Generating prospective student leads is a big part of the college admissions process.  Colleges send young Admissions Counselors on the road into the field to visit high schools, work tables at college fairs in the hopes of making connections with students and parents. Colleges spend thousands of dollars purchasing student demographic, interest and testing score data from national testers, consulting firms and other lead generation organizations. However, when asked, the average student cannot remember the Admissions Counselors name the met, the answer is generally, no. Most Admissions Counselors don’t know the top 50 students interested in their institutions.  High school students need to be their own recruiter-sales person. As early as the sophomore year, students need to begin self-identifying potential college options and proactively communicating with the representatives in the college Admissions Departments, coaches and faculty. Students need to raise their hand and Recruit the Recruiters.


PSAT’s, SAT’s, ACT’s are important but remember they are just single events to much larger and equally critical items used by colleges in the student selection process. Academic rigor, ranking, character and much more are taken into consideration by colleges. Work the whole picture not just one part.


Finding one’s way to college can take different paths. Students transition from high school to college, others combine an Associate’s Degree with a Bachelors (2+2 Program) and many go to work and school. The goal for all prospective students (families) is find the path that matches one’s academic and personal readiness and most importantly available financial readiness (Affordability). Follow your path!!


When evaluating a college, students need to look beyond acceptance rates. Inflated by application volume and enrollment capacity, acceptance rates look at the beginning. Yes, how easy or difficult it is to get accepted is important. However, three other categories are equally important, student retention, completion rates and job placement rates should also be evaluated when considering an institution. Prospective students should consider the question the 1st and 2nd year retention rates, the 4 and 6-year completion rate of students enrolled and how it takes a student once completed to find employment in their major. Why? Retention rates generally speak to student satisfaction and interest in continuing. Completion rates address the time it takes the average student to earn their degree; time on the campus which can also impact overall cost (debt) to obtain one’s degree. Finally, job placement rates which means the outcomes of pursuing one’s education (undergraduate, graduate, professional and technical). Are graduates employable and how long does it take to get their first job in the intended major/degree focus?


4726 colleges and universities can be found from the Pacific to the Atlantic (as of 2012). Four year, two year, public and private, technical and professional. Some are located in big cities, the suburbs, and under the trees. 4726 institutions offering students a wide variety of academic programming, majors, clubs, student life, athletics and developmental experiences. 4726 institutions each looking to build and retain their student body from the diverse and unique population knocking on their doors. Yes, national test scores, GPA, high school academic rigor, class rank and applicant character are all critical acceptance factors considered by the 4726 institutions. However, all colleges are not the same because all prospective students are not the same. Prospective students need to consider the “path” to follow but also which institution can meet their own specific aspiration, goals and affordability requirements.


The truth behind tuition assistance is that it was created to supplement a student (parents) ability to pay for college. Tuition assistance is also a strong recruitment to tool used by institutions to influence one’s selection and choice. Tuition assistance comes in many forms including academic scholarships (commonly known as merit), need based grants (financial need), payment plans and self-help (student loans, home equity, investments, a relative and work). All of them are part of the tuition assistance picture? Each have their own eligibility criteria, awarding parameters and value. There are many players in the tuition assistance arena including the federal and state governments philanthropic foundations and organizations, clubs and employers, private lenders and the 4726 institutions. However, the one primarily responsible for paying the tuition bill, cost of education is the student (dependent or independent) and the parent of a dependent student. In the end savings is king and the most powerful resource.


Searching for options, selecting a choice and paying the tuition are the three key steps in the process. Along the way, a student might consider keeping a board set of criteria to find institutions that align with one’s individual wants, aspirations and desires. Students must make their selection on the institution that matches their academic, social, emotional, financial needs and the school that will position them for the next step, a job and ultimately a career. And most importantly a student must be able to afford their choice. One must not place themselves nor their family in debt.