Admissions Expertise How important are college rankings when choosing a college? Every year various companies post their annual college rankings. Families clamor to these sources, imagining that the order of each college gives insight into its educational value. The lower the number, the better the college, right? What rankings do not address is this: what do you need to be happy and successful at college? What environment will inspire you to take advantage of opportunities in and out of the classroom? Smart students will consider factors like teacher/student engagement, active learning experiences, and student culture. It’s important to find an academic and social setting that fits your unique style. 959 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? Unbeknownst to most families, many colleges offer fly-in programs for students with need. It’s worth a call to the admissions office to see if they can give you a free flight. Be aware, though, that some of these programs are offered after you’ve been accepted –to help you make a decision. Meanwhile, consider purchasing a handful of college tour videos from Collegiate Choice Walking Tours. Filmed by independent college advisors, these no-frill DVDs follow student-guides across campuses as they comment on the college and the student culture. It’s an inexpensive way to gather valuable information. 215 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? Sarah worked hard through junior year of high school, then “rewarded” herself by signing up for a less rigorous senior year schedule. She was very disappointed when some of the competitive colleges rejected her. “Too light a senior load,” they said. Mark, on the other hand, was on cloud nine when his first choice college accepted him in the early action round. Unfortunately, he celebrated a bit too hard during spring, allowing his grades to slip well past what the colleges expected. “After all, I’m already in, right?” He was shocked to receive a letter withdrawing the acceptance. It’s easy to avoid these serious mistakes …just don’t give up before the finish line. 770 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? When families see a big number on their financial aid package, they get excited. However, the make-up of the aid package is more important than the actual number because it lets you know your true out-of-pocket cost. Identify the Gift Aid (scholarships, grants) listed on your package, then subtract it from the Total Cost (tuition, room, board, etc.). What you get is the Family Cost, a much truer way to compare your aid packages. (Although financial aid awards usually include loans, you will have to pay these back, so they ultimately become part of the Family Cost.) 118 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? If you are a senior and haven’t taken the SAT yet, don’t despair; you have three chances in the fall: October, November and December. Disciplined, independent learners will want to buy The Official SAT Study Guide from the makers of the SAT or sign up for The Official SAT Online Course, an interactive approach to studying. Both are excellent value for the money. Another terrific SAT prep site that’s absolutely free is www.number2.com. If, on the other hand, you tend to procrastinate or need a little push, then working with a tutor during August and September makes the most sense. 412 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed.