test optional

Are you looking at test-optional schools? Planning to apply to the University of California system? Have questions about loans or the FAFSA? Then this episode of the Getting In: A College Coach Conversation is just for you! As we move into the days and weeks where students are returning to school, we’re shifting gears to discuss the ever-more timely ins and outs of specific college application processes. This week, college admissions advisor Sally Ganga filled in as host.

Inside the Office of Admission at American University

Our latest in the behind-the-scenes looks into admissions offices was brought to you by Olivia Sajjadieh, College Coach expert and former admissions officer at American University  and University of Southern California. In her discussion with Sally, Olivia brought to light many salient and unique points about the American application process. For example, Olivia discussed the importance of reaching out to your regional territory manager (tune in to find out why!) and the significant feature of American being test optional, with Olivia confirming that there is truly no penalty at American for students applying without test scores. Olivia and Sally also covered American’s Honors program application, answering the supplemental (and optional) writing section, and what not to write about as your reason for wanting to attend American.

Examining the University of California Application

In the second segment, Palo Alto based College Coach educator Becky Leichtling joined Sally to dive deeply into the University of California application system. While the UC application is not exactly the same as the Common Application, it is a single, shared application for all nine undergraduate UC campuses—and even better than the Common App, it has no supplements! Did you know that you never send in your transcript for the UC application? Or that all identifying factors (for example, name, national background, race and ethnicity, and more) of an applicant are removed from your application prior to it being evaluated? Tune in to learn all the details about this unique application system.

Financial Aid Listener Questions

Finally, Kathy Ruby came on-air to answer listener questions related to financing a college education. As ever, Kathy answered an incredible array of questions in this final segment, including but not limited to:

  • What should you do if you can get a better rate on your home equity loan than your student’s educational or college loan?
  • How do you file the FAFSA when you own an S-corporation and what will be used in the expected financial contribution calculation?
  • Can my daughter change her repayment plan after graduating from college?
  • Can medical students defer their medical school loans during their residency programs?

Beth Heaton returns to host next week’s episode, tackling challenges faced by first-generation college students, how to handle those “Why this College” essays on applications, and tools you can use to research colleges from a financial perspective.


Written by Abigail Anderson
Abigail Anderson is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. 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. Visit our website to learn more about Abigail Anderson.