sign in
« Take me back to previous page
  • Tony Bankston

    Title: Dean of Admissions

    Company: Illinois Wesleyan University

    • verified

    Years of Experience
    20

    Degrees
    Bachelor's Degree

    View Full Close
  • Admissions Expertise

    • Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

       

      While college admission counselors and tour guides are prepared to work with students and parents who know absolutely nothing about their institution, the best and most productive campus visits occur when students and parents do some research and prepare a handful of questions ahead of time. Getting a lot of the basic information out of the way before you arrive on campus (via the web site or a brochure) allows you to go into greater depth about the specific things that can really shape your college experience. I always found it amusing when students would apologize for pulling out a spiral notebook that contained some of their questions, but I quickly assured them that I found it extremely helpful that they took the initiative to think about what they wanted to know ahead of the actual visit. If you can relay to an admission counselor or tour guide the issues that are most important to you, they can tailor the information to your specific needs, and that should eventually lead to you finding the right fit for your college home.

    • How many schools should students apply to?

       

      Imagine yourself in a small row boat trying to manage twenty different fishing poles, all of them with lines in the water. Do you think you are more likely to catch fish just because you've got so many poles working at once? The reality is that you are actually more likely to spend most of your time untangling knots and dealing with other problems. The college application process is not much different. Applying to a large number of colleges doesn't increase your odds of getting admitted our securing that rare full-tuition scholarship. But it may very likely cause you to conduct a watered down college search and, in the end, make a bad decision. If you do your research ahead of time and take time to visit different types of college campuses (big, medium, small), you should be able to give yourself plenty of options by applying to five or six colleges. Even with just five or six colleges, you can have one safety school, two moderately selective schools, and three reach schools. You can have a combination of both less expensive public schools and more expensive private schools. With fewer applications "in the water," you are more likely to keep up with the paperwork, meet deadlines, etc. In the end, you will likely only have enough time to fully investigate your top two to three college choices. Better to give those colleges a great look than spend all your time sifting through all the confusion of keeping up with twenty applications.

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

       

      There are certainly benefits and drawbacks when it comes to your colleges distance from home. One immediate benefit is the opportunity to experience a different part of the country or the world. While "different" doesn't always equate to "better," college is one of the few opportunities in your life where you can suddenly just head off to another location for four years. It can also allow you to establish your contacts in another community or location. If you are from the Midwest but dream of living and working in New York, attending a college in the New York area will allow you to start building friendships and professional contacts. Keep in mind that even if you choose to attend a college closer to home, you can still accomplish these things through study abroad and travel internships, but it would be for a limited time versus a full four year experience.

      The greatest drawback to going further from home is being away from family and friends. Students need to realize that you just won't be able to come home whenever you want to. Technology like cell phones and Skype have helped to keep students in touch with those back home, but you have to be comfortable with not being able to be there in person for certain things. I also recommend that prospective students make a visit by themselves to their distant college. How did you like the drive or dealing with the airport? If you have a bad reaction with the experience, it may be an aggravation that grows during your time at that particular college.

      In the end, you are most likely to enjoy your college experience and be successful if you have chosen a college that best fits your overall educational needs. Whether it's in your backyard or halfway around the world, the fit is still very important. So don't be to hasty in ruling out a college just because it's too close or too far. If it's the right college, investigate a little further to see how you might be able to deal with your particular drawbacks to the distance from home, either too near or too far.

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

       

      The first key is to get the word "negotiate" out of your vocabulary. Most financial aid officers will rankle at the mere mention of the word. Need-based financial assistance isn't about "Let's Make a Deal;" it's about colleges trying to utilize limited resources as best as possible to put a college education in reach for a variety of families in different financial circumstances. Different colleges will cost different amounts. That is the reality of the marketplace. If you have extenuating circumstances that you believe are negatively impacting your ability to finance your education, you simply need to open up a dialogue with financial aid representatives at each of the colleges you are considering and make sure they have all the additional information they need to make a financial aid assessment. In the end, most colleges will attempt to do the best they can, but you need to remember that they are working with hundreds, in some cases thousands, of other families who are also very concerned about their cost to attend college. In the end, they need to be equitable in how they treat each family.

    • How many schools should I apply to?

       

      Imagine yourself in a small row boat trying to manage twenty different fishing poles, all of them with lines in the water. Do you think you are more likely to catch fish just because you've got so many poles working at once? The reality is that you are actually more likely to spend most of your time untangling knots and dealing with other problems. The college application process is not much different. Applying to a large number of colleges doesn't increase your odds of getting admitted our securing that rare full-tuition scholarship. But it may very likely cause you to conduct a watered down college search and, in the end, make a bad decision. If you do your research ahead of time and take time to visit different types of college campuses (big, medium, small), you should be able to give yourself plenty of options by applying to five or six colleges. Even with just five or six colleges, you can have one safety school, two moderately selective schools, and three reach schools. You can have a combination of both less expensive public schools and more expensive private schools. With fewer applications "in the water," you are more likely to keep up with the paperwork, meet deadlines, etc. In the end, you will likely only have enough time to fully investigate your top two to three college choices. Better to give those colleges a great look than spend all your time sifting through all the confusion of keeping up with twenty applications.

  • Talk to Other Counselors

    Benjamin Caldarelli

    • Partner
    • Princeton College Consulting, LLC

    Anne Richardson

    • Director of College Counseling, International & ESL Programs
    • Kents Hill School

    Betsy Bingham-Johns

    • Director of College Counseling
    • Colorado Rocky Mountain School
    View all counselors