Over 80 parents and students filled the library for a presentation featuring tips from experienced parents, college students, and admissions officers, to help families plan for “life after college” on Monday night. The two main issues addressed were the financial aspect of college and the application process.
PTSA member Alison Rainey coordinated the event, which began at 7:30 p.m. with the end of the PTSA meeting.
Counselor Marilyn Garcia opened the event, followed by Julie Fulton and Karen Bowlin, counselors with Mosaic College Prep, who discussed the complicated world of financial aid. Fulton explained how need-based aid is determined using the concept of Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the amount a family is expected to pay in tuition. She reminded students that it is free to fill out the form that determines EFC, so anyone with the slightest chance of receiving need-based aid should do so. Bowlin discussed merit-based aid, and how safety schools are more likely to offer scholarships, as applicants are more likely to be at the top of the applicant pool.
“The important thing to do is to not wait until you get your letters back,” Bowlin said. “Think about financial feasibility before you start applying.”
Patti Winkel and Chris Tokuhama, both counselors for Collegewise, a private college admissions counseling company, discussed the idea of “college fit.”
“The majority of schools take the majority of applicants,” Winkel assured, reminding listeners that schools with very low acceptance rates are the minority by far.
SPHS alumni Cole Rainey and Chloe Cavalier took the stage, reaching out to the students in the audience. Rainey, a senior at Columbia University, reminded students to be themselves.
“I have no idea how I got into Columbia,” he said. “Don’t worry about it too much… You never know. You just never know.”
He pointed out that Ivy Leagues are not for everyone, and although he is happy at Columbia, he knows many who can’t say the same. Above all, he highlighted the importance of making the most out of wherever you attend.
“Find a community wherever you are,” he said. “And be open to wherever you’re attending. Don’t waste time being disappointed… Get excited to go where you’re going to go.”
Cavalier, who graduated in 2010, talked about her experience moving from different colleges, attending five colleges before graduating last May from the University of Arizona. She pointed out that she may have found herself more comfortable at the first school she attended had she gotten involved in the student body, and told students that getting involved is one of the best ways to find happiness at school.
The presentation wrapped up at 8:30 p.m. as the panelists answered questions from the audience. Each speaker reassured attendees, reminding them of the overarching message of the evening: everything is going to be O.K.