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Senior Year Grades, USC Essays, and Net Price Calculators

Do Senior Year Grades Matter
Kristine Sawicki

Written by Kristine Sawickion November 23rd, 2017

I grew up in California and attended a big suburban public high school. For college, I chose Reed in Portland, Oregon, where I studied psychology with a focus in behavioral neuroscience. After a year working as a research assistant at Oregon Health & Sciences University, I switched my professional objective and taught at both the middle and high school levels and coached women’s cross-country. Eventually I made my way to admission work and spent the next eleven years at Reed, culminating in a year as Acting Dean. I later moved to California and spent a few years in the Stanford Office of Undergraduate Admission, where I continued to work directly with students both domestic and international.
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On the latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, host Ian Fisher welcomed three College Coach experts to explore the role of senior year grades in admission decisions, strategies for the University of Southern California’s essay prompts, and the net price calculator tool found on individual college websites. Listen to the complete show on the Voice America network or by searching for Getting In: A College Coach Conversation wherever you get your podcasts. Senior Year Grades: Do They Matter? Ian first welcomed College Coach educator Amy Alexander to talk about how senior year grades can impact admission decisions. In short, they matter!  Amy and Ian explored how admission officers use senior year grades in their admission processes and how that may vary for Early Action/Decision verses Regular Decision applicants. Amy and Ian also talked about how colleges view dropping a senior year class and factors that could lead a college to be more or less stringent in what they expect from students in a given year. University of Southern California Essay Prompts Ian next welcomed College Coach educator Emily Toffelmire, former admission officer at USC, to talk about their suite of essay questions. Emily noted that USC evaluates students within the context of their chosen major and that they also value breadth of interest outside the major. She provided specific pointers in how to get this across in the essays. For their short answers, which USC admission officers call “Quick Takes,” Emily encourages students to approach them with a sense of fun, showcasing your personality, creativity, and spark. Have fun with them! How to Use Net Price Calculators In the show’s final segment, Ian welcomed College Coach finance educator Shannon Vasconcelos to talk about net price calculators. The vast majority of students do not pay sticker price for college and the net price calculator found on individual college websites is there to help families obtain a realistic sense of what a particular college is going to cost them specifically. Shannon notes that each college develops their own calculator so there will be variations from school to school in how these calculators work. Shannon and Ian list what documents to have at the ready to use the calculators. On Thanksgiving day, we’ll be broadcasting a rerun of our popular episode covering things to know about the 2017/18 Common App, and we’ll be back the following week with a new episode on the Colleges That Change Lives, what to expect from your early application decisions, and a peek inside the St. Olaf Financial Aid Office.  Stay tuned, and happy Thanksgiving! Getting-In-CTA


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