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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Seniors pay big bucks for apps

Cost of an average college application: $75. Cost to send SAT scores to each college: $11. Rush delivery of SAT scores: $35.

According to college coordinator Bonnie Sheikh, the average senior applied to seven secondary schools in 2007. This year, the seniors are applying to an average of 12 schools, making for a much more expensive college application process.

As the admission rates at first-rate colleges decrease, seniors are encouraged to apply to a broader range of schools, especially to many more “safety” schools.

Not only do seniors have to spend weeks, even months, writing essays and submitting forms, but they also have to pay a small fortune in application fees and components.

Aware of the stress that college essays place on students and the high cost of applications, senior David Zarrin trimmed his list of colleges to seven with only six different applications.

“Starting off with a big list, I looked at college quality first [to begin cutting my list down],” Zarrin said. “I went through every school and marked some.”

He then thoroughly researched the marked schools to make a shorter list of only 12.

“Then I looked at location and geography,” he said. “I ruled out some colleges in the middle of nowhere.”

His final priority was the school’s population, and he cut out the schools with too many students for his liking.

At the end of the process, Zarrin was left with seven colleges and universities. With a significantly shorter list than most other college-bound seniors, Zarrin’s total application cost comes out to around $400, and he has more time to focus and perfect each application.

By contrast, senior Katlyn Hirokawa is applying to a total of 19 colleges with a much wider range than Zarrin.

“I'm applying to mostly private schools, because I want to go to a college where I’m not battling to get into the classes I want to take and to have reasonable class sizes,” Hirokawa said.

Hirokawa said she was frustrated with the way that the College Board overcharges for sending SAT scores, and experienced difficulties with the system.

“I'm sending my SAT scores, which I've been actually really annoyed with lately since College Board failed to send my scores to a school I was applying to early twice,” Hirokawa said. “Plus, I think having to pay $11 for College Board to send your scores electronically is ridiculous, because you’re basically paying them to click on a few things.”

Hirokawa’s estimates her cost for applying to 19 colleges will come around to $1,600.

In addition to application and test fees, the cost of college touring is usually the most expensive aspect of the college selection process.

During the past few months, senior Kaitlyn Finch has toured several colleges, including Northeastern University, Tufts University, New York University, University of Virginia, Georgetown University, University of Richmond, Tulane, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.

“My first college trip was last spring. I flew to Boston, drove to New York City, flew to Washington, D.C., and had to drive to Richmond, Virginia and  Arlington, Virginia,” Finch said. “We essentially had to pay for a week of hotel rooms, three flights to Boston, D.C. and home, and [for the cost of] additional rental cars.”

This summer, Finch also visited schools in New Orleans, St. Louis and North Carolina. Her family paid for a week’s worth of hotel rooms, flights, rental cars and gas.

“That was a lot of flights, but I was told that the specific schools [I visited] really cared if prospective students visited, so we just  grunted through and did it,” Finch said.

At the end of the day, seniors only attend one college, no matter how many they apply to.

“I have to ask myself, ‘Would I actually go to this college if I got in?’” Zarrin said. “Can I picture myself there?”

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