Questions abound when parents and students are moving through the college admissions process, especially when everyone has a story to tell about who got in where and the media reports the falling admit rates at selective universities around the country, as well as annually rising college tuition and increasing average student loan amounts. A recent presentation with parents at a local Sacramento high school was no exception. Creative Marbles expands our answers to select questions asked at last week’s presentation.
- Regarding 2013-14 School Year Federal Student & Parent Loan Interest Rates
3.86% for Federal Student Loans (fixed for the life of the loan) and 6.41% for Federal Parent PLUS Loans (fixed for the life of the loan)
- On Paying for College
Generally, parents feel the pressures of paying for college before their children. While teens typically know that college costs tens of thousands of dollars, they may not have a context of what that means for the family budget. Open and continuous discussions can help teens understand the financial responsibility parents are assuming, as well as help them find a way to participate. While these discussions can change the parent-child dynamic, the shared responsibility can help teens grow and parents feel less stress. Plus, understanding the value of their college education, in relation to the costs, can serve as a life long lesson.
- Thoughts about Choosing Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities are one component of a college application. The time spent outside of the classroom should follow the interests of the student. In our decade of experience, I have not seen a hierarchy of importance when colleges consider extracurricular activities, as part of the application evaluation, as we podcasted about here.
- More about Writing College Essays
While format (i.e. word count, punctuation, intro-body-conclusion) are important so the applicant can convey his/her message, a topic that reveals greater insights about the student is generally the primary asset of a college essay. However, students can sometimes put greater emphasis on the format, which makes writing the college essay even more complicated, which we discussed here, here and here. Writing the essay in steps and over multiple drafts can help reduce the stress, as early drafts can focus on content and later editing will consider format. Again, the challenge for the typical Senior will be NOT approaching the college essay like an everyday homework assignment.
Additionally, another recent post inspired by our discussion with local Hewlett-Packard employees earlier in September may further illuminate other concerns families have about guiding their children toward college.