As juniors begin thinking about the college application process, I thought I’d share some of the most common questions that I receive from students. I’ll roll out the questions and answers over the course of the next several weeks. If you wish to submit your own question, you can do so via Facebook, Twitter, or email (

FAQ #1:  Which Common App essay prompt is right for me?

It may take a few starts and stops before you decide on which essay prompt is right for you. As a first step, reflect on each of the five prompts. Does any question jump out at you? If so, start drafting your essay but remain open to drafting additional essays responsive to other prompts as well. By writing multiple essays, you may uncover certain common threads that characterize your personal history. Often, those strands can be woven together to create a winning essay. If you are having trouble generating any ideas, then I would be happy to work with you to explore which of the essay prompts is right for you. Remember, developing a successful theme takes time. The goal is to get you on the right track so that with some guidance, you can elevate your essay from ordinary to memorable.

FAQ #2:  How Can I Juggle Everything During Junior Year?

Overwhelmed yet?  Junior year poses challenges like no other year in your educational career. Juniors, does this sound like you?

*you are enrolled in the most challenging courses you have ever taken

*you are consumed with volunteer and extracurricular activities, and hold officer positions in one or more clubs

*you are juggling ACT/SAT prep, staying on top of your AP courses, and studying for SAT subject tests

*you are chronically sleep-deprived

If the above sounds like you, you are not alone. You may be wondering how college essays fit into this already complicated situation.  My advice is to take a look at the Common App essay prompts and think about how they relate to your current academic and extracurricular activities. Jot down your thoughts if any ideas come to you. After doing that, put the prompts aside until around the end of May/beginning of June when you will have more time and bandwidth to focus on writing college essays.  Instead, forge ahead with what’s on your plate, and hang in there!

FAQ #3:  Should I attend a college fair this spring? I noticed there’s one close to my home, but I’m not sure whether it’s worth my time and effort.

Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors all are encouraged to attend at least one local college fair. Typically, you will find representatives from hundreds of two and four-year colleges gathered together in a large venue, such as a community college or convention center. If you are relatively new to the college planning process, college fairs are a great way to get your feet wet. Stop by as many or as few tables as you want, gathering brochures and other literature along the way (bring a tote bag with you). Chat with college reps. about the schools they represent. You can be honest about the fact that you are just starting to focus on applying to college—no one will hold that against you. If you are further along in the search process and are interested in applying to a particular school, strike up a conversation with the college rep and ask for his/her email so that you may follow up after the fair. That is one way to start a dialogue with admissions. Bear in mind that college fairs tend to be well-attended, which means that you may have to wait for some time before you can engage in a one-on-one conversation with the college rep.   In some cases, students can arrange for interviews will college reps in advance.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) sponsors many spring fairs. For a list of upcoming events, go to: