HOT TOPIC: Preparing for College
Volume 1, Issue 18 - January 23, 2005

"It’s that time of year when back-to-school jitters seem like distant memories and high school students begin to look forward to what lies ahead. Certainly this means placement testing and filing of admissions applications for juniors and seniors, but even underclassmen are beginning to think about touring campuses, taking preliminary tests and saving for college.

In fact, never before has college been as pricey and competitive as it is today. Costs have typically increased around $1,000 since last year with tuition and fees easily totaling more than $20,000 per year for a student attending a private school using resident housing. Even public institutions are up above $5,000 a year now – an increase of 10% over 2004 costs.

There’s the issue of matching the best school to your student’s needs. With more than 10,000 postsecondary educational institutions in the United States alone, where do families start to look and how do they ever pare down the choices to a manageable, appropriate few? There are so many ways to sift through the endless lists of colleges and universities available, and everyone has different priorities in what is important for their son or daughter as they make this decision; there are no easy answers.

Then there’s the competition to get in to the institution of your choice. There are more students applying to college today then ever, making the competition to get into the most select schools especially stiff. And with this increase in applications comes a less personal approach by admissions offices. Schools are looking more closely at transcripts and test scores; interviews and letters of recommendation don’t carry the same weight they used to.

The best first step in addressing these large questions is to start early and plan ahead for realizing and financing family college plans. It is my hope that this week’s resources will be an asset to the families you work with as you share select resources with students and parents. And while many of the recommended links herein are geared for middle and high school students, there are also sites which offer information, ideas and instruction for young parents who are wise enough to be planning well down the road for their primary or elementary child’s future. I hope you’ll find this week’s resources to be the usual top quality you expect from the Digital Dozen!....."

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©2005 Walter McKenzie

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