Tagged: college admissions
05/22/2019 at 5:06 pm #62297
I’m really straying from the Ebay focus for now. Among other things, I’m distracted with trying to begin wrapping my head around the college admissions process. I thought there might be some trash elves in the forums who have practical experience to share.
Right now we are trying to tour a few schools, come up with a preliminary list, and kind of find out what he should expect. Very shortly I’ll be looking into test prep programs online. My son will be a junior next year, is interested in computer science and possibly marine bio, and will likely be shooting just under the top 25 / highly competitive range. He’s open to moving out of California except for somewhere hot.
Thanks scavenger friends!
05/22/2019 at 5:20 pm #62299
Curious your thoughts on the expense of college as you set out on this modern American adventure.
–What are you guys willing to pay per year for college for Tuition + Expenses?
–Will you take out loans, pay in cash, or son take out loans?
–Do you feel your son can get scholarships, merit or otherwise?
05/22/2019 at 7:10 pm #62308
We haven’t even begun to get into the financial side of it, though it will certainly be a consideration. He will get some help from a grandparent though that won’t cover a private school. He would only qualify for merit scholarships even though after taxes, retirement, housing expense, and the higher cost of living we are living basically middle class out here and have not saved for college. We’ll do what we need to to make sure and cover his undergraduate degree at a school that is a good fit. Beyond that, he’ll probably do loans.
We have an excellent, free community college here. However, my husband I an both experienced seriously amazing growth by going away to a four year school and we king of want that for him. Selfishly, I’d love for him to stay home of course.
05/22/2019 at 7:44 pm #62312
I went to university in the early 90’s, which I think was right at the end of college being somewhat affordable. I think it was $5k a year in tuition at Texas A&M.
I think doing the numbers with him will be an important part of the process. Even state schools will be $30k+ for tuition and expenses. Mildly more prestigious schools can be significantly more. USC is $75k/yr: https://admission.usc.edu/learn/cost-financial-aid/
Parents want the best for their kids, but the US college system is off the rails. Freshman and Sophomore year is often just sitting in class with 300 kids and taking multiple choice tests.
I like the idea of taking the easy classes at community college the first two years, then finishing at a big fancy school.
05/22/2019 at 6:23 pm #62307ClarityParticipant
It’s been a while since my son went through the process. He ended up going to our local junior college and then transferred to a 4 year program. It worked out really well for him. He was able to go at his own pace and graduated with no student loan debt.
Check out Occidental College, in Eagle Rock, since your son is interested in Marine Biology. They have a really good science department and their own boat for the Marine Biology department. And a added bonus, he’ll be close to home!
05/22/2019 at 7:54 pm #62314RyanneKeymaster
- Location: Virginia
i’m still paying off my student loans. 5 years at a state school plus living expenses. i turn 40 this year. so yeah, do the numbers. private schools + living expenses are INSANE. we just met a kid who was graduating from NYU last week with a bio-engineering degree, he said he could not find a job to save his life. so much debt!
05/22/2019 at 8:47 pm #62319
Interesting – the son of a friend just graduated with a biomedical engineering degree and doesn’t have a job yet (or, at least, a month ago he didn’t).
05/23/2019 at 10:36 am #62355
He is concerned about bio job prospects and when I mentioned it to the counselor, she agreed. Trying to research where the two might intersect, careerwise. I’m hoping he can find a tech field where he can use is creativity and out of the box approach to things. Maybe also his interest in ocean life. He’s a kind soul who is great volunteering with kids and peer tutoring. We think he might make a super teacher. We also think he might enjoy the Midwest, where it’s a bit easier to connect with friendly people. The weather scares me though.
05/22/2019 at 8:43 pm #62318
My daughter is a senior in high school, graduating on June 20. I’m not sure that I’m the best person to give advice because my daughter did things sort of haphazardly. She had schools she had been interested in, but then just started applying willy nilly.
She committed to an in-state school, which is reasonably priced plus they offered her a grant. However, she is having second thoughts, and now we are making a trip to the University of Toronto leaving tomorrow for an extended weekend. If she changes her school, we will lose the $600 application fee we paid. The U of T is not horribly expensive compared to US colleges, but it is more than the one in NJ.
Anyway, there are these companies that help with SAT prep, college applications, and financial planning. While we didn’t go with one, I did go to an informational session. I did learn quite a bit because they go through all the different loan options (which I now need to brush up on), applying for financial aid, and so forth. The cost to use one of these companies is very high, so we didn’t go for it.
I’m sure that the book you linked to will have a lot of that information. The one that I read is called How to Pay for College and Not Go Broke (or something like that).
Consider a in person SAT prep class rather than online. My daughter wasn’t very disciplined and never really studied much. She managed to well in spite of that, but I recommend a classroom setting. Does his high school bring in outside companies to offer after school classes?
One thing that my daughter wished she did more of was volunteerism. Some schools really emphasize that. She is waitlisted at two schools, and she thinks she might have gotten in if she had more volunteer experience.
Anyway, if you have specific questions, I can try to answer. I did live in LA in the late 80s/early 90s, and I know the UC schools (such as UCLA) are reasonably priced and most are highly rated.
05/23/2019 at 10:23 am #62350
Hi Sharyn and thanks. This part of your post is really interesting to me.
One thing that my daughter wished she did more of was volunteerism. Some schools really emphasize that. She is waitlisted at two schools, and she thinks she might have gotten in if she had more volunteer experience.
Was this just a suspicion? What made her think this?
There are a lot of UC schools on our list. That is definitely a lot of bang for the buck. You’d like my son scavengers. He already wants to move away from California to pay less taxes and get more house for his $. Very scavenger type thinking.
05/23/2019 at 11:40 am #62365
I think that some of the schools list volunteerism & leadership on their website as something they look at. She tried to get an editing position at her school newspaper, but didn’t get it. She did volunteer at the school media center, but that was it.
She was very interested in the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. In general, she met the SAT scores, grades, challenging classes, outside activities, etc that was expected, so she felt that her lack of volunteerism/leadership is what put her on the waitlist. The other thing against her is that they give priority over in-state students.
So, she can’t say that one thing put her on the waitlist vs getting right in, but these are the things that would distinguish one applicant over another.
I think she has put the waitlist issue behind her and just wants to see U of T before she makes the change. With thunderstorms possible both here and Toronto tonight, I hope our flight doesn’t get delayed.
05/22/2019 at 9:04 pm #62321IndySalesParticipant
If he wants to go the CS route, I highly recommend getting him into a weekend “code camp” or some other kind of training program to measure his interest prior to committing to a 4 year degree. I worked at one of these places and met a lot of high school students who started off very interested in CS, but then realized it wasn’t for them after a few days.
Also, I 100% believe a 3 – 6 month “coding crash course” is more effective than 4 years of CS, which is mostly theory and math. A good handle on programming + a decent portfolio of personal projects would be really attractive to companies looking to hire younger talent.
05/23/2019 at 10:27 am #62352
Thanks Indy. He’s done some coding in classes and short camps and seems to have some proficiency for it, as well as some interest. I hate to see bio go to the wayside but we have some time to explore in high school. He has comp sci and AP bio next year It would be hard to fit in a 3-4 month coding class (he’s knocking out an AP this summer at CC) but I think this is really smart advice.
05/22/2019 at 9:19 pm #62323TemudginParticipant
- Location: Jacksonville FL
Some good comments here I would agree with. Our daughter is a rising junior at UMASS Amherst and our son a rising junior in high school, so we did it not too long ago and will be doing it again soon. But boys are different than girls….
There were a couple things about the process with our daughter that have stuck with me. We hired a local college admissions advisor so that our daughter would actually listen to advice she wouldn’t be getting from mom and dad (besides neither one of us had a clue, being many years from college and not personally having had the typical college experience). We hired the advisor by the hour, a la carte, and it was ridiculously cheap for the value she provided. She listened to our daughter’s back story and desires, reviewed her record, and came up with a list of schools she thought we ought to look closer at that were categorized in three tiers of selectivity – sure things, just about right, and reach schools. It was a good list – public and private, big and small, city and rural. The advisor had a good feel for the colleges’ personalities and strengths and weaknesses. She also answered questions about specifics that came up in the applications and what was needed for a strong essay. Overall the advisor was extremely helpful and I would definitely recommend that with any kid who’s not sure about what they want to do. (We probably gave our daughter too much leeway early on – we’re approaching our son a little differently.)
Our daughter initially had her heart set on a particular venerable small town private liberal arts college in New England in a beautiful setting and her secondary choices were similar. Yikes. Fortunately the advisor insisted that she look at and tour a variety, though, so I took her on a week-long trip to colleges in that area, getting official tours of eight and unofficial visits of two more. All different types and settings. The official tours especially were very helpful to both learn about the college and observe the types of kids who were touring. As a result of the tours, our daughter did not like those pretty little liberal arts colleges, after all. UMASS was way down on her list, until she got a tour and it became her first choice. So we found the tours to be key in the process.
Lastly, despite our best efforts our daughter procrastinated on her applications. As a result, she started hearing from friends and acquaintance who were celebrating their acceptances under various early admission programs before she had even applied anywhere. This injected a degree of panic and angst into the process for her that made her senior year much more trying for us. So in retrospect we should have insisted she at least decide on a couple sure-thing schools that she could live with and apply early based on her test scores and junior year grades. Having at least one acceptance would have done wonders for her attitude in further exploring her options.
Jay is right that the system is off the rails, though. It’s turned into quite a racket. And it really pains me that in the US, college has become the default and that effective vocational training has fallen by the wayside.
05/22/2019 at 10:09 pm #62325
Oh yes, our experience was similar wrt the procrastination and then the panic. That is why she started submitting applications willy nilly. Colleges love that – they make money on the application fees.
05/23/2019 at 10:31 am #62354
Thanks for sharing. Interesting perspective on the mega tour. I’ve heard some negative comments about those. A lot of the schools on our list are pretty spread out, except there is a cluster in New England.
05/22/2019 at 10:28 pm #62327TerriParticipant
I have three kids who all graduated from college. We live in a fairly affluent town in New England where people are college snobs, but neither my husband or I came from that background (we grew up in Chicago/suburban Chicago).
Husband went to community college for two years and then a state school in Illinois to complete undergrad. Went on to have a financially successful career which allowed me to be a SAHM (my choice) and him to retire at 60.
We told our kids that we’d pay (most) of the cost for them to attend a state school and if they wanted to go out of state, they’d have to take out loans for the difference. See the world on your own dime when you’re finished with school. All (and I mean all) of their peers went to out of state schools. Mine chose state schools. We told them they’d be financially responsible for half of their meal plan as well as books and spending money. Wanted them to have skin in the game.
Also told them that we’d give them a 50% kickback for any scholarship money they earned which lowered our out-of-pocket costs. Oldest got into Honors Program and had free tuition for four years. Middle got a small amount of scholarship money. Youngest got some scholarship money and was an RA for two years which covered room and board.
They all worked full time every summer as well as part time on campus during school year to cover their financial responsibilities.
They all graduated with no debt. Our grand total out of pocket for the three of them combined was somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000. They’ve all been gainfully employed since graduation.
Middle son is now 30 and will get his graduate degree from Harvard next week. He took most classes on line and commuted two hours each way to Cambridge for a few. Worked full time the entire time taking one class each semester (6 years). His total out of pocket cost for the Harvard graduate degree will be $6,000. Two different employers covered the rest.
Oldest (daughter) is currently working full time while getting her MLIS graduate degree online from Kent State. She’ll graduate in December and the library where she works is paying 90% of her graduate tuition/fees.
Youngest son is successfully pursuing his passion in music working at a recording studio in NYC. That career started with getting an internship foot in the door that was directly related to an on campus job he held (nothing to do with his degree).
I’m not at all sure that the university environment today promotes a whole lot of maturation. IMO, it’s more like a four (or five or six) year suspension of real life responsibilities.
Just say no to college debt.
05/23/2019 at 12:14 am #62330soniaParticipant
- Location: Northeast US
Not all private colleges are super expensive for the middle class. There is a small, but growing trend of colleges saying no to debt, and offering more and more (or even all) financial aid in the form of grants. Most of these that I know of are in the top 25, which you (ChristineR) say is not your son’s target, but maybe some research will help to identify others?
I just found this on Swarthmore’s website (are they top 25?)
If you receive a financial aid award from Swarthmore, it will be made up of grants (which do not have to be repaid) and the money you earn working a campus job. Some families do choose to take out loans to pay their family contribution. The financial aid awards you receive from other colleges may include a loan component, meaning that part of your financial aid is money you will need to repay. Swarthmore’s financial aid awards do not include loans.
05/23/2019 at 8:05 am #62339TemudginParticipant
- Location: Jacksonville FL
Great article on private school money. A relative’s kids both went to Franklin & Marshall; basically paid nothing. It’s a feeder school for investment banking. Both kids started in it, sucked up the pain and made some money, and then bailed out and used their savings to start small businesses.
05/23/2019 at 9:15 am #62348TerriParticipant
As an aside, if there’s going to be college debt, it should be the student’s debt, not the parents’. Student has the rest of his/her life to pay it off. Parents should focus on paying down their own debt and funding retirement accounts. If there’s money left over and they want to help student pay back debt after college they can, but they shouldn’t be on the hook for it.
05/23/2019 at 10:38 am #62356HistoryNerdParticipant
- Location: PNW
Like Jay, I went to college just at the tail end of when it was affordable, and my daughter is 13 years away from having to think about this, so my only credentials here are that my day job is in higher ed.
Higher ed is in a bad place right now. We had it really, really good for a long time, and the party’s over. There are multiple complicated factors, but the bottom line is we don’t have enough customers (students). Some very established and respected schools have closed permanently because they essentially can’t stay in business. One in my area that was founded in the 1890s suddenly closed last year. There are two more private colleges in my area that my colleagues and I suspect will merge with another school, or shut down entirely, within a couple years. This is all to say that the idea that students just have to suck it up and take on a massive debt load for college is on the way out. Administrators know that our national student debt crisis will sink our schools if we allow it to continue, so we see more and more creative financial aid solutions like the ones Sonia posted above.
If I had a kid headed to college in the next couple years, my strategy would be:
1. Apply to our local, mediocre state university. She could live at home and we could pay the tuition with normal cash flow.
2. Apply to half a dozen respectable but under-the-radar schools that are creative with financial aid. It could be worth paying an advisor to suss out which are the best matches here. Basically you are hoping that one or more of these will compete for your kid by offering a great financial aid package. You have to be on board with shipping your kid off to Wisconsin or Virginia or wherever.
3. Apply to her 1-2 first-choice “dream” schools, on the chance she gets admitted AND gets the financial aid we’d need.
The idea of starting out in community college has come up – if anyone is considering this, keep in mind that you can’t assume that community college credits will transfer to whatever school they go to later. If your kid takes a bunch of community college classes, then goes to a school that doesn’t transfer the credits, they’ll end up paying for those credits all over again at a higher price, and taking longer to graduate. Ideally what you’re looking for is a community college that has a partnership with another 4-year school in the area, and has programs designed specifically for students to transfer from one to the other. There are some good ones in my area that are focused on STEM and non-traditional college students (working parents, people of color, etc.)
05/23/2019 at 10:54 am #62358
You have to be on board with shipping your kid off to Wisconsin or Virginia or wherever.
(raises hand in Virginia 🙂
The community college-to-university route works best if you know what university you want to apply. This way you can verify that those community classes will transfer.
When I went to college, I knew guys who took the overloaded freshman classes at the local community college. It costs them almost nothing and all the credits transferred.
05/23/2019 at 10:55 am #62359
@HistoryNerd thanks for your input! PNW schools are very high on our list. My son fell in love with Seattle on a family trip and we’ve already toured UW. I suspect that a smaller school might be good for him but we need to flush that out.
#3 is particularly interesting to me. There is some controversy about bothering to apply with dream schools. This Ted Talk is relevant.
#2 is also very interesting because he would consider the Midwest region, which is supposed to be easier to get into generally. Michigan is a reach school, Minnesota and Wisconsin are on the list.
We are right next to UCSB and he’ll certainly apply there.
05/23/2019 at 11:54 pm #62389GoodsbyGarciaParticipant
I wanted to chime in here to give the student perspective.
Currently, I’m at my local CC.
One thing that I’m absolutely going to advocate for is doing AP/IB tests. I think I transferred with between 20-30 credits because of my tests. Although each school has its own way of interpreting and apply these test scores. A 4 might be 6 credit hours for one school yet 0 for another. College board has a site to search how schools judge AP/IB tests.
There’s definitely value in sending your kid out into the world to get out of their bubble. From my own experience, most of my siblings still live in our hometown and I live across the country and have traveled quite a bit. I definitely see the close-mindedness and lack of worldly experience. Also, it caused me to take ownership of my life. My sister 6 years my senior had to ask me for retirement account advice. So this aspect is huge.
There are so many benefits going the CC route I cannot list them all but a few are: Cheaper, baby-step into academics, flexibility, no commitment (not the same as flexibility), can explore topics of interest at low cost, GAA, better planning for bachelors, masters, etc.
GAA’s are great you basically go to a CC and earn a certain GPA and have guaranteed admission to a four year come transfer time. Usually, they also have some sort of dual enrollment program to get a jump on the bachelor’s course work. These little hacks vary widely from community college to community college.
Community college tuition isn’t just cheaper, parking is cheaper, housing is cheaper, books are cheaper, the areas are cheaper. Everything is cheaper.
I don’t really know what you want to know but the benefits to the CC-> 4-year school are huge. Yes, you won’t get the best professors at a CC but there are always one or two teachers who truly teach because they love it. They make all the bad teachers worth it. So if that’s a concern most of the courses are introductory courses anyways and aren’t really dense.
I don’t know where to start but I’m a huge fan of the CC to 4-year route I’m biased though. You can ask me if specific aspects if you’d like about the CC experience.
Also….the student gets to experiment with different subjects. CC is a great time to find out your life long dream of nursing isn’t exactly for you. Rather than at an expensive school.
05/24/2019 at 5:19 pm #62420So Cal JoeParticipant
Personally, I believe any steps you can do, to enable him to graduate without student loans, will benefit him for the rest of his life.
That being said, I believe the community college track for the first two years is an absolute home run. I’m not going to pretend the intellectual challenge will be the same, but it’s a nice way to cover the basic introductory courses at much lower cost. If he’s bored, he can always double up on the courses to finish it sooner.
I have some friends with kids in the UC system. I’ve been told the cost is like $40K a year per student (in state). This may included room and board, I’m not really sure.
One of my friends hired a coach to assist him? This person basically pointed them in the right direction, even suggesting what high school classes and electives would benefit them. It wasn’t cheap, like $2000, but my friend said it was worth it. It’s all 100% legitimate, unlike the recent scandal on the news.
I know someone else, who chased all kinds of grants and scholarships. Not all of them are academically related. In the end she’s also got two kids in the UC system and the grants and scholarships cover about 70% of the costs.
Overall, my advice is to do whatever you can to minimize the student loans.
12/30/2019 at 12:57 pm #72270
Once again I want to thank you all for your input on this. I’ve revisited it as we will be narrowing my son’s list in earnest with the college counselor within the next three months. In a nutshell, it’s a rub between a better ranked (and maybe suited) school and getting a break on tuition. It’s also a rub between his preferences and desire for a name brand school vs location.
We toured UC Boulder, loved it, and their honors program is our safety school. He should get some merit aid there and Minnesota. The better UCs are definitely in play and a couple of private schools (Notre Dame and Santa Clara) that we expect should afford him some real advantages in the work world but he won’t get much if any aid there. We would be digging deeper and having a serious look at ROI before committing to one of those. The private schools suit his preferences and he doesn’t prefer to live in a big city (except Seattle).
While we are keeping generally to the West, I feel like we are still probably overlooking some options where he would be eligible for merit aid. I’m trying to find resources with real merit aid info besides College Data. If anyone is awaiting responses this year, you might try Tuition Fit. You send them an offer letter and you get to see what similarly qualified students are being offered. Pretty cool database.
History Nerd if you are willing to chat by email offline please reply and maybe we can exchange email through Ryanne and Jay. Thanks!
Sharon I hope your child enjoyed her first semester!
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