The only thing scarier than getting into college is figuring out how to pay for it. With public universities now costing more than $120,000 for tuition, room, and board for four years, and private colleges costing upwards of $300,000 all in, most families need a plan, and many need all the help they can get.
Consider the following to help defray the cost of college:
Do not write off earning admission to a fantastic college simply because your grades are not where you would like them to be. Yes, it is true that 47% of college-bound high school seniors have an “A-” grade point average or higher. And, yes, if you have less than stellar grades, getting into college is harder – but it is definitely still doable.
Here are the things you must do to stand out and earn admission:
1. Study for the SAT or ACT. A strong showing on the ACT or SAT can make up for lackluster grades and demonstrate aptitude even if your transcript does not. If you didn’t achieve your anticipated grades and are, nonetheless, in the process of making your applications right now, you can still position yourself as a competitive applicant: do this by choosing colleges where your scores will be at the top end of the applicant pools. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but it doesn’t mean all is lost. It can become a question of repositioning yourself and choosing the best strategy for the revised situation. Admission to a college that is a revised option doesn’t mean you can’t achieve great things in the outer world later on. Learning to see the long-view and the wider perspective is good training in itself for a healthy and successful approach to life!
2. Address your grade issues head on. Many applications allow for students to address any issues in their applications. If there is a reason for the low grades, tell the admissions officers. They are not mind readers and do not know if there was a valid reason for the lower-than-expected grades. Even if your grades resulted from not doing homework or something completely in your control, spin your transcript into a positive by discussing what you have learned from not getting the best results you know you are capable of.
3. Show an upward grade trend. If your high school grades started off rockier than expected, that is OK. Do your best to earn better grades later in high school. Admissions officers will give students with upward grade trends the benefit of the doubt and chalk up the improved academic performance to maturity and developing better study habits (both good things in the eyes of admissions officers).
4. Prove you are more than just a number. No one wants to be defined just by their GPA or test scores. Demonstrate excellence in a field beyond academia. For those whose forte is not in the classroom but shine in their chosen field in other ways, this is your opportunity to make up – and even supersede – the lost ground. Whether it is starting your own business, running your own club, or receiving accolades for an instrument, admissions officers value applicants who bring unique skills and leadership to their campuses in areas outside of the classroom. Make these parts of the applications as strong as possible.
5. Adopt a healthy mindset when looking for colleges. Stanford may be out of the question, but that is OK. There are still plenty of colleges that will provide you the foundation for long-term success. Keep an open mind and focus on how college can prepare you for the future and not just on the brand names.
Recognize that colleges seek to balance genders and backgrounds in different programs, and applicants that contribute to that balance are more valuable to a college. For example, women earn over 57% of all bachelor’s degrees, but only 19% of engineering degrees. A female applicant with a demonstrated interest in engineering may stand out more than an equally qualified male applicant as admissions officers strive to create a balanced and diverse class. The same would go for a male applicant that applies to a nursing program. As college counselors we work with applicants to make sure that they apply to majors that fit their interests and application theme, and, wherever possible, boost their odds of admission. Remember, major selection is not set in stone. Most colleges allow students to change majors rather easily. Check with the colleges your child is applying to about their policies for changing majors.
College Path delivers to your phone or email weekly college admissions guidance as early as seventh grade. College Path empowers your child to earn admission to her dream college with targeted advice for every part of the college admissions process including: (1) building a compelling high school transcript; (2) preparing for the right entrance exam at the right time; (3) developing passions and skills that admissions officers covet; (4) writing persuasive personal statements that demonstrate perspective; (5) finding colleges that are a great fit; (6) establishing a healthy financial future through scholarships and/or financial aid; and (7) much more. Start your free trial at www.collegepathweekly.com.
We normally write about the competitive landscape and ways to stand out in the college admissions process--but being a part of an industry that helps people realize their long term dreams is inspiring. Check out the story of a 91 year-old Thai woman who earned her college degree which was given to her by the King of Thailand here. For folks considering returning to college to earn their degree--it is NEVER too late to improve yourself through an education that provides better opportunities and richer experiences.
Juniors and seniors, you may be planning on taking the SAT or ACT this fall (seniors, if not now, then when?). Just because the sign up deadline is a certain date, does not mean you want to leave registering for the very end. I have heard horror stories from families I work with that they will be driving for over an hour on test day because there were no closer locations available when they signed up. This means these students will be waking up at 5 am on a Saturday to take the SAT or ACT. These tests are not fun. Waking up that early on a Saturday doesn't make it any better... Sign up early to secure the most convenient testing location. Being well rested can have a positive impact on a test taker's score.
Sorry, Harvard: Hiring managers aren’t always seeing crimson
All Ivies are not created equal.
Graduates from the University of Pennsylvania who post their resumes on Indeed.com get the most call-backs from potential employers (30.6% higher than average for an Ivy grad). That’s followed closely by Yale (30.4%). Columbia (20.8%), Harvard (12.3%) and Cornell (.54%) come in third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Meanwhile, Princeton had the fewest callbacks (48.3% less than average), followed by Brown (-26.4%) Dartmouth (-20.1%), the Indeed data — which looked at 10,000 Ivy league resumes and related callback data on them from June 2016 – June 2017 — revealed.
full disclosure: I am a proud Penn alum.
Rising seniors should create a plan NOW for the college admissions process. Creating a plan allows you to prioritize tasks to ensure that all applications are completed by their deadlines. Early decision and early action applications are due November 1st, with other school deadlines following anywhere from November through January. It is important to understand when each application is due and plan accordingly. Keep in mind that many large public universities practice "rolling admissions", which means that applications are reviewed on a first come, first decided basis. Your child will want to apply when there are the most spots available. Do not leave applications to the last minute--it shows.
Rising seniors... It is not too early to begin compiling essay prompts for the colleges you will apply to. Create an account with the Common App at www.commonapp.org and any other schools that have their own proprietary applications. Begin brainstorming topics that address as many essay prompts as possible. Your goal is to write one spectacular essay this fall!
The decision to quit a sport or any other extracurricular activity keeps parents up at night. Is the activity doing more harm than good? This isn't an easy question to answer, but, it is necessary to reassess it constantly. We want our kids to be happy. Make sure the activities they participate in actually make them happy and contribute to their growth.
Click here to read David McGlynn's insightful essay on the "Q" word.