March Madness is Choosing a College

March is a month for nail-biters – fans on edge with basketball madness and high school seniors anxiously waiting to hear from colleges. Choosing a college is a big decision, one that impacts the next four years of a student’s life and a lot of money, typically $120,000 for an in-state public college or close to $270,000 for an out-of-state or private college.

When researching colleges, families may not ask one of the most important questions – what percentage of students graduate in four years? If it takes longer than four years to graduate, that’s more than four years of tuition. One college that lost early in the tournament has a great four-year graduation rate – University of Virginia with a four-year graduation rate of 86%. Compare that with Georgia State’s rate at 21%.

Another important question is what percentage of students return for the second year? This statistic is called retention rate, and there’s a 20-point difference this year in retention rates of the colleges in the tournament! University of Virginia, University of Michigan and Duke all boast retention rates of 98% versus UNC-Greensboro’s lower 77% retention rate.

Nationwide 27% of students do not return for year two. When students transfer, not all their credits are likely to transfer, thus adding to the cost of that college diploma. No one wants to pay for an extra semester or year of college at these prices.

So, remember choosing a college to attend is not the same as choosing your favorite March Madness pick.

2018 March Madness PDF

4 Year Graduation Rates?

The 12 Most Prestigious Competitions for High School Students

See the student that won the Intel Science Competition

High school students here are the 12 most prestigious and well-respected competitions. These offer significant financial prizes and will make you more desirable to the most selective and prestigious universities.  More importantly by competing you will develop the skills in research, learning, diverse thought, critical thinking and communication that all colleges and employers desire.

  1. AAN Neuroscience Research Prize.Students investigating problems concerning the brain or the nervous system are invited to compete for monetary prizes as well as all expenses paid trips to the AAN Annual Meeting, to present their work during a scientific poster session.
  2. Davidson Fellows.This prestigious scholarship annually awards up to $50,000 to students, 18 and under, who have completed a “significant” piece of work in one of eight categories including Engineering, Mathematics, Science, Literature, Music, Technology, Philosophy, and Outside the Box.
  3. Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge.Participants work in teams of 2 to 5 members to develop solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems. Finalist teams compete for seed funding grants, investment opportunities, patent support, business services and scholarships.
  4. ExploraVision.  Jointly sponsored by Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), ExploraVision encourages collaboration by restricting the competition to group projects.  Although all participants win gifts and discounts, the top four teams receive US Savings Bonds worth $10,000 for each student.
  5. Google Science Fair.Beginning with online submissions, this competition invites young scientists from all over the world to compete for up to $50,000 in scholarships as well as a trip to the Galapagos Islands sponsored by National Geographic.  Finalists are invited to Google Headquarters to present their projects before expert judges.  To receive information on future competitions, sign-up on the Google Science Fair website.
  6. Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.The Intel ISEF is possibly the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, providing an annual forum for over 1,800 high school students from countries all over the world who compete for approximately $4 million in awards.  Competition begins at the high school level and culminates at the International Science and Engineering Fair, held each year in different cities around the country.
  7. International BioGENEius Challenge.This competition is designed to recognize outstanding research in biotechnology. Finalists showcase their talent and research before a prestigious panel of expert biotech judges and have the opportunity to win cash awards.
  8. Microsoft Imagine Cup.  Imagine Cup is a global competition for computer science students who team up to use their creativity, passion and knowledge of technology to create applications and compete for cash, travel and prizes. Sign upon line to get notified when the 2018 season begins.
  9. MIT THINK Scholars Program.The THINK Scholars program is an initiative that promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics by supporting and funding projects developed by high school students. Finalists receive all-expenses paid trips to MIT to attend XFair (MIT’s spring tech symposium) and winners receive up to $1000 to build their projects.  Additional scholarship prizes are also available.
  10. National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.Individual students compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their original research before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Regional scholarships as well as eight national top awards of up to $12,000 are among the prizes available.  Different regions/states run on different schedules.
  11. Regeneron Science Talent Search.The Regeneron Science Talent Search invites the nation’s best and brightest young scientists to present original research to nationally recognized professional scientists. Open only to high school seniors, 40 finalists are selected to come to Washington DC and compete for the top award of $250,000. The competition will open on August 1.All applications will be due on November 15.
  12. Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology.Since 1999, the Siemens Foundation, has provided young scientists with opportunities to win scholarships ranging from $1000 to $100,000 for original research in team and individual categories.

See College Sollutions' Margaret Bolton Baudinet on CBS News.