Admission Matters : What Students and Parents Need to Know about Getting into College

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  • Edition: 3rd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-07-01
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass
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New edition of the go-to reference to college admission Getting into college has never been more complicated or competitive. Parents and students need expert guidance to navigate the maze of college admissions. This thoroughly updated edition of Admission Matters is the best source, covering the whole process for any applicant. The authors offer great practical advice for selecting the right school, writing effective essays, navigating financial aid, and much more. No matter what type of school a college-bound student may select, Admission Matters will give them the edge they need. Offers an essential resource for understanding the admission process for all students applying to college Addresses the most recent changes to the college application process New sections include information for international students, transfer students, and students with learning disabilities, as well as expanded advice for athletes, artists, and homeschoolers This is an essential handbook for any family facing the college admission process.

Author Biography

Sally P. Springer, PhD, is associate chancellor emerita at the University of California, Davis, and a psychologist with more than 30 years of experience in higher education as a professor and administrator. She has taken the college admissions journey twice with her children.

Jon Reider, PhD, is director of college counseling at San Francisco University High School, an independent 9–12 high school. For 15 years he served as an admissions officer and taught humanities at Stanford University.

Joyce Vining Morgan, PhD, is a certified educational planner specializing in college admissions with an online individualized practice. She has over 17 years of experience in college admissions counseling.

Table of Contents



ONE: Why Has College Admissions Become So Competitive?     

It Used to Be Simple . . . But Not Anymore

What is Selectivity All About?

Why Is There So Much Interest in a Small Group of Colleges?

The Rankings Game

Why Are Rankings So Popular?

“I’ll Make More Money If I Graduate from an Elite College”: Another Myth

Getting into Graduate School

The Importance of Fit

TWO: What Do Selective Colleges Look for in an Applicant?  

How College Admissions Has Changed

What Matters Now

The Academic Record

Standardized Tests

Engagement Beyond the Classroom: The Extracurricular Record

Personal Qualities: The Person Behind the Paper

Hooks and How They Help

Fitting It All Together

THREE: How Do Colleges Make Their Decisions?   

Who Works in Admissions?

What Happens to Your Application?

Tentative Decisions

How the Final Decision is Made

The Special Case of the Most Selective Colleges

The Role of Your High School Counselor

How College Access Programs Can Help

Should You Consider Hiring an Independent College Counselor?

The Parents’ Role

FOUR: How Colleges (and Students) Differ: Finding What Fits

So Many Choices: How Do You Begin?

Some Questions to Ask Yourself

Liberal Arts Colleges

Research Universities

What’s in a Name?

Master’s Universities and Baccalaureate Colleges

Specialized Programs

Colleges With Special Affiliations

Earning Your Degree Abroad, in English

Which Kind of College Is Best for You?

Majors, Careers, and Curriculum

How Easily Can You Get the Advice and Help You Need?

What Makes for a Quality Undergraduate Experience?

Determining Your Priorities

FIVE: Where Should You Apply?

Start at Your Counseling Office

Use a College Search Tool

Meeting College Representatives

Read What They Send You

How to Narrow Things Down

The College Visit

Showing That You Are Interested

Selectivity and Your College List

Check Out the Data

How Long Should Your College List Be?

The Key to a Good College List

A Word About Finances

SIX: The Big Tests     

What is the SAT Supposed to Test?

What is the ACT Supposed to Measure?

How Much Do Standardized Tests Count?

How Should You Prepare?

Which Test Should You Take?

When Should You Take the SAT or ACT?

How Do the PSAT an PLAN Fit into the Picture?

Test Optional Schools

The Case of Special Accommodations

The SAT Subject Tests

A Word to Parents About Standardized Tests

SEVEN: Deciding About Early Decision and Other Early Options     

An Overview of Early Acceptance Programs

The Pros and Cons of Early Decision

Should You Apply Early Decision or Early Action?

More Things to Consider

Likely Letters and Early Notification

The Advantage of Thinking Early Even If You Decide Against Applying Early

And Humor Always Helps Keep Things in Perspective

EIGHT: Applying Well Part I: The Application and the Essay 

Getting Off to a Good Start

Writing an Effective Personal Essay

An Important “To Do” List

NINE: Applying Well Part II: Recommendations, Interviews, and Activities

Getting Great Letters of Recommendation

Shining in Your Interview

Highlighting What You’ve Accomplished

The Canadian and British/Irish Difference

You’ve Finished Your Applications – What’s Next?

TEN: Making the Most of Your Special Talents

The Student Athlete and Athletic Recruitment

Options for the Student Artist

ELEVEN: Students with Special Circumstances

Students with Disabilities

Tips for Homeschoolers 

Making a Change: How to Successfully Transfer Colleges

TWELVE: Paying the Bill

Key Concepts for Understanding Financial Aid

How Colleges Determine Your Financial Need

What Forms Will You Have to File?

Getting an Estimate of Your Financial Need

What Goes into a Financial Aid Package?

Why Need-Based Packages Can Differ from College to College

Will Your Need for Financial Aid Affect Your Chances for Admission?

How Merit Aid Works

Seeking Outside Scholarships

Financial Aid and Your College List

Evaluating Aid After You’ve Been Accepted

Another Word About Early Decision

Planning Ahead When Your Child Is Young

THIRTEEN: Advice for International Students

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Being an International Applicant

What Are Colleges Looking For?

How Will Your Application Be Reviewed?

Where Should You Apply?

The Role of Standardized Tests

Tests to Show Proficiency in English

Getting the Application Completed

Paying for Your Education

Special Circumstances

The Bigger Picture

FOURTEEN: Making Your Decision After the Colleges Make Theirs    

How Will You Be Notified?

The Special Case of Early Decision

What Can You Do if You Are Deferred

When It Is Your Turn to Decide in the Spring

Dealing with Disappointment

Spring Admits

Taking Another Look

Revisiting Financial Aid

How Wait-Lists Work

Deposit Ethics

Should You Consider a Gap Year?

A Word About Senioritis

Celebrate and Enjoy!

FIFTEEN: What Matters Most: Advice to Parents and Students 

Some Parting Thoughts for Parents

Some Parting Thoughts for Students 


A. College Research Worksheet

B. Common Application Essay Questions 2013-14  

C. Sample Student Information Sheet for Letters of Recommendation

D. Financial Aid Comparison Worksheet    

E. Cost of Attendance Worksheet    

College Preparation Time Line




About the Authors


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