By Karen Guitierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Here's a look at how three local students fared in their college search.
Tiffanie Chow, Class of '03, Anderson High School
Now attending: University of Dayton.
Colleges visited: Wittenberg University in Springfield, Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, Winthrop University in South Carolina and Ohio University.
How she chose UD: It was closest. Chow especially liked Allegheny, which flew her there for a tour. But on the return flight, she panicked about being so far from home.
Advice from Chow and her parents:
Start campus visits as a junior. Seniors get very busy with schoolwork, jobs, applications and the hunt for financial aid.
Remember, tours only show a school's best side. Wander around campus on your own. Ask students for the real story. Some schools will even arrange for you to spend the night with a student.
Don't always take universities at their word. If they tell you about a rule or regulation that matters to you, see if you can get a copy of it in writing.
Lauren Reusing, Class of '03, St. Ursula Academy
Now attending: Ohio State University
Colleges visited: University of Virginia, Wake Forest University, Emory University, Villanova University and Vanderbilt University.
How she chose Ohio State: It was most affordable. But after visiting, she fell in love with the green space, "college atmosphere" and school spirit in the wake of the Buckeyes' national football championship.
Advice from Reusing and her parents:
Before visiting, narrow your list by deciding which colleges you can't afford given your financial-aid chances.
Talk to department heads and professors about the area of study you desire. The admissions office will not have this information. If department heads don't respond to calls or e-mails, "that tells you something right there," says Lauren's mother, Elaine.
Spend time talking to students and eating in the Student Union.
Peter Muller, Class of '03, Walnut Hills High School
Now attending: University of Chicago.
Colleges visited: Harvard University, Princeton University, Tufts University, Oberlin College, Northwestern University, Washington University in St. Louis and University of Pennsylvania.
How he chose Chicago: He liked its emphasis on knowledge without focusing too much on sports, parties or getting a job after graduation.
Advice from Muller and his parents:
Be open to discovering the school that is best for you, and not just the most prestigious. "Very, very good schools are only good schools when they match your personality," says Muller's father, Paul.
Consider postponing visits until after you've been accepted at various schools. "Then it's more real in your mind, so you can take it more seriously," Peter Muller says. And during the visits, spend time without your parents at your side.
College admission trendsIn the 1980s, a dip in the teen population sent colleges scrambling for new customers. As a result, more high school students started setting their sights on higher education. Then the population began to recover. Today, colleges are swamped with applications, and admission is more competitive than ever.
What the numbers say:
The average U.S. college accepts 70 percent of applicants.
Students are applying to more colleges than ever because of increased competition and the ease of online applications. In 2001, about 34 percent of college freshmen applied to five or more schools, compared to about 20 percent in 1985.
Students today are slightly less likely to get into the college of their choice. In 2001, 30 percent of college freshmen were at a school that was their second choice or lower, compared to 23 percent in 1974.
Association for College
Admission Counseling; Cooperative Institutional Research Program, University of
California Los Angeles.
A sampling of Web sites for college planning
The National Association of College Admission Counseling recommends these sites for usefulness, integrity and accessibility:
College and scholarship searches, admission-chances calculator.
Offered by Wells Fargo Education Financial Services, this site can be found at www.wellsfargo.com/per/accounts/student/finaid/collegesteps
A CD-ROM and Web-based college search service. Virtual tours of colleges. Helps students determine what they want in a university.
Virtual tours, scholarship search, scholarship giveaways, online assistance from live representatives.
Helps students relate career goals to school courses. Students also can build personal portfolios that can be e-mailed to admission personnel and recruiters.
Matches students with universities aligned with their goals, providing personalized written feedback to students, parents and counselors.
Career and education planning subscription service. Test prep, application resources.
Guide to admissions, applications and financial aid. Popular discussion boards for students.
Estimates what families would be expected to pay toward college costs and helps them set saving and borrowing goals.
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