Dr. StrangeCollege

April is the Craziest Month for Seniors and their Families

Jane Kulow, aka Dr. StrangeCollege, is back with advice for seniors and their families as application season nears the finish line of decisions. 

 

April is the craziest month.

T.S. Eliot may have called April the cruelest month, but for high school seniors that label might go to March. After the long autumn months of writing college applications and the cold winter months of awaiting a response (and hoping for the best), March delivers the stark reality of college admission decisions:  yes, no, or would you like to wait for a possible yes later (at very low odds)?

Which brings us to the craziness of April and the decisions seniors and their families face. Even when the student is accepted into his or her favorite school, most families will want to look closely at each of the colleges offering admission.

Closely, and quickly: the May 1 deadline for the student’s decision fast approaches.

Here’s what many senior households may wish to do this month:

Visit the campus

If you haven’t yet visited the campus, now’s the time to take a look, before anyone writes a deposit check. Virtual visits may be great, but they cannot convey the smell of the freshman dorm, the path from one end of campus to another, or the typical style of students at the school.

Or visit again

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes... for the SAT

 

Jane Kulow, aka Dr. StrangeCollege, has a great roundup on her blog covering the upcoming changes to the SAT, including reactions and analysis from the likes of Chronicle of Higher Education's Eric Hoover (the best higher education reporter out there) and DePaul University's Vice President of Enrollment Jon Boeckenstedt (a straight shooter and data master). Head over here to find out more about the change that's gonna come. 

How the Cost of College Can Make You Feel like You've Fallen Down a Rabbit Hole

When a $60,000 tuition bill is called a discount on a college education, blogger Jane Kulow wonders what they're smoking... In The Price of College, Kulow looks at the college cost learning curve parents must face. Her savvy recommendation that families look closely at the values and financial health of schools, as well as advice about what parents should ask about how colleges arrive at their "net cost" is recommended reading for all. See the whole column here

Deadlines: Parents, it's your turn!

Hello, second semester, senior year. After the last few months discussing college applications, the focus now shifts to financial aid applications.

Parents often ask whether these applications are worth the time and trouble. My short answer:  Yes. These applications offer the possibility of funding a college education -- grants, loans, and scholarships. (A number of colleges use the FAFSA and CSS College Profile along with the student’s file to determine merit awards or scholarships.)

As Michelle Obama recently said to northern Virginia high school students and their parents, “Don’t leave money on the table.”

The applications

FAFSA—Every college, from a local community college to a very selective private college, requires the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA determines a student’s eligibility for any federal aid, whether grants, subsidized loans, or work-study funds. The application is free; the 2014-15 school year version became available January 1, 2014.

What We Talk About When We Talk About College

Jane Kulow joins us again this month with her heartfelt insights into the college application process as her daughter contemplates the meaning of commitment and applying early decision.

 What we talk about when we talk about college:  a decision.

"Do we talk about anything other than college these days?"

Our daughter, Julie, asked me that over dinner last weekend, before adding, "It's okay, that's about all I'm thinking about anyway."

Early in the morning, two days before that dinner, Julie and I set out on one more college visit. I cannot say that will be our last campus visit, but it is the last we will undertake before she submits her first application.

Julie revisited this campus with a number of questions in mind: