Grinnell College: A College Admission Success Story

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.

More Reading:

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.

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  1. The world needs music, as well!
    Some people may not know Grinnell College but they may know some of the graduates including Herbert J. Hancock, a 1960 graduate of Grinnell College. He recently won two Grammy awards, Hancock’s all-star remake of John Lennon’s “Imagine” beat Lady Gaga and Beyonce and won a second Grammy for “A Change Is Gonna Come,” another track from The Imagine Project, which took Best Improvised Jazz Solo.
    After spending years playing and studying classical music as a child, Hancock was introduced to jazz as a teen. An adept musician and student, he enrolled at Grinnell at age 16 and majored in both electrical engineering and music. After graduation, he focused on his interest in jazz piano, releasing his first solo LP in 1963. Over the course of his five-decade career, he has performed on more than 50 albums, many of which have seen critical and commercial success. Hancocks’s innovative musical work has earned him an Academy Award and a dozen Grammy Awards.

  2. I am not saying that your Grinnell College liberal arts education is not valuable just that you need additional, technical job specific skills. Also, radiology is not the only option but it is in demand and probably will be for some time. There are also many career options in nursing, as well.

    1. Hi All,
      I wanted to weigh in on the technical skills vs. liberal arts education. I think it’s clear that employers, above all else, want graduates who have excellent reasoning, critical thinking and writing skills.
      The best place to get those, I think, is at a liberal arts college.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  3. Don’t spend 40 years of regret.
    Both Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, established schools of radiologic technology in the 1940’s. In an effort to increase the schools efficiency and to keep the cost of tuition low, the two hospitals combined their schools into a single program in 1981.
    The new school, Mercy/St. Luke’s, was the first consolidated school recognized by the American Medical Association, and has served as a model for other hospital based schools of radiologic technology to merge. They have a two year work/study program. You can continue your education later at the University of Iowa and completed your B.S. degree in radiology or advanced degree in radiation therapy.
    Over 100 students are enrolled annually in the seven radiation science educational programs that UI Health Care offers. If you are looking to begin or advance your career in one of the radiation sciences, make that goal a reality..

  4. “If I remember correctly, his mom, the primary guardian, is a waitress, who makes less than $40,000 a year.”
    And, as a Grinnell graduate I have yet to make more than $28,000 in a year. Usually I ride the $18,000-$22,000 line because what Grinnell taught me more than anything was to pursue my dreams. What I wish I had gotten out of school was something more along the lines of, “Hey grow up and get a job so you can afford to pay your $80,000 in student loans back without living on food stamps.”