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On Wednesday Oct. 15, high school juniors and many sophomores will take the PSAT/NMSQT, which stands for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The to-do list for high school seniors seems to be growing longer each day.

Ready or not, the college application season has begun.

So you thought your student was done with standardized testing. You were probably proud of yourself that you had finally mastered the differences between the SAT and the ACT, and then, surprise, up pops the very stealth-like SAT Subject Tests. What?

If I could give every family only one piece of advice about college admissions and the college application process it would be this: Dare to be different.

Parents’ reactions are all over the map. In some cases there’s relief. In many cases the drop-off is just the first emotional step in the letting-go process. It’s especially poignant when parents are heading home to an empty nest.

Students should get organized now to work on their college applications.

Many of the biggest changes will be in the customer service area, such as live support and an FAQ page.

Recently I wrote a column where I shared ideas to smooth the transition to college for first-timers (www.charlotteobserver.com/225). I received a lot of response from parents and students.

For high school couples it must seem like the world doesn’t believe in love. Everyone – well, maybe not everyone – is telling them to break up and start fresh in college.

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Lee Bierer
Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte.
CharlotteObserver.com