The Glossary: early decision

Not all universities offer an Early Decision option, and each one might have its own fun little stipulations and rules. But the basic idea of Early Decision is that you turn in your application early, you get a decision from the school early, and if you get accepted you agree to go there and withdraw any other applications you may have also sent. This requirement that you enroll if you're accepted is why Early Decision is usually referred to as "binding." Early Decision is often confused with Early Action, which I'll write about separately next week. But for today, remember that Early Decision is exactly what it sounds like: you decide early that you really want to go this school; they decide early if they're going to accept you; if they do, then it's decided--early--that you will definitely go there.

Because you agree that you'll withdraw your other applications and attend the school that accepts you Early Decision, you can only apply Early Decision to one school. If you were to get accepted E.D. to more than one school, you'd be obligated to attend all of them, and that would be really expensive as well as physically impossible. So only apply E.D. to one. But you can apply to as many other schools--so long as it's not E.D.--as you want while waiting to hear back from your E.D. school. You don't have to wait to apply to others, and you really shouldn't.

So why do colleges even offer this option? What's in it for them? They really like the safety of it. They accept you, and you show up. The people they accept in regular admission may or may not show up, because those students have probably applied to other places as well. Admissions offices have a very specific number of people they need to show up in the fall. That number is called the Yield. If not enough new students show up, then they're not bringing in enough revenue. If too many show up, then they may not have enough room or resources for them. So admissions offices go through really complicated statistical models to guess how many people to actually accept in order to get their yield. They then spend a lot of money and time trying to recruit the people they accept hoping to get them to show up. But with E.D., the offices can skip most of that, because they're really sure that virtually everyone they accept E.D. will be there in the fall. In 2017, only about a third of colleges hit their yield target, so tools like E.D. look really good to them. Last year at Dartmouth, for just one example, 47% of their class were accepted Early Decision

Why would you want to apply Early Decision? What's in it for you? Mainly what you get from E.D. is time. And money. And less stress. So that sounds pretty good. If you're accepted E.D., you'll probably submit fewer applications. If you get accepted and you commit to a school a month before your other applications were even due, then you won't be sending--or paying fees for--those applications. And then, in the spring, when all the other college-bound seniors are getting back their decisions, possibly going on more college visits, and trying to figure it all out, you'll have figured it out months earlier and won't have to deal with it. If you feel strongly that a school is a good place for you and you like saving time, money, and energy, then E.D. might be a great option for you.

Some people will tell you that you want to apply E.D. because it gives you better odds of being accepted. That's at least superficially true, because acceptance rates are usually higher for E.D. applicants over regular applicants. But "odds" makes it sounds like some sort of random choosing, which it most certainly is not. It makes sense that Early Decision acceptance rates would be higher, because they're choosing from a pool only made up of people who want to go to the school strongly enough that they'll commit ahead of time and who are organized and on top of things enough to send out an application months ahead of schedule. If you're not a student who that school will want to accept, for whatever reason, then applying E.D. is not going to change that. If you are, then applying E.D. may be helpful--not because there's some magic to E.D., but because colleges like the safety of that commitment. 

With Early Decision, you have to be very careful about money. There's a common perception that only people who can afford to pay full price should apply E.D., because you may be committed to doing something you can't afford. This isn't really the case. But you still need to do your homework. Don't apply early unless you've already filled out you FAFSA early and know what the formula says your financial need is. Make sure the university you're applying early to meets 100% of financial need (you can find this on Big Future as well as other places.) Go through the school's net price calculator and see if their estimate is something you can afford. But if you have evidence to believe that you can afford the school, then you can feel ok apply Early Decision. If the school gives you a different financial package then the net price calculator and FAFSA-determined need led you to expect, tell them and see if they'll increase their package. Even if you ultimately realize that you just cannot afford the school, you can back out. They're not going to sue you. They're not going to chase you down and call you bad names. It will be ok. It would be dishonest to apply E.D. without a good estimate that you can afford it, but it's not illegal or dishonest to walk away from a bad deal you made in good faith.

The other money issue with E.D. is the opportunity cost. If you apply Early Decision, get in, and can afford it, you may still be missing out on a better financial aid package from somewhere else. You don't have the opportunity to shop for the best deal. A lot of students are looking for the best deal, and they should not apply E.D. But if you know you'd go to a certain school if they accept you and you can afford it, even if it's not the best deal, then E.D. is the way to go.

Thank you for reading! Please share this post with people you know. Next week I'll explain Early Action, which isn't as much like Early Decision as it sounds. If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, I'd love to hear them. It's easy to follow Apply with Sanity on Facebook and Twitter. You can get Apply with Sanity sent to your inbox monthly by signing up here.

Thinking about lemurs at college

Yes, lemurs. As in the little primates. Like Zoboomafoo. I was in North Carolina this weekend, going with my wife to her 20-year law school reunion at Duke University, and we got to go visit the Duke Lemur Center. The Lemur Center has the largest population of lemurs outside of Madagascar, including many who roam freely in the forest around the center. A tour guide explained that the center was established in the 1960s when two professors--one at Duke and one at Yale--wanted to combine their research. In order to do so, Duke not only had to hire the Yale professor, but also make room for his research primate collection. And now, for 50 years, Duke is apparently the top place for research on lemurs.

On the flight back, I was thinking about the cool research that goes on at universities and remembered another flight. Once, on a plane to New York, I listened in on a conversation between two men in the row behind me. One was a professor at Rice who did work at the Large Hadron Collider. He talked about how CERN built the atom smasher, and then researchers from around the world had their own equipment attached for sensing whatever their research was focused on. (The professor I eavesdropped on is probably pictured here.)  

It's not just science professors, either. I've known Art History professors who lead archaeological digs, an English professor who reviews books, poems, and paintings for the Wall Street Journal, and a math professor whose online videos have been viewed by at least hundreds of thousands.  

I'm bringing this up because, it being Spring, I'm thinking a lot about the transition from high school to college. We tend to think about college as classes, dorms, and parties, but many of your professors will be so much more than what they do in the classroom. (High school teachers can be vastly interesting too, of course, but their work rarely takes them outside the school as often as professors work away from campus.) To work alongside your professors in their hands-on research usually requires you to be a graduate student. However, there are plenty of opportunities for students to work with or for professors, not just sit in their classrooms. And even if your on-campus job doesn't involve being a research assistant, be on the look-out for really interesting professors who have a lot more to teach than just what's on the syllabus. 

To be a great college student, you're going to need a mentor. Someone who can give you honest feedback, recommend classes and projects, and answer difficult questions about your path beyond college. A mentor doesn't have to be a professor, but it might be. And getting to know what they research, what kinds of articles and books they've published, and how their work affects the world outside the classroom, might be a great way to find the right mentor. When you have a good professor--and you will--don't neglect to learn more about them and see if they may end up being a mentor for you.

You may even wind up working with cute-but-vicious lemurs in the woods of North Carolina.

Thank you for reading! Please share this post with people you know. If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, I'd love to hear them. It's easy to follow Apply with Sanity on Facebook and Twitter. You can get Apply with Sanity sent to your inbox monthly by signing up here.



 Photo by the author.

Photo by the author.

Thinking about community service and college admissions

Last week I came across this article in Forbes about a survey of admissions professionals at colleges and their attitudes about community service. (When I began writing about college admissions a year and a half ago, I never thought I'd come across so many articles in Forbes. But as expensive as college is, it makes sense that a magazine about money management would cover college.) The survey reconfirms what we all already basically know: the majority of the admissions officers surveyed think that community service works in favor of an applicant. At the very least, it can act as a tiebreaker between two otherwise equal candidates.

The fact that colleges look favorably on community service isn't really that new or interesting. The fun part is the reasons they give. It's not that serving your community makes you more deserving, demonstrates your passion, or shows that you're more committed and therefore more likely to graduate. The top three reasons given for considering community service are that it shows you are "likely to be active in student social life outside the classroom," are "likely to contribute to the school’s mission," and are likely to share the "school's values." 

In other words, their focus on community service has little to do with you and a lot to do with their own needs and values.

For a lot of high school students applying to college, this makes no difference. You volunteer your time and talents to some cause or group because it's important to you. Even if colleges were to report that they don't care about community service, you would do it anyway. If you're that type of student, good for you! Plus, it may help with your applications.

But for a lot, the difference is huge. If the main--or only--reason you perform community service is because you think you need to in order to apply to college, it's likely to show. And it's unlikely to impress the colleges. If they can see that you're not necessarily interested in being active outside the classroom, contributing to a mission larger than your own ambition, or furthering your values, then that service isn't actually what they're looking for. 

Can schools really tell the difference? Not always, but often. Ask yourself if you can tell the difference between someone helping you because they genuinely care and helping you because they think they have to in order to get something out of it. The difference shows. Telltale signs: your resume has a smattering of volunteer hours, but there's no common theme; you demonstrate that you volunteered exactly 30 hours per year of high school; your introduction to your application essay explains that your school makes you volunteer. If you're volunteering just to pad your resume, that's not going to be helpful to you--not many schools include "selfish obedience" as a core value. 

I don't want to dissuade you from volunteering your time and energy to help others. Please be a part of your community, volunteer, demonstrate that you're interested in a group larger than yourself. Take some time to figure out what values are important to you, and then give of yourself to further those values. It can be religious, social, legal, humanitarian, artistic...any kind of group that reflects your values. But if you're just doing random events to "get your volunteer hours," it's probably not going to really do much good for your community. Or your application. 

Thank you for reading! Please share this post with people you know. If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, I'd love to hear them. It's easy to follow Apply with Sanity on Facebook and Twitter. You can get Apply with Sanity sent to your inbox monthly by signing up here.

Apply with Sanity wants more student voices

There's only one more installment of this year's Meet the Class series, in which I interview two high school seniors every month to see their progress from September jitters to May decisions.

I hope to do it again next year with a new batch of seniors. 

But I also want to include shorter, one-off stories from students. If you're a high school student, please send me any story about how you solved a college admissions problem. It can be as big as "how I figured out what to major in" or as small as "how I convinced my procrastinating teacher to finally send in that recommendation." Or anything in between. Let me know what your victories have been, and I may publish them here.

Click the Contact button and send me your story!


Grace has chosen!

Grace has decided on a college...unless she hears back from a school that has her on a waitlist. She also has a message for parents of high school students. Read the full interview below.

Meet the Class is an opportunity for parents, educators, and admissions professionals to get a look at individual seniors and what they go through to find their college.

It’s updated monthly from September to May. Each month will feature an interview about both the facts and the feelings of where the student is in the process.

Interviews may be edited lightly for clarity and grammar. 

This is the eighth interview with Grace. Grace is a senior in the Houston area. She attends a public magnet high school. Click here to read all her past interviews.

Grace Profile.jpg

Have you got all your notifications? As of last month, you had been:
  accepted to Baylor with a 50% scholarship, 
  given a C.A.P. opportunity at U.T. Austin, 
  accepted to A&M through Gateway, 
  given a full ride to U. of H., and
  denied from Trinity. 

What news did you hear from Lafayette and Bryn Mawr?

I heard back from both schools last week. I first got my notification from Bryn Mawr, and immediately I knew it was a rejection. I found out through an email that was sent to my spam folder stating that my decision was to be released at 4 ET. That day I was driving to an appointment and I get a call from my mother asking me to not open my email until I got to the orthodontist just to be safe. I got a two sentence rejection from Bryn Mawr, and I wasn't so bothered by it since it wasn't my first choice but my mother was quite upset since she loved Bryn Mawr and their cherry blossoms. The next day I got a notification stating that I'd get my update from Lafayette soon and I literally got out of bed, slipped on some flip-flops and ran to my mailbox to see if I got a small white envelope or a big yellow and red packet. It was only until the next day that I checked the portal and saw that I was waitlisted. My first reaction was "YES! AT LEAST IT ISN'T A NO!", but as I kept reading their FAQ I realized that being on the waitlist wasn't something I could count on when it came to admissions. That entire time of getting decisions was rough, and mostly because getting each "no" letter and once again I was thinking about what happened. Was my essay not eloquent? Did I show not enough interest?
Have you made a decision yet? If so, can you explain your thinking? If not, can you explain what questions you're pondering and what factors you're considering? Are you attempting to get any offers changed, either in terms of acceptance or financial aid packages?

I have made my decision to go to UH! Over the last few weeks, I have been calculating my choices and getting advice from different people to see whether my choices were rational and I wasn't either setting myself short or for failure. My mother and I have gotten in a few heated conversations on A&M vs. UH, and it always ends up me saying the same: we cannot take the risk of going to A&M when I have not received the financial packet yet. My decision deadline for A&M was April 6th and every single day until then my mom kept reminding me that she'd rather have me go to A&M and have her cut down on spending to pay off tuition. What I keep having to tell her is that even though she can cut down on spending and put in more, it'll be unrealistic for her to try to help take on such costs when it is more than what she makes annually. I understand that she wants me to go to a good school that I'll have to leave and exploe who I am, but I am not willing to let her take on something she isn't ready for.

To me, going to UH is definitely not ideal, and I honestly am not excited to start. My sister and I had a conversation after school one day on how eventually wherever you go, it is based on whether you can afford it. Many may make the argument that you are able to get loans, and scholarships are there to help but at the end of the day, these options are not something I am comfortable taking. I made a comment one night after my mother berated me for settling at UH, and I said this, "Although I don't see myself there, I see myself going to medical school." While UH isn't my favorite place in the world (Lafayette you still hold the key), if it can help me get to my end goal for free, I am willing to suck it up for 4 years. The next challenge for me is figuring out whether I dorm. I would like to be close to campus so I can get the experience as well as set myself a solid foundation for school. The only thing is that my financial aid package covers all but room and board. My stipend doesn't even cover a semester of room and board, and it poses a good question for myself: am I willing to stay at home? The answer changes from day to day. With three other females in a single townhome, it does get frustrating to come back from work and just hear attitude and bickering. I am most certainly not innocent of this, I have always wanted to be able to dorm and be independent. 

You're almost to the end of applications and decisions! How do you feel?

I think that the entire process was fun, of course, being able to see my peers get into the schools of their choice, as well as see my old middle school friend get into 20 schools, full ride each. I feel pretty happy that I have gotten my decision and that I am not constantly having to tour colleges and being torn on where to go. I honestly wish that I had applied to only Texas schools in the first place to save me from last semesters stress. 

What are your last few weeks of high school going to look like? Are things slowing down? Are you feeling stressed about exams or work? How's your life looking right now?

I feel so out of place being in classes now because everything feels so weird. I still don't feel like a senior, I feel like a sophomore just floating through school, hanging out in the library more often and sleeping during lunch. I don't feel stressed at all school-wise. The only stressful thing in my life right now is prom, and whether my dress can get altered in time, and if I can snatch a boutonniere in time for next week. I sleep a lot now, and I feel great honestly. I have had more time to do physical therapy (something I have pushed aside for 5 years because of my schedule), as well as just try out new things. I have gone out more by myself, and it really has given me some space from the past 4 hectic years. 

What's something you feel good about right now, either related to school or not?

This may seem so stupid but I am so excited for prom. Until now I was so apathetic thinking that prom was so stupid and that I would skip and go to a concert or something instead, but I cannot wait to slip on a pair of heels and take photos. I have literally planned out everything for both nights [at her prom and another school's prom], the menu, the bowling alley I want to go to after the prom, to even the kind of lipstick I will be sporting. 

Anything else?

This is something for the parents who may be reading this: please talk about finances with your children. I think that this part was one thing that my mother and I have never done this year and doing so would have saved both of us stress. Not only will it give your student a good idea of where to look, it'll give you as a parent a head start on helping plan those finances. I know my friend that is also going to UH talked to her parents on their finances, and after that talk, she only applied to UH knowing it'll be the only one she will be able to afford. I think that talking about finances is something very taboo with other families, but my mother has always been transparent about it up until now. I can see her struggle a little bit when I talk about college because while she wants to me to be able to attend all of these top-tier schools, she cannot send me there and I think that is what she is upset about the most when she goes through this process. 

Thanks for reading Apply with Sanity! Please share this with people who would like to read it. If you have questions for Grace, leave them in the comments. I'll be interviewing her one last time after May 1. Follow Apply with Sanity on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the monthly newsletter.

Making the call before May 1

By now, seniors should have all their acceptances, denials, and waitlist announcements back, and they have until May 1 to decide and make a commitment. 

If you've been waitlisted at your top-choice school, read my advice here. If you've narrowed it down to two very different schools, start here.

I'm assuming by this point you've already checked all the major information you might want to know about the schools you're considering, things like "can I afford it?", "what's the graduation rate?", and "what's the student-faculty ratio?". You may also be going back for on-campus visits at some of the schools who have accepted you.

I'd like to throw out a few other things you should research before choosing a school. I seriously doubt any of these factors are going to be The Deciding Factor. However, if you end up just "going with your gut feeling" on April 30, these are some things that may end up affecting your gut feeling.

What is the average daily temperature on September 5, January 10, March 15, and May 30? We all know, in general, that it's colder up north and warmer down south. But you'll want something more specific than that. What is the weather likely to be on your first day of class in fall, the first day of class in the spring, Spring Break, and the last day of class?

How much it will cost to get there and back? How long will it take? If you will be driving from home to college, how long is the drive? Will you need to stop overnight? How much gas is that going to take? (More on gas soon.) If you fly, how long is the flight? Are there non-stops, or do you take multiple flights? How expensive is that? How likely--and possible, even--is it for you to visit home during the year? How important is that to you?

What is the school's sophomore retention rate? That is, how many first-year students come back to the school for a second year? All the schools you're considering probably have similar rates, but any that are significantly higher or lower than the others should get your attention. To get a high retention rate, a school has to do just about everything right: interesting classes, helpful financial aid, and a reputation for being worth the cost and trouble. Take notice of which schools on your list do this better than others.

The only ranking that matters at this point: is the school on the list of Top Party Schools? Every year Princeton Review ranks the top party schools. They also rank "Stone Cold Sober Schools," which is the opposite. Party sounds fun and positive, but keep in mind the way that these schools are ranked: "Schools on the "Party Schools" list are those at which surveyed students' answers indicated a combination of low personal daily study hours (outside of class), high usages of alcohol and drugs on campus and high popularity on campus for frats/sororities." If they were to re-title the list "top schools for drunks who don't study" would it sound so fun and exciting?

Compare the size of the campus to the size of its home town. For example, Boston University, University of Southern California, and University of Louisiana at Lafayette have similar numbers of undergrad students. B.U. is in a city of almost 700,000, U.S.C. is in a city of almost 4 million, and Lafayette has around 127,000 people. Those are very different contexts.

How diverse is the school? What's the racial/ethnic breakdown? How much of the student body comes from out of state? How much of it is international? How important is it to you to have a chance to study and learn with people who are different than you and have different backgrounds?

How much is the price of gasoline? If you'll be driving, the amount of money you have to pay to keep your tank full can be quite different depending on where you are. Going to school in an expensive-gas state has a different cost of living than going to a cheap-gas state. Check here to know where the different areas are.

What will your tie-breaker be? If you just cannot decide between two schools, what will you use to make a decision? Most people would use price, but what if they both cost the same? Will you choose the closer school? The larger school? The one whose basketball team has a better record? Seriously, thinking now about how to break a tie can help you understand a little better what your priorities are, and that can go a long way.

Best of luck to all the seniors making this big decision right now. If you have other considerations, whether serious or quirky, leave a comment. It's easy to follow Apply with Sanity on Facebook and Twitter.

Jack is ready to make decisions

I didn't hear back from Jack's March questions until April 1, when I was about to send April questions. So this will count as a March/April installation, and we'll hear back from him after he makes his final decision by May 1. It looks like he's going to be choosing between Pitzer and Brandeis, although you never know how last-minute decisions work out. Read the full interview below, and check back in May to see how things wrap up!

Meet the Class is an opportunity for parents, educators, and admissions professionals to get a look at individual seniors and what they go through to find their college.

It’s updated each month from September to May. Each month will feature an interview about both the facts and the feelings of where the student is in the process.

Interviews may be edited lightly for clarity and grammar. 

This is the seventh interview with Jack,  a senior in the Houston area. He attends a public magnet high school. 

Let's start with the news. Have you heard back from anybody else? Where we left off was:
Trinity: accepted
UTSA: accepted, plus Honors College
UT Austin: PACE

What can we add to the list?

I've finally heard back from all of my colleges, so the results are:

Denied from Pomona, WASHU, Wesleyan, Yale, Brown, Tufts, and Occidental.
Waitlisted at Oberlin and American. 
And accepted to Brandeis, Pitzer, and the Honors College at UH! 

How will you go about making your final decision once all the responses are back? Who do you go to for advice? What are your primary factors? 

My primary factors are money, geography, and personality/vibe. Right now, i'm vacillating between Pitzer and Brandeis. My in-state schools are also in consideration, but I’m still waiting on a few more award letters from them, and I also just really want to go to school out of state. I’m in love with Pitzer’s vibe and I’m in love with the West coast, but Brandeis’ financial aid award was a lot more generous. I think I will appeal my financial aid letter for Pitzer and then commit to there if the appeal is successful. Brandeis has a lot to offer, but I’ve just grown to love the Pitzer community. 

For advice I mostly go to my EMERGE friends, my EMERGE counselor, or my sister. I’m likely going to be mulling over this with them for the next few weeks.

Based on the news you've got so far, what would you do if you had to make the decision today? Explain your Thinking.

If I had to make the decision today, I would probably choose to appeal my financial aid for Pitzer and then commit to the college if they come back with an offer that’s more reasonable for my family. So far, the costs of each college I’ve been accepted to after federal and institutional aid are all comparable (even with my in-state schools), so thankfully I wouldn’t have to ruminate too much on whether to spend more money to go to an out-of-state school, or stay in-state so that we don’t break the bank. 

Spring Break was in March. What did you do?

Over the break, I worked on some scholarships, went out with friends, worked on the yearbook in preparation for our final deadline, and did some planning for an event that I’ve been organizing. 

Has "senioritis" hit you? How's your day-to-day motivation holding up?

A little bit! Ever since I got into Pitzer I’ve been fixated on a life beyond high school, and as I’ve spent more time living in this fantasy and getting to know the other students who have been accepted (we have an admitted students group chat), I’ve been getting more detached with the present and more anxious to finally move into the next stage of my life. With that said, I’m still striving to do well in my classes and finish strong, and I still have to tie up some loose ends with my extracurriculars, so I’m working to stay mindful over my responsibilities and staying grounded in the present. 

Other than make college decisions and pass your classes, what else have you got to do this spring? Which AP exams are you taking? What's your deadline on the yearbook? How's work? Can you give me a sense of what all is going on right now?

Our yearbook in its entirety is due this Monday, so I have to help finish, polish, and publish our last set of spreads. We’ve been falling behind on our previous deadlines so we have to cram a little bit. I also just finished organizing a benefit I’ve been doing with my club in collaboration with HSPVA, and then I have to tie up some loose ends with our on-campus extension of that initiative. Work has also been great! We have one more program planned in mid-April, and then after that is just a bunch of in-industry educational opportunities we get to soak in. After the yearbook, the biggest source of stress I’m going to have is having to sort out some prom stuff, which is still a bit of a mess.

For APs, I’m taking Government, Macroeconomics, English Literature, and Statistics.

Anything else?

I’m going on a fly-in on the 12th for Pitzer! (I might also attend a fly-in on the 14th for Brandeis, but I’m still not sure if I’d want to do one fly-in after another.)  Other than that, that’s all I have for this month!

What if you get a full ride?

What if you get a full ride?

Let's be clear: getting a full scholarship is very rare. Fewer than one percent of college applicants end up getting to go for free. It takes more than just being a good student who wrote a good application essay. But still, one percent is still thousands of students a year, so you may want to do some thinking and planning, just in case.

Here's a simple rule to help you know how to think about full scholarships: you should not pass up a full ride. If you apply to a school and they offer you a full scholarship, go to that school.

Some book recommendations

Some book recommendations

Last week I gave a talk at a local P.T.O. meeting, explaining to a room of parents why the phrase "it looks good to colleges" is a red flag, what the "Am I worthy?" mindset is, and why it's a better idea to treat college admissions like a relationship. After the talk, a woman asked if I had any books I could recommend. Of course I do! Here are four, in no particular order.

The Glossary: holistic admissions

The Glossary: holistic admissions

Most American universities use some form of holistic admissions to determine who they will invite to enroll at their school. "Holistic" means that they look at the whole applicant and the whole application, and it usually means they look at the whole application together. There are no cut-off test scores; there is no formula for how to score and weight each portion of the application; there is no "magic bullet" that will earn you admission or get you rejected. This means that you can't necessarily make sense of the results by only looking at a part, because they take the whole into consideration. So a person may get accepted while someone with lower test scores does not. A person who writes a really crappy essay may still get accepted if the other parts of the application look great. 

Dealing with anxiety about leaving your family

Dealing with anxiety about leaving your family

Whether or not you're the first in your family to go to college, whether or not you feel a strong family achievement guilt, you're probably experiencing some level of anxiety about leaving home and your family for college. Even if you live at home, you're still entering a new world and new ways of interacting with your family. There are some strategies that anyone can use to help ease the transition.

Sign up for Apply with Sanity's monthly newsletter!

The March newsletter will be coming out soon.

It's got all the ICYMI blog posts from last month, and it also has links to other great articles about high school students and college admissions. The newsletter is your single, readable resource for everything interesting that has to do with your college applications. It's for high school students, their parents, and their teachers.

It only takes a few seconds to sign up. Click here! Thanks for reading and supporting Apply with Sanity!


Go on practice college visits

Go on practice college visits

For many high school students, especially those in the 11th grade, Spring Break is the designated time for college campus visits. I wouldn't go so far as to say this is "normal." Lots of students do this, yes. But lots of students don't do many--or any--visits until they're seniors and visit only schools they've been admitted to. And plenty of students don't visit a college at all until they show up in the fall of their first year as college students. What's "normal" is up to you and what you think is really best for you. While I don't recommend skipping college visits altogether, neither do I recommend going on big multi-campus trips just for the heck of it. 

Jack has good news!

Jack has good news!

Jack is beginning to get word back from schools, and most of it so far is good news! But one thing we've learned about Jack over the past six months is that he's always trying to do more. He says that, even though he's been accepted a few places and is still setting up interviews, he kind of wishes he could still apply to more schools. Here's the full interview below.

Asking for more money

Asking for more money

Now is the season when acceptance letters begin to arrive for a lot of seniors, and with those come financial aid packages. The bad news is that very few students receive "full ride" scholarship or aid packages that cover everything....When you get your aid offer, you're very likely to want it to be more. You're also pretty likely to need it to be more, though wanting and needing are different. How do you ask for more money?