While much information about getting into college and the standard admissions process is cut and dry, there are secrets colleges don’t want you to know. These secrets can save students a ton of money on tuition and help ensure the best deal on a college education. This can substantially reduce the cost of the same degrees at the same schools, thus reducing the amount of student debt.
It Pays BIG to Be a Great Student
To save a lot of money: Be a standout student in high school, preferably at a smallish school. Students are judged academically against their peers. Academics are the most important factor to college admissions officers.
Excellent students not only have more scholarship opportunities available, they also have more clout when it comes to negotiating a better deal on tuition. Savvy students and their parents can have private colleges compete for them by offering better financial awards — including bigger scholarships.
But You Can Still Buy Your Way In, Apparently…
If you are not a great student you can still go to college — it will just take a lot more money. According to Inside Higher Ed, 25% of college admissions officers surveyed said they had been pressured by administrators to let poor grades slide for certain students. Ten percent of those surveyed admitted outright that students who have the ability to pay full tuition are accepted regardless of academic performance.
Rich kids also get automatically wait-listed at exclusive private schools as a courtesy to donors, also known as mom, dad, grandpa, aunt, etc.
Nothing is Guaranteed
However, being on the wait list isn’t a guarantee of admission. In fact, in 2011 only 11-28% of wait-listed students were admitted, depending on how selective the school is.
Ability to pay is only one factor involved in who is accepted off the wait list. If the school is not the student’s first choice it can be interpreted as a lack of interest in the school and can prevent admission. Showing interest is important, but students should not needlessly email the admissions counselor just express interest. Feel free to get in touch with them with legitimate questions.
Always be humble and polite. Remember, the admissions officer literally has your future in their hands.
In the same vein, schools buy data in bulk and send application invitation packets to many students, based on SAT scores. This is in no way an assurance of acceptance. Here again, academics are crucial.
The Degree is More Important than the School
In a 2014 Gallop poll, 84% of employers agree the amount of knowledge in the field a job candidate has is most important. Only 9% felt that where the applicant got their degree was important. Students should choose the school that is the best fit; odds are against a potential employer having any problem with a degree from an accredited college or university.
Check Out Alternative Credit Options
Many students rack up unnecessary student debt by taking courses they don’t need. Some courses in high school may be transferable for college credit – which is another reason to ace your college prep courses.
Students may also take CLEP and AP competency exams to skip basic or remedial courses, which can translate in to big savings in time and tuition.
A jump on credits can also be had by getting them out of the way at a community college or through online courses.
Whitewash Your Social Media Accounts
College admissions officers will most definitely look up applicants on Facebook. There’s no doubt that social media gives a powerful first impression. Make sure it’s a good one.