Merit v. Financial Aid
The good news is that if you live in Connecticut you probably make a lot more money than others. The national median household income is around $51,000. Connecticut’s household median income is around $70,000. In towns such as Branford, Guilford, Madison, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, Essex and East Lyme, the median is far higher. The bad news is that you probably won’t qualify for financial aid.
Test Scores and Merit Aid For College
Colleges are in competition with one another. The biggest competition is not on athletic fields but rather in attracting top students. Like it or not, there is a perception that there is a correlation between the college’s median test scores and the college’s strength of student body. I’m not debating the validity of the correlation. I’m merely describing perception. One glance at US News & World Report’s rankings will illustrate a near lock-step correlation between the rank of school and median test scores.
I have had off the record conversations with college admission officials about this issue. My thoughts on the matter were confirmed: once students are accepted to a school, the differences in grades and activities are extremely hard to decipher.
As an aside, this is true in general even when admission decisions are being made. A 3.5 from Daniel Hand School in Madison is likely harder to get than a 3.5 at most other Connecticut public schools and certainly harder than a 3.5 at most public schools across the nation but how would most officials know that to be the case? Trust me – most have no idea about the various nuances between Madison and neighboring towns that we in Shoreline, Connecticut do.
Moreover, how does one compare an All- State trumpet player versus the President of the National Honor Society? Test scores are the only objective criteria. But, at least in the general admissions pool, there are likely enough students far off the mark that decisions regarding admission are reasonably easy.
As soon as merit aid decisions need to be made regarding students who are already admitted, the decisions are even harder because now the evaluations are far more thinly sliced. These students all have relatively similar grades and activities. Test scores are the only distinctive variance in many cases.
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