Tag Education

Study in the UK

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Have you considered studying abroad?  What if you could study abroad for your entire college experience rather than just one semester?  Studying in the United Kingdom could be a great way for you to experience another culture for college without worrying about a language barrier.  

The UK has some of the most prestigious universities in the world – Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College of London all rank among the top 10 – along with over 160 colleges and universities across the country.  Just like in the U.S., you can find a university that fits your style. 

There are several advantages to studying in the United Kingdom: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in 3 years.  You can finish your bachelor’s degree in 3 years (in England, Ireland, and Wales – still 4yrs in Scotland) which means moving on to graduate school or a career sooner than at an American university.  And a 3-year degree means less tuition cost!   
     
  2. Skip the general education.  General education courses are not required in the UK system.  You take only the classes you need for the subject you are studying.  This means as a freshman you’ll be studying business, engineering, political science – or whatever you’ve chosen as a major.
     
  3. Travel opportunities.  The UK can be a great jumping off point to travel to many other places in Europe and beyond.  You can fly from London to 10 other European capital cities in under 2 hours.  What a great way to spend some of your school breaks –  exploring other countries, cultures, and languages!  
     
  4. No additional cost.  The United Kingdom offers student loans to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who attend approved UK schools.  It’s possible for you to actually pay less to go to school in the UK than you may pay at an expensive school in a high-cost area of the U.S.  International Student Loan has more information and a list of eligible colleges in the UK.  

    Additionally, there are many schools around the world – including in the UK and Canada – that will accept U.S. Federal Direct Loans.  You can apply for Direct Loans using the FAFSA and use your U.S. loan money abroad.  The Federal Student Aid website has some helpful information and a list of eligible schools.    

Take Action
Explore United Kingdom schools through the Educate in UK website.  Make notes in your GuidedPath account. 

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College Size Matters

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As you explore which colleges are the right match for you, consider the size of the student body.  How many undergraduates attend the college?  This can make a big difference in your experience on a college campus.  Think of college sizes in these four categories (based on undergraduate student attendance only).

Boutique Size (<2000) 

Over 500 colleges in the U.S. enroll fewer than 2000 students.  These schools are ideal for students with a strong participant learner approach to college.  You get to know your teachers and fellow students very well.  This provides opportunities to maximize your involvement in activities and construct your own learning experience.  Most boutique size schools are private, examples include Julliard, Amherst, Pomona, California Institute of Technology, Davidson, and Haverford.

Liberal Arts Size (2000-5000) 

Over 300 colleges in the US fall in the Liberal Arts size category.  Some of the most well-known and prestigious colleges fall into this category including Dartmouth, Rice, Middlebury, Carleton, and Vassar.  Small class sizes with a focus on undergraduates, opportunities to engage with faculty and peers, and close-knit campus communities are all reasons to consider colleges of this size. 

Just Right Size (5,000-10,000) 

“Just Right” refers to the college that is not too big, not too small, as Goldilocks stated, it is “Just Right”.  The college is bigger than most high schools, yet small enough to still retain a personal feel.  This is the smallest group of colleges in the US, with just over 200 campuses.  Both public and private schools fall into this category.  Examples include: Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Duke, the College of William and Mary, many California State Universities, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and many more.  This is a campus size where many students feel comfortable.

City University 

There are some universities that are comparable to the size of a large town or small city.  Students benefit from many choices however the trade-off is you must be your own advocate and reach out.  You have the freedom to create your own path on a campus of this size.  Of the 58 colleges in this category, most are public schools including Arizona State, UCLA, UC Berkeley, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Michigan, Florida State, UT Austin, University of Alabama and many other flagship state universities.  There are a few private schools in this category as well, including New York University, Brigham Young University and University of Southern California.

Take Action
Use the Guided Search to find colleges within each of these size categories.  Explore the college profiles. Comment on what you find in the Discussions tab. 

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What if I’m waitlisted?…

By now, application decisions should be rolling in to your inbox/mailbox.  If you haven’t already heard back from all your schools, the wait is almost over.  Most colleges aim to have final decisions to everyone who applied before April 1.  But what if your “final” decision isn’t so final?…  What does it mean to be on the waitlist? 

Why do colleges have waitlists?  Can’t they just say yes or no?  
With students applying to more and more schools, it’s become more difficult for colleges to predict how many of their admitted students will actually enroll.  Students are being accepted to many colleges – but you can only enroll at one.  That means many students who have been admitted to the college are not going to attend.   

Enrollment targets are a serious issue for colleges – too many students result in overcrowded dorms and classroom, but not enough can mean funding shortages.  If a college realizes they may fall short of their enrollment target, they can accept students from their waitlist to fill the gap.   

So – I’m on the waitlist.  What should I do? 
Essentially, you can reply to the waitlist offer one of two ways: 

  1. “No, thanks!”  Although the college offered you a spot on their waitlist, you are not obligated to accept that offer.  Maybe the school that waitlisted you is not your first choice – if so, no big deal.  You can let the college know that you do not plan to remain on their waitlist.   
  2. “Yes, I’m willing to wait.”  If you think this school might really be the one, let them know that you are interested in waiting.  Follow the reply directions in your decision to confirm you intend to remain on the waitlist.  It’s also a great idea to follow up with a personal email to tell the school – if they accept you from the waitlist you intend to enroll (only do this if it’s true).  You can also reiterate why you think this college is such a good fit and ask if any additional information like new SAT/ACT scores, senior year final grades, etc. could help to improve your chances of admission from the waitlist.       

You should seriously consider all of the admission offers you receive.  Schedule visits, compare financial aid packages, talk with your parents and your counselor, make a pro/con list, etc.  You have to confirm your enrollment with a college by May 1 (that’s the National Candidates Reply Date).  Most schools won’t make decisions about their waitlist until after May 1.   

In addition, there are typically only a small number of students admitted from the waitlist (sometimes not any).  You should confirm your enrollment with one of the colleges that has admitted you (even if you stay on the waitlist at another college).  It’s hard to hear that you are on the waitlist (especially if it was your first choice), but maybe it’s an opportunity to get excited about a school that really wants you (and hopefully they offered you great financial aid to prove it).  Many colleges can be a good fit if you have the right mindset.   

Take Action
Record your decisions and financial aid awards in GuidedPath so that you can make comparison before deciding where to enroll.  

 

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Comparing Financial Aid Awards

 

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You got into the top schools on your list.  Each has sent you a financial aid award.  One offer looks better than the other two, 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 parent loan?  A financial aid award of $20,000 parent loan – but no grants or scholarships – is not a good offer.  The 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 for you to have a campus job to earn 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. 

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Top Tips for Admitted Student College Visits

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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? 

 

Learn from Kaetlyn 

Kaetlyn writes about her college visits and shares her tips for creating the best visit experience. 

 

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. 

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How to Make 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!

  

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