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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth La Porte

What to Do While You Wait

Updated: May 10, 2020

The college application season was busy; my students this year are an especially uplifting group.  Whether they intend to focus on engineering, social justice work, entrepreneurship, or community building, they are looking for ways to improve society and the environment.  This is surely one of the best parts of my college advising practice -  getting to know students and their optimistic future plans.  Congratulations to those who have already been admitted to Tulane, University of Michigan, Connecticut College, and UCSB, among others.  Check here for a complete acceptance list, and you can view some testimonials here.

Now, we're on the verge of spring, which means decision letters and financial award notices will arrive soon - by mid-March - if not earlier. Over the next month, here are some pro-active things you can do.

What to Do While You Wait.  Besides keeping your grades up (a potential difference between being accepted and being wait-listed), make sure all schools have received your mid-year report, letters of recommendation, and official test scores. Maintain contact with the admission reps and inform them immediately of any distinctions, such as receiving a National Merit Scholarship or a special internship.

How to Decipher Financial Aid Packages.  When you eventually receive your letters and aid packages, I hope, first of all, that you're accepted to your top choices!  But trying to decipher your aid packages can be, pardon the pun, very trying.  Institutions often use their own format and vocabulary to describe the awards, and you can end up paying something you didn't sign up for.   Be careful to understand each category: Is it a loan, a grant, work-study? Is it renewable? According to the New York Times, one study showed that several schools called a loan by a variety of names and some didn't refer to a loan as a loan at all.

Also, check to see how many years the aid will be given; don't be fooled by a large amount, and if you are in doubt about anything at all, contact the financial aid office. You should know exactly how much and when you are going to pay out of pocket and the terms of a loan (if any).

After all the financial offers are in, compare them on this worksheet from the National Aid Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. For more clarity on college costs (and a lot more), take a look at the statistics-rich College Navigator, a tool created by the Department of Education.   

Lastly, it may come as a surprise, but you can negotiate, to some degree, on the amount of the award.  I'll have more details about this on the next newsletter.  Stay tuned.

The Advantage of Summer.  We're lucky to have such long summers, and even luckier to be in the Bay Area, where students have so many choices!

Enroll in a class at DVC, volunteer with HandsOn Bay Area or with the City of Lafayette, take service trips abroad with Transitions Abroad, or maintain hiking trails with the Student Conservation Association. 

The important thing is to stay engaged and active during the summer to grow your interests as well as your skills.  Remember, what you do during your summers can make a difference on your college applications.

Senior year is loaded with end-of-school activities, sports, and, of course, academics.  So, take the time to write some of your college essays and enroll in one of  innovative, hands-on College Essay Workshops (now in our 4th summer) which takes place at the Lafayette Library.  We're also expanding our program to the JCCSF.  Registration details will be announced soon.  Our College Information Workshops for Parents will be held this spring at the Lafayette Library, and we'll be covering how to write effective college essays.

Thanks for reading!  If you have any questions or would like to discuss our advising services, feel free to reach out.

Best regards,


Raised in Lafayette, Liz La Porte is an experienced college advisor and credentialed high school English teacher, who founded her education practice in 2012 to help students successfully navigate the college admission process. Working one-on-one with her students to maximize their applications and to write genuinely personal essays, her students have been accepted to Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, UCB, Duke, and others. Liz has presented at NACAC College Fairs, to Lamorinda community groups and to schools throughout the Bay Area.  She attended Swarthmore College and UC Berkeley.  View her bio here.

Liz is now accepting new students. Look for her ads in the Lamorinda Weekly for a discount.  Call (650) 766-0969 for a free initial consultation.

Visit or email her at

Copyright © 2020 Liz La Porte

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