Foreign Service McDonough School of Business School of Nursing and Health Studies   Total  
Applied 4,478 1,576 1,112 636 7,802
Admitted 491 187 165 76 919
Admission Rate 11% 12% 15% 12% 12%
Percentile Class Rank* 95.9 96.1 95.3 94.6 95.7
SAT Verbal (mid-50%)* 720-770 730-770 710-760 710-760 720-760
SAT Math (mid-50%)* 730-790 730-790 740-790 730-790 740-790
33-35 33-35 33-35 33-34 33-35
Top Ten States/Regions
in Applicant Pool
Most Popular
Extracurricular Activities
California (746)
New York (656)
Foreign (645)
Maryland (586)
New Jersey (545)
Florida (403)
Massachusetts (393)
Virginia (392)
Texas (386)
Pennsylvania (369)
Community Service
National Honor Society
Speech & Debate
Model United Nations
Youth Religious Group
Student Government
Math/Science Club

Does studying for the ACT or SAT pay?

Does studying for the ACT or SAT pay? It does at least when merit money is being considered. Colleges use many factors in determining whether a student will be accepted – geography, gender, strength of curriculum, GPA, race, community service, leadership opportunities.

High SAT or ACT can mean more free money.

Colleges use these same factors to then determine merit money for accepted students. Scores are probably the simplest — and most visual — measure to understand what colleges value. The chart to the left shows the breakdown at one ‘very selective’ southern college of ACT scores and what appears to be a sliding scale of merit money awarded to 6 different students. Students submitted ACT scores and received a range of merit amounts. The range of money attached to specific scores (SAT or ACT) for each college will vary. For this particular college, the cut-off seems to be a score of 31. For another less selective college, the cut-off would be lower, maybe a 28. For more selective colleges, the cut-off might be a 34. Bringing the score up a point or two might make the difference between a college being affordable for a family or not affordable.

The College That Fits Your Child: Pasadena Seminar 10/2/18

Looking to find the college that best fits your child or to obtain free money?  We will show you how to find schools that are the right fit as we walk you through the admissions process.  Learn about merit money opportunities and what you can do to better your child’s chances of receiving this free money, regardless of whether your child is a top student or an average student.

Understand why starting the college early can offer significant advantages. This seminar class is particularly important if your student is at the top of the class, has learning differences, is an athlete, or is average. See what it takes to get into an Ivy and why your child may be rejected from the school you considered to be a “safety” school.

2018 was a year of significant change, Standardized testing has changed, admissions have become more competitive than ever, and a new “Coalition” application is being used by some colleges. In addition, the financial aid application process has undergone recent changes that require planning in the freshman year of high school.

Parents who are separated, divorced, or never married will learn what they should know about financial aid. Dr. Lee Ann Cornell has spent years working in this field and has a wide breadth of knowledge on this subject and a staff of recognized experts to help your child achieve their dreams.

Immigrant parents or parents whose children will be the first in their family to attend college will find this class very helpful.  You will learn the subtleties of the college process and develop an understanding of how your child may be at a disadvantage at some schools and have advantages at others.

Dr. Lee Ann Cornell manages the California practice of College Solutions. She brings ten years of admission experience from several colleges. Dr. Cornell understands exactly how to position a student in the admission process. She specializes in essay brainstorming and editing, as well as application mapping.

Five things that can keep you out of college

What are five things that could keep you out of college? Here from Jordan Goldman founder of Unigo moderates The Wall Street Journal’s special event “Inside The College Admissions Office.” Panelists include the Deans of Admissions from Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Williams College, Wesleyan University, Bryn Mawr College, Grinnell College, Marquette   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOPoROA2Iio

Do People Rat Out Applicants to Admissions?

In mid-April 2017, 10 high school seniors received some unwelcome news: Their acceptances to Harvard, perhaps the most coveted prize in the nationwide college admissions tourney, had been suddenly revoked over content they’d shared online.

The offending material — a series of jokes and memes that mocked suicide, child abuse, and the Holocaust — was posted in an invitation-only chat that had spun off from Harvard’s Facebook group for incoming freshmen. But the forum proved to be less private than its participants assumed, and when word got back to university administrators, they quickly rescinded admission.

It’s a cautionary tale that reflects prevailing trends in education and technology, as top-flight colleges have become increasingly selective and social media platforms have found enthusiastic constituencies among teenagers with spotty judgment. Experts say internet infractions like bullying, sexting, and off-color humor can become major obstacles to entry at the most prestigious schools. And admissions officers aren’t always the first to notice these transgressions — sometimes, it’s sharp-elbowed fellow applicants who tip them off.

“Social media is public, to a large extent, and you’re dealing with individuals who are 16 or 17 years old when they start an application process,” says Yariv Alpher, executive director for market research at Kaplan Test Prep. “What I think is important for kids and parents to be aware of is that what you put out there, is out there. It might be perceived as a very negative thing to someone who might hold a lot of weight over your life.”

Each year, Alpher surveys more than 350 admissions officers on their approach to students’ social media output. In this year’s poll, 35 percent said they checked personal accounts; one-quarter of those said they did so “often” in order to make admissions decisions. Those numbers have climbed persistently over the 10 years the poll has been conducted.

While 47 percent of the cyber snoops said they’d discovered information that had helped applicants’ chances — accomplishments they’d left off their records, for instance, or online art portfolios — 42 percent said the opposite, citing unbecoming statements and evidence of misbehavior. One anonymous administrator complained of some “really questionable language” on a high schooler’s Twitter account: “It wasn’t quite racist, but it showed a cluelessness that you’d expect of a privileged student who hadn’t seen much of the world.”

This spring’s withdrawn acceptances aren’t the first electronic chat fiasco to ensnare admitted students at Harvard. Last year, a group from the newly accepted class of 2020 traded racist jokes and poked at feminism on Microsoft’s GroupMe mobile app. Though the school did not discipline the students involved, Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons posted an official response describing himself as “troubled and disappointed” by the incident.

Cutthroat classmates

Peter Osgood, director of admissions at California’s highly selective Harvey Mudd College, says these types of revelations are precisely why he doesn’t venture online. “I don’t chase that stuff down, and very rarely does our staff do that,” he says. While cautioning that he doesn’t speak for his employer, he worries that digging too deep for additional information could intrude on the private lives of adolescents still coming into their own.

“Some of these young people — they’re young, all right? They haven’t gone to college yet, they don’t have the maturity, they’re still evolving. Some of them are trying to be cool or funny,” he says.

Occasionally, though, colleges don’t have the option of averting their gaze. In the blood sport of application season, when highly ranked institutions rarely admit more than one student from the same high school, some students try to even the odds by anonymously maligning their classmates. An intercepted photo of underage drinking, or a crass Gchat transcript, could be enough to sink a competitor’s chances.

“There’s an aspect of one student informing on another,” says Alpher. “We’ve heard from admissions officers that they’ve received a negative tip from one applicant about another applicant. You could almost think of it as admissions sabotage: ‘Hey, you might want to check out so-and-so.’ ”

The most famous such example occurred in 2013, when poison pen letters were sent to several colleges alleging misconduct against a senior from New York City’s ultra-posh Horace Mann School. But the phenomenon had already attracted the concern of admissions officers nationwide.

A 2008 Chicago Tribune article on admissions sabotage featured representatives from elite schools such as Ohio State University, Notre Dame, and the University of Chicago debating whether to put stock in accusatory letters that sometimes looked more like blackmail notes than official correspondence. “If it is more competitive than before, then perhaps more of it is going on,” said one. “People are willing to lie in order to do better in what they consider to be a difficult competition.”

That administrator was William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s dean of admissions.

The best defense

The natural response to a treacherous online landscape might be for parents to impose a social media blackout. But that’s no solution, says John David, a Florida-based public relations consultant and columnist. One of the main recommendations from his recently published book, How to Protect (or Destroy) Your Reputation Online, is to maintain a consistent — and carefully controlled — internet brand. Otherwise, a student is at risk of becoming a blank slate to outside observers, quickly defined by one negative story.

“If that happens, the only thing that’s up is negative,” he says. “There’s no social media page that shows that this is a nice, normal kid. It could be bullying, it could be revenge porn, it could be a hate blog. You may have this desire to circle the wagons and cover your kid — but at some point, they’re going to be out on their own, operating in the world.”

The strategy of pre-emptive branding has led to the creation of specialty reputation-scrubbing software named … BrandYourself. There are also reports of some college applicants maintaining multiple Facebook accounts for the benefit of admissions office voyeurs. David, a 25-year PR veteran, laments that manicuring a personal image is vastly more difficult now that most of the country carries cellphones in their pockets.

“We all make mistakes. We all do things we’re not proud of. We all lose our temper,” he says. “I went to a major university, was in a fraternity, and I did plenty of stuff that I’m not wholly proud of. Nothing terrible, nothing illegal, but I’m glad it’s not coming up when I’m being checked out by a prospective client.”

Though Harvard drew a firm line on internet offenses, some university authorities take a longer view. Harvey Mudd’s Osgood, who compares social media lapses to an unsightly tattoo that can’t be removed, recalls an incident in which his college’s admissions office considered revoking the acceptance of a student who’d made indelicate remarks that were easy to trace.

“He was trying to show off, and he was a little immature about it. And we had a conversation with him, and he said, ‘That’s not really the way I am, I was just trying to make friends and said things that were a little outrageous,’ ” he says. “He took it to heart, and being called out by the college really got him to wake up a little bit. He grew from that and became a really great citizen here.”

Whether he ever sent a ribald meme is another story.

By KEVIN MAHNKEN for www.74million.org July 11, 2017

Why Get College Applications Done In The Summer?