A sampling of recent questions and comments from parents of high school seniors:
Have you ever seen it THIS bad?
Our guidance counselor said [name of high school] is having the worst year EVER with colleges and doesn't know why! It's so unfair!
[So and so] had lower grades and SATs than my daughter but he got in and she didn't!
Here's the thing...
I hear these comments EVERY year!
Sure, when you look at raw stats, out of context like the number of applications colleges receive, you might get a lump in your throat, pit in your stomach and experience flop sweat.
But most of these symptoms are treatable and even preventable, at least when you consult with Dr. Lockwood, Fake MD.*
Here are a few of my diagnostic thoughts (not intended as medical advice. Consult a health professional if you experience swelling, nausea or persistent diarrhea from this letter):
One reason for the increase in applications is NOT because there are more kids applying to college. It's because there are...
Early this week the Wall Street Journal "exposed" New York University as being THE WORST college when it comes to financial aid generosity.
The piece painted a pretty bleak picture, pointing out that, for a college with an endowment north of 1 Billion, NYU ranked 1st in the ignominious category of parent loan (PLUS) debt per family and other related areas.
The article featured a grad student, a woman, who sold her eggs in order to pay for tuition. Twice!
(No word on whether the eggs would receive favorable legacy status once fertilized into college applicants in the indeterminate future.)
We in the college advising biz have known NYU to be, again, THE WORST, stingiest college known to mankind for years, so this article was less than a surprise.
I've witnessed parents and kids tempted -- and sometime succumbing to that temptation despite my best efforts -- to blow 80K per year for a theater education at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.
Three of my four kiddos did or do...
December is National Early Decision Month, when high school seniors learn whether they got into their top choice, "ED" colleges.
The official party line about how Early Decision works goes a little somethin' like this:
There's only one problem with the above:
It's false. Fake news.
Here's the way things really work with Early Decision, just in case you never hear this from your guidance counselor (more on that below).
First, nothing and nobody can compel you to attend a college, no matter what box you checked on your college application.
Second, the Early Decision agreement is not binding, legally speaking. In...
Apparently college applications as of January are up by 22% compared to last year.
High school seniors are applying to more schools, according to one college consultant (not me, but I'm also seeing the same trend in my anecdotal, micro-universe).
Does that mean that it will be harder to get into college this year? Permit me to make a few comments.
First, more applications does not mean more APPLICANTS applying to college. The number of kids applying is actually trending down, partially due to predicted demographics, and partially because of the pandemic, economy and outrageous cost of college, which has risen every year since the beginning of time.
(Side prediction: next year's increase in college costs will again outstrip the current, also outrageous inflation numbers reported this week.)
Second, as the Common App data weenies point out, more applications does not equate to more enrollments. Colleges will still have to scrap tooth and nail to convince...
Today's Wall Street Journal ran another bleak piece about student loans spiraling out of control. I've seen the same article for years, only the numbers change (they increase, obviously).
This morning's dispatch covered PLUS loans, which allow parents to borrow the entire cost of attendance at a given college, with very "light" underwriting, to say the least.
I won't lie, the stats are pretty depressing: 1.6 Bill in debt outstanding, and growing.
Defaults, credit issues and no relief in sight from Congress, apparently.
And, sadly. zero incentives for colleges to cut their own costs, because they're getting paid from loan proceeds that gush into their coffers from eager parents, early and often.
But the WSJ leaves out an angle that's important to discuss: borrowers' decisions to take on all this debt.
The piece mentioned one guy who graduated Georgetown Law, he owes $318,000 and works in a homeless shelter. I'm pretty sure he's not making...
I've gotten a fair amount of "what do we do now?" types of questions from clients, so I figured you might want to know how I answer them.
Meaning, kids have worked their tushes off all summer and fall on applications, essays and so forth, and finished up a few weeks or months ago.
It feels like they should be doing SOMETHING!
But the truth is, they're done.
Now it's time to wait, until "mid-December" or "late December" (gee, thanks for the certainty, admissions peeps).
is there anything to do other than sit around with your thumb up your you-know-what?
Of course. Here are a few tips, off the top of the ol' noggin:
Nobody likes to be told "Um, no. Not you." but this is the time of year for Early Denial.
Countless college applicants will be told that they didn't get into the college they "ED'd" to.
Does it matter? Highly doubtful.
Typically, this time of year you'll see articles about famous, successful people who didn't get into their top choice colleges (Tina Fey, Warren Buffet, Antonin Scalia - how's that for an eclectic threesome?). The point of these articles is that the world didn't end for these rejectees, and neither should it end for this year's batch of college applicants.
I wrote about this briefly in my "snail mail" client newsletter, and make these comments annually because I think they're worth repeating. I tell all of my private 1:1 college advising students words the effect of
"You will be successful in life no matter where you go to college, because of your work ethic, intelligence and interpersonal skills. There is no correlation between where you...
College consultant Andy Lockwood addresses the ins and outs of super scoring on the SAT and ACT.
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