Tagged: college admission

Rising Discount Rate Means Lower College Tuition

The cost of a college education can be daunting to say the least. Many college hopefuls are deferring applying or, once enrolled, find the costs overwhelming.

Each year the demographics of the applicant pool change and one current trend is favoring applicants. We are in a period in which the size of high school classes is decreasing so that the number of potential college students is also declining.

Colleges need to fill seats and beds in order to have enough income to keep the lights on and the professors paid. Competition for students who will enroll has increased substantially in the last couple of years. The discount rate is the difference between the published Cost of Attendance or tuition and what students are actually asked to pay. Many students are finding that the discount can be up to 50%.

To attract students, financial aid packages have been beefed up and other perks are being offered. Some colleges have frozen tuition. In addition to not raising tuition for this year, some guarantee keeping tuition the same until a student graduates.

In the past it has been difficult to get one of your colleges to increase the merit aid in your package but that may be changing. If you have a better offer from College B but want to attend College G, you can try by showing the award letter from B and asking if G can match.

Prepare to apply to multiple colleges, looking for those where you will be highly desirable. Choose those where your credentials are in the top 25% of the applicant pool or where they need your tuba, experience, your interest in an under-subscribed major or to fill a demographic slot.

Until the number of high school students begins to increase again, college applicants will have more leverage: take advantage of all of your options.

What Are Mistakes Students Make In College Interviews

Tom Stagliano
Tom Stagliano, MIT Volunteer, interviewed freshmen for admissions
There are two basic mistakes made by the students:

First, the Student is supposed to schedule the interview. When the student contacts the interviewer, they have to realize that the interviewer is a volunteer with lots of other commitments. The student should know by the start of senior year in high school which colleges she/he will be applying to and which ones require an interview. They should schedule that interview as early as possible. This past Fall, I conducted four interviews and each applicant contacted me on the last day possible (per the college’s web site). Two for Early Action and two for regular admission.

That will be noted in the interview report. If you can’t budget your schedule well when informed of deadlines at least six weeks in advance, then how can you budget an intensive college life?

Second, the applicant should come to the interview with two purposes in mind:
The ability to tell the interviewer what the applicant does other than study and other than academic subjects. That is what the interview is all about. The interviewer does not care about your grades, nor scores, nor how many AP classes you take. The interviewer wants to know what else you do. Fifty percent of the applicants to most top colleges could do the work and graduate in four years. However, the college can only accept one of every seven of that 50%. Where you distinguish yourself is in that interview.

Have questions to ask. The interviewer is there to answer questions about the college. In my case the interview should be conducted before you finish the online application. You may learn something from the interview that will guide you better in filling out the application.

The applicant’s appearance should be neat and appropriate, like for a job interview. However, a tie is not required for the male applicants.

In my case, it is (roughly) a 90 minute two-way discussion, and you should make the time fly through your conversational abilities.

Relax, and enjoy the interview process. The interviewer loves her/his college and loves to interview otherwise they would not being doing the interviews. Take advantage of that.

NOTE: I give “extra brownie points” to an applicant who has done her/his homework and looked up information on me, and works that into the interview. It shows initiative. After all, I was an undergraduate at that college and many of my avocations were cultivated there.

If you contact me I’ll give you my interview prep guide.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679


What Were You Least Prepared For At An Ivy?

From Quora

What Were You Least Prepared For When You Entered An Ivy League School

Answered by Wes Lai, retired teacher of 34 years

“I did not attend an Ivy League school. My son did, and he graduated #1 in his class of 480 at a public high school. The one thing he said that blew him away was how students from private prep and boarding schools were so well prepared for college. The other thing was how everybody was just as smart as he was, or smarter. Culture shock.”

This answer explains why admission to Tier One colleges is competitive.  The outstanding student in any high school is just average in the pool of applicants to selective colleges.  All of the candidates have stellar grades in a rigorous curriculum.  Most will have nearly perfect scores.  Admission depends on the interests, passions and accomplishments outside of school.   Overcoming challenges, solving real world problems, and having done something that benefits others gain traction in the admissions office.

Lai’s response highlights the epidemic of depression and anxiety experienced on college campuses.  Discovering that you aren’t the smartest person in the room when your parents, teachers and accomplishments have told you just that, is difficult for many students to accept.  They believe that less than perfect grades or not having the answer to a difficult question shows them to be  weak and failing.

As parents, we need to emphasize that the quest is more important than the badge of achievement.  A goal should be to grow, become better at the tasks we undertake, to focus our  education on how to use knowledge and experience to help others. Most of all we need to treat failure as a part of moving forward: it teaches persistence, humility and spurs determination.  Sometimes it opens doors to new thinking.

As I’ve told countless students,  when you get to college you will meet people who have had different experiences than you have, learned bits of information that diverge from what you are familiar with,  connect the dots in a different pattern.  That doesn’t make one of you smarter or a better student: its another opportunity to apply critical thinking.

When you’re ready to talk about a college list, or ways in which college might surprise you, I’ll be waiting to hear from you. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.



Self Reported Academic Records: New and Time Consuming

Some seniors will find that college applications are asking the student to fill in a form with details of all of the courses they have taken and will take over 4 years of high school, including the final grade.  According to one admissions office, this is because while high school transcripts have pretty much the same information the format is different on each one.  Figuring out the location of the material the admission officer is hunting is time consuming. Students are asked to use the form so information is presented in a standardized  manner making comparisons among applications much easier.

Now is the time to take a look at the applications you will be using to see if any prefer SRAR.  Another avenue to get this information is to email your admissions rep at each college and ask about self reporting grades and scores.

If  at least one college uses this form, check online to see if your entire high school transcript is available to you.  Should only the last year’s curriculum and grades appear, contact guidance for an unofficial copy of your entire history.  Perhaps in 8th grade you took Algebra I or a year of foreign language that counts toward fulfilling a foreign language requirement; you may need to access your 8th grade record, too.

Once you have the transcript in front of you, make notes.  Start with 9th grade and write down your courses, final grade and a description of what the course covered.  If your high school has an electronic course book from which you choose your classes, consult this tool to help with course descriptions.  Avoid guessing.

Why should you do this now?  The SRAR is a convenience for the admissions office and a nuisance for students.  Filling out the form is time consuming.  Do it now as the school year winds down and you have fewer pressing assignments so that when you are ready to apply you won’t need to invest a couple of hours tracking down the information.

Be assured that if you are accepted you will be required to submit official test scores and an official transcript from each high school you have attended.

If you’re ready for a consult on your list or to begin writing essays, filling out your apps, lets make an appointment! stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

2017 Trends in EA and Ed Admissions

Students who applied to colleges for Early Action or Early Decision consideration found that the number of admits was down this year, at least for students in the Delaware Valley.

There could be a number of reasons but one of the most prominent that comes to mind is that the published average SAT and ACT scores of admits in previous years is still being reported by Old SAT numbers.  New scores are about 70 points higher making mid-50% applicants using the published figures about 70 points lower than those who are being admitted.

Lets say you want to attend Exton College with a mid-50% range of  1400-1500 according to the college website.   The actual numbers using New SAT scores is 1470-1570.  The applicant with a 1410 is now below the mid-50% mark.

Colleges are also taking a closer look at how the applicants will fare on campus in leadership roles and other qualities they bring to campus.  More than stats matter in admission decisions.

An important factor is where the student chooses to apply.  Most colleges and universities try to build a class with geographic diversity by admitting students from as many states and international locations as possible.

Consultants have seen an increase in the number of Del Val students applying to the same universities, in particular Penn, Pitt, Maryland, Wisconsin and Villanova among others.  Each new application from a high school or region decreases everyone’s chances of admission.    The remedy is to look farther afield to schools that have fewer applicants from your area.  Think outside the geographic box and beyond where your friends are applying.

Lets get together and plan an application list that adds geography, higher score expectations, and timing to your list of criteria.   Its time for juniors to finalize their lists and for sophomores to begin adding and dropping colleges from their wish lists. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.  I can meet you in Exton, PA,         Marlton, NJ or in a cyberconference.

New Admissions Status Offered More Often

Its the time of year when admissions decisions are sent to students and a new category is appearing more frequently this year (admission year 2018).    Most students will see a Yes, you are admitted in a welcome email or Sorry, we couldn’t admit you in a denial.   Some students will be offered a place on a wait list, a place in limbo.

The waitlist is a way for colleges to have a go-to list of motivated applicants in case not as many of the admitted students deposit as are needed to fill the class.  Length of the wait list varies from college to college as does the process for cherry picking the students who will be plucked from it for admission.

A change of status for waitlisted students can happen anytime after may 1 when the total of students accepting admission is known.  Many colleges look at the demographics and hard data of the admitted class and choose students from the waitlist who fill in gaps.

This year it appears that an increasing number of colleges are offering something new: Second Year Admission to students as transfers.  Instead of yes, no, maybe, applicants are offered admission as a sophomore if they successfully complete a year at another college.

There are advantages for the student with a strong desire to attend this particular institution.  They are free to accept an offer elsewhere or to save $$ at a community college.  Accepting 2YA is non-binding.

Colleges who admit students into the second year class know that they will be able to fill the spaces of students who choose to transfer out after one year.  Second Year Admission could be a win-win.

As with any admission, compare the financial aid packages before you decide which one to choose.


Are you ready to compare your financial aid offers?  Make an appointment with me so you can make an informed decision!  Stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679


5 Questions For Your College Tour Guide

When you are on tour with a student ambassador there is an opportunity to get helpful information from a gal or guy who is knowledgeable and primed to communicate.  What can you ask that will lend meaningful data?

  1. How many hours a week do you typically study?   When and where do students hit the books?    From this interaction you will learn the rigor of the classes and the amount of prep time required.   The guide should also be able to give you a clue about studying vs drinking or socializing on the weekends.
  2. What did you do last weekend?  Do most students stay on campus on weekends?  What are some typical weekend activities?
  3. How much time do you spend with your professors outside of class?  In what settings?  What do you do or talk about?   Answers to questions like these are useful for determining the accessibility of the faculty.  Having relationships with professors is important for feeling like a member of the academic community and for academic success.  On some campuses there are student/faculty flag football games or faculty open their homes to students.
  4. What groups hold the most social events?  Are they open to all students or only to members?  What is there to do for non-drinking students?  Ask these questions to see how important Greeks, jocks, community service and other organizations are.
  5. What are the options for buying books or securing course materials?  Are readings posted on Moodle or Blackboard?   You probably want to spend the least  amount possible on books, so take this opportunity to find out what the choices are.

Before you begin touring colleges, make a list of questions that you can use to compare them.  You might find out about professors by asking the tour guide’s favorite or who the best profs are in the English department.  To learn about courses ask questions about the most quirky course on campus or the most difficult ones.

Its important to use questions and answers from others to spark more ideas so pay attention to the entire conversation during your walk.  Creating a profile of each college is up to you so make the best use of your access to current students to get the information you need.

For a free guide to comparing colleges, send an email to stephanie@accssguidance.com.


You’re On The Wait List – What Now?


It happens every year to many students.  With the huge number of students who apply to most colleges, its impossible to admit all of those who are qualified and who the college would love to have.  So, lots of applicants end up on the wait list.

Should you give up and deposit at another college, or stick it out and see what happens?

If you are an “in demand” student, say a man applying to a traditionally female major like education or nursing, you have a decent chance of getting off The List.  On the other hand, if you are in the middle of the applicant pool according to you GPA and scores with no outstanding feature (called a hook), sadly, you probably won’t be admitted.

College build classes around certain parameters specific to each college.  Here are a few of the factors that affects your acceptance or placement on the wait list.

  1. Gender  Most colleges are 60/40 women to men so men get a slight advantage.
  2. The number who apply to each major; there are only so many seats and classes
  3. A housing crunch could favor a commuter

The chance of being admitted from the wait list depends on the demographics of the those who deposit and of those who choose to go to another college.  Most likely, you will need to fit into a vacated slot in the class to be admitted off the wait list.

Here are a couple of things you can do to support your case and to assess your chances.

  1. Be honest in your assessment of  how your credentials stack up against the rest of the applicants’.
  2. Call the admissions office and ask how many people are on the wait list and how many were admitted from the wait list last year.  If you can’t get an answer, ask your guidance counselor to get the information for you.  Some colleges wait list hundreds and admit fewer than 5 of them.  Others wait list 25 and admit 10.
  3. Let the college know whether or not you want to remain on the list: its the polite and businesslike thing to do.
  4. If you remain on the list, update your file with grades, awards, new scores or another recommendation. Add a letter stating why you would be excited to attend.  Reassure the admissions office that you will come if admitted. (if that isn’t true, get off the wait list and deposit elsewhere).
  5. If possible, make another visit to the college before they break at the end of their semester.

Keep in mind that all of the colleges on your application list are colleges you like. It serves no purpose to long for the one that didn’t admit you.  Choose among the colleges that are as excited to have you as you are to attend.


The key to getting in is to start with a list of colleges that are an academic, social and financial fit.  Choose the ones that are as likely to want you as much as you want them.  I can help you find great places to get a great education.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

Inside Scoop On Playing College Sports

A huge number of high school students are involved in competitive sports programs, at some, more than half of the student body.    Although there are many athletes who are outstanding, only a mere handful make it to college teams with scholarships.

If you are one of the hopefuls, look at this website for information on your specific sport: www.schorarshipstats.com.

Here’s what you can learn about football, for instance.   There are over 1 million high school football players.  Of those, 8.2% go on to play college ball at any level and only 1.3% are on NCAA Division 1 teams.  D1 schools carry 117 players.  The average athletic scholarship across all teams in all sports at a given institution is %19,000.  Football has lots of scholarships divided among the team: some get a full scholarship, others get a partial and many get nothing at all.

The odds of playing college football are 1 in 41 and the odds of going pro are 1 in 603.

Beach Volleyball is one of the fastest growing college sport.  Across all governing authorities, there are 72 colleges with teams, 47 are NCAA D1.  The D1 scholarships, across all teams, all sports is %17,000.   Athletic scholarships can be full, partial or none offered.

Because this is a growing sport and colleges may be recruiting, college admission may be easier and financial aid packages more generous.

The website list all the schools with programs in each sport, admission data and scholarship averages.

If you are an athlete or parent of an athlete, get the facts before you plan your approach to financing your son or daughter’s education.

For more information on sports, college admission and financial aid give Stephanie a call. 610-212-6679 or stephanie@accessguidance.com.




Building a College Class or Why You Didn’t Get In

University of Alabama

Its almost spring and there are many disappointed college applicants wondering why Perfect College didn’t want them.  Rejection wasn’t about the applicant or the application they turned in: the decision really was all about the college.

Colleges have two goals in building a college class.  They admit students who they believe will choose to attend if admitted and to craft a well-rounded class.  Note that it is a well rounded class, not a class of well-rounded students.

Yield is the term applied to the per cent of admitted students who choose to enroll.  Ivies and Tier One colleges have a yield near 100%. Some colleges have a yield as low as 25%.  The number of admits has risen and yield has declined as students apply to increasing numbers of colleges.  More applications for the same number of seats means more students both denied and admitted to retain a steady yield.

Here’s a look at some factors in building the well-rounded class.


  1. Increased admission of students living abroad
  2. Attracting students from all states or out of state for large state universities
  3. Minorities and under represented groups
  4. Gender.  Most colleges are 60% women so perhaps a guy might have a better chance


  1. Many students from the top of the applicant pool
  2. Students below the top of the applicant pool
  3. Intended major: filling seats in a new or under-subscribed major
  4. Recruiting women in male-dominated majors like engineering and men into nursing or education
  5. The rigor, challenge and academic risk-taking a prospect shows


  1. Legacies-applicants who have relatives who attended
  2. Recruits for music, sports
  3. Talent: concert musicians, published authors, science contestants, chess prodigies, research experience, celebrity kids
  4. Students who have overcome significant hurdles
  5. Applicant who surprised and delighted the reader beyond amazement

Priorities at a college can change from year to year.  No, we don’t know what they are and can’t predict what they will be next year.  Changing your application material or timing may not make any difference to the outcome.

Life is uncertain and this is just one, perhaps the first, roadblock that you will encounter.  Maturity is, in part, being able to live with uncertainty and using it to demonstrate your flexibility.  Grieve for the dis you’ve received and be happy that there are other choices that may prove to be more beneficial and fulfilling.

Let me show you how to maximize your chances of receiving a YES to your college applications.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.