Jane Kulow

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.

When Choosing a College: How close to home is too close?

Jane Kulow joins us again this month to talk about a factor that is central to most students' decisions -- location, location, location. Read on to learn more about what happens when students decide to study close to home and Kulow's advice for making it work.  

 

How close is too close when it comes to choosing a college -- for students and parents?

My husband drove our son, Pete—a second-year University of Virginia (UVa) student—back to college Sunday evening after Thanksgiving. The drive takes between ten and fifteen minutes, depending upon traffic. Meanwhile a Midwestern nephew drove a couple of hours back to his college in St. Louis, and our niece flew back to her college in Los Angeles from her home near Boston.

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:

Essays, Smack-Talking Siblings and The Deadline Parents Face in the College Admission Process

We are pleased to welcome Jane Kulow today as a regular guest, writing on parenting through the college admission process. Kulow's personal blog, Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Journey, covers the ebb and flow of the path to college for her three children, dubbed the Mod Squad. As Jane describes it, "this is what we did, what we saw, what we laughed about, and what I’ve read (and asked others in the house to read) along the way." We're delighted she will be an eloquent fellow traveler here, sharing adventures and insights as her -- and your -- children head off toward the higher halls of academe.

We are parents of a high school senior and we are in the midst of college application season.

Our oldest child worked his way through applications two years ago, acquainting us with the rhythms of deadlines and the components of transcripts, tests, essays, and recommendations.

Yet, even within one household, each student’s specific experience—in college prep coursework and activities and in his or her approach to the application itself—makes this process as singular as the student.

My husband describes the application process as complex project management. The student bears the responsibility for the content of the application; we can teach project management and help make sure not a single element of the project gets missed.

Juniors: Breaking Down the Common App

Applying to college is like any big project that gets completed over time: it simply needs to be broken down into separate tasks. So in addition to continuing to research and refine the list of colleges to which they will apply and working on their essays, rising seniors also need to take a look at the Common Application when it comes available on August 1st.  By starting now, you'll avoid feeling overwhelmed in fall semester of senior year.

Don't underestimate how important it is to understand and accurately complete the Common Application -- or any other college's unique form.  The information colleges ask for in the application form serves as the foundation of your admission file.

Jane Kulow, a parent who blogs at Dr. StrangeCollege or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey, recently posted some strategies for applications and agreed to let us share her excellent advice here.  (We've added a few notes of our own, as well.)

1. Print out the application form as soon as it’s available and complete the easy parts. (Common Application essay prompts are available now, but the actual form and supplements for the individual colleges will not be available until the Common App goes live on August 1st.)