Getting In Is Only Half The Battle

Paying For College Without Debt Screenshot

Click the screencap to go to the video (you have to sit through a 10 second ad).

If you just want to read the copy go here.

I clearly remember (back in the day) being told to by a guidance counselor that I should have some volunteer work on my college application. The idea was that colleges wanted a “well rounded person”. The fact that as a 16-year-old I had just about zero interest in volunteer work wasn’t supposed to be part of the equation.

The news site has an article with input from counselors about volunteering because you care, NOT because you’re trying to pad your application.

You might want to discuss the contents of this article with your own guidance counselor before making any decisions, but it’s another data point to consider before deciding how to allocate those free-time resources.

The blog has a post this week about writing a successful application essay.

The blog (nice descriptive title), also has an article with suggestions on how to go from idea to finished essay.

Next, I found a whole website dedicated to teaching you how to write a college application essay. The site Sample College Essays (.com) looks like a good starting point.

This is one of those essays that really has to genuinely come from the student. I’ve already posted articles about using a hired gun on one of these can backfire.

The essay isn’t going to spring to life all by itself. The best advice as called out in the Thady article is to start early and DO NOT be afraid of the drafting proces. Write that first draft. That first draft isn’t something you’d want to submit, but anybody who’s written a paper can attest to the way the drafting process works to turn papers into quality work.

Good luck with those essays!

The Seattle Times carried an article on September 20th, 2009 justifying or debunking (depending on your point of view) the high cost of a college education.

FTA: “Colleges are like the cookie monster”

From the point of view of learning institutions, justifications range from the facilities, the cost of the faculty, to the new athletic facility.

There’s still nothing to explain why I had to pay $150 bucks for a book I’d never even read once. There’s also nothing to plausibly justify why the increase in college tuition has outpaced inflation for decades. Basically it sounds like we’re all getting the short end of the educational stick so to speak.

The full text of Nick Perry’s article can be found here.

So you’ve scrimped and saved and finally your young one is off at the learning institution of their choice. But, when that first bill comes what’s the best way to tap into ye olde 529 account? The earning on a 529 account are supposed to accrue tax free when used for appropriate higher education expenses, so you want to be sure to do this right. Nothing will ruin that empty nest faster than a visit from the tax man.

The College Money Guru (aka Joe Hurley) over at has an article about how to tap into your 529 funds and keep the tax man happy.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the part about why it might not be such a hot idea to have your 529 funds send directly to the school (very bottom of article).

The Sooo…Tell Me About Yourself Blog has a post today with real live interview questions taken by would-be Princeton students.

I won’t ruin any of the article by posting any of the questions directly, but it’s interesting. At the very least it may take some of the fear out of those too cool to go here questions you hear about. You know that crapola like “How would you bury a mountain with a thimble?” or some other such nonsense.

It sounds like the Admissions Officers at Princeton are..gasp..actually trying to get some insight into the students.

The News Telegram (.com) has an article about some schools dropping the SAT.

There’s no real indication in the article if this is a national trend, or simply something that a few school are trying out. One thing is for certain however, it’s good news for those who “don’t test well”.

As someone who did test well (back in the day), I would have been pretty unhappy to see the standardized test go. Consider that with the standardized test out of the admissions picture, it makes all of those other factors (grades, extracurriculars, recommendations, etc.) all the more important. I’d rather take the 3 hours SAT sweat-fest thank you.

Bad news for smart slackers everywhere, a new book has come out which details the fact that grades are still a great (if not the best) indicator of future success in college.

By future success we’re talking about actually graduating, instead of just blowing years and thousands upon thousands of dollars and accomplishing that dubious goal of “1 semester left”.

A review of Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities can be found here.

Following up on yet another article I posted a few days ago, the Wall Street Journal has published an article laying out some positive changes the Obama administration has in store for 529 accounts.

529s are working as planned, with many middle class families participating. The Obama administration, or accurately the Treasury Department is looking to increase participation in 529 plans. They plan on doing this by encouraging funds with lower fees (index funds) for starters.

Good News. I’ll take it.

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