The College Search…Take Two

Siena Hall, on the campus of Siena College in ...

Siena Hall...Justin and I sat there last week, great school

Tomorrow, my son and I embark on a two-day trip around New York to visit a few colleges and universities that he is interested in attending for his post high school years.  We recently visited Siena College in Albany and they stressed that you can’t just “tell” them you want to come to their school anymore.  Nope.  You have to go above and beyond by visiting in your Junior year, emailing again over the summer to your top five and then interviewing in the Fall of your Senior year. 

We found out that they don’t call you for an interview either.  If you want an interview, you have to call them.  How about that.  Times keep changing and changing every year.  If you don’t do all of these procedures and other students do, you are placed on the bottom of the wait list of great students who like the school. A prospective student had better be an active one too.  They aren’t picking anyone who doesn’t do “stuff”.  You better have a résumé and it should be a complete package.  AP and honors courses, volunteering, stepping up over and over in an increasing fashion over the high school years.  Thankfully, Justin has done that since his Sophomore year and keeps doing more and more.  Not necessarily in school.  He volunteers, takes internships and works two jobs.  His grades are stellar and he isn’t taking the summer off.  He is going to college at Cornell and then headed to DC to the NYLC Conference for ten days. 

The biggest lesson I got over the past month of filling out forms, visiting schools and talking to admissions staff, is you had better be a well-rounded and active student.  The average, go to school and come home student isn’t what they are accepting anymore.  Competition is at an all time high and yes, you have to encourage your kids to get themselves involved in something they are passionate about.

So we are off, packed for an overnight, stuffed the car with sodas and snacks and a GPS, with a clip board of fun to head our trails.  There are appointments and meet and greets coupled with tours and meals with Senior classmen along the way.  It’s pretty funny too, because he KNOWS where he wants to go, but has to go through all of this just in case that school doesn’t come through.  You think this is all crazy right?  Just wait until you are there with the high school junior who wants more out of life and wants to be in the medical field. 

The path that starts now is never-ending and all-consuming.

I haven’t even began with FAFSA, which is about a 2 1/2 hour process to see if you qualify for any financial aid, which you first do online, then have to send in hard copies of tax returns, W2’s, proof of income, etc. etc. etc.  Only then will we find out we won’t qualify for any reduction in tuition.  Then there are the real applications, essays, School specific grants and scholarship applications, are you going for Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Rolling Deadline Application and which schools should you do each for.  We have a Spreadsheet going for each school, visit, greet and check off what we need to do for each to stay connected.  It’s strategic and now necessary for selective schools.

My son is picking ten schools to apply to.  Five are his “Match” schools, which means they fit his GPA, his SAT or ACT scores and his likely hood of getting in are very good.  He is picking 3 “Reach” schools, where his GPA and alike are in the lower end of what they usually accept and then the last two schools are the “Easy Entrance” fall back schools.  I like all of them, for different reasons, but look at just the tuition for each year for all of them:

Ithaca:          $48,000

Siena:            $42,000

Fordham:      $50,000

Columbia:      $45,220 (no food or housing)

Hofstra:         $30,750 (no food or housing)

Rider:            $37,660

Arcadia:        $44,870

Drexel:          $55,350

Binghamton:$18,825 (room, board, women, beer, holy cow)

Did you see Binghamton?  I like Binghamton.  I’m stopping right here actually.  Alfred University is also on the list, as is a great school, Syracuse, the Orangemen, his favorite color and a Match school.  We have decided to see them all, even Georgetown and Mason in D.C. this summer, just in case.  Did I mention the costs of college and that this is per year?  Do you saddle your kids with the education costs? 

Justin, volunteering 2011

I’m rooting for Binghamton actually, secretly in my crazy little mind, although I can’t wait to see if his number 1 school says YES and he jumps through the air and we send him there instead.  It’s kinda funny because I laughed at my older cousins and some friends who sent their children to the colleges that they really wanted to attend, even though they received a better scholarship or even FREE education at another college.  But I can totally see where it happens, where that turn in the heart comes and you just want to see your child happy in his adult life and if he is happy, you know he will work hard and it really doesn’t matter if you saved money or not.  I am fortunate in many ways to be able to send my children to college, first Jordan for five years, now Justin for if it works out, twelve. 

About the time he is done, Darien will be ready.  Maybe she will still want to be a clown and it will be easier!  I’m sure by that time, there will be some 8 year serious Clown College that will cost even more than those listed above…ouch.


About wigsbabe

Never be the Mediator... be the writer.
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