Tag Education

Top Tips for Admitted Student College Visits

admitted student visit - cropped - with white background

Receiving your letter or email of admission is a time for celebration!  What’s your next step? Many colleges will be inviting you to visit the campus as an admitted student. 

These visits can be: 

  • A designated day event on campus 
  • A designated weekend or overnight event on campus 
  • A designated window of time in which to visit  
  • A scholarship competition 
  • An orientation 

We have tips for making the most of these visits. 

Preparing for the visit 

  • Review your priorities for a good college fit.  As discussed in the blog What is College Fit, fit includes 4 components; academic, social, emotional and physical.  
  • Brush up on the details.  Refresh your knowledge about the school’s size, academic options, and other details that interest you.  Your visit will be more meaningful if you have the basics down. 
  • Explore advising options for your major.  When do you start advising? 
  • Review housing options.  Where would you live? 
  • Explore activities offered.  What appeals to you? 

On Campus 

Prepare a list of questions to ask during your admitted student visit.  Plan a visit when the college is in session.  You need to see the college from the perspective of a student.  As a part of the visit, see if you can make the following appointments: 

  1. Academic Advising.  If possible, meet with an academic advisor in your area of study.  Learn more about the courses and professors in your selected field of study. 
  2. Tour housing/dorm options.  Where will you live as a freshman? 
  3. Meet with a financial aid advisor.  What is your financial aid package?  Do your parents have questions that need answered? 

 As you visit the campus, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Would I fit in academically here? 
  • Would I fit in socially here? 
  • Do I feel comfortable with the physical location? 

After Your Visit 

  • Send a thank you for the visit. 
  • Record your thoughts as soon as possible.   

Take Action

Make plans now to visit colleges before May 1.  Use 3-day weekends, breaks, or anytime you have available to visit the colleges to which you have been admitted. 

read more

Comparing Financial Aid Awards

 

scale compare costs - transparent

You got into the top schools on your list.  Each has sent you a financial aid award.  One offer looks better than the other, but is it really?  It’s important to compare apples to apples when looking at financial aid offers.  Here are 6 questions to ask: 

  1. What is the Student Budget?  Does the college list all the costs for going to college: 1) Tuition & Fees; 2) Room & Board; 3) Books & Supplies; 4) Personal Expenses, 5) Transportation (getting to and from the campus).  If the award does not include these items, search the website for the information or call the college. 
     
  2. What is your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on your Student Aid Report?  The amount your family is expected to pay toward college is on the student aid report generated when you filed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  This number is needed for comparing financial aid awards.  If your family contribution is close to or more than the student budget, then your awards from the college are going to be based on merit, and not on the financial need you have.
  3. Is there a gap?  You should know your EFC from filing your FAFSA.  To calculate how much financial aid you should be receiving, subtract your expected family contribution from the total student budget (all five items from question 1).  The remainder is your estimated financial need at the college.  Is the college meeting your full need, or only a portion of it?

    Total Cost of Attendance – Expected Family Contribution = Need 

  4. How much of your award is grants or scholarships?  Grants and scholarships are money that you will not have to repay later.  You want to maximize the amount of grants and scholarships you receive and minimize the amount of loan money you must take out.  Are the grants or scholarships renewable for four years?  What conditions exist for the renewable awards (a minimum GPA, number of credits completed, etc.)? 

  5. How much is in student or parent loans?  How much of the offer is a parent loan?  A financial aid award of $20,000 parent loan – but no grants or scholarships – is not a good offer.  Parent loans (when necessary) should ideally be used to help pay for the expected family contribution not meet your financial need.

  6. Is there a good mix?  Is there something missing?  Are you being offered grants, scholarships, loans and work?  Look for a good mix.  If you are not offered “work study” ask about it.  It is especially helpful If you are looking for a campus job to earn money for your personal expenses while in college.   

Take Action 

Use the EFC Calculator GuidedPath to determine your Expected Family Contribution.  Add in all financial aid awards into Decisions in GuidedPath.  Use the Cost Comparisons Tool to view and compare all your financial aid awards. 

read more

Making the Most of Your College Visits

The College Visit 

Depending on your time and interest level, plan one of the following types of college visits: 

Basic Visit 

  1. Attend an information session.  Ask questions about admissions, financial aid, choice of majors.  IMPORTANT: Get a business card from an admissions person. 
  2. Do a college and dorm tour.  What does the campus look like?  Where do freshman live? What are the housing options? 
  3. Eat a meal on campus.  Go to the dining hall or coffee shop and eat.  Introduce yourself to some students and ask questions.  You will be surprised at how much they want to share about the college. 

Extended Visit 

In addition to the basic visit schedule – an information session, a campus tour, and a meal on campus – ask if you can add the following appointments at the schools that you are most interested in:  

  1. Meet individually with an admissions counselor.  Ask more about special programs, what the college has to offer, and your admissions expectations.  IMPORTANT: Get a business card from an admissions person. 
  2. Meet with a financial aid advisor.  What types of financial aid and/or merit scholarships do they offer?  What questions do your parents have that need answered? 
  3. Meet with an academic advisor in the field of study that interests you.  Learn more about the courses and professors in your selected field of study. 
  4. Visit a class.  Before your visit, get permission to sit in on a class.  This gives you a feel for what college will be like, and what it would feel like to be a student there.

Overnight Visit 

Some colleges offer prospective students the chance to spend the night on campus to learn more about the school.  An overnight visit will provide great insight into student life on campus.  These visits are usually organized by the college, and include college tours, classes on campus, and the chance to stay in a college dorm with a college student host. 

Check with your counselor for a list of colleges that offer overnight stays. Save overnight visits for your top college choices. 

On Your Visit 

As you do the college tour of the campus, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Would fit in academically here? 
  • Would I fit in socially here? 
  • Do I feel comfortable with the physical location? 

Follow up after your visit 

  • Send a thank you email to the admissions representative that conducted the information session or that you met with individually. 
  • Record your visit using the Discuss Tab – or download our college visit form.  Pros/Cons can be listed on the Decisions Tab under Decision Details. 
  • Add visits as milestones or tasks.  Use college profiles to learn about a school.

Take Action 

Make plans now to visit colleges on your list.  Enjoy your visits and find out which school fits you best!

  

read more

Road Trip: Preparing for Spring Break College Visits

continents

Using your spring break to visit colleges is a great idea, but be aware of spring break schedules for the colleges you wish to visit. It’s best to see a college when students are on campus. Here are a few tips to prepare for your spring college visits. 

  • Create a College Visit Itinerary. Using a map, look at college locations and decide on an itinerary that fits within your given time.  Don’t worry if you can’t see all of the colleges on your list. Focus on some of your top choices and then plan other school visits that are within the same geographic area. 
  • Register for college visits online.  Once you have a list of colleges to visit, register for campus tours online with the admissions office.  Resist the urge to plan “drive through” visits.  An official campus tour takes more time, but gives you a better feel for the college/campus. And don’t plan too many visits in a day –  one or two per day is best. 
  • Review your priorities for a good college fit. As discussed in the blog  What is College Fit, fit includes 4 components; academic, social, emotional and physical.  
  • Learn the basics.  Look up the school’s size, majors offered, and other details that interest you. Your visit will be more meaningful when you know the basics.
  • Create a List of Questions. Write down your Top 10 Questions for each college visit.  Focus on what you would study and who would you study with. 

Take Action 

Use GuidedPath to find links to college admission offices to schedule visits. Take a virtual tour of a college by viewing YouVisit videos from the “Tours” tab. 

Review the details on the colleges by clicking on the “Info” and “FISKE” tabs.  Watch for next week’s email: How to make the most of your college visits.  


read more

Finding money for college

search for scholarships transparent and cropped

You may have thought you were done with writing essays and sending applications, but not quite yet.  Now is the time to look for scholarships.  And don’t get discouraged.  In this case, one more essay or scholarship application could mean a big pay-off for you.  A few more hours of your time could turn into hundreds or even thousands of dollars!   

College scholarships typically come from three sources: 

  1. The colleges to which you have been accepted. 
  2. Local community organizations 
  3. National or larger regional organizations 

At your college 

Most scholarships come from the schools that have admitted you.    See the scholarship tab in GuidedPath for your schools.  It lists academic scholarships offered to 8 or more students. 

Start locally  

Local organizations are the hidden gems of scholarship money.  Although the awards are typically smaller in dollar amount, you also don’t have as much competition.  Many local scholarships are actually looking for applicants!  Churches, service organizations (like the VFW, or the Junior League), local charitable funds, even your parent’s employer may have scholarship opportunities.  The key is finding the information – who, what, when, where, why and how to apply!     

Check with: 

  • Your high school counseling office 
  • Parent organizations (PTA, Booster clubs, etc.) 
  • Your local library 

Expand regionally 

Use your residence as a means to get more money for college.  Many states offer scholarships to top students.  Check to see what is offered through your state.  Check deadlines for any state scholarships you qualify for. 

Compete nationally 

There are dozens of national scholarship search engines available.  Many are nothing more than a way to market credit cards or other products to you.   These are our recommended scholarship search engines.   

Take Action 

Add your college scholarship deadlines to your application plan.   

Review the scholarship tab for all colleges on your list and determine your eligibility for specific awards.  Add milestones or notes for the scholarships you are planning to apply for.

read more

Who’s watching your social media?

Alan Katzman, founder and CEO of Social Assurity, guides students on creating a winning social media presence. He is a pioneer in developing and advancing techniques to teach students how to use social media to build a compelling and reflective digital presence as a game-changing tool for creating academic and career success at all educational levels.  We’re giving you his top four reasons why you should be aware of how social media can impact your college planning. 

Reason #1: Admission Officers Are Looking at Your Social Media
Thanks to Kaplan Test Prep and its annual survey of college admissions officers, we know that at least 35% of admission officers in the United States looked at applicant social media during the 2016 admissions process. We also know that admissions officers are more likely to look when considering scholarships and when invited to do so by applicants. 

Reason #2: Since They’re Looking, Why Not Give Them Something to See?
College admissions officers have neither the time nor the interest to search social media simply to find reasons to reject qualified applicants. If and when colleges look, logic dictates they are looking to learn more about the applicant, opening the door of opportunity for the prepared applicant to make a strong impression and set themselves apart from other qualified applicants. 

Reason #3: The Best Offense is a Good Defense
Almost all colleges now have a prominent social media presence and encourage applicants to interact with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.  By optimizing social media to showcase their activities, interests, accomplishments, and service, applicants can freely and safely interact with colleges and may very well impress the right people as a result. 

Reason #4: Managing Social Media is an Essential Life Skill
Social media is here to stay and will continue to influence character and credibility assessments made by colleges, scholarship committees, and employers. Today, a thoughtful, transparent, and reflective digital presence across social media networks can help students achieve their academic and professional goals and aspirations.  

Take action
Review your social media accounts.  What would you like colleges or others to see about you? Want to do more?  Social Assurity offers online classes to get your social media presence right. 

read more