SEPTEMBER 15, 2013
DECISION DAY TIME LINE FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS [ Page 10 ]
Tekeia Howard, left, associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Xavier University, conducts a peer mentor training program the day before freshmen arrived on campus this fall. How well an institution prepares incoming students for college life contributes to high retention rates, experts say. PHOTO BY MARTY WHITACRE FOR THE ENQUIRER
Hey, freshman: You’re not alone after all Peer mentors ease transition to college life By Jeff Wallner Enquirer contributor
In 2012, national retention rates for first-year college freshmen was 70.4 percent, according to ACT.org. Family and financial issues are
among the many reasons why a student might not return for his or her sophomore year. But how good a job the institution does in preparing incoming students can be a factor as well. Many colleges are taking this fact to heart by offering a variety of freshmen mentoring programs to help ease the transition into college life.
“No matter if you are at Ohio State with 50,000 students or a smaller school like Xavier, there are going to be social adjustment issues,” says Molly Dugan, assistant director of student involvement at Xavier. “Students are fending for themselves for the first time. There are little things like, ‘I’ve never done my own laundry,’ to larger financial issues.” Xavier welcomed the largest
freshman class in school history this year, and each of the more than 1,300 students is required to register for Manresa, a five-day new-student orientation program designed to help XU freshmen connect with classmates, upperclassmen and the campus community. “It’s our first line of defense,” Dugan said. See PEER, Page S2
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Antonelli College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). The Associate Degree programs are Occupational in nature. Antonelli College Cincinnati is approved by the State Board of Career Colleges and Schools # 90-03-1270-T. Antonelli College West Chester is recognized by the Accrediting Commissions of Career Schools and Colleges as a satellite location of Antonelli College Cincinnati. Provisional Authorization through Ohio Board of Regents. For more information on our graduation rates, the median loan debt of graduates, and other important information, please go to www.antonellicollege.edu/disclosure
S2 SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 /// THE ENQUIRER
Manufacturing jobs shift from hands-on to high-tech, offer diverse career paths By Val Prevish Enquirer contributor
Garrett Schwein of Cincinnati programs a milling machine at Moss Vale in Fairfield. Schwein earned an associate’s degree in Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology at Cincinnati State in July and co-oped at Moss Vale for two terms prior to being offered a full-time position. PHOTO BY MARTY WHITACRE FOR THE ENQUIRER
Science and technology careers get a lot of press lately as the path to ensure a promising future, and manufacturing and industrial engineering rank right up there at the top of this list, say education experts, because these professionals are highly sought after in the workforce. “There is still a stereotype that there are no jobs in manufacturing,” says Doug Bowling, dean of the Center for Innovative Technology at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. “But there are lots of opportunities. This area is a hotbed for manufacturing.” Bowling says another stereotype that has lingered is that of the factory as a dirty place where harsh conditions appeal only to the hardiest of individuals. This outdated image couldn’t be more wrong, he says. “These jobs have shifted from a hands-on type of work to highly technical,” he says. Factories today are usually spotless environments with complex equipment that demands advanced skills to operate, and the jobs market reflects this trend. Graduates from Cincinnati State’s two-year Innovative Technologies program go off to work in careers such as engineering technologist, electronics technician, biomedical engineering technologist, factory supervisor, industrial consultant, research technologist, industrial designer and many more. They can also continue their studies at a university to attain a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering. One area that is especially fastgrowing is the field of biomedical technology, says Sue Dolan, cooperative education coordinator at Cincinnati State. “These careers have been in demand for years, but the demand is increasing,” she says. Cincinnati State’s program has grown roughly 5 percent per year and shows no signs of slowing down. Students are often hired by the clin-
ical engineering departments in local hospitals or other health care centers where they co-op, working on high-tech hospital equipment such as Medical Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines, sonogram imaging machines, X-ray and others. Pay usually starts at about the mid-$40,000 range, adds Dolan. “It’s an extremely versatile degree,” says Dolan. “They are qualified to work in any electronics technician job. The opportunities in this field are excellent,” she says. At Cincinnati State’s Evendale campus, more than 1,600 students study industrial maintenance in the school’s Workforce Development Center, nearly 100 of them veterans learning job skills, says Dennis Ulrich, vice president of the center. “The skill sets required now (in industrial maintenance) are much more high-level,” says Ulrich. “We have great relationships with many local companies, so our students get hands-on experience at companies like GE Aviation, Ford and AK Steel. “For the last 18 months we’ve seen an explosion of jobs in the manufacturing sector. We’re seeing a 74 percent placement rate for our grads.” Augustus Morris, chairman of the Manufacturing Engineering Department at Central State University, says engineering grads at his school often receive multiple job offers before they graduate, including from companies such as Boeing and Caterpillar, where Central State students often intern. “With the state of Ohio emphasizing the growth of manufacturing, the demand will grow even greater,” he says. Morris also stressed the change in skill level in manufacturing jobs, and said students need to stay strong in math and science in order to take advantage of these new opportunities. “My personal view is the career opportunities are endless, but students need to get as much math and science training as possible,” he said. “Once you have those skills it allows to form your own destiny.” m
Peer mentor is the resident go-to person for first-year college students Continued from Page S1
This year, 56 groups of 24 students met three times a day to discuss a variety of social and academic topics. The students are assigned upperclassmen as mentors who often forge lasting relationships. “Small-group settings force interaction,” Dugan said. “We make sure that every one of our first-year students is in some form of peer mentoring program.” Manresa offers programs targeted to international students and those enrolled in the business school. One of its most successful initiatives is Smooth Transitions, a program for first-year students of color. Smooth Transitions, which doubled in size to 99 students this past year,
comprises a summer bridge program and year-long mentor program. Tekeia Howard, associate director of Xavier’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, says the first-year retention rate for Smooth Transitions participants is 97 percent, well above that of the total student population. “It’s important to understand who you are in this environment,” Howard said. “It’s about identity development. There’s a strong emphasis on understanding what it means to be in an academic environment.” Incoming freshmen at Northern Kentucky University attend Fresh Start, which offers seven presentations over three days, with discussions ranging from financial aid to social issues to tips on how to obtain parking passes.
Fresh Start, which costs $65, offers a two-day, one-night retreat for commuter students and plenty of community involvement initiatives for all. Amy Shirden, a junior Elementary Education major from Hebron, Ky., is chair of Fresh Start. “It’s extremely rewarding,” she said. “They often come back to us if they have questions. We’re always here for them.” Fresh Start feeds into the Northern Kentucky Leadership Institute (NKLI), the umbrella group for all major leadership and community service activities for students at NKU. Its mission is to help students with career exploration, campus leadership, résumé building and professionalism.
Taylor Osborne of Madison, Ind., is a sophomore Athletic Training and Sports Medicine major at NKU and co-adviser for the Freshman Services Leadership Committee (FSLC), a student organization dedicated to the development of freshmen as leaders through service affiliated with NKLI. At FSLC meetings, students are encouraged to test their leadership skills and learn more about being an effective leader through serving others. “I like being able to help them get situated at NKU,” Osborne said. “Time management is a big concern (for first-year students). They want to know how to balance life and school, and find out it’s easier than they think. We encourage them to participate in community involvement. We’re a stepping-stone for them.” m
THE ENQUIRER /// SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 S3
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6 tips to help your search for college funding By T.N. Tumbusch Enquirer contributor
If you don’t want to be shackled with student loans after graduation, one of the best places to look for funding is from schools themselves. Here are six tips for getting the most out of your search: 1. Start now (if you haven’t already) “Procrastination will kill you in the college funding process,” says Dan Bisig, college admissions and funding specialist at College and Beyond, LLC. Your game plan should include multiple strategies, including saving, a part-time job, applying for scholarships, and keeping your grades up. 2. Have the “money talk” early Many students overlook costs, visiting colleges that get high ratings, offer social benefits or are located close to home. Bisig thinks that’s a big mistake. “Families have got to talk about the elephant in the room, which is how much can they afford, then systematically pick colleges that fit into that dollar amount.” He recommends a frank talk about what the family can afford as early as the freshman or sophomore year of high school. “That way, students and parents can comfortably get to the spring of senior year and have realistic colleges to pick and choose from.” 3. Do your homework Research schools to find out what forms of aid each one offers, and watch out for companies or websites that offer to do this work for a fee. “Don’t pay for someone to find you a scholarship,” warns Ann Larson, di-
rector of admission at Miami University. The more you know about the financial aid system, the more you’re likely to benefit. “Not all schools play by the same rules,” Bisig notes, “especially when it comes to how they hand out their money.” 4. Get AP credits if you can, and don’t relax in senior year Advance Placement courses (AP, for short) offer a way for students to earn college credit before they set foot on campus. That can reduce your total price tag by allowing you to finish college earlier, or free up time for you to get more out of college by earning a double major, getting minors, or studying abroad. You’ll also be ahead of other incoming students when it comes to scheduling classes, and get more favorable consideration for financial aid awards. “We look at the academic strength of a student’s profile, coupled with GPA and test score information,” Larson advises. “If you slack off during your senior year you’re not putting yourself in the best position to transition to a university academic environment.” 5. Look for new alternatives School programs designed to reduce tuition costs are rare, but at least one is available locally. Strayer University, which specializes in working-adult students and veterans, recently launched a Graduation Fund program to tackle two common problems: affordability and degree completion. “For every three courses that you successfully complete, the university will issue a voucher you can redeem
during your senior year to earn a course with no tuition,” says Karl McDonnell, the university’s CEO. “Somebody who attends all the way through would have the opportunity to earn their senior year completely free.” 6. Combine funding sources Some awards are small, but getting
small amounts of cash from many different sources can make a big difference. “College funding is based on an integration and a coordination of multiple strategies,” Bisig says. “Avoid excessive debt at all costs, because if you don’t, you are going to create financial suicide for your student and for your family.” m
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Parenting advice from a college kid USA TODAY College
It might seem strange for a person who isn’t even thinking about parenthood to write a parenting article. Yet I may offer some of the best parenting advice you’re not hearing, because I’m offering advice from the perspective of your kids. There are a lot of parenting books, magazines and advice columns out there, but little of it is from the perspective of the kid. Here’s some advice that I’ve collected through things I’ve seen, heard, and experienced first hand. » Let us make mistakes We will never learn from our mistakes unless you allow us to make some. Growing up is a learning process, but bailing us out of every situation and being afraid of seeing us fail won’t help us out at all. Let us fall down and make mistakes, but more importantly, let us get back up and brush ourselves off. » Become our friend when we leave for college After 18 years of having a parent, it’s time to reconfigure your relationship with us. We don’t need a parent anymore … we need a friend. You don’t have the same control over us you did in our younger teenage years. If we come to you with a situation and need your input, don’t judge us – understand us. » Communication is more important than you think We may go up to our room, close
the door and blare our music. We might even stay out late with our friends, but still remember that you are still on the top of our priority list. We still want to communicate and See PARENTS, Page S5
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THE ENQUIRER /// SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 S5
Parenting is tough but sometimes it’s good to look at it from your kid’s point of view. JUPITERIMAGES
Kid: Parents ‘No. 1 support system’ Continued from Page S4
talk to you, and since we are older, you might enjoy talking to us too, but we won’t start opening up if the lines of communication are closed. We won’t feel like we can talk to you if there is judgment, disappointment and disinterest surrounding us. We might not outright say that we want to spend time with you, but deep down, that’s how we feel. You might have to take the initiative and schedule some quality time. » Talk about sex Contrary to popular belief, ignorance is not bliss, especially when it comes to sex. If you aren’t talking to your kids about all the ways to prevent an unplanned pregnancy or STDs, then you are setting yourself up for problems. Even though this might be an awkward conversation for you and your child, it’s a conversation that needs to happen. The people who are the most safe are the teens that have had an open and honest conversation with their parents. » Sheltering them does not help If you keep sheltering your child, they won’t know what happens in the real world. Here’s a reality check: you aren’t sheltering them from the world, you are sheltering them from your own parenting insecurities. From my experience, the kids who are the most sheltered are the kids that have the hardest time adjusting to college life. Allow your kids to experience new things and let them discover who they are and who they want to be on their own. If not, your child will start
to resent you and miss out on the beauty of being young. Encourage them to make good decisions and to think about the decision-making process, but at the end of the day, you need to trust that you did an amazing job raising your child and trust them. » Accept them for who they are They may love tattoos, piercings or their remote control. Maybe they have that boyfriend that you don’t like or an aspired career path that you don’t agree with. No matter what your child is into, they are still your pride and joy. You have to love them for whoever they are and remember … they are not you. Allow them to find their own individual way of expressing themselves and their own aspirations. » Your kids need you No matter how grown-up we may seem, we need you now more than ever. Navigating through the trials and tribulations of adulthood is scary. We can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel and we don’t know what our future holds. We won’t always be able to get advice from our friends, because they are often having their own identity crises. We need advice from someone who has been there. We need you. Help us with whatever path we want to take. Don’t discourage us but question what we want to do so that it makes us think. We will gain friendships and even families through these next couple of years, but you are our number one support system. Nothing will ever be able to replace that.
Andrea Bazemore is a student at George Mason University.
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S6 SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 /// THE ENQUIRER
THE ENQUIRER /// SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 S7
S8 SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 /// THE ENQUIRER
4 tips for managing your time in college USA TODAY College
As a starting point, you need to realize that you have a LOT of time on your hands in college. A “LOT” probably doesn’t even do it justice. An unbelievable amount or a ridiculous amount may be more accurate. If you get eight hours of sleep a night (unlikely), that will give you 16 hours a day to work with! If you get a more typical six hours, you’ll have 18 hours a day to work with. That’s a tremendous amount of time. Not to get overly technical, but 18 hours a day is 126 hours a week. If you’re taking a typical 16 hours a week of classes, that leaves 110 hours to study, work, volunteer, pursue extracurricular activities, have ridiculous amounts of fun, and take care of life’s necessities (like eating, laundry, etc.). Even if you decide that every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. on will be fully dedicated to fun, you still have over 80 hours left. Just in case you’re not convinced, let’s look at it another way. In high school, you probably left the house at 7 a.m. and did not get home until 4 p.m. or later. If you did that five days a week, you put in 45 hours a week. If you’re taking a full course load in college, you’re taking 16 hours of classes. Even if you add travel time to/from classes, extracurricular or volunteer activities, and/or a part-time job to the mix, most people have a LOT more time on their hands in college than they did in high school. So, while it might not always feel this way, for most of you, you’ll have more time on your hands than you ever have before or ever will again. Some thoughts on how to manage that time.
First, schedule early classes.
Eight o’clock classes if you can get up easily, nine o’clock if you can’t. They will force you to get out of bed at a reasonable time, not unlike you did in high school (or what your future employer will expect from you). You’d be amazed at how easy it is to sleep till 10:30 a.m. if your first class starts at 11 a.m. If you don’t think you can consistently make 8 a.m. classes (although you really ought to be able to), go for classes at 9 a.m. Even I could make it to a 9 a.m. class. You can too. And, of course, when you schedule these early classes, go to them – every day!
Third, study after class before dinner. This seems rather obvious, but you’d be blown away at how many college students spend their afternoons watching ESPN, soap operas and reruns of bad TV shows. It’s incredible. They’ll sit there for most of the day for weeks at a time. Spending hours a day on social networking sites or texting would also not classify as brilliant time management. If you tracked how many hours you spend per week in front of a computer screen doing non-essential things (things other than homework, research, etc.), my bet is that it would be at least 15 hours per week – and for many of you 20+. By the way, studying in front of the TV – trying to have fun and study all at once – does not make you a timemanagement wizard. You’ll get little or nothing from the studying and miss about half of the show. It’s the epitome of bad time management.
brary in a week. That is a tremendous amount of study time on a week-in week-out basis. If you start at 8 a.m. and spend only a half hour on lunch, you’ll have put in over 25 hours of study time. Welcome to the Dean’s List!
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Fourth, when you study, FOCUS.
Make it quality study time, not social time. Study in a quiet environment and at a high level of intensity. Personally, I wouldn’t even listen to music unless it’s purely instrumental (i.e., no lyrics), and you’re doing it to drown out some background noise. If you maximize the quality of the study time, you can minimize the quantity of time needed to get the job done. More on that later. In general, make the most of extra hours available to you during the day. During the day, the temptations not to study are fewer and much less exciting and this approach will free up your evenings for extracurriculars and more legitimate fun. Here’s one more simple calculation. If you take 16 hours a week of classes starting at 9 a.m. each day, take an hour lunch, go to the library between and after classes, and finish at 5 p.m. and spent an hour getting from place to place during the day, you’ll have put in 19 hours at the li-
This article is excerpted from the 2nd Edition of Making College Count. The book is currently in its 13th printing. Author Patrick O’Brien is a business executive, college professor at Miami University, and writes a weekly feature for USA Today College online.
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Second, study between classes.
Often you’ll have an hour or two to kill between classes. Go to the library and put those hours to work for you. It’s amazing the number of ways that people waste time between classes. With all of the portable electronics at your disposal, you can waste time from virtually anywhere! Get into the routine of making valuable use of these time slots. It’s not that tough. And realistically, there aren’t that many amazing things you can be doing from 10 a.m. to noon on a Tuesday morning, so you won’t be missing much.
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THE ENQUIRER /// SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 S9
Public health specialists a newer field that is booming and will continue to grow By Val Prevish Enquirer contributor
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that over the 10-year span from 2010 to 2020, health education jobs will spike by more than 36 percent, making it one of the fastestgrowing careers in the country. From President Obama’s new health care plan to workplace fitness programs, there is a growing interest in keeping people healthy instead of treating them when they become sick – all in order to help control medical costs. This trend is helping to drive a big demand for public health specialists, who are on the front lines of educating the public about how to stay well. “The field of health education and public health is a fairly new field, but it is booming, and it will continue to grow,” says Keith King, professor and program director of Health Promotion and Education at the University of Cincinnati. “Patients want more information and doctors don’t have extra time, so they make a lot of referrals to health educators.” William Mase, assistant professor and director of the Department of Environmental Health in the College of Medicine at UC, says he expects enrollment in UC’s public health curriculum will double in the next year. “There is not going to be a short-
age of career opportunities in public health,” says Mase. “We’re definitely seeing a tremendous need for professionals in this field.” In order to accommodate the demand for new workers, UC and other universities have expanded their undergraduate programs in public health. At UC, students graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public and Community Health Education and can become certified health education specialists after they pass the national licensing exam. Students who wish to continue their studies, can go on to attain a master’s degree in Public Health through the university, which allows them to pursue jobs in public health policy and as directors of public health programs, says Mase. “It gives students a competitive edge,” he says of the master’s degree. “They are better equipped to move into careers with more growth potential.” Health education is a career that offers lots of diversity in job placement, say the experts, something many students find very appealing. “There are so many different paths you can take,” says Carli Davis of Monroe, a senior at UC studying public health. “You can work in education, research or community health. I feel there is lots of opportunity for me to get a job after I gradu-
ate.” BC Charles-Liscombe, chair of the Department of Athletic Training in the College of Mount St. Joseph’s Division of Health Sciences, says that students interested in health and wellness often combine it with other areas they are passionate about to create a unique career path. MSJ just added a health and wellness coaching option to its health sciences curriculum to meet the growing demand for professionals in the field, and he says the goal is for students to combine it with studies in other disciplines at the college, such as communication, athletic training or religious studies. “This is really becoming a soughtafter credential,” he says of the new program that begins this fall. “You can combine this with any of the minors offered at the college and pursue your personal passion. You can become a hospital chaplain, a workplace fitness specialist or a health and wellness writer.” All these jobs are growing, says Charles-Liscombe, because of the change in health care to focus on total wellness, including emotional, social and spiritual wellness, not just “absence of disease.” “We have a sick-care system now,” he says. “We are moving to a more prevention-oriented type of care. The opportunities for wellness coaching will only increase over time.” m
Kayla Stallworth PHOTO BY MARTY WHITACRE FOR THE ENQUIRER
I am a public health specialist Kayla Stallworth of Cincinnati graduated from the College of Mount St. Joseph this spring with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. While studying at The Mount, Kayla was a co-op at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center where she now works full time as a clinical research coordinator in the Department of Anesthesia. Kayla is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Cincinnati, where she is enrolled in the Health Promotion and Education program. “I chose a career in public health because I want to learn how to analyze the behavior of specific groups of people to determine what may be the best approach to promote better health techniques and guidelines for them,” Stallworth said, “and it all begins with educating the public.”
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S10 SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 /// THE ENQUIRER
Applying for college: It’s later than you think
The important thing is to plan and to get started
COUNTDOWN TO MAY 1 NATIONAL DECISION DAY May 1 is National Decision Day, the day most colleges require a decision and deposit from accepted students. To increase the chances of being admitted to the college of choice, it is important for high school seniors to stay on target throughout the admissions process.
By G.A. Flannery Enquirer contributor
High school seniors who want to get an early start in applying for college are already a bit late. Some of the groundwork could have started over the summer, according to Marcy Goldsmith, a private collegeplanning adviser in Cincinnati. “The first date to note was Aug. 1, when the Common Application 2013 came out,” she says. “That is now online and available.” Each college and university has its own schedule and set of deadlines. Depending on how students apply, time is already running short. “If you’re applying ‘early decision,’ the deadline is around Oct. 1,” Goldsmith says. Some seniors still need to take tests necessary for the application process. “Lots of students will be taking their first SAT in November,” says Lisa Sohmer, director of college counseling at the Garden School in Jackson Heights, N.Y. “It’s not what I recommend.” The important thing is to plan and to get started. “For seniors, applying for college has become a second full-time job, and they have to take it on at the time that they are doing the most work they’ve had to do in high school,” Sohmer says. “Deadlines are
Meet guidance counselor, start a list of colleges, visit campuses, get letters of recommendation, write your essay Sept. 20, last chance for late registration for Oct. 5 SAT test Sept. 27, last day to register for Oct. 26 ACT test without late fee
Narrow your list Complete “early decision” or “early action” applications Research financial aid and scholarships Request high school transcript Oct., 3, deadline to register for Nov. 2 SAT test Oct. 18, last chance for late registration for Nov. 27 SAT test
critically important for this process. Kids in high school are used to being able to say, ‘Can I have a little longer?’ But in the college application process, deadlines are very inflexible.” The entire application includes more than just the school’s form, of course, and everything must be filed on time. “That doesn’t just mean the application,” Goldsmith says. “That includes the transcript from the high
Improve your application essay. Ask teachers to read them. Nov. 8, last day to register for Dec. 14 ACT test without late fee
Finish applications for regular admissions Send test scores Confirm that letters of recommendation have been sent
Submit Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Send mid-year grades Apply for scholarships Jan. 10, last day to register for Feb. 28 ACT test without late fee
school, letter of recommendation, essay if the school requires it. If you’re submitting a portfolio, all these things have to be in there.” Students should now be making a short list of the institutions where they’d like to apply, visit some of the campuses, research and apply for scholarships. Meanwhile, some colleges will require interviews to be scheduled. In January, parents can begin completing the Free Application for
FEBRUARY – MARCH
Watch for the Student Aid Report on FAFSA application Contact colleges if you haven’t received confirmation of your application Register for Advanced Placement exams
Watch for letters of acceptance, or wait list Notify any colleges that you have ruled out
MAY – JUNE
May 1, deadline for deposits at most colleges Send final transcripts to colleges
Compiled by G.A. Flannery
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the sine qua non for obtaining loans, grants and work-study positions. Around April 1, most colleges start sending letters of acceptance or rejection, or ask students if they want to be on a waiting list. Most schools require confirmation and deposits by May 1. “The sooner you get the application in, the better,” Goldsmith says. “They keep accepting students until there is no more space available.” m
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THE ENQUIRER /// SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 S11
How many colleges should you apply to? By Jon Fortenbury USA TODAY College
Sydney Alford applied to 10 colleges. She got into nine. “I never as a kid had a dream school,” said Alford, who studied film at Biola University in La Mirada, Calif., and is now an assistant director in television. “I was very undecided of what school to go to and got a lot of free application fees, so I figured why not throw out as many applications as I can?” Applying to several colleges is not uncommon these days. Students are both applying to and enrolling in more colleges than ever, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which reported an increase of about 6.2 million students since fall 2000. But even with a sharp increase in competition, should students go application crazy? The answer to that question seems more complicated than ever. What’s the magic number? As is the case with many “should I” questions, no black-and-white answer exists here. But some experts on college admissions have similar responses in regards to how many college applications students should submit. Allen Grove, an admissions expert with the About.com College Admissions Guide, generally advises students apply to about six to eight colleges. That includes a couple of safety schools (schools you’ll no doubt get into), a couple of match schools (schools you meet the requirements for) and a couple of reach schools (schools that are less likely to accept you). “It all depends,” Grove said. “Students who want to get into more highly selective colleges are going to put out more applications than that. If some students know they’re a good match to a school, a handful is fine.” Even if you feel confident about getting into a school, it still makes sense to apply to more than one school. Grove has received several panic emails from overconfident students who didn’t get into any school. “You want to make sure the student is being accurate in his or her self-assessment,” Grove said. “I’ve seen students think they’re a sure thing for a school, when in fact they’re qualified but not a shoo-in.” This happened to Alford, who didn’t get into her top choice, Pepperdine University, and didn’t get the necessary funding to go to some of the other schools she got into. She was luckily able to re-negotiate fund-
ing at Biola last minute. “I kind of came up short, ironically, after applying to 10 schools,” said Alford, who advises more decisive students to apply to four or five colleges. Can you really apply to too many schools? College applications can be timeconsuming and pricey, costing as much as $100, unless you get the fees waived by the school or an organization. But even if cost doesn’t bother you, there really is such thing as applying to too many schools, many experts argue. In an article for The New York Times, Jordanna Suriani, an admissions counselor at Ramapo College of New Jersey, wrote students who apply to several colleges because they’re undecided are doing themselves a disfavor come April when it’s time to make a decision. Once you get that acceptance letter, you have even less time to make a choice. “Figure out what you need and want now, and apply to five or six schools, max, which offer you most, if not all of it,” Suriani wrote. “Forget about trying to get as many acceptances as possible to places that don’t speak to you. Trust me. Come April, you’ll be glad you did.” Grove thinks it’s a little ridiculous when students apply to a dozen or more colleges. He can’t imagine how the student did that many campus visits, in addition to extensive research, and decided that many schools were good matches. “You see students who apply to every single Ivy League,” Grove said. “I just have to wonder if the student who is going to like Columbia (in New York City) is really going to like Dartmouth (located in a town of around 11,000 people). I find that unlikely, so I often think students who are sending out that many applications haven’t done their research.” Narrowing down the choices According to the most recent statistics by the NCES, there are more than 2,700 colleges to choose from in America. Consider the following things to help narrow down where to apply: location; weather; rankings; proximity to home; cost; campus culture; majors offered; and local internship and job offerings. If you seriously consider those factors, choosing fewer than 10 colleges to apply to should be much simpler. “When you’re talking about what schools fit and what’s a good match, you really have to know yourself,” Grove said.
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Jon Fortenbury is an Austin-based education writer.
College Connection is published semiannually by Enquirer Media’s Specialty Publications Department.
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