Shortly after the winter break, my newsletter focused on some strategies / things to do between January and the college decision notification dates senior families marked on calendars.
In case you missed recent newsletters, here are links:
This note provides insights on what you can accomplish in a campus visit – relevant for all students. Whether you’re just starting your college search or an admitted senior, please look at some valuable tips.
No student should be enrolled in seven AP classes. Please check-in to discuss the balance between selected classes and your extracurricular life to increase your chances of transition to the undergraduate experience.
What are you doing this summer? Not all programs are equal and there’s great value in meaningful local internships and leadership opportunities at home.
This resource will help sophomore and junior families understand what’s ahead and the connection between cost/financial aid to college choices. For seniors, some insights on negotiating your financial aid offers.
Again, I offer a heartfelt congratulations to all students admitted to the class of 2022 and to students learning about summer program acceptances (Cornell, Boston, Rose Hullman, UF Science Research Program)!
Sample 2018 Acceptances: Emory, Cornell, NYU, Rice, University of Chicago, WUSTL, Drexel, Tulane, University of Arizona, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Williams, Johns Hopkins, Colorado, Boston, UF, FSU, FIT, FAU, UCF, USF
SENIORS MAKING THE DECISION and FINANCIAL AID APPEALS
Over the next two weeks all regular decisions will have arrived in your inbox! Very soon students will be making an important academic decision and families will be making a critical financial decision. Before you submit your deposit, please work with me to review the balance between academic and social “fit” as well as the cost of your investment. Wherever possible, we aim to negotiate your financial aid package (more below).
I encourage you to organize your information to highlight the most critical unique aspect of the education you’ll receive-e.g. a particular research institute, ability to minor in an unrelated field, career placement? In reviewing financial aid awards letters, compare the actual cost of tuition and the grant (not loans) monies received to compare apples to apples. I can help you compare the costs of attendance and evaluate.
Don’t place your deposit just yet! CAMPUS VISITS and DECLINING ADMISSIONS OFFERS
Please see my newsletter last week on Campus Visits with detailed tips for the experience:
You did all your research and carefully explored both academics and campus life. Perhaps your senior year courses have led you to rethink earlier academic/career plans. Maybe you visited campus so long ago that your needs have changed.
I encourage every student to attend “accepted student” programs and discuss perceived and yet to be considered reasons to attend or eliminate a college from your list of acceptances. If you have not visited a campus on your short list- you should plan to attend “accepted student programs” and may want to book refundable hotels now as hotels are scare in smaller college towns.
DECLINING OFFERS OF ADMISSION
if you have already received an offer from a college you are certain you will not be attending, please immediately notify admissions so that your space can be released to another student on a waiting list.
Early Decision applicants, I’m sure you have paid your deposit– but please don’t overlook withdrawing all other applications you may have submitted. This is a requirement as well as the “right” thing to do.
Absolutely do not double-deposit. That’s unethical and an actual violation which can result in a retraction. You are also keeping a spot from a peer. As soon as you have eliminated a college from your list- please login and formally decline the offer of admissions so that the space can be made available to someone else on a waiting list.
GUARANTEED TRANSFERS – OR ADMITTED in a DIFFERENT /DELAYED SEMESTER?
This is a difficult decision. As we discussed, admissions representatives have many more qualified applicants than can be accepted. In most competitive colleges, 4 to 7 freshman classes could probably be constructed from the applicant pool. If you are holding an offer of admission that is a delayed offer (for Spring or Fall 2019) or even a guaranteed transfer – it is worth accepting. If the college is one of your reach/dream campuses, let’s sit down and discuss whether this is an opportunity to seriously consider.
*** Financial cost: Deferring can, if you have younger siblings, actually decrease the cost to your family by potentially adding overlap years and splitting the “Estimated Family Contribution” over fewer years/more students in your family. Please re-read my Financial Aid note- link provided at the top of this newsletter.
Finally, studies consistently show that a gap year increases maturity and academic success.
HOW ARE WE GOING TO AFFORD IT?!?
Once you have received all of your acceptances and financial aid award notifications, let’s discuss all your options and to draft a financial aid appeals note. If there are any unusual circumstances including job loss (or one-time financial windfall that elevated your income), unusual medical expenses or changing family status, please contact me to discuss the appropriate manner and time to raise these issues with college financial aid officers. Many colleges do have a formal process to appeal, including a “change in circumstances” form. Your focus is on the actual net cost to you after grant money is applied. Financial aid award letters can be confusing.
Loans aren’t financial aid- they are simply deferring the cost of attendance to a future date – the date when you pay the loan during or after graduation. The cost of attendance are the monies paid directly to the college (tuition & fees, room and board) less any grants/scholarships received. That is the only number to compare across your options. All colleges have monthly tuition plans- some charge hefty interest and some charge no interest- but do charge administrative fees.
APPEALING FINANCIAL AID AWARDS
As your admissions offers continue to arrive, you will also receive notification of your financial aid award and/or merit-based awards.
Parents- please contact me directly for assistance on how to provide critical financial information to colleges impacting your ability to pay. The appropriate timing of your presentation cannot be overstated.
Competing offers can in many circumstances be matched if you are a highly-ranked applicant for a given college. Please note, Ivy league colleges do not negotiate by design of their chapters.
NEXT STEPS… WHILE YOU ARE WAITING!!
GOOD NEWS – BAD NEWS – ! ADMISSION FILE UPDATES
As you know, nearly all colleges required you to submit Mid-Year grade reports. I reminded you in January to take advantage of the opportunity to update your file and to express continued interest. For those of you in the regular admissions cycle, at this point, the decision about your file has already been made and I know you’ve marked your calendar for the admissions-notification dates taking place over the next two weeks. The update/continued interest letters can still be sent and do matter if you are “deferred”. Do you have any noteworthy accomplishments since submitting your application? Please keep in mind, if you are deferred, the likelihood of admissions is small and if accepted, your financial aid package will very like not include much in the way of grants.
If you need assistance preparing your “update letter”, please contact me on appropriate tone and what to include. Some examples of achievements to share: earning certifications, advancing to state or national competitions in any of your extracurricular activities, new competitions (essay, science, dance, sports?), completion of an individual project (wrote an APP, finished a story, participated in a Maker Faire, attended a poetry SLAM?) or achieved/sustained a high GPA (especially for students with ‘rough start’ GPAs.)
About this time of year, parents and students alike truly begin to appreciate the sticker shock of attending college and that the likelihood of receiving a scholarship is less than receiving an invitation to Harvard Medical School! There are literally thousands of scholarships; yet of those that can make a dent to the Cost-of-Attendance, these are far and few between.
My favorite sources of scholarships were noted in previous newsletters.
Hispanic National College Fund
Society of Women’s Engineers
Charities you/family are active participants over the long term?
“Niche” based-Use Google by ethnicity, gender and intended major. For example, if you are an aspiring finance major, nearly every large national bank and brokerage house offers scholarships. The same is true for chemists, engineers, computer scientists, journalists, etc. Many government agencies including the FDA, NASA, NSA and State Department offer undergraduate scholarships!
Many scholarships are offered to current undergraduates. If you anticipate a significant amount of AP credits, you may qualify for these awards as your status upon enrolling may be “sophomore”.
Students can and are encouraged to join professional organizations in their intended field. For example, the National Society of Black Engineer, Society of Women Engineers, Association for Finance Professionals, etc. all offer student memberships and undergraduate scholarships.