How Are Colleges Evaluating Me?

Getting into college has become a grueling, competitive process – especially for exclusive colleges or Ivy League schools.

Knowledge Empowers You Chalk IllustrationEven still, regular universities can be a bit of a challenge. So many things need to be submitted – including transcripts, letters of recommendation, volunteer experience, essays, standardized test scores and more.

Gathering the correct paperwork can take months – sometimes longer – of preparation.

The process itself is long and tiring, and that’s not even accounting for the competition to get into your top school.

Though not all schools are competitive to get in in-general, most are competitive when it comes to getting into a specific program.

I, for example, went to the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

That particular year, a good amount of students applied to the program, making it more competitive since there were a set number of spots available. Depending on your major, you’ll want to find ways to stand out among the crowd.

Colleges Look at Number of Factors

Colleges evaluate potential students in a number of ways.

When your application is received, it’s stored electronically in the school’s database.

Typically, your grades will be standardized so they can be compared to the other applicants average GPAs’ all on the same scale. Students that do not meet the school’s minimum GPA requirement are automatically denied admissions.

For everyone else, let the competition begin.

Viewing the Student as a Whole

Thankfully, most universities look at the student as a whole instead of just their GPA (though you do have to meet the minimum require at the very least).

This means that if you’re GPA is on the lower-end of the scale, you won’t necessarily be denied over the other, higher GPA-ranking candidates.

So say, for example, one student has a “C” average but excelled at the essay portion of the application. This will give the student a more competitive edge than a “B” student with a poorly-written essay.

According to the article “5 Factors Colleges Use to Evaluate Students,” colleges will look at grades first, and then standardized test scores, then student essays, then teacher and counselor recommendations and lastly extracurricular activities.

To stand out and increase your chances of being accepted, try to excel in every single area.

Write clear, well-written, concise essays that differentiate you from the rest of the applicants. Be as involved in extracurricular activities as your schedule allows. Find a program to volunteer at on a monthly basis.

All of these little things add up and will greatly increase your chances for acceptance.

Start the Planning Early

Of course, in order to volunteer and be involved in extracurricular activities, you need to have planned ahead.

Parents should encourage new high school freshmen to join a few different clubs or sports teams so they can get a feel for what they like early on. Some high schools give seniors a half-day schedule.

Use this extra time wisely – perhaps by picking up a part-time job, volunteering, tutoring other students or helping out more with some of the clubs you’re involved in.

With college admissions being so competitive, the better-rounded you are, the more likely you are to stand out.

About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Charlotte, NC. She writes on college admissions, careers and personal finance.

Students Need to Be Social Over Health Insurance Needs

Heading off to college provides an immense amount of responsibility for students. They’re living on their own for the first time, which comes with a whole new set of things to learn. Cooking, cleaning, managing time to study and getting used to new roommates are all major adjustments. Among all of this, students need to find an adequate health insurance plan, too.

collegeAs the following article shows, “Health insurance for students” is often required by universities, yet still 25 percent of students do not have medical coverage, according to a study by the Heinz Family Philanthropies.

If you’re not able to stay on your parents’ plan, you’ll have to look on your own for health insurance and find the coverage that is best for you.

Social media can play a huge role in helping you learn about different companies and different plans that will be best for your situation.

5 Ways to use social media to find health insurance

Among the ways to put social media to use in the pursuit of health insurance:

  • Find their online presence – Do a quick Google search on health insurance and you’ll get millions of results. Research a few companies that stand out to you and find their social media pages. Are customers saying positive things? Do they seem to have a good following and online presence? What do they charge for a basic plan? All of these are things to consider when picking a health insurance company.
  • Notice their response to customers – Do customers Tweet a complaint and you notice it never getting resolved? If so, that can be a huge red flag that they don’t value customer service. Pay close attention to health insurance companies that respond to customers immediately. This reassures you that if you ever run into a problem, you’ll receive adequate help in a timely manner.
  • Follow their online profiles – Many health insurance companies will have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, at a minimum. With so many companies going online nowadays, competition is tough. When deciding which health insurance company is right for you, follow a few different companies and track their online presence. Do they run promotions or host giveaways? Do they give discounts for referrals? All of these can help you choose the right company.
  • Look for professionals in the medical field – Some companies have doctors that are able to respond to questions via social media from the customers. If you tend to Google all of your symptoms, it may be beneficial to you to speak to a medical professional at no charge. Notice which companies provide this service and make an informed decision.
  • Read what others have to say – With about 98 percent of 18-24 year olds using social media actively, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to read plenty of reviews, Tweets and Facebook posts on how the health insurance company is doing overall. Look for companies that receive the highest remarks and little criticism. And, if they are receiving complaints, do they handle the situation or ignore it?

While getting the best deal is always important, sometimes it can be worth it to spend a little more money in order to get the best service possible.

And with something as crucial as health insurance, especially for students, you may not want to go the cheapest route.

About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ. She writes on health insurance, personal finance and small businesses.

Saving on Expenses Your First Year in College

While colleges and universities nationwide are winding down the 2013-14 school year, it should not come as a surprise that many students (and parents for that matter too) are already looking to next fall as sons and daughters take their first steps on college campuses.

With the cost of tuition increasing by the semester, it’s important for freshmen and their parents to save money anywhere they can.

Interest & Risk Resize

Luckily, there are ways to cut college costs while learning efficient spending and saving habits without resorting to a ramen noodle diet. Besides, a penny saved while in college results in a penny earned at graduation.

So, with collegiate capital in mind, here are just a few ways you can save on expenses your first year of college:

Create an Achievable Budget

Putting together a budget doesn’t take a degree in finance, but it is important to know the difference between a budget that’s attainable and one that isn’t. So, when arranging your budget, try to keep reality in mind when it comes to expenditures.

In other words, if you’re allotting $200 month for entertainment and only $50 for groceries and school supplies, you’ll definitely come up short in one department. Balancing a budget does take time to master, but making common sense budgeting decisions is half the battle.

In addition, there are hundreds of apps available that can help you balance your budget, control your spending, and even send you alerts when you’re over-budget. And, the best part is, many of the apps are free – a freshman’s favorite word.

Buy Used Books

As long as the text is still legible, a used book is just as good as new, so try going the used route when buying textbooks. Although the college bookstore probably won’t give you as much when it comes to a buyback price, the lower initial cost is definitely worth it.

Likewise, before buying a textbook, first check to see if it comes in a digital version.

Digital books, also known as eBooks, are growing in popularity in the academic world and offer price flexibility depending on whether you need the book for the entire semester, a week, or even a day.

Student Credit Cards

Building a line of credit is an important aspect of living on your own and there’s no better time to start doing so than during your first few years of college. And, as long as you don’t abuse the privilege of having one, credit cards are effective credit builders.

But, before you go out and apply for every credit card you can find, try to keep in mind interest rates as well as spending limits.

For first-year students that are also first-time credit card holders, only use the card for essentials like gas and groceries, pay it off in full each month, keep the limit low, and never have more than one credit card at a time. Whether you are using cash, checks, credit cards or mobile payments, make sure you account for each of your purchases, noting why you needed the product or service.

College and Computers

Pretty much every college in the world requires its students have a computer and, considering the portability factor, laptops are usually the computer of choice.

But, before you pay the going rate for that shiny new laptop, first see how your enrollment can help.

Many computer manufacturers offer student discounts and rebates on computers and electronics of all kinds. Likewise, many state scholarships and grants include a stipend for computers, so it’s always wise to find out what your student aid covers.

Start college off on the right foot by following the tips above, spending frugally, and keeping an eye on your budget.

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including saving money and social media.



For Profit or For Students???

Retaining students at for-profit institutions often has a different meaning than retention at not-for-profit colleges and universities.

Accountability meetings are not about ensuring students are succeeding; the meetings are about ensuring the admissions department meets their budgeted numbers and that the academic affairs department is retaining students. The question has to be what methods are being used to retain students. If the methods violate academic integrity then are we really serving the students, the academy, or the public who funds these institutions?

Many schools invest heavily in student remediation, student success, and quality faculty. This does not always seem to be the method for-profit institutions choose to follow. Marketing is the lion’s share of the for-profit’s budgets along with settling the large number of lawsuits they seem to incur from dissatisfied customers; students who are left unemployable and unable to repay the government because of the debt they have incurred.

Many of the students that enroll in for-profit schools are those that would not be accepted into a traditional college or university. Would these students be better served by a community college? What do you think? Read Senator Harkin’s report just released on the subject.

For-Profit College Report: Harkin Unveils Comprehensive Report on For-Profit College Industry

What is a Provost?

What is a Provost?

By definition: pro·vost/ˈprōˌvōst/


  • A senior administrative officer in certain colleges and universities.
  • The head of certain university colleges and public schools.

The Provost is the academic leader of an educational institution. The Provost is responsible for overseeing the overall academic integrity of the entire institution.Therefore, nothing is more important than the integrity of the Provost!

Does the Provost need to be an academic himself (or herself)?

The University of Iowa has a great post titled, “What Exactly IS a Provost?” Noting that

If you don’t know, don’t feel bad.  You’re not alone!  So few people actually know what a provost is, the humorist Dave Barry once used it as an example of how to befuddle the IRS.

“Ask the Administrator: The Non-Academic President” was an interesting article in Inside Higher Ed recently questioning whether a Community College President without an academic background would be a good fit for a college.

The major issue will be with the faculty on academic issues.  It’s one thing to be broadly supportive of education; it’s quite another to understand academic culture and the needs and fears of faculty.  Many faculty will fear – with some warrant – that a president whose major focus is financial or political will neglect academic matters, or sell them out to the highest bidder with the best of intentions.  (That’s remarkably easy to do.)

Provosts often hold academic teaching positions as well. If that is the case, then their academic credentials need to be vetted (they should anyway) in the same manner as faculty.

The academic and scholastic credentials of the administrator or administrator-candidate shall be prepared in the same form required of all academic faculty being considered for an academic appointment.

At the time the administrator or the administrator-candidate is being considered for academic rank, his/her academic and scholastic credentials shall be submitted to the school or department of association. The credentials shall be reviewed first by the established promotion and tenure peer review committee. The currently required procedures for review of academic faculty being considered for an academic appointment shall be followed at all levels of review.

When an administrator who currently holds academic rank is to be considered for promotion to a higher academic rank, his/her academic and scholastic credentials shall be prepared in the same form required of all academic faculty. These credentials shall be submitted to the established school or department promotion and tenure peer review faculty committee. The currently required procedures for review of academic faculty being considered for academic promotion shall be followed at all levels of review.

 When an administrator who currently holds academic rank, non-tenure track, leaves his/her administrative position and requests a tenure track appointment in an instructional unit, his/her academic and scholastic credentials shall be submitted to the school or department, which shall follow the currently required procedures for appointment.

What are the academic credentials of your Provost? Do you know?