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Getting Into College and Paying for It!    by Reecy Aresty order for
Getting Into College and Paying for It!
by Reecy Aresty
Order:  USA  Can
College Assistance, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

Getting into college in the United States has increasingly become more difficult, as more people apply every year. Colleges can't keep up with the demand, and so have to limit the number of applicants they can accept. Unfortunately, many parents are still living back in the days when students only had to take one college entrance test, maintain a 3.0 GPA in school and take college prep courses, with a club membership and a sport thrown in here and there, to pretty much get into most state colleges. Well, as the parent of a college freshman for the year 2004/2005, I'm here to tell you that this has all changed and there are no guarantees any more, even if your student has a 4.0 GPA and is in the top 5% of his or her class. The truth is, that there are numerous students who all have high GPAs, belong to umpteen clubs, and volunteer; this makes for an extremely competitive situation.

Reecy Aresty, a financial advisor who specializes in college financial aid, has written a book that details practical advice and tips on how to prepare early for getting into college, with an emphasis on planning ahead, beginning with the student's high school freshman year. There are sections on financial assistance and information, but the main brunt of the book focuses on getting into the school in the first place. The sections on college preparation are organized into categories such as preparatory classes to take, how to begin looking at possible college choices, the types of extra-curricular activities to join, and financial planning, grouped by the grade year. The chapters also feature a checklist of the main to-do items for that year. Along with facts and figures, Aresty gives good, practical advice on issues like how much a parent should be involved in the whole process, what should be the student's contributions, and how to encourage the student's responsibilities without overwhelming them. The later chapters of the book feature financial planning, and how colleges and the government look at financial assets when computing a family's expected financial contribution.

I have read several different books on this subject, and this is my favorite one out of the bunch. Many of the books currently out suffer from too much information, which only confuses. Aresty's book has just the right amount of information, and also the right kind. Too often, such books focus primarily on how to get scholarships, feeding into the myth that there are all kinds of awards of free money lying around for your child to just pick up, if they only apply for them. Well, I'm here to tell you, that ain't so. If you have a middle-class income or above, and your family isn't employed in a certain career field, doesn't belong to a racial minority group, or doesn't have a student who is interested in an especially underserved career, the truth is that the chance of getting a particular national scholarship is very small, as the pool of applicants is huge and the talent strong. My advice (unsolicited) is to concentrate on local or district scholarships, as well as any offered by the prospective colleges.

Getting into College and Paying for It! is the perfect book for parents who don't have a clue about the process as it stands today. I can't tell you how frustrating it was for me last year to talk to parents of my daughter's friends, and hear over and over again how they were leaving most of the process in their child's laps. This philosophy worked twenty years ago, but the reality today is much more competitive and complicated. One of my daughter's classmates was wait-listed at our main state college, with a GPA of 3.6, college prep courses and a SAT score of 1260. With 13,000 applicants, and only 5000 available slots for freshman at this particular school, this is today's reality. Early planning is essential, as today it is necessary to take entrance tests several times, beginning in the junior year, and there are other considerations, such as whether the student should take AP or Honors courses, if available.

Aresty is experienced in dealing with the whole family when counseling on college application, and knows just what information we need and how much, to encourage parents to help their children with this stressful and difficult process, while at the same time letting it belong still to the student. Note that his guide can be ordered from

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