In many ways the college selection process boils down to this: a student choice, and a family decision. The student will ultimately choose the college they want to attend, and the family will have to decide if that is what is best for all. It’s an exciting, stressful, and dynamic time. It’s also a time for students to grow and assume more responsibility.
If your child is a sophomore or junior, you may be more attuned to the challenge of finding the right college than he or she is. It isn’t necessarily that they’re not interested in college, just that they’re focused on their school work and extra-curricular activities. If your second semester junior or first semester senior still isn’t thinking about college, then we need to take a more active role!
The College Counseling Office strives to keep parents involved in this process, from early in the junior year right through their child’s enrollment at college. The calendars below summarize many of the important dates throughout junior and senior years. Clearly an effort to maintain open communication among all parties is essential; we want to make sure student, parents, and counselors are all on the same page! You can also find helpful sites for other aspects of the college search on the Internet Resources page.
Class of 2016 Calendar - Seniors
Class of 2017 Calendar - Juniors
Much of the literature regarding college admissions can come across as sensationalist and inflammatory. Certainly the process can seem complicated, but it needn't be panic-inducing. Below are some books that approach the topic even-handedly. Please note their inclusion here does not signify an endorsement by 'Iolani School - this is merely an additional resource. Suggestions welcomed!
Colleges That Change Lives
Lauren Pope; Penguin Books; 2000
Edited by Lloyd Thacker; The Education Conservancy; 2004
The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College
Jacques Steinberg; Viking Press; 2002
Harvard Schmarvard; Getting Beyond the Ivy League To The College That Is Best For You
Jay Mathews; Three Rivers Press; 2003
Financial Aid 101
College costs continue to rise at schools across the nation. The one saving grace, of course, is that financial aid budgets have also grown (albeit not necessarily at the same rates!). There is certainly competition for these funds, and you may wonder whether you will even qualify. The only way to find out is to apply for aid.
In the simplest terms, financial aid comes in two basic forms: need-based aid and non-need (or merit) based aid. The former depends on your family’s ability to pay, the latter is more frequently tied to academic, athletic, or artistic achievement. Need-based financial aid is determined by a federal methodology developed and approved by the United States government. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)* is the form utilized to determine the amount your family can contribute to the cost of college by considering assets, income, and other characteristics. This amount is known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and does not vary, regardless of the costs of different colleges. Many private colleges and universities also require families to submit the CSS Profile, a more detailed form that can result in a different EFC.
To calculate your need, a college or university will take the total cost of attending their school and subtract your EFC. The result is your family’s need.
Cost of Attendance
- Expected Family Contribution
Some colleges will commit to meeting a family’s need for all four years, whether that need increases (another student enters college) or decreases (family wins the lottery). Others will meet as much need as possible, and oblige families to fill in the rest through other sources. The financial aid offered to a family may come from the federal government, a school’s endowment, or other sources, but it will be offered to the family in the form of a “package.” This package is likely to include three major components: grants, work study, and loans. Grants may be federal or institutional, but are essentially “free money”; you are not expected to pay them back. College work study or some form of campus employment is frequently offered as well, as students should contribute to the cost of their education. Finally, loans may be offered to the student and the parents.
Merit-based scholarships are another variation on the concept of “free money.” These scholarships, given for academic, athletic, artistic, and leadership characteristics, are highly competitive. Some merit scholarships require an additional application, others will be automatically awarded upon admission; check with each school to determine their policies.
In terms of availability, the best “no-need” scholarships are the U.S. service academies and ROTC programs. For strong students interested in science, engineering, and computer science, this is an especially good option.
Other sources of no-need aid include employers, clubs, civic organizations, and national and local contests. It is unlikely that these scholarships will be exceedingly large, but every bit counts!
For more information and to search for scholarships, go to the Internet Resources page.