Do NOT assume that a Scholarship will be given to Current College Student for Being on Dean’s List!

Last night, I was in discussion with several different families who were “up in arms” because their kids were just named to their schools’ Deans Lists, but the students weren’t awarded any scholarship money for that. Seriously, the discussion got ugly! People get very upset when they’re faced with unexpected high costs.

I don’t know where this commonly-held misbelief comes from, but many think that colleges reward their Dean’s List students (often 3.5+ GPA) with a merit scholarship!! (Similarly, people wrongly think that they’ll only have to pay OOS tuition for one year! Ugh! We need to dispel these myths!!!)

More than one family told me that they let their child choose their college because they assumed that they’d only pay the high tuition rate at the beginning and that “good grades” would mean scholarships from the school. One parent blamed their mistake on being, “first time college parents,” and that’s probably true…but when you’re dealing with the potential cost of $200k+, you’d think they’d do a little homework, such as asking the school about money for Dean’s List, etc.

Colleges do NOT have buckets of money set aside for “good grades.” Good grades are expected…and colleges aren’t like parents handing out dollars for each A on a report card.

Frankly, there is so much grade-inflation going on in colleges today that schools are reporting huge numbers of students on their Dean’s Lists. Schools would go broke if they rewarded those achievements with tuition discounts.

Getting back to the families…they’re in a pickle. Their kids love their schools. The parents can’t afford the schools and don’t want to borrow large amounts for the whole 4 years. One dad told me that he tried to get his son to transfer at mid-year but the son has a “new girlfriend,” and won’t consider transferring. Parent won’t put on the big-boy pants and just insist and refuse to pay for the unaffordable school. The dad is furious and even took his anger out on me! Lol. (I had never met these people before last night so I had nothing to do with their mistaken beliefs.)

I’m writing this post as a “heads up” to parents and students who might be about to make the huge mistake of choosing an expensive school with the belief that they’ll only have to “suck it up” and pay high tuition for a short time. No. When you pick a college, look at the projected cost as what you’ll pay for every year…AND expect some increases in costs each year due to inflation…each year tuition, dorms, meal plans will go up in price at nearly every school.

Do not expect any sort of tuition reduction or scholarship for “good grades” in college. In fact, typically dept majors have extremely small budgets for any sort of awards, and those are often reserved as “one year only prizes” given to the top student or few students in the dept. Some depts may have several endowed awards to give away, but again, those are usually small awards and often only for one year. “Mark Smith” or “Mary Jones” may have endowed a $2k per year prize given to the the top math junior or top French junior…or something like that.

So, please encourage people to read this thread. Encourage parents and high school students to join College Confidential and learn about this whole process. Membership is free, remind them!! We’re here to help everyone, first time parents are our specialty!!! :slight_smile:

Strange. I don’t know any schools that give out Dean’s List scholarships.

^^. I don’t either!! That’s why this strange expectation was a surprise. And I’m not really saying that being on the Dean’s List is “the trigger for merit”. There was just an expectation that a high GPA would get rewarded by the school.

That said, I have seen parents and students post in the past asking if there would be a tuition reduction/scholarship for good grades in college. I don’t know if that happens in foreign colleges because often that question comes from int’l parents/students. They’ll say something like, “we can scrape together the costs for the first year, but after good grades freshman year, won’t the school give a scholarship?” Uh no.

This process can be extremely stressful, especially considering how outrageous college costs have become. Couple that with most parents being guilty of thinking their kid is “special” (we all do it!) and problems can and do arise!
I’d like to add that what helped us was running the NPC for all the schools with our son. We were very upfront with him about what we’ve saved and the budget.
I think what has also helped is that we’ve been nothing but positive- we have no illusions of “prestige “ and having to get into a top school. He’s worked very hard and his application is very strong - he will thrive wherever he ends up. We just made it clear that finances must be considered, but that doesn’t equate to going to a lesser school. Also, you cant assume you’ll get merit.
Also, we didn’t have to contend with any dream school talk.

More to the point: parents should expect their costs to increase over the time the student is in college. Tuition and room/board increase each year but merit scholarships at most schools stay fixed at the amount offered with the acceptance letter. (There are some schools that guarantee tuition stays the same all four years. And need-based aid will vary each year based on family income, of course. But generally you should expect to pay more senior year than you did freshman year.)

I have encouraged friends and family with high school students to get on College Confidential. Most of them are college graduates themselves but that was 20-30 years and as the saying goes it wasn’t a different time it was a different world in terms of college admissions and financial aid. For example: A generation ago Northeastern, BU and BC were safety schools for “good” students. Working your way through college is no longer a reality. Getting mailings from elite colleges does not mean that the student is being recruited. They will not “find a way” to afford the school.

Based on my experience as an adjunct instructor I try and steer them away from MA community colleges except as a last resort. And above all I recommend that they discourage their kids from glomming onto a “dream school”. Guidance counselors are often useless in helping students through the process either through outdated knowledge of the process or hesitancy to tell a student that Elite University is out of reach. In many cases the GC fears backlash from the parents for an honest assessment of their student.

I often get a cold response from these friends and family.

I wonder if any high school guidance counselors routinely follow CC? It should be required! There is a lot of really good information here. I’ve attended more than one “college night” for D15 and now D19, and they are so basic that they aren’t really helpful. I really feel for kids that have no parent advocates - the process is fairly consuming. I also remember how clueless my parents were when it came to my kids - they assumed simply because we had smart African American daughters money would fall from the trees. I had to tell my Dad to stop filling my kids heads with visions of ivy leagues, because that was NOT our budget, and we would be considered full pay. Then I had to explain to them that our philosophy is even if we are full pay doesn’t mean we want to pay $280K for 1 kid (4 year ivy) versus $200K for 2 kids (4 yr in-state). I have had more than one passionate discussion with coworkers about the subject too.

I can’t believe that parents actually believe this. Shows how out of touch I am. I guess magical thinking abounds.

@mom2collegekids wrote " The dad is furious and even took his anger out on me ! "

Similar experience during a revisit day for accepted students at a top ten university. While waiting in line for lunch,the couple next to us stated that their daughter was on the waitlist for Stanford. I casually remarked that I had just spoken with Stanford admissions & they stated that they would not be taking any (or any more) students from the waitlist. The girl’s father lost his temper & I thought that he was going to attack me.

^ You took away their denial. Next time say you heard that they were only going to take one or two more. :wink:

I felt bad, but also surprised because we were at an accepted students’ revisit day for an outstanding university. The father was well dressed with a professional appearance.

I have taught undergrads and have come to terms with fact that many don’t do the readings, make assumptions based on some idea they got in their head from something they heard or read somewhere, and that magical thinking abounds, I’m not entirely surprised that their parents are exactly the same way. Actually, I may have been a TA for some of these parents back in the mid 1990s…

There also seems to be a large amount of entitlement on the part of the parents, as well as delusional thinking. Among other things, a 3.5 GPA is not that uncommon, and if any good school had to reduce tuition for all kids who have that GPA, they’d go under in a year or two. Even if it was rare, did anybody tell them that this would happen?

Somehow, these parents believed that the school is required follow an agreement that existed entirely within the parents’ heads. The parents are mad because the school did not provide money that the parents imagined that the school would give. Wow. I don’t even know what to say.

@mom2collegekids Why were the high costs “unexpected”? College costs are stated clearly when you apply. It sounds more like “delusional people get very upset when faced with reality”. I don’t envy the administrators who have to deal with these snowflakes. These are probably the same parents who yell at professors who fail their kids because their precious darlings didn’t do the required assignments.

I haven’t heard parents say they expect merit for Deans List but I have heard parents think making the Deans List is a big deal and should help their kids get into elite universities. I had one dad tell me that he can’t believe his son didn’t get into his ED school because he always made the Deans List. When I dug deeper, he said his son got almost all Bs and a few Cs but he was in all honors classes so that should be ok especially since the weighting of the GPAs put him on the Deans List each semester. I’ve known this dad a long time and I explained that, even kids with all As in all honors and APs didn’t get into that school ED from our high school. He was shocked. It really is crazy how parents and kids make their college list based on random wishful thinking instead of looking at the facts.

And Deans List is so crazy easy to make at our school that S19 didn’t even mention it on his common app. He had other academic awards to list. Something like 30% of the kids make Deans List each semester. The school doesn’t practice grade inflation per se, but the cut off for Deans List is low.

Amazing. Since my money was going to be involved with attending college, it was hard for my wife and I not to get as educated as possible on the current collegiate landscape when it comes to financial aid practices and terminology. But I try and help as many as possible understand the stakes. I have a friend (very successful accountant) who thought his son would be on the hook for a 40K per year loan (child received 5K per year scholarship) to go to a public university OOS. Once he heard the truth (you are the one who would be on the hook), he had a conversation with his child who is currently happy at his local in-state institution. I am still shocked that he would have let his 18 year old take out a 40K loan if it were possible.

@homerdog OP is talking about college Dean’s list not high school

Wow, I’ve never heard anyone say they thought the college would give extra money for dean’s list! It is shocking how uniformed people are and how little research is happening - both parents and students. This is a huge outpouring of money and a major life decision. It’s a complicated process but there are so many free resources available, including this site.

There have been a few parents come to CC to get advice and they have not been too pleased with the honest advice they receive.

^ I caught the edit. Yes, I came in just before the lock on that last one. That parent had a lot of nerve.

@momof2atl for what? College costs? Ability to pay? Financial aid? At our schools, the GCs are there to discuss admission and are prohibited, due to privacy issues, to discuss family finances. The best they can do is to encourage families to be realistic about the costs of the colleges and what the families can afford. They can also tell families merit and, and suggest they complete the financial aid forms if the family wants to be considered for need based aid.

They cannot ask about family finances.

My one kid was on the deans list all but one term. It never dawned on me…at all…to think this would net this kid any kind of money. At all.

Some families live in the magical world where they think money for college will materialize out of no where when in reality, that doesn’t happen.

If parents really want to know IF there is new merit money READILY available for upperclass students, they should ask this question at each college.

No assumptions.

@homerdog I’m talking about current college students. Dean’s LIst at college.