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  • Mary Ann Willis

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • What can high school seniors do to enhance their chances of admission?

       

      Meet deadlines–from your counselor, the testing companies and your college choices. Follow procedures–all of them. If you need specific tests, take them. Don’t wait to write essays, and make sure the work produced is your work. When you have an opportunity to connect with a college, take it (visiting a rep at your school, going to a college fair or evening program in your area and/or visiting a college). Do your homework–concentrate on places that will be good matches for you. There are thousands of choices. The real trick is ferreting out good matches for you . . . and, by the way, nearly seven out of ten applications get a yes answer.

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

       

      Consider all the traditional factors—size, distance, major, student-body composition, extracurriculars, residence/dining options—but look beyond those. Ask random students why they chose the school and whether they would choose it again. Make them president-for-a-day, and ask them what they’d change to make life better on campus. Ask about the quality of interaction with truly mentoring faculty members (your grad school/employment recommenders down the line). How does the college help students to think deeply, communicate effectively and question intelligently? What percent of grads are in grad school or working six months after graduation? Discerning prospective students ask questions like these to discover the best fit for them.

    • What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

       

      One size doesn’t fit all. Need close-knit community? Love a crowd? Have heart palpitations when you walk into a class of 600? Want to crawl under a desk if it is just you and twelve others in class? Knowing yourself helps determine your college-size comfort zones. Larger universities generally have more offerings—in and out of class. Smaller colleges tout close student-professor relationships. Any size college can have great class options and mentoring. Consider factors besides size: Too far? Too near? Too hot? Too cold? Too specialized? There are many college options that might be just right

    • What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?

       

      3 Myths: No one gets in college. No one can afford college. College degrees don’t matter. Debunked: Almost 70% of applicants are admitted (NACAC). Affordable options are available. Education Pays (The College Board) explains the benefits of an educated populace.  Those with higher education are: less likely to be dependent on government programs, more likely to be healthy and have  healthier life styles, more likely to have insurance, less likely to be unemployed, more likely to vote and volunteer, going to make more money, on average, over a lifetime than those without a degree. Dream big. Work hard. Your future is in your hands.

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

       

      Stay calm.  Go to college fairs and local presentations with your student. A simple chart with deadlines and application details is invaluable. Provide dates for college visits, but let your student make the visit arrangements. Be a college-visit observer and financier. Take notes. Follow your student’s lead in discussing visits. Never complete application paperwork for your student. Encourage scholarship searches. Get all parental documents ready for applying for financial aid; obtain a FAFSA PIN number for your electronic signature. This is an adventure to be savored and enjoyed. Empower your student. Admission is only the beginning of the college journey.

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