Friday, March 15, 2013

How To Find The Right Fit For College

Your college bound student has most likely begun receiving brochures from colleges. Schools have also been speaking during their lunch periods. What your child will see and hear are the positive aspects about potential schools. But how do you know if college is the right fit for your son or daughter?

Before beginning the college search process, both the student and parent should sit down and discuss what each feels is important. Many times these ‘values’ will be different and need to be addressed. It is important for each person involved in the college search start on the same page. At first, it may be difficult to come to a consensus, but in the long run, it will save many difficult conversations. The following are topics families should discuss when beginning the college process.

Financial Fit
When a student begins the college selection process, it is essential to have an honest conversation regarding the family's financial situation. It is imperative that the student understands how much money they will have to spend on their college education. This has a huge impact on the schools they will seriously consider. A parent will not love their child any less if they cannot afford one of the 151 colleges where the cost of attendance is over $50,000 a year. In addition, parents need to consider themselves too. They should NEVER borrow from their retirement accounts to pay for higher education. This may seem like a good short term solution, but in the long run, everyone will lose when it comes to a parent's retirement.

On average, a student will attend a school that is 94 miles or about 2-4 hours away from home. Many times, students will want to attend a college that is farther away. But is this practical? There are many factors that go into attending school far away.

First off, does the student want a very long car, train or plane ride to travel  to and from school on breaks/weekends?   These factors cost money such as: extra gas, mileage on a car, or parents driving the student long distances. If a student is taking a plane, there are other factors that are not realized until later. How often is it practical for the student to come home? Only on breaks? Consider that these breaks are during the expensive holiday rush. Will they be able to come home for a big family occasion? When taking a plane, a student cannot pack much. They most likely will have to purchase supplies when they arrive at college. This can include bed sheets, clothes, school supplies, laptop, toiletries, etc... Once the academic year is over, how will these possessions return home?
Consider blending the financial and location considerations together. If you are attending a public school, you might be paying out-of-state tuition. This will be considerably more expensive for the family.

Where does the student want to begin their career once college is over? Is your college is in a different geographic area then your home? Internships, business connections and other networks might not follow them home for future job opportunities. 
Academic fit

It is important to look at schools in which the student will have a reasonable chance of admission. Most colleges report median ACT/SAT scores and GPAs on their promotional materials. Do not be put off if the student does not fall into these ranges. Remember, it is the middle 50% of students who were ACCEPTED that is reported.
Not all students who are accepted attend the school. Secondly, that data means there were 25% of students who scored above and below those numbers. In addition, many schools look at a student's admission holistically. This means that colleges consider more than standardized test scores and GPAs. Perhaps the student has a special skill the college needs, such as a bagpiper player or an equestrian rider. These students might be considered more valuable to the school, so those skills could overshadow lower standardized test scores.

Remember, students still have the application process to help themselves shine. Perhaps their essays or interview will impress the admissions committee. Maybe you have demonstrated your interest in the school by attending an open house, filling out a card at a college fair, or contacting the admissions office for clarification on an issue. Another way to bolster your chances of acceptance is to apply to a school in a different geographic region. For example, your chances can be helped if you are from the Midwest and apply to an East Coast school that does not traditionally have a large representation.  
Social Fit

What kind of school would the student be most successful attending? A large school with 15,000 or more students? Here, there are a plethora of majors to consider if they enter undecided. In addition, a student might experience the independence they are ever so seeking.
Perhaps your student would succeed at a medium sized school (5,000-15,000 students). Here, a student could still receive the large school atmosphere, but also not be overwhelmed by a sizeable campus.

Maybe a small school, with enrollment at or below 5000 students, would be best. Here, a student may find professors who are willing to take a personal interest in them.  Students can also have program advisors to help guide their academic situations while personally knowing each student in their academic programs.

Thomas J. Jaworski will be the guest speaker at Resurrection College Prep High School's Parent Club meeting on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 7 pm in the school library. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Butler University

Butler University is located six miles from downtown Indianapolis, Indiana in the Broad Ripple Village neighborhood. The school was established in 1855 and eventually named in recognition of its founder Ovid Butler. It was the first college in Indiana and the third in the nation to admit men and women. It was named in the 2013 edition of U.S. News & World Report as the second best college in the Midwest Region.

1. College of Pharmacy and the Butler Promise

The most competitive school at Butler is their School of Pharmacy. When completed, this six year program allows a student to earn both a Bachelor's of Arts Degree and Doctorate of Pharmacy. During the first two years, students enroll in a pre-pharmacy curriculum. Students meeting a specific criteria will be directly entered into the four year doctoral curriculum. This guaranteed admission is known as the Butler Promise. Students are still required to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). The School of Pharmacy is ranked first for private colleges with a average passing rate of 99.26% on the North American Pharmacy Licensing Exam (NAPLEX). Butler ranks seventh overall in the nation and the program has achieved a perfect passing rate six times. 

2. Physician Assistant Program 
Physician Assistant (P.A.) programs in colleges are becoming increasingly popular as this field is rapidly expanding. What is a P.A.? A P.A. is a person who has gone through a course of study and can practice medicine, but only under the supervision of a licensed physician. As of a 2010 U.S. News & World Report ranking, the Masters in Physician Assistant (MPAS) program at Butler, created in 1995 was ranked 56th in the country.
Similar to the College of Pharmacy requirements, a P.A. student must first complete a two year pre-professional curriculum. If they satisfy the requirements, they continue with another three years of P.A. coursework. These students graduate with a dual bachelor and masters degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Qualified students can earn a auto-advance in their pre-P.A. courses. These students automatically advance to the professional studies phase of the program a semester early if certain requirements are satisfied. 
As with the School of Pharmacy, the Indianapolis metropolitan area and abundance of healthcare institutions allow for many opportunities and a variety of internships.
3. Jordan College of the Arts

Butler University's challenging curriculum blends their pre-professional programs with liberal arts coursework. The Jordan College of the Arts is a nationally recognized liberal arts curriculum taught in a conservatory-style program. This specialized area of study means that that half to three fourths of the credits students earn are in their specific arts major. The is difference from a liberal arts education where a student earns fine art credits while taking a courses in other concentrations.

Butler collaborates with Indianapolis area programs and companies to promote their students and expose them to professional programs. One way the JCA acts upon this is with the Metro Indy Event Credit program. In this program, students are required to attend local shows in their arts discipline. This experience helps to broaden a student's educational experience while showcasing the talent in the Indianapolis Metro Area.  
To apply to the JCA, a student must apply via the Common Application by November 1st. In addition to their Butler application, each student is required to audition or interview in order to be considered for admission. Each program inside the Jordan College of Fine Arts has different requirements. 
4. The ‘Flutie Effect’
This midsized university (approximately 4600 students) has been in the national spotlight recently as their men's basketball team has risen to NCAA Division I prominence. In consecutive years (2010 and 2011) the team finished as the national runner up. It has not been a coincidence that the success of the basketball program has helped expose Butler to many high school students outside the Midwest. This is known as the Flutie Effect
The Flutie Effect is named after Doug Flutie, who in 1984 threw a Hail Mary touchdown pass that allowed Boston College to defeat defending national champion University of Miami. This brought national recognition to the Boston school and gave rise to a large increase of admission applications the following year. The same has occurred in Indianapolis as, according to ESPN, Butler has seen a 41% rise in out of state applications. Their 2012 freshmen class is their largest in school history with 1111 students.

Monday, March 4, 2013

CSS Profile

When thinking of a college financial aid form, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) often comes to mind. The U.S. Department of Education form is mandatory at all schools to be considered for government supported financial aid. A lesser known, but equally important 'form' is required at many schools, the College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile).

The CSS Profile is a supplemental financial aid form required by many private colleges to determine eligibility for nongovernment financial aid. It is distributed by the College Board and is used by almost 400 colleges and scholarship programs to determine a family's true ability to pay for college. 

The CSS Profile is an online form similar to the FAFSA. A family enters their financial information to determine a family's true ability to pay for their child's higher education. The CSS Profile is available during the student's senior year and can be submitted to schools as early as October 1st. Each school and scholarship program has a different deadline throughout the year, therefore it is important to know to which schools your child might be applying. It is also important to know the proper code of the school or program in which they are applying.  

The main difference between the two forms is cost. The FAFSA is a free government form, while the CSS Profile is a fee based application, costing $25 for the first school and $16 per additional submission.  Another difference are deadlines. The CSS Profile is due in the fall of the student's senior year of high school, whereas the FAFSA is released each year on January 1st and has due dates in February and March.

Another difference are the types of questions. The CSS Profile requires a more thorough examination of a family's finances. Many questions are specific to the school or program in which they are applying, while the FAFSA is standard 103 question document. Additional  information that the CSS Profile asks; equity in a family's main home, current valuation of the house, Business/Farm Supplement (if family is self employed), a Noncustodial Parent's Supplement if parents are divorced and do not share equal custody.
Do not become discouraged about receiving financial aid from a school if you required to complete the CSS Profile. Many times, completing the form can help. The CSS Profile provides a school with a more accurate picture of a family's ability to pay for school. Many of the schools that require the CSS Profile are simply looking to properly distribute from a large endowment.

Students from low-income families with limited assets are eligible to receive fee waivers. If you think you may qualify, complete the CSS Profile as early as possible (there are a limited number of fee waivers available). In addition, the CSS Profile is not required by all schools. Check with the school you are interested in to see if it is required. If the school does require this form, a pre-application worksheet can help save time by entering the form online. Lastly, be sure to provide proper documentation for your answers.

The CSS Profile can be found at