It's decision time! Your financial aid award letters will usually arrive with your letters of acceptance, or soon thereafter. Even though you will be celebrating and contemplating your choices, you will also need to be focused and diligent about evaluating your financial aid offers. College advisor Alice Kleeman is back with advice for students and families and answers for your questions during this important time.
- You will often receive financial aid offers (also called "financial aid packages" or "financial aid award letters") with your admit letter or shortly thereafter. Review these offers carefully. Ask questions at your College and Career Center or Guidance Office if you don't understand your letters.
- Different colleges cost different amounts, present their costs in different ways, and offer different amounts of financial aid in different combinations. This can make it difficult to understand which combination of price and student aid award is best. Here are some tools for comparing financial aid awards:
It's decision time. For some of you -- those with a clear first-choice or an early admission -- your choice of which college to attend may be straightforward. For others -- those with no clear first-choice and multiple admission letters -- choosing will require further thought.
Our gap year experts, Bob Clagett and Holly Bull, return with answers to your questions. You can see their previous posts with information on choosing a gap year program and how to apply for a gap year, including resources, here and here.
What tips do you have for students who are hoping to pursue a gap year, but don't necessarily want to do a program? I know there are organizations like WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) where students can work independently and safely across the globe, but are there other ways to connect with far-away places without traveling with a group of American teens?
Different colleges cost different amounts, present their costs in different ways, and offer different amounts of fiancial aid in different combinations. This can make it difficult to understand which combination of price and student aid award is best.Diane Stemper, Executive Director of Financial Aid at The Ohio State University, joins us today for the first of a two-part post on comparing financial aid awards so that students and their families can be wise consumers and better understand what they are being offered and signing on for.
During 30 years as a financial aid director, I have worked at several different colleges and universities, creating and revising award letters at each and every school. Financial aid offices across the country engage in the same activity, striving to provide a clear message in the financial aid award letter and often approaching it in a slightly different manner. The result is that letters from different institutions often do not look the same. How do you understand this land of acronyms and abbreviations? And more importantly, how do you understand what the cost will be to you and how do you compare this for various institutions as you make your very important college choice decision?
There are a few basic definitions that will assist you in sorting out the information:
Now is the time when many juniors are walking into their first college interviews and seniors are winding up their admission process with scholarship interviews. With that in mind, we asked college advisor Alice Kleeman for her best advice for students. As usual, she goes the extra mile to shepherd students through what they can expect. Read on about preparing for an interview, how to make a solid first impression, and why an interview is not the time to be modest.
An interview is an opportunity! How many other times in your life are you invited to talk about yourself, to share the best of yourself with others? A college or scholarship interview is not to be dreaded or feared, but rather to be enjoyed. After all, who knows and understands the subject of YOU better than YOU? The following common-sense suggestions for successful interviews should help you relax and enjoy the process.
The transition from high school to college, particularly for students who leave home and live in campus residence halls, is a challenge for nearly all students. However, some students find it more daunting than others. Experienced counselors, both in high schools and on college campuses, have learned to recognize the stages that most students go through, beginning at the end of senior year, through the summer after graduation, and continuing through freshman year of college. But most students have only a vague idea of what this transition will be like and are therefore stunned by the challenges they encounter. First generation students, in particular, are likely to encounter surprises because their parents, having not attended college, haven’t had discussions with them about what to expect.
Today, educational psychologist Jane McClure begins a series that will walk students and parents through what the future may hold.
In a guest post today, Jennifer Karan, Executive Director of the SAT Program at The College Board, discusses the steps high school freshmen can take to plan ahead for a college education -- a key to success. This article originally appeared on The College Board website.
As a former English teacher and high school dean of students, I know that there are few things as daunting, mysterious and exciting to a teenager than freshman year of high school. It’s a whole new world: the hallways are foreign and at larger schools, students sometimes feel as though they need a GPS to get from class to class; the upperclassmen seem so much older and are brimming with a glowing confidence; teacher expectations and homework may require substantial adjustment. And college seems like a distant point on the horizon.
Part of the trepidation may be what adults understand as not being able to see the forest for the trees. However, when students are able to envision how the various academic courses and opportunities in arts, athletics and other programs that develop interests (the school paper, community service or a part-time job) form the "Big Picture," they are able to navigate this terrain successfully, with greater purpose and enjoyment.
In the final installment of our series on the changes to the writing section of the Common Application, Jeannine Lalonde, Senior Assistant Dean of Admission at the University of Virginia -- and the force behind one of our favorite admission blogs "Notes from Peabody" -- joins us to talk about the new essay prompts and the role that the essay plays in admission decisions.
What are your thoughts about the new essay prompts?
I’m on the Common Application’s Apps Advisory Committee and the Outreach Committee shared the questions with us a few months ago. I was impressed with how the questions were defined, yet give the applicants freedom to go in whatever direction feels right to them.
I can still remember sitting in front of a blank piece of paper and being uncertain about how to start a personal statement for my college applications. These questions would have given me a nice jumping off point.
What impact, if any, do you see the new essay prompts having – on both college admission offices and applicants?
February is Financial Aid Awareness Month! And college advisor Alice Kleeman is back with advice on what students and families should be doing this month in applying for financial aid.
* Because February is Financial Aid Awareness Month, there are usually numerous initiatives to educate families during these weeks. Look for financial aid nights at local high schools, any "open office hours" a financial aid office might hold for prospective students, national programs such as College Goal Sundays or state programs such as California's Cash for College Workshops. Attend with your family so that you are sure you've done everything possible in pursuing financial aid opportunities.
* Finish the FAFSA if you have not already done so! Again, you do NOT have to wait until you and your parents have filed your income tax returns; you may use estimates on the FAFSA and then update the information once you have filed your income tax forms. It is better to file on time with estimates than to file late!
* Pay attention to deadlines this month! February is a time when many deadlines kick in.