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WEEKLY UPDATE FROM THE COLLEGE COUNSELOR

December 23, 2005
SEASONS GREETINGS!

Good News from the Seniors           

Most of the Early Decision and Early Action decisions came in right before we broke for the winter holidays, and we have much to celebrate.  Seniors were admitted ED/EA to Georgetown University, Swarthmore College, Washington and Jefferson College, Sarah Lawrence College, Yale University, University of Georgia, University of Chicago, University of Vermont, Wake Forest University, College of Charleston, and Carnegie Mellon University.   These acceptances join the ranks of the many decisions from colleges with rolling admission that have already been reported.  Ten students have already be admitted to the University of Pittsburgh!  In fact, 70% of the senior class has already been admitted to at least one college.  Others have to wait until late March/early April when the bulk of the decisions come in. 


A Plea to the Ellis Community:

As we rejoice in acceptances, we also have to face the possibility of rejection, and we need to remind ourselves how difficult that can be.  Although students say to me and to themselves that they’re taking a risk on applying to a college just to see what happens, they are not usually that rational when a rejection letter comes.  And students seldom have the luxury of licking their wounds in private; the entire college application process is the talk of every adult they know.  When talking to a senior, try to think of something else to ask other than “Where have you applied to college?”  Seniors are young women traversing one of the greatest developmental passages in their lives; they are not just “applicants.”  Enjoy the holidays but don’t let the entire conversation revolve around college applications despite Uncle Herb and Cousin Dorothy’s probing questions.


WARNING!!!  College mailrooms often lose parts of applications.  (I have seen the hundreds of milk crates crammed with applications sitting in CMU’s mailroom in early January.  It’s no wonder colleges lose things!) We have already had one major university lose a student’s application between reading #1 and attempted reading #2!  Luckily, they had the grace to call me and admit their mistake. Don’t panic if you get a letter from a college saying that they don’t have part of your application when you know you sent it in.  In fact, colleges often electronically generate letters asking for other parts of the application without seeing, first, whether or not they already have it in another pile.  We will calmly mail/fax/e-mail them duplicates.  No Ellis student has ever been disadvantaged in the admission process because of lost pieces of an application.  Mark everything with your name and social security number and we’ll make sure the colleges get them.


Financial Aid Reminder for Seniors’ Parents

Financial Aid Forms to be Submitted

As the seniors are submitting applications to colleges, parents need to start working on financial aid applications.  A worksheet for the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is now available in the college counselor’s office.  The form itself must be filled out on-line (www.fafsa.ed.gov).  All colleges and universities require this form as the basis for determining eligibility for financial aid.  It must be filled out as soon as possible after 2005 taxes are completed.  Most colleges require that it be filed for potential first year students by the middle of February.  For the eight years I had children in college, I knew that the last weekend of January was always tax/FAFSA weekend.  What fun!

Some private universities and colleges also require the CSS Profile.  Instructions for filing online (the only way to file) are available in the college counselor’s office.  Taxes from 2004 or 2005 will do for the Profile.  If you are not sure whether the colleges to which your daughter is applying require the Profile, check the application materials or call the college office.

Estimating EFC (Expected Family Contribution)

In order to plan more efficiently how your family is going to finance college, you can estimate your EFC.  This amount, which will be calculated ultimately by the federal government, is what colleges will work with in awarding a financial aid package.  They will try to figure out a way, in a combination of direct grants, loans, and work study, to make up the difference between your EFC and the total cost of attending their colleges.  Several website enable you to type in your financial information so that they can give you an estimated EFC.  Those sites are:

                                    www.fastweb.com

                                    www.finaid.org

                                    www.collegeboard.com

I’ve found finaid to be the easiest to use.

Outside Scholarships

As applications for scholarships come into the counselor’s office, they are posted or given to students who may meet the particular eligibility requirements for that scholarship.  You may find many more on any of the above websites.  There are lots out there; it just takes some time and patience to find them.


READING LIST FOR PARENTS

Having a child go to college is a life transition for her parents as well as for the student herself.  The following list contains several books that are directed primarily at the needs and interests of parents through this journey.

College Admissions:  A Crash Course for Panicked Parents  Rubenstine and Dalby

Almost Grown: Launching your Child from High School to College Pasick

Letting Go  Coburn and Treecher

The Parents Guide to Surviving the College Admissions Process  Pinkman

-  The College Admissions Mystique  Bill Mayer
(My favorite of all!)

The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process at a Premier College  Jacques Steinberg


Final Note

The college counseling office has already processed almost 300 applications.  Students applying to colleges with a January 15th deadline must have their materials into the office the day they return from the winter holidays.  A lot of paper is flowing!  Applications will continue to go out until mid-February.  The decision making will go on until May 1, the universal college reply date. Please phone me at the main Ellis number or e-mail me at (schultzj@theellisschool.org) whenever you have questions.  I have been through this process many times, while, for the most part, it is new for you.  Good luck.

                                                                                    Joanna Schultz


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