It's Financial Aid Awareness Month. Check out Vanderbilt University's Dean of Admissions Doug Christiansen in Financial Aid: The University Insider's Guide on the college's YouTube channel. What if I'm uncomfortable talking about my finances? Should I fill out both the FAFSA and CSS Profile? Will it impact my chances of admission if we ask a lot of questions about financial aid? Christiansen answers these questions and more about student aid. And the video also provides resources and links for more information. Check it out here.
OWL, the Purdue Online Writing Lab, is featuring excellent advice on the college essay from some of our good friends. Check out the post here -- for commentary on the essay and how colleges view this step in the application from Vanderbilt's Doug Christiansen, Caltech's Jarrid Whitney, and University of Chicago's Jim Nondorf, as well as undergraduate admission deans from University of Arizona, Rutgers, and University of Illinois.
We have three terrific experts featured here this month and we wanted to take one more opportunity to bring them to your attention! In case you missed them, take the time to read our Q & A's with Kenyon Dean of Admissions Jennifer Delahunty and Pine Crest School college counselor Marcia Hunt, as well as the post featuring Vanderbilt Admissions Dean Doug Christiansen on the role of volunteer work in an admission decision. These are consummate experts with advice helpful to all students and families going through the application process.
Yet another article is making the rounds aimed at amping up the pressure on students and their families. Headlined "Community Service Work Increasingly Important for College Applicants," it appeared in the US News and World Report Money section. Promoting the results of a "scientific report," it states that "admission officers place a high value on a student's long-term commitment to a cause or organization." Of course, that's true at face value. But the article goes on to imply that that "cause or organization" must be community service.
As these articles usually are, it's confusing and provocative, offering advice such as this: "Applicants need to take care in how they position their volunteer activities." The implicit message: You had better have community service on your list of extracurricular activities or you will suffer consequences.
Deans do place a high value on consistent commitment to a cause or organization -- or activity, pursuit or involvement -- but that does not translate to community service specifically being necessary to add to the list of everything else students are doing. It is one of the many ways students' lists of activities can reflect their commitments and passions and is not, for most colleges, a stand-alone by itself.