If I had to have a claim to fame, it might be being a Most Viewed Writer on Quora. If you aren't familiar with Quora, you aren't alone. Quora is an improved hybrid of Google and Ask Jeeves, where you can search for virtually any topic, and get answers to your questions from industry experts, rather than a robot. Although I would like to think of myself as an expert on Tacos and Austin, TX, I have great understanding and expertise in subjects like Higher Education in the United States and Scholarships. My gift to you during this wonderful month of February is to give you a list of the Most Frequently Asked Questions I receive, so I can help you better understand the mystical world of higher education in the United States.
HOW CAN I GET FREE TUITION?
To start, this is a very tall order. Getting a full-ride to any school in the United States is a challenge, and it is especially difficult to answer such a general question. Students need to understand that a school will only offer a full-ride if they see a student as a must-have asset to their university. The type of student qualities that each school considers to be "must-haves" varies, but they typically include a student in the top 1% of their class, with extracurricular involvement for 4+ years, while being involved in activities outside of school as well. Schools receive applications from hundreds of extremely qualified students who can't afford paying full tuition, however, that alone isn't a reason for them to offer you a full ride. Instead, you should ask yourself the question, "What makes me stand out that makes me deserve a full-ride over anyone else?" Play on those strengths you have on your application to help the admissions and financial aid office see why you are worthy of a full-ride scholarship.
Students also need to look into applying to scholarships as soon as possible. There are scholarships that are available to students as early as 7th and 8th grade, and it is up to you to search out for these scholarship opportunities on your own. Furthermore, you can look into loans and grants with small interest rates so you don't need to pay an unnecessary amount of money back to lenders. Do your research as early as you can.
WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF GETTING INTO ___________?
This may be the # 1 asked question I have received, and my first reaction is "I don't know." The reason for this is that the admissions requirements and demographics that a university looks for, in their incoming freshman class, changes every year. The person who can provide you with the best answer to this question would be the admissions officer to the university, however, I don't recommend that you ask them this. Why? Because you and every other student wants to know the answer to this question, and this is not the route you should take to establish a relationship with an admissions officer.
Instead, think about how you can approach this question in a unique way. My suggestion would be to go to the School Profile that you're interested in on our site, for example San Diego State University, and input your scores into the "My Chances" section. Please note that in order to get the most accurate calculation to determine your chances of getting admitted, your Student Profile should be completely filled out with all of your academic accomplishments. If it seems that you have a shot at getting admitted, you can approach an admissions officer by saying, "After doing some research, I found that I have a fairly good shot of being admitted to your school. Have admissions criteria changed for the most recent incoming freshman class, and if so, can I learn about how to best increase my chances of getting admitted? "
HOW CAN I GET INTO IVY LEAGUES?
Everyone wants to get into an Ivy League school, and unfortunately Ivy Leagues accept some of the smallest percentage of applicants they receive. If you haven't had a chance to read one of our recent posts about The Ivy Leagues, take a look at it. In order to get into an Ivy League school, your resume needs to be a dynamic combination of top grades, numerous extracurriculars with board positions, and work experience. Instead of asking how you can get into the Ivy Leagues, try asking, "How can I get into a school that is the best fit for me?" If you don't get into an Ivy League, but get into a school that seems to be a great fit for you, you aren't missing out on an educational opportunity by going to this lesser known school. Rather, you are allowing yourself to gain more valuable insight about your own interests and goals instead of worrying about keeping up with others. Good chance is that you'll be much happier in the long run.