- The average student loan borrower leaves college today with $37,172 in student loans – more than twice the amount of 2005 grads
- The average monthly student loan payment has jumped by more than $150 over roughly the same period
1. California’s Free Tuition Program for Community CollegeAs of 2019, graduating seniors having attended a high school in California, and having been accepted into one of the 115 community colleges across the state, are eligible for two years of free tuition. How does one qualify you ask? They must be first-time, full-time students (taking at least 12 units per semester). This is becoming an increasingly popular option as students look to knock out their undergrad general education requirements for free before transferring into a four year university to finish up their bachelor’s. If you are asking about why community college, check out our blog piece Should I go to community college and then transfer to a university?
2. Colleges with Free or Reduced TuitionIt sounds too good to be true, right? According to Forbes.com, there are currently 75 colleges offering free and/or reduced tuition across the United States. The list of schools runs the gamut, including top tier universities like Brown and Cornell, as well as college staples like Arizona State University and Miami University. These offerings have cropped up in light of the 44 million student debtors that collectively owe roughly $1.5 trillion in student loans. As college tuition costs continue to climb, student loan debt is skyrocketing alongside it. Many schools are offering “no-loan” financial aid packages, which aim to curtail the increasing pool of student debt, and instead seek to replace loans with grants and scholarships. Some universities require a minimum student or parental contribution (which can be met with loans), or part time employment of the student.
Student Financial AidThe light amidst the darkness in all of this is: your financial aid options will remain the same despite many schools closing their campuses and moving classes online. Scholarships and grants are still available; in fact, even though some schools and funds are finding their awards to be limited, other institutions are upping the ante and pouring out even more money to support their students with Student Relief Funds. Furthermore, loans will still be available, and perhaps more manageable as well. According to the office of Federal Student Aid, student loan borrowers can be placed in an administrative forbearance, allowing them to temporarily stop making their monthly loan payments. If you are still concerned about your ability to fund your higher education, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will put you on the path to success. Aly Hartman Communications Director – Write Track Admissions
by Recent Admittee to Stanford, Harvard & UCLA Medical with $1,000,000 in Funding!The average acceptance rate for U.S. medical school is 7% and the top 10 schools average 2.5%. Without a doubt, the process is tedious and incredibly challenging! Thankfully for you, our very own Director of College and Medical School Admissions, Nadine Jawad was recently admitted to Harvard Medical School (3.8%), UCLA Medical School (3%), and Stanford Medical School (2%) where she will start this fall. And she received over $1,000,000 including the prestigious Knight-Hennessy Scholarship to fund her time as a medical school student at Stanford. As you start preparing for this long, arduous journey for medical school applications, there are some common mistakes and issues that many medical school applicants frequently face. To help, Nadine is providing responses to the most frequent questions that will help get you on the right track to a top U.S. medical school:
- Where do you start with the application cycle? How do you figure it out all out? The first step is getting set-up on AMCAS and beginning a general application. This is known as your “primary.” You will need your primary statement, activities section, and letters of recommendation to complete this section. Start early! The earlier you submit your primary, the earlier you can get going on the school-specific secondaries.
- What’s the key to a memorable Primary Statement? Don’t try to do too much. What we mean is this is a chance for you to build a comprehensive narrative; this is NOT a chance to regurgitate your resume. Rather, focus on who YOU are, spending time talking about your journey and pathway to medicine, and outline how your medical degree will help you complete your life’s mission. The key to a successful primary statement is nailing your narrative.
- What’s the strategy for selecting medical schools? There is a tool offered via AAMC called “MSAR” that can help you select schools based on your GPA, MCAT, interests, location, etc. This is a great tool that will help you navigate through hundreds of schools and find the 15-20 schools that are a priority for you.
- How do you attack secondaries? Create a spreadsheet with the following fields: name of the school (prioritized in terms of dream school to safety), location, academic requirements (average GPA, MCAT), application requirements (including secondary question prompts), date secondary received, goal date for submission. I had a rule of thumb of attempting to submit the secondary with 7-10 days of receiving it from the medical school. Of course, life may happen. For Stanford (the school I ended up going to), it actually took me a few weeks to turn it around (so don’t stress!)
- What timeline is appropriate for early bird/strong applicants? I submitted my primary the first week it opened up. However, with all that is happening in the world, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just remember, however, the earlier the better (especially for schools with rolling admissions).
- Do you have any tips for the activities section? Remember to focus on the things that make you human. For example, I used one hobby in my section in addition to my other more volunteer and scientific activities. Also, you can group together activities if you need more space. For example, I merged all of my medical shadowing and volunteering experiences into one section and I explained that in the description. It then opened up the opportunity for me to describe my unique hobby.
- How do you offset or mitigate a lack of research, publications or volunteer activities? Focus on the honest reality of what makes you, you. If there are other things you did like starting a business, taking care of someone in your family, or working two jobs, then these are all real-life examples that show your tenacity and work-ethic, so don’t be afraid to list them. It truly is a holistic process and not everyone has the ability to undertake those more typical medical school-oriented activities.
- What’s the best approach for recommendation letters? Reach out to recommenders early, especially with the ongoing pandemic. They will appreciate it and you will feel less stressed. You may aggregate the letters on the platform Interfolio, but since the AMCAS is open, you might simply decide to go straight through the AMCAS website. However, Interfolio is a great way to store your letters for the long-term, so definitely look into it.