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The real meaning of Thanksgiving for college applicants

November 14th, 2023

Thanksgiving is a day inspired by gratitude, to give thanks and gather with loved ones. What better way to express gratitude than checking off a major task on your senior to-do list? Trust me on this one, your whole family will be grateful as well. This short break in November gives seniors who haven’t yet submitted all applications time for serious work on what is remaining. Set your goal to complete this phase of the process by the end of Thanksgiving break so you can truly enjoy your longer winter break.

Image via Shutterstock/Lena Pan

The article linked below from The Oakland Press has some great ideas to keep you focused over the upcoming break so you can feel grateful for productivity, time with family and your future. Although written two years ago, it continues to resonate.

Article referenced below from The Oakland Press, written by Barbara Connolly, published November 15, 2021

The real meaning of Thanksgiving for college applicants

The start of the holiday season carries so many meanings — food, family and giving gifts. But for high school students applying to college, Thanksgiving break also represents an important window of time, between the early application deadlines and the homestretch of their admissions journeys.

At this point, some students may have already submitted several college applications, while others are just getting started. Deadlines, decisions and comparisons can loom large, causing stress and anxiety.

So, what should students be doing right now to move ahead in the college application process?

Read more at The Oakland Press>>

How the FAFSA delay might impact you

October 17th, 2023

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as FAFSA, is undergoing some major changes, causing a delay in the roll-out date by at least two months. This is the first major redesign in over 40 years and will create a more streamlined process for applicants.

Some of the changes include:

  • A new student aid index, which replaces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • Expansion of federal Pell grant eligibility
  • Simplifying questions that determine a learner’s independent student status
  • Removing questions about Selective Service and drug convictions
  • Automatic population of federal income tax data from the IRS
  • More details about the school’s cost of attendance (COA)

While these upgrades will be beneficial for students over time, the delayed rollout presents challenges for colleges and applicants alike. The article to which we link today, from Inside Higher Ed, is an excellent resource for families trying to navigate the need-based financial aid process in this application cycle.

Article referenced below from Inside Higher Ed, published October 6, 2023, written by Katherine Knott and Liam Knox

Waiting for FAFSA

Helen Faith, the financial aid director at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is usually busy this time of year with a familiar agenda: hosting informational sessions on financial aid applications for families, reviewing prospective students’ forms and generally revving up her office’s well-oiled machinery to start crunching numbers and spitting out student aid packages.

But with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid launch delayed by at least two months, Faith’s fall calendar is up in the air. And she’s not the only one.

The FAFSA is at the center of the college financial aid system, unlocking billions in federal, state and institutional aid for more than 18 million students annually. The federal government is overhauling the form as part of a project known as FAFSA Simplification, delaying this year’s opening from Oct. 1 to sometime in December.

Read more at Inside Higher Ed>>

Choosing the right college for long term outcomes

September 12th, 2023

Does where you go to college really matter? Readers know I believe that the right fit matters a great deal.

What about prestige?

Many have been conditioned to believe that earning a degree from a highly selective college will automatically put you in a position to access the most desirable career opportunities. However, the article linked below offers a somewhat different perspective, which you may find eye-opening.

While certain universities have excellent networking advantages, being a go-getter and spending your spare time working hard to get ahead will bring you success no matter where you enroll. Writer Frank Bruni shares the educational backgrounds of some who hold the highest positions in our country.

Bottom line: if you are driven, intelligent and have a good work ethic, you will go far in life.

Article linked below from The New York Times, published on August 3, 2023, written by Frank Bruni

The Real, Hidden Truth About College Admissions

Our political leaders may or may not be worthy of emulation, but there’s no doubt that they’re successes in the strictest sense, having summited the professional peaks that they intended to scale. Which colleges set them on their ascents?

Kevin McCarthy, the highest-ranking Republican in the House, graduated from the Bakersfield campus of California State University. Hakeem Jeffries, the top Democrat, got his bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University, a branch of the State University of New York.

Read more at The New York Times>>

The Supreme Court’s decision and its effect on the upcoming admission cycle

August 15th, 2023

Since the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions this summer, much has been changing.

Quite a few colleges have revised Common Application supplement questions to elicit more information about students’ lived experiences and how they may contribute to inclusion and sharing of diverse perspectives on campus. 

At least one college, Virginia Tech, eliminated Early Decision, which entails a binding commitment, in favor of Early Action, which allows students to compare all admission and financial aid offers that may result.

One college, Wake Forest, introduced an Early Action option specifically for First-Generation college students, while maintaining an Early Decision program for students willing and able to foreclose other options.

Wesleyan University (Connecticut) and Occidental College (California) eliminated legacy preferences, joining a handful of institutions including Amherst, Carnegie Mellon and MIT that had already done so.  The University of Virginia has changed its approach to legacy status, inviting students with ties of all kinds to the institution to discuss how their tie prepares them to contribute to campus life.  This new policy includes special mention of descendants of individuals who labored at UVA.

We’re heartened to note the common thread running through all of this:  emphasis on equity, inclusion and understanding.  While we have some trepidation about what the Court has wrought, we’re hopeful about changes under way and believe that today’s article link from Inside Higher Ed will deepen your understanding of this shift.

Article linked below written by Liam Knox, published on August 2, 2023 by Inside Higher Ed

The Common App Enters an Uncommon Era

Even in a typical year, Aug. 1 is a big day for college admissions.

It’s launch day for the Common App, the 1,000-member platform for college applications, and the beginning of many months of preparation and nervous anticipation for parents and applicants of all ages. Many college counselors refer to it as “admissions new year.”

But yesterday wasn’t just the start of a new year in admissions; it was the dawn of a new era, the first application cycle since the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action.

Read more at Inside Higher Ed>>