Frank Bruni, of the New York Times, recently profiled a student who turned down offers of admission from Harvard, Princeton, Yale and other hyper selective colleges to enroll in the honors college at his home state public school, the University of Alabama. The student’s decision to bypass opportunities to study at some of the most prestigious universities in the country for a program closer to home with generous financial aid, that offer small classes filled with other high achieving students highlights a growing trend for students seeking a college within a college experience through honors programs.
Through an honors college program, your child may be able to create a college experience similar to a private school within the confines of a large public university. This includes research opportunities with faculty, small classes, and career and internship guidance.
As the cost of tuition skyrockets and it becomes more challenging to earn admission to many well known universities, consider honors college programs at public universities. They may offer the type of college experience your child seeks at a fraction of the price than you were expecting. College is a growth opportunity. Keep an open mind for amazing opportunities.
As the acceptance rates at top public and private universities across the United States plummet, many parents ask, “Is there anywhere my child would be a preferred applicant?” Sadly, the answer is probably no, unless your uncle has a dorm named after him at an Ivy League school, or your child is the next Serena Williams of tennis.
However, many of the most highly regarded colleges in the United Kingdom actively seek American students to add diverse perspectives to their classes, with some of the most prestigious schools boasting acceptance rates three times as high as their American peer schools.
To facilitate the process of Americans applying to UK colleges, some of these schools are making the process easier by accepting the Common Application (the application form used by many American colleges) and considering students’ SAT and ACT scores as part of the application. Said differently, applying to a school like St. Andrews or University of Edinburgh aligns with what many high school seniors will do when applying to public and private universities closer to home.
Students considering the UK for college have similar choices for campuses, majors, and settings as they do in the US. Depending on what a student seeks in a British college, they will find colleges offering gothic and historic architecture, close-knit campuses, city locations and internationally recognized STEM and business programs.
As tuition costs skyrocket across the United States, it’s worth noting that tuition at many of these UK schools actually work out as less expensive than the in-state tuition for public universities. For international students from the US, the tuition at St. Andrews — arguably one of the most famous and prestigious colleges in the UK — costs less than the in-state tuition for some flagship state schools.
What does going to a UK school mean for job prospects for American students? While it may be more difficult to obtain a visa to work in the UK after college, a UK college student originally from Los Angeles recently told me of a job fair for Bank of America held in London. American multinationals routinely recruit grads from top UK colleges.
The dramatic rise in competition and cost for attending colleges across the United States requires creativity. For some, attending college across the pond may provide a world-class education at a lower cost than available to them at home. As globalization continues to drive economic growth, many students will find an international college experience invaluable for their careers and personal growth, which is what college is truly about.
I found spending a semester of college in Argentina to be one of the most defining experiences in my life. Getting out of my comfort zone and developing fluency in Spanish opened up incredible opportunities for me. I never would have landed a job on Wall Street after college but for studying abroad in Argentina. Drawing on both my own personal experience and a strategic approach to the application process and beyond, I am excited to support students who seek similar international experiences for their education.
Succeeding in the college admissions process is as much about standing out from a sea of other highly qualified applicants as it is about developing the foundation for long-term success. As we begin 2018 and students return from winter break, set healthy college admissions resolutions that will not only improve your child’s odds of admission, but empower them up to achieve their goals in college and beyond.
Here are four resolutions I suggest every high school student adopt and stick to in 2018 to turn their college admissions goals into a reality.
1. Make a Plan
Given the fierce competition to earn a spot at selective colleges, it is critical to create a plan to stand out. Students who sign up for every AP class offered learn the hard way that they have little time to do things to stand out beyond their transcript. Approach every class, activity, and test strategically to ensure that your child can dedicate time to the things that matter the most to her and will deliver the highest return to her applications.
2. Develop Passions and Skills
Admissions officers have many talented applicants to choose from when admitting applicants. Admissions officers are not looking for well-rounded students. Rather, they are seeking passionate specialists, which together, create a well-rounded class. To stand out and earn a spot at your child’s dream college, focus on the areas that matter the most to your child, and look for opportunities to excel in them. Earn recognition wherever possible, and think of creative ways to demonstrate an ability to make a difference in whatever your child naturally enjoys doing.
3. Gain foreign language skills
If you are worried about good jobs being shipped overseas, your child should become fluent in a foreign language so she can be part of an international team. Admissions officers and employers are impressed by applicants who demonstrate an interest in foreign cultures and who have made an effort to connect with people out of their comfort zones. Foreign language fluency can lead to higher pay and more robust career opportunities that do not exist for people who do not speak a second language.
4. Focus on yourself, not classmates
A collective group panic sets in somewhere in eleventh grade as students become nervous about their odds of admission. To reduce stress levels, to the extent possible, try to ignore other students’ or parents’ stress and focus on your own individual plan for earning admission. Colleges do not look for multiple copies of the same applicant. They will build a dynamic class comprised of students with different interests and skills. Avoid the temptation to do what everyone else is doing; following the crowd is likely to be counterproductive and lead your child to blend in with other applicants.
By staying true to yourself and creating a plan to develop skills and passions that admissions officers covet, your child will position herself for success, both for college and beyond. Best of luck in this process in 2018!
The Washington Post included a fantastic feature story that provides an in depth look into how the University of Maryland, College Park admissions committee works. Click here to read the article.
As a college counselor, I think this article offers several important takeaways that parents and students must recognize as they prepare to succeed in the college admissions process. Notice how much emphasis is placed on the human elements of the application. A "C" grade is not disqualifying and neither does a perfect SAT score result in automatic admission. Rather the admissions officers toil over upward grade trends, which suggest improved study and work habits and the quality of the essays.
This article highlights the importance of crafting a story in a college application that makes the admissions officers want to admit your child based on what they would add to the college. Remember application quality matters. Create a plan early in high school to stand out and earn admission.
Seventy-four percent of parents help pay for their adult children’s living expenses, according to a new CreditCards.com and BankRate survey. The cellphone bill is the most common expense parents help pay (39%), and other top expenses they assist with include transportation (e.g. car repairs, gas) (36%), rent (24%) and utilities (21%). In total, 52% of parents said they helped their children pay down their student loan debt.
I want to highlight that a quarter of parents of adult children help them pay their rent. Said differently, a quarter of young adults cannot afford to live on their own without financial support from their families. And these are the ones that do not live at home to begin with.
We want better for our children after they graduate from college.
The best way to empower our kids to be healthy, happy, and financially independent adults is to ensure that they: (1) pick a field that offers recent grads well-paying entry level jobs and (2) attend colleges that do not result in crushing student loan burdens that prevent them from being able to obtain core tenants of the American Dream like living independently, buying a home, or starting a family.
The holidays are a great time to discuss the financial implications of studying certain subjects or at certain schools. Our children must understand the likely outcomes for graduates for fields with limited career demand. Your child may love Picasso and Matisse, but does she know what Art History students do after they graduate? There are only so many job openings at the Louvre each year.
Students must also understand what it means to have $250,000 of non-dischargeable student loans with thousand dollar monthly loan payments. The dream may be an elite private college, but if the price tag is not realistic based on savings, merit aid, and financial aid, discuss if other, more affordable, colleges provide similar opportunities and experiences.
Build the foundation for long term success by discussing your child’s plans for the future and how college fits with those goals. You can empower your child to create the life that she envisions—both professionally and personally. There can be no greater gift this year, and the dividends it will pay in the future extend far beyond rent.
Four years of staying up late to study for tests, write essays, prepare for the SAT or ACT on top of the games and recitals have finally led to this: submitting college applications. After your child hits ‘send’, do not forget about critical tasks to ensure that your child’s application is complete and can be reviewed by admissions officers.
Many admissions offices practice rolling admissions—meaning that they review applications on a first come, first serve basis. What does this mean for your child’s applications? You want her application to be reviewed as soon as possible, when the most amount of spots remain to be awarded to applicants.
After your child submits applications you will receive status checkers to verify what has been received and what is outstanding. Check these every few days until all required items are marked as received. Review the following to make sure the following are covered:
2. Sending ACT Scores?
Go to www.act.org and send scores to each school. Note: public university systems, such as at the University of California, require you to submit test scores to each campus (i.e. UCLA and UCSB). You can search for the schools directly in the site and send all scores in one batch or individually.
3. Sending SAT Scores?
Go to www.collegeboard.org and send scores directly to each school. Note: public university systems, such as at the University of California, require you to submit test scores to each campus (i.e. UCLA and UCSB). You can search for the schools directly in the site and send all scores in one batch or individually. If your child took the ACT and the SAT Subject Tests, you will have to send both sets of test scores to each college.
4. Sending Transcripts
Discuss with your school’s guidance counselor what system they use for transcript requests. Many schools take care of transcripts, while Parchment is widely used with public schools throughout the country. Make sure you follow the proper protocol to ensure that the transcripts are submitted in a timely manner.
Remember to tie up any and all loose ends so your hard work and determination shines in a timely manner. Best of luck through the end of this process!
In a survey conducted by Student Loan Report, 69.3% of millennial student loan borrowers would rather receive a student loan payment instead of a gift this holiday season. The survey questioned 1,000 borrowers currently repaying a student loan.
Do not read this as a sign that the holiday spirit is diminishing for the country as whole. Rather, understand how pervasive the student loan crisis is and how it affects recent graduates to the point they would rather forgo a holiday gift in exchange for help with a crushing student loan obligation.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average student loan payment for a 20- to 30-year-old is $351 a month. If you’re worried that gifting money is unsentimental, think again. Chances are, it’s probably what your student borrower really wants for the holidays. In the survey, 58% of respondents said that they plan to use Christmas money to chip down their student loan debt, compared with 41.5% who want to spend it on other things.
At the end of the day, 44.2 million Americans have student loan debt totaling about $1.45 trillion. From that number, about 11.2% of accounts are delinquent (90-plus days late with a payment or in default).
As the holidays approach and seniors put the finishing touches on last minute applications, your family must consider the implications of choosing a college that carries a $200,000 or $300,000 price tag for the total cost of education. Families, this may mean forgoing holidays for years or decades to come. Understand what non-dischargeable financial obligation accompanies your child’s dream college. If that total amount is something you together as a family are not comfortable with, consider lower cost alternatives that provide similar opportunities and probabilities for desired career outcomes.
Remember, a college education is an investment, and it is up to your family to maximize your return on investment.
Parents will move mountains to help their kids become successful. This includes driving like a madman between activities, brainstorming project topics, revising essays, and providing emotional support.
Getting into college is a team sport, and it is OK for parents to be involved in the process, but in doing so, we cannot serve as crutches for our kids to develop the skills they need to be successful in college and beyond.
My advice for the week is to watch this Ted Talk from Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Dean of Stanford Freshmen. It is an amazing talk about giving your kids the tools to succeed. Click here to view.
It is November, and for many high school seniors, this means that they are in the thick of applications and the stress many students impose on themselves thinking that they have to get into their dream school.
Let’s take a step back. There are 2,618 accredited colleges and universities in the United States, and countless junior colleges that provide every student a path to build the foundation for long-term success. The better question to ask, than how do I get in, is what is that path for you?
Avoid the temptation of thinking that only one college will provide that path to what you want to do after college. The reality is that many schools will accept students who have a GPA far below a 4.0, and who have scored the minimum on the SAT or ACT exams. Some of these schools have produced some of the greatest titans of industry.
One antidote to the admissions craze is Frank Bruni’s book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be. He argues that it does not matter what college/university you attend. Rather, what matters is what you make of the experience, how you capitalize on the opportunities, and the lasting relationships you develop during these formative years. Bruni illustrates his argument by citing where the CEO’s of the top ten companies in America went to school:
Most of these schools are very accessible to all students.
For all high school students caught up in the frenzy of figuring out how to get into Stanford, Harvard, or any other college that accepts a mere 5% of its applicants, your time is better spent figuring out how to grow in high school, college, and beyond into a person capable of accomplishing your long-term goals. Work toward foreign language fluency, intern in fields that fascinate you, and develop leadership skills that employers and grad schools covet. You will be pleased to learn that these are the exact things that the Ivies and Stanford’s of the world are looking for in their applicants. However, much more importantly, you will develop the skills along the way to navigate life’s challenges that extend far beyond the diplomas hanging on your wall.
As the creator of College Path and a college counselor, I believe that every family should have access to information that helps them earn admission to the college that is right for their child. This is why I built College Path. I am always happy to share other resources that families can use to make informed decisions that make this process easier and less stressful.
If you are looking for definitive information about what test scores and GPAs are needed for admission, not just the applicant averages, try College Confidential. College Confidential is a forum for students and parents navigating the college admissions process. For highly selective colleges such as Harvard or Stanford, where applicants outnumber places by ten to one, it’s important to look beyond the SAT/ACT averages since there is so little variance between those admitted and those that are not. It is helpful to assess your odds of admission by looking at who was admitted in the prior year and identify any students with scores and demographics similar to your own.
Members active on College Confidential may also be able to provide you with suggestions for identifying colleges that are a great fit, tips for reducing the cost of college through scholarships, and even peer review of personal statements.
There is no magic formula to earn admission. Remember that test scores and GPA alone are not enough to earn admission to many of the most selective colleges in the United States. Whether it is Boston College or UC Berkeley, admissions officers are looking for the next generation of students that are passionate and can make a difference on campus. To stand out, demonstrate that you are a leader capable of propelling the college forward in a field or area that matters to you. Whether that is a cause, an orchestra, a sports team—the choice is yours. Follow your passion and excel where you can. Admissions officers will notice.
To visit College Confidential click here.