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Mimi & Michele Sit Down With College Confidential

Recently we had the pleasure of collaborating with College Confidential and answered a few of their readers college admissions questions focusing on college selection.


CC Reader Q:
My daughter got into her dream school. But she has a contingency on her acceptance – she has to get a B in a really difficult STEM class this semester, and she’s barely hanging on to that grade. She won’t know her final grade until after June 1. Should she accept at another school right before the deadline in case she doesn’t get the grade and the “dream” school rescinds her acceptance because she got a C instead?

Congratulations to your daughter on her acceptance to her “dream school.” Schools that accept with contingencies mean business and will definitely review her grades with the possibility of rescinding her acceptance. Her plan of action should be to hire a tutor for the class, meet with her teacher for extra help, focus all the time she used applying to colleges to now keep her acceptance to her “dream school.” Her friends might be trying to infect her with “senioritis,” but she and her work ethic must prevail. And, sure, she can accept her second choice school’s offer of acceptance and simply forfeit the deposit if for some reason she can’t push up her STEM class grade and is no longer invited to join the Class of 2025. As a parent and advocate for teens, however, we’d say she needs to put in heroic effort now to save her dream. She can do it.


CC Reader Q:
My high school senior never got to take the SAT due to COVID-19 cancellations. He has already been accepted to test optional colleges for Fall 2021. My husband thinks he should still take the SAT this summer just so he has it on his record for perhaps future grad school admissions or if he wants to transfer to another college. He doesn’t plan to send the scores to any of his current colleges. What do you guys think? Is it worth taking the SAT after he has already graduated?

The short answer is, yes, your senior should take the SAT this spring if he’s studied for it and has a practice score that is in the mid to high 700s. Why? Because if he should decide to transfer colleges a high SAT score will help his application. Graduate schools won’t require the SAT as they have their own tests, but it could also be helpful if your son plans to work in the financial industry as believe it or not, some internship programs ask for SAT or ACT scores. 


CC Reader Q:
I am an 8th grader who is taking Geometry A currently (I ended with a 99 in Algebra 1 and have a 97 currently in Geometry A) and wanted to move up. The advanced kids are taking

Geometry B and Algebra 2 this year (8th grade) and are doing Pre-Calc in 9th grade, I am very interested in moving up to that level and am asking, is it worth taking Geometry B/ Algebra 2 during the summer?

Congrats on your initiative! Yes, because you are doing well in Geometry and Algebra, it’s clear you are a strong math student. Like music, math is easier to learn when you are young and focused on it so it would be super helpful to take those classes in the summer and jump to Pre Calc in 9th. That way, in terms of “course rigor” you’d match up to the best students in your school and you’d pave the way for higher level math classes early on like BC Calc, Multivariable Calc and Linear Algebra. You will also have the advantage of having lots of prerequisites done that open the door to engineering paths, higher level physics courses, etc. that will make you a more competitive college applicant down the road.



CC Reader Q:
Hi all! I was recently accepted to the University of Notre Dame and Cornell University. I have absolutely no idea which one I should attend, and would love some thoughts about both. Any unfiltered opinions are appreciated!

This is the list of pros and cons I quickly drew up…add more if I missed some.


PROs: Rural, diverse, good research, can’t go wrong in any department, Greek life, prestige and name recognition, vast

CONs: More diverse in terms of the type of student (for example, more not as outgoing and those who were told since birth they had to go to an IVY), feels more uptight, less community feel, bigger class. My biggest concern is grade deflation, how much I will have to grind to do well in classes, and the cut-throatiness. If you went to Cornell, please give me your thoughts on the rigor!

Notre Dame

PROs: Football, school spirit and all-around fun, super strong alumni network, strong community on and off campus

CONs: less diverse, not as built up in STEM (I think?), less name recognition in Northeast, no Greek,

They are of equal ranking – last year Notre Dame was ranked higher, this year Cornell is by only one. So, I am not considering ranking. I assume I will get a good education at both, but to make a decision I have to consider all the minute details.

As you point out, you can’t go wrong. Much will have to do with your particular major and area of study. In terms of academics, we would rate Cornell higher than Notre Dame with an Ivy League education that will open doors around the world. Notre Dame is more regional and may not be as appealing to employers in other parts of the country and world simply on name recognition alone. We’ve had dozens of students who have just loved Cornell so we’d lean that way.

USC vs Penn

CC Reader Q:
I seriously can’t pick between the two and it’s stressing me out a LOT so maybe you all can help!

University of Southern California – 18k per year (on a full tuition scholarship)


  • Location/weather
  • Less stress probably
  • Trojan scholar society
  • Cheaper
  • Already have a few friends there
  • Seems like it may be easier for me to stand out
  • Honors suite dorm is the perfect fit for me because I can’t do communal bathrooms


  • Can’t do freshman science honors program because didn’t take physics
  • Not as successful as UPenn in getting students into medical school
  • May be harder to get an internship because so many people
  • Not as prestigious/recent scandals have made it seem not so great to be honest

University of Pennsylvania – 28k per year (waiting on appeal for more aid)


  • Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences
  • Better pre-med program and opportunities
  • More prestigious
  • Already know I like the campus because visited
  • School of medicine is on campus + children’s hospital nearby


  • Environment seems way more stressful
  • More expensive
  • Will be harder to maintain GPA and be top of the class
  • Campus is not as pretty/weather can suck

We think it might be worth stepping out of your comfort zone a bit and picking Penn. After all, not only is it a top Ivy (which will help down the line when you look for jobs/graduate school) but it’s a world class institution with some of the best professors in the country. Weather is less of an issue. We think it’s good for kids to attend college away from where they grew up to expose them to different parts of the country. Naturally if price is a major issue, you could pick USC with its cheaper price tag but no one has ever regretted paying more to attend one of the top universities in the world and that degree will pay dividends many times over.

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