getting in: a college coach conversation

It’s the time of year when admissions decisions begin to go out for seniors and when the search process begins to ramp up for juniors. This episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation is chock full of great advice for families with students in both circumstances—read on for recaps, but tune in for all the good details!

Colleges That Change Lives

Host Beth Heaton first welcomed Maria Furtado, Executive Director of Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL). A non-profit organization comprised of 44 liberal arts colleges, CTCL was formed on the basis of research done by New York Times education editor, Loren Pope. Pope was keen on families looking beyond “the cocktail party” schools, exploring and vetting schools to share with his readership that practiced holistic admission review and clearly delivered on the promise of a strong liberal arts education—to learn to read, write, and think. Maria shared valuable insights about CTCL’s focus on educating the public about fostering student-centered search processes and the liberal arts as a viable, forward-thinking way of learning.

Inside the St. Olaf Financial Aid Office

In the second segment, Beth invited College Coach educator Kathy Ruby, a former financial aid officer, to take us inside the Financial Aid Office at St. Olaf College. As Director of Financial Aid, and later Assistant Vice President of Enrollment, at St. Olaf, Kathy oversaw the financial aid process and coordinated processes and training across admissions and financial aid. St. Olaf is a small liberal arts college (in fact, a CTCL member school!) that meets 100% of demonstrated need for all its admitted students. This is fairly unusual for a school of their student body and endowment size. St. Olaf also supports a very robust merit scholarship program; four years ago, the top half of the admitted applicant pool could expect to receive some kind of merit award. Because the College uses holistic and individual review of each of its financial applications, they require both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile to establish financial need.

Early Applications

In the final segment, College Coach educator Lauren Randle joined Beth to discuss the ins and outs of Early Action and Early Decision applications. With so many schools notifying their Early applicants in the next few weeks, this was a very timely segment! After establishing exactly how applicants receive their decisions (is it snail mail, email, or text?!), Lauren walked our listeners through the potential outcomes of applications, including the option to be deferred to the Regular Decision pool. Lauren and Beth explained the steps students should take after any type of decision, as well as insight into how admissions officers come to their decisions in Early rounds.

Make sure to tune in to the next episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation to learn all about leadership experiences for MBA applicants, the Columbia University supplemental essay prompts, and saving for college for late starters.


Written by Abigail Anderson
Abigail Anderson is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Abigail received her bachelor’s in sociology from Colby College. Prior to joining College Coach, Abigail worked as a senior admissions officer at Reed College and Emma Willard School.