Saturday, January 18, 2014

Happy New Year!

So 5 posts in August and then… nothing.  It is hard making progress on the college search when school is in session, but we did manage to attend two college fairs.  The first was for “colleges that change lives” (some small liberal arts schools that are below many people’s radar) and the second fair was a more general college fair.  Both were in September.  So what have we been doing since then?  Not too much. M took the ACT in December and has been ignoring, reading and/or filing her incoming mail.   And I, of course, have been tweaking “the list.”

I learned in August that M was interested in medium sized universities, and she liked being within a day’s car trip from home.  So I went back to Princeton Review and to College Data and searched for schools using the new criteria.  I found a few more schools worth checking out, and added 4 to her list.

Let me talk about for a moment.  This site has a great search tool, called “college match” that allows you to create a list based on geography, majors, size of school, difficulty getting in, average student debt, and more.  It then compiles a list that looks like this…

I think I told you that I love spreadsheets.  And with a little input regarding your student’s grades, classes, and test scores, it can tell you which of these schools are a “Good Bet”, “Maybe” or a “Reach” for your student.  And if you answer a few financial questions, it can calculate an estimate of how much a particular school will cost you.  

You can see for yourself that ticket price and your cost are not related to each other.  For example, Princeton has a sticker price of $57,495 per year, but is estimated to set me back just $14,492.  While Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas has a much lower sticker price ($26,788) but is likely to cost me just $1 less than Princeton.  Nothing against PSU, but I think Princeton is probably worth the extra buck.  This is actionable information; useful in deciding where to apply.

You can sort by a wide variety of data including freshman satisfaction and (4 year) graduation rates – and then save schools into your “data locker” for future use.  

My next adventure, nailing down the spring break road trip (across Indiana & Illinois) and planning the summer trip(s) (Iowa & Minnesota). 

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