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College Lists, Applying Undecided, and Borrowing Money for College

college lists
Abigail Anderson

Written by Abigail Andersonon April 26th, 2017

I joined College Coach after working in independent school and college admissions. At the collegiate level, I evaluated thousands of applications and managed more than 20 student workers and 200 alumni interview volunteers. I recruited in, and read applications for, multiple domestic and international recruitment territories, including all of New England and the Mid-Atlantic, Europe, and the Americas. I also worked with and evaluated transfer applicants. Committed to increasing college access and demystifying the college application process, I collaborated with colleagues across institutions to develop free, accessible programming for high school juniors wanting to jumpstart the application process and improve their essay skills. My passion has always aligned with working directly with high school students; I started my career in admissions at a highly-selective all-girls’ boarding school. While there, I recruited students throughout New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and California. I oversaw multicultural and first-generation student recruitment, participated in both admission and financial aid committees, and assisted in residence hall management.
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The most recent episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation was guest hosted by Ian Fisher. In three fast-moving segments Ian and his guests covered a vast array of topics, from using data to estimate a student’s chances of admission, to tips and tricks for selecting your major on the college application, to deciphering the loan portion of financial aid packages. Using Data to Create a College List The first segment was all about using statistics, numbers, and admissions data in crafting the list of colleges to which you apply. Emily Toffelmire, admissions expert, joined Ian for this segment, sharing her professional experience as both a former admissions officer and high school counselor. First, the duo shared where to obtain your data, specifically addressing the reasons why they avoided sites like College Confidential “like the plague.” They went on to discuss a variety of topics related to chancing admission and building out your college list. For example, what does an admit rate have to do with your chances of gaining admission—is it the probability you’ll be admitted or something else? Additionally, if you can’t use admit rate to predict your chances of admission, what should you use instead? Emily and Ian also made phenomenal recommendations for creating balanced lists. For example, they discussed the pros and cons of creating “challenge-heavy” and “safety-heavy” lists. They also shared how a “balanced list” might look different from student to student and family to family. Majors, Minors, and Programs of Study Building on the first segment admissions expert Julia Jones joined Ian to discuss how the major or academic area of interest you indicate on your application does (and does not!) affect your chances of admission. One of the most common questions we receive is, “Does applying undecided hurt my chances of admission?” In this segment, Julia laid the question to rest, providing a thorough and definitive answer. She went on to share how, when asked to pick specific school or division within a college to apply to, to know if that choice matters to the admissions office. Her answer—to look to the application—provided unique insights that even surprised our formidable host, Ian! Tune in to hear the answers. Finally, Ian and Julia both shared strategies for crafting an application list when you are applying to specialized programs that may be more competitive than the “general admission” pool at the same institution (for example, business, engineering, computer science, dual-degree programs [BS/MD, 3-2 Engineering, etc.], and the performing or visual arts). Loans in Financial Aid Packages In the final segment—our recurring college finance segment—Tara Piantanida-Kelly, finance expert, joined Ian to discuss loan packaging and borrowing money to attend college. While many families think of scholarships and grants when they think of financial aid, most financial aid packages also include some variety of loan. The loan process can be very confusing, as colleges and universities can offer families a variety of different types of loans, borrowed by students or parents, and from public, private, or institutional sources. Tara did an impressive job of not only breaking down this confusing topic, but also helping families think about the “end-results” of borrowing—total loan amount, average interest rates, projected earnings, and budgeting to pay back the loans. As mentioned, this was a truly jam-packed episode—tune in to hear the full answers to these questions and topics! Getting-In-CTA

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