Insider Tips  
for Success
 Attending College Fairs!
Campus Visits!

Link to A Recent Newsletter:

Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.
Personalized Educational,     College Admissions & Career Consultation Services
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 Meet Bonnie R. Rabin, PhD
Meet Bonnie R. Rabin, PhD

Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.
focuses on guiding students to reach educational and career goals. You'll receive one-on-one attention to create a focused and personalized strategic educational plan.  
With over thirty years experience as a university professor, admissions committee member and HR Consultant, you're invited to leverage her extensive knowledge of university curricula and career opportunities.
Pre-College Advising!
Be inspired! 

Educational & College Admissions Consulting:
  • Academic assessment and extracurricular planning and refinement
  • Customized solutions for effective study habits, time management and test taking strategies
  • Assistance with college research and program majors to create a list of target, reach and likely admit schools.
  • Negotiating and maximizing your financial aid award, including targeted scholarship search
  • Guided college application assistance and review, including application deadline management.
  • Admissions essay- finding your niche, topic development and guided editing of multiple drafts of your Common Application core and supplemental essays and Scholarships
  • Evaluating potential gap year programs and your admissions offers 

Career Services:

  • Coaching for new graduates: Networking & Job Search
  • Undergraduate Academic Advising
Newsletter Contents:  Tips for Parents and Students!
  • Summer Energy - August to June!
  • Attending College Fairs
  • Campus Visits


ENERGY? In my back-to-school newsletter a few short weeks ago, I remarked at the enthusiasm we witness in our students during the initial days of school. It is my hope that your student's passion for learning continues well beyond the first quarter.

The realities of a challenging set of classes and a packed extracurricular schedule may require proactive adjustments. For seniors, the intensity of your college applications can make a full plate overflow!  

If your student's "first-day-of-school" smile is starting to fade, p lease schedule an appointment to review approaches to time management and to create customized learning solutions to remain focused on the goals of  your student's  strategic educational plan.   Every student should develop a love of learning that is intrinsically motivated! What is your student most passionate about learning?
  Academic Planning

Links to August Newsletters:


This year I'm continuing to encourage and introduce students to the collaborative learning taking place throughout college  I am encouraging this approach for all  high school students-- whether succeeding or struggling, study groups are one of the most effective ways to learn in challenging AP classes.  

As my clients begin to call and request tutor recommendations for Pre-Calc, Calculus or AP Chemistry, I remind parents that the reliance on a tutor is your LAST resort to fostering your student's academic and social independence.  A great tutor is worth every dollar spent.  However, a standing weekly appointment with your tutor can undermine your student's ability to learn how to learn and to learn how to absorb the concepts being taught by the teacher at the front of the classroom.  

Parents- encourage your student to look around their classroom(s) and reach out to form a study group for ongoing homework, test preparation and reinforcement of materials.

If you're interested, I am happy to connect you with another student(s) to form a study group for homework and test preparation. Aspiring STEM majors, I highly encourage you to embrace this approach. 

Here are some outstanding online resources that focus on self-reliance in challenging AP and STEM classes include:
Khan Academy,  Thinkwell &  Wolfram Alpha
An extra 10 to 15 minutes reviewing the day's in-class lessons can reinforce concepts.

Your textbook and the College Board are also excellent resources.  If your textbook isn't over a decade old, find the ISBN # in the inside cover and you'll be surprised to learn that many publishing companies offer online student support resources for specific textbooks including practice test questions and helpful explanations of complex concepts.

As an educational consultant, I  can assist your student in creating a self-directed ongoing learning and time management strategy to not only feel confident about academic readiness in high school classes, but also proactively prepare throughout the academic year for spring AP and SATII subject tests. There is no reason for surprises nor stress in April when a student can realistically assume responsibility  for learning and time management throughout the year. 

Parents can help their students discover the joy of learning without pricey tutors and external rewards (Gifts for grades is cute, and maybe even for some motivational in middle school. Paying for good grades is simply inappropriate in high school.) Asking: "Did you do your homework" isn't the most motivational approach for your stressed or overwhelmed student. Asking a student to share what they are discussing in class or even sharing the challenges parents face in their workplace are great ways to have a conversation appropriate to fostering independence.
Our goal is to build your student's educational strategy to leave each student feeling empowered about their success!

Fall is College Fair season! 
Overnight Campus Visits Too!

Sophomores and Juniors-- It's not too early to attend a college fair!  (Seniors- by now I hope you have your short list of "reach", "match" and "safeties" confirmed - but if not, please contact me ASAP to help narrow your list. Criteria: Academic, Social and Financial Fit)

For 10th and 11th grade students, the next two years are filled with exploration of potential majors and universities.  I'll be actively guiding your college research and introducing you to majors you may have overlooked that are a potential great fit given your emerging interests and academic strengths.  I invite you to view my video:

College Admissions & Financial Aid Tips: HOW TO SELECT A COLLEGE and A MAJOR
College Admissions & Financial Aid Tips: HOW TO SELECT A COLLEGE and A MAJOR

I continue to receive inquiries from Senior families this late in the process who haven't received accurate information about college majors, college choices and the affordability of attending an out-of-state private institution.  Senior year is not the time to be confused. A strategic educational plan built during the freshman to junior years takes the mystery out of what to study, where to find "home" and finding and paying for college.

Some college fairs taking place in South Florida, include:
Annual College Fair at Boca Raton HS  
Thursday October 4   6 to 8 p.m.   

NACAC  South Florida Fall 2018 College Fair
Sunday October 7  1 to 4 pm
Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center           

Annual Palm Beach County College Fair
South Florida Fair Grounds
Wednesday October 17   6 to 8 p.m.

 Please stop at my booth to say hello!

Attending a college fair gives you some exposure to the variety of colleges including those you may have overlooked. You have an opportunity to learn about academic majors, social life and to inquire about  interesting and competitive summer programs that may be appropriate for current sophomores and juniors. 

Seniors should have confirmed their list of colleges. A college fair is also an opportunity to gain information to narrow a list that may still be too long. 

SENIORS:  Should you attend visits by campus representatives at your high school during school hours?  Quite frankly, if this means missing AP Calculus there is truly little you'll learn about a college that you cannot read about at the college's website.  If the setting is a small one, collecting a card and having an opportunity to follow up with an email to a campus representative can have a very small marginal impact.

Some tips for making the most of your college fair attendance:

If you have time, pre-print some cards/sticky labels with your name, high school, graduation date and email address to avoid having to fill out forms while at the fair!

Collect business cards from admissions representatives.  If you learned something unique and valuable, send a thank-you email within 48 hours (see more below).  Some colleges, such as Princeton University have a practice of keeping copies of all student communications in your admissions file.

Please make sure the email address you're using isn't a source of embarrassment.  If you don't already have a firstname.lastname Gmail or yahoo account- now is the time to create and utilize that account for all your college communication.

Previously I wrote about locking down your  Facebook account. If you hit the "like" button for a college, this gives them full access to your page. Please don't post pictures that present a less than flattering image.  Yes, you're 15 or 16 years old and having a great time at this stage of life.  That said, use your best judgment on how you present yourself.  Please set your FB privacy settings so only "friends" get to see photos rather than "friends of friends".


In my previous blog I spoke about the importance of demonstrating informed interest in your college application.  If you have a  short list of schools , do your homework and make the most of your time at the college fair.  Don't wander the aisles. Y ou cannot stop at 100 college booths in two hours.  

Make a plan to target the schools of interest and bring a specific list of questions that you CANNOT find answers to on the college's website.  Ask admissions officers the tough questions:

"What percentage of graduating seniors have found employment six months after graduation?"  

"What percentage of freshman find a summer internship through the career center?"

"Our family isn't eligible for financial aid. Does your college offer merit based scholarships?"

"What's the maximum class size and the average class size in my intended major?" 

"What percentage of classes are taught by actual full-time faculty as compared to adjuncts and graduate students"

"Is alcohol a 'problem' on campus?"

"What support services exist for academic and emotional support if I need it?"

"I'm considering a career in medicine. When will I be assigned a pre-health professions advisor?"

After you've hit your target list of schools, time permitting -- be adventurous and wander into the booths of schools that you never heard of and perhaps you'll be very surprised.


Well, not exactly.  You're not attending a career fair (that occurs in college) and you don't need to have a 2 minute pitch about yourself.  Your opportunity to sell yourself is during the college admissions cycle on your Common Application.   The college fair is for YOU!! 

Admissions and alumni representatives want to interest you in the college they represent.   So don't be shy, speak up and ask the tough questions above.

Parents, your child is wonderful and you mean well, but nothing screams louder than a chatty parent as a  potential indicator of a student's lack of independence and self-direction.  Please while it might seem obvious, don't "brag" to the admissions representative with a pre-rehearsed annotated resume-- no one is making an admissions decision at a college fair. In fact, parents, it would be best if your son/daughter does most of the talking outside of questions about financial aid and campus safety!  

Students: That said, think of a  college fair as a college interview on training wheels.

Learning to feel confident speaking with admissions representatives as a sophomore and junior is great practice for the alumni and campus interviews taking place during your senior year.  Take chances, make mistakes, and just dive in!  There's nothing you can say that will be remembered and held against you later. 

Sophomores and juniors should use the evening to gather information about competitive summer programs in potential academic areas of interest.  In particular, women and minorities should ask about special programs that are designated in majors typically under-represented by women and minorities. Such programs are highly competitive and often free of cost.  

Dr. Rabin Visiting Clients at Cornell Summer College


The college fair is an excellent opportunity to jump start your campus research in anticipation of junior year campus visits.     

Ask about upcoming campus visits that are scheduled specifically for juniors or for admitted seniors.  As noted, some colleges schedule "diversity" weekends and offer financial assistance for attendance. 


a) Send a thank you note to any admissions officer that spent more than 2 minutes with you to hand you a brochure.  If you shared a joke or an experience, reference the memory jogging point of your conversation.  Sending a thank-you note is an opportunity to reinforce your interest in the school.
b) Organize the materials collected while things are still fresh in your mind.  Review which colleges stood out and take some time to enter a few thoughts in your notes to set the stage for subsequent college research, a potential campus visit and an input into a summer application essay.
c) Discard any brochures of colleges you've eliminated so you can stay focused on schools that interested you the most.


Once your actual college research is complete,  COLLEGE CAMPUS VISITS are encouraged and I invite you to reach out  to discuss how to  determine which colleges to visit as well as how to prepare for your campus visit and potential admissions interview.

Spending time on a university campus is an essential part of the college planning process, providing you a glimpse of what college life entails and helping to shape your thoughts about what might be important or desirable in a university community. 

That said, I'd like to begin by addressing some  misconceptions about their role and outline things you can do before, during and after your campus visit to make your investment of time and money a valuable one.   Taking time away from school and work, plus the added lodging and travel expenses can be significant. For this reason, I don't encourage visiting a dozen campuses!  In fact, a campus visit isn't essential in deciding whether to even APPLY to a university. It is essential in deciding whether to ATTEND.

The "fit" between a student and a university is based upon three pillars:

1)        Academics: The university you attend should provide an outstanding academic experience in your intended major/minor fields of study, along with appropriate internship and career placement opportunities. This is paramount to selecting where to attend. Much of this information is gathered on the college's website. My earlier note outlined how to evaluate academics outside of lists of college rankings. A brief reminder, navigate to the "Academics" and the "Research" tabs and explore the curriculum maps, degree requirements and the research projects faculty are conducting.

2)        Social: The social fit is important as each student is looking to find a "home-away-from-home". Is the campus inviting, inclusive and are there opportunities for ongoing social and emotional growth as you emerge from young adult to independent and launched adult?! This is exactly why students visit university campuses. Details follow below....

3)        Financial affordability: Every family faces unique financial circumstances and we factor those into the choices on where to apply and attend. Please re-read my earlier blog on financial aid and scholarships:  FINANCIAL AID and SCHOLARSHIPS.   If you're likely ineligible for financial aid, we can carefully explore colleges that would more likely provide merit-based aid. 

SENIORS (2019) Plan on attending an "Accepted Students" program during April. The best of these programs pairs you with a current undergraduate to shadow their classroom(s) and even spend an overnight visit in their dorm.  "Accepted Student" programs also provide the chance to meet the actual students who will be your peers-the class of 2023! You may even find a potential roommate.


Most important, while on campus,  talk with as many current students as possible. Don't be shy, reach out and ask students what they like about campus and what they don't. Remember, anecdotes and a small sample size don't allow you to generalize, but is there a pattern to the comments you are hearing? Know that visiting close to final exams will be very different from visiting at the start of a semester or right after their spring break.
SOPHOMORES (2021) and JUNIORs (2020)

There are two "waves" to campus visits. The initial wave - perhaps in the sophomore or junior year is intended to simply feel what it's like to be on a college campus.

While you may have a clear opinion or no opinion, an actual campus tour can allow you to feel what it's like on a smaller or very large campus.   Did you know that some colleges categorized as "small liberal arts" are two to three times the size of your high school with thousands of students in attendance!?

Like the size of a salad or a steak, the definition of "small" varies considerably- don't look at labels, experience it yourself!  Sophomores-there are many colleges within a short car ride from your home- a great way to start the process of exploration at little cost.


How do you feel at an urban campus where your walk to classes includes city streets filled with office buildings (NYU) or do you prefer the entirety of your urban campus be contained within a well-defined campus border (Columbia)? 

How do you feel about a campus so large that students must take a bus to get from the freshman dorms to the engineering quad? (Michigan) How do you feel about a beautiful green campus containing several academic quads and gorgeous buildings having more students than some cities- yet the nearest major city is two hours away? (Cornell, Penn State, Dartmouth). The initial campus visit is about "feeling" the "fit" of campus types in broad categories allowing you to further define your preferences.  

Cornell Clock Tower

*** Buyers beware, students seem to get stuck on a first-impression and fall in love with beautiful campuses and/or the first university visited. Please make sure to keep an open mind about options all the way until May of the senior year (deposits are typically due May 1)!

Please be mindful of my earlier notes- we don't pick universities because of "name recognition" or broad based aggregate rankings. We aim to first determine the major /minor field of interest.  Academics, not "name recognition" guides your choice of where to apply.

Once you have an initial impression about location and size, subsequent college visits should be more carefully planned to yield valuable insights and increase your chances of admissions. Let's look at how we accomplish this!

Let's focus on planning your visit based on the assumption you have already done all the important research in selecting which universities provide strong academic programs in your intended major area(s) of study.

Scheduling your visit:
First and foremost- the best time to visit a campus is when undergraduates are in attendance. You're not going for an architectural tour (although the most beautiful clock towers will yield great photo ops - Purdue, Cornell, Texas @ Austin, UC Berkeley or some amazing modern structures: MIT, Northeastern.) As I note below, you want to evaluate the campus vibe by observing and speaking with current students.   So be careful about summer visits and visits during college spring breaks or even their final exam week when students are hibernating in libraries. 

What to Expect?
Universities have pre-determined programs which typically include:
  • An information session with an admissionrepresentative in a group setting and
  • A campus tour typically led by current students and perhaps a
  • School/ Department tours (SEE BELOW ON THIS POINT!!!)
To determine availability, head to the "Admissions" tab on the Home page and locate a link to "plan your visit" or  "schedule a tour".
Here's some examples - some only a single click away and others layered 4 clicks off the home page.

and in 4 clicks
Pay attention to scheduled tour times and admissions presentations and sign-up in advance.   Please don't JUST ARRIVE ON CAMPUS. Scheduling in advance guarantees you a space and you'll do your homework to make the visit an informative one. Account for travel time from an airport to campus.

While some campuses do give tours during breaks, I really want to reiterate how important it is to speak with students learning more about the campus community: Warm/inviting? Stressful? Isolated?, Inclusive? Student-life at the University is: FILL IN THE BLANK.    You cannot assess the social "fit" (1 of 3 pillars noted at the outset of this note), without an actual campus visit that includes observing/meeting current students.
Before your visit:
Have a truly valid reason for wanting to spend time at a given campus. Guided exploration of the available major areas of study is the first step in selecting where to visit. For example, if you are an aspiring physician and also plan to minor in dance as an undergraduate- see if this is even possible. Likewise, how strong is the writing program at the college you know will provide an outstanding engineering degree? Given an interest in Robotics or Bio-Medical Engineering, is there a well-developed set of courses or only an elective or two at most? 

-          *** If there's only one thing you caught in my newsletter - this is it: !!!
-            Reach out to the designated undergraduate advisor for your intended major/department and request to spend time with currently enrolled upper division students. As a "prospective", current students will be thrilled to tell you the inside scoop about workload, their amazing and "to-be-avoided" professors and opportunities for research and internships. 

How do you find that person? Easy-On the Home page, head to "Academics" and then navigate yourself to the actual major, and then to the "undergraduate" link within the major. You'll find a designated "undergraduate advisor" not always the same person as the "department head".

For example: Interested in studying Political Science at Brown? Just navigate to the Department and you'll find the name and contact information for the Director of Undergraduate Studies. That's it!  The student (not a parent) should send an email in advance to request a department tour if possible.

This proactive outreach can place you in contact perhaps with a faculty who shares a similar research interest. Some of my aspiring STEM students or even niche-based history majors may want to connect with designated faculty. These connections are particularly valuable in smaller universities and can increase your chances of admissions by demonstrating informed interest.

Again, this is why we conduct research about majors prior to visiting a campus.

Are you an  athlete or a musician? Plan ahead, see if you can observe a practice and meet current students with your current interests. Colleges have competitive and club teams. There are also performing groups for non-music majors.  
Ask Questions
:  Do your homework- take notes about things that you want to know that you cannot answer on your own by exploring the college website. Please please please don't embarrass yourself by asking any question of admissions representatives that you know are readily available on the website. This shows you didn't do your homework and/or you're lazy. Instead, asking an educated question such as: "I noticed the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program" - how likely is it for freshman to participate in research? Or, "can you tell me more about the academic advising that is available to pre-health professionals?"  Please don't ask: what's the average SAT score!!

Overnight Programs:
Explore whether overnight visits are available to shadow a current student. These programs are available for seniors in the fall and for accepted students in the spring. More below.

During the Visit
Create your own tour- meet students! Wander the campus after the official tour has ended. Have lunch or dinner in a popular on-campus dining hall and introduce yourself and ask questions

Club Connections:
As noted above, plan ahead and aim to observe or attend a club athletic practice or perhaps a music practice.
Is your faith or cultural affiliation important to you? Try to coordinate your campus visit for a Friday or a Monday leaving time on the weekend to connect and/or worship with fellow students. These organizations offer a variety of opportunities. e.g. Hillel, Newman Center, Hindu Cultural Center, Interfaith groups?
On the university Home page navigate to the link entitled:  "social life or campus life" and you'll find a list of student-run campus organizations. If you reach out in advance you will be able to meet current undergraduates who will welcome you to join them in events (typically parents hang back at the hotel).

Parent Greek Life?   Mom or dad a Greek member? Find the house on campus and visit! You'll be welcomed as family!

Legacy Parent?  Likewise, if you are visiting a campus that either parent or grandparent attended, absolutely call ahead to the Alumni Affairs office- you'll be give the white-glove treatment (they will also hit you up for a donation!).
If you reach out in advance, you may also be able to be paired with a current student and Attend a class.

Reducing Costs: It is expensive to visit college campuses. You may decide to pair up with another friend and trade places for some visits. Parents don't have to attend every campus visit and students can travel solo with another family. I'm not however a supporter of those massive bus tours-because there's no time to accomplish everything I've written above.

Land and drive - within a 3 to 5 hour drive you can reach many campuses. Please see my earlier note organizing my top picks of a range of competitive to less competitive colleges in different regions/cities.
***Many universities sponsor campus visit programs free-of-charge, including airfare as part of their effort to recruit under-represented students. Please contact me for recommendations of these competitive programs including those at Emory, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins and many more. You need to apply early- typically some time in the summer to be selected to participate in the fall senior visit programs. 

-            Debrief - spend some time evaluating your impressions and reviewing your notes.

-            Send a thank-you note to every person you met. You may be reconnecting with the same admissions representative or faculty at some point in the admissions cycle and having a designated contact person shows informed and demonstrated interest. This plays a role in increasing your chances of admissions for some but not all universities.

Best wishes for a meaningful and successful academic year!

Bonnie R. Rabin, PhD
Educational & College Admissions Consultant
Professor Emeritus & Cornell University Alumni Representative

Do you have a strategic educational plan for success?
Your Educational Plan Includes:
  • A challenging "synergistic" high school curriculum 
  • Sustained and directed extracurricular activities
  • Meaningful Experiences and Connections
  • Student directed research to create a list of target colleges and scholarships 
Motivated, Self-Directed & Confident Young Adults Ready to Succeed!





Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.




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