New York Times Analyzes Most Expensive Schools In America

Department of EducationWith perfect timing, the New York Times has presented the flip side of our previous post about the value of pursuing scholarships, analyzing the Education Department's recent release of its database of the most expensive colleges and universities in America.

The rise in cost of education in America is clearly outstripping inflation, household income, or any other benchmark against which tuition increases of America's not-for-profit universities could be measured year over year. So what is to be done about the astronomical costs incoming freshmen are facing?

The answer is found in the data itself, and in the public response from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine (the school with the dubious distinction of being the most expensive four-year not-for-profit school in America). Increase the amount of financial aid available to students of lesser means.

Scholarships are at a higher premium than ever before, so make sure to do your homework this summer and apply to as many as you can find. In many ways, such applications are a numbers game - the more you can find, the less you'll pay up front.

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Scholarships Provide a Needed Financial Break to Students

Would You Turn Away Free Money?

With college expenses rising, and many family budgets shrinking, pursuing scholarships can give a needed financial break to applicants and parents alike. Claudia Buck recently published this informative piece in The Olympian detailing one student’s scholarship search. Connor Quinn, a high school senior, ended up applying for over 80 scholarships, winning 22 awards totaling $22,700.

With the average tuition to private universities nearing $40,000 per year and financial aid budgets decreasing, scholarship money is becoming more of a necessity, and students are often unaware of how prevalent it can be. Buck writes that, according to estimates, there are over 1 million scholarships offering over $3 billion in free money.

While it takes some extra preparation, national college financial aid expert Mark Kantowitz explains that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming: “It isn't as much work as it seems. The first few will take maybe one hour per scholarship, but after you do your first half-dozen, you can adapt one essay to the next one. So instead of taking one hour to write an essay, you're taking 20 minutes.”

While it did take an extra effort, Quinn walked away with some non-material benefits as well, becoming more confident and grateful through the process. Quinn stated, “When I first started, I was really shy and stumbled during interviews…and it made me appreciate work and the value of a dollar.”

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Independent Counselors Improve Global Reach With College Essay Organizer

This article in the New York Times' Education section describes a small school in upstate New York that decided to change its fate by attracting students from all over the world to learn, and, in turn, help the local economy. As the article admits, the idea sounds preposterous for a school of its size - the population of the town at the time had dropped below 500 - but the superintendent of Newcomb, NY, decided that the plan was worth a shot, and enrollment has since shot up. They expect to have over 100 students next year alone, and since beginning their efforts, they have brought in students from 19 different countries. This has had the dual benefit of improving the educational environment for the students and improving the local economy.

The key to the school's success was its global outreach and its ability to provide opportunities to foreign students that weren't available in those students' homelands. At College Essay Organizer, we have seen independent counselors increase the scope of their businesses dramatically through the use of technologies that enable a quick and simple global outreach.

Because of new communication tools such as Skype and iChat, counselors are able to transcend the local responsibilities they've had for years and provide consulting and advising services to clients the world over. As a single-stop essay editing and advising platform, College Essay Organizer can be ideal for essay development between advisor and client across state lines, time zones, even entire oceans!

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Forbes: Technology Revolution Changing College Admissions

This post today on Forbes' blog discusses how the use of technology has revolutionized the college application process, and, in turn, the selectivity of the nation's top colleges. Many schools have seen precipitous drops in their acceptance levels in the past year, with Columbia University posting the most significant year-over-year drop after deciding to allow the Common App in 2010. In just one year, Columbia increased its applicant pool by more than a third, and saw its selectivity drop to just 6.7%. With this kind of selectivity, diversifying your number of applications to increase the odds of success is the best solution.

College Essay Organizer is discussed in the article as a service that can help you manage your large number of applications easily - but the schools that Steve Cohen cites are particularly good examples of where our site excels. Schools like NYU, USC, and Syracuse are very popular, and the amount of work required to apply there - and their departments especially - can be deceptive. Make sure to get out in front of the work that's required of you and pace yourself accordingly.

Another benefit of College Essay Organizer that Cohen points out is the simple fact that we help you keep the requirements manageable! College Essay Organizer is the site that puts all your requirements in one place, and can be modified as your college list grows or contracts. Instead of managing a large number of applications, PDFs, and essay documents, our Essay RoadMap technology can function as a repository for all your work during the application season. This makes a complicated process simple and keeps things sane.

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Start Working on Your College Essays this Summer

Alan Gelb is an author and educational consultant specializing on the college essay process.  He has written “Conquering the College Admissions Essay in 10 Step” and “The Complete Student: Achieving Success in College and Beyond”

Alan Gelb offers some practical advice for juniors in this posting on the New York Times Choice blog. While juniors should be thinking about their college lists and beefing up their resumes with some non-academic, real-world experience this summer, they should also be taking advantage of some of their downtime to turn their attention to their college essays.

Gelb writes, “These less hurried months before the onslaught of a highly pressured fall offer the chance for students to think, reflect and connect with a writing topic that can then be developed into 500 words of polished prose.” We wholeheartedly agree, and his practical tips will definitely help your mind to slow down and get your creative juices flowing as you begin to discover and explore your essay topic.