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  • Susie Watts

    Title: College Consultant
    Company: College Direction

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • How important are college rankings when choosing a college?


      I suggest students put rankings at the bottom of their list and concentrate on schools that are a good fit for them. Rankings just add to the hype surrounding college admissions and the information you get is not always relevant to choosing a college. I don’t look at rankings except to check the four-year graduation rates at different schools. Far more important than rankings, students should do some self-reflection and write down a list of qualities they consider important in a college experience. The schools they choose should have as many of these qualities as possible.

    • We don't have time or money to visit some schools I'm really interested in. What can I do?


      There is an iPhone application that will allow you to take a student led tour with a look around the campus, dorms, and dining halls at many colleges.  You can use twitter and facebook to interact with admission counselors and get your questions answers.  You can look at YouTube videos to access information about different colleges that interest you.   You can go to social networking sites to read comments from students who have visited schools and find out what they think.  While a college visit is important, it isn’t the only way to find out which schools might be a good fit for you.

    • What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?


      1) Writing a college essay without brainstorming some possible topics first; choosing a topic that doesn't reveal enough about you. 2) Thinking you can whip off a good essay in a day or so and not taking the time to perfect it.  College essays take thought and the summer is a great time to start them. 3) Believing that rough drafts are not important and sending an essay in with obvious grammatical errors.  Essays should be read over and checked to make sure each word counts.

    • What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?


      Test prep can improve your scores on the SAT and ACT.  I recommend students use the books published by the College Board and ACT.  These are as close to the real tests as you will get.  Read how to approach each test and learn the basic test-taking techniques for the SAT and ACT.  Take a test each day, time yourself, check your answers and review the questions you missed.  You can find affordable, effective test prep in your area by going to Google and typing in “SAT and ACT test prep” and your city.

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


      The most affordable college may not be the best school for you. You should make a worksheet with columns and fill in the details from each financial aid package you receive. Consider the cost of attendance and which colleges offer the most federal grants and school scholarships. This is preferable to receiving college loans which need to be repaid. Also check the interest rates for any loans and the repayment policies. If you receive less financial aid from a school you really want to attend, contact them and ask whether they can match an offer from another college.

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