Admissions Expertise How important are college rankings when choosing a college? College rankings create some order out of the chaos of a confusing landscape of options. Yet they cannot indicate the right fit for an individual. Few read the fine print describing a ranking’s methodology; many assume mistakenly that if a publication says a college is #1 nationally, it must be #1 for all students. Be a wise consumer. Take time to understand the weight given each category considered for a ranking; consider the importance of each for your student. Focus on what’s right for your student and interpret rankings knowledgeably. They’re one ingredient among many in a well-directed college search. 636 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed. We don't have time or money to visit some schools I’m really interested in. What can I do? If you can’t visit, you can gather plenty of information through the college’s website, its Facebook page, comments on Unigo and College Prowler, and traditional guidebooks. Also, talk with family, friends, teachers and employers to find out what they may know about the college. Let the admissions office know all that you’re doing to gather information and if cost is a significant deterrent to your visit, ask if there are any opportunities for assistance with travel cost. If not, ask the admissions office if it’s possible to arrange a Skype conversation or interview with someone on staff. You’ll learn more and you’ll convey initiative! 200 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed. What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process? This applies to the college search, where students and parents sometimes fall into the trap of chasing prestige rather than a great fit in both personal and academic terms. Losing sight of priorities can lead students to choose activities that they perceive to be important for admissions, while making no sense for them personally. It can also muck up the application process, leading a student to send an application to Bowdoin conveying great enthusiasm for Cornell. By letting your priorities guide you, you’ll be the student who knows which of the two is the right match and why. You’ll ably demonstrate your interest to the colleges receiving your applications. 783 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed. How do I understand my financial aid package and which tips and tricks can maximize my aid? Congratulations - if you’re reviewing financial aid awards you’ve been admitted to college and hopefully one that excites you. But now it’s time to look through clear lenses at what the awards actually tell you. Look at each college’s billed costs including all fees, then subtract the total amount of grants, scholarships and federal work-study offered. The net figure remaining is what you and your parents will have to cover through family contributions and loans. A word of advice: be conservative in taking out loans, despite colleges offering PLUS (parent) loans by the cartload. Make sure that you and your family will be able to pay off debt incurred without mortgaging your collective future. And if you’ve received more generous offers from other colleges, it can’t hurt to ask a financial aid office politely whether your award can be reviewed and adjusted. 356 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed.