college admissions help

In last week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, Ian Fisher was back in the host chair to tackle rumors, application documents, and financial aid processes, all with a quick spotlight on Williams College.

Supporting Documents to the Application

Abigail Anderson joined Ian to talk about all of those additional credentials that need to be sent along with a student’s application. In addition to the actual application the student completes, the transcript, school reports, testing, and sometimes things like recommendation letters or even an art portfolio all follow. Abigail explained which pieces students develop on their own and which pieces need to be completed and submitted by someone else. They shared some tips on how to organize all of these different pieces—what’s required by what schools, whose help needs to be solicited, what has already been sent, and what still needs to be done. Before they ended, Abigail shared a great shortcut on where to find a good portion of these answers.

Busting the Rumor Mill

Nothing entertains us more than some of the crazy myths we hear out there about the college admission process. Ian was joined by Steve Brennan to tackle some of the sillier rumors we hear on a far too regular basis. One by one, they addressed the following and explained why they’re myth, not fact, and what part may be based in truth:

  • I heard that all the prep school athletes take the SAT in January—it must be an easier month to take the test because the curve will be more favorable;
  • I heard that colleges don’t care about your test score, only the percentile of that score;
  • I heard that I need a really grabby intro to make my essay effective;
  • I heard that you have to have a compelling personal tragedy in your essay;
  • I heard that if I want to study Engineering at a tough school, I should apply as an English major and I can switch later; and
  • I heard that if I want to study something in the STEM field in college, I should focus only on STEM classes in high school (even at the expense of language and humanities classes).

Financial Aid at Boston University

With over 60,000 applications last year, there’s a good chance Boston University might be on your radar. To answer questions about how their financial aid policies operated while she worked there, former BU financial aid officer Shannon Vasconcelos was back as a guest. Together, Ian and Shannon reviewed the basic requirements (which are lengthy and may or may not include the blood of your first born child), what BU does with the information they collect, what formulas they use, and how they determine your family’s financial need. Then once that need is determined, how do they decide how much of your need they will meet? If you have questions about appealing that amount, check out this past episode to hear Shannon talk about your options.

Listen to Getting In: A College Coach Conversation on, on iTunes, or whenever you go to download your favorite podcasts. Tune into our next episode when we tackle the inner workings of the Harvard admission office, the ApplyTexas essays, and financing a degree in the health professions.


Written by Tova Tolman
Tova Tolman is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Prior to joining College Coach, Tova worked in admissions at Fordham University, Montclair State University, and Barnard College. Visit our website to learn more about Tova Tolman.