If your student is a High School Junior this year, then you've probably been on some college tours.  It's an exciting time for students and visiting a college will give them an idea of the exciting opportunities that are ahead of them.

Making the most of the time you spend on a college tour is more important than most people realize.  Everyone knows to visit the cafeteria; but many people do not find out what the dining plan includes.  Is it all you can eat, whenever you want to eat?  Is it two meals a day?  Do you have an meal allowance?  I think you get the idea.  Don't just let the college "show" you their school.  Be proactive!  Ask questions and get details.

A few things you should do on your visits:
  • Everyone knows to see the dorms.  Find out if the dorms they show you are the Freshman dorms!  See how far it is from the dorms to the academic building that most of your classes will be in.  It may not seem like a big deal while your visiting a college in July; but if the school is in upstate New York ... it will matter in February.
  • Locate the Student Health Center.  Find out how you receive medical attention if you need it.  Is your medical insurance accepted at local hospitals and medical practices.  Does the college offer student health insurance if the student is not covered under their parents plan?
  • Check out the gym and athletic facilities.  If you are a student that enjoys sports; find out if the facilities are open to all students or if they are reserved for their athletes.  An example:  If there is an indoor swimming pool, are their hours that it is open to the student body, or is it restricted to the swim team, water polo team, etc. during sports seasons?   Even if you are not an athlete, the athletic facilities have some great programs.  Kent State has a rock climbing wall in their athletic facility.  Who doesn't like rock climbing?
  • Look for quiet places!  When you need to study for a big exam, where can you do it.  The dorms are very often, not the best place to study.  Check the libraries and student center for "quiet" places where you or your study group can study.
  • Talk to students.  Ask your parents to meet you in 30 minutes and use that time to get a feel for the college.  Walk around like you belong there and talk to people.  Let them know that you are considering the school and ask them what their experiences have been.

We have a "Tour Sheet" with dozens of things you should be doing while visiting a college.  If you'd like a copy ... contact our office and I'd be happy to email you one.

College Tours are extremely important for your student to get a true feel for the school and to get their questions answered; it's also important for admissions, as it's an opportunity for you to display interest.

For more information ... contact our office!

Why the new FAFSA?  It's a great question. The new FAFSA will launch three months earlier than it used to in the past. It now opens October 1st, 2016 for class of 2017.

High school seniors are applying for financial aid a full year before their first year of college. It also means that they will be dealing with financial aid forms at the same time as admission applications. Plus, the new FAFSA is based off of prior-prior-year tax information, meaning that class of 2017’s financial aid forms will be asking for 2015 tax year numbers. What does this mean for you?

It means that you must plan early!  Parents of students who are in the class of 2018, now is the time to make financial decisions that will affect your students financial aid awards.

Keep in mind, the FAFSA is only one part of the financial aid process.  To ensure the best outcome financially and academically, you need a comprehensive plan for college. Getting professional help can save you stress, time, and money!
I had a family in to see me in the office yesterday and they told me that they were worried.  They were talking to some of their friends who sent their students off to college last year, and their friends revealed that their students did not get in to their top picks ... and on top of that  ... they did not even get a good aid package at their safety school!  "What's the deal with that?", they asked.

It's simple ... their student applied to colleges where they were not a good academic fit.  They were not really qualified to attend the schools they applied to.  "But why didn't their safety school give them any aid?", they asked.

Simple again ... their safety school knew they were the safety school.  That school knew that the only reason for you attending, was that you didn't get into the other schools.  Why should they give you a lucrative aid package when you consider them the school of last resort?

Colleges factor in your "display of interest" in their admissions and aid award decisions.  It's also known as Demonstrated interest.  It refers to the interactions initiated by college applicants with colleges they apply to. These interactions include:

Requesting information
Contacting the admissions office
Campus tours
Overnight visits
Campus interviews
Alumni interviews
Virtual interviews
College fairs
Information sessions
Social media interaction
Early admission
and others things like correspondence by email and phone.

Some colleges use demonstrated interest as a way to gage a student's likelihood of enrolling. Offering admissions to students with demonstrated interest means lower admissions/recruiting costs for the college since they can establish their freshman class sooner and are less likely to lose students to transferring.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that from 2003 to 2006, the percentage of colleges rating demonstrated interest as a "considerably important" factor increased to 21 percent from 7 percent, according to an annual survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Since then, that number has held steady (another 27 percent of colleges now deem it "moderately important").

For the parents referenced above; they could have avoided the whole thing by creating a comprehensive college plan.  Their students should never have applied to a list of schools where their chance of acceptance was low.  Building a good list of viable colleges, that grant good aid packages, and building competition between the schools for the student is crucial to ensuring success in college and making it affordable.

If you'd like to discuss how to create a comprehensive plan for your student, please call us at The College Advisor at 866-244-9971 or go to our website at www.PlanForCollegeAid.com.

Colleges want to appear to be very selective.  Let's face it, if it's tough to get in .... that just wants us want it more ... RIGHT?  

Did you know that if you go on a tour at an Ivy school like Yale or Princeton, they will encourage you to apply ... even if they know that you will not likely be admitted?   If you apply it will increase the number of applicants; but they will still admit the same number of students.  This will make that school appear to be more selective.

The fact that the competition is keen has more -- if not everything -- to do with the sheer number of students applying than it does with the college’s academic standing.  Not many years ago, colleges had to struggle to fill seats. Today, a college looking to welcome a Freshman class of 3,000 may have over 40,000 applicants. You do the math!

Whether you're a high school student or a parent of one, you've probably stressed over the SAT.   Plenty of analogies, misleading multiple choice questions, and a score out of 2400 that everyone habitually reduces to 1600.

Well, the time has finally come.  In the spring of 2016 the new SAT test will come out and two of the most notable changes are:

1.  The score will be 1600 again (with the essay being optional):  The essay will become optional, returning the test to its original score of 1600 (800 in Math, and 800 in English). The essay score will be recorded separately, if the student opts to take it.

3. The guessing penalty will go away:   Students will no longer be penalized for answering a question incorrectly.  

Want to familiarize yourself with all the major changes to the exam?  The following is quoted from the college board web site:

  1. Relevant words in context: "SAT words" will no longer be vocabulary students may not have heard before and are likely not to hear again. Instead, the SAT will focus on words that students will use consistently in college and beyond.
  2. Evidence-based reading and writing. Students will be asked to support answers with evidence, including questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to support their answer choice.
  3. Essay analyzing a source: The essay will measure students' ability to analyze evidence and explain how an author builds an argument to persuade an audience. Responses will be evaluated based on the strength of the analysis as well as the coherence of the writing. The essay portion of the writing section will no longer be required. Two major factors led to this decision. First, while the writing work that students do in the reading and writing section of the exam is deeply predictive of college readiness and success, one essay alone historically has not contributed significantly to the overall predictive power of the exam. Second, feedback from College Board member admission officers was split; some found the essay useful, many did not. The College Board will promote analytical writing throughout their assessments and instructional resources. The organization will also sponsor an awards program modeled after the Pulitzer Prize for the best student analytical writing. The Atlantic magazine has agreed to publish the winners.
  4. Math focused on three key areas: The math section will draw from fewer topics that evidence shows most contribute to student readiness for college and career training. The exam will focus on three essential areas: problem solving and data analysis; the heart of algebra; and passport to advanced math. Students can study these core math areas in depth and have confidence that they will be assessed.
  5. Source documents originate from a wide range of academic disciplines, including science and social studies: The reading section will enable students to analyze a wide range of sources, including literature and literary non-fiction, science, history and social studies.
  6. Analyzing data and texts in real world context: Students will be asked to analyze both text and data in real world contexts, including identifying and correcting inconsistencies between the two. Students will show the work they do throughout their classes by reading science articles and historical and social studies sources.
  7. Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation: Each exam will include a passage drawn from the Founding Documents of America or the Great Global Conversation they inspire — texts like the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  8. Scoring does not deduct points for incorrect answers (rights-only scoring):The College Board will remove the penalty for wrong answers — and go to the simpler, more transparent model of giving students points for the questions they answer correctly. Students are encouraged to select the best answer to every question.

Contact The College Advisor for information on navigating the college admissions process.