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Choosing a College by Consulting P.A.L.s
Choosing a college can be so overwhelming for high school students and their parents. This method helps tremendously!
With so many colleges to choose from, what is the best way for students to narrow down their choices and actually apply for the ones that seem to be the best fit for their needs?
College Parenting Expert, Wendy David-Gaines, has developed a first-step method to help students and their parents make informed decisions in the college process by carefully evaluating a college for:
The PAL process is a great way to begin to form a college list and research which schools seem right for each individual student. Learn about college PALs and find out what the next step is in the college planning process:
CASTING A COLLEGE APPLICATION VOTE
Submitting a college application is like voting for a college choice. Colleges compete for this student vote like political candidates on an electorate campus. Both use sophisticated marketing to describe themselves and compete for the highest share of application ballots. The college-bound must sift through the glossy brochures and slick websites to find what will help them most achieve their educational and career goals.
The key is for students to find their college PALs. These are the programs, activities, and location most desired. All academic and extra-curricular opportunities depend on these three areas. While researching, students can get answers to the following questions to help them make a great college choice:
- Programs–What courses are offered in the student’s field of study? How often are they offered and how easy is it to get into? How large/important is the department and can it go on if a professor or two leaves or is on sabbatical?
- Activities– What extracurricular clubs, sports, and events are offered? Are they seasonal? What is the level of participation?
- Location– Is the campus urban, suburban, or rural? What is the ease/cost of student and parent visitation? What is the availability of internships in a certain field of study? If offered a job upon graduation, would the student be happy to relocate?
Once a college list is formed based on the student’s college PALs, it’s time to rate them according to three categories of colleges: safety, reach and target or match. These are based on a comparison of the college’s admission requirements and the student’s qualifications. The results affect the likelihood of admission and more generous financial aid.
Student qualifications exceed college requirements for safety schools. Student qualifications do not fulfill all requirements for reach schools but the student really wants to attend. Student qualifications meet college requirements for target or match schools. Safety schools are most likely to offer admission and more financial aid to encourage students to attend, depending on their endowments.
Unlike a political election, students get to cast multiple application votes. They should carefully consider their college PALs first. During the final run-off of comparing offers of admission and financial aid, they can pick the college that gives them the best chance for future success.
Monica Matthews is the author of How to Win College Scholarships. She helped her own son win over $100,000 in college scholarships and now shares her expertise with other parents and their students. She truly has “been there, done that” in regards to helping parents and students navigate the scholarship process.
Her method of helping students in finding college scholarships, writing unique and compelling scholarship essays, creating amazing scholarship application packets and more, have taught desperate parents to help their own students win thousands of scholarship dollars.
Monica’s scholarship tips have been featured on many prominent websites and she has been dubbed the “Go-To” expert on college scholarships.