Wednesday Weekly Reader: 5 Stories

Recent news from the college admissions / search / finance front.

1. Choose carefully, allow enough time, and more from 5 Tips for Securing Recommendation Letters, from The College Admissions Insider at usnews.com.

Contrary to popular belief, your most insightful supporter may not be the teacher regarded as the most popular.

2.  According to Daniel de Vise, who blogs at Post Local on washingtonpost.com, colleges are replacing loans with no-pay grants for their neediest students. 

More than 70 colleges have replaced loans with grants in financial aid awards, at least for their neediest students, a wave of largess that spread nationwide in 2007 and 2008. Now, some of the first students to benefit are graduating, often debt-free.

3.  A midsummer update from the financial aid front:  This Year’s “Summer Melt” May Be Worth Thousands of Dollars to College-Bound Students. This via My College Admissions Blog at MyCollegeCalendar.org.

During the next few weeks, students interested in obtaining money (or additional money) for college should call their college’s financial aid office to politely ask if any additional scholarship money has recently become available and express how they (the student) wish to be considered for any of the newly available scholarships.

Statue of Martin Brewer Anderson on the Univer...

University of Rochester. Image via Wikipedia

4.  Here’s some interesting data from the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Rochester on how their merit aid stacked up according to a variety of factors. As financial advisors always remind us, past performance does not predict future results — the same goes for financial aid from the University of Rochester or any other college. However, looking at the factors that made a difference in UR’s aid packages can yield valuable information. See it here.

12 steps that mattered for earning merit scholarships in the UR Class of 2015

Academic excellence:

  1. Taking AP, IB, honors, and/or advanced courses (when available at the school) mattered. Rule of thumb: Merit awards increased on average $400 per rigorous course.
  2. Grades. Rule of thumb: Each semester academic course “A” grade translated into $62 more in merit. And—ahem—grades other than “A” reduced eligibility.
  3. Tests. Rule of thumb: In effect (not by design), UR awarded $115 more in merit on average for every 10 points higher on the SAT, or $425 for each 1 point higher ACT composite. So (for example), a student with three 750s on the SAT on average received $1,725 more in scholarship than a student with three 700s. That’s nice, but note that time and money spent prepping for and taking tests has a limited return-on-investment.

5.  Finally, Social Media seems to be helping fix the age-old problem of a bad roommate match. Apparently, students (and their parents) have used Facebook to scope out the new roommate. Some colleges have helped facilitate this by offering SM matching tools. This positive results report came from a RoomSync client at a Housing Officers conference this week.

University of Florida’s TJ Logan shared what the institution’s experience has been with roommate matching on Facebook.

Here are some highlights:

  • Over 1,400 (>25%) incoming students used the network in 2010
  • Pairing led to an increase in diversity, with less Caucasians assigned together compared to recent years
  • 65% of hall staff surveyed reported a decrease in roommate conflicts
  • When conflicts did occur, 48% of hall staff said the conflicts were less severe
  • Students reported that even if they didn’t find a roommate, the roommate matching process provided them an opportunity to make friends before arriving on campus

Any of this useful? Please let me know. What have you read?

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