Posts published on June 23, 2014

Using Summer To Get A Head Start On Getting In To College

Frances Kweller, an education and testing standards expert and the Founder and CEO of Kweller Prep, a learning incubator specializing in advanced test preparation in New York City, offers advice to high school students on unique ways to avoid summer brain drain and get a leg up on the competition:

· Visit “Your” colleges- For college-bound students, pick your 3-5 dream schools and visit them. Check out the neighborhood, the campus life and the bookstore. What better way to provide motivation than to visit a school and imagine yourself being a student there. Every school has multiple tours available over the summer.  Just visit each college’s website and sign up.

  • · Vacation with education- Enhance your family vacation by going on an historical tour.  Visit a museum, take a tour of historical locations or even visit a local tourist attraction. Nothing is more educational or mind-opening than having a visual experience to think about.
  • · Volunteer with a purpose– Volunteering should be aligned with your long-term goals.  Hands-on learning is the best form of education. If you want to be a doctor, you should look into volunteering as a candy striper or in a nursing home.  Enhance your resume by taking the opportunity to create mentors in your field of interest. Summer is a relaxing time and therefore a great opportunity to learn from an experienced person in your field.
  • · Set up a testing plan– For sophomores and juniors in high school, set up a testing plan for the months ahead.  The testing season begins in September starting with the ACT and SATs in October. Setting up a testing plan will help keep your eye on the ball and have you focused and ready to go when school begins.
  • · Get a head start on your college application– The common app changes slightly from year to year, so you can use last year’s college application as your template and fill it out. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’ll need for each application once school starts. Don’t wait around until the last minute.  Take your time over the summer and begin to get your application organized.  You’ll need to gather your recommendation letters, personal statements, transcripts, create a resume, portfolio and draft multiple supplements. Besides, if you organize yourself in the summer you can apply for Early Decision or Early Action to college, which means you’ll get your acceptance letters much sooner.
  • · Reading is key– Reading is always a good motivator but don’t just pick up any book. Take the summer to read books that are not part of the required reading lists at school.  Better yet, research a list of banned books in the United States and expand your knowledge to learn about something new.  This also makes a great subject for a college essay!
  • · Create and motivate– Challenge yourself by working on a summer project. Look into your family history and create a genealogy chart, organize a charity event, assist the elderly in old age homes or build something after you’ve taken a carpentry lesson.  Taking on projects alone or with a friend will serve as a good learning experience and will also be a great way to show that you’ve completed a task that you’ve started.


Tuition and Fees Will Double In Less Than 20 Years

by Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute

There is always a lot of talk about college costs and future issues in higher education. I’ve written extensively about our inability to recast the higher education system due, in part, to the sheer weight of historical antecedents. That is, the system is burdened by the largess and bureaucratic nature of the system itself. Large systems are difficult to change. Making this issue more complex, the postsecondary system in the US and Canada are public/private partnerships, where taxpayers and users both contribute to pay the costs. The public contribution, naturally, occurs largely through state, provincial, and federal governments. This isn’t just about direct subsidies to institutions, but investments by expenditures to students, R&D funding to institutions, transfers from federal governments to state governments through block and other tax-sharing vehicles, and even bureaucratic supports to coordinate systems (e.g., state offices of higher education). All levels and types of higher education receive support, in some type, from taxpayers, including proprietary schools, via need-based and other grants, scholarships, and subsidized loans.

Still, the rising cost of a higher education in the United States, for example, is far outstripping aid and other supports. As I do every few years, I have taken data from the College Board to calculate historical annual increases in tuition and fee charges by institutional sector, and used these data to extrapolate prices into the future. Instead of picking a point of time, such as 25 years, I am more interested in the doubling point: that is, how many years will it take for tuition and fees to double in a particular sector.

The quickest doubling consistently is always at the four-year public university, which in our analysis will double in 17 years. This is followed by two-year institutions (23 years) and then four-year, private, not-for-profit institutions (27 years). Some people are surprised that the private institutions have the slowest growth, but they have consistently had smaller annual rates of increases than other sectors. The challenge is that there foundation of costs is so much higher that the actual cost increase is much higher than the public institutions.

Let’s put this in perspective so we can understand the ramifications of this analysis. And first, to be clear, I understand full well that we are not talking about net cost of college here, nor are we talking about room, board, and other costs, although I will bring them into the fold quickly. As well, these are projections and there are many other contributing factors we cannot possibly know about or understand. These figures could very well be wrong depending on what happens with the economy, what Congress and state governments do with their funding priorities, and even how technology impacts delivery-based costs. But is of enough interest to understand the trends and the potential of future increases in prices on college affordability. My guess is that these values are actually very conservative and the damage will likely be worse. But perhaps that’s me being “half empty” right now. Use your own judgement.