The College Solutions Blog

Valuable insights from Lynn O’Shaughnessy
a nationally recognized college expert.

Common Data Set
January 9, 2012

Getting Bad News From Johns Hopkins

I have been writing college blog posts recently about teenagers who have arguably been applying to the wrong colleges. (Scroll to the bottom to see my three previous posts.) All my posts have involved families who required financial aid, but today I’m sharing the plight of a father who is too wealthy to receive need-based help. Anxious Dad’s Email Here...
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December 5, 2010

Should You Attend Your Dream College?

This is the time of year when high school seniors and their parents begin reciting this age-old advice:  Follow your dreams. Families tend to use this advice to justify their children attending expensive dream colleges even if these schools will require taking on crushing student debt. I am a huge advocate of families researching schools before hand to see if...
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September 9, 2010

Case Study: Applying Early Decision

Yesterday I shared an easy way to to obtain early decision statistics from individual colleges and universities. Here is the post: Finding the Success Rate of Applying Early Decision As I promised at the time, I want to delve into the specifics of a high school senior, I’m going to call her Sarah, who wants to apply early decision to...
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September 8, 2010

Finding the Success Rate of Applying Early Decision

Should you apply early decision? I got an email last night from a psychologist who asked if his daughter should apply early decision to The College of New Jersey, which is a public liberal arts college. Last month, I wrote about the early decision dilemma that a mom from Minnesota was facing regarding her daughter’s desire to apply early decision...
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September 5, 2010

How Generous Is This College?

How can you tell if a college or university will cut the price for your child? You can get an idea by looking at a school’s Common Data Set. If you don’t know what a Common Data Set is, you’ll want to read the posts that I wrote last week on this valuable document: Researching Colleges With the Common Data...
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September 2, 2010

Common Data Set 101

The Common Data Set can be a great tool for researching colleges and universities. You can learn what a Common Data Set is by reading the post that I wrote yesterday: Researching Colleges With the Common Data Set Today I’m going to explore how you can use the Common Data Set to gain insights into what admission officers are looking...
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September 1, 2010

Researching Colleges With the Common Data Set

At the beginning of yet another college admission season, I want to share one of my favorite tools that can help anyone research colleges and universities.  The tool is called the Common Data Set. College and universities all over the country produce their own Common Data Set every year. The Common Data Set is a document about 32 pages long...
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September 7, 2009

Naming Names: A List of the Most Generous Colleges

In the last few days, I’ve been working on an assignment about college rankings — when it’s published I’ll be sure to link to the article. Today, however, I thought I’d provide links to some helpful college lists courtesy of US News & World Report. Colleges Giving the Most Merit Scholarships One question that I get asked frequently is which...
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September 1, 2009

Finding College Cash in Obscure Documents

If you want to shrink the cost of college, you should become acquainted with something called the Common Data Set. The Common Data Set was dreamed up years ago as a way to satisfy collegiate publishers like US News & World Report and the College Board, which have voracious appetites for higher-ed statistics. Rather than answering every publisher’s questions, schools...
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May 29, 2009

Three Quick Ways to Research a College

How would you like to research a college in 10 minutes? Sound impossible? Not really. In my most recent college post for, I share three quick ways to research a school. I use these shortcuts all the time to help me size up a school pretty quickly....
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