Matching the Right School to the Right Student
It is important to use student positioning as a valuable strategy as you plan for college.
There are 10 basic factors that comprise an effective student positioning strategy.
These are broken down into hard and soft factors or academic and nonacademic factors. Anything that is quantifiable is a hard factor, all others are soft factors.
Colleges do differ in how they approach the importance of each of these factors in the admissions and financial aid process. You can see an example at the bottom of the page for Elon University. Also note, some are not considered at all so it is important to know what the school considers as the example for Elon illustrates.
10 Primary Factors in Student Positioning Strategy
Grade Point Average (GPA)
AP Scores/Course Rigor
Class Rank in Competitive High School
Standardized Tests (ACT/SAT)
Application Essay (Some schools do not require)
Interview (some schools do not require)
Recommendations (teachers, alumni, etc.)
Diversification of Student (minority, geographic diversity, state residence, talent/ability, etc.)
Demonstrating Interest (some schools do not consider)
Some additional considerations that could be subsets of either extracurricular activities or diversification of student are volunteer work, work experience, alumni relation/legacy, and first generation student.
Using Student Positioning Can Reward You
There are 4 basic reasons why student positioning is important.
High Cost of College
First, the cost of higher education continues to rise dramatically compared to other cost factors in the economy outpacing everything.
Graduation on time within four years is more important than ever.
According to act.org, only 36% of public school inbound student will graduate in four years and 49% for private schools.
This is why career assessment testing and choosing college majors are so critical in the college selection process.
Enrollment Management Process
Second, Enrollment Management Principles utilized by Colleges sort freshmen applicants by hard and soft factors.
The application review process makes it imperative that the applicant understands what the school values for admission and what the data is based upon percentages of accepted enrolled students for the most recent year available.
For example, measure the 50% percentile of accepted students for the SAT and ACT Test scores then evaluate where the student’s scoring aligns when determining whether the school should be considered a safety school, target school, or reach school.
Better Financial Aid Award
Third, the better the student position relative to the measuring factors mentioned below, the better the potential Financial Aid Award from the school.
We are talking about both needs based financial aid and merit aid / tuition discounts that do not have to be paid back, College Free Money.
Accuracy of Your Safety, Target, Reach School List
The fourth advantage of student positioning is it improves the accuracy of your application schools when determining your safety schools, target schools, and reach schools.
Proper and accurate student positioning is an important part of the paying for college process .
Compare Student’s Factors with College Freshman Profile
The next step in the process is to compares the student to College Freshman Profile of each college you are considering for application.
First we need to understand hard factors and soft factors that are considered.
Hard factors are anything that is quantifiable. Soft factors are everything else.
Here is how it works.
Look at the middle 50% scoring range of standardized tests for the school. For example, take the SAT Test.
You measure the student’s scores with the school’s 50% scores of recent incoming freshman. Then you can evaluate whether the school would be a safety school, target school, or reach school.
If the SAT score is greater than the 50% range then it would be a safety school.
If the score is in the middle of the 50% range it would be a target school.
If the score is below the 50% range it might be classified as a reach school depending on how much lower.
Build A Student – College Freshman Profile for Each College
Each college you are considering examine the importance of the factors as shown below for each college and compare those to where the student measures up as far as strengthens / weaknesses.
Identify where the student aligns for the hard factors first for each college. This will allow to identify schools as safety -target – reach schools as you sort you college down to 8 – 12 schools.
How Does Each College Weigh Student Positioning Factors?
Finally, is is critical you determine how each school weighs the hard and soft factors we have discussed. These are also referred to a Academic and Nonacademic factors.
Look at the bottom of the chart under Nonacademic, level of applicant’s interest (“demonstrating interest”) is listed as “considered”.
The most effective strategy positions the students strength’s according to “very important” and “important” not discounting considered. This is a critical process in determining your final list of schools for application.