It’s a Matter of Money (and Maybe Location, Too)!

Whether it relates to saving for your student’s education, institutional fundraising or setting tuition, economics plays a major role in the college process. This week, I’m also taking a look at another issue affecting admissions: geographic diversity.

Money Talks According to the Wall Street Journal, “the wealthiest schools continued to attract the most new money,” with overall giving rising by 6.3 percent in 2017. The Crimson raised $1.28 billion, followed closely by Stanford at $1.13 billion. In third place was Cornell, which scooped up over $740 million in 2017. Donations consisted of cash, stock, art and other property.


Geographic Diversity Those of us on the East Coast often question whether living somewhere else might have enhanced our children’s college chances. Thanks to Noodle Pros, I recently had the opportunity to explore geographic diversity as it relates to college admissions, looking at trends at both elite colleges and public research universities. I started with Higher Ed Data Stories: Freshman Migration from Jon Boeckenstedt, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul University. Scott Wilson, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission at UCLA, Fumio Sugihara, Director of Admissions at Bennington College, and Casey Decker, Assistant Director of Admission at Chapman University, shared their insights. The results appear in Does It Hurt To Be From New York? Geographic Diversity In College Admissions, published in forbes.comLet me know what you think!

Hot Colleges When discussing public research universities, University of Wisconsin-Madison is often a place I mention. But what happens when a spirited college has curriculum, sports and location to match? Its popularity grows. According to the Daily Cardinal, in its second year on the Common App, Wisconsin’s application volume soared by 20 percent; out-of-state student volume was up 29 percent. In the article, André Phillips, Director of Admissions Recruitment, explains: “Adding more out-of-state students has a financial benefit for the university. Non-resident students pay $34,783 in tuition, compared with $10,533 for in-state students.”


Speaking of that area of the country, the Journal took a look at the “Top Colleges in the Midwest for Student Engagement.” The leader wasn’t Wisconsin or Michigan, but rather Dordt College, Iowa, affiliated with Christian Reformed Church. (By student engagement, the Journal means “students’ views on things such as interactions with faculty and other students, the effectiveness of teaching and whether students would recommend their school.”) Regarding popular colleges with my students, Washington University in St. Louis tied for third place, and Miami University tied for sixth.


Business Insider is always a good source of scoops on colleges, and this week was no exception. In “Seven Things College Admissions Officers Wish Every Applicant Knew,” they cited former admissions officers turned counselors. It’s very important that those seeking admission to highly selective colleges and their parents take note. Here are notable takeaways.

  1. From a former admissions officer at UChicago: “Admissions officers really care about the students for whom they advocate, but often it comes down to the needs of the school and the desire to have a well-rounded incoming class.”

  2. From a former admissions officer at Dartmouth: “It’s not enough just to be smart at top schools. Students must also show that they’ll be good classmates and community builders.”

  3. From a former admissions officer at MIT: “A college interview is your chance to bring some more color and personality to your application.”

  4. “Whether it’s in the admissions office, during an interview, or on your application, indicating interest in a school is essential.”

  5. “Schools don’t just want “smart” students, they want to build a class of individuals who will make good classmates, roommates, teammates, leaders, and friends.”

  6. “Do not be dismissive of or assume that the professionals answering phone calls or e-mail correspondence do not have any influence on the admissions process (they have a lot more impact on an applicant’s candidacy than one might expect).”

Taking all these insights into account, I encourage students to create a list with varying levels of difficulty, be unique in their essay writing, spend time on their supplements, use social media wisely, and make a ZeeMee to show admissions officers the face behind the essay. (Wash U, featured above, is a ZeeMee partner!)

Surge Pricing Who said that surge pricing only applied to transit? At the University of Delaware, there’s a new pricing plan that attaches a premium to students at the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the College of Engineering or the School of Nursing. According to a release from the Fighin’ Blue Hens, “The new charges will be phased in over time. All the colleges will start with a $1,000 increase in 2018-19, but by 2020-21, business students will pay an additional $2,500 per year, nursing students an additional $1,500 and engineering students $4,000 . . . The payment model is built on the premise that some programs, such as engineering, cost universities more to provide because they require state-of-the-art facilities, labs and equipment.”

Top Colleges for Financial Aid With all this talk of surge pricing, parents need to know that private colleges can often give extensive financial support to top applicants. According to CNBC, beautiful Bowdoin College tops the list, providing an average freshman scholarship of $42,000. It was followed closely by Vanderbilt, Colgate, and Vassar, another favorite of this college counselor. The lesson: Do not write off a college because of its high sticker price.

Super Bowl LII Does Penn ever have the spirit! To honor the champion Philadelphia Eagles on parade day, Penn cancelled classes and activities. No doubt those Quakers enjoyed an atypical break in the action.

Follow @nberler to stay informed. Be sure to email me with questions and concerns.

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