Whether you are a senior currently submitting applications, a junior building your college list, or a sophomore thinking about college, determining how you will pay for college is an important step in the college application process.
First thing first, why is college so expensive? While many factors affect college costs, the biggest mistake that I see families make is they fail to consider the total cost of attendance. It is one thing to look at tuition prices, but the cost of housing in NYC will be significantly more than if you attend a college in Iowa.
Next, educate yourself about the financial aid process. Once you understand how financial aid works, you can learn how you may influence your financial aid award. If you are a current senior, you should be reaching out to the financial aid offices of the schools you are applying to. Here are the top 12 questions you need to ask.
Turning your attention to merit scholarships (money coming directly from a college or university) is one way to reduce college costs. Still, you need to be aware of merit scholarship opportunities. To receive merit scholarships from most colleges or universities, you need to be close to or at the top of their applicant profile. Most of the students I work with who are looking for merit money are admitted to every school they apply to. While most students create a college list with reach, match, and likely (“safety”) schools in terms of admission, students looking for money create a list that is reach, match, and likely for merit money. Using merit scholarship search engine sites, such as Merit More, is a great way to learn about schools that are generous with merit aid. You can conduct your merit scholarship search by entering your standardized testing scores, GPA, and location. You can also search for colleges by name.
Finally, many families focus on landing outside scholarships. Searching for outside scholarships can take up a significant amount of time, so using the upcoming holiday breaks to identify (or complete scholarship applications, if you are a senior) is a great way to make sure you are doing everything you can to cut your college costs. To learn how to get started with your outside scholarship search, read College Mindset’s recent post, 6 Steps to Find Scholarships.
While considering how you will pay for college may seem like an additional hoop to jump through, it is significant. Make sure you openly communicate with everyone involved in your college process, so you are all on the same page regarding cost, budget, and educational goals. Taking the time to learn more about covering the cost of college now will only benefit you when it is time to make your final decision.
Are you in a hurry to finish your college applications? Yes, November 1st deadlines are right around the corner but don’t rush to hit the submit button. Here are five tips to help you slow down and give your college applications the attention they deserve:
1. Prioritize: Finish up your main Common Application, including the activities section and your essay. Take your time writing your activity descriptions- this section is often overlooked.
2. Focus: Figure out which applications need your attention now (November 1st deadlines) and which ones can wait until later.
3. Schedule: Block out time in your schedule for your applications. Turn off your phone, put on your headphones, so you focus entirely on your applications.
4. Proofread: Print out the PDF of your Common Application and supplemental forms. Read every essay out loud and review your entire application with a friend or mentor.
5. Breathe: While deadlines won’t wait, you can stop and take a breath. Calming your emotions will put you in the right mindset to complete your college applications.
Want to know all of the details about researching colleges?🤔
Watch College Mindset’s 4 part video series and learn:
✅Why researching colleges is so important
✅Where to find accurate data
✅How to determine your college criteria
✅How to organize your data when creating your college list
✅How to look beyond the data and research the “personality” of a college
✅Why it is essential to demonstrate an interest in a college or university
Get started on creating your college list today! Your parents will be so happy.
Have you ever walked away from a conversation and thought, “I wish I would’ve asked more questions.” You don’t want to bypass an opportunity because you did not ask the right questions. Asking questions is a skill, and it is an important one to master. It shows that you care, can spark the exchange of ideas, and build trust. When you are just starting out, asking clarifying, open-ended questions will help get you closer to your goals.
As with any new skill, it is essential to practice. Before starting any conversation, think about what you want to learn. What is your purpose in the discussion? Then identify the right tone, types of questions, and sequence.
For the tone, most situations benefit from a casual approach.
Open-ended questions can go a long way to helping you learn new information. You can also build further questions into your plan based on the responses you receive.
For the sequence of questions, if you are trying to develop a relationship, you may need to ask less personal questions first to build trust. If you are in a confrontation, consider starting with the tough questions, since you don’t know how long the conversation will last.
Asking questions will open doors and allow you to discover new ideas and concepts. It may introduce you to a part of yourself that you didn’t know what there.
As Albert Einstein said, “Question everything.” I couldn’t agree more.
Last week, I finally mailed my senior gifts. I could send the gifts straight from Amazon and cash in on the free shipping, but I am a bit old fashioned. I think there is something special about receiving a wrapped gift. Something personalized and significant. More important than the present, I send each student a hand-written note. When they text me to say, “Hey thanks for the gift,” they always say more about the card.
I want them to know how proud of them I am. I did not focus on the fact that the entire second semester of senior year was canceled. The Class of 2020 did not need reminders that they didn’t have prom or graduation. They didn’t need to know that their first semester (or year) of college is not going to be what they envisioned.
No. My students needed to hear who they are beyond all of the “challenges” and “uncertainty.” I told one how I was proud that she went beyond her comfort zone to explore career options (and it led to some fantastic connections). Or how one student repeatedly used her voice to fight for social justice (we need more people like her in the world).
I told them how they taught me about light pollution, the importance of creativity in video games, and how an old car can be rebuilt again and again (with lots of determination).
I admired how they overcame challenges, such as dyslexia, being the only girl on a football team, moving to a foreign country, dealing with heart arrhythmia, or conquering ski mountaineering at an international level.
They showed me the importance of caring for others by helping friends through tough times or standing up for people when society categorized them as “different.” One fought for a mentor who was being deported. Another showed compassion as she taught a student struggling with learning differences how to write sentences.
One showed me the significance of questioning something she always believed so she could learn and grow. Another had the brightest smile, and I always picture it when I am feeling doubtful. And one showed me the significance of “releasing control and trusting the outcome.”
The College Mindset Class of 2020 received 110 college acceptances after submitted 164 applications. Collectively, they received 45 scholarship offers totaling over $2.7 million.
They reside in 4 states, and one student worked with me from her home in the Netherlands.
The colleges and universities below are so lucky to have these students for the next four years.
Arizona State University
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Miami University, Ohio
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, San Diego
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Texas, Austin
University of Vermont
University of Wyoming
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
While they did not throw their graduation caps into the air in the traditional sense, they have proved that they are worth celebrating beyond the usual pomp and circumstance. I believe that nothing will hold these students back. They will be the future problem-solvers, negotiators, and peace-makers our world needs.
I am so honored to have played a small role in helping them plan their future. The lessons they taught me will stay with me always.
College Mindset is offering several free webinars to help students during this difficult time. Please feel free to share the information with friends, family, and colleagues.
3-Ways to Start Your College Process
Best for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in high school (and their parents/caregivers)
Thursday, March 19th at 12 PM MST Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KKFYHNmuTK-tXm7BRoXKOA
Tuesday, March 24th at 6 PM MST: Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_9Z-y_OtER7Gb8hvaFAswGQ
One of the most common questions I receive from students and parents is: Where do we start? There is no doubt that the college application process has changed—and it is still changing every day. No one knows the ins and outs of every aspect of the process, but with a little patience and intentionality, you can navigate the process with ease—but you have to get started first!
In this Webinar, we will cover 3-Ways to get started with your college process. You will learn:
How to Obtain Knowledge
1st gain knowledge about the college admissions industry. What do you know about the business of college admissions? Katherine will give you a behind the scenes look at how colleges view the admissions process.
2nd look at who you are and how you learn. Building self-knowledge is an essential step in the college process.
How to Find Your Resources
Now that you know a little bit more about who you are and how the world of admissions works, you need to determine your resources. Katherine will review resources (including online research websites).
How to Understand the Timeline
Knowing the timing of the college process is an important step. Every participant will receive a FREE copy of College Mindset’s Ideal College Planning Timeline, which we will review during the Webinar.
How to Research Colleges
Best for sophomores and juniors in high school (and their parents/caregivers)
Monday, March 23rdat 2 PM MST Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_yu8LaETZThCg562gFKCq9g
Wednesday, March 25th at 6 PM MST; Registration Link:https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Qj7p9kunQbiGp6GGcXYUgQ
Researching is an essential part of the college process and other life decisions. For example, you might research companies when you are looking for a job or internship. Katherine will cover how to research colleges (mainly online) to help students determine what questions to ask and where to find the answers.
Networking and Informational Interviews
Best for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in high school (and their parents/caregivers) AND any college student
Friday, March 20th at 11 AM MST; Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_h0nMRnj7ShmXneIf7a6UBg
Monday, March 23rd at 6 PM; Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_slsznNjJRje8BbUc9N0BNQ
Connecting with people can provide you with insights about a college, major, or even a job- and it is something you can still do, even while we are practicing social distancing. As an adult, this skill will help you advance your career. In this Webinar, Katherine will show students how networking is more than learning how to make small talk. It is about finding your voice and asking great questions that will guide you towards your goals. Students will receive templates for conducting informational interviews, including how to reach out in an email and what questions to ask.
How to Manage the Transition to College
Best for seniors in high school (and their parents/caregivers)
Thursday, March 19th at 7 PM MST; Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_j-Dp2pMNS7CoaNreTAeJeQ
Tuesday, March 24th at 1 PM MST; Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8e8oE0BCS2y-p6nLTTqthw
Change is hard, and we are all going through massive changes right now. I know some students are struggling to think about the future. However, knowing how to transition from one significant life change to another is a skill you will use forever. You will transition from high school to college, from college to adulthood. You will change jobs and maybe someday get married or become a parent. Being able to not only anticipate change but face it head-on is perhaps the most essential life skill. In this Webinar, Katherine will cover how to handle one or your first major life transitions: going to college. We will also discuss how this transition might look different this year, given the Coronavirus pandemic.
Hello College Mindset Families,
I am sure your inbox is flooded with companies telling you what they are doing to keep customers safe in light of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic. I am writing to extend my support to all College Mindset families since school and college closings are more than likely affecting your college process.
Remember that while many colleges are closing, as of now, most are remaining opening. This article from Inside Higher Ed takes a look at the decision process colleges are going through. Either way, the Coronavirus is disruptive for all of us.
As with any part of the college process (and life), I want to encourage you to focus on what you have control over. Yes, you may be canceling your spring break college visits, postponing an international trip, or disappointed that you can’t compete in a national competition- but it is going to be OK.
Here are some general tips, resources, and proactive things you can focus on as we face this time of uncertainty.
General Resources For Updates
CNN has a running list of colleges canceling classes.
NACAC has a list of college fair cancellations.
Information on SAT cancellations can be found here and individual site cancellations here.
Updates on colleges that have canceled admissions events and campus visits can be found here and here.
For high school seniors, final admissions decisions will be delivered over the next few weeks, and you are probably already anxious about determining your future. Read through the College Mindset blog post, 5 Steps To Making Your Final Decision. Since attending admitted student events may no longer be an option for you, I encourage you to focus on the following:
Review your supplemental essay, especially the “why this college” essay. Remember what your thoughts were when you wrote it.
Join admitted student online groups, so you can get to know future classmates.
Trust your gut. You have learned so much about yourself through this process and trust which college feels like it will provide you with a fulfilling and successful college experience.
For high school juniors, spring is a busy time for your college process. Here are some things you can focus on, as this COVID-19 continues to evolve.
If your campus visits are being canceled or postponed, do not plan on stopping by. If a school has canceled an event, they are doing so to protect their community, and you need to respect that. Call the admissions office to figure out your options.
Do not worry about demonstrating interest in a college at this point and time. I will be adding a video to the College Mindset YouTube Channel to share ways you can demonstrate interest in a school without visiting- so make sure you subscribe to learn when that is available.
Don’t worry about canceled competitions or other extracurricular activities. Remember that every student is having to cancel plans and change directions. I encourage you to make a list of things that are being canceled due to Coronavirus so you can let colleges know how your plans changed in the additional information section of your application. Remember, you will need to be specific, so you can’t say, “I was planning on getting a job, but was not able to because of the Coronavirus outbreak.” Instead, you would need to say, “I was hired to work at Dunkin’ Donuts in March 2020, but due to the Coronavirus, I was unable to start my job until May.”
Right now, a few standardized testing centers in some states have canceled testing. Continue to prepare for the SAT or ACT as planned. There are always more testing dates.
For all high school students…
If your school is canceled, make sure you turn your focus to other things (again what you have control over). Get ahead on your homework, do some extra credit, and continue preparing for the SAT or ACT, or Advanced Placement exams (if applicable).
Open your Common Application account and familiarize yourself with what a college application looks like.
Take a deep breath. If you are feeling stressed about the Coronavirus, talk about it with a trusted adult. The New York Times published the article, 5 Ways to Help Teens Manage the Anxiety About the Coronavirus. The Center for Disease Control also has some good resources about anxiety the COVID-19.
And to all of my college students who are returning early from studying abroad or having to leave campus, you are in my thoughts. My heart is breaking for my college seniors who are left in a place of uncertainty about graduation and other end-of-college events.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you need to brainstorm ideas to keep busy, come up with a Plan B for visits, or vent your frustrations. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that you know which schools you want to visit, do you know how to plan your trip? Katherine has visited over 100 colleges and universities all over the country. In this video, she’ll give you all of her tips and tricks for planning the perfect college visit.
Now that you know which schools you want to visit, do you know how to plan your trip?
Katherine has visited over 100 colleges and universities all over the country. In this video, she’ll give you all of her tips and tricks for planning the perfect college visit.
Do you want more tips for the college process? Check out the College Mindset Ideal College Planning Timeline!
Do you know what you should be working on? Watch my video for tips for high school seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen.
Happy New Year! The holidays are over and it is time to get back on track with your college process. Do you know what you should be working on? Watch my video for tips for high school seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen.