College Advice

University of Toledo – Guess whose Alma Mater?

Dear Mr. Johnson:

I have completed my evaluation of your high school records with regard to making recommendations for your choice of colleges.

I’d like to remind you that I am a retired college admissions coordinator who started her career as a high school counselor. I am in no way affiliated with any college, university, placement firm, funding resource for school loans, grants or scholarships. The $500 fee that I charge those students I assist represents the only financial consideration I receive so that you may be assured that I am making every effort to represent your best interests and only your best interests.

Your high school performance is very good. Your Grade Point Average (GPA) was 3.92 on a scale of 4.0. Wherever available you successfully completed honors or other advanced courses. During your senior year you took advantage of your high school’s program to complete English 101 and Western Civilization at the local community college, both with 4.0 grades giving you college credit. It’s always good to enter college with a 4.0 GPA.

You show a well-rounded approach with your participation in the high school band – including performing for several musicals produced by the school theater department. Likewise your participation in outside activities such as league soccer and volunteering for the Red Cross will be well received. Your active participation in your church may also prove helpful especially if you elect to attend one of the many colleges or universities sponsored by or with roots in a religious organization.

I recommend that you plan for completing both your Bachelor and graduate degrees in a sequence uninterrupted by any competing activities such as full time work or extensive travel. With your grades, American College Test (ACT) scores and background, there are a number of options available to you.

1. Your performance places you in a competitive position to be accepted in a private or even prestige school, such as an “Ivy League” institution like Harvard or Yale. The pros are that you would have a diploma from a school that is well recognized and, more importantly, you would have the opportunity to network with other students who represent some of the most powerful families in America. You would have the opportunity to study under world renowned professors, although in actuality, most of their classes are taught by graduate assistants. However, there is a good chance you might be able to actually meet at least one of these educational icons. The negatives are that while you would get a quality education, on a cost basis, your expenses would approach $250,000, even if you were to secure some type of scholarship funding. This investment must be looked at as a lifetime commitment since student loans are not discharged by bankruptcy.

2. There are other well recognized institutions that you could choose, including premiere state universities. These often have a highly acceptable academic offering paired with a well-known sports program. Often the cachet from the athletic department can translate to positive name recognition among potential employers after graduation. Alma mater recognition is more important with regard to your bachelors than for a graduate degree. However, many of these state schools provide a reasonably comparable education to the prestige schools.

3. If you are primarily interested in obtaining a degree, as opposed to an education, there are two options. First you can attend one of the so called “party schools” and pursue one of the liberal arts. This has the benefit of college being a “great experience – at least the parts you are able to remember.” If you choose this direction, I caution you to remember that a “C” average still results in a degree at the bachelor level, but you need to maintain at least a “B” in all subjects for graduate school. Since you have not been recruited by a major state school for an athletic scholarship, you may be able to play collegiate sports for a party school and even get some financial assistance in the process. The second possibility would be to attend one of the many for-profit schools. These tend to have one of two outcomes – successful completion of a degree with a large amount of debt or failing to obtain a degree and a large amount of debt. In fairness, though, many classes can be taken on line; many people have successfully completed their degree without ever having to leave home or physically meet classmates.

4. Finally there are the ordinary state universities. The professors may not be world renowned, although those teaching business or the applied sciences tend to have a solid reputation in their industries due to consulting and publishing. The athletic programs do not normally rate network television coverage, but do provide good on-campus entertainment, and with your background it is possible and probably likely that you would find a place on either their soccer team or as a kicker on their football team. You can expect a solid education at a much more reasonable price. However, with a degree from one of these institutions you will have to use what you learn to prove yourself in the workforce rather than being carried by your alma mater’s reputation.

I know this is a big decision for you. Hopefully I’ve given you some information to help you in the process. I wish you the very best in your adventure into higher education.

Sincerely,

Alice Cornell,
Independent Academic Counselor

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