In recent weeks, readers of The College Admissions Insider have raised questions in the comment box of posted blogs. Many of the questions are personal in nature or request feedback regarding specific colleges. As a general rule, I do not publicly make qualitative or comparative assessments regarding colleges or groups of colleges nor do I think it's appropriate to respond to personal questions in a public forum.
As a result, I have paraphrased some of the questions (with my responses) below. In the future, if you would like to receive direct, personal feedback to your questions, please E-mail them to me at TheAdmissionsInsider@usnews.com. I will respond to them as quickly as I am able. Happy Independence Day!
I am interested in studying in the United States. Where can I find information about college costs and financial aid for international students?
The best place to check for information about college costs as well as financial aid is the website for the college in question. With regard to costs, make sure you are seeing the whole picture: tuition, room, board, fees, and expenses. The actual total cost—the amount you need to budget for the first year of study at that college—may be higher for international students given projected travel expenses.
The Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC) provides a list of "American Institutions with Financial Aid for International Undergraduates" that can be a valuable resource in determining the availability of financial aid at U.S. colleges and universities.
[Learn more about scholarship sources for international students.]
How can I find out more about courses of study, admissions requirements, and acceptance rates at specific U.S. colleges?
While there is an abundance of information available on websites and in guidebooks, the best sources are the institutions themselves. Whereas the information about courses of study might be pretty straightforward, admissions requirements and acceptance rates will vary across academic programs within many universities—and that's why you need to inquire directly with the institution.
Good points of contact are the admissions staff person responsible for international recruitment and the international student adviser. You should be able to find their E-mail addresses on the institutions' websites.
[Get more advice on finding the right school.]
My daughter was placed on the wait list at her first choice college but it appears she is not going to be accepted. I am a single parent and am concerned that her need of financial aid is a factor in the decision making. Is there anything we can do to help her chances?
The situation you describe is both unfortunate and unfair. It is quite possible, if not likely, that your financial circumstances were indeed a determining factor in the outcome of your daughter's application. You like to believe that your student will be evaluated solely on the merit of her record. Unfortunately, institutions are often faced with more qualified and interesting candidates than they can admit and support with the financial aid they need in order to enroll. While they might have tens of millions of dollars to award in financial aid, the amount is still finite. As a result, they have to make hard decisions with regard to where and how they will invest their funds.
Short of winning the lottery—in which case your daughter's "need" of financial support goes away—it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the institution will change its position regarding your daughter's status. Hopefully, she has been admitted at other schools that value her attendance such that they have extended the financial aid she will need to address her college expenses.
[Use 6 tips to get off of college wait lists.]
We are looking at high schools, both public and private, for our children. Which will give them a better chance of getting into the colleges they desire?
This is a question I get fairly often as parents seek a strategic advantage for their children as they anticipate the college admissions process. Frankly, it's impossible to provide an answer that is foolproof, as the options in public and private secondary education run the gamut from the exceptional to the "extremely challenged."
As you research the possibilities, be sensitive to environments in which your children will be comfortably engaged, appropriately challenged, and knowledgeably supported in college planning. They are likely to do their best work at such places. Ultimately, it is what each does with the experience, wherever and however it is defined, that will make the greatest difference with regard to outcomes.