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  • Rafael Figueroa

    Title: Director, College Guidance

    Company: Albuquerque Academy

    • verified

    Former Admissions Officer at
    Occidental College Wesleyan University
    College Specializations
    Stanford University, Wesleyan University, Occidental College, University of New Mexico-Main Campus
    Years of Experience

    Colleges I Attended
    Stanford University UCLA Law School
    Professional Affiliations
    NACAC, Rocky Mountain ACAC
    Prior Title
    Associate Dean of Admission
    About Me
    Director of College Guidance at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico. Former admission officer at Occidental College in Los Angeles and Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • How important are college rankings when choosing a college?


      Rankings are a good source of information. I would never buy an appliance without checking consumer ratings. Appliances get put through rigorous testing before they are rated by consumer magazines, but that isn’t true of colleges. Most college rankings get information directly from the colleges. In US News and World Report the data is plugged into a formula that is completely made up. It has nothing to do with what YOU will find important in a college. So use the DATA that is published for your own comparison of things like graduation and retention rates. But IGNORE the numerical rankings.

    • I want to make the most of campus visits. What should I do, look for, and ask while I’m there?


      Visits are extremely helpful, but don’t judge a college until you have engaged the campus. Attend classes, go to club meetings, eat in the dining hall, sleep in the dorms, if possible.  Do you know students there from your school or home state? Look them up, ask to them about their experiences. Pick up a student newspaper to find out about important issues on campus. Be sure to exam kiosks and bulletin boards—they are a goldmine of information about the speakers, clubs, and even work opportunities available. Finally: pay attention to the intangibles—how a college makes you feel.

    • How can I work with schools to boost my financial aid? Are there other sources of student aid?


      Changes in financial circumstances can happen to anyone. Don’t panic. Contact financial aid offices immediately and ask to speak to the officer evaluating your file. Financial aid officers  are good people who really want to help you any way they can. Be direct and honest, and be prepared to provide documentation such as layoff notices. Financial  aid is given out according to set  rules, with some discretion. So  be prepared to choose a different college or make alternate plans if the finances will not work out for you this year. Maybe even consider taking a gap year and applying again.

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