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Money Tips from UCLA, U of Oregon, and Boise State

New interviews! The average public college grad owes about $30k in student loans -- and growing, if you include the interest. That can be paralyzing for any entry-level worker. So how do students avoid hefty student loan debts? We chatted with UCLA, University of Oregon, and Boise State financial aid advisors to hear their tips and perspectives.

Dear Socrates, Feature


Am I likely to get accepted if I’m deferred in Early Decision?

How likely is it to be accepted into a college after you’ve been deferred in Early Decision/Early Action? This might surprise you. Let's use MIT, Boston College, Stanford, and Washington University in St. Louis as case studies. Here's what the admissions officers from these institutions say.

The Skinny

Special Reports





Admissions strategies of top admits to Stanford, Harvard, and MIT

Demeka and Anthony’s two kids got into Stanford on almost full scholarships. (Not to mention Harvard, MIT, Brown, Columbia, UPenn, Berkeley, among others.) Amazed, I spent a couple hours getting to know them. I learned why starting early matters, how to get scholarships, where to find growth in everyday life, and how the kids lived normal childhoods while excelling at all their pursuits. Here’s the superstar parents’ story.

Beyond Scholarships: 3 Insider Tips on Lowering College Costs

“She used to be a financial aid officer at a school in Ohio [and] her coworker awarded based on how she felt that day. Having a good day, she gave a good offer; bad day, not as much.” How do people pay for college? Does everybody else have way bigger college funds for their children or stinkin’ rich uncles? How are our coworkers with $3 million homes getting this much financial aid for their kid? This is just a sampling of college finance questions we get from parents all the time. This week, read the highlights from three interviews with college financial aid insiders, sharing sage advice on paying less for college beyond just applying for scholarships.

Parents of College Applicants: Three Dos and Don’ts

“You will see parents that pressure their student into taking 18 credits in their first semester without really taking into account the social scene, especially that football is a huge part of the fall,” says a University of Michigan admissions director. This week, three admissions officers give parents of college applicants three important dos and don’ts during college application season.


The Skinny

Is the Test-Optional Trend Increasing?

  • An Ivy League university received its second-largest applicant pool ever. Which one?
  • Another university goes test-optional. Which one?
  • A university just ended its legacy admissions. Which one? Will others follow suit?

Growing Tuition-Free and Test-Optional Trends in Colleges

  • Which community college has announced free tuition for some students?
  • COVID-19 federal relief funds will allow this technical college to go tuition-free. Which one?
  • Admission tests may become a thing of the past. But what’s the catch?

Ivy League and legacies

  • This Ivy League just defended its legacy admission policy. Which one?
  • Want free tuition at U of M? Here’s how to do it.
  • What percentage of students at Claremont McKenna is legacy?



Does attending Harvard guarantee wealth?

Read about the Yale grad found himself broke and jobless, the daughter who, years after graduating, was still looking for a job, and the son who worked 3 days a week creating special effects for George Lucas.

Why Your Student Will Be Okay No Matter What

Your student has submitted her college apps. And now, the stress of actually completing the applications has turned into anxiety about the impending decision.

Instead of biting your nails, worrying your butt off, and predictive-analyzing college decisions, let’s hear why admissions officers think your student will be okay no matter what — accept, deny, or waitlist.

A Powerful 2-Step Process to Writing Supplements

When your favorite food is pepperoni pizza and your friend asks why, you can easily say, I don’t know. I just like it because it tastes good. When colleges ask applicants to write 500 or fewer on “Why do you want to major in XYZ?”, applicants find themselves staring back at the computer screen: I don’t know why. I just like it. Isn’t that enough? No, it’s not. Going to college is not exactly like eating pepperoni pizza. So what exactly are colleges looking for in applicant responses? It’s easier than you think and only involves 2 steps. Let’s break it down.

What is a good GPA? Well, it’s subjective.

I won’t beat around the bush. A good GPA is a 4.0 unweighted with all honors and AP/IB classes. But that’s irrelevant to most of us who aren’t picture perfect. A good GPA doesn’t matter. What matters more is having a GPA that colleges like. This week, we explore why a 3.6 gets you admitted into Washington State but rejected from Berkeley — and all the implications of your GPA.

Pencils Down…. Your Last Minute EA Checklist

No, there’s not enough time to brainstorm essay topics, ask for teacher recommendations, or add more colleges to the EA list. So leave those alone and focus on a final 25-minute review before hitting “submit.”Here is a last-minute checklist of actions that might make a difference before your student submits those EA applications.

Why I Advise Most Students to Apply Early Action

As Early Action and Early Decision deadlines approach, how do we know if applying early to college is the right choice? I generally advise all of my students to apply to college Early Action and discourage most students from applying Early Decision. Read why.

What do counselor recommendations actually look like?

We know what teacher recommendations for college look like, but what about the elusive “counselor recommendation”? We give you an insider peek into what the counselors are actually doing to advocate for your student’s college app candidacy… and it’s not what most people expect. Read our summary and tips on how to get the best counselor recs for college.