Parent alert: Millions start college but don’t finish (Examiner)

Over the past two decades, more than 31 million students started college but failed to graduate according to Signature Report 7 from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center in conjunction with the University of Indiana’s Project on Academic Success. IU announced the findings on August 12. They are chilling to current students, the college-bound, and their parents who may be left paying a college bill towards a diploma that isn’t awarded.

The Report found about one-third of the non-graduates enrolled for just a single term in a single institution. Multiple-term enrollees who completed at least two terms used non-traditional methods of college attendance like enrolling part time, taking a break, delaying studies well past high school graduation, or attending multiple institutions. Students with at least least two full academic years’ worth of college were “called potential completers [sic], recognizing that for most students this would be significant progress toward a two-year credential and half-way to the four-year baccalaureate,” according to the Report.

Read Wendy David-Gaines’ article for more of this study’s findings.

Top 100 SAT Scores Ranking: Which Colleges Have The Brightest Kids?

As someone who has spent more than a few hours both visiting colleges as a potential customer and, as a reporter, covering the economics of higher education (see my latest story), you sometimes get the sense from admissions officers and even some parents that hanging too much on  SAT scores is not only a mistake, but politically incorrect.

After all, it has been proven that kids from wealthy families, who can afford SAT prep courses and often go to more competitive high schools, tend to get higher scores. The test is biased towards the affluent and it is often argued that a student’s high school record and GPA are more predictive of academic success. Indeed, a growing number of colleges are adopting SAT/ACT optional policies.

Despite all of this negative noise, standardized tests like the SAT still matter a lot to highly selective colleges. Two biggest reasons:  1) It is an effective way to screen out students when the number of  applications is overwhelming (Stanford reported 42,000 applications for roughly 1,700 freshman in the Class of 2018), and 2) Colleges admissions offices care a great deal about popular rankings like U.S. News & World Report’s and tests like the SAT have a fairly significant weighting in the formula. For executives running admissions offices at top colleges, moving up on U.S. News list is almost always recognized by the Board of Trustees, and this can mean good things during  bonus time. (Forbes own college ranking (see here) doesn’t consider SATs)

Read Matt Schifrin’s article for the schools with the top scoring students and more about what that means

Advice From a High School Student On Creating A College List (College Mapper)

Selecting a college to put on your list can be hard. Choosing what city or what state can be even harder. I would know. I just went through the college selection and college application process this summer. While selecting colleges I was able to come up with a few guidelines to help me pick the right schools to apply to!

Read high school student, Beau Turner’s article for guidelines for creating your college list

Tricks for Decoding the Thorniest Interview Questions (US News)

There’s more to an interview than just answering questions. In fact, often the answers you give are less important than the inferences that an interviewer makes from them. If you understand this, you can demonstrate that you have the strong communications skills that so many people claim, but far fewer actually possess.

A good interviewer is trained to get to know a candidate’s personality, temperament, self-confidence, overall maturity, and more. These are qualities that can’t be ascertained directly, but make a key difference in hiring decisions.

Read Arnie Fertig’s article for tips of how to answer tricky interview questions

Why Demonstrating Your Interest Matters (Dobler College Consulting)

Back in December, I wrote a piece about demonstrated interest. It’s become a popular phrase in the world of college admissions and if you missed the post, you can read it here.

I wanted to revisit the idea of demonstrated interest in today’s post because of a few takeaways from NACAC’s recent report, The State of College Admission 2013. NACAC releases the report each year (free for NACAC members, $25 for everyone else) which offers insight and statistics based on data gathered from both college admission counselors and high school counselors.

This year’s report talked about a few factors which are rather relevant to the idea of demonstrated interest.

Consider that admission counselors read anywhere from 600-1000 applications each with the larger number typically belonging to counselors at public universities. That’s a lot of information to sift through, a lot of grades and test scores to review and a lot of essays to read. In my day, I used to review anywhere from 500-600 applications in a season and I will be very honest when I say that it can become a blur rather quickly when students don’t make the most of the opportunities available to them to stand out.

And that’s the key with demonstrated interest. It’s all about standing out. Not in an obnoxious, I’m waving my arms and professing my undying love for you kind of way that you would find at a boy band concert, but more in the I’m really interested in your school, I get who you are as an institution and feel I would be a good fit based on XYZ reasons, kind of interest.

Read the rest of the article for more information on the importance of demonstrating your interest in the college admissions process

A Parent’s Worst College Financing Fears (Forbes)

My wife and I have just finished a round of college tours with my 17-year-old daughter. No one emotion describes our experience. It’s a combination of joy, hope, promise, fear and dread.

The joyous part is knowing that our daughter will find a great school that meets her needs, won’t leave her in debt and will provide some basic tools upon which to build a career or two.

Then there’s the dread part, which most of us parents tend to over-focus on. Nearly all of the items on this fear punchlist need to be addressed in a rational way.

Read John Wasik’s article for parent’s worst college financing nightmares, and how to handle them

Understanding College Financial Aid for High School Students (

As a high school junior or senior, this is a very exciting time of your life. Getting into the college of your dreams requires a combination of academic achievement, extracurricular activities, and a great college application. Once you get into that college, though, it’s time to think about how you and your parents will pay for it. That’s where college financial aid comes into play. The more you and your parents understand about how to pay for college, the better off you all will be in the long run.

Read Jodi Okun’s article for financial aid advice for students