How students, families can prepare for the college application process


The college application process can be daunting, but the Elmont Memorial Library and the Franklin Square Library are helping students and their families to make the process less stressful.

Students can start the process earlier and take a breather senior year by sending applications as early as October or November.

An early start can give students a leg up when applying, as colleges look for personal connections with applicants. Individualized applications that include personal experiences help students find the right collegiate match, said Ron Feuchs, founder of Stand Out for College.

Feuchs, alongside Stand Out for College partner Jackie Tepper, will speak at two virtual sessions hosted through the Franklin Square Library. The first will be held on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. The second will be held on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. Families can register beforehand online. Usually between 100 and 250 families join the virtual sessions hosted by Stand Out for College.

“It becomes more efficient for families to absorb the information in a way that’s most convenient and comfortable for them,” he said.

For families unable to attend the virtual sessions, the Elmont library will hold an in-person session with Debra Gershow Lindell, a former school counselor, on Oct. 4 at 4:30 p.m. Registration has a maximum of 20 families, but Cara Howfield, head of young adult services at the Elmont library, said that the library will try to accommodate everyone.

The informational sessions will address the latest trends in college applications, letters of recommendation, how to stand out, community service opportunities, college essay information, financial aid and beyond. Families will also be able to ask questions during the sessions about the process.

Stand Out for College, a college counseling company, opened in 2015 and helped approximately 200 families through the application process including 25 families from Long Island. Feuchs and Tepper help students craft personalized community service projects so that they’re well-equipped to stand out.

“The projects that we help our students create are just really meaningful and important to them in ways that they’re able to give back and to grow from the experience,” Feuchs said.

When students craft essays authentic to their passions, it can make a difference in their college application. Community service projects can help students draw upon their experience when coming up with an essay topic.

Essays allow students to show insight and self-reflection, Feuchs said. It can be hard to delve deep when students enter senior year, so starting the process earlier can give applicants a leg up.

“Colleges want to get a sense of the student, of their authentic self,” Feuchs said. “And the best way to be able to do that is to be able to relate experiences that a student has done, where they’ve been able to help others.”

Students can also find community service opportunities through their local libraries.

At the Elmont library, students can gain community service time through the youth advisory board, which is comprised of usually 10-12 students that meets monthly to discuss ideas for the teens section of the library.

Students can find additional community service opportunities through teen services at the Franklin Square Library or through young adult services at the Elmont library.

While Stand Out for College can help families on an individualized basis for an hourly fee its library presentations are free.

For students who want an extra set of eyes to look at their college essays, the Elmont library will offer free sessions with Librarian Ellen Bayer. The sessions will be held at 5 p.m. on Oct. 10, Oct. 17, Oct. 24, Dec. 5, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19.

Feuchs and Tepper hope to help students put their best foot forward during the college admissions process. Beyond the nitty gritty of college essays, letters of recommendation, and community service, Feuchs encouraged students to visit the colleges they apply to early in their high school career to find the right fit.

“Colleges have different personalities, and we feel it’s really important for students to visit colleges to find the one that will be a good fit for them,” Feuchs said.

So much in the world of college admissions has changed since the Covid-19 pandemic, with an increased amount of applications sent out since 2020.Feuchs hopes to give students piece of mind when they submit their applications.

“It’s become more challenging and students don’t have control over that,” he said. “What they do have control over is their time, and how they approach the process.”