repaying student loans

The latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation was packed full of useful information, as Beth and her guests discussed how to prepare to enter repayment on student loans and then dug deeply into how to tackle a variety of Ivy League supplemental essays. And for the record, even if you’re not planning to apply to an Ivy League college, the essay advice offered was universal enough to work for many types of college essays.

Beth’s first guest, Tara Piantanida-Kelly, began the finance segment of the show with some well-deserved sympathy for student loan borrowers who face complex repayment situations: multiple loans, multiple servicers, and sometimes, multiple minimum monthly payments. Tara used her daughter’s situation as a useful example, and then provided practical advice on how to make sure you’ve tracked down all your loans using the National Student Loan Data System,, and your credit report. Knowing everything you have borrowed is crucial to avoid delinquencies and default! Beth and Tara wrapped up the segment with a brief discussion of federal loan consolidation and some ideas for organizing your student loan data.

Next, Beth welcomed fellow college admission expert Karen Spencer, and the rest of the show included lively and insightful conversation about the supplemental essays required by Penn, Brown, Cornell, Harvard, and Columbia.  For Penn and Cornell’s questions, Beth immediately referred listeners to the September 15th episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, when the show offered advice on how to approach the “Why This College?” question in great detail.

From there, Beth and Karen moved on to discuss Brown and Columbia’s supplemental essays, ranging from writing about extracurricular activities, to academic passions, to cultural fit and community. For each of these topics, Karen reminded students: “Don’t just re-write the college’s guidebook—explain what is interesting to you, and why!”  Beth and Karen both encouraged students to worry less about impressing an admission reader and instead think more deeply about their values, interests, and passions, and how they are conveyed in what sometimes feel like repetitive essay prompts. The recurring theme was to be honest, be genuine, and don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your essays.

Beth and Karen wrapped up the show with a review of Columbia’s “list” questions, a conversation about Harvard’s optional essay prompts, and a brief discussion of Harvard’s question for international applicants. It’s impossible to fully summarize all of their advice in a few paragraphs—you really need to tune in to the show to get the scoop.

Don’t forget to tune into our next episode, when guest host Ian Fisher will talk with a college student who came home for her first break from college intending to transfer to another one, and then decided not. This is a topic that is especially relevant as this year’s new college students travel home for the holidays. Ian and his guests will also cover the supplemental questions for Dartmouth, Yale, and Princeton. Don’t miss it!


Written by College Coach
College Coach® is the nation’s leading provider of educational advising, offering expert guidance from the best college admissions consultants on the college admissions and finance process. Our goal is to help each student maximize his or her chances of success through services focused on their personal desires, goals, individual strengths, and accomplishments.