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Admission By Design 

January / February 2021  Client Newsletter

I hope 2021 is off to a healthy and good start for you and your family. Last week, the College Board announced that it will stop offering SAT Subject Tests in the US immediately and internationally after June. Additionally, the SAT Essay will no longer be offered after June 2021. I expect the ACT to drop its essay before long, but we’ll have to wait for a formal announcement. Future changes to digitize and possibly slow the pace of both entrance exams may be announced later this year. Stay tuned!


  • Stay focused on academics.
  • Check college admission portals and email regularly for notifications and requests for additional materials. Ensure that all required components (e.g., test scores, transcript, letters of recommendation, supplementary essays, self-reported academic record, partial-year grades) are provided and received in a timely manner.
  • When appropriate, and without overdoing it, seek out worthwhile opportunities to update colleges with impressive new information and reiterated interest. Some colleges encourage students who applied early to provide a mid-year update. Some allow an additional recommendation.
  • Plan, schedule, and prepare for interviews. Check college websites to determine if interviews are offered and for scheduling instructions.
  • If you are applying for need-based financial aid, be sure to meet aid deadlines and use the required (e.g., FAFSA, CSS PROFILE) forms.
  • Make sure you are on track for graduation and state scholarships such as Florida Bright Futures.
  • Florida students who qualify for Bright Futures should understand the program and apply during the second semester. (Link to Process Overview & Requirements)
  • If you applied for Early Decision and are accepted, you’ll need to abide by the college’s ED agreement, which typically requires you to withdraw applications to all other colleges.
  • If you haven’t done so already, thank your recommenders and keep them apprised of your success.
  • ALSO, please keep me (Lynn Lubell — posted when you learn admission decisions from colleges.
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  • Stay focused on academics. Junior year is critical. Start prepping for AP Exams.
  • Start planning summer activities and selecting senior year coursework.
  • Seek out opportunities to step up your leadership and involvement in clubs, activities, and volunteer services.  Look for impressive and tangible ways to make a positive impact.
  • Plan for standardized testing. Decide which tests (ACT, SAT) you will take. Create a preliminary test schedule and a prep plan that gives you adequate time to practice. Proactively use prep books, tutors, online classes, etc.  Keep in mind that SAT Subject Tests and the Optional Writing Section of the SAT have been discontinued.
  • Those receiving testing accommodations at school apply to ACT and/or College Board for accommodations well in advance.
  • Explore colleges—register for virtual tours and admission sessions, and other online events. Request information and join mailing lists for schools of interest. Many colleges track “engagement” as an indicator of a prospect’s interest and potential to enroll.
  • Begin to create a preliminary college list based on well-thought-out criteria.
  • Most campus tours have been canceled due to COVID-19, so online events are an easy and safe way to explore schools and demonstrate interest. Register in advance using the same email address you will apply to college. Check out these virtual fairs conducted by NACAC.
  • If you haven’t done so already, create a Common Application account and complete the Profile, Family, and Education sections.
  • Plan for recommendations and develop a good rapport with potential recommenders. Plan ahead by becoming familiar with the counselor and teacher recommendation forms.


  • Please become familiar with the ACT and SAT and the differences between them. Consider which test (or both) might be the best fit for you.
  • Unless you are positive that you will not be taking the ACT, plan to take the June 2021 ACT and to order an ACT Test Information Release (TIR) when you register.  Keep in mind that ACT scores that are not part of the state or school district testing can be deleted.  Procedure to Delete ACT Scores can be found in the Admission By Design Reference Document.

All Students

  • Review Lynn Lubell’s 12 Most Important Factors in College Admissions.
  • For students taking Spring 2021 AP Exams, get a jump start preparing. Ask your teacher for a prep book and resource suggestions. Khan Academy can also be beneficial. Also, check out updated  2021  AP Testing information and resources released by the College Board.
  • READ! Make worthwhile reading a lifelong priority. Improving your comprehension, vocabulary, worldliness, and general knowledge will help you well beyond college admissions!
  • If you haven’t done so already, designate ONE email address for the college admission process. Plan to use this email address for applications, info session registrations, and college-related correspondence.
  • Review your transcript for accuracy at least once per year.
  • Examine your extracurricular activities. Are you gaining leadership experience, meaningfully exploring your interests, contributing through service?  Applications require you to list activities, years of involvement, and commitment details. Aim for a strong commitment to a few meaningful activities.
  • Create your resume and update it as appropriate. Many colleges accept resumes with applications and for interviews.
  • Assess your school performance. Make adjustments to your study skills, habits, or commitments. If you need extra support to do well in a course, or in general, be proactive. Talk with your parents and counselors about a plan. Use resources such as Khan Academy, tutors, and extra-help sessions to thrive.
  • Plan, register, and prepare for upcoming entrance exams (e.g., SAT, ACT, TOEFL). Use diagnostics and school research to determine which tests to take and when.
  • Keep in mind that SAT Subject Tests and the Optional Writing Section of the SAT have been discontinued.
  • Explore colleges and demonstrate interest by participating in online information sessions and campus tours. Remember to register using your college admissions email address— note that many colleges keep track of demonstrated interest and engagement.  Request information and join mailing lists for colleges of potential interest.
  • Maintain a spreadsheet with college admission information, including admissions portal logins, information sessions, visits, schools from which you have requested information.
  • Review your online persona. Refrain from posting content on social media that college admissions officers might view unfavorably.
  • Stay focused on academics. Earn strong grades and pursue the most rigorous course load you can handle.
  • Ensure you are on track for graduation and state scholarships such as Florida Bright Futures. (Link to Overview & Requirements)
  • Seek out opportunities for enrichment and to explore future careers.
  • Plan a productive summer! Summer is a great time to learn new skills, further develop one of your interests, or gain work experience. While many programs have gone virtual or will have some modifications, there are still plenty of opportunities to explore.