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As parents, you play a crucial role in helping your teens navigate the complex world of college choices. An honors college can be a transformative experience for students who seek an academically rigorous environment paired with unique opportunities. Understanding the benefits and considerations of such programs is the key to making an informed decision.

Understanding the Honors College Experience

Honors colleges offer a smaller academic journey within larger universities. They are characterized by smaller, more interactive classes, access to distinguished faculty, and a community of motivated peers. These programs are not just about advanced courses; they're about cultivating a deeper level of academic engagement and personal growth.

Each college offers a different Honors College experience so it is important to do your research into the requirements as well as the application process.   

Check out a few of the different examples:

 Colorado State University

Oregon State University

CU Boulder

Key Advantages of Honors Programs

Evaluating the Fit for Your Student

Deciding if an honors college is the right choice involves considering your teen’s academic inclinations and aspirations. Key questions include:

The Long-Term Impact

Honors colleges are not merely about academic achievement. They provide a foundation for lifelong learning and success. The rigorous curriculum, coupled with unique experiential learning opportunities, prepares students for future challenges, both in their careers and personal lives.

Making the Decision

Choosing an honors college is a decision that should align with your teen’s academic goals and personal growth aspirations. It's a commitment to a challenging but rewarding educational path.

As you and your teen explore college options, consider the distinctive environment and opportunities an honors college offers.

At Windbourne College Consulting, we’re dedicated to helping families make informed decisions that turn college dreams into reality.

FAFSA Updates:

When it comes to college financial aid, most families are familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA has many changes that will be launched this year due to the FAFSA Simplification Act of 2021.   These changes have resulted in a delay in releasing the application.  In prior years the application opened on October 1st.   This year, it is not expected until December or potentially January.    

For more information about the changes to FAFSA please take some time to read this helpful breakdown on Forbes.com

While you wait for the FAFSA you may still need to complete the lesser-known application called the CSS Profile. 

 What is the CSS Profile?

The CSS Profile, or the College Scholarship Service Profile, is an online application that collects information used by nearly 400 colleges and scholarship programs to award non-federal aid. Unlike the FAFSA, which is used to allocate federal grants and loans, the CSS Profile is primarily used by private colleges to distribute their own institutional funds.

 Key Differences Between FAFSA and CSS Profile

 Who Requires It?

FAFSA: Required by all U.S. colleges and universities for federal aid including grants, work study or federal loans.

CSS Profile: Required by some private colleges and a few public schools for institutional aid.

 Depth of Financial Information

FAFSA: Asks for basic financial information and can be matched to your tax filing from the prior, prior year.

CSS Profile: Requires more detailed financial information, including home equity and small family businesses.  

 Fees

FAFSA: Free to submit.

CSS Profile: Costs $25 for the first college and $16 for each additional college. Fee waivers are available for eligible students.

When should you complete the CSS Profile?

The application opened on October 1st and it may benefit you to complete it as early as possible.  Each college will have its own deadline and it is important to ensure this is done before those deadlines for college applications.  

 Why Should You Complete the CSS Profile?

1. More Aid Opportunities: The CSS Profile allows you to be considered for institutional scholarships and grants that are not available through FAFSA.

2. Comprehensive Financial Picture: The form considers more nuanced financial situations, potentially leading to more generous aid packages. CSS Profile will still take into account if you have multiple college students at the same time, which FAFSA will not.

3. Early Application: Some colleges have earlier deadlines for the CSS Profile than for the FAFSA, allowing you to secure aid earlier in the admissions process.

 How to Complete the CSS Profile

1. Create a College Board Account: If your child has taken the SAT, they likely already have an account created.  Parents use this account to help fill out the information.  

2. Gather Financial Documents: This includes tax returns, W-2 forms, and information about savings and investments.

3. Submit by the Deadline: Each college will have its own deadline, so make sure to check and submit the form on time.

For more information on the CSS profile, including a list of colleges requiring it, visit the College Board website.

 Final Thoughts

While the CSS Profile may require more time and effort than the FAFSA, the potential benefits make it well worth your while. By completing both forms, you're maximizing the financial aid opportunities available to your child.

Resources: 

US News: Everything you need to know to complete the CSS Profile

The Price You Pay for College by Ron Lieber

Embarking on the exciting journey of college while managing a learning disability or other neurodiversity may seem daunting at first. However, it's important to remember that college campuses are equipped with numerous resources and support systems to help you succeed. In this blog post, we will explore the steps you can take and the resources available to showcase your strengths and thrive during your college experience.

1. Disclosing Your Learning Disability: The First Step Towards Success

To ensure that you receive the support you need, it's essential to disclose your learning disability to the college's disability services office as early as possible. By doing so, you can work together to identify appropriate accommodations and tailored support services. This may include extra time on exams, note-taking assistance, or assistive technology. Remember, the goal is to create an inclusive environment where you can excel. 

It is important to note that the college does not follow an IEP for students.  This is a K-12 document that does not apply to colleges.   However, make sure you bring this documentation with you to your school’s office in order to show them the plan that has worked for you in the past. 

As soon as you finish reading this blog go to your college website and figure out how to make an appointment with the learning services office!

Tip: Take some time to research the accommodations that are generally approved in college and understand which ones might work best for you. Understood.org has gathered a great list of Types of College Accomodations and Services to get you started.

2. Utilizing On-Campus Support Services: Maximizing Your Potential

Colleges offer a wide range of on-campus resources designed to facilitate your academic journey. Take advantage of tutoring and academic coaching services, join study groups, and access counseling services. These services provide personalized assistance, helping you excel academically and build valuable skills for lifelong success.

3. Building Strong Relationships with Professors: Collaborating for Success

Establishing a positive working relationship with your professors can greatly contribute to your college experience. By sharing information about your learning disability and the accommodations you've been granted, you create an open line of communication. This allows your professors to understand your unique needs and provide the necessary support. It also showcases your determination and willingness to succeed.  You may need to remind your professors as you work together about your accommodations, but that is part of advocating for yourself and they won’t mind as long as you keep communication open.  

Tip: Check out your college's website and see if there is a resource for you about talking with your professors like this one from Bates College.

4. Self-Advocacy and Self-Awareness: Unlocking Your Potential

One of the most empowering steps you can take is prioritizing self-advocacy and self-awareness. Embrace your strengths and challenges, and proactively seek out the support you need. Don't hesitate to ask for help when necessary and be open to feedback from others. By understanding yourself better, you can navigate college with confidence, embracing your unique abilities.

5. Balancing Physical and Mental Well-being: A Key to Success

College life can be demanding, so it's crucial to prioritize your physical and mental health. Establish healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, engaging in regular exercise, and maintaining proper nutrition. Additionally, don't hesitate to seek counseling services when needed. Taking care of yourself holistically will enable you to thrive academically and personally.

College is an exciting chapter filled with endless possibilities, and having a learning disability or neurodiversity does not hinder your potential for success. By utilizing the resources available to you, embracing your strengths, and advocating for yourself, you can flourish in college. Remember, your unique perspective and talents are valuable assets that will contribute to your personal growth and academic achievements. So, embrace the journey, and let your brilliance shine!

We understand that navigating college with a learning disability or neurodiversity can feel overwhelming at times. At Windbourne College Consulting, we are dedicated to helping high school students with learning differences find the right college fit and maximize their potential for success.

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