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  • Maureen Lawler

    Title: College Counselor

    Company: Bishop Kelley High

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?

       

      Every student is different. Every college is different. I tell my students, "If you've come out of the womb wanting College X then apply early." Of course if early is early decision you need to be careful. If ED, you are going unless you receive insufficient financial aid. Early action - go for it. Always make sure you fit the profile for the early round. If you don't fit the profile then regular decision may be the way to go. Check to see what happens if denied early - are you rolled over to regular admission or denied outright. Do your homework and ask questions.

    • Where should students begin with the college search?

       

      In a perfect world students should begin their college search with their counselor. We do not live in a perfect world. In a public school setting meeting with your counselor to discuss college plans is extremely difficult. So the next best thing is to access web sites that provide college searches. We use both College Board and ACT college searches to help our students. These sites are easy to maneuver and provide plenty of choices to help students with college selection. Students can search broad categories for initial searches and then narrow their choices to reduce the number of colleges.

    • Tuition aside, what benefits and drawbacks exist by going to school in-state vs. out-of-state?

       

      There are several benefits to attending an in state institution. Those benefits include being close to home, reduced transportation costs since sharing rides is possible. You can go home for the holidays, you can take your laundry home, and you can enjoy mom's good home cooking. You will have friends around so you will be in a comfortable surrounding. With benefits there are drawbacks. An in state institution may not provide much diversity since most are from your state. It may also be a continuation of high school because you are surrounded by your friends. Always weigh your options.

    • In all of your years working with students, what were some of the most unexpected admissions successes you witnessed?

       

      I had one of those unexpected success stories this year.  One of my seniors, a hardworking and determined young man, applied to several selective schools.  We talked about his choices.  I explained I could not guarantee acceptance to many of his choices.  He was denied as an ED applicant at one school but this did not discourage him.  He knew the odds were against him.  I am happy to say that one school considered the whole student and did not rely solely on grades or test scores.  Come August he will be attending the college of his choice.

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

       

      Colleges are willing to discuss financial aid packages with families. Just saying "This isn't enough" is not going to get you anywhere. Bring facts, copies of income tax forms, proof of large medical expenses, forms that show losses, etc. to the discussion and be honest. If you have new grades, new test scores, or won an award bring those to the schools attention. There are still plenty of outside (non-college sponsored) scholarships available in late spring so keep looking and applying.

    • To find scholarships, where should I look, what's needed of me, and which ones seem craziest?

       

      Scholarship committees look at all sorts of factors when awarding scholarships.  Grades are an important consideration but so are other factors.  Activities, both in and out of school, are important.  Focus on the quality of the activities not the quantity.  Find a few you enjoy and get involved.  Try for a leadership position.  Many scholarships also consider service to school and community important.  Again, find a service project you enjoy and stay committed.  Essays can also be an important consideration for scholarships.  Make sure you answer the question.  Have an English teacher look it over and offer suggestions.  Always start your search early.

    • How many schools should I apply to?

       

      There is not perfect number of colleges to apply to. I have students who apply to only one because that is the school they want to attend and are admissible. I have students who apply to multiple schools because they have an idea and want options. We tell our students to consider two reach schools, two 50/50 schools and two schools they know they will gain admission. This is different for every student. One thing to consider when applying to multiple schools are the application fees. Many colleges charge anywhere from $25 to $75 in application fees and do not waive them no matter what application you use. Keep your numbers reasonable. Do your research first, narrow your choices and then apply.

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

       

      Let your child know you want to be involved. Sit down and talk about the college process. Discuss the colleges being considered and why. Discuss what factors are important to your child in deciding where to apply. Talk about setting up visits and the importance of deadlines. Also talk about the limits based on cost, the number of applications, and the limits on visiting. Volunteer to proof read their essay or resume. It is wonderful to offer suggestions but do not do the work for your child. Your child is the one going to college not you.

    • What should parents do during campus visits?

       

      Parents should be involved in the college process including the campus visit. Prior to the visit sit down with your child and discuss it. Discuss questions to ask if the guide does not address your concerns or needs; but, let your child ask the questions not you. The campus visit is the time for your child to see if the school is a good fit.Take note of the things that are important to you. Once the visit is over talk about everyone's likes and dislikes. Let your child be the leader not you.

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