July 30, 2010
According to a press release, starting September 2010 The Princeton Review will offer a series of online courses to help college bound students and their parents understand the college admissions and financial aid process.
With a student to guidance counselor ratio of 470:1, many high school graduates do not receive the attention and advice they need in order to successfully navigate the college application process.
Furthermore, Inside Higher Ed added that many families cannot afford private assistance from outside counselors. Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association which is the largest group of educational advisors, said that his members pay about $160 an hour for private counseling and full-service packages can cost up to $3,800. Other high-end services charge even more.
In the press release, The Princeton Review said their goal is to offer information that students and families are not getting from high school counselors, but at a price that is affordable. "We want to actively help the many college bound students nationally who have little access to the necessary tools and clear guidance needed to demystify the college admissions and financial aid process from beginning to end," said Scott Kirkpatrick, president of the Test Preparation and Admissions Services Division at The Princeton Review.
According to the website, The Princeton Review will offer six convenient interactive courses. The first three courses will cover the admissions process: an overview of the process from application to acceptance; how to research colleges and determine the right match; and how to write a successful personal statement. The rest of the courses will cover financial aid: understanding the process in order to get more financial aid; how to correctly complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); and how to compare and evaluate financial aid offer letters.
Courses will be taught by experts including Rob Franek, author of The Best 373 Colleges, and Kal Chany, author of Paying for College Without Going Broke. Individual courses will range from $70-$200 and junior and senior packages will be offered at a discounted price. Most courses will be recorded and can be accessed for 120 days, allowing students and parents to review materials as often as needed.
Inside Higher Ed pointed out that while many agreed that there are families who need and want more information than what they are currently getting, some experts said it is more important to provide support for high school guidance counselors so that they can offer more assistance.
Others also blamed the system for being too complicated. "Shame on us that we have created this situation," said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Jim Miller, coordinator of enrollment research at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and president-elect of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, further emphasized Nassirian's argument, saying that the problem is not a lack of information, but that the information is unorganized. He also questioned whether low income families would be willing (or able) to pay "for information that they could get for free".
Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin
"College Admissions and Financial Aid Courses," princetonreview.com
"Mid-Market for Private Admissions Help," insidehighered.com, July 29, 2010, Scott Jaschik
"Princeton Review Launches Online College Admissions & Financial Aid Courses," PRNewswire, July 29, 2010