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Posted on Mar 21, 2012 - 06:00 AM | College Admissions | Comments (0)

Although “student swirl” sounds like a poorly named dessert, it’s actually a trendy word in college admissions. It describes how more and more students are viewing the college experience.
What is the Student Swirl?
Student swirl means that students no-longer see education as a 4-year process. They see nothing wrong with getting a bachelor’s degree in five or six years. They research plenty of college before applying, but don’t really narrow their list. To them, college is fluid, and transferring colleges, switching majors and taking online classes is the way college should be.
The straight line approach has been in place for 100 years. Students try to graduate one time, from one school, with a bachelor’s degree in their original major.
Each approach has its advantages, but one is clearly better.
Student Swirl vs. Straight Line Education
Advantages to student swirl include the following:
·        College research. You should look at as many campuses as possible. Having more options is better since you’re more likely to find the college that’s right for you. But don’t be afraid to take colleges off your list either.
·        Multiple college applications. You should apply to more than a handful of colleges. This increases your chances of getting in and getting better financial aid. Just don’t use all your campus research to apply to every single college you’ve ever looked at. Applying to every college you considered can be a waste of your time and money. Condense your list to colleges that meet your specific needs.
·        Online classes. These can save you time, money, and effort. By 2020, it is expected that 98% of college students will have taken at least one online class. It’s the way of the future and blending online and onsite classes is likely to be the norm.
Disadvantages to student swirl:
·        Delayed graduation. By automatically looking at college as a 5- or 6-year investment, you’re adding to your total cost of college. Getting your bachelor’s degree in 4 years (or even three) can save you money.
·        Transferring colleges. This is among the worst aspects of the student swirl approach. Transferring colleges, usually to save a few thousand dollars in tuition, can actually cost you more if your new college doesn’t accept all your credits, or they require additional pre-requisites. This delays your graduation and can cost you more in over time than you’re able to save. Also, keep in mind that transfer students have a lower graduation rate, meaning you can invest in your higher education but never fully use it.
·        Switching majors. Switching majors can also cost you if you need to take new prerequisites. You’re better off being sure what you want to take before you get to college.
Forming an All-New Student Swirl
Taking elements from both approaches helps students most. You don’t have to be loyal to a college before you apply (in fact, this can hurt you because it limits your options), but once you’re a student there, finish your education on time at that one college.
So which approach works best – student swirl or straight line? The one that lets you study what you want at a college that serves you best, with the deepest financial aid. In other words, a combination of the two.
Create a new student swirl. Mix in the right ingredients to make a much richer and rewarding treat.


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