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Cain ’08 Quotes Young on Decisions

Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A recent article written by Erinn Cain '08, a staff writer for Messenger Post newspapers in Canandaigua, N.Y., focuses on the process high school students go through in choosing a college. Cain notes a number of factors, including sports and financial aid, as well as feeling like one fits in. She quotes HWS Director of Admissions John Young, who points out the campus visit is often a determining factor in a student's decision between a "group of colleges that are similar on paper."

"A huge part of the decision-making process hinges on the visit," Young says. "I think what they're really looking for is, is this a place they see themselves at for four years? For many students, it's less about the facts or figures than looking at the other students that go there."

In discussing financial aid, Young notes Hobart and William Smith have a large financial aid budget to assist families, and for those who apply for financial aid, the average total aid they receive is just under $30,000.

"I think families would be very wise, students would be very wise, to look at the college choices they make as investments," he says. "It's something that never goes away. If you invest in it, the student has it forever."

Ultimately, many of those interviewed by Cain agree that the decision is personal and the student has to choose based on his or her personal needs and preferences.

Hobart and William Smith, for example, have a different atmosphere and expectations for students than a college where most students commute, he says.

"I think students need to be prepared for a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week experience," he said, adding that the environment isn't for every student. "We expect students to be engaged all the time. ... We feel very strongly that a lot of the learning going on at Hobart and William Smith goes on outside the classroom."

Cain graduated cum laude with a B.A. in media and society and English from William Smith. As a student, she was a writing colleague and member of the tennis team.

The full article from the Messenger Post follows.


Messenger Post
High school seniors choosing their paths

Erinn Cain • staff writer • March 18, 2013

MPNnow.com -
When Christine Lyttle began her search for colleges to apply to, she knew exactly what she was looking for.


"I wanted to go to a warm climate, and I wanted to go to a big school with a city atmosphere," said the senior at Canandaigua Academy.

But, she said, her priorities changed when she decided to run track in college. She applied to several colleges and ultimately chose to attend the University at Buffalo after receiving an athletic scholarship.

"Buffalo was just the best offer," said Lyttle, who plans to study political science. "I couldn't really pass it up."

Although the scholarship played a key role in her decision, Lyttle said she doesn't think students should start their search by narrowing down their options based on cost.

"I didn't look at colleges for the cost of the colleges," she said. "I looked at colleges for the education. ... I don't think (cost) should be the first thing you look at."

Lynn Lyttle said her daughter's overall impression of the college was the deciding factor.

"She liked the coaches at Buffalo, and they liked her," Lynn said. "She liked the kids she met."

A 'huge undertaking'
Colleges across the country have sent out their acceptance letters to applicants, and many students are now narrowing down their searches to one final choice of which college to attend.

Michael DiGennaro, a school counselor at Canandaigua Academy, said their decisions are years in the making.

The process begins during students' freshman year, he said, when counselors conduct initial interviews with students to learn more about their interests. Career exploration is conducted during their sophomore year, and as juniors, students work closely with their counselors to map out their post-graduation plans, whether it be college, the military or employment. This includes research of colleges and campus visits.

By the beginning of their senior year, students often have a list of schools they are interested in applying to, and they then go through the application process, DiGennaro said.

"The bottom line is, it's a really complicated process," he said. "It's a huge, huge undertaking and process. It really needs to be a collaboration between the school, the parent and the child."

Heather Zollo, college coordinator at Victor Senior High School, said that students are introduced in their freshman year to a computer program they use throughout their high school career that helps them with such areas as career research, personality assessments and college searches. During the fall of their junior year, they have the opportunity to meet with admissions counselors brought in from more than 100 colleges and universities before going through the college application process in their senior year.

Application deadlines vary among colleges from November to January, with acceptance letters being sent out to students between December and March, DiGennaro said. Students can begin filing the federal financial aid form - the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA - in January, and after they are accepted to colleges, they will receive their financial aid packages in March or April before the May 1 deadline to inform a college that they plan to attend.

Focusing the search
Among the factors students need to consider when searching for colleges and eventually choosing one to attend are academic programs, distance from home, size of the schools and extracurricular opportunities, DiGennaro said.

Canandaigua Academy senior Jennifer Iler began her search by looking for colleges with certain attributes: "I wanted to stay close to home. ... I also wanted to go some place that was small. I wanted to be known by my name, instead of by a number."

After applying to four colleges in New York, Iler - who is planning to major in math education - has chosen to attend Nazareth College.

When Kathy Clarcq and her son, Midlakes senior Christopher Cole, began his college search, they were seeking a public school in New York that has a computer science program, she said.

The decision came down to a campus visit to Morrisville State College - Clarcq's alma mater.

"It was the first school we went to visit," she said, adding that he was accepted to the four colleges he applied to and has decided on Morrisville. "He said it was the one (he wanted) to go to. ... I think he felt very comfortable there."

John Young, director of admissions at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, said it is not uncommon for a campus visit to be the determining factor in a student's decision because students generally apply to a group of colleges that are similar on paper.

"A huge part of the decision-making process hinges on the visit," Young said. "I think what they're really looking for is, is this a place they see themselves at for four years? For many students, it's less about the facts or figures than looking at the other students that go there."

The price tag
In recent years, DiGennaro said he has seen the cost of colleges become increasingly important to students and their families when making their decision about where to attend.

With the cost of tuition and fees for many private four-year colleges and universities reaching $30,000 or more per year, he said he has had more students who are choosing to attend a community college or four-year State University of New York college in order to save money.

"We try not to get kids to look at colleges based solely on price," DiGennaro said.
But, he said, "ultimately, it has a huge impact on where they decide to go. ... I encourage students to look at different types of schools. They all vary in prices. They also vary in what type of aid they give."

Susan Romano, director of financial aid at Finger Lakes Community College in Hopewell, said that full-time tuition is $1,827 plus fees per semester. With about 75 percent of students at FLCC receiving some financial aid, she said it is a more affordable option for many students.

"We definitely see more students who might have looked at a four-year institution now thinking it is a good deal to start here first," she said. "Especially if you commute from home, the $1,827 per semester is pretty doable."

She said the college will begin sending out financial aid award letters at the end of March.

New this year, all SUNY colleges will send out standardized award letters that Romano said will assist families in comparing costs.

"I think it's a confusing piece to families," she said. "That's a really huge thing this year."

Young said the percentage of students applying for financial aid has spiked since 2008 at Hobart and William Smith, where tuition and fees are $45,000 per year.

But, he said, the colleges have a large financial aid budget to assist families, and for those who apply for financial aid, the average total aid they receive is just under $30,000.

"I think families would be very wise, students would be very wise, to look at the college choices they make as investments," he said. "It's something that never goes away. If you invest in it, the student has it forever."

Weighing the options
Young said the choice between two-year and four-year colleges, and public or private, is mainly about what is the best fit for the student, adding that "they're all fantastic."

Hobart and William Smith, for example, has a different atmosphere and expectations for students than a college where most students commute, he said.

"I think students need to be prepared for a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week experience," he said, adding that the environment isn't for every student. "We expect students to be engaged all the time. ... We feel very strongly that a lot of the learning going on at Hobart and William Smith goes on outside the classroom."

For Barbara Dagata, beginning her college career at a community college was an opportunity to explore her career interests before narrowing down her focus. The Central Square native has graduated from FLCC, where she studied environmental studies, and is taking a few more courses there this semester before transferring to the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau.

"I always wanted to be a marine biologist, but I wasn't positive what I wanted to go into, so I kept it broad with environmental studies," Dagata said. "That's how I decided on a community college."

DiGennaro added that for certain students, attending a community college offers much more than a smaller price tag - it gives them an opportunity to adjust to studying in a college environment before transferring to a four-year college.
Zollo agreed.

"If students don't perform to their potential at the high school level, they have the opportunity to prove themselves as students at the community college level," she said, adding that community colleges also have numerous programs that lead to employment immediately upon graduation.

Looking ahead
For students who are still making their decision, Zollo recommends they get one more look at the colleges they are considering.
"If you're really unsure from the initial visits, I'd recommend you go to the accepted student visit days and get another opportunity on campus," she said. "Financial aid packages are something to consider. Just compare the programs side by side."
DiGennaro, who is one of six counselors at Canandaigua Academy, said each counselor works with the same group of students from freshman year until graduation.
"A lot of what we do is the same year in and year out," he said. "But, we work with different students and different families. There's nothing more gratifying ... than seeing students excited about where they are accepted or where they ultimately go. You never get tired of that."

 

 

 


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