The MEFA Institute: Helping Students and Parents Approach the College Choice Process Systematically

This webinar, presented by Dr. Amanda Sterk, Director of Accelerated Programs, Florida Southwestern State College and Dr. Timothy Poynton, Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston, two experienced educators with a passion for bringing tools and strategies to school counselors, help you assist your students with the college choice process using a strategy called LEADS. You can be able to take the strategies and tools shared during this webinar and immediately start using them as your work with students and families.

Download the webinar slides to follow along.


Please note that this transcript was auto-generated. We apologize for any minor errors in spelling or grammar.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: All right. Good morning, everyone. My name is Julie Shields Rutina, and I'm the Director of College Planning, Education, and Training at MIFA. And I'm so glad you can join us this morning for this MIFA Institute webinar on Helping Students and Parents Approach the College Choice Process Systematically.

And we are so fortunate to have two really wonderful presenters this morning. We have Dr. Amanda Sterk, who, yes, who works for Method Learning, and she is their college and career advising person, working with students and families. And we have Dr. Timothy Poynton, who is professor at UMass Boston.

Experienced educators with a passion for bringing tools and strategies to school counselors. And I think, um, you know what they share with you today, you're going to be able to take a lot of it and go back to your offices and begin using some of these tools, tools and strategies. So, um, this is great. I just also wanted to say that, um.

Continue to come back to MIFA and check out the offerings in the MIFA Institute. We have trainings on all kinds of topics and you can receive professional development points for attending. So you'll have the chance to send that in to us and we'll send you a certificate. So please continue to be in touch with MIFA.

And with that, I'm going to turn it over to our expert presenters.

Amanda Sterk: Great. Well, let's get started. You and Tim. We are excited to be here. Uh, just a little bit more about us. Um, myself is Dr. Sturk, Amanda Sturk, and um, I have been in education for over 20 years. I've been on every side of the coin. Everything from K 12, as a school counselor, a college counselor, private consulting.

And one of the things that I found as a counselor was really how do I help my students go through the process. And I was actually in a early college system where half my students weren't even on our campus. And so what I realized is there really wasn't a strong curriculum out there on how to sort of systematically walk my students through the process.

And what I found is when students came to me without sort of that process, I kept saying the same thing. I call it the 90 10 rule, right? About 90 percent of what we do, we say to the same, we say it over and over again, right? They kind of ask generic questions. And in my mind, I'm like, what happens if we flip the script?

What happens if we gave the students the 90 percent that's across the board in the college application process and the financial aid and scholarships, and I could really focus on the 10%. And so when I started introducing this curriculum to my own students, we went from about 500, 000. Of scholarships to over 10 million worth of scholarships.

We actually had our admissions double the amount of colleges we applied to doubled. And more importantly, I actually reduced some of my workload because instead of having these sort of, um, generic meetings all the time, I really could focus in on the student and really have better conversations. And So, um, as the curriculum grew, I started promoting it.

I reached out to Dr. Poynton and Dr. Lupan because they are like the gurus of college and career readiness and have extensive amounts of research. And I said, you know, let's build out a curriculum that actually works for you. for schools. And how do we do that? That's evidence based, research based and really can guide all students through the process.

And so that's how to kind of college amazed came about. And we just keep expanding, right? So we have a student workbook, um, that we sell all across the United States. We have a school based curriculum, we have a parent box, and we have other mini books like a parent guide, a dual enrollment book, and many others.

So really exciting what we've been doing and we definitely appreciate the partnerships like MIFA. So Dr. Poynton, he is amazing, and why don't you just introduce yourself for a minute?

Tim Poynton: Hi, Tim Poynton. Um, as Julie mentioned, I'm a counselor educator at, at UMass Boston. Previously worked as a school counselor in New York State, um, before switching my focus to counselor education.

But yeah, to give you the short version and what, what I guess motivates. Me and this work is, um, so part of the research that I did, um, relatively recently, about five or six years ago or so, I started doing research on college knowledge, um, and did a, did a study here, mostly in New England that focused on, um, measuring students college knowledge, um, developed a quiz, an assessment, um, called the College Admissions Knowledge Evaluation.

And what we learned was that when we surveyed graduating high school seniors, they scored about a 50. On the college knowledge test, um, a 50. So, um, students were making decisions about their post secondary planning and which college to attend in particular, um, with relatively little information, relatively little fact based information.

So, um, Kind of figuring out what I was going to do about that with, with, uh, Rich LaPanne, um, is when Amanda contacted us, said, hey, I've got this idea, I've got the student workbook that's focused in Florida, we want to go national, so to speak. So it was really good timing for us to, because I think that's what drives me and motivates me in this work, is trying to find ways to improve students and families college knowledge, and that's what we do in College Unmazed, is we try to develop tools and resources to facilitate that, and therefore facilitate the work.

Of counselors. Uh, the counselors are, and schools are really our, our primary target audience, if you will. So the workbook and the curriculum that we have, it's really designed for you to use in schools. So, um, rich Lapan, who's not here, I've been doing research with him probably for about the past 15, 15 or so years.

He, uh, he retired from, from UMass Amherst, uh, about two years ago now, but is still actively involved with us in college. Un maed.

Amanda Sterk: So we'll kind of go through, um, the system. Now we're not going to cover all the information today. We're really going to be covering sort of what we call section two, which will be the lead strategy. Um, but what we did, as Tim mentioned in college amazed is we really looked at the holistic process and at what point.

should students learn that critical college knowledge. And so, in the first half of the book, we have what we call developing your factors. And there's four key factors that we walk families and students through. It's your you factor, what sort of makes you unique, and that could be extracurriculars, it could be sort of your passion things, and how to connect with the community in your school.

We dive into your academic factor. So looking at your school based programs, dual enrollment, um, other outside opportunities to really kind of figure out, um, about rigor and honor honors courses and just who you are and how to sort of incorporate that. Uh, next we talk about your career factor, which is really going into sort of the Holland's codes and looking at your values, your interests, your abilities, and how that all comes.

together with the world of work, what you know, and then who you are and really putting those together. And then the last chapter of the first section is we decided to put money and having that conversation with families much earlier in the process. And so the money factor is actually built in very early to know that college is affordable or post secondary education is affordable and can definitely be doable.

And then again, like I said, today is going to be the primary focus on the second. half of the book, which is the lead strategy. So we'll be walking through how to build a college list. How do we walk students through exploring colleges, applying, deciding, and then succeeding, which I know as a counselor, I did really well on the list, explore, and even applying.

But the deciding and the succeeding is also really stuff that A lot of times we don't get to because the end of the year, lots of things are going on. So again, we want to be really intentional of walking students through that entire process. So you will see behind Tim and he can, he can model the posters.

Um, if you're interested in the posters, again, this comes from him and Rich's work on the cake. We really broke down the specific college knowledge of each of the key areas and each of the chapters. And so this is what we call our, uh, College Unmazed mind maps, and it walks them through kind of those key, um, vocab and sort of systematically going through that process.

If you're interested in these posters, they're 18 by 24. Um, we send them out for free all the time. Um, they're 18 by 24. You can just email me at ace dot

And I will be happy to get those into the mail. So these are really pretty. And then you can see here's the main ones and then the next one, um, will be the lead strategy. Okay. Yeah. We'll go back to that. Um, and this is the second map, which is the leads map. And then it's very specific again, that sort of.

scaffolded approach. And I find when I work with families, it's really easy to kind of point to where we're at in that process or like this is where we need to talk about. And so they kind of know exactly where they're at in that process. So let's go back to the lead strategy. So as I said earlier, this is going to be our primary focus that we're going to walk you through today.

Um, you know, when we start building lists, you know, I have a lot of that don't. Don't know where to start. You know, it's sort of overwhelming. And when you talk about you know, over 2400 four year post secondary institutions and over 4500, you know, two and four year institutions, we need to narrow that list down to a very manageable number.

So we really talk about at what point in that list strategy? Do we actually look at different factors or different what we call the six keys of college fit. And then we really walk students through the experience. So we're going to talk about the explore aspects where, how do you actually engage with the college and what is some of the data and information that you need to know, both on a website when you do a college visit when you do a college fair, and being very specific at how you sort of build that informational knowledge.

So, you know, if you're choosing a college that works for you, um, definitely apply as we know right now, a lot of the students are have finished up their applications, a few stragglers, but definitely just how that process works and how to make that easier to decide how do you actually funnel that down to the best decision and then actually developing a plan for success.

All right, Tim.

Tim Poynton: So, um, thank you, Amanda, for that, for that overview. So just before I get into that, I'll say the lead strategy, I know Amanda and Rich don't like it when I say this, but the lead strategy kind of describes, describes a process that I think most counselors already use to, to a large extent, right? Um, I, I think you all kind of routinely help students develop the list, explore the colleges on the, on their list to figure out which ones to apply to, and then, and then help them make a decision on which one is, is the best for them among those that they were accepted to.

But the, the succeed part and the. Specific explicit transition planning is the part that that I think we as counselors sometimes don't it's the end of the year. Um, that that we could use a little bit of outside help with perhaps. So I think that's a nice addition to the, to the, to what we have here. But, um.

It makes a nice acronym to think of the LEAD strategy, but, but it also is, is meaningful, but let's focus here on, on, um, in terms of making an informed decision, and it involves seeing kind of the whole picture, right? So here, when you look at this, um, this is, uh, from Gestalt Psychology, the figure ground principle, it's called.

And most people, when you look at this, you'll see one of two things. You'll either see an ornate vase, right? That's the black part, or you'll see two faces that are looking at each other, right? And that's, that's the white part. And just visually, psychologically, um, we often can't pay attention to the whole picture and see both of those, unless we spend more time looking at it or are told what to look for.

And that's really what Amanda mentioned with the six keys of college fit. That's what we're trying to help students and families. Do with the, what we call the six keys of college fit is really, um, take a look at the whole picture of the college to, to really evaluate how well the college fits them using the six, six keys of college fits, um, gives students families the tools.

To, to see the whole picture and to really understand the college. Um, I always like to say that, that uh, choosing a college involves attending to both facts and feelings. Um, and the six keys of college fit really provides a nice structure for, for figuring out and paying attention to the facts. And which facts to pay attention to.

Helps you um, pay attention to the ones that were important to you and also helps perhaps uncover ones that you, didn't think of considering, right? So, um, so we'll go through these six keys through each step of the LEAD strategy. Like, that's, that's basically how it works, is we use the LEAD strategy to, uh, figure out which of the six keys of college fit to look at at each step of the process.

Because the fact is, and I think you'd all agree with this, the fact is, is that, um, well, 20 years ago, uh, I think the problem was that there wasn't enough information for students and families about colleges, but now there's an overwhelming amount of information about colleges and families. About colleges available and data available about colleges.

It's overwhelming. So then people kind of throw their hands up and information overload, and then they don't use any of it or don't don't use very much of it. So that's what we've done with the six keys of college fit here is combining it with the lead strategies, helping you figure out which.

information to pay attention to at each step of the process. So I'll just go over them quickly here. Starting at the top, the academic match kind of describes how you fit academically into the environment. Um, it's where you think a little bit about what do accepted students look like in relation to my academic qualifications, if you will.

Um, Things like program size and availability are also part of that. What's the academic environment? The career match really talks about the career placement services and opportunities that are provided there to help you grow and understand career pathways and how that particular college can help you uncover and identify and solidify your plans in the career realm.

The financial match, obviously critically important, uh, it's understanding using that the Information that you learn from, from the first part of the book and the money factor chapter, but really understanding how, um, how financing works and how, um, that particular college that you're looking at, um, matches you in terms of.

finance. And one of the things, I think you all know this, but a lot of students and families don't know this, is that sometimes it's possible for a private college to be competitive cost wise with, with public colleges. And I don't know how many people in my own family have said, oh we're not looking at any private colleges because they're all too expensive.

And while their sticker price is more expensive, their, their um, cost of their actual net price is not. Um, I'm going through this, my daughter's actually going through the process right now, and she's gotten a really, some really competitive offers from private schools that, um, you know, before I started learning about this and doing this kind of work, I might not have even considered those schools, having attended a public university myself for my undergraduate.

So, so that's the financial match. The personal match is the things that a lot of students and families kind of naturally pay attention to. It's things like distance from home, um, What's the living arrangements? Um, what are the dorms like? Do they have programs for recreation things for me to do? Is the, is the student body diverse?

Are people going to look like me on that campus? Things like that are all part of what we call the personal match key. Um, the student outcomes is the data, the hard data on how successful the college is essentially at supporting students both in their first year through things like the retention rate and through their, um, fourth year or sixth year as the case may be, uh, their graduation rate, right?

Um, one of the things that's, that's alarming to, to a lot of people is to know that, um, the overall four year graduation rate across all, uh, four, uh, across all four year colleges, um, is in the mid 50%. Um, and that's an improvement. Um, not long ago it was in the mid 40%. So, lots of students, and these are only looking at students who start as full time, first time freshmen, um, a little more than half of them actually graduate in four years.

You bump that number up another 10 percent or so if you look at the six year graduation rate. But, I don't know about you, but I don't talk with many students and families who start college full time with a six year graduation plan, right? So these student outcomes are critically important. To, to, to look at and, and understand.

And, and the last key that we'll talk about is student support. Um, that's things like, uh, of all of the support services that are available, and they tend to exist on, uh, you know, sim, they're similar on a lot of college campuses, but some places have specific unique programs. Curry College with their PAL program, I believe it's called, for example, um, there may be some specific support services that you need that don't exist to the extent that you need them on college campuses.

So, so looking at the student supports that you need that are available in the colleges that you're considering is, is the last and final case.

Amanda Sterk: I'll just add in, Tim, I think what I found with when we talked to counselors about the six keys of college fit is, you know, we're, we've all done it. We're like, Oh, what's your fit?

And we use it as a very generic term. So this is actually one of the biggest things that counselors really gravitate towards because it provides you a way to really have these conversations and make student, make sure that students are looking at all the different factors that are important in making that final, you know, both the applied You know, when, where do I apply and where do I want to attend?

And also, you know, a lot of families, we find parents are maybe focused on the financial match and kids are focused on the personal match. So it just gives a nice point of sort of reference and communication. And when students, and I'm always so proud when a student would be like, Oh, well, I've checked out the adaptive services because of student support is really important to me.

And it's that sense of like pride, like, Oh, you're, you're understanding how these pieces start working together. So I think that this is actually a really, one of my favorite infographics because it's so meaningful if the students can do this, they're really thinking of college in a much deeper and more informed way.

Tim Poynton: So, so we'll begin, we'll go through each step of the lead strategy and describe it a little bit. So, um, in the, the list phase, um, the primary objective of this initial phase and developing your initial list of colleges to explore to, to identify options that generally fit you without getting overwhelmed.

and missing good options. So, um, ideally we say, and this is just a rough estimate, 10 to 15 colleges to initially explore is a good number. It's going to depend on things like the specific program that you're looking at and where you live. Like, I know most of us are probably here from Massachusetts today, but, um, did you know that California has 233 four year colleges, Texas has 129, both big states, um, Massachusetts we have 91 in our relatively little state, and Wyoming has three.

for your colleges. So, um, we're replete with options here in Massachusetts. You can get from one side to the other in what, three and a half hours if you go from the tip of the cape to, to the New York border. But, um, but in other places, um, we're, they're, they're not as lucky as we are. So, um, so in this initial list phase, you want to make sure that you're looking at, you're kind of casting a wide net and filtering through that.

to get to, to the colleges that you're going to explore more deeply, but you don't want to miss any good options, right? So, um, what we're looking at here is we're going to use three of the six keys of College Fitch here in this first phase. And we're going to look at things like personal match, distance from home, um, the location, city, um, rural, etc.

Do they have sports teams that you're interested in if you're an athlete or interested in, uh, even intramural athletics, for example. Um, Does the college have a religious affiliation? Is that important to you? And is there a special mission that you're looking for, such as an HBCU or, or a single sex college?

Um, so that's the aspects of personal match we'll use. We're going to look at career match to ensure that, um, They have programs available that are of interest to you. And then the academic match, uh, we're looking at things like, um, you know, do you want to do distance learning or live on campus, uh, credit for life experience, the type of degree programs that they have, etc.

So an initial kind of cursory look, if you will, to make sure that That things fit and and the tool that we recommend folks use and you can use several tools for this, but the one that we recommend because it's freely available is the college navigator. Um, I like the college navigator. Um, there's again, you could do this Naviance.

You can do this through the college board. Um. score, etc. You can do this in lots of different places and using lots of different tools, but we know that the College Navigator is freely available and it's an unbiased source of information. Um, it gets the data, the data in the College Navigator is the same data that all these other tools use, particularly in this initial list phase.

So, so what you can do is you can click through those, those aspects of those three. keys into the college navigator to filter it. And you can see here you can set your search options here on the left. Um, you can select majors that are available, etc. Some things I learned, just a small side note, because I just did this with my daughter, um, she's interested in game design, interactive media, and game design is the, is the major that she's interested in.

So there's not a ton of those programs, but um, I learned that there are some Some colleges are missing because it takes a year or two for the data to get populated in the College Navigator. Um, so there was a program like Clark University, for example, picked up Becker College's game design program when Becker College closed.

That was, that's not, and still may not be reflected in, in the College Navigator. I haven't checked recently, but when I checked initially, it wasn't. It didn't show up there. UConn didn't show up as having a program either, even though it fit the other criteria. So, all this to say, this is not a perfect tool.

There still might be, your knowledge of colleges and what you know about programs and doing college tours and things like that are still critically important for students and families because these tools are not perfect. They're only as good as the information that's fed into them. But, that said, back to the original programming.

You can use this to filter, um, relatively quickly, set those obtuse criteria, uh, that you use in the initial list phase to get an initial list of colleges to explore a little bit more deeply, right? Um, so you'll notice, um, something that's not included here is that we don't include cost or financial match here at this, at this stage of the process.

And that's because, um, as far as I know, and correct me if I'm wrong, if you know of a resource that does this, there's no way to filter colleges. using this data anyway, by net price. You can only filter colleges by list price. And as we'll see a little bit later in the in the presentation, as you likely know, um, a college's, um, sticker price or list price is often very different than the actual price or the net price that students actually pay.

So, you might miss some really good options, um, For you or, or your students or family might miss a really good option if they try to filter colleges by the sticker price, um, and that's the only way that I know of. I don't know of any tools available that have the data to sort colleges by net price. So, um, so that's the list phase, right?

So, um, in the explore phase, the next phase, we're going to use all six keys of college fit. So we're going to look at the, Okay. These aspects of the first three keys that we already talked about in terms of academic match, we're going to start thinking about chances of admission at this point, um, you know, with GPA and what's their overall selectivity and things like that.

We're going to look more closely at the career match side of things, um, to see if they have the kinds of programs and services that might really help us grow and develop, um, and then we're going to look at some different aspects of personal match as well, and then we're going to add to that, um, the other parts of the other, um, three keys that weren't considered in the list phase.

So here in the explorer phase is when we do begin to look at financial match, because instead of trying to look through tens, dozens, or hundreds of colleges, given what may have popped up for you in that initial list search, now you can start looking at those fewer colleges, the smaller list, if you will, the curated list of colleges, a little bit more closely.

There is, you can get information on the sticker price through the college navigator, um, and how much gift aid is typically awarded by a college. So that stuff is available here, um, in student support you're going to look at what kinds of programs and services are available to ensure that your needs can be met on each of those college campuses.

Um, and then you're going to look at student outcomes, things like graduation rates and retention rates. So the goal of this phase is really to narrow your list from the 10 so to the 8 or 12 colleges. Um, you're really starting to narrow, narrow it down to those places that you're really strongly considering applying to.

Um, All right, so here, also in this phase, in the explore phase, to help us estimate our chances of admission, I don't know how many people here use the Common Dataset or the CDS as we commonly refer to it as, but the Common Dataset is a voluntary data sharing initiative that colleges can choose to participate in.

And when they do choose to participate in that, they can provide some information that's really helpful for, um, students and families in determining, um, I guess their chances of admission in particular. So, um, so as you know, um, If you're familiar with the common data set, they present this information on what's called in section C7, basis for selection, the relative importance of factors and admissions decisions.

So here you can look at the academic and the non academic factors that the college says they consider, um, and how important they are to them. So we can see here, this is actually UMass Amherst, not trying to hide anything, this is the most recent common data set, I just pulled this up yesterday. Um, and this says that, um, all of the academic factors except for standardized test scores.

are important and standardized test scores, um, since COVID at UMass Amherst are considered if they're submitted. Um, but everything else is important or very important. With the non economic factors, the one I like to focus in on here is the one that's at the very bottom. Um, that's level of applicant interest.

Um, At UMass Amherst, they've recently stopped considering or list saying that they stopped considering demonstrated interest. I hope we're all familiar with what demonstrated interest is demonstrated interest is when a student signs up for an email list or goes and visits the college campus or interacts with somebody in admissions or follows them on social media.

Like those are all ways that a student can demonstrate interest in a college and a lot of students and families don't know that. Demonstrating interest is a factor that some colleges use when they make admissions decisions about whether or not to admit you. Okay, so that's something particularly our first generation students, um, they're just not aware that non academic factors are things that colleges pay attention to, right, and in particular that demonstrated interest one.

So demonstrated interest, when we look at up at the top here, um, we have malleable non academic factors and less malleable non academic factors, um, Demonstrated interest is one of the more malleable things that we can do to improve a student or family's chance of admission, right? Um, If you don't live too far away from the college, you can, it's relatively easy to schedule a visit.

And some colleges are tracking that information and using that information to know whether they should admit you or whether they should reject you because they think that you are their safety school. for example, right? So, um, so this provides some really helpful information. So we can see here interviews are not something that's considered a humanitarian emergency.

They just don't do them. Extracurricular activities are considered important. Um, State residency is actually considered here, um, which is, which is somewhat interesting if you're an out of state student, um, but geographical residence is not considered, so that's part of the country, I believe. So all of this stuff can be really helpful information for helping students and families estimate their chances of admission and improve their chances of admission at, at a college.

Mandy, do you have anything else to add to this before I go on to the next one?

Amanda Sterk: No, I mean, I think one of the things that's important in the Explore phase and you'll find when we talk about the College Data Organizer is some of the information is really easy to find, right? So some of it's just, it's data, right?

When you look at outcomes or, uh, you know, Percentiles for acceptance of, you know, ACT, SAT, things like that. But what gets really difficult is, and we really encourage, is that exploration. Like when you're exploring, you're really exploring. You're talking to admissions, you're doing your research, you're diving a little bit deeper, um, you know, you're going in and you're doing a college visit.

And so the whole time during explore, we really want students to interact with this information. So again, that six keys of college fit is really the foundation. To now then go explore like these are the questions you should go ask. This is what you need to do. So as they start bringing in that information, they're, they're just more informed throughout that entire process.

That's the only thing.

Tim Poynton: Yep, so, um, if you're not familiar with the Common Dataset, just really quickly, it's not a single place or repository for this information. To find a college's Common Dataset information, just Google the college with the name, uh, Google the college's name with the words Common Dataset, and often Google will auto populate it and you'll be brought to the page where they provide this information, but each college hosts this information on their own website.

if they participate. And if the college doesn't participate, um, I would encourage you to, if it's a college that a lot of your students go to, like, reach out to admissions and see if they can give you any insight into how important these various things are. I don't think that the admission counselors will try to hide anything, but the Demonstrated Interest one is particularly important.

So, um Again, it's always worth having that relationship with, uh, you know, as a counselor with, with the colleges, um, to get this kind of information, but feel free to ask them, um, if they don't participate in. Generally speaking, it tends to be the public colleges and more selective colleges tend to participate in the common data set, and the, and the less selective colleges tend to not participate in the common data set.

As a general rule, but there's, there's exceptions on both of those ends of the spectrum. So here's some information from, um, the, um, College Navigator. This is if you drill down into the financial aid section for a particular college. This college will remain unnamed for the time being. But, um, I want to hone in here on a couple of things.

So here at this college, it's College of Massachusetts, um, 97 percent of the students Get an institutional grant or scholarship, or in other words, merit money, or as I learned when I attended the NACAC conference, the colleges call this the discount. Um, so really, the question, if you're applying to this college, or if you're supporting a student and family who's applying to this college, the question isn't how do you get a scholarship, the question is how do you end up in the 3 percent who don't get that scholarship?

And the answer is typically that those are international students, actually, but, um, but here, the, so the average merit award at this college is 40, 000. Of the 97 percent of students that got it, the average was 40, 000. That means that, um, about half the students got more than that, and about half the students got less than that.

But that's a significant discount, in fact. I did the math, it's a 67 percent discount off the sticker price. So this is why, um, you know, if this, if this is a college that has the program that you're looking for, and it's in the right location, all those other things work for you. Um, if you were just looking at price in the initial list phase, you would have missed this college.

Even though it's, the listed sticker price is 60, 000. Um, you get 40, 000 off that, 67 percent off, right? So, um, helping students and families understand that, and how to find this information can be, can be really, really helpful.

So, you may remember, um, last year, um, In 2022, LaSalle College made news. I know I heard about this first on the local news here in the Boston area, um, that LaSalle University announced their plans to reduce tuition and room and board costs by 33%, right? They were cutting their Their costs by a third and I applaud them for doing this.

Their goal was actually to provide more transparency to students and families because, and I'll give you the clip notes here, according to research conducted by Sally May, 60 percent of high school students wouldn't consider a college university, even if it met their other criteria, if the published sticker price was deemed beyond their means.

So LaSalle said, you know what? We're going to lower our sticker price, we're going to reduce the discount therefore, or, or, or put the discount up front to everybody. Since at LaSalle, it was one of those places that gave every student a significant discount. I, I actually went and looked at their information, the year that they did this, and the actual average discount, if you look here on the lower left, was 38%.

So, um, they lowered their tuition by 33%, they used to give a 38 percent discount, um, a 22, 000 scholarship. So where did that other 5 percent go? That's the cynic in me, perhaps, but the optimist in me thinks that, um, LaSalle is going to use that other 5 percent of the money, um, for things like need based aid as opposed to merit based aid.

Um, so, again, this information is there, but, um, again, I applaud LaSalle for being more transparent. I wish more private colleges that had a system that works like this did this, but, um, the fact is that nobody ever paid the full price at LaSalle. LaSalle, 100 percent of the students got A 22, 000 scholarship on average.

So, um, by lowering their tuition, lowering their sticker price, they were just being more transparent, um, and not giving them as large or any award letter, um, uh, merit award, if you would.

So the better way to approach things, um, you can look at the gift aid, but you can also look at the net price. This information is in the net price section of the College Navigator. It's right under the financial aid section. So, um, this says that after all aids given, federal aid in addition to institutional aid, here's the actual amount that students actually pay, and it's broken up by income level.

This is for UMass Amherst, I believe. Yep, this is, uh, for UMass Amherst. Um, and you can see here the average net price for all students who attend UMass Amherst was 22, 291. That includes living expenses, cost of books, all of that stuff. Um, but you can see if you're a low income student, you're paying closer to 11, 000, but higher income students are paying closer to 30, 000, right?

This information is there, publicly available. It helps you assess the affordability of colleges before you submit your application. Which is why we have it here, um, in the, in the explore

Amanda Sterk: section. And I'll say, um, this past fall, so my daughter's a junior, so we were doing a, a mad dash of college tours up in Boston area.

So I, I was privileged to go see Tim and Rich and meet up with them. And um, so they definitely showed me all their different colleges that were around the Boston area, which is. Like you said, outstanding. And it was interesting. So we looked at Amherst College and UMass Amherst when we were visiting. And again, being an out of state student is very different than being an in state student.

And when we did the calculations between an Amherst and a UMass Amherst, we actually got more aid. because it's a private institution and everybody pays the same and their discounts and so forth. And so it's really interesting as you know, a parent going through that, you know, and that's why in state works really well for if you're in state and if you're out of state, you know, it's a different formula.

So really talking families through that. I think it's just so critical. So I, I, this is one of my favorite things to show. Because I think that again, as Tim has mentioned again and again, they really don't understand that cost of attendance versus net price. And it's such a big part of the decision that they're not truly informed if they don't have this piece of information.

So really important. And to make it easy. I think the next one is, um, I will say that Tim is kind of our Excel guru, and he does a great job at all the things that he does, and he's like, you know, I think we could kind of build a better mousetrap right and so when we look at. Um, the college navigator and, you know, big future and some of the search sites out there were like, how do we really compare some of this data that is coming through iPads?

And how do we have families make sense of what, you know, what they should be looking for and then how to sort of know, um, where to ask. Questions when they do that explore phase. And so, uh, Tim had a great idea to create what we call the college data organizer. It is a free download. Anybody can do this.

Um, if you just go to college and maze dot com slash downloads, you will have it again. I can email it to you if you have any questions. Um, it's an Excel sheet and one of the Okay. Things that we have done is we've looked at, as you saw with the six keys of CollegeFit, and we've defined what are some of, you know, the characteristics of each of the keys.

So we've taken the specific data that students and families should be looking at through iPads, and that comes through, and we've put it in one handy chart. And so this is all broken out by the six keys. So you will see an academic match section, you'll see a financial match, you'll see student outcomes.

And so forth. Now, some of the information does need to be inputted, right? Because it's sort of, um, it's subjective, right? You have to go in and you have to visit and say, Oh, how are your alumni services or how are your career services? So some things we put as a rating scale, right? Once they go visit, they ask these questions, they come back and they complete that answer.

Some of it will auto populate because it's just. statistics. What you'll see here is we've chosen five schools. We entered the five names of the universities. And on our sheet, you actually can go up to 12. And based on the information, it automatically, the list that you have will, there you go, will highlight it.

So if you put in a school, um, I don't know, just Pick one. Um, you'll see that green and the yellow and the white, so green is beneficial to the student. So maybe that's a cheaper price. Maybe that's an easier admission criteria. Maybe. Um, it's, you know, they accept more students. Um, but typically green benefits a student in getting into that school or.

How much they're going to pay or lower graduate or, you know, higher graduation rates and so forth. And then the white is in the middle. And then the yellow is just sort of cautionary. So it's the lower school. So maybe and not lower school in the sense that it's maybe it's more selective. Maybe it only has a 10 percent acceptance rate.

versus another school has an 80 percent acceptance rate. And so it's just something to look out for. Now you can actually remove the color code, um, but we see a lot of families, you know, when you start seeing some of the statistics and your look compares. So for example, he put the college of St. Rose and one of the things that I kind of noticed right away that if I'm looking at University of Wyoming and it's green, um, it's going to be the cheapest price for all.

you know, incomes where College of St. Rose, it's going to be one of the more expensive, you can compare, but yet St. Rose, 99 percent of students receive aid. So it's a really great tool to kind of go through and walk through families. Now just click on the CDS tab. Tim. So if you notice at the bottom of this, um, we've been talking about the CDS and the things that are considered as very important, important, considered.

So if you type in and you look, look that up and you type in if it's a three because it was very important for that school or two, you'll start seeing some color coding and what will, what's nice is you can now kind of look for patterns. So if. This is my college list, you know, what are kind of most important if you're looking at essays are really important, then you want to maybe make sure with that student that they really understand how to write a good application and a good essay and what does that entail.

Um, if it's just GPA and transcripts and ACT, SAT scores, then they understand that, right? Maybe you don't need to do as much. And then the last tab, the charts is one of my, my favorite tabs. Um, it just kind of puts things in perspectives and, you know, kind of compares it in a little bit different way. But if you scroll down, there's a really great, um, as I know that we were just kind of filling stuff in, but it'll put in the 25th to 75th percentile of the screen.

So if the student does put in their ACT SAT score, um, you'll be able to kind of see where they're at. And on the CDO, one of the, and we're always updating this. I know Tim and I were just talking right before we got on that the iPads data is now out. And we'll be updating that it takes a little while because we're literally got.

10, 000 plus. I don't even know how many lines of data is behind here. Um, but we'll update it. And one of the new pieces that came out was percentage of students who enrolled in the college, how many of them actually submitted ACT SAT scores. So if you're having that test question. Um, that's a good way to sort of answer where your score is at.

Should you submit? Should you not submit? Um, but that is now included on the academic match. There's, um, a line for both ACT and for SAT where it says, yeah, percent submitting SAT scores. So, um, Smith College, 34 percent submitted SAT, 20 percent um, submitted ACT. So we're talking about a 54 percent did who enrolling did submit scores.

So, um, a really useful chart, I think just for families. And what's nice that I like about it is if your college list change changes, you can just go ahead and update and put in new information. And again, it'll compare and contrast based on that student's list. So you're not comparing against a highly selective group versus, you know, maybe a moderate selective, um, group as well.

So really cool. Um, so again, just college on maize. com slash downloads, um, to get that. So you'll see, um, some of these specifics again, just really trying to highlight some of those, um, statistics that are important. Did you want to add anything to that, Tim?

Tim Poynton: No, it, we only have

Amanda Sterk: 10 minutes left. Oh my goodness.

All right, so the next phase is apply. I know and be sure if you are an, if you have any questions. I know in the q and a I've been kind of looking at it. Um, you can, as we wrap up, we'll definitely give you some minutes at the end, or you can always email us as well. So in the apply. We go through and we really walk students through the whole process before they apply.

We want them after they've explored, they've looked at everything. We want them to go back and reassess every college based on the six keys. What have they learned? So we actually walk them through a rating system of really, again, being diligent, focused and going through and saying, does this school match?

Who I am, what I'm looking for, and my specific criteria, and then that's who they apply to. So at the end, whatever schools that they are, you know, getting admission to, you should have a list of really good schools that have matched you. On your, um, sort of six keys of college fit. And it's one of the reasons why we don't necessarily like, you know, the words like, um, target school, match school, safety school, we like kind of talking it of your chance of admissions, but then also sort of, um, what, and I think it should be on the, is on the next slide, um, on the, then.

Yeah, so so it's chance of admissions by your overall fit, because a lot of times when we go through safety target reach is we're not actually there. We're missing the student part of that. Where are you actually at? And there might be a chance that a highly selective school is not a good overall fit. So we do something called the three by three, where we're bringing in that information like, you know, based on my academic criteria and what the college is looking for.

And what I'm looking for is that an actual connection. So we actually have them go through this three by three to really come out with, um, the best schools for them to apply to. You want to go to the next one? So then, um, with that, I'll just mention on the apply, we, we have a example essay, example resume, we have letters of recommendation, and so we do walk them through, we're not going to do it today, but we do walk them through the exact, you know, application process, as well as the different types of applications, the different types of, um, deadlines, you know, early decision, early action, So, all that good stuff is all in there as well.

Um, the, the D, the decide, right, is now kind of this, as the information is coming in, did I get accepted? Did I get deferred? Did I get a summer admit? Did I get a Like once all this information starting to come in now, what we want to do is obviously some schools they might not be getting into. So some we're going to remove from the equation and others.

We're going to kind of go back now that we sort of have that answer of yes, we want to again reassess. All of that information because sometimes I had a student recently just reached out and Georgia Tech just released their information and he got into Georgia Tech, and he's an out of state student you know 9 percent acceptance rate, this go around, and he wasn't really expecting Georgia Tech was going to be an option and now it's like, Okay, what do I do with Georgia Tech?

I thought it was going to be a REACH school for me and, and maybe I wouldn't have gotten in. And so now they have to reassess what their priorities are. And more importantly, as we were talking with Julie about financial aid, that award letter, and once, you know, what does all that information, how do they bring that in?

And then actually make a decision. And one of the things that we haven't mentioned, we talk a lot about within the entire college on Mays curriculum, the importance of your college support network, and how do you tap into your school counselor? How do you tap into your parents and your coaches and your mentors and your teachers and the decide factor, you know, stage is one of those that that's when that college support network can give you some extra.

insight and information on what they think and what's going on and their personality and what might fit them best. So again, you really need to go back and reassess and look at, does the school match what I need?

Did you want to add? Yeah.

Tim Poynton: So, I mean, I would also just say here. So, up, up to this point, going, making a list, exploring the colleges, and then, and then submitting your applications, we kind of minimize the role of feelings, uh, in the decision making process here in the decide phase. Like, here is where we're explicitly looking for folks to say, all right, now let's, let's talk about how you feel.

about those places in addition to considering all the facts as well.

Amanda Sterk: Absolutely. And that's when we did our visits and I'm sure Tim, you ran into this, uh, when I went and did the visits up in Boston with my daughter, we went in the fall, it was beautiful. The leaves are falling and my daughter was like in love with like everything because I live in Florida and we just have palm trees and sunshine.

Um, and that's just her vibe, right? And I'm like, um, let's not fall in love yet. Let's fall in love once we get the decision back. And then you can bring in some of those more emotional, but let's not bring it into like, this is my number one choice when it might be too expensive, it might not be the right school for you, you know?

So I was trying to. Let's not bring too many emotions in at the beginning stage. So then what we do is, um, like Tim says, is again, we want them to assess where they're at. So going back to that overall fit, you know, the six keys of college fit, uh, looking at every factor and every key very specifically, but then also really kind of rating.

their desirability. So kind of, do I see myself here? Does it have everything I want? Um, am I able to sort of have that college experience that I'm looking for? Whatever that may be. And kind of bringing in that a little more of an emotional, um, piece to it. And then really kind of taking out the things that maybe aren't going to fit you so well now that you've learned more about yourself and what you're interested in.

And I'm sure Tim, you and your daughter, The process is it ebbs and flows, doesn't it? You learn so much about what she wants because she visited a college. Oh, and they have this, this, this, and now she's like, Ooh, I actually really like this, this, and this. So what was maybe important, you know, early on in the process, maybe not be as important now or vice versa.

So that's why we want them to go back to this, um, three by three. and bring in that information.

Tim Poynton: It definitely changes over time. Yeah,

Amanda Sterk: definitely, definitely

Tim Poynton: their mind. And yeah, we should expect that.

Amanda Sterk: And you got to let that happen, right? I think that that's really critical is that process as a family. And then lastly, and I know Tim and I both mentioned this earlier on about the importance of the succeed, you know, going back to that statistic of, you know, less about a little about 50 percent of students.

Are not going to be graduating on time. And I think as counselors, you know, our job is definitely to help them find their post secondary, you know, plan and their, the college and what they're doing, but more importantly is we need to set them up for success and we need to make sure that we can do what we, we can to make sure that they understand how to engage in the college process.

once they get there. And that's everything from understanding your financial, um, you know, stipulation. So how do you keep your FAFSA? How do you keep your scholarships? What are the requirements for that? You know, how many students forget when to complete their FAFSA and that you have to do it every year?

Or there's a lot of times just because you're an FTIC student, the first time in college, there's different scholarship amounts. And there might be additional scholarships and internships, you know, that are paid after you get there. So tapping into that. We also want them to really look at and having an academic plan.

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