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mamaedefamilia Senior Member

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  • Re: How many college visits, and how many changings of their mind on which school?

    Our approach to college visits was opportunistic as we live in an area in the West that doesn't offer a lot of direct flights to other areas of the country. Beginning after D's freshman year, if we were traveling for vacation or to visit family and there were colleges of potential interest, we'd do a drive by and/or get out of the car and walk around a bit or maybe take a tour. In successive summers we covered NYC and part of New England. Only as a rising senior did she do the full info session/campus tour/interview, when we did an intensive college road trip in the Midwest.

    You still have plenty of time. However, I do think that the early information gathering is important because when you get to decision time, you really have about 6 weeks at most before May 1. You will have to plan visits around your kids typical school commitments - sports, shows, academic competitions, AP exams, etc. Time and money will be limited, especially as you have twins who might be targeting different schools.

    For my daughter, the most important visit was after admission when she got to be on campus when school was in session and when she could attend classes as a guest. That classroom dynamic was a big part of her final decision.

    Good luck! I have very good memories of those road trips.
  • Re: Parents of the HS Class of 2017

    We had major illness in the house for the past few weeks so CC time has been minimal. Everybody is mostly fine now. The timing was inconvenient but at least D will be able to attend graduation on Friday. Family has begun to arrive from out of town and I have a graduation party to get through. Eek!

    School year: I attended school on the east coast from kindergarten through graduate school. School always started the Tuesday after Labor Day. Living in the West for the last 20 years, I still am not accustomed to school starting in mid August and finishing before Memorial Day.

    Student Portal - D signed me and DH up for proxy access so that's done. She's been very proactive about all of her forms, pre-registration for classes, and placement tests, for which I am extremely grateful.

    I just booked tickets for move-in and fall break (thank you Southwest for your current fare sale and generous checked baggage allowance!) Then lodging and car rental and OMG, this is for real!!! Now to organize the list of stuff to bring and to buy on site. Laptop? No freaking clue. We've got time. Maybe.
  • Re: Good Merit Aid for Decent Test Scores

    Our financial situation is in the middle class doughnut hole where they say we can afford a lot more each year than we have ability to pay. She needs a school that comes in below $20K with merit aid/grants and BEFORE loans. She will take out max Stafford loan herself and we will use our money, college savings, and co-sign additional loans up to the $20K mark.

    @2018mom2018 Having just gone through a similar search with our own daughter, I am offering some information that I hope you will find helpful.

    The first is that merit aid and need-based aid do not stack. What I mean by this is let's assume the target school costs 60K per year and your EFC is 30K. If your daughter received a merit award for 30K, you would not receive additional need-based grants to bring the cost down to 20K. Merit would substitute for financial aid.

    Your comment also suggests that what you can pay out of pocket might be more like 10K per year, if both you and your daughter would need to assume loans to get to that 20K. If med school is in her future, keeping loans to a minimum is very important.

    Based on our search, 20K for a LAC is going to be tough. Typically, merit awards max out at 30K for the top applicants, and 25K is more typical. For us, the lowest cost options were Wooster and St Olaf, both of which offered a maximum of 50% of the total cost of admission, 30K and 28K respectively. There are other options listed upthread where you might get to 30K, but 20K is not realistic unless your daughter can get a full tuition award. Few LACs offer full tuition awards - Denison, Muhlenberg, and Centre College do and they are very competitive. Grinnell also might offer some larger awards - check.

    Also as mentioned earlier, in order to get those top awards, her test scores would need to be higher - 1400+ on the SAT or 30+ on the ACT (ideally 32+). So prepping over the summer and retaking in the fall is probably the single best thing she could do to improve her chances.

    BTW, I don't believe that Wooster is an admissions reach for your child and I believe that she would have a decent chance for merit money, but it wouldn't be enough to get you to your target 20K. Take a look at this wonderful thread started by @eandesmom that documents the amount of merit that B/B+ students for the HS class of 2017 received. Many of the schools represented there are ones that you have already identified as possible matches for your daughter.


    Finally, given your budget constraints, you should also consider larger schools where she might be eligible for substantial merit. Public universities with honors programs can provide something of the LAC feel within a larger school. Murray State (KY) and Ohio University, for example, are pretty campuses in smaller towns that offer merit scholarships (not sure on the amount) to OOS students and have honors programs, that would provide a more intimate experience. Neither is huge (between 10-15K students, I believe).

    Best of luck!
  • Re: Need LAC suggestions for future "Nate Silver" kid... :-)

    I think I mentioned this before, but Case Western might work for him. It's adjacent to museums and Cleveland Institute of Music. Fairly diverse for a mid-sized private university, both in race and socioeconomic profile. It ended up being my D's second choice, and she mostly preferred small town LACs. In classroom visits at Case she found the students to be serious about their studies, but not competitive or snooty. Strong in both STEM and music.
  • Re: Women's College Road Trip

    If she's open to co-ed, you might want to add in a couple of slightly less competitive LACs where her test scores would put her in contention for merit aid consideration. If you're visiting Bryn Mawr, for example, Muhlenberg or Dickinson might be worth a look. Both good schools, somewhat lower ranked, and in the safer zone for admission.