Creating a College Search Spreadsheet

As soon as you start thinking of schools you may be interested in researching during your college search, you should start keeping track of them. A spreadsheet is a useful tool to keep track of colleges and narrow down to the list of those you want to seriously consider.

You will want to include the following basic information on your spreadsheet:

1. School Name

2. School Location – city and state

3. Number of students

4. Cost to attend

You will also want to add additional information that is important to you. Some examples are:

• How many miles is the school from home or what is the estimated driving time?

• What types of scholarships might you be eligible for?

• Does the school have a major you think might be your first choice?

• When are visit days available?

• What special programs does the school have that you are interested in – honors program, study abroad, leadership program, etc.

• What athletic division is the school?

• Does the school have a varsity sport you are interested in?

• How selective is the school in its admissions?

One benefit of using a spreadsheet for this information is that it gives you the ability to easily sort by any column you create. For example, you could sort the schools by distance from home, by cost, or by size. You can also filter by any of the columns you create, like maybe you want to only see a list of schools that have your intended major or have Division 1 athletics. Another benefit of using a spreadsheet is the ability to add columns as you decide to track additional information.

At the start of your college search process, it is helpful to add any school you think of to your spreadsheet. Record the details and explore the school further. Once you start visiting schools, you can start eliminating some of the schools on your list according to your likes and dislikes. For example, maybe you realized that your ideal school size is less than 2,000 students. In that case, you can eliminate any schools on the list that exceed that number. Maybe you have decided you want to stay within two hours of home – eliminate any schools that are farther away.

As you start narrowing down your original list, you can add detail to gauge your interest level in each school. A color-coding process can be helpful for this. Use a color to signify all schools you plan to visit. Use another color for the schools you visited and liked. Add a column to record your overall impressions of each school.

A college search spreadsheet is a great tool to keep you organized throughout your college search and help you in making your ultimate college choice.

ACT Or SAT? Five Tips to Pick the Right College Entrance Exam

The SAT and ACT are both respected, nationally-recognized tests. Historically, there’s been a geographic divide between the two; nowadays, very few colleges require or prefer one test over the other. So which one should you take? Well, since you can’t really say one test is any easier than the other, that all depends on your skills and preferences. Basically, you should go for the one you’ll score higher on!

Here are some tips to help you make your decision:

1. Who says size doesn’t matter?

The ACT is a shorter test. The SAT takes a whopping 3 hours, 45 minutes, while the ACT comes out to a hefty 2 hours, 55 minutes, making the SAT about 30% longer than the ACT. Either way, you’re stuck taking a long test. If you have a ridiculously short attention span, then the ACT might be right for you, but realistically, after nearly 3 hours, why sweat an extra 50 minutes?

2. When in doubt, just guess… right?

The SAT has a guessing penalty – minus a quarter of a point for each incorrect response. Not so with the ACT. Guess away! So you should answer every question on the ACT, but on the SAT, you should just leave the answer blank when you can’t eliminate at least one answer choice. Does this make the SAT “harder”? Not really. With the right strategies, you can even make the SAT’s guessing penalty work to your advantage.

3. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s superscore!

The SAT reports each of your three “subscores” separately-one each for critical reading, writing, and mathematics. So, many colleges will combine your best three subscores from all the times you’ve taken the SAT to make a “superscore.” In the past, schools would not do this with the ACT. Recently, however, many schools have begun to make ACT “superscores” too.

4. What is the difference anyway?

Both tests have a grammar, reading comprehension, essay and math portions. The ACT has an extra “science” section, but don’t worry. I used quotes because it’s really just another test of your reasoning skills – not much chemistry, physics or biology knowledge needed. Broadly speaking, the ACT tests skills that you (should have) learned in high school, while the SAT tries to evaluate your innate problem-solving abilities.

For example, the ACT math section tests a few topics that typically aren’t covered until pre-calculus. While the SAT leaves out these topics, its math problems generally have more complicated setups.

The ACT’s essay is optional, but some colleges require it anyway. Its essay topics are always questions of school policy, while the SAT’s essays deal with more abstract moral or philosophical issues.

In the critical reading sections, the SAT’s vocabulary is harder, but the ACT taxes your critical reading and analysis skills. The ACT English section gives you a couple of long passages with grammar and critical reading questions mixed together; the SAT tests reading and grammar separately.

5. You can’t know if you like it till you’ve tried it!

How do I know which test is better for me? Try them! Take some free practice tests online and see which one fits your fancy. Both the SAT and ACT offer practice questions or tests on their official websites.

What to Expect While Waiting For Admission Decisions

You have undoubtedly worked hard to complete your applications and finally they are submitted! Now what? For the next few weeks, you may feel the anxiousness of the notorious college waiting game as nerves build and decision time gets closer.

Have the colleges received my application? An email is generally sent by the colleges confirming that they have received your application. If you do not hear back in about a week, contact the admissions office to confirm that they have received your materials. Every university has their unique admission requirements. So, do check and make sue you have followed all directions. If your application is incomplete, this could delay their review and your decision.

How can I check the status of my application? How often should I check it? There are applications status links on most every college website. Use the same log in information you used for your application and you should be able to access the university websites. Receipts of transcripts, letters of recommendation, and test scores are sometimes on these status pages, so feel free to check back as often as you like.

What should I do while I wait? This is a good time to make universities aware of changes or additions to your files. Have you moved? Changed schools? Improved grades? Won any additional awards not posted on your application? Participated in additional and/or relevant activities? Also, you could do additional research on the colleges on your list so you can make an informed decision when the time comes.

How are admissions decisions made? It’s hard to be certain about why a particular applicant gains acceptance as there are so many variables that enter into the decision making process. Some universities divide up applications based on geographical region and regional representatives review those applications. Other colleges may have several admission committees who make the final choices. In addition to your transcripts, essays, recommendations, completed applications, test scores (where required) and anything else you have toiled over, your high school will send a high school profile. This is information about the curriculum offerings at your high and perhaps its college acceptance history

When will I find out? If you applied for early decision, you should be notified around December 15th. If you applied to colleges where there is rolling admission, it generally can take six to eight weeks to receive a decision. Regular admission deadlines are around the 1st of the year and those decisions are revealed in March and April. You can obtain more specific information by visiting the colleges’ websites.

When should I be concerned if I have not heard from a college? Don’t wait more than three weeks to contact colleges if you have not received a confirmation. If you haven’t received a response, call or email the admissions office to check your status. You can also check the application status link on their websites.

Can I find my admission decision online? Most colleges send decisions electronically through the application status link and follow up with a letter.

What if I am accepted to one of the more likely schools on my list before I hear from one of my top choices? You generally have weeks before you need to respond to a college with your decision whether to attend or not. Don’t respond right away. This is a huge decision! Give yourself and your family time to receive all your acceptances so you can make the best choice. Have faith that you have completed the best applications possible and now it is out of your hands.

Best of luck!

Accredited Online College Degree – Studying Online Is An Advantage

As you can quite imagine the rapid advancement of technology has certainly opened up a lot of new opportunities for people wherever they may be in the world. As a great example of the growth of the internet and the world wide web we see many top American colleges and universities opening up their courses to American as well as foreign students who wish to study online. Today, many of these colleges and universities are offering accredited online college degree courses to students located in all corners of the world as far away as Asia and Australia.

It is not just a simple matter of signing up for these courses. Students are required to go through the usual application and student selection processes so as to be eligible to enroll in their accredited online college degree courses. Nevertheless, the fact that a student (no matter where they live) can study in the comfort of his or her home is already a huge advantage and draw card for many Universities offering highly respected and in-demand courses. This ‘online’ option is possibly the only one available for many students who are unable to fund the cost of relocating to the United States from abroad so they can study at a particular College or University.

Eligibility for Student Grants and Assistance

If you are accepted into an accredited online college degree at an American College or University then you may be eligible to apply for study grants and other financial assistance. Just because you are studying online does not mean that you are not considered to be a legitimate student of the College or University and accordingly you should investigate to determine what study grants and student financial assistance is available to you. As most colleges and universities have an ‘online application’ process for student grants and financial assistance you do not need to attend the campus to apply for support under these student assistance programs.

If you are enrolled in an accredited online college degree program the amount of financial assistance that you might be entitled to may differ from the assistance given to students who are studying on campus. In most situations an online student may only get a small fraction of the financial assistance that is given to students who are studying on campus.

The principal reason behind the reduced the amount of assistance that you can obtain as an online student is that as you are not living and studying on campus, and as a result you are likely to incur lesser costs and expenses compared to those students that are participating on campus.

Notwithstanding this differential in study grants and related financial support, the good news is that you would still be entitled to participate in any student loan program and would enjoy the same rate of interest and payment schemes as those students who are living and studying on campus. So if you are interested in an accredited online college degree offered by one of America’s most prestigious Colleges or Universities why not go online and apply for a position now.

Surviving Freshman Year at Bentley College

I am currently going to be a senior at Bentley College in Waltham, MA, so I have a lot of experience and know how things work at Bentley. As a freshman at Bentley College you will be living in the Tree Dorms, Slade Hall, or Miller Hall. If you have a choice I would highly recommend that you choose to live in the Tree Dorms because this is where the majority of freshman are going to be living, so there will be more activity going on in the building and you will meet more people. Slade Hall is across the parking lot from the Tree Dorms, so that would be my second choice and Miller Hall is small and kind of isolated, so that would be my last choice for freshman housing. If Bentley offers you the opportunity to live with upper class men I would decline their offer and live with freshman. It will make the transition into college life a lot easier.

I registered for classes during orientation and it is kind of a hectic time. Usually your first two years at Bentley you are focusing on satisfying your general education requirements, so registration your first two years is pretty easy. The classes that you take will pretty much be chosen for you, but you will still have the opportunity to select which professor you would like to take. I recommend that before you attend the Bentley orientation that you go on RateMyProfessors and SyllabusCentral and do a little research on professors so that you end up with some good professors your freshman year.

As a freshman you will mostly be eating at Season’s Dining Hall, Harry’s Corner, Boloco, and A&W. Your meal plan covers unlimited entries into Season’s Dining Hall, but the quality of food there isn’t too good. At Harry’s Corner you can use your discretionary money and Harry’s is good for getting a sub, pizza, or fried food like mozzarella sticks or chicken fingers. Harry’s is also close to freshman housing, so you will probably be going there a lot. Boloco and A&W are on lower campus, which is a good walk, but I think it is worth it for Boloco. Boloco is my favorite food on campus and once again they take discretionary money.

As a freshman your classes should be pretty easy. After freshman year your classes will become a lot more difficult, so I recommend that you buckle down and get some good grades to boost your GPA freshman year. It will be difficult to recover your GPA from a bad freshman year. There are two very easy things you can do to boost your GPA as a freshman. The first is to just go to class and the second is to always do your homework. Even if you homework isn’t going to be collected I still highly advise that you just do it on your own and try to stay disciplined. It is too easy to put your homework off and then get really behind and not be able to learn everything before a mid-term or final. Be sure to pace yourself throughout the semester and you should do fine.