College application season is upon us, and seniors from around the area are looking for higher educational opportunities that will take them into their bright futures. Having worked with thousands of families during this process, I’ve had the unique experience of seeing what works and what does not when it comes to getting those compelling applications out the door. For you, dear readers, I’ve put together a few of my favorites. Enjoy.
Tip 1: Organize your student’s college application process:
a. Find your student’s natural areas of interest and preferred learning environment to determine if a technical school or a liberal arts school is the best fit.
b. Make college visits to schools of interest. Be sure to include small, medium and large schools.
c. Identify 3 schools to apply to, including a reach, a competitive and a safety school.
d. Put a calendar together indicating all important dates. Try to get the application complete and mailed at least one week ahead of the deadline.
Tip 2: Present your student in the best light to the teachers and counselors who will be writing recommendations.
a. Make an appointment to get to know your counselor better.
b. Give both teachers and counselors a month lead time to write a recommendation.
c. In a folder, provide your teacher and counselor with a resume of your activities.
d. In a folder, provide the teacher with SPECIFIC examples from his/her class of times when you exceeded the expectation or did something spectacular.
e. Be sure the say “Thank You” – it makes a difference, especially when the colleges call back with questions!
Tip 3: Differentiate your student from those with similar grades and courses.
a. Help your child find their passion and articulate how they have pursued it. 
b. A dynamic essay is the one of the best and easiest ways to set yourself apart from the competition. Read this article on writing essays.
c. Make a point to get in front of the admissions department numerous times. The STUDENT should also call the Admissions Office with questions and establish a phone relationship with the person assigned to their territory.
Tip 4: Know ways to get money for college:
a. Privately through associations and corporations. 
This is the best website for private scholarship information.
b. From the school itself. 
If you have a special talent, contact the department so you can meet with them when you visit. Contact the school’s financial aid office about scholarships.
c. From the government:
Free Application for Federal Student Aid: This needs to be filled out as soon as possible to gain access to the most money. However, if you are living even slightly above the poverty line the chance of receiving money is slim.

Other tips for students? Questions about these ones? Leave them below in the comments!