Knowledge Bound: The RSC Blog



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Posted on May 07, 2012 - 06:00 AM | Selecting a College | Comments (0)

Sometime in April, students and college flip roles. Colleges spend January through March as consumers, poring over applications and transcripts, deciding who gets in and who doesn’t, carefully picking through students like ripening fruit.
                                            
Then the tables turn. After the acceptance letters and financial aid offers have gone out, students become the consumers. They compare offers like shoppers in a used car lot, looking for the one school with all the extras that still fits their budget.
 
Students are the key, though. What you do in high school determines whether you’re chosen by a top-tier school or your safety choice – and how good your deal will be.
 
Making Yourself a Great College Candidate
 
  • Good grades. The first thing colleges look at is your grade point average. The higher your GPA, the better your school – and your financial aid – will be.
  • Tough courses. It isn’t enough to get good grades, you need to get them in Advanced Placement or Honors courses, as well as select other classes that might impress an admissions officer.
  • Great SAT or ACT scores. An above average test score makes admissions deans sit up and take notice. Even schools that don’t use them for admissions purposes may use them to dole out financial aid. Improve your odds by boosting your score (RSC’s SAT prep materials routinely increase scores by 150 points or more).
  • Right major. Knowing what schools reward your major could lead to a bit more in the way of financial aid.
  • Right activities. Colleges have slots they need to fill, whether that’s on the playing field, the stage, or the science lab. If your activity fills an opening, you could earn some well-deserved merit aid.
 
These are only 5 of the dozen or so things colleges consider when looking at your application. Students, on the other hand, need to do a bit more research, looking through roughly two-dozen criteria.
 
Once you know what you’re looking for, it will be much easier to decide on a college.
 
Researching College Selections
 
Once you’ve compiled a list of colleges that meet your academic, social and professional needs, you really need to look at the big two: prestige and cost. How good is the school in your chosen field and how much financial aid are they willing to give you?
 
This is where having an accurate college-cost estimate is like having your own Kelley Blue Book. If you know what the college should cost you, then you’ll know whether you’re able to negotiate for a better deal.
 
Of course, you’re not done shopping yet. Now that you’re figuratively in the driver’s seat, you need to make sure you’re getting a great deal before you drive off the lot. In this case, before you let a college know you’d like to join their incoming freshman class.
 
Colleges may like to brag about how difficult it is to get in, but you want to brag about how they accepted you – and how they actually paid you for the privilege.
 
Become both a sought-after commodity and a smart consumer with a great college prep program.
 
 

 
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