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College Confidential’s “Dean,” Sally Rubenstone, put together 25 of her best tips. So far, the "25 Tips from the Dean" eBook has helped more than 10K students choose a college, get in, and pay for it. Get your free copy: http://goo.gl/9zDJTM

The four biggest mistakes students make when applying to college

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,194 Senior Member
edited October 2016 in College Admissions
Post edited by Dave_Berry on
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Replies to: The four biggest mistakes students make when applying to college

  • Fishnlines29Fishnlines29 Registered User Posts: 1,526 Senior Member
    Great article, thank you.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 27,764 Senior Member
    I am out of clicks for the month, can someone summarize the 4 mistakes?
  • halcyonheatherhalcyonheather Registered User Posts: 8,987 Senior Member
    1. I never saw the benefit of visiting schools, at least for myself, because I always dislike places the first time I see them. I visited my school twice because it's close to where my parents live, but it looked completely different on the tour than it looks to me now.

    3. I think there's some merit to choosing a college in a location where you might want to live. You will have more opportunities to interact with local companies. On the other hand, college is a chance to see more of the country/world if you want to.
  • MassDaD68MassDaD68 Registered User Posts: 1,254 Senior Member
    I thought the article was a bit light. I found the reader comments entertaining. They hit home with talk of middle class families not having many options for aid if your kid cannot be part of the 5% of kids that get accepted into top tier schools. Being a fill pay parent is hard in a time when all you hear about is how much money there is out there available and how one should not look at the sticker price.
  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya Registered User Posts: 1,474 Senior Member
    You should look at the sticker price, but it can also pay to look at potential merit awards. There IS money out there for middle class - or any income - families, you just have to accept that it's not (likely) not going to be at the highest-name-recognition school your kid gets into. It depends on what is important to each family/kid. We recognized early on that a school like BC, which only offers merit to the very top students and where we wouldn't be eligible for need-based aid, was not an option even though it was within range for possible acceptance. We targeted less well-known schools that wanted high stats kids, and both kids were offered substantial merit money at multiple schools.

  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 27,764 Senior Member
    Those four points all seem like no brainers, and match the general advice you would get out here any day of the week.
  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston Registered User Posts: 10,129 Senior Member
    edited October 2016
    4. Getting your heart set on one place before the financial-aid offer. Several years ago, New York University, one of the most expensive institutions in the country, called several thousand prospective students who were accepted after they got their financial-aid offers. They focused on students who had a big gap between what NYU offered in aid and what the family was expected to pay. NYU essentially wanted to encourage the students to look elsewhere, because while the university might be a good academic fit, it wasn’t a good financial fit.
    The calls had almost no impact on a student’s decision to enroll, and after a few years, NYU ended the outreach. Most parents didn’t want to disappoint their children. Instead of telling them to go to a less-expensive school, they encouraged their sons or daughters to take out bigger loans, or the parents took out loans themselves to help subsidize the degree

    This is the primary cause of the so called student debt crisis! Some of these students are the ones being interviewed on TV 10 years after graduation whining about how their student loans are ruining their lives.
    Post edited by fallenchemist on
  • CheeringsectionCheeringsection Registered User Posts: 1,797 Senior Member
    I think this is a great article for those new to the process. I would add that targeting schools that will be affordable and making them at least a third of "the list" is key to making sure the student has choices, even if the merit offers do not come through. DS applied to 6 schools. Two were affordable without any merit. Two were affordable with generous merit. Two were lottery tickets as far as affordability. In the end he had 3 schools that he could attend without loans.
  • MandalorianMandalorian Registered User Posts: 1,373 Senior Member
    "Delaying" visits til spring seems natural. The weather is nice plus it's easier for a HS senior to take time off their spring semester than fall.
  • ObitoSigmaObitoSigma Registered User Posts: 298 Junior Member
    More appropiate title of the article should be "The four biggest mistakes students make when deciding which colleges to apply to."
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 27,764 Senior Member
    Delaying visits means students may waste their time applying to schools that they don't really like when they do visit. Sometimes they end up with no good choices in the spring with this strategy. Also, my kids had ECs with heavy spring commitments. State tournaments for the things they did were in the spring. And seniors are often captains or critical contributors to their teams.
  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 Registered User Posts: 2,845 Senior Member
    Delaying all visits is silly. The visits help the student get a feel for what college is really like and pare down the list.
  • whatisyourquestwhatisyourquest Registered User Posts: 400 Member
    edited October 2016
    From the article:

    "Don’t be fooled by the term 'research university.' For the most part, undergraduates will never have a chance to work on those projects that bring so much prestige to the universities; those are reserved for graduate students...But if you really want to work with faculty members on research projects, even in the sciences, you’re much better off going to a college that focuses on undergraduate education, like a small liberal-arts college."

    This may apply to some research universities, but is way too general. My kid is a freshman at MIT, and only his first semester, but he's already been approached by one professor about conducting research within UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program). Caltech has a similar program called SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship). So, research opportunities for undergraduates abound at these tippy top STEM-focused universities.
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