Admissions Expertise How important are college rankings when choosing a college? Many students miss “hidden gems” because too much emphasis is placed on rankings, rather than other criteria that can determine the academic quality of an institution. A college education is a major investment and students hope that the outcome will prepare them for a productive and profitable career. Some studies point out that rankings can be flawed due to its subjective evaluation, the decision of some institutions not to participate, and the impression that some colleges are annually “recycled,” due to their popularity, rather than merit. I prefer to use a college’s accreditation as a reputable distinction of academic excellence. They be can be accredited in many ways, but most notably with regional and professional recognition. 113 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? Be creative and connect it with vacation trips, or “buddy-up” with friends, with parental approval of course, during school breaks or weekends. The visits don’t have to always be a family-bonding event. Scheduling independent visits can sometimes offer more travel opportunities. Local alumni associations and mentoring organizations sponsor group visits to campuses. Explore the technology available with virtual tours, CollegeWeekLive, and UNIGO. If cost is a concern, explore colleges with fly-in programs. Some focus on underrepresented populations, but definitely inquire, since many are open invitations. Many students must be selective with college visits. Since time and funds pose limitations, they must wait to visit after they have been accepted to colleges, in order to make their choice. 966 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? (1) Misunderstanding a college’s perception of “taking the most challenging courses.” Sometimes students overextend themselves with course selections, not realizing they may not be adequately prepared for the curriculum. (2) Accepting advice from too many sources. I always tell my counselees and clients that the information they receive from people not professionally associated with college admissions is meant to be delivered with good intentions. However, too much can overload the circuits of a high school student (3) Procrastination!! Time management is essential in the college admission process. Deadlines must be met and the quality of a rushed essay is easily detected. Rough drafts may take time but they are necessary for both paper and online applications. 551 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? A resource that I like to recommend is www.finaid.org. It has a glossary that is very "user-friendly" to a novice. Be careful not to fall prey to scams, as many con artists know that college students and families can be desperate for any type of financial support. If you decide to consider loan institutions, select those that are reputable and, if necessary, consult the BBB. Don't be modest about researching scholarships. Many Naviance Family Connection school programs have a scholarship list and scholarship match component with good resources. There's nothing wrong with being assertive and asking the institution about merit and need-based aid, as well as unidentified funds. I've had many former students assume this advocacy role and get rewarded with support. 935 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed. What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for? Frugal, yet effective methods I tell my counselees to pursue during the summer are test taking time management strategies, a review of their responses on the PSAT, and read more. Learning how to pace oneself for the exam can eliminate the error of spending too much time on questions that should be skipped; but instead, having sufficient time for questions that are comprehensible. Reasonably priced SAT manuals can be used to take a practice test with self-monitoring. If necessary, ask someone to control the clock for you. Review your PSAT answer summary and correct your incorrect responses. Evaluate obvious problem areas; for example, omitted questions at the end of sections indicate you ran out of time. 416 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed.