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  • Betsy Morgan

    Title: Founder

    Company: College Matters LLC

    • verified

    Colleges I Attended
    Wesleyan University, MALS; UCLA Extension, EdCC; Gettysburg College, BA
    Degrees
    Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree
    Professional Affiliations
    IECA, NEACAC
    Member

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • Does class size matter?

       

      Average class size; student to faculty ratio - I have never been on a campus tour or in an information session where these statistics have not been touted. However, there are simply too many factors which can alter this statistic. How many professors are on sabbatical? Are professors allowed to “buy out” of teaching assignments to research? How many classes does each professor teach; how many do students take? Is the majority of the campus in the same department with huge classes, while the less popular majors have very few? Ask good questions in order to find out what size YOUR classes are likely to be.

    • What are freshman retention rates and why do they matter?

       

      The retention rate is the number of students who return for their sophomore year. It can be a good indication of how happy students are, and how well the college supports students who are having trouble academically, and otherwise. Of course, grade inflation can falsely inflate this statistic. On the other hand, a college which enrolls many students who rely on financial aid and may need to take a break in order to earn additional funds may have a lower retention rate.

    • How important are college rankings when choosing a college?

       

      After all, who would buy the magazines or guidebooks if there weren’t a new number one?  While some of the data used to derive the rankings are objective, subjective aspects such as perceived reputation are often used.  And statistics can be manipulated or misinterpreted.  Part of the problem is that the schools themselves provide much of the information going into the rankings. While many try to be absolutely accurate, some occasionally enhance their scores through creative data reporting. Should you ignore the rankings altogether?  Not necessarily.  But take them for what they are: a very small piece of the puzzle.

    • We don't have time or money to visit some schools I’m really interested in. What can I do?

       

      Why does visiting matter to some colleges? Because, they have found that if a student cannot seem to find the time to visit, chances are they will not attend, even if they are admitted. So, first off, ask admissions: Does demonstrating interest factor into your decision-making? If the answer is yes, you need to communicate your interest in another way: talk with the admissions staff when they visit your high school or at a college fair; send an e-mail explaining why you cannot visit; register for an alumni interview; ask your high school counselor to advocate on your behalf. Most of all, in your application, answer the “Why Us” essay with plenty of detail and thought.

    • What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

       

      Proofread! You hear it all the time, but it really is important. Have several sets of eyes look over your application and if that is not possible, use the old editor’s trick of reading the essay backwards. It works! Avoid find and replace! It is a recipe for disaster. Besides, if you can simply change the name of the activity or name of the college, you aren’t being specific enough. Be yourself! If any piece of your application does not accurately represent who you are, does not have your voice, or does not “fit” together, you run the risk of confusing the admissions personnel who don’t have a lot of time to make a decision on your application.

    • What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

       

      Know thyself! That is the key to finding the best test prep for you. If you are amazingly self-motivated, you may be fine with a free online study guide such as number2.com and the College Board question of the day. A social learner? A prep class with others is probably the way to go. Nervous Nellie? I suggest one-on-one tutoring. But remember, the best way to prepare for standardized testing is by doing sample problems – many, many sample problems. If you are counting on osmosis to do the trick, save your money!

    • How do I understand my financial aid package and which tips and tricks can maximize my aid?

       

      One of the biggest mistakes that many college bound families make is to focus solely on the grand total of the award, without carefully considering its individual components. “They gave me the most money,” say many students when asked why they chose a particular institution. But viewing your financial aid package in this way can be deceiving. Instead, think about long-range affordability. Start with the cost of attendance: tuition, room and board, and expenses. Then deduct out any grants, scholarships or work-study awarded – this is gift aid that you don’t have to pay back. The resulting number is what you should really consider your “award.” Finally, calculate the gap between this “award” amount and the amount that your family realistically can afford. Some schools will offer you loans and others will “gap” you (not meet 100% of your EFC). Regardless, you want to mind the gap and keep that number as small as possible, both for your family’s current financial stability, as well as your future debt load.

    • How can parents help students with the college search and application process?

       

      Top ten things parents can do to stay sane

      1. Take "we" out of it. "We" are not applying to college, your child is. Admissions officers see this as a sign that you are a "helicopter parent."

      2. Designate college free evenings. You child is surrounded by college talk, college worries, and college plans. You can greatly reduce their stress by having a few evenings a week where you talk about other things.

      3. Focus on realistic expectations. One of the greatest fears that kids have is not living up to their parents' expectations. So don't point out every Harvard sticker on the back window of a car or focus time and energy wondering how that kid down the road got into Tufts.

      4. Hold up your end of the bargain. Set aside time to visit colleges. Fill out all of the high school guidance department paperwork in a timely manner. File your FAFSA on time.

      5. Have the "what we can afford" discussion now. Don't let your child apply to college, get in and then decide that you cannot afford it!

      6. Bring up the rear. On a campus tour, let your child walk up front and ask the questions. The same goes at college fairs, in the interview and when talking with coaches, musical directors or faculty.

      7. Offer your help. Most kids need help with this process. Arranging trips, going to the post office, sending SAT scores, etc. "I am here to help; you tell me what you need," is a great message to send.

      8. Speak second. After each college visit, ask for their impressions before you offer your two-cents.

      9. Help them discover their greatness. Remember, all students have unique and wonderful attributes. Focus on the positive and on what will get them into college, not what might keep them out.

      10. Call us. If all of the above are getting you nowhere... call us. We can help!

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