Wednesday’s Parent: The prime relationship between college list and college fit

Hand holding the college list is washed by the one measuring college fit. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Hand holding the college list is washed by the one measuring college fit. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

The hand holding the college list is washed by the one measuring college fit. That’s because the list reflects those schools offering students their best chance for success. They match student interests, talents and goals. The current excessively low graduation rate and high student debt show how many parents and students suffer from a disconnect between the two concepts. The bottom line is students will most likely attend one of the schools on their college list, so it better be a good one.

This is how I described it in my blog back in 2011:

Is the foundation to your home crumbling? If it is, you better fix it or move on. The same is true for a college list.

A college list is the foundation of the entire college process because the student will likely attend one of the schools on his list. If the schools listed are not the best ones for student success, your college process is on shaky footings, and you’re in danger of academic and financial failure.

So in the changing framework of college admissions, the prime relationship between college list and college fit remains constant. There are new tools to help families gather information but it is the analysis that counts the most. And the realization that students control most of the college process even though it seems colleges hold all the power.

Students decide how much effort they put into school and extracurricular activities that determine their qualifications. Students determine which schools to consider, visit and apply. Students decide which offer of acceptance to accept.

Students can maximize their power of choice by using my right college fit test to see which colleges measure up to student standards. Concentrate on the areas within students’ sphere of influence. Life is full of choices and college is one of the most influential adult decisions a teen can make. Make it a thoughtful one.

Read Suzanne’s post: What is a Perfect Fit College?

READ more: 

2 opposite ways of nailing the college search

Wednesday’s Parent: 2 phases, 3 points of the forming a college list Part 1

Money influences college choices from the start

Wednesday’s Parent: 7 Shakespearean steps to good decision-making

Wednesday’s Parent: Student-College power shift

RECAP: #CampusChat 5/27 with Jessica Velasco: College Fit

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Suzanne @SuzanneShaffer and I @pocsmom will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. Our guest this week will be Jessica Velasco @Admissions411 of JLV College Counseling discussing the college fit.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: 6 reasons to think grad school in college search

Adding grad school to college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Adding grad school to college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

There are many factors students consider when composing a college list or choosing a college to attend but graduate school is often not one of them. That omission can be costly for students who decide to continue their higher education beyond a bachelor’s degree (B.A.). Here are six reasons why your college-bound student should think grad school before saying yes to a college:

  1. Careers Certain careers require advanced degrees beyond a B.A. If a student is considering such a field, checking graduate school applicant qualifications makes sense. Students can discover right away if a college has the courses, majors and internships necessary to best prepare for the next admission process.
  2. Grad school acceptance Graduating from college is not an automatic admission into graduate school. It can be even more competitive than undergraduate programs. Students can check a college’s stats for number of students attending graduate/professional schools to gauge how successful past grads have been to gain admittance into graduate schools and programs.
  3. Undergrad/Grad school programs Many undergrad schools offer postbaccalaureate programs. Students can take a look at graduate curricula while researching undergrad academic programs. They can also find out the acceptance rate of undergrad students gaining admission to their own school’s grad programs.
  4. Combined undergrad/grad programs Some schools offer combined degree programs that put students on the fast track to obtain their advanced degree. This is a great deal for students sure of their career goals because they achieve their college and career dreams in less time thereby shaving college expenses.
  5. Costs Graduate degrees can be much more expensive than the dollars shelled out to earn an undergrad diploma. When considering college costs, students can tally what they expect by combining the number of years necessary to earn the desired undergrad and grad degrees. Students can decide to make it all affordable and to lower costs by setting priorities when apportioning dollars between college and graduate school choices. Read Planning a Budget for Grad School for tips on preparing financially for grad school.
  6. Financial aid Students shouldn’t expect need-based and merit-based aid to be the same offered to those studying for a B.A. Federal financial aid programs for graduate students consist of student loans with hardly any exceptions unless limited to certain occupations or work/study programs. Some states and schools may offer a few fellowships and the latter may have research or teaching assistant positions for grad students. Some professional, scholarly and other organizations may sponsor scholarship contests but the majority of such programs are solely for undergrads. A few universities discount their grad tuition for their own undergrads under certain circumstances. it can pay in the future to investigate these options now.

Graduate school is very different from college. It’s no longer about gaining knowledge via a major, minor and general graduation requirements but concentrating on a selected field of study. The college-bound can prepare for both at the start of the college process.

Read Suzanne’s postIs Grad School in Your Teen’s Future?

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound. 

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: 3 ways to consider college location

3 ways to consider college location. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

3 ways to consider college location. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Like for real estate buyers, location is a main issue for the college-bound and their parents. Location affects costs and desirability for both house and college hunters. However, for those composing a college list, there are three different ways to consider college location.

1. Consider college location as neighborhood opportunities. Urban, suburban and rural communities offer different chances for internships and employment, depending on local businesses and government offices. Student housing options are affected by on and off-campus residence choices. Cultural opportunities and social events vary with nearby attractions, museums and theaters. Recreational and sporting possibilities depend on terrain including nearby arenas, slopes, parkland, forests and water. Weather may create seasonal activities.

2. Consider college location as ease of visitation. Distance and position between home and campus impacts travel arrangements for students coming home and parents visiting the college. Cost and time for traveling also varies by method used like train, plane or motor vehicle. Then there are the added expenses of meals and lodging. Every location has different options that can accommodate certain numbers of people. Family Days, moving in/out and graduation may limit available resources.

3. Consider college location as relocation. Only 59% who started in a four-year Bachelor’s program in 2006 graduated by 2012, six years later, according to the latest government study. After spending up to half a dozen years learning, socializing and working in one place, many students grow attached to that community. They may also have developed networking relationships with mentors and local businesses. When a job offer is extended, many accept.

College location is important on many different levels. It is one of three main criteria for forming a great college list. Casting a college application vote explains the necessity for the college-bound to find their college PALs. The “L” in college PALs stands for Location.

Read Suzanne’s post: My Daughter Chose a College by Location

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: 5 fantastic tips to refine a college list Part 2

Finalizing a college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Finalizing a college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

The hard part of forming a college list is whittling it down to those schools that offer a student the best chance for success. Last week had tips about information gathering to jump start the process in 2 phases, 3 points for forming a college list.

Here is Part 2 with five tips for analyzing and refining the choices.

!. Define the student’s definition of success The definition of student success varies with each student. Wednesday’s Parent: Hunting and gathering a college list Part 2 explained this and gave five ways parents may help their child find their college matches.

2. Judge the college. How good a job a will the school do to help a student achieve his vision? Use the parent-student team approach to have frank discussions about college, career and future lifestyle goals. Write them down. Go back to the college list and eliminate those that are least likely to help the student attain her dreams.

3. Take a closer look. Go over the list again twice. The first time think emotionally. How did the campus make the student feel from the college visit? Sometimes it’s an unexplainable positive or negative gut reaction. The second time think logically about the school’s academic and extracurricular offerings. If there is a wide divide between the two impressions, it’s probably not a good choice. Students have to be vested in their college attendance for best chance of thriving.

4. Get selfish. Though they may be considered part of fact gathering, brand names, recommendations and what others are doing do not determine the final college list. The focus is on what will work best for a particular student based on his talents, skills, goals and qualifications. Colleges use the admission process to find students they want. Students should use the process to find schools that will help the student get what he wants.

5. Put in the time. The more time spent on making a good college list, the better the chance for student success. Find the places where the student is most likely to get a great education that:

  • Fits her abilities and stretches her opportunities
  • Provides the tools to graduate (or go on to grad school) on time
  • Prepares him for a future with manageable debt and the ability to be self-supporting at the life-style desired

Read Suzanne’s post: Making the Illogical Logical-The Final College List

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Suzanne and I will share more insights into making a great college list on Wednesday’s Parent night (the fourth Wednesday of each month) on #CampusChat, Wednesday, July 23, 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will talk about the many factors to consider, how to finalize the list and the parent role in the process. Join us and bring your questions and comments.

UPDATE: If you missed the chat or participated and want to review the great information and links shared, check out the recap.

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: 2 phases, 3 points of the forming a college list Part 1

Creating a college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Creating a college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

College lists hold the key to college success. Your student will be applying to schools off the final list and attending one accepting him or her.

There are two parts to completing the task of creating a great college list. The first is about information gathering (here in Part 1) and the second has to do with refining and analyzing the choices (Part 2 will follow next week).

To underscore the importance of a good college list, here is a review of three important points contained in former posts to help you help your student complete phase one of the college list formation process:

!. Hunting and gathering a college list Part 1 Form a parent-student team that is all about helping the student find and realize his goals, his options, his interests.

2. Pose this question: Is college a love match or a consumer purchase? Get organized by knowing what to look for. Check out the college consumer variables, campus personality and school quirks to answer this question.

3.  Picking a college by its flavor It takes strategy to form a good college list of well-suited schools that will help students stay on track and graduate. Start classifying schools that meet similar student needs.

 Read Suzanne’s post: Illogical College Choices—Part 1

____________________________________

Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: Hunting and gathering a college list Part 1

Creating a college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Creating a college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

A lot is riding on making a good college list. Your student will be applying to the schools on the final list so they better offer the best chance for student success. It’s so important that Suzanne and I are giving our tips in two parts. Today’s Part 1 is about general criteria and next week’s Part 2 is about refining the list.

I like to think of the college list process as that of gathering and hunting. That’s how the early humans adapted to their natural environment, created tools to ensure survival, and developed a rich culture filled with language and the arts.

According to a fascinating article in 2011 Psychology Today:

The hunter-gatherer way of life, unlike the agricultural way of life that followed it, apparently depended on intense cooperation and sharing, backed up by a strong egalitarian ethos; so, hunter-gatherers everywhere found ways to maintain a strong egalitarian ethos.

This describes the need for students to drive the college search as they begin their adult life and the help parents may provide.

Federal, state and college websites are chock full of info and data. Schools and organizations sponsor college fairs with the lowdown directly from college representatives. There are books and articles online and in libraries from college experts. Counselors, alumni. professors, current students and college social media provide another perspective.

Here are five ways parents may help their students gather the information they need to find colleges to consider for their college list:

  1. Answer this question I posed this question before and parents may ask this to their children: Is college a love match or a consumer purchase? In fact, it is a combo of both but how much of one over the other is the student’s ultimate decision. Keeping the answer in mind will balance realistic, practical and emotional responses during the college search and make it easier to eliminate or add schools.
  2. Focus on the end goal first Before looking at colleges, parents may ask their college-bound teen how he will use his earned college degree. Besides the increased knowledge and developed critical thinking skills, does she plan to go on to grad school, start a business, or begin a career? Checking the school’s success rate in retention, graduation within four years, graduate admission, and employment stats will narrow the college list choices.
  3. Increase options It may seem odd to increase options while whittling down choices but it makes perfect sense when it comes to increasing student chances for admission and financial aid. Colleges set their own admission requirements and students may compare their qualifications with those of current students. This is great motivation for college prep. Parents may help their children create a calendar to stay organized and get the job of a student done by earning qualifying grades on transcripts and tests.
  4. Define interests Finding a college is about finding a place that matches and enhances a student’s interests. Parents may help their student brainstorm a list of things that are important to them including programs, activities and location. Schools will show their priorities with significant funding and opportunities in these areas. Students should pay attention to department size; number, frequency and ease of taking desired classes; internships, programs and guest speakers; and opportunities after graduation.
  5. Go off campus Colleges offer academic and extracurricular programs and events on and off campus. Parents and students may form a team to divide the research to focus on both aspects. Look at the campus and surrounding community. Is it safe, student-friendly, easy to get to, easy for parents to visit, full of opportunities? What relationships does the college have with other schools, groups and businesses that may benefit students?

Read Suzanne’s blog for more help in forming a college list:

You Want to Go to College Where?–A College List Part 1

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to  http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picking a college by its flavor

Picking your college flavor, Photo by Prayitno/ more than 1.25...

Picking your college flavor, Photo by Prayitno/ more than 1.25…

Do you like ice cream? If you are nodding yes as your mouth waters, then you are ready to help your teens form a great college list.

Colleges, like ice cream, come in many flavors. Fortunately for parent and student ice cream lovers, there usually are one or more favorite parlors on and near campus. Each place has a list of tasty offerings ready for those touring colleges to sample.

Choices

I am an avid fan of all frozen treats. Ice cream (soft serve or hard out of a container), gelato, ice milk, frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet, or Italian ice, I take my time to choose my dessert wisely. If there are several flavors to my liking, I take even longer to decide.

Picking a college is also about taking the time to make a smart choice. Ice cream can help the college-bound find their college flavor.

Safe, Target, Reach

Traditionally, there are three categories of schools:

  • Safety schools: Students exceed admission requirements and are most likely to be offered admission.
  • Target or match schools: Students meet all admission criteria.
  • Reach schools:  Students do not fulfill all requirements as compared to other applicants but they really want to attend.

However, colleges like ice cream, come in more than three flavors. Within each category, sort them further according to their college flavor.

Flavors

It is up to students to find the college flavors that best suit their taste. Parents can help their student research schools and melt the list down to 6-8 favorites.

Here are some college flavors to choose from:

Vanilla The most popular flavor hands down is vanilla. Compare college lists at any high school and chances are the lists will be similar. The problem is the more students from one area applying to the same schools decrease the chances for all to be admitted. There are many variations of this comfort flavor such as vanilla bean and French vanilla. Vanilla loving college-bound can improve their odds by expanding their list with great schools not usually found on their peers’ lists.

Chunky Whatever the flavor, ice cream is mixable. It blends well with fruit, nuts, chocolate and a host of other goodies. Students can research schools that offer a combined degree program so they can earn two diplomas: two bachelor’s or a bachelor’s plus a master’s or other advanced degree. This will save time and money for students sure of their career goal.

Garlic Or lox, cereal, spaghetti and cheese are exotic flavors for those seeking new tasty experiences. For students it means looking beyond college stats and focusing on schools that deliver an educational adventure. What makes the college unique? Check for special courses, majors and programs and the ease of attending them once admitted.

Lite Too much ice cream can break a diet so sometimes switching to a bowl of lite has the flavor without the calories. Financial safety schools are the answer for families craving a college that doesn’t bust the budget. Check for schools with lower total cost of attendance (see POCS COA) and generous schools that dole out large portions of endowed scholarships. Also look for those that offer financial aid to meet close to 100 percent of need. The goal is to reduce belt-tightening now and in the future.

Combo Ever order two flavors instead of one? For those with a desire for higher education but not ready to attend a four-year school, a community college can be the answer. Two year schools have lower costs and an introduction to balancing the rigors of higher level academics with new social activities. Do well and transfer to a four year college for the bachelor’s degree. Or apply this strategy by starting at a local (commute instead of residing on campus), less selective (beef up qualifications) or less costly (save money) school.

Go ahead and take a family collegecation by visiting the ones of greatest interest. Sit back and enjoy a cone or dish of your fave flavor at an ice cream parlor at college.

5 surprising results from choosing STEM vs. Humanities major

Super students aren't super human (Superman by James Vaughan, x-ray delta one )

Super students aren’t super human (Superman by James Vaughan, x-ray delta one )

“Show me the money I can make,” is the new demand by college students.

The high cost of college and securing a financial future influences parents and the college bound’s school and college major choices. When economic reports show the most lucrative careers are rooted in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields, families pay attention. However, the popularity of STEM has led to five surprising results that prove super students are not super human:

1. Humanities are suffering at all school levels.

2. Student literacy is down with poorer reading, writing, speaking and analytical skills.

3. Many students put in the work hard for STEM majors but don’t get the grades they expected.

4. Many students are dropping STEM because they are not satisfied with their low grades.

5. College becomes even more costly because switching majors often adds extra courses and postpones graduation to meet requirements for new field choice.

Then there is the stress caused by these results.

When varied sources come to these conclusions, it’s time to reevaluate. The sources include research studies from the sciences, reports form the humanities, professor experiences and job authorities.

Read on for more info and how to best prepare for choosing a major.

Is college a love match or a consumer purchase?

Love Sculpture at Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA

Love Sculpture at Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA. Photo by By Montgomery County Planning Commission 7630695750_394e547aa1_b.jpgwww.flickr.com

There are many variables involved in choosing a college to attend. If the goal is to find the best higher education choice out of several thousand possibilities, should students look for their love match or search for a smart consumer purchase?

Parents of the college-bound know the stakes are high. College costs are steep but college grads have a better financial future. Parents want to see stars in their student’s eyes when their college choices are named. They want their child to be happy and excited to take advantage of their higher education opportunities.

Students want to feel a connection with their choice colleges. Initially it may come because the school is a name brand, friends are attending, or the student had a memorable college visit. The college-bound want to proudly wear their college T-shirts. In teen time, a four+ year commitment to earn a diploma represents a huge chunk of their young adulthood and therefor, their identity.

Although they may not be invested in a college decision based on money, the fact is most students take out loans to finance their education. Many parents dig deep in their pockets and also borrow to afford their student’s college bill. The impact of these financial choices may not be felt until after graduation.

Read on for college consumer variables and making a college love match

TSA knife rule impacts college choice

Pocket Knife Collection

Pocket Knife Collection. Photo by Alexander Rushing, uploaded by Partyzan_XXI, File:Pocket knives.jpg – Wikimedia Commonscommons.wikimedia.org -

Plane traveling parents and the college-bound worried about their safety in the air, on their way to and from college, have a temporary reprieve. Yesterday, the controversial rule to carry small knives on board has been temporarily postponed.

College location is more important than ever. Prospective students typically research campus and local community cultural events, activities, internship possibilities and even the weather. They look up crime stats and talk with campus Safety Officers. Allowing flight passengers to carry small knives on board is one more issue families would have to consider when evaluating the safety of college attendance.

Transportation safety problems could be a game changer when picking a college to attend. Between semester breaks and school holidays, students come home a lot. Many colleges sponsor Family Days and encourage parent visits. Many families rely on plane travel. They are already struggling with increased ticket costs, fewer perks, and delays because of Sequester cuts.

The knife rule change

Read more