Archive for the ‘Class of 2013’ Category

Where to Start Your Senior Year

Monday, May 7th, 2012

High School Class of 2013: In less than 52 weeks you will be required to make your final choice of the college you will attend for the next four years. Through this blog we will be discussing the steps you need to take to make the best decision possible concerning  your collegiate future. We will be discussing  but not limiting ourselves to the topics of choosing the schools, visits, testing with ACT/SAT, high school GPA’s, applications to colleges including the essays, types of financial aid (aid based on need, merit, grants and scholarships), FAFSA,  the CSS Profile and negotiating with your final college of choice.

All of the topics listed  should be considered in the college process. The bad news is that even though you have until May 1st, 2013 to make a final decision you should complete all your applications by October 31, 2012 to take advantage of the priority application period. Students finishing Junior year that I have been working with, by now have completed many of the steps we will be discussing. I am not trying to say you’re too late to get this done,  just that the window is closing quickly and you need a plan to do it right.

So we need to get started. Many 16 and 17 year olds are hesitant to choose what they want to study in college. I suggest that you start with your career choices.  As you explore the different careers that might interest you look at the starting salaries and education level required to move forward within that career. This is the time to dream a little. Try to list as many careers as possible while you create your list.  When you have your list next,  go through and look at the college majors that will be needed to start in your careers of choice. You should find that there will be a number of careers that you can pursue with the same college major. When you have completed your research you should be satisfied that your major will offer you a number of career paths. This can give you the piece of mind that as you complete your undergraduate degree, even with economic changes, some of your career choices will be hiring and even thriving. This way you can feel confident with your choice of major and stay committed to your chosen field of study. This confidence can keep you from  one of the most expensive college mistakes, changing your major between sophomore and junior year. This many times will extend the time to complete your degree and increase your total college costs.

As college freshmen start school this Fall they and their parents expect them to graduate in four years. Many families have based college education budgets on this assumption. The unfortunate truth is that the average college student is now taking 6 (six) years to graduate with an undergraduate degree. The current  statistic is that only 40% of entering freshmen throughout the nation will graduate in 4 years. You need to know that the graduation rates issued by the colleges are all based on the 6 years graduation rate, required by federal requirements.  Having said that, there are many schools that do graduate 60% or more of their students within the four year period. For more information on school graduation rates google the report “Diplomas and Dropouts, Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don’t)” written by Fredrick M. Hess, Mark Schneider, Kevin Cary, and Andrew P. Kelly. The report was written in 2009 and goes on to discuss the different types of schools and their graduation time periods. It does list all the schools by state with their graduation rates, costs, attendance numbers and school type. This could enter into your decision of which colleges to attend as we discuss the next step: Choosing your colleges to attend.

Please comment below with any questions or ideas.