Is it possible to reduce the number of college applications to find the college fit? Currently many high school juniors and their parents are starting to create their college list. How can families reduce the stress in the college application process? College Affordability’s new college cost calculator, EFC PLUS Core Tool can help high school families in their early college search effort. The EFC PLUS tool provides the students with the information on admission facts and at the same time provide an estimation of the financial feasibility based on that family’s specific financial position.
How does EFC PLUS software help students in the college list development?
With the EFC PLUS Core tool, the student can input a college and receive a demographic fact sheet about each college. Our college fact sheets are compiled by Wintergreen Orchard, a data company who updates this information every year. Twenty colleges can be viewed in the system at one time. It will keep the students’ selections organized and the financial information in one place.
The majority of students and parents are familiar with the educational reach of a college using their GPA and Standardized Test scores. Many high schools provide a college scattergram that shows the student on a graph comparing them to other students who have applied. Most colleges use a more complicated process that shows both the academic position of a student and the financial need on one chart. We call that the EFC PLUS matrix. By understanding that position, families can make a better decision concerning application to a college.
With the admission process becoming more expensive, reducing the number of applications can save you money and a great deal of stress.
You need to apply and we have plenty of financial aid
The marketing of a college education has become very sophisticated. To the public, the process seems very simple. We hear the college marketing message that there is plenty of financial aid at a college and students should apply. This gives students and parents the impression there is more money available then in reality. Remember colleges are businesses and marketing is one part of the way to get students to apply to their college. Many colleges use the theory of large numbers. This allows the colleges to increase their selectivity and offer admissions and the money to the people they want to attend. You need to remember an increase in the application pool may decrease your chances of admission.
This marketing strategy is used to make the college look more selective. In turn, this increases their ranking in the various rating system, creating demand. It becomes a viscous circle.
By using our EFC PLUS process, the high school’s scattergram program and utilizing your high school guidance office, we believe a student should create a college list between 5 to 8 colleges. This will allow a student to focus on the differences of each school and make a better comparison. Many colleges have added electronic tracking to their admission decision toolbox. The school sends various forms of electronic messages to the student and tracks to see if the student opened or responded to them. These tracking methods allow the college to evaluate the student interest level for their college. Having a significant number of colleges on a list makes this much more difficult for the applying student to maintain.
Search for Scholarships
Similar to the colleges, many students and parents use the rule of large numbers in the application process. They apply to a large number of colleges hoping to get access to as many college scholarships as possible. This strategy may work against the student both on an emotional and financial standpoint. More applications tally to more application fees and greater possible rejection which can be difficult to handle.
Under the current FAFSA system, the college can see the number of colleges you applied to and where they are on your list. This gets back to the interest level and your position at that school. Understanding your academic position and financial aid position will help you refine your college list. There have been numerous issues raised about this part of the FAFSA process and there is talk that it will change shortly. We will keep you posted.
Once this groundwork is gathered, the next step would be for the student to visit the college in person. This gives the best representation of the school and allows the student to narrow the college list. Remember, being organized is the key to helping you narrow your choices.
Some student may travel to tour colleges this summer. Try to revisit the school while it is in session. The campus atmosphere can be very different when the student body is present. Weather and the tour guide can also play a significant role in the impression of a school. Make sure your look beyond these factors.
Included in your college tour should be a visit to be the career center. Many colleges will market the college experience as a major part of the decision but the focus for me is the outcome of the education. Will you be on a good path after graduation and is it what you want it to do?
Academic, Campus and Financial Fit
Academic, campus and financial fit are the three keys to creating a good college list and reducing the number of college applications. Some of these items are personal preferences and subjective while others are facts.
Reviewing a colleges retention and graduation rates can give you a better insight of a college beyond your impressions and their marketing. With each college selected, EFC PLUS software will give the student this information. Families often overlook these data points when considering a school but it can add on another year of tuition depending on the school and student.
Financially, the EFC PLUS tool can further help the parent and student by calculating the estimated net cost of the colleges on the student’s list. The EFC PLUS calculation points out in detail the true affordability of a college. A family will input their financial information and college list. EFC PLUS will then calculate the expected family contribution for the family. This will enable the family to review the financials and decide if this school is a realistic option for them based on their own customized budget. The flexibility of this tool allows the parent to see the financial outcome and commitment based on their specific financial situation. It projects the graduation debt and monthly payment by college.
As you can see this is a very difficult process. With the development of the common application process, students are applying to more schools, hoping for a more favorable outcome. If you do your homework and refine your priorities, a student can reduce the number of college applications easily.
The college selection decision should include the academic, campus and a financial fit. A combination of these three items will help determine the right college value. Now is the time to explore many options and find out what is the right college fit for you! Our hope is that EFC PLUS will help your better pinpoint the best college values for families, simplify the process and lower the number of college applications.