To get the full “return” on this investment, it’s important
that you not just attend college but earn a degree.
A person with a degree has considerably more earning potential than does a
person who simply took some courses.
For this reason, graduation rates are justifiably an
important factor in college searches. However, Montgomery
Educational Consulting cautions against too quickly dropping a school from
consideration simply because it has a somewhat low graduation rate. At many
inexpensive schools (e.g., community colleges and public universities),
graduation rates are adversely affected by factors outside of the school’s
control, such as students’ family responsibilities.
Of course, it’s also possible that the school has real
shortcomings that frequently make it difficult for students to graduate. If you
find that a reputable college has a somewhat low graduation rate, you should
dig deeper. Find serious students at the school and ask them questions. Ask
them what advising is like and how difficult it is for them to get into the courses they
need to graduate. If they are satisfied with their experiences at the school,
chances are you will be too.
here to read more on the Montgomery Educational Consulting blog.
So don’t let this student get away with just
giving you prepared lines about the campus; ask him lots of questions! According
Choice, the answers you receive can give you a sense of the personality of
the student body and the academic culture at the school. Click
here to read more.
This year’s admission and financial
aid offers are starting to roll in, which means that many students and
families will soon have important decisions to make.
Unfortunately, these decisions, tough to begin with, are
often complicated by aid offers that are difficult to read—and compare.
Different colleges describe their various costs and awards
differently. Some lump loans
while others separate them. Some list their full cost
of attendance, while others list only their tuition.
has created a financial aid comparison spreadsheet that will help you to
organize all of the information you receive in different colleges’ aid awards.
It will allow you to directly compare costs, scholarships, etc. Click
here to check it out.
However, a recent
project from a professor
at Williams College shows that a strong liberal
arts education will position you well for work in a number of different
fields. The professor tracked the major and eventual career of over 15,000
Williams grads. Click here
for a visual representation of his results—you’ll see there’s a lot you can do with
a liberal arts degree.
For more on the value of a liberal arts degree,
check out this
post from the College Solution.
Does your ideal college experience involve plenty of time off
If so, you might be interested in the American Institute for
Economic Research's College
Destinations Index—a list of 75 great cities and towns for college students.
Here are some highlights:
Best “major city”: Boston, MA
Best “mid-sized city”: San Jose, CA
Best “small city”: Ann Arbor, MI
Best “town”: Ithaca, NY
In identifying these cities and towns, the American
Institute for Economic Research considered several factors, including the percent
of the population currently in college, the percent of the population with a bachelor’s
degree, the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment, and the average salary
Many colleges will consider whether an applicant can afford
to pay full tuition
when deciding whether to admit him or her.
This practice—called “need aware” admissions—is very much unfair
to those applicants who need financial
aid (and most
However, it’s also frequently misunderstood. A recent New
York Times article explains that, even at “need aware” colleges, the most
qualified applicants—regardless of financial circumstances—are on the same playing
field. It is qualified applicants on the borderline of being accepted that will
get a boost from their ability to pay the full “sticker price” without aid.
There’s an important takeaway here for those who want aid.
Specifically, if you’re applying to “need aware” colleges, most of them should
schools” for you—i.e., your credentials (GPA, test
scores, etc.) should comfortably exceed the typical admitted student’s. (Click
here for more info on choosing safeties.)
As you are looking for aid, I’d also suggest that these
schools be ones that offer generous merit
aid to students with relatively strong credentials. (Click
here to search for schools with large merit awards.)
When choosing colleges, be sure to ask them—politely—whether
they are “need aware” (note: “need sensitive” means the same thing). The
alternative is “need blind”—such schools admit all students without regard to
their financial circumstances. Many of these schools, particularly the highly selective
ones, meet the full financial need of all
of their admitted students.
If any of the colleges on your list are in places that get
really cold weather, you should try to visit
them during the winter.
This is particularly true if you’re from a warmer climate; you
should experience the cold first-hand before you sign up for it. In some
places, winter lasts from October to April.
However, even if you’re quite familiar cold weather, it can
still be informative to visit a campus during the winter. Such a visit will
tell you how the campus community handles the cold. Are students still upbeat
and active? Or are they in “hibernation mode”?
Just make sure to call the school before your visit to make
sure it is not on spring break when you plan to go—you want to be there while
classes are in session!
here to read more about wintertime visits from Montgomery Educational
Almost everything in the world of MOOCs
is big: the names involved (the schools and
the profs), the number of students enrolled (hundreds of thousands in some MOOCs),
and the ambitions (nothing less than revolutionizing higher education).
The revenue stream, on the other hand, is still pretty small.
Most MOOCs are totally free to students, though some providers offer proctored
final exams for a fee.
With little money coming in, how do MOOC providers plan to
A recent article on the Chronicle
of Higher Education discusses some potential revenue sources MOOC
providers have discussed. These include the following:
Allowing employers to recruit their top students.
Posting advertisements (e.g., from textbook
sellers) and product endorsements.
Licensing their MOOCs to traditional colleges.
If you’re thinking about enrolling in MOOCs to supplement to
your college education, you should keep in mind that this phenomenon is still
young and it’s changing fast. It might look very different in a few years.