Why Students Are Taking so Long to Graduate and what You Can Do About It

One of the measures of quality of any college is its graduation rate.  Many would expect that it takes 4 years to earn a 4-year bachelor’s degree, however, this is frequently not the case.  Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics reports that roughly one third of college students will change their major. This fact should worry parents who pay the tuition bill.

 Changing majors late in the course of the allotted four years comes with an expensive consequence.  The student is likely to need more time to complete the requirements associated with the new major, and this can add up to a big expense for students and parents. The fact that college costs go up every year in almost all cases means that the last year of college will be the most expensive.

 What can be done about this commonplace phenomenon? As parents, you can try to expose your students to a variety of activities with a goal of uncovering their interests, hoping your student will discover their talents. While this is not a proven approach, it is better than sitting back and blindly guessing. Naviance, if your school uses it, provides an interest assessment. Many mistake the interest assessment for an aptitude test. It is not. The problem with any interest assessment is that self-reported information is collected. Your student is asked about their level of interest in various areas of work utilizing Holland Codes.  Their level of interest can be affected by their mood and their exposure, tied to specific life experiences.

 A reliable solution can be found in an aptitude assessment. Aptitudes remain constant once a student reaches 14 years old. They are a measure of your student’s ability to obtain a skill in the future. Additional benefits of an aptitude assessment include the establishment of self-awareness. If we all understood our strengths and weaknesses we could choose our careers with our eyes wide open and with an understanding of where our challenges lie. If we chose careers that utilized out innate talents, we would be more effective, more efficient, and less frustrated. As parents, we not only want our children to be successful, we want them to be happy. Given the amount of time individuals spend working, securing an aptitude test for your student is an investment in their happiness and protection for your wallet where college costs are concerned.

 CollegeGPS offers such a solution.

 Contact CollegeGPS to schedule an aptitude assessment for your student. The results will delight you. Click contact us.

NJ Ranks # 1 for Boomerang Kids

Boomerang kids are 18 to 34 year old students living at home with their parents. If you are wondering what could be worse than that, at this very moment, I am with you! Here is the ranked list:

  1. New Jersey - 47%

  2. Connecticut

  3. New York

  4. Maryland

  5. Florida

  6. California

  7. Rhode Island

  8. Pennsylvania

  9. Massachusetts

  10. Mississippi

You may notice that this list contains states located on the east coast, with the exception of California, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi. Research tells us that states with the lowest concentrations of adult children living at home were located in the Midwest and Mountain states. I share this with you because some of you may feel inclined to relocate after ready these statistics.

It is important for us to think about what contributes to this phenomenon so we can avoid creating our own boomerang kids. I think we can agree that the cost of living in New Jersey is quite high. There is a lack of affordable housing, and high expenses like car insurance all contribute to this problem. You should also be aware that student loan debt will play a big role in preventing your children from establishing their independence.

I met with a family who needed to borrow $ 45k for the first year of college at Monmouth University. The dad went online and applied for a private loan with an interest rate of 9.99%. His interest rate was very surprising because he had a nearly perfect credit score and paid all his bills on time. I was able to show him that his $45k loan was was really going to cost him over $87k, for one year of college!

Avoid the mistakes that will create boomerang kids living under your roof till they are 34 years old. Remove yourself from the 47%. Visit www.collegegps.education to learn how to avoid the costly mistakes others make. Join the email list for college tips delivered right to your inbox.

Count Down to College Essays

In just a few months the current class of high school juniors will begin working on college essays, making this an ideal time for self-reflection. This is a good time for students to begin to identify what makes them who they are and what they would like to highlight for the admissions office. The college essay is a tool to complete the student’s narrative and makes a very important contribution to the college application.

Selective colleges want to gain perspective about a student’s writing ability. Since writing is a required skill at the college level, writing proficiency is highly valued and can also be viewed as an indicator of future college success. During what is often a brief review of a student’s college application, the student has an opportunity to capture the attention of the admissions officer through their skillfully crafted essay, proving their prowess.

The essay should also reveal something about the student’s personality. The admissions office deliberately builds their freshman class in an effort to construct their college culture. They would like to know if the student fits in. This is the time for students to reflect on who they are and convey that definition to the admissions office through their essay. The admissions office wants to become acquainted with the student and the student’s high school transcript doesn’t tell them enough. This is the time to highlight what makes the student unique, always focusing on the positive of course, and don't be afraid to get personal!

The college wants students who have something to contribute. Student activists or those involved in service work, for example, can help to build the college’s reputation. These students contribute by creating change on campus and in the community. The essay can be used as a tool to illustrate what the student can give back to the college community.

The task of an admissions officer, or the review committee, is not an easy one during application season. They often lock themselves in a room to read tens of thousands of applications. You can just imagine their frustration over their obligation to read countless unsatisfactory essays. Conversely, you can think about what an appealing diversion the occasional well-written, revealing essay provides. Make sure your essay is one of the good ones.

Some practical advise regarding college essays:

·      Do not write they way you speak. Writing is considered one of the highest forms of communication. The student should attempt to show sophistication in their writing style and avoid slang. Phrases like “freak out” and “messing with each other” are not likely to impress those reading your essay.

·      What you write about is as important as how you write it. If you can convince your reader that you are likable, your essay will serve you well. Weave in a subtle message about your character if possible. If you are respectful, compassionate, hard working, or possess integrity, share that!

·      It may be a good idea to read examples of other college essay but do not try copy the style of the ones you’ve read. Be original. Be yourself.

Perhaps most importantly, help is available to guide you through the entire college process, including your essay. You don’t have to do it alone. Contact CollegeGPS to learn how we can help.




The Important Differences Between ED, EA, and RD.

If you are the parent of a high school junior and want to give your student an opportunity to get into the college of their dreams, it is vitally important that you understand the differences between early action (EA), early decision (ED) and regular decision (RD) and their impact on your student’s chances of acceptance and when you need to start to make it happen.

Early decision (ED) gives students a better chance of acceptance, if the cost of college is not the driving factor in the college selection process. Admit rates can be as much as 2 times higher!  This is a binding agreement that is not right for every family and requires students to have their completed applications in order by the colleges’ set deadlines, which are much earlier that the regular decision deadlines.

Early action (EA) is an option, and possibly a better one, for students who feel uncomfortable with making a commitment to 1 college without knowing their out-of-pocket cost or having a chance to compare offers from other colleges.  It is a good way to show colleges your level of demonstrated interest, which can be a significant factor in gaining acceptance. Applications must be completed by the colleges’ set deadline, which are, again, much earlier than the regular decision deadlines.

Regular decision (RD) is an option for students who did not plan early. They face an ocean of competition. This is a good option for students who haven’t earned their best test scores and might need to schedule another test date, or who haven’t secured their letters of recommendation. They may not have written their college essay or decided where to apply. I think you can see the disadvantages piling up.

Unfortunately, many students and their parents find out far too late that they are at a disadvantage in the college application process.  Waiting limits every family’s options. Give your student the help they need to navigate the final phase of the path toward college. Contact College GPS for a complimentary college meeting or phone call. We're here to help and guide your student through this turbulent time.





My Grown Up Christmas List

As a college planner and the mother of a high school senior, I see the challenges students and families face regarding college every day.  I have lived through the process of trying to inspire and motivate my daughter to take the steps that will ensure her acceptance to her best- fit college.  At times this has been frustrating for both of us.  We have argued.  Both of us have cried.  We have agreed to disagree on several occasions.  Being the parent of a high school senior during the college application phase is not an enviable position.  It is, perhaps, the most stressful and anxious phase of parenting.

My daughter is fortunate that I know the steps required in creating her successful college plan. Most families are not as fortunate and find themselves drowning in a sea of confusion.  The lack of information and support for parents renders them incapable of helping their children navigate one of the most important and most expensive decisions of their lives.  

I shared with a colleague today that without my knowledge of college planning, I would have made the tragic mistakes many families make regarding college selection.  I would have steered my daughter away from colleges having a high cost of attendance because I would have assumed those schools to be out of my financial reach.  As a result, my daughter would have had fewer choices and would have been forced to attend a school I could afford, rather than the school where she would have received the education I want her to have, where she would have experienced success, and she would have graduated in the shortest time possible, having minimal, if any, student loan debt.  My expertise in college planning prevented me from from making those mistakes.  Today I congratulate my daughter on her acceptance to her best-fit and first choice school.  She has worked hard and deserves my recognition.  While we wait for her award package to become finalized, we have reason to believe that her award will cover most of this single mother’s worries.  I am happy for both of us.

The journey my daughter and I have taken together has been challenging.  Having the knowledge that she will soon land safely where we both want her to be gives me peace of mind and is the best Christmas gift I will receive this year.  I wish all of you that same kind of peace this holiday season. 

If you find yourself stressed out and worried about college, getting the help you need will provide peace of mind and is as simple as contacting College GPS: help@collegegps.education or pick up the phone and call  me (732) 841-5262.  Wishing you all the peace and joy the holiday season brings and have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016!


Lisa and College GPS