Essential Information for the College Bound -- Spring 2005

In this issue

Increasing Selectivity

Plan Carefully

College Counselors Needed

Paying for College

A Note on the New SAT

In Closing


Taking The Next Step
12904 Mizner Way
Wellington, FL 33414
(561) 790-5462
Robin Abedon
web site: TakingThe NextStep

Which School?

You will live with the answer
the rest of your life.

April is a new beginning. For seniors it brings closure to the application year and brings you to the moment of decision. Now it is time to make a choice: which college will I attend. Hopefully, the choice is clear and the match is good. Ideally, the college that wants you is the college you want. As a counselor, I celebrate the successes and agonize over the occasional disappointments of my students. For a number of years, the competition for the top schools has escalated. This year sets new records. Setting new application and admissions records seems to be an annual event.

  • Increasing Selectivity
  • Top colleges received more high-quality applicants for the same number of spots in the freshman class, and rejected more of these deserving applicants than in 2004. Harvard accepted a mere 9.7 percent of its applicants; Yale, 9.9 percent; Princeton, 10.9 percent; Stanford slightly under 12 percent. Other highly competitive schools followed suit. Dartmouth accepted 15 percent; U Penn, 16 percent. Duke had a record 18,000 applicants for 1660 places in the freshman class, as did Tufts with 15,525 applications for 1200. New York University processed slightly under 34,000 applications for a freshman class of 4000, while Georgetown received 15,200 applications for 1500 spots and accepted 19 percent. Vanderbilt accepted 34 percent of its 12,000 applications for a class of 1500, and University of Southern California accepted 25 percent of 31,500 for a class of 2700.

    Our Florida universities are becoming increasingly selective with the University of Florida leading the way. For the class of 2008, the middle 50 percent of the class had a weighted GPA ranging from 3.8-4.3; an SAT from 1200-1380; an ACT from 26-30. It can only be anticipated that those numbers will move up again for the entering class of 2009.

    Statistics are still being compiled and yet to be published. As more information becomes available, the stage will be set for the class of 2006 soon to enter the application year. Certain realities are obvious.

  • Plan Carefully
  • The net must be cast carefully and widely. Each ensuing year demands more from prospective students: more advanced courses, more commitment to service, stronger grades and test scores. It also demands more research into a broader range of colleges in order to make a successful match of student and college. While we see that the bar rises, and we recognize how difficult it is to access the top colleges, we also know that there are several thousand colleges and universities throughout the United States. Careful planning will lead to a satisfactory match.

  • College Counselors Needed
  • It is unfortunate that in this period of increased competitiveness there is a decreasing ability of counselors in our public high schools to devote the time needed to help students and families through the college process. According to Frank Sachs, President of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), reporting in the recent NACAC bulletin, "nationally the ratio of students to counselors on the secondary level currently stands at an average of 500 to 1." He goes on to point out that in our urban schools the ratio is more than 1000 to 1. Most of the counselors' time is "eaten up by administrative duties, such as scheduling, discipline...bus duty, lunch duty..." Mr. Sachs says the case for counseling is clear. "Research demonstrates that the more students meet with counselors... the greater their chances of...graduating from a four year college." Yet, adequate resources are not allocated to guiding students in their academic choices and the path to college.

  • Paying for College
  • A further escalating reality is the cost of going to college. While programs such as Florida Pre-Paid and Florida's Bright Futures have enabled many students to avail themselves of a college education in Florida, others who are not eligible for these programs, or who seek to look beyond Florida, often face daunting financial challenges.

    On the one hand there is some exciting news for strong students whose family income is $60,000 or less. Several of the top tier schools have instituted scholarship programs covering 75 to 100 percent of tuition costs, following the lead of Harvard University. Announced in 2004, Harvard has eliminated the parental contribution to tuition for families with annual income of less than $40,000.

    On the other hand many families will not qualify for financial assistance according to the federal guidelines that serve as the basis of need-based aid. Yet, they cannot afford to pay some or all of the costs. Here again the match becomes critical. There are a number of schools that offer merit-based aid, scholarships that come from meeting a school's academic standards, scholarships that reward particular talents or activities. This year I have seen several students say no thank you to a top choice school offering no aid in order to accept a merit scholarship from another school. The decision still leaves the students with another wonderful opportunity to accomplish their college education.

  • A Note on the New SAT
  • No college newsletter would be complete at this time without some observations on the March SAT I exam. Approximately 300,000 students took the new test consisting of modified verbal and math sections coupled with a new writing test. Each section has a possible 800 points. There were 107 who scored a perfect 2400. Right now there is much confusion about the test and the results, and it is too soon to say how colleges will use the exam. It appears that the score on the verbal and math sections will be evaluated as before. And it is also likely that the Writing section will be evaluated as the former SAT II Writing test was. Students have had varied reactions to the test, particularly to the writing component that has 49 multiple choice questions on grammar and usage, as well as a hand-written essay which counts for 25% of the writing test. Those who took the test frequently commented on the length, on the challenging grammar questions and the more advanced Algebra II math. Others found it difficult to complete the test, especially the essay.

  • In Closing
  • In early May, I shall be traveling to Colorado to visit colleges and to attend the semi-annual conference of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). I am sure one of the hot topics will be the new SAT I. I will share insights in my next newsletter, as well as my observations on colleges visited in Colorado.


    Taking The Next Step | (561) 790-5462 | 12904 Mizner Way | Wellington | FL | 33414