AIEmail

FEATURE

Three things for high school seniors to consider when applying for college


There's a lot to know about the college application process, but we're here to help. This week's edition of AIEmail provides some context on three important questions:

  • How many AP or IB or Honors courses should I take?
  • Are private colleges too expensive for most people to even consider?
  • How can I manage the cost of applying to college?

How many AP or IB or Honors courses should I take?

In a feature on college applications, Boston.com recently shared some advice on this matter from a senior vice president for students and enrollment at Brandeis University. His view on selection strategies for advanced courses was that it's all about balance. On the one hand, sure, those kinds of courses are impressive. On the other, there's some risk of overdoing it and stretching yourself too thin. The article sums it up this way: "You should strive to have at least SOME of these advanced courses, but you don't have to have a HUGE number. Got that?"

Are private colleges too expensive for most people to even consider?

A recent CNN article on myths and misconceptions about college points out that private colleges may be more affordable than many people think. Why? Because there's often a big difference between the advertised price and the price most people pay. For very good students, many private colleges are willing to adjust the price through merit aid. The article cites a National Association of College and University Business Officers statistic showing that last year the average discount hit 45%, a record high.

How can I manage the cost of applying to college?

A recent news story on the expense of even applying to college points out that senior year can be tough on parents' wallets! The SAT costs $51, plus $24 to $50 for each subject test. Advanced Placement exams cost $89 dollars, and many college applications can cost over $50, and sometimes the price is closer to $100!

The good news is that waivers are available in some cases. Even if you're not able to qualify for a waiver, you can hold expense down by targeting your applications to just a few schools. That's a more efficient approach than applying to lots of schools for which you may lack real interest. In fact, you might want to reread last week's edition of AIEmail, which explained the strategy of putting together a few excellent applications at schools you've carefully selected and would really like to attend.

You're likely to have more questions about the college application process as the year goes on, and we'll continue to send information to help you find your way.