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How to Compare Financial Aid Packages – And More!

Lauren Randle

Written by Lauren Randleon March 10th, 2016

I learned firsthand about the world of highly selective admissions as a former assistant director of admissions at Georgetown University. I traveled the United States, in and out of high schools and auditoriums, to eagerly educate students and their families about the application process, and then painstakingly reviewed thousands upon thousands of applications to fill our class. I reviewed applications for all four of Georgetown’s colleges (Georgetown College, McDonough School of Business, Walsh School of Foreign Service, and School of Nursing & Health Studies), and chaired the admissions committee for the School of Foreign Service. I experienced the nuances of the recruitment process as the admissions liaison to the Georgetown women’s soccer team, and also understood the significance of the admissions interview as the co-coordinator for Georgetown’s alumni interviewing process. I left admissions to pursue a master of education degree at the University of Virginia to broaden my knowledge of student development theories and current trends in higher education. There I decided that it was time to work more directly with students and families at the high school level, where my support and encouragement would have a more personal impact. That desire led me across the globe to Hong Kong, where I worked at a competitive international high school helping students with their college applications to the world's best universities. My international experience offered me the opportunity to work with extraordinary students and see extraordinary places.
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On last week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, Sally Ganga stepped in as guest host to discuss pre-dentistry studies, college co-op programs, and how to compare college finance awards. Understanding Pre-Dentistry Admissions expert, Christine Kenyon, helped listeners understand what “pre-dentistry” really means in the context of both high school and college preparation.  She pointed out the similarity to pre-med courses students would pursue but underscored some main differences between the two paths: pre-dentistry students typically want to be in a helping, health field but not necessarily in a life or death situation; pre-dentistry students also tend to have an interest in business as many dentists start their own practice.  The Difference Between a Co-Op and an Internship Next, former Drexel University admissions officer, Kennon Dick, discussed the difference between co-op and internship programs, and how these experiential learning programs can be of real value to students in any major.  Co-op programs are truly integrated into the academic program and calendar of the college, whereas internships are more student-initiated and pursued own their own time.  Kennon highlighted mature, responsible, self-starter students as those most likely to thrive in a co-op. Comparing Financial Aid Packages Finally, financial aid expert, Kathy Ruby, laid out steps to make sure you are comparing financial aid packages “apples to apples.”  The financial aid notifications, which come out in March or early April, are not the same as the scholarship letter many students receive earlier in the year; this notification includes everything in terms of what the family/student should expect to pay as well as exactly how the college is helping.  First, Kathy urged listeners to get organized! Next, she said to be sure to read the fine print and attachments to understand the terms and conditions of any awards. The big picture to remember is that you need to understand the package in the context of planning for four years and not just what’s laid out for the first year of study. On our next episode, Beth Heaton will return to the show to cover the following topics: Why I chose University of Southern California, raising a creative child (intended more for parents of middle school students), and finance questions from listeners. Recent Episodes of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation:


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