Meredith Reynolds - Head Start College Blog

Archive for October, 2008

Private Schools Cost Less? In some cases…
October 21st, 2008

Given our uncertain economic times, it’s more important than ever for students and parents to know precisely what the total cost of their son or daughter’s college education will be.
1. Tuition: University of California around $7,000/ year. Private University closer to $36,000. Big difference ONLY if the student graduates in 4 years. At UCLA 59% graduate in 4 years and not until 6 years do 89% graduate. In contrast, Bucknell University graduates 85% in 4 years. There are two primary reasons students don’t graduate on time–student changes major and/or student can’t get required classes. Make sure you know the graduation rate at each school, and how difficult it is to get required classes because staying another year costs tuition and all other costs as well.
2. Room & Board: UCLA reports $12,420, USC $10,858, and Bucknell $8,052. Location. Location. Location. It’s cheaper to live in rural Pennsylvania than Westwood! More important check availability of on campus housing for the four years and the cost of off campus housing. A two story house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms in Oberlin, Ohio rents for $1,100 per month with utilities included. (Less than $400/month per student)

3. Personal Expenses: This is an area where you will need to set parameters with your son/daughter. Here is where concerts, auto expenses (parking fees)  skiing, movies, late night pizza, clothes, travel etc must be calculated.  For example, if your son or daughter plans to join a fraternity or sorority there are annual dues. Again, membership fees vary depending on college/university, but some are as high as $1,500 each year. Another unexpected additional cost can be attending a school on quarter system versus semester system. Everytime a student starts a new set of classes they spend on average $500 for books. Students on quarters do that three times, those on semester only twice. Parents of boys need to realize that they eat a lot, despite the limitless dorm food. Parents of girls need to realize that they do not stop shopping when they go to college. They “need” that new pair of jeans for the football game. In my experience, if a student is outside a major metropolitan area they can make it on $350 / month assuming they eat on campus. In cities like Los Angeles, Boston, New York…at least $500 or more per month.
4. Financial Aid: As a start research what percentage of Need Based Aid (calculated when FAFSA completed) is met by school. UCLA promises to meet 82%. Private schools with strong endowments (check that out as well) meet 100%–for example, both USC and Bucknell. Another important consideration is what is the average debt of the graduating student. UCLA’s graduate has an average of $18,257 in debt, while USC graduate owes only $15,996. Don’t hesitate to apply for financial aid particularly to private schools. They devote considerable resources (endowments etc) to bringing the “net” cost down as evidenced by USC graduates leaving with less debt than those from UCLA.

At a minimum, I hope this information inspires you to really know each cost item of each college your student is considering…because whatever the cost is now, sadly it will only increase over the four years your student is attending. For all of these reasons, to assume a public university is cheaper than a private is a dangerous oversimplification.

October 15th, 2008

Online sites relating to the College Search process can be big business– for example, companies wishing to sell their products to parents and high school students. Colleges themselves buy from College Board (SAT site) your student’s personal and academic information (if student checks the box to release).As with all online sites, do some research as to the qualifications of individuals contributing and the reliability of material posted. Just because it says it’s so doesn’t make it so. Below are some sites I have found helpful with my students and families. If you find others contact me at Head Start College and we’ll share your “find”.

Current Trends / Issues in College Admissions, Individual Colleges, College Students:

            Head Start College blog:


Objective Data on Individual Colleges/Universities:

            U.S. News & World Report:



Remote College Visits:

            College tours with audio:

            College tours (more in depth, $15 college)


College Majors/Careers:

            Career Interests/Values:

            Career Development: National Career Development Guidelines

            Assessing Interests: Self-Directed Search ($9.95)

            Assessing Career Values: Values Scale ($19.95)

            Assessing Personality Kiersey Temperament Sorter.

            College Majors.


College Fairs

            National Association of College Admissions Counselors:


College Applications Online

            University of California: 

            California State University:

            Member Private Colleges:



            NCAA Guide for College-Bound Student-Athlete:  




            Schools that do NOT require SAT/ACT:

            Compass (Private tutorial, custom designed)

            Ivy West: (Private tutorial, standard prog.)

            Revolution Prep (Private tutorial / classroom / combo)

             Princeton Review: (Private tutorial/classroom /online),

            Elite: (classroom)

            Kaplan (Private tutorial / classroom / online)

            College Board (Online, check for question of the day)

            No Fee:  Number 2 rated highly by Consumer’s Report (9/06)


Financial Aid:

            Free Application for Federal Student Aid:     


Summer Enrichment Programs for High School Students:

            Educational/community service trips (free screening): Tips on Trips:                                                 

            Academic Programs at Oxford:

            Idyllwild Arts:

            Interlochen Center for the Arts:

            Cal State Summer School for Mathematics and Science:


            Putney Programs of all types:

            Computer camps:






Perhaps most important for the entire family, the Head Start College program paces students to complete their applications by Thanksgiving.


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La Canada, CA 91012
818.952.2414 phone
818.952.2432 fax

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