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It s the time of year when colleges across the country send out their acceptances and rejections and when parents of high schoolers worry about their kids chances of getting into that dream school. Linda Morgan, author of Beyond Smart and editor of ParentMap, joined KING 5 in studio to talk about what it takes to get into college.

How important is it to go to a name brand college?

There s no proven economic advantage to attending a top-ranked school. And students who get into the most prestigious schools don t necessarily get to the top in their careers.

What studies do show is that hard-working, ambitious students will do well wherever they go.

What should students look for in a college?

They should look for a good fit and which school is the best one for them. There s a college for everyone. You and your kids should consider what their abilities and strengths are, what they want out of life, and what kind of college life and community are they really looking for.

And think about other options such as online universities. The University of Washington is going to offer a new low-cost online bachelor s degree program in early childhood and family studies.

What advice do you have for students?

  • Get the grades: Students need to focus on academics first. Unless you are a star athlete who is being recruited, you need a certain level of grades to be considered by a college, no matter what your extracurriculars are.
  • Get real: Get involved in activities you really like, not because you think the colleges will like them. Extracurricular activities need to come from authentic interests. High school is a time to explore and find interests that spark your passion.
  • Think about two-year colleges: Community college costs just a fraction of the total price tag for public or private four-year colleges. If you re short on cash and don t have the test scores to win a merit scholarship, community college can save you thousands.
  • There s a place for you: There s not just one school you will like and there s probably more than one you ll be able to get into. Most colleges are not highly selective. And parents remember who s attending.
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