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Using freshmen survey information aids in college planning

9 College Prep Insights From Freshmen Survey Part 1

Using freshmen survey information aids in college planning

There is so much more to choosing a college than most parents and students realize. For long-term success, becoming familiar with the current factors that add up to happy students and wise decisions will greatly help in the college planning process.

The current results of the annual survey of college freshmen have recently been released and are a way to help parents in their research in determining what college is the best fit for their students. 

College Parenting Expert, Wendy David-Gaines, delves into the key areas of the survey and clearly spells out how the results can help in the college prep process. Read Wendy’s article and stay tuned for part 2.

9 College Prep Insights From Freshmen Survey Part 1

Using freshman survey information aids in college planning

The key for parents, counselors, and colleges to help students better plan for college and beyond may be found in a survey released last week. The findings in nine key areas can also help the college-bound develop more accurate expectations for their college experience. This will help them select colleges more wisely and graduate on time. Here in Part 1, the first four are explained and Part 2 will detail the other five areas. (Read Part 2 HERE.)

The annual survey of college freshmen by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute showed some important differences from previous years. The results from The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2014  “are based upon 153,015 first-time, full-time students who entered 227 four-year U.S. colleges and universities of varying selectivity and type,” according to the survey. Families can use the freshmen’s responses to smoothly navigate the college process.

The first finding shows more emphasis must be placed on forming a good college list, especially for students enrolling in less selective campuses. Too many students think about the possibility of transferring to another institution, but those attending least selective schools are the most likely to intend to transfer. When students don’t commit fully to a campus, they can become dissatisfied and unmotivated to do their best. Besides, there are two huge dangers of transfer. One is adjusting to a new campus in the middle of a degree program including socialization issues, how transfers are treated for course selection, and dorm assignments. The other is losing credits that are not accepted by the new college which adds time and money to the cost of earning a diploma.

The second result is a warning for students to better prepare before enrolling. It found students expect to need more time to complete their degree requirements than the traditional four years. The percentages are way too high for all students but are the most for those attending the least selective schools. The lack of committing to a time frame and the need to take remedial classes first lead to increased college costs and delayed entry into the workforce. Once on campus, students should choose majors and classes more carefully.

They should use college advising services continually to map out a timeline to stay on track for taking required courses and resume-builders like internships, professional organization memberships, and networking events.

The third conclusion shows more students should think about grad school during the college search process. Since freshmen are increasingly thinking about earning advanced degrees, the pressure is on to select colleges that are most likely to lead to admission into master’s or doctoral programs. It also adds importance to deciding how to apportion college dollars between undergraduate and graduate school when initially making a college choice.

The fourth outcome coincides with the fact that more institutions are using early admission programs for enrollment management. Students also are increasingly rating early admission programs as a high factor in choosing a college. Those admitted via early decision agree to commit to attending and those admitted under early action are usually notified in early winter but do not need to commit to the school until the following spring.

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As institutions try to lock in some of the best students early, students from more affluent families who are less vulnerable to financial aid packages take advantage of the opportunity to gain an edge, particularly at the most selective schools. When money is an issue, students can intensify their outside scholarship search, consider early action programs, and find schools that meet 100 percent need. Making themselves stand out as attractive candidates for admission and institutional aid include having qualifications that exceed the school’s expectations for its applicants.

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