SOCIAL MEDIA & THE COLLEGE APPLICATION

Did you know that college admissions officers look at your social media? According to Inside Higher Ed, April 2018, a student’s social media is “fair game.” 

In a new Kaplan poll, 29% of them looked at prospective student’s social media posts. Even though your application is the main decider for admission, your presence on Snap Chat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms can reflect on what others know about you.

This is not a new practice, but with social media becoming more and more “social” and accounts becoming less “private” there is sufficient cause to do your own Social Media Audit.

Carolynn Crabtree, President of Cornerstone Reputation shares these statistics:

  • 67% of admissions officers surveyed searched for applicants on Facebook during the 2014­ – 2015 admissions season
  • 40% found content about the applicant that left a negative impression
  • 53% found content about the applicant left a positive impression
  • 81% of schools surveyed have no formal policy on searching for applicants on social media
  • 22% of admissions officers believe that an applicant could gain an advantage in the admissions process by building a positive online presence

Use Social Media to your advantage.

Admission officers are impressed when they see your talents on social media. You could showcase an article, performance, or award, or show your involvement through community service or as part of a team.  Some colleges allow you to send links with your work directly to them. Whether you blog, are a photographer, play an instrument or sing, make sure the content is high quality. See the article on Music and Art Supplements for more information.

These days many colleges assess your interest in them before deciding whether to admit you. See my article Demonstrate Interest for details.

Athletes are checked most often to discern their character and lifestyle.

Most coaches are already online looking at profiles and accounts that you’ve sent to them.

Coaches want to know about your personality and if you will be a good addition to their team socially, as well as athletically.

Text Box: TIP: Make your social media accounts work to your advantage. 

•	Think before you post or tweet! Promote yourself. Show your best characteristics.

•	Connect with colleges that you like on social media to show your interest. Be very careful to never say anything negative on your social media about a college. Colleges track this carefully and it can take you out of the running.
•	Start an About.me homepage and when schools Google you this will come up. No friends can comment on it. You have full control. 
•	Start a LinkedIn page and connect with the college’s admissions rep for your area. That sets you apart in multiple ways.

Tags: college admissionsCollege Counselingcollege guidanceCollege successeducational consulting

Share this entry

Social Media & The College Application

Did you know that college admissions officers look at your social media? According to Inside Higher Ed, April 2018, a student’s social media is “fair game.” 

In a new Kaplan poll, 29% of them looked at prospective student’s social media posts. Even though your application is the main decider for admission, your presence on Snap Chat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms can reflect on what others know about you.

Text Box: TIP: Google Yourself!
See what others can see about you!
•	Are you drinking? You are underage.
•	What are you posting and reposting on Twitter?
•	Are you “following” a college’s social media accounts? If so, your account is open and easy for colleges to access.
•	Pay attention to what your friends write on your accounts. That also says a lot about you. Change your settings so that you have to approve every comment
•	Aggressive language and unpleasant comments reflect badly on you. Avoid posting with this tone.

This is not a new practice, but with social media becoming more and more “social” and accounts becoming less “private” there is sufficient cause to do your own Social Media Audit.

Carolynn Crabtree, President of Cornerstone Reputation shares these statistics:

  • 67% of admissions officers surveyed searched for applicants on Facebook during the 2014­ – 2015 admissions season
  • 40% found content about the applicant that left a negative impression
  • 53% found content about the applicant left a positive impression
  • 81% of schools surveyed have no formal policy on searching for applicants on social media
  • 22% of admissions officers believe that an applicant could gain an advantage in the admissions process by building a positive online presence

Use Social Media to your advantage.

Admission officers are impressed when they see your talents on social media. You could showcase an article, performance, or award, or show your involvement through community service or as part of a team.  Some colleges allow you to send links with your work directly to them. Whether you blog, are a photographer, play an instrument or sing, make sure the content is high quality. See the article on Music and Art Supplements for more information.

These days many colleges assess your interest in them before deciding whether to admit you. See my article Demonstrate Interest for details.

Athletes are checked most often to discern their character and lifestyle.

Most coaches are already online looking at profiles and accounts that you’ve sent to them.

Coaches want to know about your personality and if you will be a good addition to their team socially, as well as athletically.

Text Box: TIP: Make your social media accounts work to your advantage. 

•	Think before you post or tweet! Promote yourself. Show your best characteristics.

•	Connect with colleges that you like on social media to show your interest. Be very careful to never say anything negative on your social media about a college. Colleges track this carefully and it can take you out of the running.
•	Start an About.me homepage and when schools Google you this will come up. No friends can comment on it. You have full control. 
•	Start a LinkedIn page and connect with the college’s admissions rep for your area. That sets you apart in multiple ways.

Tags: college admissionsCollege Counselingcollege guidanceCollege successeducational consulting

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Social Media & The College Application

Did you know that college admissions officers look at your social media? According to Inside Higher Ed, April 2018, a student’s social media is “fair game.” 

In a new Kaplan poll, 29% of them looked at prospective student’s social media posts. Even though your application is the main decider for admission, your presence on Snap Chat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms can reflect on what others know about you.

Text Box: TIP: Google Yourself!
See what others can see about you!
•	Are you drinking? You are underage.
•	What are you posting and reposting on Twitter?
•	Are you “following” a college’s social media accounts? If so, your account is open and easy for colleges to access.
•	Pay attention to what your friends write on your accounts. That also says a lot about you. Change your settings so that you have to approve every comment
•	Aggressive language and unpleasant comments reflect badly on you. Avoid posting with this tone.

This is not a new practice, but with social media becoming more and more “social” and accounts becoming less “private” there is sufficient cause to do your own Social Media Audit.

Carolynn Crabtree, President of Cornerstone Reputation shares these statistics:

  • 67% of admissions officers surveyed searched for applicants on Facebook during the 2014­ – 2015 admissions season
  • 40% found content about the applicant that left a negative impression
  • 53% found content about the applicant left a positive impression
  • 81% of schools surveyed have no formal policy on searching for applicants on social media
  • 22% of admissions officers believe that an applicant could gain an advantage in the admissions process by building a positive online presence

Use Social Media to your advantage.

Admission officers are impressed when they see your talents on social media. You could showcase an article, performance, or award, or show your involvement through community service or as part of a team.  Some colleges allow you to send links with your work directly to them. Whether you blog, are a photographer, play an instrument or sing, make sure the content is high quality. See the article on Music and Art Supplements for more information.

These days many colleges assess your interest in them before deciding whether to admit you. See my article Demonstrate Interest for details.

Athletes are checked most often to discern their character and lifestyle.

Most coaches are already online looking at profiles and accounts that you’ve sent to them.

Coaches want to know about your personality and if you will be a good addition to their team socially, as well as athletically.

Text Box: TIP: Make your social media accounts work to your advantage. 

•	Think before you post or tweet! Promote yourself. Show your best characteristics.

•	Connect with colleges that you like on social media to show your interest. Be very careful to never say anything negative on your social media about a college. Colleges track this carefully and it can take you out of the running.
•	Start an About.me homepage and when schools Google you this will come up. No friends can comment on it. You have full control. 
•	Start a LinkedIn page and connect with the college’s admissions rep for your area. That sets you apart in multiple ways.

Tags: college admissionsCollege Counselingcollege guidanceCollege successeducational consulting

Share this entry

You might also like:

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woman filling out form

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https://www.annapoliscollegeconsulting.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/20161021_113240-180x180.jpg

https://www.annapoliscollegeconsulting.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/20121029-multichoicetest-300x219-180x180.jpg

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graduation

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College Acceptances for 2019

Congratulations to the Class of 2019! Each our students worked hard, followed the process, and as a cohort received over 3,000,000 in merit aid offers. It is such an exciting time in their lives and Annapolis College Consulting is proud to be a part of their bright futures.

The colleges that they applied and were accepted to are quite diverse, from University of Alabama to University of California San Diego, Cornell to University of Washington, UNC Chapel Hill to Rice University, William & Mary to NC State. Happily, every senior who applied to University of Maryland was accepted, which keeps my long running track record for this institution.  

Every year gaining admission to well known “brand name” colleges becomes more difficult as students vie to outdo each other in many arenas. The reassuring news is that Annapolis College Consulting students were accepted into these colleges while seniors with similar statistics were denied.  For Ivy League schools, this year’s admissions cycle again had the lowest acceptance rates in history at almost all universities. These colleges also changed their institutional admissions priorities and accepted more first-generation college students as well as increased their demographic diversity.

These are the 80 different colleges that students were accepted to this year:

Alabama
American University
Auburn
Belmont
Boston College
Brandeis University
Bryant University
Bryn Mawr College
Christopher Newport
Clemson University
Colorado State
Colorado U at Boulder
Cornell
DePaul
Dickinson
Drexel
Duquesne
Eastern Carolina U
Elon
Emory
Fairfield
Florida International U.
Florida State Panama City
Fordham
Furman
George Mason U
George Washington U
Georgia Tech
Goucher
High Point
Hofstra
Ithaca
James Madison University
La Salle
Louisiana State
Louisville
Loyola
Manhattan College 
McDaniel 
Miami U. of Ohio
Michigan State
Morgan State
NC State University
North Carolina A & T
Ohio State
Penn State U
Pepperdine
Point Park
Purdue
Rice
Rutgers New Brunswick
Salisbury
Scripps College
Towson
Tulane
U of Maryland Baltimore County
U of Maryland College Park
U of South Carolina Bus School
U of Tampa
U of Vermont
U of Washington
U. of Delaware
U. of Florida
U. of Georgia
U. of Iowa
U. of Miami
U. of Michigan
U. of Pittsburgh
U. of Rhode Island
U. of South Carolina
U. of South Florida
U. of Tennessee
UMD Business School
UNC Chapel Hill
University of Cincinnati
University of Richmond
University of California San Diego
Virginia Commonwealth U
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

William & Mary

The College Admission Scandal

Bribes and phony credentials versus great college planning advice

  • Parents bribing college officials to get their child admitted to college?
  • Students — knowingly or unknowingly — submitting standardized test scores taken by someone else?
  • Teens faking a learning disability in order to secure extra time on standardized tests?
  • Students (or more likely, their parents) sending a video with the student’s image replacing that of a world-class athlete in an effort to grab coaches’ attention?
  • A college counselor wheeling and dealing with parents, coaches, and university officials and dangling a promise of admission to any family that can pay?

These behaviors are abhorrent and antithetical to the growth of a student transitioning to college.

These behaviors are also very rare.

The vast majority of coaches, admission officers, and test preparation tutors are conscientious, moral, and working in a positive way to achieve fair outcomes. And the vast majority of professionals paid by families to help students and parents through this process are honest and hardworking.

I’m not speaking here of college and career counselors in schools. These folks work diligently with students, helping with college and career decisions. The events in the last week involve a private counselor, and since I am one of them I’m going to focus on that group of professionals.

We are called Independent Educational Consultants (IECs). We belong — or at least the ones you would want to work with belong — to either the Independent Educational Consultants Association (iecaonline.com) or Higher Education Consultants Association (hecaonline.com). We may be members of both organizations. We may also belong to the National Association for College Admission Counselors (nacacnet.org). And if we want to earn a credential, an increasingly popular option, we can become a Certified Educational Planner (aicep.org) after taking a board-certified examination. If we pass the CEP assessment and are granted a CEP credential, we are required to meet stringent recertification standards every five years. That recertification includes visiting colleges and earning continuing education hours. Significantly, if I am a member of any of these organizations, and/or if I am certified, I am required to adhere to very detailed ethical guidelines and standards of practice. In hiring an educational consultant, the vast majority of parents are seeking guidance in finding colleges that “fit” their child’s abilities and aspirations. These parents take (or should take) pains to interview consultants and check out their affiliations, backgrounds, and references.

The “counselor” involved in the recent admission scam belonged to none of these professional organizations, nor did he possess any credential. He likely didn’t take classes in the field or attend a professional training program. And it is evident that professional standards or ethical concerns had no place in his services. The parents who sought him out were never looking for an individual to help them find a great college match for their student but someone who would game the system so their child could attend the “status” school of choice.

I recently published a textbook for IECs, and throughout the book, certain themes emerge. One is that we work to find the right match between student and college. That is, we ask which are the colleges that can help this student thrive? At which colleges will she be pushed and not shoved? Where will she be happy? Where will she learn more about herself, others, and the world?

Another theme is that “fitting in” is just as important as “getting in,” if not more so. As IECs, we try to know the individual teen as a student and as a person. We discuss with both student and parents issues such as cost, size, location, and departmental strengths. Because IECs make regular campus visits and talk with students, faculty members, and admission staff, we are able to identify colleges that match the needs of individual students. By sharing that information with families and encouraging our student clients to take the lead in the process, we work to find the best college matches for every individual.

A point I emphasized in my book is that IECs make absolutely no guarantee of admission. Indeed, I would refuse to serve a family who asked me to game the admission process. My job is to help students define what they want in a college and apply to schools where they can discover and grow and thrive. I want the students I work with to fully “own” their college acceptances. They get into colleges not because of me but because they were active and engaged in their college search and took the time to identify what they — not their parents — really needed and wanted in a school.

What IECs do is open up college options for the student. We understand that there are many good choices for every student. We are familiar with a wide array of colleges with the facilities and faculties to provide a solid stepping stone to a student’s future education or career. What makes us happy is when our students find the right college for them, whether it’s a large competitive university, a small private school, or a local community college.

I’m proud of my colleagues and what we do. I would never have entered this field had I felt I was being paid for influence. I’m proud to be involved in a profession whose annual conferences are filled with sessions on understanding nonverbal learning disabilities, defining critical considerations for STEM students, helping students and parents understand merit and need-based aid, and developing tools to help students of color thrive in college. I’m proud of the growing educational opportunities available to IECs.

I’m proud of the fact that we are seeing students in our offices at all income levels. I’m proud that we are finding great choices for students graduating from well-known high schools and from lesser known schools. I’m proud that almost every IEC accepts pro bono clients. I’m proud of the books published by IECs on topics such as learning disabilities and college transfer. I’m proud of the fact that almost all families can find an affordable consultant.

One of the most pernicious aspects of the recent admission scandal is that it reinforces the beliefs that only certain name schools are worth attending, that the wealthy can buy admission, and that the only way into a “dream” school is by the back door, with mommy and daddy pulling strings and pulling out their wallets.

We need to put the kibosh on college admission myths.

Colleges that are more selective are not necessarily more scholarly. Colleges that cost more are not inherently better. Colleges in the East are no better or no worse than colleges in the West. A high ranking in US News & World Report does not make a college the right place for every student.

It’s true that the better-known colleges are besieged with applications and that the number admitted is low. But it is also true that most colleges admit over 60% of those who apply, and hundreds accept even more.

I often encounter the bogus notion that only the elite colleges are worth the cost. I’ve been visiting colleges every year for over 30 years. I’ve seen more and more colleges in the United States make their way into the so-called “top tier.” The idea that there are only a handful of “good colleges” and that the rest are, by default, “less-than-good” is simply wrong. (I often say that while the number of truly amazing colleges has risen in the last couple of decades, the perception of quality hasn’t changed all that much.)

Instead of just the eight Ivy League colleges and a few others, I believe that there are at least 100 colleges in the top tier, and that is likely a conservative number. At each of these schools, students are getting a superior education. They are meeting interesting kids from all over the world. They are taking advantage of study abroad programs. They are getting a well-rounded undergraduate education. And they are going on to successful graduate schools or success in the world of work.

A list of the undergraduate colleges attended by students recently admitted to Harvard Law School shows elite selective colleges but also schools such as Northern Arizona, Auburn, Holy Cross, Creighton, Howard, Moravian, SUNY College of Environmental Science, and the University of Tennessee. I find that generally it is success in college that counts more than graduation from a big name school.

Every parent wants the best for their child but the “best” varies for every student. Most parents don’t want their children to feel as if they were not good enough to get into college on their own. Most parents recognize the difference between having an Ivy decal on the back window of their vehicle versus finding an enriching and life changing collegiate experience for their son or daughter. Most parents don’t believe that their status in life, earnings, or fame entitles their children to be admitted to an elite college.

Those parents and their children who do buy into the “dream” school concept are only setting themselves up for disappointment. The real dream school is one that provides students with opportunities to grow and develop, to stretch their wings and open themselves up to new concepts, and to learn about themselves and other people and the world itself.

Steven R. Antonoff is an Independent Educational Consultant in Denver. Dr. Antonoff is an instructor in the certificate program in Independent Educational Consulting through the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of A Student of Colleges: Fundamentals of Independent Educational Consulting, intended for professionals and two popular college planning books for students and families: College Match: A Blueprint for Choosing the Best School for You (now in its 14th edition) and The College Finder: Choosing the School That’s Right for You (Fourth Edition). He was dean of admission and financial aid at the University of Denver.

What To Do When You Are Wait Listed

Decide Whether to Stay on the List – Your next step is to respond and let the college know whether or not you want to stay on the waiting list. It makes sense to keep your spot on the list only if you’re really interested in going to the college.

Before you decide, find out whether there are any conditions attached to being wait-listed. For example, since you’re notified later than other applicants, you may have fewer housing options.

Even if you decide to remain on the waiting list, prepare to attend another college. Choose the best fit from the colleges that accepted you, fill out the paperwork and send a deposit. You’ll forfeit this deposit if the college that wait-listed you offers you a place and you accept. Still, you need to be sure you have a place in an incoming freshman class next fall.

Take control – If you decide to stay on the waiting list, be proactive. Here’s what you can do to boost your chances of being accepted.

Get a sense of your chances of admission. Contact the admission office to find out if the college ranks wait-listed students or if it has a priority list. Most are willing to let you know your status. The higher you rank on the list the better your chances of being accepted.

Write a letter to the admission office. The college has already decided that you have the academic credentials for admittance. Now’s the time to mention any additional nonacademic factors that might help your case — any new achievements or supplemental information. Emphasize your strong desire to attend the college and make a case for why you’re a good fit. You can tell them that you’ll enroll if they accept you, but only if you’re absolutely certain you will.

Study hard. This is no time to slack off. If you’re wait-listed, you may be reevaluated based on your third- and fourth-quarter grades.

Stay involved. Show admission officers you’re committed to sports, clubs and other activities.

Request another (or a first) interview. An interview can give you a personal contact — someone who can check on the status of your application. You can also enlist the help of your high school counselor or someone you know who graduated from that college.

Realize that you’ve already achieved something. You were wait-listed, not turned away. Many students were not as successful.

Reconsider the colleges that accepted you.  If you would be just as happy at one of your other choices, send in a deposit and plan to attend that college. Then turn down the spot on the waiting list. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel after your decision has been made.

Let admission officers know why you’re a great fit for their college.

20 Reasons a College Degree is More Powerful Than a High School Diploma

Is a college degree really worth the cost and effort?

Here are my top 20 reasons that a college degree is worthwhile:

  1. You’ll earn about $1 million more in salary over your lifetime
  2. Your life expectancy is going to be longer on average
  3. You will have more savings as an adult
  4. Enjoy the flexibility to change jobs and cities if you choose to
  5. More purchasing options because you have more income

If money isn’t your motivator – how about these:

  1. Enjoy more hobbies and leisure activities
  2. Better health due to better decisions
  3. Greater job security
  4. More optimism about the future
  5. Better memories of the past

College enables you to:

  1. Live and socialize with tons of new people your own age
  2. Develop friendships with new, unique, interesting, and fun people
  3. Try new activities at little or no cost
  4. Attend concerts and sporting events for free
  5. Travel abroad for a meaningful amount of time

Still not convinced? How about:

  1. See free movies shown at the college before they are on video
  2. All you can eat buffets everyday
  3. You can join a weird club
  4. You can start your own new (even weirder) club
  5. Your kids are more likely to want to go to college too

Obviously everyone has their own reasons for choosing to go to college, and for choosing the college that they attend. Ultimately you’re the only one who can decide what’s right for your situation.

Deciding that college is the correct path is only the beginning. Whether you want the benefits of working with a college consultant or go it alone, make sure to ask the right questions about your target colleges so that youchoose a college that is the right fit for you.

Join the conversation – share your ideas about why a college degree is awesome on our Facebook page

Thanks for reading!

Your Body Language Shapes You

A number of years ago I heard this Ted Talk, and have now read Amy Cuddy’s book Presence, and I want to share this extremely useful and powerful information. The book outlines the many people whose lives this video has changed, and the research behind it. This can improve your test taking, presentations, interviews, athletics, answering questions in school, and stressful interactions.

If you read the book you will see the many and extremely diverse ways that people throughout the world have transformed themselves based on this video. The book also discusses other research and simple movements that you can adopt to change your life. Please take the time to watch this talk, and use it to your benefit.

How to Fill out the Parent Brag Sheet

The parent’s brag sheet is one item guidance counselors use to write college recommendations for your student. The time and effort that you put into this document reaps important benefits in the college process. Nobody knows your student like you do, and now you have the opportunity to highlight their best qualities.

At many public high schools, the student to counselor ratio can be extremely high (in excess of 500:1). Though you may find some of the questions on the Brag Sheet to be elementary, counselors often don’t have the time, resources or opportunity to get to know your student at a more personal level. Further, college admission counselors know that sometimes the most valuable insights into a student’s life come straight from the student’s high school counselor. That’s why filling out this survey accurately and with detailed information is so important!

The Brag Sheet is a document your student’s counselor will use to provide details about their life inside and outside of the classroom. They need and want useful anecdotes about your student. They are trying to paint a picture for an admission counselor; provide them with a vibrant color palette!  Be truthful, but also stay on the positive side. Remember, your counselor is looking for direct quotes to insert into a recommendation letter. Give them some dynamic options!

What are some common Brag Sheet questions?

How has your student grown and matured over the last four years? Is your student on an “upward trend” in their grades while adding more rigor to their schedule? Are they doing an internship over the summer? Do they have a leadership position in a club which has taught them important life lessons? Can your student now advocate for themselves in the classroom when he/she had trouble with it before? Is he/she taking advantage of extra academic opportunities? These are all great ways to demonstrate commitment to academics and maturing throughout high school. Think outside the classroom as well. Is your student taking on more responsibility at home? Is he/she taking care of grandparents or younger siblings? Maturity can also be focused on personal growth. Is your student overcoming social or emotional challenges? Are they “breaking out of their shell?” A compelling “shift” in a student is definitely something to mention and explain.

What are your student’s greatest accomplishments over his/her years of high school?  Think about defining moments for your student. Was there any particular achievement inside or outside of the classroom you’d want to highlight? Provide some detail and background. It isn’t just that your student was “elected to a position in student government”, it’s that they “ran a positive and progressive campaign during a busy junior year.” Remember, don’t limit yourself to in-school activities. Maybe your student took care of sick family members or had to deal with a tough situation outside of school? Accomplishments don’t have to be academic or focus on awards, it can be overcoming “real life” challenges as well.

What words best describe your child? Time to break out your thesaurus, or look back at the personality profile that I did! Seriously, put some effort into this question. Your student is dynamic, so choose words that are as well. When counselors fill out Common App forms and other documentation for students, they are usually asked to describe your student in a few words to the admission committee. Give them great options! “Smart” can be “intelligent”, “funny” can be “witty” or “humorous”, and “outgoing” can be “courageous.” You may also be asked to demonstrate why you’re describing your student in this way. Make sure to have some specific examples ready!

Did you child face any challenges or are there circumstances that may have affected their educational journey? Life takes all kinds of twists and turns. If you have special circumstances that you wish your student’s counselor – and in turn colleges – to be aware of, this is the place to discuss them. Anything from serious family crisis (the loss of a loved one, job or home) to educational challenges (IEPs, disabilities, accommodations) would fall into this category. Even “smaller” experiences like the move to a new school or city can be addressed here. Contextualize these experiences for your student’s counselor and show how they have affected your student’s life. However, there is no need to overstate something for the sake of answering a question. If your student hasn’t faced any serious challenges, don’t answer this question.

Anything else you’d like to share?  Use this space as an opportunity to share the side of your child that others might glance past. How they might be an asset to a college through their volunteerism or team participation. Maybe there’s something special about your child that others don’t regularly see. Devotion to family, patience with others, being humble about accomplishments – these are all sub-surface aspects of your student that are definitely worth mentioning.

Ultimately, you have important insights into who your child really is and what makes them wonderful. Make sure that your student’s counselor, and potential admission counselors, have an intriguing picture.

Financial Considerations when Choosing a College

What Will the College Actually Cost?

When you receive your scholarship and financial awards from your colleges take the time to look at the school’s net price for you. That is Cost of Attendance – which is tuition, room, board, fees, books, etc. — (minus grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships). Separate any loans that the family would have to pay back.

Look at your Financial and Merit Aid Awards Carefully.

Some colleges say: “renewable.” Some financial and merit aid is meant as a one-time enticement for entering freshman, while other aid is for all four years — but it might be contingent on your kid’s GPA. Make sure you read the letter very carefully and know the conditions. Then, if you have any questions call the school’s financial aid office to get answers. Is it based on your student’s GPA? And if your kid earns those grades, is it certain the money will be there each year?

Do the Colleges Accept your Students’ AP and IB credits for College Credit? 

Save tuition by choosing a school that accepts your kid’s college credits. Many of my students get a years’ worth of college credit at the outset. This can obviously save you a year of college tuition and get them out into the working world earlier.

Tell your Students the Truth about your Finances.

It may be hard not to allow your kid to attend the most expensive college, but your long term financial stability is very important. Weigh the schools, how much you’ll contribute, how much in loans your kid should take, what the schools’ graduation rates are, if they are offering work-study money, etc. Once you have all the offers, evaluate your family’s circumstances, do you have another child that will be in college soon? Are there any major expenses that you have not factored in? Does your student want to go to graduate school, and therefore a cheaper undergraduate degree would be fine?

If you Accept Student Loans, use the Federal Loans First.

Federal loans generally have lower interest rates than private loans, no hidden fees, and better repayment terms. Stafford Loans — direct loans from the government — have the best current interest rate. They are limited to $5,500 for freshmen, $6,500 for sophomores and $7,500 for juniors and seniors.

Never Use your Retirement Savings.

If you do, you will be taxed on that money and which will reduce your child’s financial aid eligibility the next year. You need to keep your money in your retirement accounts.

You can Negotiate your Offer.

As long as you have a good reason, you can ask the college’s financial aid department to grant you more money. In many instances you can mention a better offer from a competing college, or a family circumstance which changes your ability to pay. Definitely call if there is a divorce or a lost job. Have all your financial information ready when you make the call. Be polite and clear, not whiny or pushy. Some financial aid officer make $40,000 a year, so be careful in how you describe your circumstances.

Congratulations on Your Successes!!