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College Signing Day is May 2. Where are you headed this fall?

 

Here at Edmit, we’re big fans of College Signing Day. A joint partnership between Better Make Room and Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiatives, Signing Day is an annual celebration of high school seniors who have chosen to “pursue higher education at a professional training program, a community college, a four-year college or university, or the military.” Held this year on May 2, College Signing Day honors the commitment among students and families to continuing education and investing in the future.

 

Of course, choosing a college and signing up to enroll are just the first steps of your college journey. Let’s go one step further: Are you choosing the school that will be the best fit for you?

 

According to an American Educational Research Association survey, students who attend a less-selective college than they’re eligible to attend (e.g., an “undermatch” school) are less likely to graduate within four years than students who choose a school that’s a better match for their qualifications. Within the demographics of surveyed students, undermatching was most prevalent for black students at 49 percent, followed by white students (45 percent), Hispanic students (41 percent), and Asian students (31 percent).

 

So in the interest of staying in school and graduating on time, consider how well matched your potential college is with your academic goals before you sign up to enroll. Are you pleased with the college department that sponsors the program you plan to major in? Does the school have robust academic advising and career services programs? Consider the outcomes you want, and how your potential college will (or maybe won’t) help you get there.

 

Attending an undermatched school may not just thwart on-time graduation rates—it may also limit financial aid packages, too. In a recent blog post, Will Attending a More Selective School Guarantee Future Success?, researcher Hannah Kwak found that low-income students in particular “seem to benefit significantly from attending a selective school. Given that highly selective colleges tend to offer generous need-based financial aid packages, they may actually be more affordable for low-income students than less-selective colleges.”

 

Kwak compared the following highly selective colleges to show the average costs based on income:  

  

School

Estimated 2015-16 Cost of Attendance

Average Cost if Family Income is:

$0-$30,000

$30,001-$48,000

$48,001-$75,000

Brown University

$65,380

$5,234

$7,119

$11,259

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

$63,250

$5,554

$6,391

$8,405

Stanford University

$64,477

$3,516

$2,023

$6,240

University of California, Berkeley

$32,646

$8,506

$9,384

$13,944

Yale University

$66,893

$6,939

$8,014

$7,596

Sources: College Scorecard, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

 

So beyond academic fit, be sure to also consider financial fit. Does that well-matched (and possibly highly selective college) want students like you, and are they willing to give you free money to enroll you?

 

It’s a good idea, then, to revisit all your costs and financial aid letters before you sign. Are you making the best investment? (Edmit can help you find out!)

 

Pursuing a higher education degree is no small commitment, but it’s a valuable goal that will nurture and shape your future. You’ve put in the hard work, and are committed to your goals— so be sure to select a college that will be a committed partner to you along the way. We’re so thrilled to celebrate along with you on this College Signing Day!

 

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