New Year, New Perspectives from Helen C ’25

FROM HELEN C. ’25

At the end of any school year, it never feels like summer break could be long enough to recover from the semester. This time around, though, I was finally ready to head back to Bryn Mawr and get back into student life after finishing up a summer filled with family, friends, travel, and a virtual internship. I’m sure I’ll regret these words in a few weeks, but the idea of sitting in a coffee shop with some class readings to do has never sounded more appealing. For now, though, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what it is I’m looking forward to this school year.

This semester I am most excited for my first 360° Course Cluster: Minerals, Museums, and Colonialism. At Bryn Mawr, 360° programs examine a single theme or experience, but approach them from different fields. In this specific course cluster, for example, I will be taking the History of Colonialism in Geology through the Geology department and a Cataloging Collections class through the Museum Studies department that will introduce us to the College’s massive assortment of geology specimens. I’m an Archaeology major, so neither of these directly connect with my field, but they’re certainly related and will complement my studies, while allowing me to check out two departments I’ve never had the chance to explore. One of the biggest sells for the 360° programs is that they each have a built-in travel component to places all over the world, totally funded by the College. For me, this means a trip to London and Bristol during Fall Break where we’ll explore museums and meet with experts in the field to enhance our explorations of the cluster topic. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with you all once I return!

In addition to academics, I’m looking forward to further expanding my community and meeting new people through my activities this semester. This past May, I traveled with the Bi-College Chamber Choir to Quebec for our annual tour. Though I’d already sung with these people for the past year, there’s nothing like spending 7 uninterrupted days together to get closer to your Chamber pals. I was able to get to know so many old friends in new ways, so I can’t wait to get back, meet the new members, and start singing together once again. We recently celebrated Parade Night here at Bryn Mawr, a way to recognize finishing the first week of classes, and one of our four major traditions. Traditions are such a unique part of being a Bryn Mawr student and they are a great way to welcome our new classmates to campus. Personally, I love Lantern Night where lanterns are passed down to first years by the upperclassmen as a way of inaugurating them into campus life and celebrating their tangible, lifelong connection to the Bryn Mawr community.

Expanding on this, I think that my biggest goal for this semester is to really take advantage of all the unique opportunities available at Bryn Mawr and in the surrounding area. Being a student at Bryn Mawr presents a huge variety of options, as does being located just 20 minutes from Philadelphia by train. At the beginning of this month, I took part in College Fest, a weekend in which 25+ museums in Philly are totally free and students have access to a number of discounts and giveaways from businesses. This is not only an excuse to get into the city, but also a way to connect with other college-age students in the area, of which there are many! We of course have our Tri-Co relationship with Haverford and Swarthmore, but we’re also right next to Villanova as well as easily accessible to UPenn, Temple, and many other Philly-area schools.

It’s easy to go off to college every semester and just focus on the classes you need to take for your major or that one gym credit you can’t seem to force yourself to take, but don’t forget that Bryn Mawr is located in a unique place, both physically and metaphorically, that will allow you to explore new things and widen your horizons in ways you may not expect. What I encourage you to remember is to take advantage of these new opportunities that come along with your education. Whether it be forming new connections, exploring exciting cities, or even developing different academic interests, there is no more exciting time to do so than the years you spend at Bryn Mawr.

We Want to Meet You! Tips for Meeting With Us This Fall, Both In-Person and Virtually

With a new school year on the horizon, we are excited to welcome more visitors to learn about Bryn Mawr, both virtually and in person. Here on campus, it remains our goal to make visiting us fun and accessible. We are thrilled to share Bryn Mawr with you and hope that you will consider visiting us this year in whatever way works best for you and your family.

Here are some fun visit tips and tricks for meeting with us both virtually and in-person.

Virtual Visit Tips:

Engaging with colleges on Zoom can be overwhelming, so helping you find authentic engagement with our community is the goal of all our virtual offerings. At Bryn Mawr, we try to come up with creative ways to showcase our community through workshops, chats, hangouts, and other events. Below are some of our best practices for engaging with colleges virtually.

Planning is key. Virtual events are great because they give you access to more colleges than you can visit physically. But it is easy to get overwhelmed. Start by making a list of which schools you are interested in and their virtual visit options. Do not feel as though you need to register for every virtual event at every college.

Ask questions! Don’t be shy! We know you have questions. Use the Q&A feature or unmute yourself to join the conversation if you can. There is no question too big or too small!

Connect in ways that feel authentic to you. If the virtual event allows, turn on your camera to connect with us. But if you don’t feel comfortable, no pressure! Feel free to reach out to the Admissions Officer or tour guide facilitating the conversation privately after the event. Engage with us at your own pace!

Connect with current students. Our tour guides are happy to chat and help you see yourself as a member of our community. Use this link to browse our current student profiles and chat with someone today!

Look out for recordings. Bryn Mawr records many of our virtual events, so if you miss a session, there is a good chance you can watch it later. Reach out to your Admissions Officer for more information.

In-Person Visit Tips:

Sometimes seeing is believing and we know a lot of students need to visit us in person before deciding how they feel about Bryn Mawr. We are here to help!  As we start the new school year, we are thrilled to offer some helpful guidelines for visiting campus with your friends and family. These tips will not only keep everyone healthy and safe but will also help you to maximize your experience.

Research Before Visiting. Usually, when you come to campus, you attend an information session and take a tour of campus. We encourage you to maximize your experience by attending the information session and researching our offerings before arriving on campus. That way, you know what you are looking for and what you want to ask our student tour guides during your visit.

Take notice of flyers and other promotional materials around the campus to see what happens beyond academics. We have a lot going on around campus, so this is an excellent way to understand what the community values and social opportunities are here. The campus center is a great space to gather some of this information.

Explore the surrounding city or town.  Bryn Mawr is a small town close to the big city of Philadelphia. We encourage you to take a trip into the city to see how accessible it is for your academic and social purposes. College is not just a campus; it’s the place you’ll call home for the next four years!

Get the contact information of the admissions representative for your area. We are here to be your advocate, so the admissions counselor for your location will be your best resource for any questions or concerns you have after you leave campus.

Bring water and wear sunscreen! Even as we move into fall, we want to advise you that it can get hot and humid here! Take the time to prepare physically before driving to campus. Always check the weather and dress appropriately for an hour of walking outdoors.

Whether in-person or online, we are so excited for you to visit us and see if Bryn Mawr is right for you. The college admissions process can be a fantastic opportunity for self-discovery as you start to explore what type of community you see yourself in for your college years. We encourage you to keep calm and keep an open mind! We have no doubt you’ll find success!

 

Acing Your Interview

College application season has begun, and we know you have questions about interviews! We turned the tables and interviewed our Senior Assistant Director of Admissions (and interviews expert), Libby Lakeman, about her best advice for acing your interview. Check out her thoughts.

What are you looking for when you’re interviewing a student?

We are interested in learning more about you and what gets you excited! We want to learn about you as a person both academically and socially. What is your favorite class? What do you like to do when you are not in school? What makes you, you? These are the big questions we are trying to answer through the interview process.

Why would students want to interview at Bryn Mawr even if it’s optional?

Interviews are a great way to humanize the admissions process. While we get to see what you are involved with in and out of the classroom in your application, an interview allows you to talk about your activities in depth. Then when we read your application, we can remember your excitement when talking about math class or your involvement with debate. Interviews also give you the opportunity to ask us questions. It’s a great time to ask about campus life, the academic community, and what resources are available to students. We really see interviews as a conversation and want this to be a learning opportunity for you, too.

What are some ways students can prepare for their interview?

Take some time to reflect on your accomplishments throughout your schooling as well as any challenges you may have faced. What growth have you seen in yourself? Write about some of your favorite memories, what activities you have found the most fulfilling, as well as what you are looking forward to most about this next step. This will hopefully help get you comfortable talking about yourself. I also recommend writing down a few questions you have for us. How can we help you through the admissions process? We are here to help you make the most of your college search process. There are no bad questions!

What are some common mistakes students make during interviews?

A common mistake I see students make is not sharing a big accomplishment or activity in the interview. Are you the president of a club or did you win a major school award? It can feel awkward to brag about yourself in an interview, but this is really the time to tout your achievements! I also encourage students to come with at least one question for us. We really do want to be in conversation with you and the best way to do that is to come prepared with questions for us.

Any tips for calming nerves?

Take a few deep breaths! Remind yourself how exciting the college admissions process is, even if it feels more nerve-wracking than exciting in the moment. If writing down your questions and take notes would easy any tension, feel free to bring a notebook into the conversation with you. Please know that we will not throw you any curveball questions, we just want to get to know you better and be as helpful as possible.

While we do not require interviews for most applicants, we encourage rising seniors to interview with us if you can. Visit our website to register for a virtual, on-campus, or off-campus interview. Reach out to our office if you have questions!

From Recruit to Student Athlete – Caroline ’24

FROM Caroline robertson

 

I am one of those people, who some may find odd, that loves to run. I ran my first 5K as a third grader which was the start of many miles, races, and years as a cross country and track runner. When it was time for me to start thinking about college, I knew I wanted to run at a small liberal arts school, preferably out of state. I decided to go the recruiting route instead of walking onto a team because before I committed to college, I wanted to make sure I was joining the right cross country and track team for me.

The summer before my senior year, I started to reach out to college coaches. My running times from high school were not embarrassing, but not necessarily times that would get me noticed so I remember feeling a little awkward sending emails to get recruitment information. I received mixed responses from coaches. Despite some rejection, the Bryn Mawr coach responded energetically and immediately set up a call with me. I visited Bryn Mawr for the first time in August of 2019. My aunt, who is a Bryn Mawr alumna, and my uncle accompanied me on my rainy summer tour.

I returned to campus the next month for an overnight visit with the cross country team. I remember stressing about what to wear because I wanted to look like I fit in with the current students. I felt relieved when the first student I met complimented me on my Vampire Weekend shirt and that one little comment made me feel more excited than nervous for my visit. On the second day of my visit, I remember huffing and puffing up the steps from the gym and happily thinking “I can see myself doing this for the next four years.”

Although I loved the unlimited food in the dining halls, my favorite part of my visit was spending time with other people who loved running but also had interests outside of the team. Like many Bryn Mawr students, I was an incredibly involved high schooler. I mostly did sports but also enjoyed being a part of SGA, school musicals, and other clubs. I was afraid of having to narrow down my interests and choose one to focus on in college. However, talking to Bryn Mawr students reassured me that at Bryn Mawr it is possible, and normal, to do a little bit of everything you want.

After my visit, I told my mom that Bryn Mawr was my top choice. Even though it was financially riskier, my parents and I decided that I should apply Early Decision to Bryn Mawr which meant on December 18, 2019, I officially became a member of the Bryn Mawr Class of 2024. With no collegiate competition as a first-year due to COVID-19 and then being injured as a sophomore, I realized how being a part of cross country and track is so much more than running. I learned about strength training, the power of recovery, and, most importantly, that real teammates are there for you all the time, even if you are not scoring points for the Owls.

Advice to students thinking about being a student-athlete at Bryn Mawr: reach out! Coaches want to talk to you. If that feels intimidating, all teams have Instagram accounts that are student-run and offer a more causal platform to learn about a team.

 

Why I Chose Bryn Mawr – Helen ’24

FROM Helen christ

When it comes to making a final decision on where you’re going to attend college, the process can become overwhelming very quickly. At a certain point, many of the schools that you’re looking at might seem similar and it can be a struggle to see what distinguishes one from another. All the schools I got accepted to were small, liberal arts schools that each had great and unique programs. To make my final decision, I ended up talking to current students about their experiences, and their honesty and enthusiasm about Bryn Mawr made me excited to become a student here. Since starting here, that excitement has only been confirmed as I continually find new ways to meet people and become a part of new circles through every aspect of my life at Bryn Mawr. Here’s how I chose Bryn Mawr and what makes it special.

As you may know already, Bryn Mawr is a part of three consortia: the Bi-College (BMC and Haverford), the Tri-College (BMC, Haverford, and Swarthmore), and the Quaker (BMC, Haverford, Swarthmore, and UPENN) Consortia. With varying degrees of ease based on our geographic distance from each school, you can take classes, participate in extra-curriculars, and expand your social circle at any of these places. Free transportation between all the schools means that interaction is not only possible, but actually encouraged. Bryn Mawr absolutely has everything that you need from a college, but these relationships with nearby schools allow you to make your community as large or as small as you want it to be.

Bryn Mawr is also about 30 minutes from center city Philadelphia and having access to such a great city nearby was really appealing to me. Being close to Philly not only allows for social outings on the weekend, but also means that a number of classes end up participating in Philly’s community, either through day trips or semester-long programming. Our location also allows for volunteering and service in local communities, and transportation costs are often covered by the college.

I usually end up going into Philly about once a month and there are endless possibilities for what to do. So far, I have explored areas like Center City and Spruce Harbor, and have been to events like the touring production of Anastasia the Musical and a class field trip to the Rodin Museum. If I had to recommend one thing for your visit to Philly, I would suggest a self-guided walking tour through the Old City where you can see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. If you have time, definitely head to Chinatown and try some hand drawn noodles. My current plans for my next trip into the city are to start at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (easily accessible by train) and end up at a café with a good book and a cup of coffee.

So far, I’ve talked about two of the unique aspects of Bryn Mawr that stood out to me in my college search. To be totally honest, however, neither of these ended up being the one reason for me to choose Bryn Mawr. The determining factor in my decision was–and I apologize because you’ll be probably hear this from basically every school that you apply to, but I swear it’s the truth!­– Bryn Mawr’s community.

If you are looking for more ways to interact with and understand Bryn Mawr’s community, I strongly recommend interacting with a current student. The best way to do this is by visiting Bryn Mawr’s campus, but if that isn’t feasible or you have specific questions you want answered right away, chat with one of our tour guides here. This platform allows you browse current tour guide profiles and reach out to someone with similar interests. I hope this has helped you understand a little bit more about what makes Bryn Mawr stand out among its peers, and that it will make the next step in your college search process a little easier!

The “Goodbye and Hello” – Bruce Fort P’23

Nothing could have fully prepared me for the overwhelming feelings I experienced when dropping our daughter off at Bryn Mawr for the first time: excitement about all that lay ahead for her, and heartache about the departure of our child. Everything came together in a private emotional supernova: the birthdays, the long string of proud first moments, the many successes and frustrations over the last eighteen years, and the immeasurable love of parenthood.

 

After spending an hour or two helping my daughter settle into her room, it was time to say goodbye. She took a moment to pose for a quick snap of her walking through the front door of Rhoads Hall, her new home. When I settled in at the airport, I sent the photo to the rest of the family: “At this moment Evie said both goodbye and hello.” My caption was a little mawkish, but there was no denying that it was a huge moment for all of us: the beginning of college had arrived.

 

Our daughter’s arrival at Bryn Mawr marked the end of her long, thoughtful search for her dream college. When Evie started talking about the qualities she was looking for in a college, Bryn Mawr had been among a handful of obvious choices. We had long admired colleagues and classmates who attended Bryn Mawr, and Bryn Mawr seemed to fit our daughter’s vision of the ideal college. Non-negotiable for Evie was her decision to attend a small liberal arts college, which would offer small classes, professors who loved teaching undergraduates, and a chance to know many of the people she would study, work, and live with. She wanted to be in or near a big city with good public transportation, and on a campus where she could pursue her interests in politics, society, and women’s health. Her mom and I wanted her to find a school whose values would resonate with her and challenge her, and we envisioned an academically rigorous college with a national and international student body. All three of us wanted Evie to find a school where she would be surrounded by people who would challenge and support her as she grew from late adolescence into young adulthood.

 

Bryn Mawr ticked off all of these boxes in quick succession—but in the end, I believe a certain amount of alchemy brought Evie and Bryn Mawr together. When she first visited Bryn Mawr in high school, her student tour guide was brimming with good cheer and confidence, and she dazzled us with her deep knowledge of Bryn Mawr and its many programs. She emphasized the tradition of self-governance, and as we toured the dorms and the campus, I developed a sense that student leadership at Bryn Mawr was more than a wish outlined in a glossy brochure in the admissions office: the dorms are self-governed and the students make important decisions that help shape the community they live in. Everything about the school simply seemed to fit.

 

The fateful first drop-off at Bryn Mawr marked more of a beginning than an end for our whole family, and not just for our daughter. It has been such a pleasure to hear her excitement over everything that has unfolded since the day of that Rhoads dorm photo: new friends from Seattle! From D.C.! From London, Louisville, Cincinnati, New York, and Baton Rouge! During Evie’s first two years, we heard about her introductory courses and the advisors who helped her with course selections and mapping out her options, and about her decision to major in sociology. As junior year rolled around, we heard more about the piles of reading and writing expected of her each week, and about her plans for her senior thesis. We have heard about the early morning practices with her cross-country and track teams, the fun privilege of driving one of the cross-country and track vans, and the occasional classes and the less occasional weekend parties at Haverford.

 

As a junior, Evie decided to apply to study in one of Bryn Mawr’s 360° course cluster programs, “Europe from the Margins,” which has allowed her and other students to focus on European culture and politics this semester, with a trip to Berlin over spring break as a centerpiece of the experience. She learned about the program, decided which of the 360° offerings aligned with her interests, and then she applied and was admitted. She recently geared up for the long-awaited trip to Berlin with a dozen or so classmates and their three professors. The students arrived in Berlin at the same moment the city was welcoming its first Ukrainian refugees. One of the professors leading the trip arranged for the students to visit the home of a Berlin artist, and the German Minister of Finance happened by for a visit and spent time in informal conversation with the group. The trip offered the combination of discovery and circumstance that makes travel such an important part of learning to live in the world—and unexpectedly, all of the costs of the 360° program were included in our normal tuition and fees, and the college even provided each student a stipend for their meals and other out-of-pocket expenses.

 

Bryn Mawr has become home to our daughter, and her closest Bryn Mawr friends have become her chosen family. I predict with high hopes that forty years from now, Evie will treasure her closest college relationships as much as her mother and I have treasured ours: with her Bryn Mawr friends nearby or on speed dial, we know that she will be prepared to step into adulthood, and to share the many challenges and successes of the work, family, and life that await.

Spring Thoughts from the Director of Undergraduate Admissions

FROM DIRECTOR OF UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS MARISSA TURCHI (Reposted)

Happy Spring! At this point in the recruitment process, you and your families are most likely celebrating good news, navigating financial aid packages, working through disappointments, or just starting the college search journey. Some thoughts to consider during this time of the academic year:

 

Take your timeIf your student has multiple admission offers, I encourage your family to take time in deciding. You have until May 1 to accept your offer, so there’s no need to rush. Don’t be afraid to sit with your choices for a bit and weigh your options. If you’re new to the college search, take advantage of virtual visits and simply explore your options.

Honor disappointments, but don’t stay stuckIt’s ok to join in your student’s disappointment with deny and waitlisted decisions. The unfortunate truth is that many colleges have a great deal more admissible students than spots for enrollment. Try to encourage your student not to get lost in the disappointment and remember that a negative admission decision does not define competency, accomplishments, or future success.

Consider return on investment. Yes, college is an investment – in finances, resources, time, and energy. Whether applying or deciding, do your research on the various resources a college provides. Don’t rely solely on the ticket price (full tuition and fees) because that does not paint a full picture. Some colleges, like Bryn Mawr, meet full financial need or offer merit-based scholarships. You’ll also want to pay attention to how the college invests in students. For example, how much funding is utilized for internships and research?

Be open and stay present. Let go of the idea that there is a “best fit” school for your student. Remove the pressures and welcome the growth process. Your student is learning more about themselves, identifying their passions, and preparing for a major life transition. Encourage open dialogue, expanding school lists, and shifting the “best fit” mindset to “places for thriving.”

Say goodbye to the comparison game. Comparing your family’s search and your child’s admission decisions to those around you leads to increased stress, anxious students, and poor decision making. There are no “shoulds” when it comes to the college search and enrollment process, so remove the noise and focus solely on the needs of your student and family.

With these thoughts in mind, and as we welcome spring, I hope you will join me in rejoicing in this time of balance, wholeness, and renewed energy. I wish your family peace as you make decisions, overcome challenges, and begin your journeys.

Spring Visit Tips for Seniors

FROM LIBBY LAKEMAN, Senior assistant director of undergraduate admissions

 

March is a big month in the world of college admissions both for universities and applicants. On the student side, excitement flourishes as decisions begin to roll in. On the college side, we are equally excited to focus our efforts on sharing all the reasons why our community is special. Even now you may be thinking about the big decisions looming on the horizon for you, or someone close to you.

Whether decisions have begun to roll in or not, you may be starting to think about the process of narrowing down your choices to make that final decision when the time comes. For many, visiting campus is a big part of the process and at Bryn Mawr, we are eager to share our tips for connecting with us in the coming months. Whether you’d like to visit us in person or connect virtually, we’ve got you covered. We recognize you have a big decision in front of you, so here are some of my best practices for engaging with colleges this spring.

It’s never too early to think ahead, here are our tips to maximize your visit:

Take a look at the big picture:

Before you even register for your visit, take some time to reflect on what you hope to get from each college visit. What will help you decide which community is best for you? Are you curious about what the dynamic is like between students and professors? Do you want to know what kinds of conversations are happening in the classroom? Is it essential for you to hear what students do for fun? Write down some of these burning questions, and then make sure you can gain some of these insights during your actual visit, in-person or virtually. Ask to visit a class or talk with a student over Zoom if that would be helpful! We are happy to connect you to the resources on campus that will help you make the most informed decision.

Planning is key:

There will be the option to visit colleges in person this spring, but check to see their visit guidelines before booking any travel. Many colleges, Bryn Mawr included, will likely still limit the number of visitors they allow on campus. Make sure the day you plan to visit is still has availability before coming to campus! Also, the earlier you let us know you will be on campus, the more time we have to organize a great day for you. Class visits, conversations with current students, and other meetings with departments by appointment will be available. It will really help us if you register sooner rather than later for your visit.

If you cannot physically make it to a college to visit, do not worry! Virtual sessions will be offered to connect with us and learn about our community. Check the admitted student visit page on your portal to confirm dates and times for these virtual opportunities. Add these dates to your calendar or planner as a reminder.

Keep notes:

Write down reminders to yourself about what things you liked or disliked about your campus visit. When it comes to decision time, these notes to yourself might be the push you need to make your choice. Visits can be overwhelming because you are so excited to be admitted and talk to potential future community members, but you might forget things in that overwhelm! So, take those notes. If you’re on campus, feel free to take pictures! Pictures can also help jog your memory as well as help you visualize yourself on campus. If you take pictures and post them on social media, don’t forget to tag us!

When in doubt, ask! 

Don’t be shy. There are no questions too big or too small! If you left your visit and still have lingering questions, we can contact current students or the right department representative to get your questions answered. If you could not make it to a virtual event, ask if it was recorded.

Be excited!

You are about to (or have) reached such a particular time in this process. You will have excellent choices before you; now, it is just about finding the best community fit for you. There are no wrong decisions. Enjoy the connections you can make with campus community members.

At the end of the day, I encourage you to be curious and stay connected. Take some time periodically to check in with yourself as you start to make your visit plans and as the decisions come in. Be sure to integrate some time for yourself as you fill up your schedule with visits, both in-person and virtual. If something doesn’t work out, remember that re-direction is a normal part of the process.  We will be here for you along the way! Check out our Admissions Office’s visit page to stay updated. We hope to see you soon!

Playing the Waiting Game

FROM CHERYL LYNN HORSEY, CHIEF ENROLLMENT OFFICER (Originally Published Nov.2019).

 

For most colleges and universities with application deadlines, November marks the beginning of application season with applications and materials being submitted for early and regular decision. No doubt this can be a stressful time for everyone. Students are frantic with the prospect of learning their fate, and parents may be anxiously standing by to support as they navigate what may seem like a mysterious process.

Over the past few months, your student has worked to curate and assemble college lists and applications – transcripts, essays, interviews, college visits – there are a lot of moving pieces. Now that the application is submitted, what happens next?

The application is now in the hands of very capable admissions officers who are responsible for admitting a class of students who will thrive and persist at their institution. This is not a process taken lightly. Admissions officers spend hours upon hours on committee discussions and holistic reviews of applications to admit the best class possible.

As you and your student await the admissions decision, it is important that both of you manage your stress levels. This is particularly important with social media being such an integral part of our lives. Peers will begin posting decisions and this may further exacerbate the anxiety that you both may be experiencing. Managing expectations is really important at this point. Understand that whether or not your child gets into their top choice is no reflection on your parenting, nor is it a reflection on their worth. Colleges and universities receive far more qualified applicants than they can admit.

Another tip that cannot be stressed enough is to allow your student to be in the driver’s seat during this process. The parental instinct is to protect and to advocate for your child, but encourage them to communicate with their counselors and admissions officers. Helping your child take the lead will foster their ability to develop the emotional and self-regulation skills that will be needed when they go to college.  All students need to take on a more independent role in college and this is a great time to start practicing those skills. We know that this process is a family one and we encourage you to stay involved and be supportive of your child while giving them room to grow and learn.

Final words of wisdom:  Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

 

Tips for Completing Your 2022-2023 Financial Aid Application

FROM SUSAN CHADWICK, DIRECTOR OF FINANCIAL AID

 

With October 1 right around the corner, many students and families have financial aid on their minds, especially as we continue to navigate the challenges of COVID-19. Suddenly there are questions about changes in income, how retirement should be reported on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), and what an FSA ID is used for in the process. While financial aid applications can appear daunting at times, there are many tips and tricks that can help you along the way.

Here are my top tips to successfully navigate the FAFSA and CSS Profile, College Board’s application used by many schools, to apply for institutional need based aid.

  1. Know your deadlines! When are all these forms due? For Bryn Mawr, financial aid applications are due the same day as admission applications for prospective students. Sooner is always better than later!
  2. Make a list of what is required. Not sure what we need? Bryn Mawr requirements for a financial aid application consist of four main items:
    – the FAFSA (for US citizens and permanent residents)
    – the CSS Profile (all students)
    – 2020 Federal Tax Return with schedules (for US citizens and permanent residents)
    – 2020 W2s (for US citizens and permanent residents)
    There may be a few additional items we need, and if this applies to you we’ll let you know through your application portal (where you check the status of your admission application).
  3. Create your FSA ID. Before you can complete the FAFSA, you need to create an FSA ID. This is a username and password that will be used to file and sign your FAFSA, as well as complete federal paperwork for student loans. Both the student and at least one parent need to create an individual FSA ID tied to their personal information. Each FSA ID will be linked to your legal name, birth date, and social security number. You will also need a personal email address. DO NOT use an email address linked to your high school! You will use this username and email for the next four years (possibly longer if you attend graduate school), and if you lose access to your high school email address after graduation it is extremely difficult to reset your password should you need to do so.
  4. Use the correct legal name and social security number. This one sounds easy, but it trips up more people than you might think! If your last name is hyphenated or appears a certain way on your social security card, it is important that you use your legal name exactly as it appears. If you do not, it will cause a big problem. If your parent(s) do not have a social security number, use all zeroes. Do not make up a number. If you make a typo on your social security number, you will not be able to correct this information, you will need to fill out an entirely new application.
  5. Have your tax returns ready. Ready to fill out the FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile? Having your tax return and W2s next to you while completing the forms is CRITICAL to success! On both forms, when you click on a field to type your answer, a helpful hint will appear on the side of your screen. This helpful hint will tell you the exact line to reference on your tax return! Copy the numbers and you’re well on your way.
  6. Be consistent. Some of the questions on the CSS and FAFSA will ask for the same information. If you report conflicting information, there will be a delay in processing your financial aid application. Be sure that you use the same figure for your assets, particularly the figures for cash/savings and investments. Investments can be a pesky question for families when you are not sure what to include. Use those helpful hints on the application to get clarification. On the FAFSA, you do not report the value of retirement accounts such as a 401k, nor do you report the value of your primary residence. On the CSS Profile, home value and retirement account value will be asked in specific questions. They won’t be included in a large investment figure anywhere on the application.
  7. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. On the FAFSA, there is a handy tool called the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, or DRT. This tool will allow you to auto-populate your FAFSA right from the information reported on your tax forms from the IRS! Not only will this make filling out the application much easier for you, but it also helps the financial aid office to guarantee the accuracy of your application. Another perk? One-third of FAFSAs are selected for a process called Federal Verification. This means the school must collect a little more information from your family to verify that every data field on your FAFSA is correct. By using the DRT, you are less likely to be randomly selected for this process.
  8. Don’t leave fields blank. Leaving fields blank may cause an error or a delay in processing your application. If there is no amount to report, add a zero to ensure clarity and accuracy.
  9. Do not use commas or decimal points. Round to the nearest whole number. If you try to use decimal points, both forms are going to add extra zeroes, significantly inflating your income and/or assets!
  10. Use prior prior year income information. You read those instructions right. This allows families to complete the forms earlier and with finalized information, allowing institutions more time to get families accurate financial aid awards in the spring. For example, you will use 2020 tax information when completing financial aid forms for the 2022-2023 academic year. If you feel 2020 is not an accurate reflection of your family’s financial situation (ex. someone lost a job in 2021, your family income was impacted by COVID-19, or there was a one-time bonus or other income inflation in 2020), contact the Financial Aid Office. We will ask for documentation of the change along with your 2021 tax return and W2s (when they are available) and your projected 2022 income to see if we are able to make an adjustment.
  11. Many families impacted by COVID-19 had lower income in 2020. Please remember that while we are basing your financial aid eligibility on 2020 for the 2022-2023 academic year, in future years we will ask families to reapply with the next tax year. As financial aid eligibility is assessed every year if your family income or assets went up in 2021 or 2022 your aid eligibility will go down in future years (if all other factors remain similar). Is this scenario applies to your family, we suggest reaching out the financial aid office to make sure you understand how your aid may change in a future year, so you can ensure you can make the four year commitment to your institution.
  12. Who to list on the FAFSA/CSS Profile. Are your biological parents divorced, and you’re not sure who should be listed on the FAFSA or CSS Profile? There’s a great youtube video provided by the Department of Education onlineto help you figure out who you should include on the FAFSA. If you split time between two separate households, you will only include the parent and siblings who you live with most of the time. For the CSS Profile, you will include information for all parents and stepparents, regardless of who you live with the majority of the time. If you split time between two households, you will fill out the CSS Profile with each parent.

Above all — ask for help! If I have one tip, this is it! We are here to help you and your family and hope if you have questions you will send us an email to finaid@brynmawr.edu. We are here to help you at any point throughout the process. We’ve also compiled a great financial aid resource library for your use.