Students starting early on college admissions, financial aid planning
September 28, 2013
By Neil Pierson
New: Sept. 28, 1:16 p.m.
Skyline High School senior Will Essilfie has some simple advice for his peers when it comes to applying for colleges and looking for ways to pay for it – start early.
“At first I was thinking about waiting until senior year and seeing if I wanted to get some experiences there for my college essays,” Essilfie said, “but I decided ultimately to just start as soon as my junior year ended.
“That lets you have more time to plan how you want to write your essay, get rough drafts ready, get more advice, so when you submit it, it’s the best version you can possibly have done.”
Essay writing is just one of the numerous tasks prospective college students have to complete. The journey to land at a four-year or two-year college is a complicated one, which is why career specialists like Karen Edgar exist.
Edgar, one of two career specialists at Skyline, believes the process is more difficult to navigate than ever before.
“It’s an interesting process because of the nature of college admissions,” Edgar said, “and how much tighter it has become in the last decade, and more difficult for these students than those that came before.”
Skyline is inviting juniors and seniors – and their families – to an informational night Oct. 8. College admissions officers will explain how to file for federal student aid, and talk will also center on grants, scholarships and other resources that can be used to lower the costs of a student’s education.
Edgar said there’s a common myth shared among families of prospective college students. They assume a “high sticker price” equates to the amount they’ll pay. But In actuality, schools that charge $50,000 per year in tuition may offer enough scholarships and other cost-reduction measures to bring the final amount below that of more modestly-priced institution that doesn’t offer those perks.
“I would caution families not to rule things out based strictly on sticker price,” Edgar said.
A wealth of scholarship listings are available online through sites like Fastweb, the Washington Scholarship Coalition and the College Planning Network. Edgar also suggests students check out local resources like Rotary Club, or their parents’ employers, for financial help.
For Skyline senior Prabha Dublish, the process has been less daunting because she has an older sister who is attending the University of Washington. Dublish’s parents know what to expect in terms of helping her, but she’s also sought out other resources, she said.
Dublish is interested in studying business, and she’s planning to apply to several four-year schools, including North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Southern California.
“I knew a lot of people who have already gone to college that were interested in the same field that I was,” she said. “So the first thing I did was talk to them … because I always thought it was really important to hear it from someone who has already gone through it.”
Dublish also set aside an entire weekend to surf the Internet in search of scholarships. She’s hoping to cover half her financial need through scholarships.
Essilfie doesn’t have any siblings to lean on, but said his parents are supportive of his college dreams. He’s looking for a school that has strong programs in social sciences and engineering. His application list will likely include Columbia, Stanford and Washington.
“I’m looking for a balanced undergraduate experience,” he said, “and most of it has been focused on trying to go out of state, because I’m interested in trying to go somewhere else besides Washington, because I’ve lived here for six years.”
Prep for college
Families of junior and senior students are invited to attend a scholarship and financial aid information night at Skyline High School. The event takes place at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at the school’s Lyceum Theater. College admissions officers will walk families through the process of filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, as well as grant and scholarship opportunities.
Career center help
Families looking for help with their high school student’s college planning process should contact their school’s career center.
Eastlake High: Lori Horton, 425-936-1526 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skyline High: Karen Edgar, 425-837-7869 or email@example.com; Charlotte Henderson, 425-837-7898 or firstname.lastname@example.org.