The Thick Envelopes

By Lauren, age 17, California
Sweet Designs Featured Writer

Featured Gold Star Writer Bio

It's the season - for colleges to change their game. While schools began soliciting in winter, the applications are all in by now, and colleges have to put their money where their mouth is. If you're a senior, you may have already received some thick envelopes in the mail. These envelopes are the payoff for those countless essays, forms, and documents you've sent in the application process - and many are pre-packed with scholarship awards, grants, and honor society invitations. It may be tempting to send off the acceptance forms right away, but seeing as most aren't due until April, here's why it's worth it to wait:

1. Have all your schools responded yet? Many schools, notoriously state colleges, wait until the last minute to notify you of your acceptance, and financial aid packages arrive even later. Hold off until a week before the first decision deadline, so you can compare the places you've been admitted and their offers side by side.

2. Scope it out. If your family can afford the trip, consider visiting the campus. The recent trend for private colleges is to offer travel vouchers to accepted students, redeemable when you send in the enrollment confirmation. Keep in mind that many hotels also offer discount rates to visiting students, driving the cost down even further. If you can't visit, be sure to research your top choices: ask for a current student's number and interview them. Research the city where the college is located. Find out about housing, meal plans, and whatever else is important to you.

3. Know your pocketbook. Tally up how much you've been awarded in scholarships. Don't assume you'll win everything you've applied for. By waiting, you may find that higher ranked schools are now financially accessible.

4. Check the fine print. Is that merit scholarship only applicable for the first year? Is studying abroad a requirement? Are internships a requirement? Know all the terms and conditions so you don't get the rug pulled out from under you later.

5. Bargaining power. Strange though it seems, you can bargain with colleges, especially private colleges. One college called my brother to ask if adding $5,000 to his financial aid package (which was already substantial - over $20,000 a year, if I recall correctly) would make a difference in his enrollment decision. Unfortunately for him, he'd already committed to a local school, and was unable to change his decision. He now lives at home on the weekends because he can't afford to eat at school.

One final note: if you haven't submitted your semester grades yet, make sure you send your official updated transcript to the colleges that have accepted you. And by "official," I mean stamped and sealed. Most high schools will send it for free as long as you provide the address of the college and your name, but be sure to do so in advance. Good luck!

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February & March Magazine Issues

March 15, 2012

The February and March issues of Sweet Designs Magazine are now online, featuring a combined 53 new articles and features!!

- Cover: Stephanie Lynn reflects on 5 years
- Cover: India (of Darn-licious knitwear)
- Life in the dumps (moving in with my bf)
- The difference between men and women
- Angels among us (parts 1 and 2)
- Arts graduates & the dark night of the soul
- Triple threat (how I survived my teen yrs)
- Dating isn't easy (my true story)
- How to turn not-so-great gifts ... (fashion)
- Ten reasons to love being single
- Taking the big leap (college)
- Valentine's Day (not what you'd expect!)
- The last of the cold (hopefully) (fashion)
- A month full of love
- Ten tips for successful airline travel
- Reasons I love writing for SDM
- Who needs love?
- They're not all the same
- The life I'm glad I don't have (fiction)
- Professional dress/ finding Fendi (fashion)
- An airport anniversary: a true story
- Inappropriate Facebook photos
- The perks of a big city (college)
- A night(mare) to forget (part 2)
- The Anita Blake series (book review)
- Saving June by Hannah Harrington (book)
- Under the Mesquite by GG McCall (book)
- The Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (book)
- If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (book review)
- My sweetheart (original poetry)
- Isn't it funny (original poetry)
- The stranger (original poetry)
- A winter wonderland (original poetry)
- One night valentine
- The thick envelopes (college acceptance)
- Southern love
- Healthy hair and vitamins
- It's a date (dating idea alternatives)
- The 30 hour famine
- School's out forever!
- Marching right back into spring? (fashion)
- Dear John
- When TV shows depict your life
- 3 Fun ways to rock spring's hottest trends
- Neglected teeth
- Starting something new
- Guy movies
- To hesitate or dive in?
- Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro (book review)
- Beastly, by Alex Flinn (book review)
- I don't care (poetry)
- Together, alone (poetry)

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