College Consulting: Find the Right College for your Student's Career and Life
Which of these statements is correct?
- State colleges and universities are cheaper than private ones
- All universities offer the same supports for students with disabilities, because they're required to by law
- Ivy League/top tier colleges are the best.
To be fair, they are not ALWAYS incorrect, but they are not ALWAYS correct, either.
State colleges are NOT ALWAYS cheaper than private ones. Price is one of the main excuses parents and students give for not applying to private universities. It's true that, In nearly every case, tuition and fees at state institutions are lower than at private ones, but there's more to it than that. Many private universities can offer significantly more financial aid than a state institution. It's not uncommon for a private university--if they really want a student--to offer financial aid packages that make the total cost less than or equal to your local state university. This doesn't always happen, but it happens often enough that you should consider private, as well as public, colleges.
All universities DO NOT offer the same supports for students with disabilities, just because they're required to by law. We could write pages on this, and maybe someday we will. Parents sometimes use this as an excuse to only look at local or nearby college: why look in other parts of the country? Every school offers the same supports. No, they do not. It's true that all colleges and universities need to meet federal requirements for students with disabilities, but that's a relatively low bar. Some states require more supports than the federal government, and many colleges provide additional supports beyond what is required in order to attract students with a particular profile. Even for basic services, there's a lot of variability in terms of how easy it is to access services and how those services are actually implemented. In other words, depending on your disability, some schools are designed to support you, and some will do only the minimum required by law.
Ivy League/Top tier colleges are NOT ALWAYS the best FOR YOU. It's true, these colleges are at or near the top of almost every ranking. However, everything depends on your definition of "best." In many cases, the more academically rigorous a school, the more competitive the environment is, and therefore the more pressure-filled the environment is. If you or your student thrives in these environments, then these schools probably are the best. If your student is not motivated by high pressure and competition--if they thrive in a more supportive, collaborative environment--there are hundreds of excellent colleges out there, but none of them are in the Ivy League, and few appear on lists of "highly ranked" colleges.
At BTA Education, we understand the differences among hundreds of colleges nationwide. We'll help you find a set of colleges that are right for you, and then we'll work with you on your application to maximize your chances of being accepted to one or more of these colleges.
Our 5 Steps to Surviving the College Process
We work with students and families through a five-stage process.
1. Develop the list of best fit colleges. During this stage, we work together with you and your student to find the schools that match your goals.
- We meet with you and your student several times to understand your student's personal interests and strengths
- We discuss your student's disability and the types of support available at the college level.
- We evaluate his or her academic profile.
- We build a timeline for the entire college process, including time for school visits, test dates, and application deadlines.
- We prepare a preliminary list of colleges for you and your student to research and/or visit.
- We coach you on what to look for and questions to ask during your visits.
- You and your student evaluate and visit the colleges on the list and provide positive and negative feedback on each.
- We refine your list, adding and subtracting schools based on your feedback.
- We monitor your progress to be sure you’ve completed visits in time to start the application process.
- At the end of this stage, you have a list of schools that fit your student's personal and academic profile.
2. Assist with the application process. While your student always completes his own applications and writes her responses, we help with the process.
- We go over the application requirements from each school with your student, including the common app.
- We help your student strategize responses, particularly to the short answer questions and the personal statement (essay).
- We provide guidance as your student revises and completes their applications.
- We monitor their progress to be sure all deadlines are met, and we intervene if necessary.
- The result of this stage is a set of completed, submitted applications.
3. Financial aid and acceptance. Many times this is the most stressful part of the process, but it doesn’t need to be.
- We go over all forms of aid, including merit and need-based scholarships, loans, and other options.
- We coach you on completing the FAFSA, as well as finding and applying for scholarships.
- If you need advice on your own finances, we can refer you to financial planning professionals who specialize in financial aid.
- As you begin to receive acceptance letters, we help you evaluate your choices so that you can make your final decision.
4. Securing supports. College is very different from high school: unless your student is going to a college with a specific academic program to support their disability, the burden is on them to identify their disability, secure supports, and ensure those supports are provided. We'll work with you, your student, and their chosen college before their first semester to ensure they can access the supports they need.
5. First semester support. Many consultants’ services end once you select a school, but our job isn’t done until your child is settled and happy in the college of his/her choice. Statistics overwhelmingly confirm that students who are successful in their first semester are more likely to have a successful college career. For students with disabilities, the successful transition to a new set of supports is also critical. We’re there during that first semester to help in any way we can, from navigating the services available on campus to providing an experienced perspective on any concerns you or your child might have.
To Learn More
To learn more about working with a college consultant or about the college process, contact us, or click on the links below.