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College Admissions Survival Guide

Michael Fleischner

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So, you've got a son or daughter that is headed for college. That's wonderful! But how are they going to get there? Help them develop a strategic plan to make the college admissions process run as smoothly as possible.

Financial Aid

As a parent, the first thing you are worrying about is probably the cost of higher education. State and local schools are usually thought of as less expensive than private schools, but you would be surprised by the financial aid packages that private schools can offer. Sometimes, a private school can offer a desirable student scholarships and grants that make the private school the less expensive option.

If your child is passionate about applying to a particular private school because it offers a great program for their intended major, it is best to let them apply and compare the tuition numbers after you find out what kind of aid the schools will offer your child.

Also, be sure to look into FAFSA applications. The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form that is required to determine your qualifications for financial assistance to any school your child wants to attend.

If you plan on looking into any sort of financial aid at any college, you need to fill out a FAFSA. The Federal Student Aid Information Center will answer all your questions about the FAFSA process. Call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) between 8 a. m. and midnight Eastern time. They are available seven days a week.

Keep in mind that state deadlines are usually much earlier than state deadlines, so be sure to look into your local requirements as soon as possible.

FAFSA aid is by no means the only student aid that is out there, though. Many private businesses and local civic organizations offer scholarships for college bound students.

Scour the Internet to find all of the local scholarships your son or daughter is eligible for, and then encourage them to apply. For example, the local Rotary or even steel mills likely award at least a few hundred dollars to students each year.

Sometimes, your child might even be eligible for a scholarship because of their heritage or even the profession of their parents or grandparents.

Application Process

When your child is ready to apply to the colleges of their choice, be sure they have a variety of schools. If their heart is set on Northwestern University, for example, make sure they are also applying to another school as a back-up. Even if your child is a straight A student with perfect SAT scores, that doesn't guarantee they will be accepted to their first choice school. Make sure the list of schools is diverse to ensure they will have options.

Help your child to revise their essays and assemble their letters of recommendation. Ask them if they would like your help organizing their applications.

Once the applications are sent, realize that the best thing you can do for your child is support them. As they nervously watch the mailbox for letters of acceptance, you must realize that they feel like their whole life hinges on the decisions of other people.

Once the applications hit the mail, the best thing you can do for your son or daughter is to be their friend. Even if they don't get into their dream school, let them know they are still a success in your eyes.

Michael Fleischner the Managing Director of EssayEdge and ResumeEdge which provide college application essay help and resume writing services. He has appeared on The TODAY Show, Bloomberg Radio, and other major media. For additional information, visit The Marketing Blog .


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