Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Prepare for College Over Winter Break

After a long semester, your student will have a two week school break. Although there are holidays mixed in, along with the need to prepare for final exams. Here are a few ideas your student can consider over winter break.

Declutter College Material

If you have a high school student, most likely there are large stacks of college brochures accumulating in the house. With ample free time, now would be a great time to review these mass mailings. Examine each brochure. If the school intrigues your child, place it aside. If it is not their preference, begin filling the recycle bin. This small task will allow students to narrow their college choices without being overwhelmed by the bombardment of future mass mailings.

Web Research

Have your child research a few college websites of interest. Are there any unique opportunities offered at this school? Does this school match their list of wants and needs? Can your son or daughter see themselves on this campus? With as little as a half hour of research, a student can determine if a college should be further investigated. Have the student write down questions that need additional clarification from an admissions representative. Email the college directly for this information. After receiving these answers, is this a school that should be visited during the spring semester? Read more on how to properly visit a college campus.

Interest Inventories

Perhaps your student has narrowed their college list. The next question; what might they be interested in studying? Not an easy question to pose to a teenager. In order to conduct a proper college search, pairing a major with a college's academic program can help narrow the field of potential colleges. One way to do this is the take an interest inventory. This survey can be completed either online or from a trained professional. They will learn more about their personality, what skills they possess and how these skills relate to the world of work. This will help generate potential fields of interest to study in college.

Update Resume

Before they forget their accomplishments since August, have your student update their resume. Perhaps your student has yet to create a resume. This is a great time to begin. What should be placed on the resume? A student should place their academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities (sports, clubs and fine art involvement) along with a description, and volunteer or out-of-school involvement. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but once the student begins, it usually does not take long. In addition, you never know when a resume will be needed for a job, internship or scholarship. It is a good life lesson to always have an updated resume on file. Read more on what to add to a resume

We want to hear your suggestions for winter break activities for college bound high school students, leave a comment.

If you would like to know more about what your student can do over winter break, contact us.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Estimating College Financial Aid with the Net Price Calculator

In an attempt to create college financial aid transparency, the federal government created the Higher Education Opportunity Act. One of the mandates created in this act was the Net Price Calculator. Since 2011, this online tool has provided families the opportunity to estimate the real cost of attendance at every college or university.

Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance to attend a college must be listed on a college's website. This includes tuition, room/board, books and expenses. Tuition refers to the amount of a money a student pays in order to attend classes and be considered a full time student (usually 12-18 credit hours). Room/Board refers to residing, on campus in an average size, two person dorm room, while being provided an average of 10-14 meals in the school cafeteria. Books refers to the estimated amount a student will spend for their classroom supplies for a particular school year, usually considered $1200. Expenses, also an estimated amount (usually $2500), refers to a student college fees, spending money, personal costs and transportation.

How it Works

Per the government mandate, the NPC must be located on every college website. It is usually found on the financial aid page and can be completed in less than ten minutes. A little hint, questions referring to 'you' mean the student. Parents may need to locate their W2 forms or tax returns to complete the calculator. Besides the financial questions, there are additional questions for students, asking for their grade point average, standardized test score(s) and other specific academic questions. The calculator is not difficult to complete, but can ask for a plethora of information. A completed calculator will allow the college to gain a snapshot of a family's financial situation and provide a ballpark figure of the real cost of attendance.


When a family completes the NPC, there will be four types of discounts used to compute the real cost of attendance. Scholarships are awarded for student merit. These can be because of a student's grade point average and/or ACT/SAT test score. Perhaps a student is being rewarded for other achievements,  such as a fine art (art, theatre, or music) or athletics. Students can also receive a grant. These can be from the federal government based upon their financial need, or from the academic institution themselves. Scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid. A student may also receive a discount for the Federal Work-Study program. Here, students are paid to work on campus in return for a portion of their tuition. Examples of some positions are assisting in the admissions office, school cafeteria, or athletic facilities. Lastly, colleges will offer federal or school based loans to students. Click here to read a previous blog post regarding financial aid.

If you would like to learn more about the Net Price Calculator, the cost of a college education, or anything else, contact us.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The University of Dallas

Established in 1956, the University of Dallas (UD) is a private, independent Catholic university located in Irving, Texas. This 1000 acre campus is home to nearly 1400 undergraduates.

The Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business

Located 10 miles northwest of downtown Dallas, the college of business offers many unique opportunities. A new Orange Line DART station was recently built, allowing students public transportation access into Texas' largest city. This affords students the opportunity to network and intern at many leading Dallas companies. A recent $12 million donation will allow the building of SB Hall, a state of the art business building, to house the AACSB Accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business.

Core Curriculum

In their underclassman years, every UD student enroll in the same 60 credit hours of coursework. These core courses begin with Ancient Greece and Rome, progressing into the thoughts and traditions that built Western culture. The foundation of this curriculum is the Great Books program. Students read and dissect texts that were written by the most influential scholars of history, "from Homer and Virgil, to John Milton and Rene Descartes." This core curriculum exposes students to a common body of knowledge, allowing professors to teach course across the curriculum. This reading and writing intensive core is equivalent to an Honors College at most schools. After a student completes these required courses, they may declare their major.

 Faith Based Campus

83% of students on campus identify as Roman Catholic. Non-Catholics are welcomed and included in the spirituality of campus. The Campus Ministry Department will help students seek out services at churches of their respective denominations. Even though there is a strong spiritual feel on campus, there is no required chapel services or hours as with many religious colleges. The idea of religion and trust is prevalent on campus. During my visit, this included leaving book bags, iPhones and tablets unattended in numerous locations, from outside the church, coffee shop and random hallways.

Roman Experience

In 1970, UD began the tradition of students studying abroad for a semester in Rome. The thought behind sending students (usually sophomores) was to provide them the opportunity to study the Great Books straight at the source, Rome. Included in this unique experience are trips to Greece and Northern Italy. The highlight travel experience is the 10 day break in which students are encourage to explore Europe and/or Asia on their own. This Roman experience has grown the UD study abroad program into a top collegiate program. In 1994, UD remodeled their Italian campus and dedicated it as the Eugene Constantin Rome Campus.

To learn more about the University of Dallas, their unique study abroad program or other colleges, contact us.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Marietta College

Marietta College, is a picturesque campus located in southeastern Ohio at the mouth of the Muskingum River. This liberal arts college is home to nearly 1500 undergraduates. It is a regionally based college (50% from Ohio, another 25% from Pennsylvania and West Virginia) that is often overlooked for its strong, nationally based programs.

Marietta, Ohio

This Rockwellian town of 14,000 was once on the short list to become the first capital of the United States. In 1788, this first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory, was located in the far western part of the infant country. Named after French queen, Marie Antoinette, Marietta has had its share of historic moments. The town was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Numerous buildings, including some on campus, can attest to secret rooms or passages for freed slaves. In the 20th century, co-founder of the Marietta based Pure Oil Company, Charles Dawes, served as the 30th Vice-President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge.

Petroleum Engineering

Drawing upon the 1860 discovery of oil in the area, Marietta College is one of only 24 colleges to offer this unique degree. Predominately offered at larger schools located in the oil rich areas of Texas and Oklahoma, this Midwest school offers a vast amount of petroleum in the Ohio Valley.

As the only engineering major on campus, students are still required to complete the full breadth of liberal arts courses. This program is the 10th largest in the nation and the only one at a liberal arts college. As the demand for petroleum engineers continues to rise, this field offers high entry level salaries and nearly 100% job placement for graduates (previous blog post).

All Scholars Day

While visiting this charming campus, I was not able to fully grasp student life as it was "All Scholars Day." On this day, classes are canceled in order to celebrate the knowledge seniors have acquired over their years on campus. Each senior presents their capstone project to a panel of professors, culminating their knowledge, depth and breadth of their educational experience at Marietta. This is not just a day for seniors, as nearly all undergraduate students attend multiple presentations to support and acquire ideas for their future endeavors.

Baseball Program

One of 18 varsity sports on campus, this nationally known Division III program has had an impact on Major League Baseball. The Pioneers have won six national DIII championships, including back-to-back in 2011-12, the first in over 30 years. The baseball team has had nine players drafted into MLB throughout its history, including relief specialist Kent Tukelve and former manager, Jim Tracy. Perhaps their most famous contribution to MLB is former student, Ban Johnson, founder of the American League and World Series.

If you would like to learn more about Marietta College, or others colleges, please contact us or leave a comment.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Blue Streaks of John Carroll University

John Carroll University is located about 20 minutes west of Cleveland, Ohio, in University Heights. This Jesuit university, named after the first archbishop of the Catholic Church in the United States, has over 3000 students. On a recent campus visit, this liberal arts university prides itself on offering the ‘iTunes generation’ a little bit of everything because not every student fits into a particular mold.

Boler School of Business

The most prestigious program on campus, the Boler School of Business is an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) institution. In addition, the Boler School maintains the independent Accountancy accreditation, placing the school in the same category as only 11% of all collegiate business programs in the United States.

Another unique aspect of the Boler School is their commitment to the core values of Jesuit education: leadership and service. There are four Centers for Professional Development available to students. Students can choose from expanding their interest of entrepreneurship, developing leadership skills, corporate social responsibility internship programs and a lecture series featuring an area CEO.

Enrollment Managers

John Carroll University provides families with the experience of working with an Enrollment Manager. Unique to JCU, this means families will speak with one person regarding enrollment, scholarship opportunities and financial aid throughout the college process. This one stop approach omits many miscommunications between offices while providing families with timely and proper responses to questions or concerns. This unique concept helps the family and the school develop a relationship with JCU, even prior to the students arrival on campus.

Liberal Arts Core Curriculum

In the fall of 2015, JCU will introduce their new liberal arts core curriculum. This new academic strategy  lowers the core curriculum requirements from 54 to 42 credit hours. This does not mean less coursework for students, but the opportunity for professors to teach courses across the curriculum, while also potentially fulfilling graduation credits in a student’s major. This will also provide students the opportunity to expand their educational intellect through a true liberal arts educational experience. Though over 40% of JCU students either double major or minor, the goal is to increase the number of students double majoring or adding a minor by graduation, potentially increasing their value to future employers.

Jesuit Educational Values

John Carroll University was founded in 1886 by the Society of Jesuits on the concept of educating the student as a whole. The Jesuit Educational Values of intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical development are still evident at JCU. The college’s core value and mission emphasizes social justice and service to the community and the broader world. The school was founded on Jesuit and Roman Catholic beliefs, the campus welcomes people from all faiths.

If you would like to learn more about John Carroll University, or other colleges, please contact us or leave a comment.

Emerging College Application Trends

During the past few college application seasons, new trends have begun to emerge. Some of these trends are part of the evolution of the college application while others are simply gaining more popularity with colleges. It also seems that as one college amends their application, other comparable colleges oftentimes implement similar changes.

Self Reporting Grades

As paper applications are retired and applications are completed online, a few extra mouse clicks mean applying to multiples colleges (see Common Application below). To prevent an abundance of paperwork, colleges are allowing 'Self Reporting Grades.' Colleges empower students to report their academic grades. As students apply to an increased number of schools, the number of applications per school grows, creating less time to review applications. Allowing students to report their own grades creates a more efficient process for all involved. Of course, the student's honesty is expected as transcripts are eventually sent prior to final admission. Yet, schools have seen few circumstances of students falsifying grades.

Holistic Review

A Holistic Review is when an admissions office reviews a candidate's entire application to determine acceptance. Many factors are considered, such as: grades, standardized test schools, rigor of high school courses attempted, Advance Placement courses, extracurricular activities and leadership positions held.

An increasing number of colleges are turning to holistic review, especially smaller, more competitive schools, in order to hand pick an ideal freshmen class. This allows colleges to diversify their student body and ensure the needs of the school are met. This could mean anything from selecting conservative students on a liberal campus, admitting students from underrepresented states to a sousaphone player for the band. This method controls the creation of the ideal freshmen class, while not restricting itself to standardized test scores and grades.

Common Application

One large reason colleges review applicants holistically is due to the Common Application. This application is used by 548 college and universities worldwide. Schools who agree to use this application agree to review a student holistically, not simply through academics.
Students complete a 'common' core of questions regarding their academic background, along with their extracurricular activities. Students will also upload documents such as letters of recommendation and transcripts. Lastly, applicants are expected to answer one of the five essay prompts. Once complete, students can submit an application to numerous colleges at once. Colleges may add additional questions, or even a supplemental essay to the application, ranging from one to seven questions. An increasing number of schools are using this application system, as it is growing in size (31 new schools added in 2014). For more information on the Common App, read this blog post.

Test Optional

As schools are moving to holistically reviewing student applications, an increasing number of colleges are moving away from 'gross' numbers by becoming test optional. This means, for various reasons, students may choose to report their standardized test results to the school. If a student chooses not to report their ACT or SAT scores, colleges have less information to review. This creates a stronger emphasis on information such as grade point average, rigorous course work outstanding extracurricular activities and a dynamic college essay to showcase the entire student's body of work.

If you are interested in any of these topics or have other questions, please leave a comment for discussion. If you would like to know more information regarding any of these points, please contact us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Fightin' Irish of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is one of three colleges located just outside of South Bend, Indiana. It boasts to being the most "National university in the United States," because students travel an average of 850 miles to attend. This top liberal arts college and research institution is home to nearly 8000 undergraduate students.

Roman Catholicism 

The geographically diverse campus is also proudly Roman Catholic, with 80% of all student self-identifying with Catholicism and 93% of a Christian faith. Founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1842, Notre Dame du Lac (French for "Our Lady of the Lake") has a multitude of religious statues, murals and aspects throughout campus. These include the eight story high The Word of Life mural on the Hesburgh Library ("Touchdown Jesus" for football fans) and famed Notre Dame Grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes. Though, being Catholic is not required for attendance, the university boasts the largest Campus Ministry office in the entire United States while celebrating over 100 Catholic masses a week in one of the 57 chapels throughout campus. For football fans, the Notre Dame Basilica celebrates mass a half hour after the end of each home football game.

Residence Hall Life

When fellow alums meet for the first time, the first question usually asked is, "what dorm did you live in?" Living in one of the 29 dorms on campus helps to create an identity for students, especially since Greek life is non-existent on campus. Students create their sense of dorm identity by competing in interdorm competitions (such as intramural sports), celebrate mass in their individual dorm chapel or participate student dorm government. The dorm culture is so strong that 80% of all undergraduate students live in dormitories all four years on campus.

Mendoza College of Business

One of the five colleges in the university, the Mendoza College of Business is ranked among the top five business schools of U.S. colleges by various sources, including #1 by Bloomsburg Businessweek for five consecutive years. Established in 1921, this prestigious college offers six undergraduate degrees and four graduate degree programs. Upon completing the unique First Year of Studies program, business majors enter the Mendoza College their sophomore year. Starting with the 2014 college application season, first year applicants will mark this college's preference as a course of study, thus being "pre-approved" for admission into Mendoza upon meeting first year studies requirements.

The School of Architecture

The School of Architecture was formed in 1899 and was the first Catholic university to award this degree in 1898. The smallest of the six colleges in the university, this five year program requires all juniors enroll in The Rome Studies Program. This 3rd year program provides students the opportunity to study sustainable architecture and urbanism while living in Rome, Italy. Upon return to campus, fourth and fifth year students will take their experiential learning and apply it to American city planning and eventually their individually chosen thesis project.

To learn more about the Fightin' Irish of Notre Dame or how to apply for admission to this highly selective college, contact us.

Monday, July 28, 2014

How Will You Apply to College?

Applying to college has changed dramatically the past 15 years. In addition to no longer using paper applications, colleges have created different application decisions and deadlines.  

Early Decision (ED)

Early Decision is a binding agreement between the student, parents, school counselor and college. The contract stipulates that if offered admission, the student will withdraw all other applications and accept admission into that school.

A student would apply ED to a college if they knew it was their absolute top choice, especially at a school in which they might not be the strongest applicant. The ED applicant pool is much smaller than the Regular Decision pool. This allows for students to be compared with a fewer number of applicants, as only ED applications are compared, thus increasing a student's chance of admission. It can hurt a student if the student does not stand out amongst other applicants.

Early Action (EA)

This application deadline allows students to apply earlier to a particular college/university, usually on the first of November. In return, colleges agree to act on their application earlier, by the end of the calendar year. This is a plus for students because they will learn earlier if they are accepted to college. If denied or deferred, this provides additional time to reassess their college applications. As with ED, schools only compare EA applications when admitting students. Colleges again, prefer the EA process because they are able to accept a particular amount of students which will many times increase the probability of students accepting admission.

Restrictive/Single Choice Early Action

This is a newer entry into the college application process, generally seen in a highly selective college. This application option will allow students to apply 'early' to one college. The difference between this option and ED is that there is no binding acceptance agreement. Students ethically agree not to apply ED or EA to other colleges, in hopes of an early acceptance from a highly selective college. Once a student receives notification, they are free to apply to other colleges.

Regular Decision (RD)

This is the standard option for a student application. Some schools will offer a 'rolling admissions' option in RD. This means that schools will notify students days or weeks upon receiving a completed application. Other schools will notify students in the applicant pool on one date later in the application process (around March or April 1st).

TIPS: Always remember to pay attention to deadlines. Students should also pay attention to all aspects of their application files to ensure they are complete, such as letters of recommendations, essay supplements, fees, etc... Missing a deadline or a component of your file might mean missing out on an opportunity to attend the school of your choice.

There are more pluses and minuses to the application processes, contact us to learn which option is best for you.

Explaining How to Use the Common App When Applying to College

The Common Application, also known as the Common App, is an undergraduate college admission application shared among 517 member colleges and universities in the United States and 6 foreign countries. About one-third of these member institutions use the Common App as their exclusive admission application. Founded in 1975, the Common App is currently in its 4th edition.

Online Exclusive Application

The Common Application has two versions: first-year admission and transfer admission. Each of these applications are available exclusively online, paper copies cannot be submitted to member schools. The first day to begin the application for the following fall is August 1st. The commonality of the application allows for all entered information to be submitted to selected schools electronically via the Common Application website. A student may also create separate versions of the application for individual schools if they wish. Once the application is transmitted to a college online, it cannot be changed for that college. If the student would like to edit the application after submission, they must contact the college directly. The Common Application also allows the student to submit and track other components of their application such as supplements, payments, and school forms.

Holistic Review

The mission of this not-for-profit organization is to encourage member schools to create a 'holistic selection process' for student admission. This means a student is judged subjectively by each prospective school using such factors as essays, letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities along with objective factors such as class rank, standardized test scores and Grade Point Average (GPA). The Common App believe this holistic review allows for schools to promote equity and integrity in the college admission process. Only schools who accept the holistic admission criteria (not solely objective factors) are accepted into membership.

Essay Prompts

There are five essay prompts on the Common Application in which a student has the flexibility to choose to answer one. Five new questions were created for the 4th edition which began for the 2013-14 admission year. Along with new questions, the length of the essay remained at the 250 word minimum, but increased from 500 to a 650 maximum word limit. The essay prompts are the main aspect of the application. The student should allow the admission office to learn about their: values, uniqueness and creativity. The student should also be creative, reflective, expressive and honest about themselves, while portraying their writing and critical thinking skills.

Supplement Questions

Many member institutions require a 'Common App Supplement.' These are additional question(s) that are asked in order to complement a student's application. Many times, colleges will ask specific questions regarding the school or programs they have to offer. There are only two restrictions for a supplement question: that it does not re-ask questions already answered and that it does not violate the National Association for College Admissions Counselors Statement of Principles and Good Practice.

If you would like more advice or tips on the Common Application, contact us.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Create a Dynamic Resume for College

Summer is almost here, but that should not mean that it is time for a high school student to rest. Rather, it should mean the student should work on activities that have been low on their priority list during the busy school year. One of these items should be to create or edit their high school resume. Here are some suggestions on what a student should have on their resume.


If your student has not already done so, they should get involved. Every school has a plethora of sports, clubs and activities. If students are unsure about a club's activities, they should seek out the sponsor or attend a meeting. Remember, students are not obligated to attend the next meeting. Colleges seek students who actively participate in a variety of activities. Joining a school activity can help students expand their circle of friends, establish a college resume and perhaps even find their passion.

Leadership Positions

Colleges do not want to see a plethora of activities on a student's resume, but rather a few in which they are deeply and passionately involved. Perhaps a student can show off their leadership qualities by becoming the captain of their athletic team. This does not mean they have to be the best player on the team, but the hardest working player or the motivator. Perhaps they can work hard in an attempt to become first chair in their section in band, or take on roles of their club/student council with their eyes on the club presidency. Colleges want dynamic students on their campus who can succeed when being challenged.

Rigorous Coursework

Over the years I have had conversations with numerous college admissions representatives (or the same people that read your student's college application). One of most important factors colleges use to evaluate an applicant’s admissions are their high school transcripts. Each representative examines the high school transcripts to assess how much a student has challenged themselves. They especially look for Honors or Advanced Placement level coursework. Admissions representatives understand that these elite courses are not for every student, nor do they want to see poor marks on the transcripts. The suggestion was given for a high school student to enroll in the hardest courses that will challenge themselves, while experiencing success.


"If my high school student does not get involved at school, they will NEVER get into college!" It is true colleges want students involved, but perhaps school activities are not of interest to the student. Yet, students still need to be involved in something other than the 'Couch Potato Club.' Perhaps they can seek employment in a field of potential college major/career interest. This will provide invaluable experience in the field, while being exposed to everyday tasks. If a job is not available at a particular company, perhaps there are summer internship opportunities or even a job shadow program. This will also help a student to build communication skills and high school resume, while exposing them to the concept of networking with potential employers.

Do you have other ideas on what a high school student can do to create a dynamic college resume? Leave a comment and let us know.  Need help with your high school student in the college selection or application process, Contact Us.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Decoding the Financial Aid Letter

As the May 1st deadline approaches for students to inform colleges of their intent to enroll, it is the perfect time to decode the financial aid letter. Listed below are four types of 'awards' found on a typical financial aid letter.

1. Scholarships

A scholarship is an award based upon student merit, meaning, students have accomplished something exceptional. This is on their high school academic record or their standardized test score (ACT, SAT, etc...). Other types of scholarships are based upon a student's unique talent, such as their athletic performance or musical ability. Scholarships are awarded for various lengths (first year only, renewable for four years, etc...). Make sure you investigate their stipulations. No matter the length, scholarships do not need to be repaid to the school.

2. Grants

These are similar to scholarships as they do not need to be repaid, but they are based upon 'need.' These can from the institution in which you were accepted or from the federal government. There are 3 common federal grants:

  • Federal Pell Grant: Up to $5,500 awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. 
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: In addition to the Pell Grant, this award is up to $4,000 for families that demonstrate exceptional financial need. 
  • TEACH Grant: Up to $4,000 is provided to students who take coursework in education. Students then agree to complete four years serving children in low-income communities. 

3. Federal Work-Study

This program is designed for students to earn the awarded amount in an on or off campus job. There are ample campus jobs reserved for federal work-study students. Students cannot earn in excess of the amount offered on the award letter. Most common positions are working in the admissions office, school cafeteria or recreation center.

4. Loans

Many time, in the financial award letter, schools will package in loans to help defray the remaining cost of attendance. The four type of main loans are:

  • Direct Subsidized Loan: These are the first loans awarded based upon financial need. They are given for a 10 year repayment period and accruing interest is paid by the Department of Education (DOE) until 6 months after a student leaves school. The loan limit is $3,500 to $5,500, depending upon the year in school.
  • Federal Perkins Loan: These loans are in addition to the above loan, if the government deems there is still financial need. The interest rate is slightly higher, but again, interest is paid by the DOE provided a student is in school. The loan limit is up to $5,500 for undergraduate students.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan: These loans are not based upon financial need. The borrower is responsible for all interest. The amount awarded is based upon grade level and dependency status. 
  • Direct PLUS Loan: This loan is for a student's parents or guardians. It is not based upon need and the borrower assumes all interest. The interest rate is slightly higher, but generally it will be lower than an outside private (or bank) loan. The maximum amount borrowed is the cost of attendance, minus any financial aid received. 

Remember, when comparing financial aid award letters, do not compare the amount the school is awarding the student. Compare the financial commitment of the family between schools and the amount of loans the family will have to repay.

If you have questions regarding your family's financial aid award letter or how to prepare for the rising cost of college, contact us.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The 5 Cards of a College Experience

Otterbein University is known as a college of opportunity since its founding in 1847. This progressive university takes pride in the fact that the first two graduates of this Westerville, Ohio campus were women. Located 15 minutes from Columbus, the 2400 undergraduates have access to  internships, job opportunities and student activities. Although a suburban campus, Otterbein offers students a quintessential small college experience.

Equestrian Program

The Austin E. Knowlton Center for Equine Science, a $5 million equine facility makes Otterbein a leader in the equestrian field. This state-of-the-art facility allows up to 60 student to board and use their horses in the indoor riding stable. This impressive complex has not only enhanced their equestrian program, but provides students the opportunity to study unique majors such as Equine Preveterinary Medicine and Equine Business Management.

The Equine Pre-Veterinary Medicine program prepares students for graduate school programs and colleges of veterinary medicine. Included in the program are multiple internship opportunities, along with employment at Otterbein's own equine facility.

The Equine Business Management Program offers students the opportunity to learn about careers in the equine world. Such careers in the equine field using this degree might be: manager of an equine facility, an equine insurance adjusters and breeding farm administrator.

Theatre Program

Otterbein Theatre and Dance department is nationally renowned. The program attracts students from across the nation. Amongst the thousands of applicants each year, the department invites approximately 400 students to a live audition. This competitive department accepts only 4 males and 4 females to earn a BFA in the acting and musical theatre program. A limited number of students will also be accepted into the BFA Design &Technology program. Students can also choose to earn a BA in Theatre, which offers more flexibility as students can study more than one area of theatre.

Shared Government

Since 1920, administrators at Otterbein administrators believe that the running of the school should involve the students. The board of trustees has an elected student representative that maintains equal  voting rights on every matter of the school. This is something truly unique amongst college hierarchies.

Five Card Experience

Every Otterbein Cardinal is guaranteed the following experiences while at school.:

  1. Participation in undergrad research 
  2. Involvement in community engagement. 
  3. Contribution in a global engagement and/or an intercultural experience. Many OU students will take advantage of studying abroad at one of the 30 partner universities. 
  4. Internships and Professional Experience. Located 15 minutes outside of the state capital, finding a place to hone your skills while an undergrad is not difficult. OU prides itself on their student internship assistance program on campus.
  5. Leadership and citizenship. These experiences combined will allow Otterbein students to leave school with an experiential transcripts proclaiming what they were able to participate in, while attending school. 

These five guarantees allow students the experience and training for jobs to be created in an ever changing world. With a strong liberal arts core curriculum, Otterbein graduates are well rounded and well prepared for life after Otterbein.

If you would like to know more about Otterbein University, or other colleges, contact us.

Friday, April 4, 2014

UBP '14

The Annual Ultimate Blog Party is here!

Frog Fountains at Texas Christian University (TCU)
Welcome to In and Around the Quad, an ongoing discussion created by Thomas J. Jaworski, founder and lead consultant of Quest College Consulting. In this blog, I will help guide families through the college admissions process. Did you know:

  • For the 2012-13 academic year, 151 colleges charged annual tuition, fees, room and board totaling more than $50,000, according to College Board? 
  • There are over 500 Common Application members in 46 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, and Switzerland?
  • As of January 1st, you can begin and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) without having finished your 2013 Federal Income Taxes?
  • Even though many colleges and universities are changing to Score Choice, SuperScore and/or becoming test optional, your ACT/SAT score should align closer with the median 75% than the median 25% when comparing your admission prospects for a particular school?  

Would you like to learn more about the college process or understand the above statements? Come back weekly as I will post advice, strategy, tips, news and notes from around the college world.

Feel free to contact us with specific questions, subscribe to our E-Newsletter or take our College Finder Quiz.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Unfamiliar Universities in the NCAA Tournament

This past weekend, the names of 68 colleges were discussed during the opening rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. We decided to provide some background information on a few schools that might be unfamiliar to college bound high school families.

Mercer University

The Bears of Mercer University were the talk of the nation on Friday afternoon after upsetting Duke. Mercer is home to nearly 4,500 undergraduate students. This Macon, Georgia school was founded in 1833 with an endowment from Baptist leader, Jesse Mercer. Today this secular school, which started with just 39 students has 3 campuses. The main campus located in Macon, a Savannah campus that houses the School of Medicine and graduate/professional education campus in Atlanta. The Princeton Review consistently ranks it in the top 10% of all colleges and universities in North America, stating in 2014 that "Mercer's exceptional reputation springs from its sound academic programs, excellent faculty, and modern facilities."

University of Dayton

Upsets of both Ohio State and Syracuse propelled the Flyers of the University of Dayton into the Sweet 16. UD, a private, research university located in Dayton, Ohio, was founded in 1850 by priests and brothers in the tradition of the Society of Mary and is one of three Marianist universities in the U.S. Located 69 miles from the state's capital (and Ohio State) in Columbus, UD was originally home to 14 boys and called St. Mary School for Boys. It now has over 8,000 undergraduate students on 388 acres along the shores of the Great Miami River. The University of Dayton ranks 115th on the 2013 U.S. News & World Report’s list of “National Universities while Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review ranked Dayton’s undergraduate program in entrepreneurship 18th in the nation.

Stephen F. Austin University

As a number 12 seed, Stephen F. Austin University shocked Virginia Commonwealth University in overtime to advance to the third round. Named after 'the Father of Texas', this Nacogdoches, Texas school was established in 1921 as a teachers college. Today, nearly 13,000 students reside on part of the homestead of another founding Texas father, Thomas Jefferson Rusk. It is one of four public universities in Texas that is independent of the University of Texas system.  In 2011, SFAU was ranked 71st in the Best Colleges in the West Region by U.S. News & World Report.

Creighton University

National Division I scoring leader, and the coach's son, Doug McDermott, helped propel Creighton University into the national lexicon during the men's college basketball season. Creighton University is a private, research university located just outside the downtown business district in Omaha, Nebraska. Its 132 acre campus is home to over 4,100 undergraduate students, with nearly fifty percent traveling over 400 miles to attend Creighton. The school was founded in 1878 as a gift to honor prominent Omaha businessman Edward Creighton. Today the school is affiliated with the religious order Society of Jesus and is governed by the Jesuit core values of pursuing justice, striving for excellence and service to others.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

4 (More) College Degrees for Post Graduation Employment

A few blog posts back, we wrote about some of the hottest college majors. Due to the favorable response, we decided to write about four more educational opportunities for post graduation employment.

Actuarial Science

Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. Data science draws from the fields of mathematics, statistics, and computer science to assess the risk that an event will occur. They help businesses, such as the insurance industry and develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk.

With the volume of computerized data rapidly growing, the Department of Labor project actuary jobs to grow 26 percent in the next ten years. Actuaries will be needed to develop, price, and evaluate a variety of insurance products and calculate the costs of new risks.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are often an important part of rehabilitation and treatment of patients with chronic conditions or injuries. Demand for physical therapy services will come from the aging baby boomer population and their need for more medical care. In addition, physical therapists will be needed to treat people with mobility issues stemming from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or obesity.

The college curriculum has recently changed in this field. Students now need to obtain a Master's Degree in Physical Therapy, while also being licensed by their state, in order to be able to work in the field. Many colleges have six-year direct admissions programs, where students combine their undergrad and graduate work.

Colleges are facing large amounts of applications for their programs due to the projected growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 36 percent increase in this field over the next ten years.

Sustainable Development 

With the explosion of green technology, organic products and the concept of sustainability grows in popularity, many students are turning their passion into a Sustainable Development degree.

Students studying this field have described coursework to be similar to environmental science but with more business and economic courses. Students learn that sustainability is attending to and combining the "Three Es:" environment, economy, and (social) equity. Sustainable Development programs work to achieve this by integrating academics with community engagement and outreach.

Students with this degree can have a variety of job opportunities awaiting them. Some of those possibilities are Construction Project Manager, Sustainability Analyst, Sustainable Design Professional, Energy Efficiency Analyst and Operations Manager.

Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting crude oil and natural gas from deposits below the earth’s surface, while also developing new techniques to extract oil and gas from existing reservoirs.

There are only 22 universities in which a student can choose to study petroleum engineering. But if they so choose to attend one of these universities, students can expect to study mathematics, chemistry, geology and physics. Students will receive education to use advanced computer systems to oversee automated drilling operations, as well as analysis of reservoir behavior.

According to the Department of Labor, employment of petroleum engineers is projected to grow 26 percent the next ten year. Oil prices will be a major determinant of employment growth, as higher prices lead to increasing complexity of oil companies’ operations. This leads to the need for more engineers for each drilling operation. The entry salary for a Petroleum Engineer is near $85,000 and has the highest median pay of all college graduates according to USA Today.

To learn which schools offer these majors or to learn of other popular majors, contact us!

Are you aware of other college majors that represent particularly timely opportunities for students? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or comment on Twitter or Google+.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

4 College Degrees for Employment

As the business world changes and becomes more global, colleges have to be on the forefront of the most innovated trends. Graduates need to be equipped with the skills necessary for the current work environment. Here are some of the hottest majors.

Supply Chain Management

Students who major in this field learn how to organize a network of interconnected businesses which help move products from supplier to consumer. They help manage the entire life cycle of a product, from procurement of raw materials, to allocation of product, creation, distribution then delivery of finished product. The concept is to have the entire process run efficiently, effectively while reducing cost along the cycle.

The most common positions for supply chain management majors are Logistician (analyzing and coordinating a company's supply chain), Supply Chain Analyst (improving a company's supply chain) and Transportation Manager (oversees a company's transportation costs of goods).

This field is rapidly growing and expanding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics this field is projected to grow 22 percent over the next ten years.

Hospitality and Tourism Management

The hospitality industry is large and ever growing field. A student who majors in this diverse and dynamic field has an opportunity to work everywhere from restaurants, resorts, cruise lines, casinos and professional sporting arenas. Students who study these courses are educated in coordinating all aspects of professional meetings, events and conventions. This includes choosing locations, arranging transportation and everything in between.

As globalization increases and businesses continue to recognize the value of professionally planned meetings. According to the Department of Labor, this field is rapidly expanding and is projected to grow 33% over the next ten years.

Forensic Science

With the rise of technology to help prevent and investigate crimes, many law enforcement agencies are turning to specialists with this particular degree. In addition, television shows such as NCIS, Bones, Without A Trace and Cold Case Files have risen to popularize majoring in Forensic Science.

A student studying forensic science will learn how to operate and use new, sophisticated technology to collect and analyze physical evidence. Be aware though, students of this discipline should expect not only a plethora of math and science courses, but need to possess the ability to write well. Technicians spend a bulk of their time generating written reports.

Even though this major is popular, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs will grow only 6 percent over the next ten years, or slower than other occupations because of the popularity of this field.

Biomedical Engineering

The fields of medicine and engineering have combined to create this popular major. Biomedical Engineering (BME) is the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes.

Students in this field learn how to improve the quality and effectiveness of patient medical care. Examples of this would be developing biocompatible prostheses, working on regenerative tissue growth and improving imaging equipment such as MRI and EEG machine.

According to the Department of Labor, graduates of these programs will see a growing job market as the biomedical engineering field is estimated to see a 27% growth rate in the next 10 years due to the aging population and their need for more medical care.

To learn which schools offer these majors or to learn of other popular majors, contact us!

Are you aware of other college majors that represent particularly timely opportunities for students? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or comment on Twitter or Google+.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sic 'Em...Bears!

Baylor University is the leading private Christian school of higher education. It was founded in 1845 in Independence with a $5,000 donation from Texas revolutionary Sam Houston, in what was the newly independent country of the Republic of Texas. In 1886, the school founded by the Union Baptist Association, combined with Waco University, relocating the campus to its current location along the banks of the Brazos River. The oldest continually operating university in Texas boosts an undergraduate student body of over 13,000 students.


During the 1846 school year, the founders of Baylor decided that chapel service should be included as part of the educational experience at Baylor. This tradition has progressed to its current form of two required chapel courses to go along with twice weekly chapel service. Students must attend at least three-fourths of the chapel services a semester. One meeting is for guest speakers to present on a variety of topics, while the other meeting is a worship service.

Baylor Line

This tradition, started in 1970 as a way to integrate freshmen into the core of Baylor spirit and tradition, begins at "Line Camp." Summer camp prepares every new Baylor student for the Baylor Line and home football games. Here, students will wear a special "Line Jersey" with individual nickname and year of graduation on the back. Freshmen arrive prior to game time to 'rush the field' and assemble into a tunnel to welcome the players and coaches onto the field. The tunnel then disbands to take their seats behind the opponent's bench. They will stand and cheer until they sing That Good Old Baylor Line after the game is complete.

Baylor Science Building (BSB)

In 2004, Baylor officially opened a $103 million dollar, state of the art building with 31 acoustically designed lecture halls and classrooms. Though there are few classrooms, there are over 200 teaching and research laboratories to foster a hands on learning experience among students and faculty. This unique concept was also designed to promote multidisciplinary teaching and research stimulated by the science department.

Joy and Lady

Judge Joy and Judge Lady are perhaps the two most famous residents of this Waco campus. They reside not in dorm rooms, but rather in the Bill and Evan Williams Bear Habitat. Yes, they are two adult American Black Bears that live in a natural habitat enclosure. The tradition of a live bear on campus dates back to World War I when 'Ted' was gifted by the 107th Engineer Battalion stationed at Camp MacArthur. Since 1974, each bear has been named Judge to honor a former mascot then a second name to honor of a wife of a former university president. The bears were part of the spirit of athletic contests until 2010 when a federal code was established to regulate the safety of the animals and public. Click here to view more photos of Joy and Lady.

To learn more about this leading Christian university, or about any possible school that would fit your academic, social and financial needs, contact us.

Friday, February 21, 2014

What Does a Horned Frog and College Have in Common?

The horned frog is the official state reptile of Texas while also serving as the mascot for all Texas Christian University (TCU) athletic teams. The term derives from the popular name for a lizard that has a frog-like body and snout. The nickname was selected by the TCU student body in 1897 when the school was located in Waco, Texas. Originally founded as AddRan Christian University in 1873, the 8,500 plus undergraduates of TCU are known for other things besides the horned frog mascot.


When arriving on TCU's 325 acre campus in Fort Worth, Texas, the first thing one will notice are the numerous construction projects. According to the school's website, the school has spent nearly $500 million in renovations in the past five years. The school will build one new dorm building for the next ten years and there are currently seven ongoing 'major projects.' The campus has changed drastically too in the last 10 years. The school's website boasts that TCU is 'not the place your parents went to.'


The student body and faculty are extremely proud of the purple and white of TCU. Ten years ago, students migrated off campus to live and socialize. With campus renovations, there is a large demand for upperclassman to remain on campus. This rekindled school spirit is easily noticeable as students and faculty walk around in purple, white and black to make for a warm and friendly campus environment. As I took the campus tour, then continuing to explore on my own, I failed to find an article of college clothing that was not TCU.


This newly renamed college honors CBS news journalist Bob Schieffer (TCU Class of '59), offers courses in Journalism and Strategic Communication. The nationally recognized School of Journalism is one of the oldest in the nation, started in 1927. The TCU Daily Skiff, the student newspaper, has been published continuously since 1902. The college boasts a state of the art news room (Convergence Center), TCU 360 and 24/7 online news center both used to train students as professional reporters while preparing them for all future forms of journalism.

It was announced recently that the CBS Evening News will broadcast live on the TCU Campus.


Housed in this college are the schools of Music, Art, Dance (classical and contemporary), Theatre, and Interior Design & Merchandising. The school is nationally renowned in many areas, including the 2012 national champion drum line. Perhaps the hidden gem at TCU, the College of Fine Arts is often overshadowed in the press by the School of Communications and even athletics. The College of Fine Arts boasts working relationships with many of the major cultural events of the 5th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. Along with these opportunities, the arts programs offers numerous learning possibilities in numerous European nations.

If you would like to know more about Texas Christian University, or other colleges, contact us.

Friday, January 24, 2014

2014 FAFSA Myths

In our last post we discussed the 2014-15 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Topics that were highlighted:

  • An overview of the FAFSA
  • How to properly complete the FAFSA 
  • Information needed for the FAFSA
  • Tips to accurately complete the FAFSA

This week, In and Around the Quad will demystify the FAFSA.

MYTH #1: I need to file my taxes before submitting the FAFSA. 
•     False. A family can submit their FAFSA by providing a reasonable estimate of their 2013 income taxes. The United States Department of Education works with the Internal Revenue Service to help connect a family's FAFSA information with their tax return once submitted. The sooner the FAFSA is submitted, the earlier the financial aid packages will be sent by schools.  

MYTH #2: Families that make too much money should not fill out a FAFSA.
•     False. There is no income ceiling to prevent a family from qualifying for federal student aid. There are several factors that go into the financial aid report besides money. Information such as size of family and the number of children in college concurrently. According to Sallie Mae, the typical family earning more than $100,000 received $5,451 in grants and scholarships during the 2012 academic year. Also, the FAFSA is only for federal student aid. Colleges can and will give out their own aid, but will need the FAFSA completed in order to make their decision. The FAFSA is simply a starting point.

MYTH #3: Colleges only look at what is stated on the FAFSA, though my situation has changed.
•     False. The Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is only a government recommendation. Parents are encouraged to contact the financial aid office at each college to appeal their financial aid package. This office can make adjustments if there have been changes to a family's income or assets. Examples of items that may not show up on the FAFSA; loss of a job, using savings to start a new business, medical bills and/or having another child.

MYTH #4: If both parents are divorced and remarried, all of the parents' information must be entered on the FAFSA.
•     False. The information that should be entered on the FAFSA is that of the parent the student has lived with more than 50% of the time within the last 12 months. In addition, that step-parent's financial information MUST be included along with the student's tax information, if they filed an income tax. Unfortunately, the student cannot choose to enter the information of the parent/step-parent that makes the least amount of money to secure a lower EFC.

As you can see, all of the myths were false. Do not believe everything you hear. If you need correct
answers to other college financial aid myths or perhaps have other college admission questions, please Contact Us.

Make sure to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for tips and advice.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2014-15 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

January 1st was a very important date. Not only did it signal a new year, but it was the date the 2014-15 FAFSA was released. What is the FAFSA? It is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a form produced by the United States Department of Education that determines a family's Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

The FAFSA is a 103 question form used to determine a family's EFC for college. Financial information is imputed into a formula developed by the United States Department of Education to determine the EFC. The EFC is then forwarded to up to ten designated colleges to individually determine a student's financial aid package.

The form can be accessed online ( starting January 1st of each year and is submitted electronically. A family can opt to print a copy and send it via the mail, but this will delay the process by 2-4 weeks. The sooner the FAFSA is filled out, the quicker the information can be received by each college. The longer a family waits to submit their FAFSA can lead to a college having less financial resources to award to a family. 

To fill out the FAFSA, families will use their previous year's IRS Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ  (whichever Federal Income Tax Return Form that was used) both for the parent(s) and the student. Many of the questions ask about specific 'lines' on the tax form, such as adjusted gross income and balance of cash (savings and checking account). Other questions ask about a family's net worth (trust funds, stocks, bonds, certificate of deposits, etc...) and the number of children that will be attending college concurrently.

Complete whichever IRS Form 1040 as soon as possible. A parent can estimate their earnings when filling out the FAFSA, but they will need to later adjust and provide accurate figures. The sooner taxes are filed, the quicker an actual EFC will be calculated. The student will then be closer to the front of the line to receive each college's maximum financial aid award. Make sure not to rush when you are filling out the form. There are an average of 10 errors estimated per form. Remember, the form is free. One should not pay to access a FAFSA website.

In addition, keep as many assets out of the student's name as possible. Student earnings are weighted more heavily than parental money (nearly 20 cents to the dollar). Why is this? The logic is that a student has earned money and has saved over the years for college. Though that might not be the case, make sure to legally change the location of your high school student's assets by their 2nd semester of junior year or 1st semester of senior year (the FAFSA uses the previous year's tax returns, not the year they begin attending college). A FAFSA must be submitted each year a student is looking for financial aid; from the first year in college, until the last year of their doctoral program.