Tag Archives: grades

Choosing Where to Apply Based On Your Financial Situation

If money is in shortage in your household, you need to be strategic on where you choose to apply to College. That’s a simple sentence for a complex process, but I will break it down.

Pixabay JugglingOne thing that you may have had drilled into your head (certainly something I drilled into my kids’ heads) is that you need to get good grades in High School so you can go to a good College. This may be a double-edged sword, if your family can’t afford to pay for your College education, which is why you must consider your financial situation. I will repeat once again, DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN to avoid paying for College with student loans. Those payments will haunt you for YEARS after you graduate and may reek havoc with your credit rating. Students loans now exceed credit card debt in the US, and those loans have an incredibly high default rate, meaning a lot of students are unable to pay back their loans, which is very stressful and hurts their credit rating. A bad credit rating makes it hard to buy your first home or maybe even get a job, as many businesses are now checking applicants’ credit ratings. The double-edged sword is that DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU APPLY, good grades may qualify you for more financial aid and more merit money, but then again, it might qualify you for more financial aid but no merit money, or more merit money, but little-to-no financial aid. In this post, I refer to highly selective Colleges, which is a generic term. When I say highly selective, I mean Colleges who generally accept less than 15% of it’s applicants.

Colleges with Large Endowments

Colleges with Large Endowments

  1. Financial Aid – highly selective Colleges
    1. Highly selective Colleges have large endowments which often mean more generous financial aid.  Many selective Colleges will also emphasize that they consider their applicants “need-blind”. This means that while your application goes to the Admissions Office for consideration, your financial forms are sent to the College’s financial aid office, so that Admissions can decide whether to admit you regardless of your financial need. Here’s the catch – those highly selective Colleges are extremely hard to get into – better grades and test scores help your case, but even exceptional students who apply to a highly selective college have a low chance of acceptance.
      1. The Colleges with Large Endowments spreadsheet illustrates how large endowments often mean not only that more students qualify for financial aid (for example, Stanford University states that most students whose families earn less than $125,000 per year will likely qualify for free tuition), but also that all or most of your financial need will be met. Note that the spreadsheet is ranked in the order of the Endowment Per Student, because large universities may have substantial endowments that don’t add up to much, if you compare the size of the endowment to the number of students. My methodology for finding these Colleges means there may be other Colleges with a large endowment per student that is not included in this spreadsheet.
      2. The consequence of both financial and merit money is that a) some private Colleges may cost you less than public Colleges and b) many students with financial need AND good grades and test scores apply to highly selective Colleges. While it may be hard to get in, if you do get in, you are in a very good financial position. But you have fierce competition.
  2. Financial Aid – less selective Colleges
    1. Pixabay Gold Bars

      Some Colleges Run Out of Financial Aid Money

      Colleges with less money in their coffers often can’t afford to meet all of a student’s financial need; they often make up the difference with student loans.

    2. Their standards for who qualifies for financial aid are often more stringent than more selective Colleges.
    3. This is why it is important to apply as early as you are ready, because as Colleges use up their financial aid budget, they will be less generous with their financial aid. The early bird is more likely to get the worm!
  3. Merit Money – highly Selective Colleges
    Good grades and test scores often mean more merit money, but that is often not the case at highly selective colleges. Merit money is generally used by Colleges to woo exceptional applicants. But if you are a highly selective/desirable College such as Princeton, Yale or Columbia, for example, you don’t need to woo those applicants – they come to you in great numbers. That’s why you will see many selective Colleges offer little to no merit money.
  4. Merit Money – less selective Colleges
    This is where you can really make an impact on the amount of tuition you pay. All students should be considering a wide-range of Colleges, in terms of selectivity. The so-called “Safety” “Target” and “Reach” schools. If you have a strong academic resume, some of those schools will likely be generous in their merit money. They are wooing you to increase their perceived selectivity. How do you find those schools? Check out the post Finding Colleges with Generous Financial and/or Merit Money.
© Complete Systems, LLC dba Elligiblecollegestudent.com, All Rights Reserved
*** Elligiblecollegestudent.com is a division of Complete Systems, LLC ***
Disclaimer

Grades and Test Scores – How Do I Fix This?

If you feel that your grades and/or test scores are not as good as you would like them to be, there are things you can do to help. Even if you think it’s too late, read on for advice on how to deal with this problem.

Grades

Underclassmen (Freshman, Sophomore years)

  • If for whatever reason your grades as an underclassmen are not great, it is not a deal-breaker for a lot of Colleges.
  • Some Colleges don’t even consider Freshman year grades, because they realize that students are adjusting to the rigor of High School.
  • If you can pull up your grades as an upperclassmen, you can compensate for a low GPA. It also make a good story, demonstrating how you overcame obstacles.
  • On the other hand, Freshman year is often the easiest academic High School year. Try to get the best grades you can at the time when it’s easiest to do so, because low grades will have a big impact on your GPA.

Upperclassmen (Junior, Senior years)

  • You should avoid having your grades take a major drop as an upperclassmen.

    C Please Come See Me

    Colleges want you to demonstrate that you can adjust to increased academic rigor with more effort, and hopefully with academic success.

  • Your academic rigor may increase as an upperclassmen, so Colleges won’t be shocked to see a slight drop in your GPA.  But they want to see that “As the going gets tough, the tough get going.” and that you are able to adapt to the challenge of added rigor.
  • Colleges also want to see you maintain your grades after you have applied and even been accepted into a College, so don’t think the last half of your senior year is time to let it all go.

Narrative

Report Card

Explain any blemishes in your academic record, otherwise the Admissions Officer may incorrectly infer why those blemishes took place.

It’s important to create (not imagine) a narrative that describes your academic journey in High School, particularly if there are blemishes in your academic record.  Did your parents divorce your Sophomore year, making your 2nd semester grades tank?  Did you start working 20+ hours a week starting your Junior year? Did your parent take an evening job, which meant you became your younger siblings’ babysitter from 3-8 each day? If the only thing an Admissions Officer has to review your files is your transcripts, they imagine their own narrative for why your grades were less than stellar.  Even if you don’t have a great reason, be honest and hope they will understand. Try to demonstrate that you have grown from your High School experience.

Check out  Class Rank – Don’t Be Worried!  and Get Good Grades for more information.

Test Scores

Pixabay Test

Explain why your grades and test scores are disparate

The narrative is even more important if you have amazing test scores and weak grades. Most people will assume you didn’t apply yourself in school and/or were lazy about homework. But they will be wondering about your smarts, if you could still manage to pull off high test scores.

Colleges realize that some people are better at taking tests than others. Lots of students have test anxiety, for example. But if you have high grades and low test scores, they will wonder if your school handed out easy A’s, but lacked educational depth.  Don’t let these holes in your academic resume go unexplained.

See Standardized Tests for more information.

© Complete Systems, LLC dba Elligiblecollegestudent.com, All Rights Reserved
*** Elligiblecollegestudent.com is a division of Complete Systems, LLC ***

Disclaimer

Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth breeds knowledge (and knowledge is POWER).

You Never Know When You Will Learn Something New, Sometimes From an Unexpected Source

You Never Know When You Will Learn Something New, Sometimes From an Unexpected Source

I know, I know, you get what you pay for. But word-of-mouth is invaluable in both preparing for College and The College Search, in the same way that this website is valuable to students and parents, because you are getting advice from a parent who has recently helped their child in The College Search and who understands the need for specific, organized, pertinent information about The Search. Effective word-of-mouth, by my definition, means that people are sharing information they think is valuable to each other. Word-of-mouth information can be inaccurate or incomplete, but it often provides a bigger picture, and a different perspective.

Do you need examples?

1. My kid wants to take a class not offered at her school (Advanced French, for example), and is debating whether to take that class at another High School, a Community College or on-line. She asks her counselor, who suggests she take the class on-line, because its hard to line up her class schedule at her High School with when that class is offered at another High School or Community College.  She is proactive, and asks a few friends who have taken off-campus courses for advice. One of them warns her that their school allows only 2 classes be taken on-line. My kid wanted to take Health and Creative Writing through on-line courses, and realizes that if she takes Advanced French on-line, that will preclude her plans for Health and Creative Writing. She can now make a more informed decision, some of that information coming from word-of-mouth, which is more complete information than she discovered merely by talking to her counselor.

2. A Senior in High School is debating whether to apply to a “reach” school, thinking it’s unlikely he will be accepted. He mentions this school to a friend, who happens to be friends with a College Junior (Sherry) attending that College. This friend tells him that Sherry struggled with her grades when she attended their same High School. He mentions this news to a teacher, who knows Sherry. The teacher offers to connect the students over Skype. During their discussion, Sherry admits that she did not have a great cumulative GPA due to some missteps early in her High School years, which makes the boy hopeful, as his GPA is also not stellar. She said that based on conversations with the school and her classmates after she attended the College, she understood more about what got her “in”: a) the College valued that she got consistently better grades starting her Junior year, b) she had spectacular test scores, and c) the school emphasizes sports, and she was a star varsity volleyball player. At this point, he feels less hopeful, as he has not been successful in raising his grades his Junior and Senior years, his test scores are average and he doesn’t play a sport. Can he find more information that might might make him think he can get in? Yes, but he knows a lot more after the conversation with Sherry than if he had only been told that there’s a kid from their high school who wasn’t a great student that got in. That doesn’t mean he can’t apply, but now he knows his chances of acceptance are not high. Maybe that conversation gets him thinking about how Sherry’s talents helped her gain acceptance, and that he should look for another desirable “reach” school that emphasizes music, because he was a finalist in the State Competition, playing the oboe. Knowledge is power!

The key to word-of-mouth is you have to be talking to someone who has experienced the same issue or know someone who has, and that this person became very knowledgeable about that issue. That is why a College Counselor can be invaluable, because they know the intimate details of many students’ experiences, and therefore will be more likely to provide relevant information. But even their experiences are limited, so you should still be trying to procure word-of-mouth information, censoring it for inaccuracies. Seek knowledge through many resources, but don’t discount the value of word-of-mouth.

Pixabay Playmobile Figures Talking

Great things can come from talking to others about your College Search

When I am with a group of parents with High-School aged children, it is invariable that a discussion about Colleges results. These can be GREAT discussions, because someone is sharing a story or insight, and if there are others in the group with similar experiences, they can elaborate or disagree, based on their knowledge. That story leads to more questions, and I am leaving that gathering with new things to think about.

 

Word-of-Mouth Breeds Success

Another reason to get in the habit of promoting these discussions? Most people agree that success in life often comes from who you know. But you need to FIGURE OUT who you know. Do you know where your friends went to College? Their current employer and position, as well as previous employer and positions? Where they used to live? Their sports and favorite past-times? Knowing who you know means you can take advantage of their experiences when the need arises.

If you are a connectoror know a connector, good things result.

Connecting Can Be Fulfilling

Connecting Can Be Fulfilling

connector knows about their friends, co-workers, etc. and connects people. If their cousin wants to be a Financial Advisor, they connect her with their son’s best friend’s father, who is a Financial Advisor. When their babysitter is moving to Oregon for a position at Nike, they connect him to their co-worker, who used to live in Oregon and has friends who work at Nike.

Word-of-Mouth can be awesome!

© Complete Systems, LLC dba Elligiblecollegestudent.com, All Rights Reserved
*** Elligiblecollegestudent.com is a division of Complete Systems, LLC ***

Disclaimer

Class Rank – Don’t be Worried!

Pixabay Bored Student

Class Rank Should Not Be Really High On Your List of Worries

Class Rank is important, it’s just not really important. It’s also complicated. For example, my children attend a High School that does not weight GPA’s. Nor, like some schools, does their school weight GPA solely for the calculation of class rank. If you are a student who takes a rigorous workload (Honors, AP or Baccalaureate courses), unweighted GPA’s can work against you. A student who chooses to take a less rigorous workload will likely find it easier to maintain a high GPA. But….

I read with concern that many selective holistic schools rank class rank as a “Very Important” consideration for admission, and that a large percentage (70, 80 or even 90%) of a selective school’s incoming Freshman were in the top 10% of the class. I became worried that my child with a high, but not perfect GPA, did not rank in the top 10% of their class, would be denied admission because they could not manage to maintain a 4.0 with their rigorous workload. I reminded myself that Academic Rigour is also usually often ranked as a “Very Important” consideration for admission, and that Admissions Officers will closely scrutinize and value my student’s workload. But it still bothered me.

Then I learned about the Common Data Set (CDS). It wasn’t until I read the CDS for some of the selective schools that I realized that while yes, a very high percentage of students were ranked highly, conversely a very low percentage of students reported their class rank!  For example, one school listed the percentage of students in the top 10% of their class at nearly 75%, while just over 20% of students had reported their class rank.  This taught me not only that class rank was less likely to hurt my children’s admission chances, but also, that they DID NOT NEED to report class rank if they felt it would work against them. On the other hand, your High School has chosen whether to include your class rank along with your transcript and other relevant information they submit to Colleges where you apply. If you are worried about your class rank, ask your High School Counselor about your school’s policy regarding submitting class rank.

 This leads to another discussion about why some selective schools boast a holistic admission process but state that test scores, grades, class rank and the like are Very Important  – I call it the College Admissions’ Publisher Rankings Anxiety.

© Complete Systems, LLC dba Elligiblecollegestudent.com, All Rights Reserved
*** Elligiblecollegestudent.com is a division of Complete Systems, LLC ***

Disclaimer