Paying for college is a concern for most families. But the single biggest mistake families make in the college application process is failing to apply for financial aid. Even if you think you won't qualify, apply. You may be pleasantly surprised. Today, we're pleased to bring you Part I of a checklist of tasks you should be tackling right now to pay for college, courtesy of College Advisor Alice Kleeman. Use this checklist to make sure you are eligible for ALL the aid you may qualify for.
Have a question about a gap year? Scholarships? Guidebooks for your college search? Undocumented students? Learning differences? Don't forget to take advantage of our extensive listing of Resources! You'll find books and websites for every step and aspect of the college application process under Resources when you click on the Book tab in the header of the website. Check back regularly! We always updating our listings!
October is the cruelest month for high school college counselors, besieged on all sides with seniors intent on applications and juniors beginning their college search and testing. So we gave the counselors a pass for the month. Instead of our Counselor of the Month feature, we bring you a round-up of best advice from the counselors who have graced our website with their guidance and wisdom. Read on to learn their recommendations for applying and financial aid, mistakes to avoid, guidance for students with learning differences and undocumented students, and do's and don'ts for students -- and parents, as well. One of our personal favorites? From Albuquerque Academy's Ralph Figueroa: "Proofread. Spell Czech is knot yore friend and it will betray ewe." See more from Figueroa and others here:
Alice Kleeman, Menlo-Atherton High School, Atherton, California
What is your best advice for applicants?
Have fun with the process; you have the opportunity to think about who you are and who you want to become. Why shouldn't that be enjoyable?
Jayne Caflin Fonash, Academy of Science, Loudoun County, Virginia
What is the biggest mistake you see students make in applying to college?
Our Counselor of the Month for September is Aliza Gilbert, College Counselor at Highland Park High School, a public high school serving more than 2,000 students in Highland Park, Illinois. A graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago, Gilbert also holds a Master in Education from Loyola University Chicago and is working on her Ph.D. in Higher Education, also at Loyola. Formerly Associate Director of Admissions at Lake Forest College, Gilbert joined Highland Park's Counseling Department in 1998.
Located about 25 miles north of Chicago, Highland Park High School serves a diverse student body, including significant numbers of children from military and Hispanic families, a characteristic that drew Gilbert to the school. She has a particular interest in college access and undocumented students -- her Ph.D. dissertation explores how high schools influence undocumented students’ college process. (The state of Illinois is ranked sixth among states with the largest undocumented populations.)
A guide for high-school students who are also illegal immigrants is now available from the College Board. Organized state-by-state, the 55-page guide provides information on admission, financial aid and scholarships, and support services for undocumented students. According to an article in The Miami Herald, James Montoya, vice president for relationship development at the College Board, the plan is the guide will be a "living document" with constantly updated information.