Headed to college as a freshman? U.S. News & World Report lists some of the potential pitfalls to avoid.
The current administration is striving to make student loan relief programs work for everyone. Efforts to revise IDR(Income-driven repayment plan) regulations will produce substantially more affordable monthly payments for millions of borrowers. Recent actions complement steps the administration has already taken within its first year to cancel more than $17 billion in debt for 725,000 borrowers in addition to extending the student loan payment pause, saving 41 million borrowers billions of dollars in payments each month. The Department has now approved approximately:
To protect students and taxpayers from predatory or low-value colleges, the Department has also restored the FSA Office of Enforcement and started efforts to strengthen key rules including borrower defense to repayment and gainful employment.
The situation is continually updating so stay informed regarding these changes. For further information see the U.S. Department of Education and Federal Student Aid.
Collegeboard has announced that the SAT exam will move from the traditional paper and pencil format to a digital format. The format change is scheduled to roll out internationally next year and nationally in the U.S. in 2024. However, Connecticut will utilize the new digital version this March 23 - 25 and 29 - 30, 2022 for the Connecticut School Day SAT for current juniors in high school.
The digital version will also shave an hour from the current version, bringing the reading, writing and math assessment from three hours to about two. Test-takers will be allowed to use their own laptops or tablets but they'll still have to sit for the test at a monitored testing site or in school, not at home. Calculators will be allowed on the entire Math section, and scores will be available in days, rather than weeks, still on the 400-1600 point-scale.
They have designed the test software so that if there are battery or internet connectivity issues, the test will be saved and the student can return to it without losing their work.
For a full description of what aspects of the new digital SAT will stay the same and what will be different, see Collegeboard's SAT Suite of Assessments https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/digital?SFMC_cid=EM669978-&rid=124890901
At one time essential for college applications, scores from admission tests like the SAT and rival ACT carry less weight today as colleges pay more attention to the sum of student achievements and activities throughout high school.
There has also been criticism that the exams favor wealthy, white applicants and disadvantage minority and low-income students, and an increasing number of colleges have adopted test-optional policies in recent years, which let students decide whether to include scores with their applications.
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the trend as testing sessions were canceled or inaccessible. However, the SAT and ACT are still deeply ingrained in the American high school experience. More than a dozen states require one of the exams to graduate, and prior to the pandemic 10 states plus Washington, D.C., had contracts with the College Board to offer the test during the school day for free to their students.
Nearly 80% of bachelor’s degree-granting institutions are not requiring test scores from students applying for fall 2022, according to a December tally by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a watchdog group that opposes standardized testing. The group, known as FairTest, said at least 1,400 of them have extended the policy through at least the fall 2023 admissions cycle.
Jeff Selingo, author of Who Gets in and Why, a Year Inside College Admissions, posted recently about how important relationships are to the higher education experience for college students. Many colleges historically have set up structures for students to get those relationships, such as living-and-learning communities, first year experiences, and assignment of mentors.
However, during the pandemic it has been difficult for students to access these connections due to online or hybrid learning as well as social distancing with cafeteria restrictions and campus activities being severely curtailed. The sense of isolation for many students has led to frustration, anxiety and depression.
Going forward it is ever more important to evaluate opportunities for students to be connected to their peers and faculty when researching colleges. Some colleges are modeling cohort groups based on athletic teams, where student groups with shared interests work together toward a goal in a structured setting under the guidance of a coach. Other colleges are trying various creative means to enhance a students’ engagement.
An independent educational consultant can often help families find colleges that are working on increasing connectivity and support for their students in these difficult times.
Each year the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opens on October 1st for the following year’s college entrance. It is usually advisable to complete the FAFSA, even if you do not feel your family will qualify for need-based aid. Many colleges require the FAFSA to be completed before they will offer students their own institutional scholarships.
For the 2022-23 school year the opening date for both the FAFSA as well as the CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service) is this week! Not all colleges require the CSS Profile. Check the Common App, each college’s website, or speak with your college educational consultant to see which schools require it.
A number of colleges have started requiring students to be vaccinated against covid-19 in order to enroll in the fall. Currently these include:
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has a list of almost 400 colleges that have stated they are test optional for the Fall of 2021, affirming that students will not be penalized for the absence of a standardized test score for admission. Click here for more information.
See how some colleges are trying to provide more options for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is some news from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Big Ten Colleges Start Course-Sharing Initiative
A new course-sharing initiative from the Big Ten Academic Alliance is aimed at offering students more educational opportunities during the pandemic. Beginning this fall, undergraduates at any institution in the Big Ten Academic Alliance will be able to take an online course from any other institution in the alliance, at no charge.
The arrangement will waive tuition and fees for one course each semester. Participating institutions include Indiana University at Bloomington, the University of Maryland at College Park, Michigan State University, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Purdue University, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Rutgers University at New Brunswick. Students can view the courses on offer from each university and register for the class of their choice.
TeenLife posted an interesting article on the value of STEM summer programs for students of all ages.
Check out this TeenLife Blog.
The College Board recognizes that mastering computer science and the U.S. Constitution are keys to student future success in college and life.
Check out The New York Times article
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