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College Corner: Opening up college options

[/media-credit] FC academic advisor Michelle Warkentin encourages seniors to apply to some back up schools in case their first choice does not work out.

“What do you mean I may not get into UCLA?” Thousands of high school seniors anxiously await their admission decision into their dream school. But how many of them are actually prepared with several viable back up plans?

Usually in my job I get to play the role of a cheerleader, encouraging students to dream big and shoot for the stars. However sometimes I end up having to play the opposing team, with a few hard blocks and interceptions. In the game of college admissions it is important to play the field. I encourage students to keep their options open. In addition to applying to their number 1, 2, and 3 choice schools they should also have some safety and back up schools in the line up. It is not too late to add colleges to the list, many colleges have a rolling admission deadline and are still accepting applications.

Students must be willing to explore different options and seek out what the Lord has in store for them. Colleen Ault, University Admissions Counselor for Grand Canyon University advises students to keep an open mind about their future. “God often has plans for us that are different than our own.  Students in their senior year of high school are transitioning from one stage of life to another, which can be emotional and complicated.  Things change and therefore it is a great idea to allow yourself to be able to change something.” Ault goes on to share her personal experience of switching from UC Davis to a small Christian University in Canada in April of her senior year.

I encourage students to keep their options open. In addition to applying to their number 1, 2, and 3 choice schools they should also have some safety and back up schools in the line up. It is not too late to add colleges to the list, many colleges have a rolling admission deadline and are still accepting applications. –Michelle Warkentin

Choosing a college is not an easy decision and there are so many factors that must be considered when committing to one. Unless you are a billionaire, paying for college is stressful, and the amount of scholarships offered is a major determining factor. According to Ault, “GCU partners with Fresno Christian as well as other Christian high schools, offering a $5,000 scholarship to each Fresno Christian graduate for every year at GCU in addition to their academic scholarships which ranges from $4,000-$10,000.” Although the price tag starts out higher at Christian colleges, they usually offer more and significantly larger scholarships.

According to the University of California, Los Angeles’ Higher Education Research Institute determined that “less than 57 percent of this year’s freshmen are attending their first-choice schools. That is the lowest figure since UCLA began tracking that information in 1974” (Decrease in students attending dream college). One of the biggest reasons for this is a lack of funds. The article goes on to say, “Nearly 26 percent of students who were accepted into their top pick ultimately opted not to enroll because they received no financial aid”.

[/media-credit] Warkentin is available to meet with students in her office upstairs in Building 6.

Although these statistics may seem bleak for our high school seniors, the numbers are not all disparaging. “Three-quarters of freshmen gained admission to their first-choice school, which is consistent with what UCLA has found in recent years” (Decrease in students attending dream college). This simply tells us that students are keeping their options open and are not willing to break the bank just to go to their first choice school.

Ault suggests that students do their research so when the time comes to choose their college, they will be prepared. “I would go on You Tube and look up videos that give you a flavor of the schools you are interested in.  I would pray and ask God to close doors and open doors for you to walk through.  I would think long term of what you are really desiring- whether it be affordability, environment, academics, size etc. and pursue the best options for yourself and your family.”

Choosing a college is a major decision and one that should not be taken lightly. The best advice I can offer is to plan ahead, have a back up plan, and be willing to follow the Lord’s leading- being flexible and make adjustments along the way. Another way to start planning ahead for college financially is by applying for both institutional aid and private scholarships.

For more information, check out my previous article College Corner: Scoring Free Money for College

 

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    Trevor TrevinoDec 17, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Mrs. Warkentin has helped me out tremendously with the application process. This is an awesome article.

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