3 Questions for Robert Franek

Robert Franek, Editor-in-Chief at The Princeton Review, one of the most respected higher education publishers in the country spoke to families at Saint James. In addition to overseeing the best-selling college guides "The Best 382 Colleges and Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You The Best Bang For Your Tuition Buck," Franek manages a line of 150 titles from Penguin/Random House involving test prep guides as well as college and graduate school resources and study aids. He sat down to answer a few questions with Mr. Harry. We thank Mr. Franek for sharing his knowledge.

1. Given the abundance of information surrounding college admissions, what are some of the best ways for students to narrow their list of college options?

With so much information available it’s crucial that prospective college students filter and focus on the most important information, leading them to a best-fit school on all levels important to them.  I believe the best way to do just that is to find as much information from real college experts: current college students.  Honestly, it’s truly where the college process becomes real.  

2. As many schools are moving to "test-optional" admission policies, do you think the SAT and ACT still have a place in college admissions?

Three months back the list of test-optional colleges just passed 1,000.  On the surface, this is a coup for prospective students who aren’t confident in their scores on the SAT or ACT or in their ability to perform well on those tests. That said, SAT /ACT are still the second most important criteria used for deciding academic admissibility to the majority of the 3,000 four-year colleges in the U.S.  (The first being GPA and rigor of classes). In addition to the importance of the SAT/ACT in academic admission, be sure to inquire with test-optional schools you may be considering if you need to submit test scores to be considered for merit-based scholarships.  

3. “Demonstrated interest” is a phrase that is often used when discussing college admissions, so how should students approach each college application with a view towards building connections with college admissions offices?

The blessing and the curse of living in digital times is that every interaction students (and their families) have with a college is tracked in granularity.  In addition to the very real value of learning and connecting with any one school substantively, there is added value in demonstrating one’s interest.  The challenge and the opportunity to prospective college students is to gather up what you’ve learned from each of those interactions and answer this question “is this school a good fit for me?”.  If, yes, then this is your opportunity to explain those reasons across the different parts of your application and in future interactions with that school.  

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