In recent days I’ve been hearing from all sorts of people – strangers, friends and acquaintances – about their college admission successes and failures.
It’s been fascinating to hear the experiences of teenagers who have now received all their college acceptances.
In general, the teenagers who created an unrealistic list of colleges, otherwise known as reach schools, now have far fewer choices than students who applied to colleges that were good academic fits.
In the next couple of days, I am going to share some of these verdicts with you.
A Teenager in St. Louis
The college acceptance letter that was most thrilling for me came from a teenager in St. Louis, whom I will call John. I talked with John and his mom and dad when I was back home in St. Louis last fall.
John, who dreams of becoming a doctor someday, earned excellent grades and is an incredibly active student. He was highly involved in music and volunteering and he is just a very responsible, amazing young man. His parents are divorced and he’s had to put up with a ton of grief in that regard. If I remember correctly, his mom, the primary guardian, is a waitress, who makes less than $40,000 a year.
Applying to Grinnell College
I told John that he needed to apply to different types of colleges, including affordable state schools in Missouri, but I also said he should apply to expensive private colleges with excellent financial aid. Grinnell College, a school that fits that description, was on his short list.
I told John that getting into a school like Grinnell College, would be the educational equivalent of winning the lottery. If he was lucky enough to impress the admission committee at Grinnell, he wouldn’t have to worry about the finances.
Grinnell, which has a sticker price of more than $46,000, meets 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need. Very, very few schools offer this 100% guarantee to all students who need assistance. In fact, out of thousands of colleges and universities, only a few dozen can make that claim.
NOTE: You can find financial aid figures for any school by heading to the College Board and typing in an institution’s name in the College QuickFinder. When you retrieve the school’s profile, click on the Cost & Financial Aid link. Here is the College Board’s financial aid page for Grinnell College.
You have probably guessed by now that John got into Grinnell and received a great financial aid package.
When I heard the news on Friday afternoon I was thrilled. My husband and I went out with friends on Friday evening to listen to a local band play and more than couple of time, I felt a tear trickling down my cheek I was so happy.
Tomorrow I’ll share a story that’s not nearly so uplifting.
The Hazards of Dreaming About Colleges
Getting Your Financial Aid Award Letter
How to Decode a Financial Aid Letter
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.
Grinnell College image by j neuberger. CC 2.0.