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Customer Review

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the practical, down to earth book that you need for college planning., April 30, 2012
This review is from: The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price (2nd Edition) (Paperback)
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This is it. The practical, down to earth, realistic advice you need as a parent in order to help your child to choose a college or university (which, by the way, are not the same and the difference is explained in this book). The author helps you to figure out how to get the most for your education dollar. There are tons of books helping you to decide how to buy a house, or a car. College often costs even more. This is the book you need to help you get value for your money for your child's higher education and to choose a place your child will thrive.

The sections are titled:
1. Shrinking the cost of college
2. Increasing your admissions chances
3. Knowing your academic choices
4. Evaluating the academics
5. Admissions nuts and bolts
6. Borrowing for College

My son is a current high school sophomore. He attends a private high school, with excellent college counselors. In fact, he was required to take a class this year on college counseling. I did learn quite a bit from the material he brought home from that class, but still felt like I had many questions. This book answered many of them, among them:

Is an Ivy League education worth the price tag? (probably not from a lifetime earnings point of view)

What are the advantages/disadvantages of attending a research institution?

What are some factors that affect admissions and aid?

How can you maximize merit aid (especially if you are not eligible for financial aid) ?

The author shows a decided leaning toward liberal arts colleges and is up front about her position. She bases this opinion upon the fact that these colleges are more concerned with teaching undergraduates, leading to a focus on student learning rather than research. She also points out that often students (and parents) are caught up in the "name brand" of a school and are choosing it without understanding the factors which will influence their child's experience at school. The author also explains how colleges game the system in order to improve rankings. For example, colleges will solicit applications from students that they know they will never accept in order to improve their "rejection rates". This information was also presented by my son's college counselors, and knowing about this sort of subterfuge will help us to make a more informed choice about where he applies and ultimately attends.

I sat down to start this book and ended up reading the whole thing through in one sitting. It was informative without being boring, and each chapter had eye opening information. There were many suggestions of websites to use in order to acquire more information, about colleges, rankings, graduation rates, actual cost and even test prep.

Highly recommended. I suggest you buy the book when your child is a sophomore in high school, in order to allow you to start investigating possibilities and avoid making financial mistakes that may impact your child's eligibility for financial aid.
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