Monday, May 24, 2010

Mock Admission Event - June 2nd

Mark and I are so excited about the 1st ever Mock Admission Committee Fly-In for the Casady class of 2011 on Wednesday, June 2. At the event, our admission reps from Vandy, LMU, SMU, KU, Hendrix, and the OU Honors College will run a workshop on the college admission process.

Students will work in six committees to evaluate 3 applicants for admission to a fictitious liberal arts college. The students will have to admit, wait list, and deny one applicant. Our sense is that the kids will be enlightened by all that factors into an admission decision.

Today we met with the "seniors in waiting" to explain to them our expectations in terms of attendance, dress code, and behavior. We told them that we know it is prom day and that we have tried to schedule everything to fit around hair appointments, make-up sessions, etc.

Below is the event schedule. Students will meet from 9:30 – 2:00 p.m.

Parents will meet from 1-2:00 p.m.

9:30-10:15 a.m. Welcome & General Q&A about college application process (Fee)
10:20 a.m. Breakout Session for Mock Admission Committee (McClendon)
11:30 a.m. Return for Debriefing of the Committees (Fee)
12:00 p.m. First Senior Class Cookout (TBA)
1:00-2:00 p.m. "Two minute drill"/Q&A session Parents w/ Admission O's (Fee)

We believe this event will help launch our seniors into the exciting college application season!

We hope to see all junior students and parents at this event!

Let's finish strong together.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Show Me the Money Part 4

In a report I had to submit for our 10 year ISAS evaluation, I was asked to identify 5 challenges that we will all face in college admissions over the next stretch of Casady life. Here is what I enumerated:

· Affordability issues in post-Fannie Mae economic climate

· Depreciating value of undergraduate degree

· Greater regionalization in post-9/11 era

· Student selection of soft academic programs in fear of low grade point

· Monetary lifestyle choices that undervalue education

You will notice that the majority of our challenges ahead involve finances.

Looking closer, you will notice that 2 of the 3 are challenges beyond our control.

Like the golf ball size hail that blasted the Village and Nichols Hills like artillery shells on Sunday.

A thin financial portfolio.

Tuition hikes.

Corporate job cuts.

It's no wonder then why more families are taking a calculated, conservative, economically-centered approach to the college admission search.

It's not uncommon then, when we are discussing colleges, that I can literally see the geometric graph in mom and dad's mind, where the X axis represents the COS ("Cost of School" = tuition, room and board, books, travel expenses), and the Y axis represents the ROI ("Return on Investment" = job securement and salary cap). It makes perfect sense to do this exercise for those reasons.

However, 1 out of the 3 challenges we face is within our control.

This has to do entirely with our "purchasing choices" - a term I learned taking Dave Ramsey's Money Make Over class. What Ramsey helped me understand is that how we spend our money ultimately reveals what we both value and don't value. If, for example, I choose to buy Silas a really nice sports car when he turns 16, earning major "cool dad points", and possibly securing him a date for prom, as opposed to investing that money in a 529 Plan, which would probably result in a temporary but massive Dow Jones drop in "cool dad points" - what ultimately does that reveal about my personal value system?

So in the final analysis, I want to encourage you to focus your energies on what you can control. I certainly hope to do this both for Silas and our daughter, Olive. I truly want them to know that when it comes to their education, I was willing to "put my money where my mouth was".

Show Me the Money Part 3

I've asked Mary Ann Cockrum, our endearing registrar, to offer a few pearls of wisdom and practical tips as someone who has just been through the college admission process with her son Guy.

She knows first hand what it is like to experience "sticker shock".

She knows the prevailing myths swirling around in the atmosphere like Panhandle dust that can wreak havoc on parents anticipating college costs.

She knows what it's like to call and introduce herself to her new best friend - her financial aid officer.

She knows what it's like to fill out forms like FASFA and the CIS Profile.

She knows what information you will have to be ready to divulge.

She knows what EFC stands for.

Most importantly, she knows the value of a college education, and understands that if you really value education for your children, there will inevitably be challenges and sacrifices.

To read Mrs. Cockrum's insights and thoughts on financial aid, click here. She's written multiple posts on the topic. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Show Me the Money Part 2

Gold Medal "Show Me the Money" Colleges/Universities: $300,000 - $200,000

Baylor University
Oklahoma University
Rhodes College
Southern Methodist University
Texas Christian University
Tulsa University

Silver Medal "Show Me the Money" Colleges/Universities: $199,999 - $100,000

Hendrix College
Oklahoma City University
Oklahoma State University
Sewanee (University of the South)

Bronze Medal "Show Me the Money" Colleges/Universities: $99,000 - $40,000

Austin College
DePauw University
Drexel University
Hampden-Sydney College
Kalamazoo College
Knox College
Loyola (Chicago)
Loyola (New Orleans)
Ohio Wesleyan
Regis University
Saint Louis University
Trinity University
Tulane University
University of Arizona
University of Michigan
University of San Diego
Westmont College
Wooster College

Honorable Mention "Show Me the Money" Colleges/Universities: $39,000 - $5,000

Averett University
Colorado School of the Mines
Cornell College
Furman University
Ohio State University
University of Cincinnati
Virginia Polytechnic Institutes
Whitworth University
William Jewell College

Show Me the Money Part 1

I'm sure you've seen the famous scene below.

If not, I invite you to watch. It will on take a minute or so.

Plus it's hilarious.

So let's be honest: we are all Rod Tidwell's in regard to paying for college, especially in our post Fannie Mae era, where stocks and bonds are slowly recovering, but not nearly at the speed or proportion of rising tuition costs.

So what does this mean?

I'd argue it means that we are seeing a new, emerging trend.

Where getting into college is not as important as getting more from a college.

Affordability, in other words, has vaulted above admissability.

Not for everyone.

But for a majority.

Consider, for example, that 20+ Casady seniors will be attending a state university.

Families who decided that it was in their best interest to say "No" to schools like Trinity, Wash U, and Notre Dame who said "Yes" to them in admission.

Now as an important caveat: the quality of education at our state universities is on the rise. It's hard to find a better deal than the one you can get at OU or OSU.

Nevertheless, the trend toward staying in state does seem to underscore that the price tag really, really matters.

To our senior families today.

To our senior families tomorrow.

That's why it is not uncommon for families to ask the questions:

"Where can I get the best deal?"

"What are the best college buys?"

"In other words, who is showin' our families the moooonnneeey?"

Tomorrow I will unveil the Gold, Silver, and Bronze "Show Me the Money" Clubs for colleges and universities that offered our student's scholarship monies.

To date, as a teaser, our 74 seniors have been offered 113 scholarships for $3,576,890.

Perhaps the trail of money will help guide some of you along the unsteady path of college admissions.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Shines Like Stars

What stands out to you from the chart below?

Two things shine like stars for me.

One is the application-per-students between 2006 (7.4) and 2009 (5).

Two is the acceptance results between 07' (40%) and 09' (69%).

What this reveals is the dramatic shift that we have made together in the face of humongous cultural forces.

What we have done is counter cultural, especially in the independent school world, and somewhat counter intuitive.

With 3.3 million high school graduates, a swelling influx of international applicants, the mainstreaming of the Common Application/Universal Application, and the media's fixation with rankings and admission statistics, one would think that the best strategy is to apply to more colleges. The logic is simple: the more colleges I apply to, the better chance I have of securing many choices. And the better chance I have of getting into a "name brand" school.

I would argue that this logic shaped how Casady families approached the college admission process through 06'.

Today, though, I believe the evidence points us in a new direction. Instead of "shotgunning" out 15 applications, our students are fine tuning their search, where they are investing themselves in their research (thanks Naviance), keeping an open mind to "hidden gem" schools, placing an accent on colleges that want them for what they will bring, and shopping for the best deal.

In other words, our families have bought into our new paradigm for college admission in which it is all about the right FIT.

Sometimes that fit points to a "CTCL'er" - a "College That Changes Lives" like Rhodes and Hendrix.

Or a "BBB'er" - a "BCS Bowl Bound" university like TCU.

Or a "SS'er" - a "Single Sex" school like Hampden Sydney. (Okay so we haven't had a boy make the plunge yet...but I stress yet...we had 2 applicants this year, both accepted, both awarded scholarships. One visited; loved it; but thought it was just too far away).

Consider, in closing, this year's statistics.

Total Seniors: 74
Total Applications: 366
Application Average: 4.8
Acceptance %: 74%

I don't think it is a coincidence that as we ( as a community) have embraced a philosophy of "best college fit" that our acceptance rate has gone up.

That we are applying to more schools and new schools (30+).

That the scholarship monies offered continues to increase (more on this soon).

And that ALL of our students have excellent college choices.