On the College Trail: Q & A with Dr. Paul Lowe

On April 22-23, 393 colleges were represented at the 2015 National College Fair presented by National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), at the Meadowlands Exposition Center at Harmon, in Secaucus, NJ.  As an active regional NACAC member, Dr. Lowe volunteered at the Counseling Resource Center.

“It was a great venue to share my knowledge with and help students, parents, and fellow colleagues,” Dr. Lowe said. “Choosing the right college is one of the most important decisions students and families can make.”

At the Counseling Center Dr. Lowe answered many questions posed by students, parents and high school college and guidance counselors. Here are some of the questions and answers:

Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Lowe at the Meadowlands Exposition Center at Harmon Meadow.

Parent:  Our son was recently accepted to college, but we did not get enough financial aid.  What do we do?

Dr. Lowe:  If you believe you qualify for more financial aid you should write a financial aid professional judgement appeal letter to the financial aid office and specify why you need more aid, and even set up an appointment to meet people in the financial aid office.

Student:  Who should I ask for to get a good letter of recommendation other than my teachers?

Dr. Lowe: You should obtain a letter of recommendation from a person who really knows you and can provide specific information about you.  I prefer letters of recommendations that will strengthen your overall college application.

Student:  You said that I need to know my guidance counselor.  Why?

Dr. Lowe: Your guidance counselor recommendation is one of the first letters reviewed.  If you don’t get to know them how will they say anything that will set you apart from all their other counselees?

Parent:  My son wants to be a medical doctor.  Where should he apply to college?

Dr. Lowe: He should apply to a college that has a strong pre-med program or a combined BA/MD program.

Student:  I am biracial.  What race should I state on my application?

Dr. Lowe:   Whatever race you wish identify with. However, the fact that you mentioned that you are biracial, perhaps you should address both racial and cultural backgrounds in your college application.

Parent:  My daughter is ranked number three in her class, but I can’t afford to send her to top schools.  What should I do?

Dr. Lowe: Since she is a top student, she is most likely a qualified applicant.  Ivies and top-schools are well endowed and provide generous financial aid packages.  For example, Princeton is a no loan financial aid policy school.

Student:  I’m not ready for college yet. What do you recommend I do after high school?

Dr. Lowe: You can take a gap year, do a post-graduate year at a private school or work.  If you’re considering taking a year off, the most important thing when considering what to do, is to be honest about the gap year’s purpose and consider what you want to get out of it.  You should also develop a plan that suits your needs and college goals.

Student:  Can you give me a good essay topic?

Dr. Lowe: You can’t really create an essay until you choose and carefully review the essay question.  When you do review the question, then you should carefully brainstorm on how to answer the question.  I recommend at least eight drafts for my clients.  Remember essays are used to evaluate how you think.  Don’t forget the word count.

Charter School Guidance Counselor:  I have great students.  Do you think they should apply to the Ivies?

Dr. Lowe: Absolutely! Ivies are actively looking for diversity on multiple levels.  After talking with you about your students, I think they would add to the campus environment of several Ivies.  Admissions committees undertand that diversity brings vibrancy to their schools.

Parent:  You are always smiling and answering questions Why?

Dr. Lowe: I love what I do!  I’m very fortunate to be in a profession where I can help parents and their children reach happy outcomes.

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