Should students approach the college process differently in this economy?

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Our counselors answered:

Should students approach the college process differently in this economy?

Scott White
Director of Guidance Montclair High School

Should students approach the college process differently in this economy?

Only if there are economic factors, such as how much your parents can afford. Also, if you are not a student who is likely headed to graduate school, you should get career training as an undergraduate.

Michelle Green
Admissions Consultant My College Admissions Coach

Students should consider financial safeties...

as well as schools that offer merit scholarships, need-blind schools if they think they will have a need for substantial financial aid. Some schools offer guaranteed academic scholarships based on GPA, SAT or ACT scores. National Merit Scholarship winners may also qualify for more money in their aid package. There are tuition discounting programs in many states that offer tuition discounts to students who live in certain states and wish to attend college in states that participate in the programs. In California and several other western states, students can check out: which offers 150% of tuition in dozens of out of state public schools! These programs exist all over the country. It's worth considering when researching affordable colleges, especially in tough economic times. Some private colleges offer locked in tuition rates that are guaranteed not to go up for four years, others offer a guarantee of 4 year graduation, based on meeting certain requirements. Students should also consider the benefits of using AP credits as a way of saving on college tuition, and even taking/waiving out of classes via the CLEP tests through the College Board. Community colleges can also be an affordable solution for families who wish to use the transfer option. It's important to make sure that the student is following the prescribed curriculum for transferring in a timely manner. In Calfornia, one useful website to help students stay on track for transferring is:

Kim Glenchur
Educational Consultant CollegesGPS

Why College?

The lesson of today's employment landscape is that a college degree, even from a prestigious institution, is not a guarantee for life success. Without a strategy for progressing towards a desired post-graduation outcome, students in their junior year may find themselves seeking majors that will simply enable them to graduate within two years time. Before diving into methods of financing college, it is more important to take a hard look at what one wants to do in and after college.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours


The recent economic woes have brought attention to the massive student debt that many students are accumulating. Families need to have open discussions before students begin to create a strategic list of schools. Financial fit is just as important as academic and social fit. Get creative and use you AP scores at a state school that will accept them verses a private college that will not honor them. Attend year round school. Use your community college as a credit platform to a four year degree.

Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

These days, education IS the American Dream

Equating education with the American Dream, President Barack Obama called for immediate education reform in his speech on Tuesday, March 10th, at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Obama's education funding plan sets aside billions of dollars in financial aid for college students in the form of grants, on campus work-study and an increase in tax credit. The recession has impacted all facets of society and the education system is no exception. However, Obama appears undaunted in the face of a looming crisis in education. At a time when colleges have put a freeze on hiring professors, Obama called for performance-driven increases in teacher salaries. While many colleges and universities have stopped construction and renovation projects and capped enrollment, Obama plans to ensure that more students complete college and technical training. As schools lay-off teachers and cut programs from the curriculum, the President intends to increase the number of educated future adults in the country. Obama asserted that the fate of the country depends on educating the youth and future leaders who will usher the nation into a more stable economic environment. However, many prospective students could find that even if they gain acceptance to college, financial challenges may prohibit them from attending. Obama's stimulus plan may infuse money into the education system, but the reform is occurring simultaneously with increases in college tuition and decreases in financial aid packages. Even the wealthiest colleges have suffered. Endowments have tanked and people who once could afford to donate consistently to their college or university of choice have tightened the financial reigns. Obama's lofty plan offers hope, but let's wait to hear from this fall's college freshmen. They very well may find that the cutbacks and lay-offs have caused the schools to morph into versions of what they were even one year ago. Perhaps their feedback will provide the best success indicator for Obama's education reform plan.

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

Jobs After Graduation

Many students and their parents are stressing career preparation and job placement as priorities in the college process due to the current economy. But take a hint from Daniel Pink, author of "A Whole New Mind" in which he stresses that any skill that can be automated, or condensed into an equation, will be soon done in Asia or India for pennies on the dollar. So, while job security is a concern in this economy, do not forget that learning how to think and process information is the goal of a liberal arts education, so don't rule out the (often small) liberal arts colleges that may not offer coops, but will certainly develop and hone the valuable and transferable skill sets of critical thinking.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Tough Economic Times

All the schools on your final list should be options where you would be happy to attend college. Financing post-secondary studies (and most probably paying for some of it after you graduate) will affect your satisfaction with your studies as well. When a student creates his or her college list, I always recommend including a couple of financial safeties. By all means you should apply to your dream school, but don't forget to be pragmatic as well.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Loan Debt

It is prudent for students to be fiscally responsible when they are considering college. Some questions to consider: Will my future career options really be any different if I go to Low Cost U, versus High Cost U? Will my job upon graduation allow me to pay back any loans and still enjoy a comfortable lifestyle? How can I reduce the cost of college: qualify for scholarships (that high school transcript does matter), work on campus (studies show a busy student is a more productive and organized student), take the maximum number of credits each year (you may be able to graduate a semester early). There is a fine line between doing what you love and doing what will support you. Hopefully you will find that balance between career and salary.

็Ž‹ๆ–‡ๅ› June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

more selective and more options

students should consider financial aid planning two years ahead of the application deadline. parents must prepare two to three year tax return to qualify for needs based financial aid. all students should apply for financial aid. expand your school selection process by focusing on the best fit plus the best aid.

Helen Cella

Should students approach the college process differently in this economy?

Yes they can't assume they will get the job upon graduation, they need to make themselves as marketable as possible.