Wednesday, September 21, 2011

College Apps

I’m not sure how to make this into an interesting post, but I thought I should capture some of the things I have learned at this stage of trying to find the right college for my eldest to attend next year since it seems to be taking up a lot of my time and energy at the moment.

  • There’s a difference between early action and early decision for college applications – action is on the college’s part, as in they’ll tell you if you get in; decision is on the applicant’s part, as in you only get one and you promise to go there
  • Applying to 10 colleges is not an outrageous number, it seems to be about average for the people I’ve talked to
  • Application deadlines are all over the place – this means there’s not a single super-stressful date, but it also means that there are nearly continuous deadlines through senior year
  • Colleges seem to have all sorts of money for some spectacularly designed mailings, although I’m not really sure how many hours of reading/attention time they get per dollar spent
  • Some schools (UMCP for example) pretty much make you apply by the early deadline because that’s the deadline for honors programs and scholarships and what college applicant isn’t at least hoping for a scholarship? This means that you really need to figure out your list of colleges early so that you can check if any of them have early application deadlines for things you are interested in
  • People who love graphs and databases and number crunching should find the $20 fee for full access to US News & World Report’s college database worth the money. I started trying to build something similar in excel before I found it. I thought all they did was college rankings (which I’m a little skeptical about), but they have all sorts of information, like tuition, student to teacher ratios etc
  • No matter how much time, effort and money you pour into working with your kid on this stuff there will be parents who have done more, much more.
  • Your child will love and/or hate schools for reasons that seem really stupid. I’m trying to use these 17 years of experience with this child to remember patience and diplomacy when I try to nudge for or against a specific college as well as remembering that this is not my college education we are talking about, although I will be sinking a lot of money into it…

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