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Give Your Input on the College Preparation Process & Win a FREE Amazon Gift Card!

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Replies to: Give Your Input on the College Preparation Process & Win a FREE Amazon Gift Card!

  • BarrelBlasterBarrelBlaster 93 replies32 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I liked how straightforward it was to use the CommonApp website. I definitely did NOT like getting spammed by schools like Tulane, Chicago (Loyola), Abilene Christian University, etc.
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  • blourringblourring 222 replies58 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited May 2015
    I think most colleges are doing great! I've even been getting a ton of college posters, t-shirts and those felt banner thingies! I think that colleges should send more specific and personal info to students (gathered from their expected major from the PSATs/ACTs/SATs) instead of a ton of generic brochures. I mean, colleges can't expect us to research every single one of them... they need to grab our attention in a single envelope. They need to make us believe that they can offer us the best education for each of us, as an individual.

    Oh and less spam from certain schools... like if a student doesn't reply back, take a hint? And also, set date for acceptance letters!!
    edited May 2015
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  • saintfansaintfan 8182 replies92 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Both my kids were bombarded with information from specific colleges that seemed to have no match to anything they might have checked on their PSAT or SAT interest profiles. TCU was a big offender. They flooded the email box and mailbox. My daughter was getting emails still a year into college experience. Hofstra was similarly annoying. We liked it when school ramped up after you showed interest by visiting their web site or opening an email. Our daughter disliked the admissions mailings that came out close to decision time for very selective schools. Why would Stanford send a specially wrapped view book the first week of December when they are about to reject 95% of the kids who are waiting for an early decision?

    Generally our daughter liked the fancy mailers that really showed the school's character. Even when she wasn't attracted to them it was a reminder that some kids got that mail and their hearts went pitter pat. U of Chicago and Wash U. went completely overboard, though. They could have saved several trees sending less stuff. She got one every few days it seemed!
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  • NJFabFourNJFabFour 114 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    We appreciate the colleges that offer practical tips and advice with their invitations and general information. Some have sent out invitations to local information sessions and that has also been useful. The constant bombardment of emails can be problematic and a bit of a turn-off. If I request information, yes, please respond with a useful reply, but I don't need weekly updates.
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  • dadoftwingirlsdadoftwingirls 738 replies14 threadsRegistered User Member
    I would like if colleges would take the kids intended major into consideration when sending information. One daughter wants to be an engineer and indicated her degree choice when testing. She gets information from schools that don't have engineering programs and therefore she would never apply to them.
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  • subtropicussubtropicus 94 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Some lessons learned:
    - HS juniors should study/practice for the PSAT. A top score can get you National Merit Finalist or Semifinalist status. This will get you more attention from any college, and NMF can lead to scholarships.
    - Talk about the money early in the process. Kids need to know what is realistic.
    - Merit scholarships directly from a college are not that common, and all but nonexistent for Ivies. All that "financial need met" stuff you hear at college forums is code for "how much you have to borrow."

    I agree with several posters, EC inflation is rampant. Many HS "clubs" meet once or twice and are abandoned, but still show up on the application. Don't know how good admissions people are at filtering these out, however, so it's probably worthwhile to play the game. Participate in an activity that is meaningful to you, even if you're not a typically a joiner. If nothing else, its a common subject on essays.
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  • dfbdfbdfbdfb 3867 replies24 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My oldest is a HS sophomore who took the SAT and ACT this past winter and did pretty well on them, and had already done some other stuff that got her on the radar of some colleges, as well—so the onslaught of promotional material began early for us.

    We don't mind the mail, though repeated postcards from a single school that essentially all say the same thing in the same format but with a different quirky or pretty picture each time get old after a while (and yes, Macalester and Colgate, I'm talking directly to you). We haven't been recycling them directly—they're all going into a box, 'cause we're curious how many linear inches she's going to end up receiving by the time this is all over.

    We set up a separate gmail account purely for anything college-related for her—best input I've offered to her in this process so far—and our only problem with emails are the ones where there's no unsubscribe link, or worse (because it feels like a bait and switch) where there's an unsubscribe link but the college keeps sending email after clicking through on it anyway.

    College websites (especially the admissions sections) are, for the most part, improving every year, but individual departments haven't totally gotten the memo. For someone like my child who's interested in a very specific set of disciplines, and in fact a very narrow set of subfields within that, potential curricula become important. Majors that list just course numbers without titles, or that even make it nearly impossible to figure out what coursework is required to complete the major from what's online? Not only does that make things difficult for recruitment of potential applicants, I have to imagine that it makes it more difficult to recruit potential majors who are already enrolled at your college—poor decisions all around.

    And finally, I'm with everyone else that the whole extracurriculars thing has gone crazy and just needs to stop, now.
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  • LizardlyLizardly 2506 replies11 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Start early! Be thinking about those essays over the summer.

    Make a tight list of schools to apply to. This will allow for more meaningful visits and if you can't visit, a chance to find out more about these schools via email or google searches.

    S didn't mind the mailings, email or snail mail. He just hit delete or the trashcan. He is also a fan of freebies.

    Appreciated the free applications. That did get him to look closer at some places.

    Likely letters and earlier acceptances did work on him in that he paused and envisioned himself at those places. He spent more mental energy on those places.
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  • smilyowlsmilyowl 61 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    To the students:

    Start early specially your essays. Sometimes when you write an essay and edit it over and over, you miss some of the mistakes. They essays need to sit for a while.

    Study for the tests. Colleges say they look at the whole application, but I think test scores matter a lot.

    And finally, not all counselors are the good sources of information. I talked to my guidance counselor and my school's dean about the colleges I wanted to apply. They all told me that my only choice was community college because I wouldn't get financial aid from anywhere and my scores were lower than the average accepted students. I DID get a lot of fin aid and I DID get accepted to good colleges.

    Some of the problems:

    Naviance or any other website for sending documents should not be handled by the school. My school didn't let me use the Naviance because I was a gap year student. I went through hell to send all of my documents. I had to ask my teachers to send a bunch of letter for me, but then some of them got lost during the snow storms, so I had to ask them to send them again. Also, I sent my transcript to Boston University 5 times by mail, email and fax and they still didn't receive it. They also asked for stupid documents. They have the worst administration.

    Another thing is that colleges should consider the students based on their situation. They all say that they understand some students don't have access to many resources, but in reality I don't think they really weigh that factor. For example an international student from a country where people have no clue about the American colleges is in no way the same as a student from Europe. I also have friends in less privileged neighborhoods in the US who have worked SO HARD during their high school years, but still got rejected from many places due to a "less strong" factor in their application.
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  • NorthernMom61NorthernMom61 4179 replies30 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Lessons Learned

    1. They want you to want them. When your student gets letters, brochures, and emails from schools it does not necessarily mean that school is interested in that student. College Board and sites like Cappex get student's names, email addresses and lots of information about the student from profiles, but schools are casting a wide net and are not so focused on the individual. Colleges and universities are businesses and need to make money to survive.

    2. There are a lot of super students out there who have worked hard to be that perfect applicant for certain institutions and the competition for the small number of seats/beds relative to the applicant pool is fierce in the most selective schools. Schools and applicants are both gaming the system. Outcomes are often unexpected. If a student's heart is set on one highly selective school the student runs the risk of feeling rather devastated and/or inadequate despite their high level of accomplishments. A healthy approach is to find a number of schools that the applicant believes they would be happy with and create that list with the concept of safety, match and reach in mind.

    3. Know thy budget, get real about the real cost of education today, regardless of whether or not the student qualifies for financial aid, before applying. NPCs are great for a ballpark estimation. Use them. Also know how realistic it is to be awarded a merit scholarship if seeking them. It is heartbreaking to read posts in April when a student is accepted to a school that their parent encouraged them to apply to regardless of cost only to find out that it is far more expensive and out of reach. Also, loans are loans, not financial aid, even if they are bundled into the financial aid package.

    4. The admissions process is a long and winding road. It starts long before senior year, but senior year is layered with the actual application process for many many months. To activate a Common Application account in August, and not make a final decision until May 1 of the next year with all of the anticipation and stress of decision days, award packages if any, etc. with all of the twists and turns that can occur can take its toll. That on top of classes, testing if not done prior to senior year, scholarship applications and the endless essay writing, ECs, life and whatnot. Sometimes where the student starts and wants to go turns out to be very differently at the end.

    5. It is hard to help others who are not going through this process to understand what it is like today, and why on earth a particular student who seems head and shoulders above their class in everything they do and are so talented and involved in the school or activities outside of school did not get admitted to XYZ selective college.
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  • PicapolePicapole 432 replies4 threadsRegistered User Member
    Colleges should listen more to the surveys kids fill out before taking the SAT and on various websites. Colleges that are 180 degree opposite what my daughter wants, regularly send her mail. And University of Chicago is relentless. So much email too.

    However, colleges that send information about the majors she has checked off--and have responded to her queries have been great. For my older son already in college, the personal phone calls from someone in his proposed major were very useful.

    What certain colleges can stop doing? Tufts Syndrome! It's something students new to college admissions won't understand when all those glossy brochures keep hitting their mailboxes. It is irresponsible to push your school on kids and then waitlist them all when they take the bait. We have seen some harsh examples from Case Western.

    And I will just tell you future students applying next year... there is no such thing as a free lunch. You pay to send test scores for that "free app" and you pay in your valuable time during the crunchtime to complete that extra app. And in the end, it is all so they can reject more highly qualified candidates. Don't play the game.

    What colleges should do more of is stand up to the College Board. In the old days an employee had to mail out scores, so it's understandable that fees were assessed back then. Paying for an electronic flip of a switch to send out scores is ridiculous. We should also be able to save the "four free" we get when taking the SAT until when we're ready to send them. Thanks to Reed College for bowing out of the US News hamster ball, but we need all of you to challenge the College Board on their policies. Either the College Board needs to quit paying its CEO a million a year, or we need to make it a for-profit company and end the monopoly.
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  • xxTigerxxTiger 7 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited May 2015
    Colleges do little to help those families who are too rich for financial aid but too poor to pay substantial school fees. Do the research to find which schools offer the best financial aid and scholarships.
    Use about's collegeapps website, it's really really useful just for general background stats on the colleges like average financial aid, SAT scores, acceptance rate etc.
    edited May 2015
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  • gminorgminor 240 replies26 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    A lesson I learned: don't trust the FAFSA Expected Family Contribution. My FAFSA EFC (which one school I applied to actually met) was less than 3 TIMES the uniquely-calculated "need" that I was calculated to have by another school I applied to. I wish there was more consistency to this part of the process and I wish I had known how expensive all of this would have been If I had gotten into more of the schools I applied to.
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  • MomzieMomzie 817 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    I'm realizing how difficult it is for colleges to strike a balance between "We're friendly and approachable," and "I'm a deranged stalker who won't leave you alone." My daughter liked:
    1. Colleges that actually paid attention to what she wanted to be called (i.e. her nickname and not her formal name); 2. colleges where you were actually assigned to a specific admissions counselor and then mail came from that individual rather than from some corporate 'admissions office' address.
    3. colleges that sent her 'gifts' (one sent her candy and said "this is for when you're studying for finals"; one sent her socks with the school colors)
    4. colleges that had local events that she could attend in the event that we couldn't afford to go visit the school

    My daughter didn't like:
    1. the schools that behaved like stalkers and e-mailed her and texted her like once a week. (I work at a college and I'm wondering if these are the schools that have contracted student contact out to a third party that is not doing it well.)
    THis strategy also clearly backfired because what my daughter got out of it was "we're really desperate for students. We will accept anyone. We are not selective.")

    I didn't like:
    1. schools that didn't return my e-mails and phone calls when my daughter or I had specific questions and couldn't find an answer on the website
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  • LushLilliesLushLillies 384 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    Well, I like the whole holistic approach thing, but in America, it is quite difficult to gauge if you will be accepted or not, hence why people falsely claim like "Princeton looks more at EC's and will not accept you with lower GPA" (just making something up) just to make things more clear. And that is why the Chance Me thing, and loads of stress occur during applications...not necessarily as much during the year. This holistic approach has a ton of pros and cons, but in the end, I think it is good since if you make a mistake but learn from it, you can still succeed.
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  • stvikastvika 78 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I like the books with pictures of the campus inside of them, but those really aren't enough to get me interested. MIT had a very nice pamphlet with blog posts from current students that really reflected the variety of activities there. I don't really like CONSTANT emails from colleges I have never shown interest or (sorry) have no reason to show interest in.
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  • monacoishugemonacoishuge 24 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Do your research early. Applying ED was a fantastic decision for me , and I would recommend it or applying EA to anyone. If you rank your college list before you kick off senior year, you will be at a huge advantage and at greater odds of acceptance to your top choice. If there is one aspect of your high school career in which you should not procrastinate, it is the college search!
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  • cttwenty15cttwenty15 274 replies16 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Don't obsess about the college process before you have even taken your first PSAT or SAT. I see posts on here from 9th and 10th graders and their parents, geesh people, chillax. Junior year is plenty of time to begin thinking about what schools should be on your list. Same goes for college visits, unless you just like seeing campuses, I'd suggest not burning yourself out seeing tons of places and be smart with your time.

    Having just gone through this process, I am amazed how after all the stress and work, most all of my friends and I did ultimately wind up at the places that we will be happy at and I hope for those who have this ahead of them, that you wind up happy, too!

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  • planner03planner03 1335 replies24 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Everyone, especially the parents should calm down about the mailings and the emails. Truly, they are not any more personal that the rest of the junk mail/emails that you receive. No need to collect and weigh it, no need to save every email so you can count them-and then start a thread about it. I would go to the mail box, walk through the garage and drop any unwanted communication directly into the recycle bin along with the Geico and Publisher Clearinghouse mail. Emails? Look for the link at the bottom that says "unsubscribe." Personal emails do not have "unsubscribe" links, lol. If you are interested in the schools that are mailing/emailing, great, read the information, but keep in mind that you are not getting the information because they have a personal interest in you. Really. The phone calls are more annoying, but again, realize that they aren't personal either, and they are paying work study students to make these "marketing" calls. If it is a school that you have no interest in ask them to remove you from their calling list just like any other sales call that you receive. They are not calling "you," they are calling a list of 1000s of perspective applicants. Even if you are interested in the school, they are still not calling "you," so don't get overly excited about that either.
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  • dfbdfbdfbdfb 3867 replies24 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @planner03: Yes, one can unsubscribe from emails, unless (as many on this thread have already pointed out) there is no unsubscribe link (yes, even on many form-letter, not personal, emails), or the unsubscribe link doesn't work. That's totally just not cool.
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