The 4 biggest mistakes your students make when applying to college

The Washington Post published an article with the 4 biggest mistakes students typically make when applying to college. They are:

  1. Delaying the Campus Visit until the Spring:

About a quarter of campus visits by prospective students occur in April, according to an analysis by VisitDays, a company that helps colleges schedule student visits. Of those students who visit in April, about half of them are stepping foot on campus for the first time after submitting their application.

Unless your student is applying to a half dozen colleges in all corners of the country — making visits burdensome because of time and finances — they should make an attempt to see as many campuses as they can this fall or winter. A physical campus filled with students and faculty members feels and looks much different than the carefully crafted online virtual tours now offered by most colleges.

2. Considering only Research Universities for Undergraduate Research:

Students increasingly want hands-on learning experiences in college, and in part, that comes from working on research projects with faculty members. But too many students and their parents believe that the only way to work on research is to attend a research university — an R1 in the lingo of higher education — where faculty members and their research teams often secure the biggest federal grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, or other federal agencies.

Don’t be fooled by the term “research university.” For the most part, undergraduates will never have a chance to work on those projects that bring so much prestige to the universities; those are reserved for graduate students. Undergraduates might not even meet those star professors because research universities also bring in a steady stream of graduate students to teach introductory undergraduate courses.

3. Ignoring Life after College when Choosing a College:

During the admissions process, many colleges will encourage you not to worry too much about your life after college. They will tell you that their curriculum prepares you for your fifth job and a lifetime of employment, not just your first job after college. But college can and should be about giving you a broad education and about arming you with the skills to land that first job.

Be sure the college you’re considering thinks of career development as a four-year journey, not just an office you visit the second semester of your senior year. Internships while in college are more critical than ever to securing a job after graduation. Ask colleges you’re considering about their internship or co-op programs and how and where students get such experiences.

4. Getting Your Heart Set on one Place before the Financial-Aid Offer:

Several years ago, New York University, one of the most expensive institutions in the country, called several thousand prospective students who were accepted after they got their financial-aid offers. They focused on students who had a big gap between what NYU offered in aid and what the family was expected to pay. NYU essentially wanted to encourage the students to look elsewhere, because while the university might be a good academic fit, it wasn’t a good financial fit.

The calls had almost no impact on a student’s decision to enroll, and after a few years, NYU ended the outreach. Most parents didn’t want to disappoint their children. Instead of telling them to go to a less-expensive school, they encouraged their sons or daughters to take out bigger loans, or the parents took out loans themselves to help subsidize the degree.

Choosing a college is an emotional decision for most teenagers, and they don’t know the cold-blooded financial reality until it’s too late, usually after they begin paying their student loans. But if students have several choices at various price points, they are better able to figure out which one is the best academic fit and the best financial fit when it comes time to make a decision.

Here is a link to the article: