By Deb Coco, College Admissions Coach
It’s the time of year when many of us have made and are trying to keep New Year’s resolutions. At The College Advisor of New York, rather than looking forward, we are looking back over the last admission season for the trends that affect the families working with us. The following three trends have emerged, and we believe parents and students who understand them will be more successful in navigating the college admissions process.
Like any other business, college admissions is affected by the economy. We might not want to believe that profit is part of the formula when it comes to higher education, but a school’s bottom line is a huge factor in the admission process. What does this mean for the applicant? For starters, it means that more than a student’s academic prowess and abilities are being scrutinized, despite college admissions officers professing to be “need blind” in the process. The truth is that there are very few need blind colleges in the U.S. Schools work to “shape” their admitted pool, in part, based on finances. They seek to ascertain how many – and which – families will pay in full, and how many will receive assistance by either scholarship or aid. The total cost of college tuition, room and board continues its ascent; at the end of this decade we now have a handful of schools that have reached the $80,000 a year mark – yes, you read that right. If your child selects one of these schools, four years would exceed $325,000, once you’ve added in expenses, travel, books etc.
For this reason, one of the most valuable components to our process is our financial aid guidance. Our families are evaluated as soon as they begin working with us. We then create a customized plan based on your unique financial situation and ability to pay. It’s crucial to know how colleges will assess your ability to pay, and there is more to it than your child’s grades and test scores.
In that respect, if you have worked with one of our admissions coaches you understand the term “Demonstrated Interest” all too well. This is because over the past five years we’ve seen a huge rise in the importance of students proving their commitment to the schools to which they plan to apply. Demonstrated Interest is tracked by most colleges and they take it very seriously. What does that mean? When a student visits a school, they need to begin the process of expressing interest. Register for a tour on the website so admissions officials know you took the time to visit. Should your child want to apply, they need to follow that school on Instagram, Twitter, or the social media platform of their choice. These are just a couple of examples of how students need to prove their interest. We teach our clients the other aspects of Demonstrated Interest. It goes back to the business model mentioned above. Because yields have decreased markedly, schools are more likely to accept a student who has demonstrated an interest in attending; they want to offer an admission slot to a “sure bet.” It is one of the simplest things a student can do, but one that has proven results.
Finally, there are college essays. Like Demonstrated Interest, we’ve watched this soft factor go from standing on the sidelines of the admissions process, to being one of the most important components. If you work with us, your student won’t be left wondering what to write about, and they’ll have it completed before the beginning of their senior year — we take it very seriously. Do colleges read essays? Most definitely. And they look for very specific elements, which are different than many families expect. But our students also write some of the best essays out there, because we know what schools want, and more importantly, what they do not want.
The process of applying to college is overwhelming. It can be emotional and exhausting (not to mention expensive). We are here to navigate it with you, and each year we tweak our approach based on industry trends, so as to put our families in the best possible position. We are now in a new decade that will bring with it even greater challenges and complexities as colleges compete for applicants, and the process becomes even more competitive. Let us help you. Please contact us to schedule a consultation by clicking Here!