So M is going to Grinnell. So it is time for child #2, a sophomore to start exploring schools. M's adventure; applying to seven and getting accepted at six, makes me think that seven schools may have been two too many. Or at least it was when you are mainly applying to schools that accept 70% or more of applicants - and you compare favorably with the average student that they accept.
One other lesson learned: I would discourage my child from applying to a school in anyway that is binding. (See "Days of Worry.")
This may be the end of this blog. Maybe #2's search gets her own blog, but probably not. What I want to leave you with are numbers. M's high school asked for the amounts of scholarships she won. That number is $364,000. That is a totally meaningless number that they will use in to help market themselves. She was accepted at six schools, she was offered scholarships at five of them. The sixth was Grinnell. They called all of their "free money" grants, so officially they gave her no scholarship, just a $29,898 grant. Free money is free money so I don't really care if they call it a grant or a scholarship, but the high school wants to spread the word about the scholarships that their students earned - as if they were not tied to any specific school and therefore a pile of money that she won for being a gifted student (thanks of course to her high school.) In actuality, the $364K is over four years, so that is $91K per year. And that $91K per year is comprised of $23K to Beloit College, $21K each to Lawrence University and Knox College, $18K to Illinois Wesleyan, and $8K to Truman State.
The much more important numbers are the actual number of dollars that it would take to send M to a specific college. I have numbers on four schools. Remember that these numbers are influenced by financial aid, (except for Truman State's), which means that they are taking our financial information in to account. So from your point of view the important thing might be how similar the numbers are for the private schools, and not the numbers themselves.