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  • Stacey Kostell

    Title: Director of Undergraduate Admissions
    Company: University of Illinois

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • How important are college rankings when choosing a college?


      Rankings can be helpful tools for evaluating colleges at a very quick glance, but can be a misleading measure if you look no further. Rankings also offer a general idea of a university’s reputation. However, talking with professionals can provide more meaningful insight into how highly regarded a degree from a certain university is after graduation. What rankings don’t measure is student life activity, such as amount and involvement in organizations and events. Nor can they share how well the school fits a particular student. The best way to determine if you picture yourself on a campus is to visit.

    • Can what I post on Facebook affect my chances of getting accepted?


      It is possible that comments posted on social media sites, including facebook, could impact your admission decision. Admissions counselors at Illinois are tech savvy and monitor our official presence on social networks daily. More than likely, your engagement on such sites would only be reviewed if the admissions counselors had a reason. For example, we may search your page if another student/parent reported a disturbing post or you wrote something questionable on our admissions/university page. We understand these are social sites, but if any content is posted that could be perceived as threatening or hurtful, we have an obligation to look into it.

    • How do I understand my financial aid package and which tips and tricks can maximize my aid?


      Be sure to compare the bottom line cost, not only the amount of scholarship money received. Know what expenses will be billed such as tuition, fees, room/board vs. personal expenses paid for out-of-pocket throughout the year. Depending on school location, personal expenses can vary greatly - and should include travel cost. Also, understand what is gift money (grants/scholarships) vs loans, which you'll have to repay. With scholarships, know if they're renewable and what the requirements are to renew them. Finally, know that not all schools negotiate. Many publics do not, which means aid is not flexible unless income changes.

    • How many schools should I apply to?


      It really depends on the student, but 5-7 is a good range. When researching possible schools, you may be interested in many more than that, but by the time it comes to apply you should be able to narrow the list. More than likely, you'll know the group of schools you’re most interested in attending.

      On the flip side, even if you are dead set on attending your favorite school, it's a good idea to apply to more. There's always the possibility that you won't be offered admission. Then, if you are admitted, you will appreciate having a choice and not being limited. Your second-choice school may offer you a better financial aid package or you'll just change your mind. Bottom line, keep your options open but don't spend a fortune on application fees!

    • When should a prospective student make contact with the disability support office?


      The college search process can be more involved for students with disabilities. When you start researching colleges, you should review the list of services they offer to students with disabilities. Through each university website, you should be able to find a list of what is provided.

      You should contact the offices that handle disability services when you decide where you want to submit an application. Communicate directly with them to discuss the details of what they can offer. For example, at Illinois there are a wide variety of services for students with disabilities and the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) can work with you to discover what you need and the best way to provide assistance. This type of information is important to have before you apply and especially before you accept an offer of admission.

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