How to Save Time, Money, and Stress in College Admissions

July 19, 2017
Russell Schaffer

Learn how to save time, stress, and money in college admissions.

Staying on top of college admissions news can make your process much smoother.

One education advocate thinks she has the solution to expanding access to college education. A flagship school in the Midwest is struggling with enrollment. Make the most out of a summer campus visit. Mind your social media accounts. Here’s what’s happening on the college admissions landscape:

College admissions exam fees

Millions of students just like you (or you children or students) take the SAT, ACT, PSAT every year. While there’s a cost to taking the exams, both test makers offer fee waivers to qualifying test takers. Unfortunately, few students who are eligible take advantage of the waiver and sit out of the process completely. Right now, few states or municipalities require students to take the exam and pay for it too, but one education advocate makes a powerful case in this New York Times op/ed for why making it mandatory, free, and available during school hours will widen the doors to a college education.

“Evidence shows that if talented, low-income students are mentored and coached, they are more likely to go to college, especially to a selective one. But we have to find them first. Universal free testing will help put more smart disadvantaged students on the radar of schools, mentors, and advocacy groups that can help them,” argues Susan Dynarski is a professor of education, public policy, and economics at the University of Michigan.

Hurt in the heartland

The University of Missouri (affectionately called “Mizzou” by students, alumni, and other school lovers) has long been one of the nation’s top flagship public universities. But in 2015, student protests against what they view as the administration’s insufficient response to racial bigotry has led to a 35 percent decrease in freshman enrollment. It’s come two-fold, from applicants who abhore intolerance and others who abhore chaos and protesters running amok.

“The general consensus was that it was because of the aftermath of what happened in November 2015,” said Mun Choi, the new system president, referring to the climax of the protests. “There were students from both in state and out of state that just did not apply, or those who did apply but decided not to attend.” To help get back on solid footing, the school has hired a chief diversity officer, among other initiatives.

Summer campus visits

Many future rising high school juniors and seniors take advantage of the free time they have this summer to make visits to the campuses of the school to which they plan to apply. While campuses tend to be a lot quieter in July and August as opposed to September and October, with some planning, you can still make the most of it and get a realistic view of what student life might be like.

One person you might be able to secure an appointment with is an admissions officer. Many will only take meeting by appointment-only, so be sure to call ahead. Also, try meeting with a professor or two in the area(s) in which you plan to study. “I think there’s this sense sometimes that high school students or prospective students would be bothering the faculty, or that it’s really too much to ask to do that,” says Tiku Majumder, a physics professor and director of the science center at Williams College. “But I don’t think that’s true.”

ICYMI: social media matters

Harvard University decision to rescind the acceptance offers of 10 incoming freshmen is causing ripples across the college admissions landscape. As you may have read, the school kicked out the offenders after finding out they posted some truly awful memes in a private Facebook page.

While most Harvard students seemed to agree with the school, not everyone does, including one famous legal mind: “Harvard is a private university. Technically not bound by the first amendment but since I got to Harvard 53 years ago Harvard has committed itself to following the first amendment and I think this violates the spirit and the letter of the first amendment,” said Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law.


To boost your SAT/ACT score—and overall college admissions success—take advantage of Kaplan’s free events and resources.  


Russell Schaffer

Russell Schaffer Russell Schaffer is Kaplan Test Prep's senior communications manager. Russell is responsible for helping lead our external media relations efforts, including speaking with reporters and bloggers on a regular basis about Kaplan's proprietary research and products. Russell also helps craft the surveys we regularly administer of students, advisers​,​ and admissions officers. The data collected helps guide the hundreds of thousands of students and parents Kaplan works with every year by giving them accurate and up-to-date information ​about​ the landscape. Russell is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, where he received his BA in political science and MA in communications.

About Kaplan

We know test prep. We invented it. Through innovative technology and a personalized approach to learning, we equip you with the test insights and advice you need to achieve your personal best. Results, guaranteed.*

Kaplan is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET), a U.S. Department of Education nationally recognized agency. AP®, Advanced Placement Program® or Pre-AP® is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product. SAT® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product. ACT® is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc. PSAT/NMSQT® is a registered trademark of the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation which were not involved in the production of, and do not endorse, this product. *Higher Score Guarantee: Conditions and restrictions apply. For complete guarantee eligibility requirements, visit © Copyright Kaplan, Inc. All Rights Reserved.