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COVID Response

It's business as usual

Update: May 2021

Midwest College Planning is happy to announce we are all vaccinated.  If you also are vaccinated, we’d be happy to see you in our office.  Otherwise we are available by phone for appointments.

Take care and stay healthy!

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First of all, our COVID response is that we are working from home, but it is definitely a business as usual approach.  From the beginning, Midwest College Planning has been working with families virtually. The safety of our employees and families comes first.  We will be available by phone, no in-person meetings until further notice. Our workshops and speaking engagements have been cancelled or postponed.  We will offer virtual college talks daily.  

Here’s a breakdown for current families:

  • Seniors: Finish strong, this isn’t the ending you wanted but don’t let it de-rail your success.  Check emails and admission portals for updated information.
  • Juniors: Step up for leadership roles during class and club elections.  Study for ACT/SAT and keep on top of current school work.  
  • Sophomores: Plan for summer, get involved in your community. Sign up for the ACT/SAT test.
  • Freshmen:  Start your resume, this will come in handy as you build out your activities.
  • Parents: Plannng doesn’t stop with the pandemic.  Things are a little different now, but that tuition bill will be due eventually.

If you need help figuring out college, please reach out and call us at 614-230-1208.

 

Transitioning to College: 3 Differences Your Child Will Experience

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Dear Parent,

We are now fill swing back into the school year after the end-of-year break, and most students are not experiencing very many surprises at this point.  The school year often can tend to assume a feeling of sameness and even drudgery for students during the long stretch run after the holidays – other students can take the same situation and find a level of comfort in the continuity of how things run at school through this period.  It rather all depends on how the student views the high school experience, in many ways.

However, one thing to keep in mind – especially as high school continues into the junior and senior years – is that this sameness and continuity WILL NOT persist once a college-bound student reaches his goal and begins attending college or university.  College is a whole new ball game, as they say, and students need to be prepared for the changes or they could end up on the wrong side of them.

Keeping that important reality in mind, this month’s newsletter focuses on some of the biggest changes that face tomorrow’s college freshmen as they make the transition into the world of higher education.  When a student and his or her parents have taken the time to become aware of what to expect at the next level, and especially when they have actually put some time and effort into preparing to manage these important new realities that are inherent to college or university studies, the chances of a successful start – not to mention a successful finish – for this crucial educational experience increase dramatically.

Sadly, our experience shows that students who ignore these significant lifestyle and organizational changes until they are actually happening are often among those who end up struggling academically (and even socially at times).  Without wanting to seem too dramatic, we also see that these students are frequently those that find themselves in danger of failing or dropping out of college entirely.  So really, there can be no question about whether or not this stuff ultimately matters!

Without any further delay, then, here are some of the biggest changes that today’s students face when making the big leap from high school to college studies… many of them may sound familiar to those that faced earlier generations, but there are others that have come along fairly recently.  Things change in some regards, and things remain similar in other regards, and finding the balance between them is important when dealing with these kinds of coming-of-age generational gaps.

We urge you to prepare as much as possible for each eventuality, and if you need any clues or tips on how to manage them, remember that your College Funding Advisor is just a phone call or email away.  Remember that we deal with these elements each and every year and will be happy to provide insights, advice, or strategize with families who have students approaching the college years.  Here are some of the most important things that students these days will notice as they make the jump to college or university life.

Time Management

In high school, students are expected – nay, required – to go to every class, every single day. When a class is missed, there must be an excused absence. Classes that are missed or skipped by students can result in serious repercussions. Detention is the usual consequence for skipping class in high school, although there can be other forms of punishment, as well. Having had high school detention may not go on the high school transcript, but it does go on the full student record. Interestingly, this record can be requested by the college… it does not happen very often, but it is possible.

It does not necessarily reflect favorably on the student if there are “red flags” in that regard, so it is better to be on the safe side of things.  Regardless, this set of rules clearly demonstrates that the student is required to attend class or be faced with the disciplinary consequences for not doing so.

Conversely, in college, no one will be checking (or, frankly, care) whether or not your child attends class. Attending class at the next level is exclusively the responsibility of the student.  Attendance may or may not be taken, depending on the class, but the consequences are delayed and generally come strictly in the gradebook.  Attending lectures and assimilating the information and knowledge is wholly dependent on the student’s initiative to go and participate. This is, of course, a major shift in personal responsibility. While some students thrive under those circumstances, many others can tend to falter when suddenly given the duty of managing their own time and schedule – especially if this development occurs unexpectedly.

When students are fully aware of and prepared for this drastic change in personal responsibility, they can more fully take advantage of the education they are receiving. Young people who are unprepared often waste time and money because they do not completely comprehend that their lack of responsibility for their own learning is only hurting them and the ramifications have further reaching effects than simply in-school detention.

Changes in Class Size and Organization

High school classes can usually reach a maximum of approximately 35 students. Compare that to college, where some lecture halls can seat literally hundreds of students at a time. This difference can be a shock to high school students who are used to and expecting more individualized attention. In classes where there are hundreds of students, it is simply impossible for a professor to accommodate and give personalized attention to that many students.

There are often graduate students who serve as teaching assistants, but these can vary in quality (many are excellent, but some are pretty darned awful) and it can really place the onus on the new college student to navigate his or her way into the best learning options both in lecture and in office hours, etc.  Incoming college students will also need to prepare for the need to take excellent notes and listen attentively, because not doing so could result in the loss of important information.  This is also good information to know for students who prefer a smaller class experience. Private schools often tend to be smaller and therefore can provide the more intimate and individualized experience some students desire.

This is something to consider before applying to any set of colleges and universities. In general, the bigger the college, the bigger the class size!  That may or may not be something that affects your child one way or the other, but it is important to remember when planning.

Learning to Take Initiative

College is not the place for students who need or what their hand held. Higher education requires that students begin to grow up and take responsibility for themselves, and this can sometimes be a significant challenge for those who are not adequately prepared. One of the ways that students will need to do this is by taking initiative for themselves.

While in high school, a student who may be struggling in a subject or class would likely be approached by the teacher to establish some kind of protocol for assisting the student to better learn the material. This might be letting the parents know about the difficulty the student is having, or working personally with the child to help him or her better grasp the material.

This approach generally does not happen in college. If the student in a college class is having difficulty in the class, the student is responsible for seeking out and choosing appropriate measures to better master the material. This could entail approaching the teacher and letting him or her know that there is a lag in assimilating the subject matter. The teacher and student could then strategize together about what measures could be taken going forward that could help the student better learn the subject material. Once again, however, the onus for this process remains with the student. If the student does not take the initiative to better grasp the material or make it known to the professor that he or she is having difficulty then the risk increases of failing the class.

As we mentioned above, students who are preparing for their college years will do well to consider these altered circumstances well before the time comes for them to head off to their freshman year experience.  Yes, many high schools will take a strong role in helping college-bound kids to understand, develop, and implement strategies in this regard – but others may not.  For this reason, we are pleased to work with parents and students on any of the details surrounding the college preparation and application processes.  We have years of experience and knowledge in this regard, as well as helping parents to prepare financially for their significant part of the overall college burden.

This breadth of knowledge allows us to be uniquely qualified for helping families with their college preparation, and if we may be so bold as to say so, helps to make us one of the most valuable resources available for parents and students during the pre-college years.  We have a wide variety of programs and educational plans in place to help parents with the financial part of the college question.

Among our more successful educational options for providing this crucial information directly to the parents of high school kids is via our popular College Funding Workshops.  These workshop presentations are delivered live by experienced College Funding Professionals, and they target the families of today’s college-bound students with the most current information available.  Based on responses from our past attendees, these workshops do an excellent job of providing the most pertinent information that parents definitely need throughout this crucial time of college preparation.

The workshops are always organized purposefully for locations and times (with evening and weekend times available) that tend to work well for parents. There are never any admission fees charged for the workshops, but we do require a reservation in order to optimize the learning environment and maintain safety standards.  To reserve a place in one of the upcoming workshops, or if you have any questions about the workshops themselves, please simply place a call to our office staff.  Our phone number is (614) 934-1515 and our staff will be happy to help you further.

Our workshops are certainly a wonderful option for gaining information, but we also recognize that some parents will wish to read up on the foundational aspects of college funding preparation for themselves.  With this fact in mind, we have prepared a wonderful written report that provides a strong, basic overview of this crucial information.  Our report deals with the most important points regarding financial requirements and planning for parents of college-bound students, and we are justifiably proud of the way that it covers the process in an understandable manner.

Our report is titled “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” and we are happy to offer it as a free resource to learn the basics regarding the financial requirements for a college or university education.  To receive your own no-obligation copy of this valuable “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College” report in the mail, you can simply request one from our staff at (614)934-1515. We appreciate your interest and it will be our pleasure to send out a copy to you right away.

Until next month,

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College Planning 101: the ‘B’ word(Budget)

     

“Cost-Saving Strategies For College

That You Can Begin To Implement NOW

We do not rest, however, and if you have followed our blogs in the past for even just a short time, you probably are aware that we believe there is no wrong time for us to introduce and discuss some of the most important cost-saving elements for tomorrow’s college students.

Some of these things involve proper financial planning and a good understanding of the college funding process – but others are skills that can – and should – be mastered by parents and students as early as possible, to make the costs of college more manageable no matter where a child ends up going to school.

Getting through the undergraduate degree is a big undertaking, there is no question about it, and it is also a significant financial challenge with the current cost of higher education.  However, we have become experts in recognizing ways that these costs can be best managed and even minimized in many cases, and we are eager to share these tips with families of future college students.

Strategy 1: Tallying Pooled Resources

If your child will be receiving funds from grandparents, aunts and uncles, employment, or other sources while in college, it is important to create a budget including all of these amounts.  When this is done then everyone is made aware and everyone is on the same page. Include all sources of income from grandma’s birthday money to income from a summer job. These sources should all be included in the budget to get a clearer picture of what there is to work with. Here’s a comprehensive to further assist with what should be included as part of the budget:

  • All income received: This income should include the money that your child will have once at school, any relief given from the financial aid package and any money that comes in regularly to your child.
  • Monthly income: If there are funds that are coming in from a part-time job or other sources on a monthly basis, include these funds.

Strategy 2: Creating a Budget

Yes, we are not afraid to mention the dreaded “B-word” in our newsletters.  Managing college finances can ONLY be effectively done when a budget is created and followed – trust us, we have seen this simple fact played out both ways (for better and for worse) many, many times.  When creating the budget, it’s important to include the following items:

  • Overall Income: All income listed above which includes all income received and any monthly or income that comes in on a regular basis.
  • Discretionary Income: This is ‘fun’ money. It’s important to have fun while in college. The point is often that too many college students have TOO much fun and blow the money they receive while in college, and end up in bad financial circumstances. Students should learn to set some aside just for having fun, manage it well, and be sure to not go beyond it.
  • Necessities: Items that are absolutes while in college. These include books, computer, etc.
  • Wants: There are always nice things that can make college life a bit easier. These items can go in the ‘wants’ category.
  • Fixed Expenses: Include all expenses that occur on a monthly basis.
  • Variable Expenses: Include all expenses that occur but vary from month to month.
  • Savings: Even in college, there should be money set aside that is an emergency fund or simply savings for a rainy day. Include this amount that is done in the beginning or on a regular basis.
 

Strategy 3: Saving Money in Unexpected Ways

There are numerous ways to cut costs while in college. Here are some ways to painlessly cut costs without sacrificing fun or depriving oneself.

  • Purchase used textbooks or, better yet, rent them if possible. This option is available at many universities and can save considerably on costs. College textbook prices have simply gone through the roof in most cases!
  • Set a designated amount aside for fast food or restaurant meals per week, if needed, and cook the rest at home. Alternatively, utilize a dining plan which can also save time and money.
  • Set money aside for needed purchases and/or fun purchases.
  • Avoid late fees on credit cards or other bills by always paying on time.
  • Don’t purchase cable television. Instead watch shows on a computer.
  • Use eBay, craigslist, or other online resources to sell unwanted or unused items.
  • Look for campus activities to socialize, etc. There are often movie nights, campus museums, etc. that can be utilized instead of spending a lot of money going out.
  • Skip Starbucks and make coffee/tea/hot chocolate at home. There will be significant savings!
  • If a loan is necessary, make sure that it’s only related to college expenses.
  • Bike around campus! At most colleges and universities, there is really no need for a car.

 

Strategy 4: Re-think The “Four Year Experience”

I hope there’s no misunderstanding from this heading. This is not to mean AT ALL that one should miss out on college, or not complete a bachelor’s degree. Quite the opposite, in fact. We fully support and base our efforts around students completing a four-year degree in the most successful and expedited manner possible.

 

While the average time spent in college is creeping ever higher (to our chagrin), there are still some motivated and organized students who complete a 4-year degree in as little as three years – and looking at the annual costs of college, that saves families and students a significant amount of money!  It also allows graduates to enter into the workforce earlier, or move on to graduate or professional training earlier, which means that the overall financial benefit from early graduation is magnified even further.

If cutting costs are a priority for your college student then one very effective way to do this is to complete advanced placement credit in high school, complete junior college credits during high school (if that option is offered where you live), take summer classes between academic years, or in some cases even head first to another less expensive institution, and then apply to transfer to the desired four-year university afterwards.

There will always be general classes that are a requirement for most universities. These classes can be taken at a community or junior college for significantly less money, as long as the acceptability of the credits is cleared in advance, of course! It can sometimes be a wise choice, financially, to use community college – or even an associate’s degree, in some cases – as part of the foundation for undergraduate education.  After all, the bachelor’s degree only has the name of one school on it!

Paying for college starts by understanding your budget and planning for the future.  

Let’s talk College Admissions & Funding Myths

 

“Understanding and Overcoming These MYTHS About College Funding And Admissions”

Dear Parent,

Here’s wishing you a happy holiday season with memorable times with your family and friends.  At this time of the year we find that it is a fine time for reflection on the wonderful experiences and accomplishments both this year and in years past.  For many families this includes wonderful college and university experiences that have added richness, enjoyment, and success to their family lives.  Higher education is certainly a sacrifice and a lot of effort, but there is no question that the value of it echoes over time.

With that in mind, this month’s newsletter emphasizes some of the elements of “commonly held wisdom” about college that turn out not to be true at all!  These myths about college funding and admissions seem to persist for a variety of reasons.  Some of them might have been true (or partially true) many years ago, but times have changed.  Others might have affected one person (or a very few people), but unfounded rumors about their prevalence seem to persist.  Still others have no real basis in fact whatsoever, but get passed around by people who do not know the details themselves.  However they get started however, we view it as our responsibility to make sure the truth is available!  After all, college admissions and funding issues affect EVERY college bound student to some degree or other…

We hope that as these myths and rumors are put to rest, you will feel free to pass good information on to other parents… and should other questions or suspicious bits of information arise in the future, please feel free to use us (your College Funding Professional) as a sounding board for the most up to date information – as well as how this information might directly affect your student and your family.

Without further ado, then, allow us to tackle a few of the most common myths and rumors that seem to persist from year to year to year – obviously, if we find ourselves running into them each and every college cycle, then we are pretty sure that many of you parents (and students) will see them, as well.  With this information, and any other questions we might be able to answer for you in an individual setting, you will be well on your way to managing the college admissions and funding process with a healthy set of facts and knowledge…

And knowledge, in this case as well as many others, is definitely powerful! 

MYTH 1. “Everyone Graduates With Student Debt”

Absolutely NOT!  The simple truth is that not everyone graduates with student debt. It is quite common, to be sure, especially in the current financial circumstances… but there are plenty of possibilities for a student to leave college without the burden of student debt. There are always some fortunate (intelligent, well-organized) students and parents who manage to finish the college years without it. It is not necessarily easy, but with the proper advice and planning it is absolutely possible.

If your child is an excellent student, there will always be additional options available. Your child can apply for scholarships for part of the cost. High GPAs and standardized test scores may also make your child eligible for some scholarships and grants directly from the school to which s/he is applying. Applying to the right schools and having strong academic scores will certainly help to make your child a very attractive applicant. Schools will then often be willing to do what they can to attract your child and that can translate, in some cases, to a full-ride – although these scholarships are rare.

In some cases, your child may go to a school that is not his or her first choice in favor of a package that provides more aid. If leaving school without a mountain of debt is a high priority for you and your child then this may be a suitable choice.  However, your College Funding Advisor can often help to mitigate these types of circumstances if families start the process early enough!

MYTH 2. “Going To College Is Just About Gaining Book-Smarts”

This may have been true at one time, when education was for education’s sake (for better and for worse) but the reality is these days that higher education is also a business. Colleges want to ensure their investment in any student is a solid one. They also want to make sure they are solvent. This can mean higher and higher tuition costs and fees. While this can seem disheartening at first glance, it can also be empowering for prospective students.

Just like any business, consumers have leverage over businesses. If they do not like something, they can always take their business elsewhere. This is a tack that can be used when applying to colleges. If your child is an excellent student and/or an intriguing applicant, it is completely acceptable to pit one school against the other in order to amass the most amount of aid. It is good business for colleges to find the brightest students, so they will do what is necessary to make it worth your child’s while to attend their college.  Your College Funding Advisor is well versed in the best strategies for making this work to your student’s advantage.

MYTH 3. “College Is Always Really Expensive”

Well, we will be the first to admit that higher education CAN be really expensive… but it doesn’t have to be, and it does not have to lead to debt, as indicated above. If one is willing to get creative and ‘think outside the box’ then getting a college education without breaking the bank is not only possible, it’s probable.

For example, if your child is taking AP classes in high school more often than not, these classes will count as college classes and your child can actually earn some college credit while in high school. Each college and university is different so it would be worth your while to do the research as to what classes will be accepted as credit and so forth.  We will be pleased to assist in that if necessary.

For students, applying to a diverse group of schools is a smart choice. It will broaden the options for your child and the types of award packages they will receive. This means more choices and more freedom for your child to choose the one that is the best fit.  The better the offer from the financial aid office at each school, the smaller the bill becomes!

MYTH 4. “Private Schools Are Expensive – My Child Can’t Attend One”

Private schools usually ARE expensive – at least, the sticker shock is high – but, as we’ve previously elaborated, it doesn’t have to be. The list price for private schools can be shocking to most, but it is rarely what students end up actually having to pay. Private schools often cost more off the top, sure, but private schools also almost always have more money to give to their incoming students. In fact, depending on your child’s academic and extracurricular credentials, s/he could pay less at a fancy private institution than an in-state school.

Aid packages from private schools often tend to be heftier than those from public schools. Making it known to the admissions officers that your child is seriously comparing other colleges may prompt them to increase an aid package. It’s not a guarantee, but as we indicated above, it is a tactic that you can use. An aid package received is not written in stone. You can always respectfully have the financial aid office review a package in light of new information, or when comparing it to another aid package that is similar but slightly more competitive. It never hurts to ask, and you never know what will happen. Your child may just get into a great private school at a super price!

MYTH 5. “If You Make Enough Money, Don’t File Financial Aid Forms”

Regardless of your financial circumstances, it is always a good idea to fill out financial aid forms. There are several reasons for this. For example, if you do not apply, you will not receive any aid. Now that seems quite simplistic, however, if circumstances change while your child is in school and a need were to suddenly arise, s/he would not be eligible for any aid because there would be no forms on file.  It is better to be safe than sorry!

Also, even if your child is able to attend school without any need-based aid, is s/he has qualified for scholarships, those funds will not be released unless there are financial aid forms on file. So, while it may seem unnecessary if you are in the fortunate circumstance of being able to send your child to school without the need of extra aid, you never know what can happen in the future. It is better to take the time to file those financial aid forms, and we are happy to assist.

 

Parents and college-bound students will run into more incorrect details than just these, of course, but it is for precisely that reason that we are pleased to make ourselves available for consultations and individual questions.  Feel free to ask us about any details surrounding your child’s college application process, as well as how parents can best tackle the financial questions surrounding this enormous step.

Parents often find that their jobs in the overall higher education process are every bit as challenging as the students applying for and attending their dream schools!  We make it our business to apply our knowledge and educational skills to help simplify both the parental tasks and the student efforts.

One of our most successful teaching options for the delivery of this vital information to parents is through our excellent College Funding Workshops.  These are live workshops delivered by certified College Funding Professionals specifically for the parents of today’s college-bound students.  According to feedback from our attendees, these presentations really deliver the informational goods when it comes to providing an introduction to the college funding information parents need.

We always schedule our workshops at locations and times (including evening and weekend options) that will mesh with parents and their busy schedules. While we refuse to charge any admission costs for workshop attendance, an advance reservation is required for safety and planning purposes.  If you have questions or would like more information, or to reserve a seat for one of upcoming dates, please just call our office.

While the workshops are a great option, we also know that some parents are more likely to want to digest the basics for college funding preparation on their own.  Because of this fact, and because there are always some parents who simply cannot attend a workshop, we publish a written report which also introduces this information.  The publication covers the financial education needs of today’s parents of college bound kids, and it really does introduce the college funding process in an excellent and easily understandable way.

The report is called “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” and each year parents report that it is an outstanding resource for learning the basics for funding a future college or university education.  To receive a free copy of the “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College” report, which is also free of charge or obligation, give our team a ring at 614.934.1515. We will be very pleased to put a copy of it into the mail for you immediately.

Happy Holidays!

Until next month,

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Avoiding Unemployment After Graduation

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“How To Link College Studies to Actual JOBS – Avoiding Unemployment After Graduation

One of the biggest challenges facing many college and university students today is not necessarily the substantial work of higher education itself – but the fear of what comes after graduation!  This is especially worrisome in a current economic climate which has large numbers of college students facing unemployment (or, equally as concerning, UNDER-employment) after the completion of their university studies.  After all, one of the main points of higher education is to prepare a young person for a brighter professional future.  Nobody – neither parent nor college student – really wants to finish a hard-earned degree and be forced back into living with parents or working at a dead-end job.

With that in mind, this month’s newsletter is focused on practical suggestions for your student that will affect both his or her future college career, as well as parlaying that educational experience into gainful employment once the degree is completed.  Entering college with this type of thought process in mind – even if a student does not know what to major in at the outset – can make all the difference for developing professional options after graduation.

It is important to remember that the undergraduate years of college or university last, ideally, four years – which is the same amount of time that a student spends in high school!  Just as parents often have to marvel at how quickly the years of high school pass, there really is no slow-down once the years of higher education begin.  In fact, in our experience, they can even seem to speed up a little!  This is, of course, all the more reason to be prepared for the important steps that come afterward.

This month’s newsletter will offer some things to consider – and equally as importantly, some things to avoid – when it comes to making the most long-term use of a college education.  We definitely see and understand the big picture when it comes to higher education, including the conceptual and social importance, as well as the practical elements that lead to a fulfilling and successful career afterward.  College is a big step, and it is important to be prepared for it – as well as all of the steps that come thereafter.

 Interests And Course Selection

In the past, we discussed majors and minors in some depth, but the topic is also extremely important in this regard.  Yes, there are traditionally “marketable” majors that tend to have good hiring prospects after graduation – but that does not mean that all students should be pigeon-holed into an accounting program (as an example) just to make sure they get a job.  For some students that would be a terrific option, if they have an appropriate skill set and interests in that field.  For others, however, that major and career field would be sheer drudgery, and there are much better options.  There are also, of course, majors that have significantly fewer (traditional) jobs on offer, so it is important to be aware of this.

This can be one area in which a double-major can serve a student well.  People who are gifted (and passionate about) a field with some less-promising job prospects can often piggy-back that interest with another field.  Combining unrelated fields (such as a foreign language and pre-professional studies, or music and sciences, or arts and business/marketing) can not only lead to more job options later, but also can increase the quality and breadth of undergraduate education.  There is definitely a market for people who create interesting academic backgrounds and skill sets, and there is no reason not to pursue them!

Students who begin college without a major in mind, and that is a LOT of them, can still make wise decisions about their major selection by determining where their interests lie.  That is the most important thing, because it is vital for students to know what they are truly passionate about, and how they would choose to spend their working years in the future.  Once those things are known, then a foundation can be put into place for developing the beginnings of a career plan that will function during the years of undergraduate study.

Of course, the best thing is to have some of those decisions made during the high school years.  Not everyone will do so, naturally, but college-bound students who leave high school with some of these types of answers will often find themselves in a better situation for career planning in the early stages of college or university.

Graduate and Professional Studies

Obtaining a graduate degree can be a two-edged sword.  On the one hand, it can definitely lead to job prospects and a rewarding career if managed correctly.  On the other hand, if pursued as a stop-gap measure to avoid unemployment, graduate school can also simply increase student loans and delay the inevitable.  It is vitally important for graduate degrees to be pursued with a firm plan in mind!

There is also a semantic difference between graduate school and professional school, but it can go well beyond the definitions.  Graduate school is traditionally a program leading to a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Sciences (MS) degree, or a doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.  The job market for these types of degrees varies wildly according to industry and academic fluctuations.  Professional schools are usually specialized degree programs such law school (JD), business school (MBA), or medical school (MD or DO).

While it has long been traditionally accepted that professional schools offer the most post-graduate career options, which are expected to be more lucrative than graduate school, this is NOT always the case.  The modern world provides a broad mix of exciting careers, and it is up to the student to determine which resonate most keenly with his or her interests and skills – and to determine whether the additional expense of graduate school or professional school will be worthwhile down the road.

Summer (and Mid-Year) Internships

One absolutely great way for students to determine what makes the most sense for their post-college careers is to seek out internships with college affiliated (or even non-affiliated) companies.  These can be managed over a summer, or even in some cases during the school year.   (Interested students should always ask whether or not they can receive credit for an internship, as well!)

Some internships are paid, and others are not, but in our opinion that element should never be used as the determining factor for the selection of an internship.  The experience gleaned from a well-placed internship can be absolutely vital for determining whether or not a field truly appeals to your student.  Far too often students make a decision that affects their future without first-hand information about what that chosen career looks like in reality.  Having some actual experience can make all the difference in that regard.

Not only is the information from these experiences valuable, of course, but students who perform well during internships are often placed first in line for hiring programs after graduation at the companies who already know them well.  All in all, it can definitely be worthwhile to look for internships that fit with a student’s interests and career goals… whether they come through the college or university, or whether the student finds the internship individually, the value can be striking.

Whatever You Do: Begin With The End In Mind

The earlier students begin considering their interests, their passions, their goals, and their options, the better off they will be.  As college funding and admissions experts, we are pleased to offer a number of programs and tools to assist college-bound students in that regard.  It is truly that important.  Young men and women who arrive on college campuses with these vital bits of information – even if they are not entirely complete and/or ready to decide on a pathway for their education on Day One – will truly be miles ahead of their classmates in the long run.

The mindset taken toward the college or university experience will be one thing that will make a huge difference.  Far too many students view college itself as the goal, and forget that there will be a whole lot of life thereafter!  If the process of higher education is truly seen as an opportunity to develop interests and skills, and to create an enjoyable career post-graduation, then students will tend to excel both in school and in their post-college endeWhatever the ultimate decision about future careers might be, of course, parents have another sizable pile of responsibilities.

The question of college funding is one that simply does not go away.  For this reason, advice from a college funding advisor can make all the difference in managing the financial details of this exciting but often overwhelming process.  As experts in the field, we can provide the current and specific details required to make the process of college application, matriculation, and financial management both successful and manageable!

One of the most effective methods we have for delivering this information to parents is through our College Funding Workshops.  These presentations are delivered to the parents of college-bound students and they are prepared by college funding professionals who are experts in this area.  These workshops are a source of the most current and valuable information regarding the challenges surrounding higher education funding for tomorrow’s college students. We would be very pleased to welcome you to any one of the upcoming College Funding Workshops scheduled in your area.

We make sure to schedule these workshops with a focus of the schedules of parents, and we choose times and locations that make the most sense in that regard… this includes evening and weekend workshops, as well.  While we do not charge any admission fees, we must insist on seat reservations in advance, so that an optimal learning environment and safety considerations are maintained.  We are happy to answer any questions about these presentations, of course.  To reserve a seat for an upcoming workshop, please simply call our office.  Our workshop crew will be more than happy to answer any questions and assist you with a reservation.  The  number to contact us is 614-934-1515.

We are duly proud of our workshops, and they are invaluable, but we also recognize that some parents prefer to manage the basic elements of college funding preparation themselves.  Because of this, we have published a tremendous written report covering this information.  This report covers the fundamentals of financial education with a focus on the needs of parents with college-bound high school kids, and it covers the process of college funding in an extremely clear – and current – package.

Our report is called Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” and experience has shown it to be a wonderful tool for understanding the financial elements surrounding the completion of a college or university degree.  To receive your own free copy of the “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College” report, simply place a call to our offices at 614.934.1515.  It will be our pleasure to send a copy of the report to you through mail immediately.

Strategies for a better deal

“Real-World Negotiating Strategies To Help You Negotiate A Better College Deal For you Child”

Dear Parent,

Here’s hoping that the adjustment into the school year and the Fall season have been smooth and happy for both your high school student and your family.  It is truly a significant transition virtually each and every year during high school, and there is no question that this transition grows exponentially bigger and more challenging when students make the jump from their high school years to their college or university years!

 We often find that when it comes to college application and college funding issues, many parents and families feel extremely uncomfortable and out of their depth in dealing with the colleges and universities to which their high school student applies.  This is natural, certainly, but it does not have to be that way.  In fact, it is because of this tendency that it is even more important for parents to gain a measure of confidence and comfort in dealing with institutions of higher learning.

The more parents know about the processes related to college admissions and financial aid issues, the better prepared they will be to manage the experience to the benefit of their student and their financial bottom line.  That is, frankly speaking, one of the reasons that we do what we do. As professional college funding advisors, we are uniquely qualified to help parents learn what they need to make wise decisions and maximize the educational options for their high school student, and to make positive financial decisions as well.

A good college funding advisor can help parents with their communication and interactions with the colleges and universities, and we also know the important clues and strategies for negotiating with institutions to maximize the options and the benefits for your child. 

With that in mind, we are pleased to provide a quick overview of some of the most helpful elements to negotiating and communicating with decision makers at the schools to which your child will eventually apply.  For more information, of course, or for any clarifications on the topics we introduce below, please do not hesitate to give us a quick call or schedule an appointment.  We are always pleased to be of assistance in this important time in the lives of rising college students and their families.

As you are no doubt aware, a tough economy not only affects families, but it can affect colleges and their endowments, as well. While tuition costs seem to skyrocket, one of the reasons for the swollen prices may include a shrinking endowment leaving less money available for incoming college freshman classes.

With that said, it does not mean that your family is doomed to automatically pay the “sticker price” for tuition when looking at different colleges and universities. The quoted prices – especially for private or out-of-state schools – can be a shock… but what many parents don’t know is that there are several things that can be done to minimize that shock and engage in negotiations and strategic communications that will almost invariably result in a lower overall price of attendance for your student.

Pitting Schools Against Each Other

Many parents may not think about playing schools against one another, but it can be very effective. It can be difficult to take that mindset when there are schools that your student especially wants to attend.  However, an offer from a second or third choice school (or even lower!) can be taken directly to a first choice school in order to garner more aid.

This tactic is also especially useful for merit-based scholarships. If your child is applying to colleges and universities that are well-funded and your child has strong academic achievements then there is no reason not to try to earn more for their hard-earned accomplishments! There are some parents who have managed to obtain over $200,000 in merit-based aid for their children. It can definitely be done, and your college funding advisor can provide more details on how to make this a reality for your child.

It is good to remember that while the sticker price for private colleges can cause some initial dismay, they will often have a lot more free money to hand out since they are receiving money from alumni, endowments, and private sources unrelated to government coffers. Remember that some colleges and universities have been known to cut the tuition by as much as 45% under the right situation.

Reveal Changed Circumstances

Your child does not necessarily need to be a budding Rhodes Scholar in order to receive additional aid from a college. There are other ways to receive additional aid – and it can happen when situations change within a family for a variety of reasons. Life happens, and many college administrators understand this. When circumstances have changed within a family situation such as a job loss, divorce, or illness, make sure to document this and send it to the college for additional consideration. More often than not, administrators will increase aid offers in light of changed circumstances.

College administrators often have a lot of flexibility when it comes to how they distribute loans and grants. If your child is a star pianist or was the school newspaper editor, you can use those experiences as leverage to try and obtain additional grants or aid.

Simply Ask

When your child receives his/her award letter it is an exciting time, but if you find that the offer is not exactly what you were hoping for, it is time to organize your information and write a polite letter back to the Financial Aid office asking them to reconsider the aid package and see if they will increase the aid.

You should first understand how each school works. Not every school will have an official form letter to request, but some schools have an appeals process already in place. Go through the proper channels and state your position and why you would like additional aid. It will not bode well for you if there is any embellishment. It’s best to simply state your family situation and why additional aid would be necessary.

Again, your college funding advisor is well-versed in how to manage these requests and can help you to know the right tack to take with each different school.

Be Clear

It might seem like common sense, but it vital to remember that college administrators are not omniscient.  They may be unaware of circumstances for each student, so it is important to simply lay out the facts to financial aid workers. Going on and on about how excited you are that your child was accepted to the school, and so forth, is something they hear often and does not necessarily help your case. Simply state what your current circumstances are and why you feel you are in need of, and/or deserving of, an aid package reconsideration.

Request Information About Work-Study, Grants and Scholarships

In addition to asking for a reduced tuition amount, you could also request information about scholarships, grants and work-study opportunities. When requesting consideration for scholarships, this might be the appropriate opportunity to toot your child’s horn. Include the reasons why your child would be an asset to the school, why he or she will make an excellent alum for the school, and why he or she deserves consideration for specific scholarships. Schools will certainly go the extra mile to attract the right candidates to their institution. Presenting your child as one of those candidates will often help you get you what you’re asking for.

Try To Play It Cool!

Just like any negotiation, there is a bit of a dance involved in the process of dealing with schools. It is important to be strategic in communication with the schools. For example, if your child receives an offer from a second choice school, parents should usually not immediately run to the first choice school to talk up the offer – this can seem anxious and could work against your student in the long run.

Parents might choose to wait a little while before contacting the first choice school for a better aid offer. If they have an idea that they are the first choice school they will sometimes be less likely to increase an aid package. Talk with your college funding advisor about how to play it cool and see what happens!

Overall, it is important for your student to end up at one of the best options available for his or her future academic experience.  The process is a challenging one, in some regards, especially for families that enter the negotiation process without key information to make them successful (or even worse, refuse to even begin any negotiations, and just accept whatever is offered).  

Regardless, parents will invariably find that professional advice from a college funding advisor can be of enormous help when it comes to negotiating a college future successfully and in a timely manner.  As professionals in this area, we are delighted to be able to offer our expertise, since it is truly worthwhile for the families we serve. The fact that our clients see more success in their negotiations, as well as finding the process significantly smoother to manage, makes us even happier.

One of the most exciting ways that we offer this information is through our College Funding Workshops.  These presentations are live workshops for the parents of college-bound high school students, and are offered by insightful college funding professionals.  They provide the most current and up-to-date details with regard to the higher education challenges facing tomorrow’s college students. We would be happy to see you at an upcoming workshop in your neighborhood.

If you have questions or want some additional information or details about these workshops, or if would like to reserve a seat for an upcoming date, just call our office.  We do require reservations in advance, due to space and practical limitations, but there is never any admission fee for our workshops.  Our workshop crew will be pleased to assist you further if you call our toll-free number at 614-934-1515.

We also have published a written report introducing an overview of this very important information.  Our work covers the essential financial education needs of high school parents with children who want to attend college, and it reviews the college funding experience in one current and easy-to-follow FREE report.   We have given this valuable report the title “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” and it is a terrific reference for parents when it comes to understanding the foundations of paying for a college or university degree in the near future.  For a free copy of the “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College” report, send an email to info@midwestcollegeplanning.com  We will send out a free copy to you without delay.

Until next month,

~Marc

Parenting Tips to help your Kid Succeed in College

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“Top Parenting Tips That Will  Help With College Admissions, Funding, And Academic Success”

Dear Parent,

The overall success of a college bound high student, as well as his or her success in the years of higher education, comes down to a variety of elements.  Some of them are well within our sphere of influence as College Funding Professionals and many of them really are not.  There are elements that will affect a student’s success that are tied into how well that child is able to adapt to the college environment, his or her maturity level, and a myriad of other things that need to be in place – or at least in a well-developing stage – when a college-bound student graduates from high school.

This month’s newsletter emphasizes some of these important elements that will quite literally affect the trajectory of a young person’s life in college and beyond.  Granted, we recognize that it is not our place to tell parents how to achieve these goals, and that is certainly not our intent.  There are plenty of parenting resources and experts available to help in that regard.  However a family comes to help young people develop the skills necessary for success in college, the simple fact remains that students who have these skills and levels of maturity will outperform their peers who are lacking in this regard in almost every instance.

We urge parents to take a look at these tips, and consider the best ways to implement strategies that will help their students to excel in these areas.  We are always pleased to review them with parents and college-bound students to show how these things can make a huge difference over the long haul when it comes to college admissions, success, and even funding.  With this information, as well as any other queries that we might be able to answer face-to-face, families will find themselves to be well-situated when it comes to preparing young people for the college experience.

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CREATE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

One of the most important things surrounding college readiness is the development of personal responsibility in a student.  Some parents these days tend to intervene with astonishing regularity in high school affairs (academic, social, and otherwise) – this can certainly be counterproductive at the high school level, but it is extremely damaging at the college and university level.

At college, students are required to manage their academic affairs effectively with their professors and classmates.  They are required to be timely and reliable with their assignments, and to exhibit an appropriate level of integrity in their work.  There is no room for outside entanglements with parents at the college level, and it is the job of the student to manage these things properly.

High school (and even junior high school) are the perfect time to develop these skills and a high level of reliability and responsibility.  Teachers will appreciate the effort, certainly, and the level of stress for a family goes down considerably as high school students become more and more responsible as young adults.

We are huge proponents of students being responsible, not only academically, but also financially, which leads to our next tip…

LEARN FINANCIAL COMMON SENSE

Even the best-laid college financial plans can be completely and utterly destroyed if a brand new college student does not know have a clue about how to manage his or her money properly.  We have (unfortunately) seen this happen more times than we care to remember, so trust us when we say… this is vitally important!

Each and every year there are students – even gifted, intelligent students – who undermine their academic futures with a simple inability to manage a budget.  Bear in mind that there are plenty of adults who have similar problems, but for this reason it is all the more important for students to learn these skills in high school, or even well before that.

Students who can keep a budget will find that they are also able to function at the college level without the financial stress that plagues so many families during the years of higher education.  That can honestly, in and of itself, improve a grade point average pretty significantly!

There is also little doubt that being able to organize, plan, and stick to a budget demonstrates a level of maturity that spills over to academic work at the next level.  This is a skill, and it is something that can be learned… far too many schools no longer offer training in this, so if it is not available in your school district then it could be a very good idea to seek other resources to get these skills in place!  It will serve a student well both during his or her college education, and later in life, as well.

DEVELOP EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional intelligence may not be one of the standard skills taught in high school, but it is an incredibly important characteristic to have in one’s life – especially when entering the college years. Having a high emotional intelligence is something that should also be developed along with other parts of a child’s academic and extracurricular life.

The ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, not to mention the emotions of others, is not only crucial in interpersonal relationships and college success, it is also a vital life skill. When it comes down to it, we are all in relationships, and this reality expands dramatically throughout high school and into college and university experiences. Relationships need to be maintained and nurtured throughout our lives. Navigating emotions, self-awareness and an understanding of the motivations and emotions of others can be critically useful in business and interpersonally. It affects the choices a person makes and offers important tools that are important for any highly effective and inspirational leader.

While some believe you are born with a certain degree of emotional intelligence, it can also a set of skills that can (and should) be learned during the teen years. Just like any other type of knowledge, emotional intelligence can be learned and developed experience and personal interactions, which must be a part of the educational process.  Most importantly, emotional intelligence is a huge part of maturity – which is one of the key elements of success in college and beyond.

AND ONCE AGAIN… START EARLY!

When they say that it’s never too early to prepare your child for college, it is partially true. While showing a powerpoint slideshow of all of your personal top-tier colleges while your child is in the crib may seem like a good idea, that actually may be a *little* early. However, it IS a good idea to get a jump start on prepping your child for college at the beginning of his or her adolescence.

Adolescence is a great time because your child’s curiosity about the future is just beginning to blossom. Questions about life and the world can become topics of conversation for the average 10 or 11 year old. Colleges are interested in nurturing future leaders. If your child is curious about how the world works and what the future holds for him or her, then it is imperative to properly nurture that curiosity.

Recently, a group of incoming Ivy League freshmen were interviewed regarding preparing for the rigors of college, and also were asked to share what advice they had to share with younger students. The response was overwhelmingly, “start early.” Managing high school academics and activities can be difficult. Applying for college can be difficult. It is an advantage to start as early as possible getting acquainted with the process, helping your child establish clear goals, and finding help where it is needed.

Again, the ways that different families will go about instilling these skills and abilities in young people may vary significantly, but the proof is ultimately in the pudding, as they say.  The most important thing is that any college-bound student is able to function appropriately and successfully at the next level.  This builds a foundation for his or her future both during studies and afterward.

We have a keen interest in helping students and their parents to be well prepared in every way for the rigors and challenges inherent to higher education.  Because of this, we make it our business to provide appropriate educational and informational avenues that help families to be extremely well prepared for this important step.

Among our more exciting teaching options for this type of pertinent and timely information are our popular College Funding Workshops.  These live presentations are offered by certified College Funding Professionals and are targeted specifically to the parents of the college-bound high school students of today.  Attendees agree quite uniformly that these presentations offer a high yield of valuable information regarding the college funding details that families truly need in their college preparations.

We make it a point to schedule workshops so that parents are able to attend, even with work and other full schedules. We never charge an admission fee for workshop attendance, but for planning purposes and to prevent overcrowding we do require a reservation in advance.  For additional information, or if you wish to save a seat for an upcoming workshop, simply call our office (614) 934-1515.

We are convinced that our workshops are a great resource, but we are also aware that it is easier for some parents to learn about the basics for college funding preparation away from such a setting, for whatever reason.  Therefore, to make sure that the information is available readily to as many parents as possible, we also publish a written report covering similar information.  This publication also reviews the financial elements important for the families of today’s college-bound young people.

Our report is titled “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” and it is a consistently excellent and valuable resource for covering the basic elements regarding the financial requirements for college or university education.  For a no-obligation copy of the “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College” report, simply give our office a call at 614.934.1515.  We will be delighted to put a copy into the mail for you right away.

Until next month,

marc signature

 

How Procrastination Affects Admissions and Financial Aid

“Five Ways That Procrastination
Can Undermine Both College Admissions
And College Funding

Dear Parent,

One of the most important elements of college preparation – both for admissions and for college funding – is simply being prepared in advance for the process. Even the best-laid plans are not fail-safe if they are implemented too late in the game, and this is a reality that we see year after year, time and time again in this business. For this reason, we are constantly encouraging students and their families to start their college preparations early on, so that they can be best prepared for every eventuality.

There is no question that it is a big job, however, and this is probably one of the biggest reasons that people can tend to put off their action steps until deadlines approach – and as we have seen many times, at this point it is often simply too late to have a significantly positive effect on the outcomes of applications and financial preparations.

As college funding advisors who understand the ins and outs of the application and financial aid processes, we stand ready to serve families with college-bound kids, and we also know exactly what steps need to be taken at each stage of the high school years. The simple fact is that ignoring these steps early on can have a deleterious effect on a young person’s college opportunities, both through the admissions cycle and through the realities of college funding.

We have decided this month to share some of the pitfalls that can be avoided by proper planning and preparation in advance, in the hopes that more families will take the steps needed to avoid procrastination and create the best options for their child’s experience in higher education. The good news is that this sort of preparation, when undertaken properly, dramatically lowers the workload for both parents and students later in the high school years. The better prepared a family is for college, both academically and financially, the more options are available after high school – and the less they will stress out during the senior year of high school! Starting early is honestly not that difficult, if you know what you are trying to accomplish and what you are trying to avoid, so we urge you to have a look at these viable and vital reasons to avoid procrastinating college preparation.

Should you happen to have any questions, of course we are always ready to assist – because it is certain that procrastination of these important steps can definitely come back to bite a family later!

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Not Starting The Process Early Enough

When a child is born, to the minds of the parents he or she is perfect, and represents all the best possibilities in the world. At that time, however, it’s often difficult for new parents to imagine that in only 18 short years, that baby will be heading off to college. Planning early will be the best decision a parent can make concerning his college funding.

It is no secret that, in many areas, college costs are spiraling out of control and they are overwhelming to many parents. One of the first things that parents can do is calculate what they think will be needed for college for their child. This can give a rough estimate on what needs to be saved each month. However, it is a good idea to have some reasonable input from a knowledgeable source before planning with these numbers.

With that said, this amount is not hard and fast. It’s there to give an indication. The point is, parents should start planning as early as possible for college, and the best way to do that is through consultation with a College Funding Advisor. Frankly, most people do not start really working on this when their child is small, but it certainly can make a huge difference later.

As the old Chinese proverb goes, however “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago… the second best time is now.” So if you have a college bound child – now is the time to take some positive steps!

Not Strategically Moving Assets Soon Enough

Retirement assets will usually (hopefully!) take decades to deplete. However, college funding will usually be used up in a narrow time frame – usually within 5 years, unless graduate or professional school is involved. This shortened amount of time means that one does not have the flexibility to ‘ride it out’ in the event of a major market fluctuation like they would a regular retirement account. This is one big reason that there are different types of college funding options to consider.

When it comes to preparing your child for college, having access to educational funds is vitally important. Regular, high-risk investments might be able to tolerate the ups and downs when one does not need access to the money in the near future. However, it is a good idea to discuss college funding options with an expert to find options with the most stability. If one procrastinates then those funds may not be there when they are needed.

Waiting Too Long to Apply for Aid

Filling out the FAFSA is not exactly something any parent looks forward to. However, waiting too long to fill out these types of forms, or simply getting them turned in by the posted deadlines may be a serious mistake. Many schools have a much earlier deadline than FAFSA’s and that could make it impossible to qualify for most financial aid.

The FAFSA form takes approximately 30 minutes to fill out. It is a good idea to simply do it as soon as possible to avoid have any complications with acquiring aid for the coming school year. It is also something that should be discussed with an expert to make sure nothing is missed and all of the information is properly completed.

Comparing the deadlines for all of the colleges and universities your child is interested in applying for and making doubly sure that all of the financial information is ready to go when filling out the FAFSA will pay dividends if done early. Of course, that will also assume that parents need to have their taxes prepared and filed so that all of the information is ready and can be provided on the appropriate forms. Whatever you do, do not miss these deadlines!

Forgetting the FAFSA is Required Every Year

Just because parents have dutifully filled out the FAFSA one time does NOT mean all is well in that regard moving forward to the following years. Your child’s eligibility for financial aid from one year, unfortunately, will not necessarily carry over to the following year. Each year’s decision is based on new financial information, so the form must be filled out each and every year of college. Remember that family circumstances can change from year to year and those changes may affect eligibility.

If your child is still in college then a form will need to be filled out for the following year. It’s just as simple as that. On the good side, if you have a College Funding Advisor – then you also have a built-in reminder service!

Not Curbing Procrastination Habits Early

Procrastinating high school students almost invariably will become procrastinating college students. Habits take time to form and if procrastinating to get things done while in high school is how things were accomplished, there is a very reasonable worry that the same behavior will continue at the next level. High school is often demanding and rigorous, but not nearly as much as students will see in college. The college or university life lacks the automatic structure of parents, as well as attendance requirement from high school. Students who don’t show up to class and/or procrastinate doing their course work don’t just get a bad grade, they’re wasting a lot of money!

For this reason, it is vital to curb procrastinating ways sooner rather than later, and high school is the place to get that done. If distractions are a problem, find a space that is free from distractions. Create a place where your child can study that is calm and will allow him or her to focus without being tempted to turn on the TV or peruse the internet.

Staying focused, being disciplined and meeting deadlines is extremely important not just for getting into college, but for everything that will come after college!

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As you are aware, college financial planning and application services are the key elements of our efforts as college funding professionals. It is our overarching goal to help parents discover and implement the most beneficial strategies with regard to their personal circumstances, both financially and academically. This is the best way for us to optimize the college future of any young person who wants to attend college or university. We have found year after year that the best results come for families and students who have prepared themselves well ahead of the college game, so to speak.
One of our best educational options that we offer to the parents of college-bound high school students is found through attendance at our outstanding, live College Funding Workshop program. These workshops are presented live by some of the best college funding professionals anywhere. The presentations are offered via a special, face-to-face appearance to parents who wish to be better informed about the most important details regarding rules, regulations, and financial requirements related to their high school student’s academic future.
These workshops are invariably offered without any admission cost or obligation, and we make sure to plan the workshops at times that make sense for busy parents (including some evening and weekend options). However, please note that while there are no admissions charges for the workshops, we are dedicated to keeping each audience to a size that allows for a good learning environment. Because of this we do require advance reservations for admission, and we appreciate your understanding this condition.
For additional information with regard to College Funding Workshops coming up in your area, simply place a call to our helpful workshop team at 614.934.1515. They will be able to assist with the pertinent details about locations, schedules, and even some more details about the workshops themselves if you have any questions. Of course, they can also arrange a reservation for upcoming workshops, if you already know that you want to secure a seat for one coming up in your area.

For the latest information on college planning, admissions, and financial aid; follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Until next month,

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Searching for the Right College or University?

July 2019

“How To Find The Right College Or University

For Your Child…And His/Her Interests”

Dear Parent,

We hope that your summer is off to a terrific start for you and for your college-bound student. We are pleased in this month’s newsletter to focus on something that counts among the most exciting parts of the college preparation process. Yes, it is actually true – not ALL of the preparation for college is stressful! In fact, if you work with a good college funding advisor it can become an exciting and inspiring time, indeed.

With this in mind, we are pleased to provide you this month with some of our most valuable and helpful tips for selecting the optimal college or university for your child’s higher education experience. We have seen, through years of experience in the college application and funding processes, that many families seem to get a bit bogged down in what can become a highly competitive process, in a number ways.

It can be very easy for some students (and their parents) to focus in on such things as college rankings by news magazines, or the most competitive institutions, or even the old (and resoundingly ridiculous) debate regarding the inherent value of public and private schools. We are here to urge parents and high school students to make their college application decisions based on the things that truly matter… and also to be prepared both academically and financially, so that the best options available for a rising college freshman do not exceed the college budget!

There are some things that are undeniably important for the selection of a future alma mater – and then there are some other things that might seem important at the outset, but really matter very little in the long run. In addition, some of the things that might seem to influence a college decision in the early stages can actually turn out to lead a student away from his or her ideal program of study.

With that in mind, please review these important topics both now and as the time comes to decide on a college. They are important, and we see this each and every year in our work as college funding professionals – and remember that the selection of an application list (not to mention where your son or daughter actually attends school) are among the most important part of your family’s college preparation experience.

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Selecting The Right Kind of College

Finding the right college can seem overwhelming at first, but breaking down the criteria according to your child’s interests and strengths can make the task completely doable. One of the first criteria to consider is the type of college. Along with thousands of colleges and universities, there are also currently around 1,500 junior/community colleges in the United States, so there is certainly not a lack of options! A lot of the options will be determined, of course, by how well your child performed in high school, on entrance exams like the SAT or ACT, and other variables. Colleges and universities have the cachet and offer excellent training, but there are some instances where a good junior or community college can work out well for a student – while allowing him/her to complete core credits that will transfer to many 4-year institutions later.

At the 4-year school level, there are also decisions between liberal arts schools, specialized institutes, full universities, arts conservatories, and technological institutions. With that in mind, some vital questions to consider will be:

1. Does my child want to go to a four-year or a two-year college?
Now, if your child wants to only go to a 2-year college or community college, or begin there and continue at a 4-year school afterward, then they should understand that they will receive an associate’s (2-year) degree. At a four-year college, they will receive a bachelor’s (4-year) degree. Depending on what their plans are for after college, they should consider what will be most useful and marketable when they plan to enter the workforce. In general, of course, graduates with well-planned out careers will make more with a higher degree.

2. Does my child have special talents or interests influencing his/her college selection?
As seen above in the listing of different types of 4-year schools, there are options for kids who are gifted in a variety of fields, from the sciences to the arts and almost everywhere in between. Because of this, it is important to see where your child sees his/her future career, and to determine the best possible location for him/her to pursue a higher education to achieve these goals.

3. Does my child want to go to a private or a public college?
As we have noted above, this is often a moot point, even though the private college or public college decision is a difficult choice for many. Many parents and students rule private colleges out immediately out of hand because they believe them to be far more expensive than public colleges. However, this is not always the case. Many private colleges actually provide a great deal more aid than public ones due to their private funding and support from generous alumni, etc.

For this reason, it is important to do your homework and not necessarily exclude private colleges simply because of ‘sticker shock.’ Private colleges have the reputation of being more selective, as well. This is also not the case across the board. It really depends on the school and one shouldn’t limit their possibilities based on faulty assumptions. For this reason, it is important to look at the education being offered, and get a full story on the actual cost of attendance for each school – whether public or private. Remember also that your college funding advisor can help you get a complete breakdown of these actual costs.

Do NOT Underestimate The Location!

Location is a major consideration for many incoming students – and for their parents, as well. In fact, many students and their families may find that it is one of their main considerations. If this is the case, it does offer an easy way to narrow down options for colleges.

There are several things to consider when choosing a college location:

1. Does my child like an urban setting?
An urban setting can be a wonderful college experience for many reasons. If your child has an interest in culture, urban colleges offer a variety of cultural opportunities. There are many museums, theatres, orchestras, and galleries that can offer inspiration to any budding artist. Most colleges set in cities are spread out throughout the city so often the city is the campus. This can be exciting to students who like to experience the busy pace and offerings only found in a city environment.

2. Does my child prefer a suburban setting?
A suburban setting can be nearly ideal. It is usually close to a major metropolitan city, but not directly in it. There is access to outdoor activities and also opportunities to get to the city for other events. These colleges are usually self-contained which is nice for students who prefer to have a feeling of community within the college.

3. Does my child like to stay in a rural environment?
Rural colleges can provide a terrific college life for the incoming student. These campuses are often self-contained so one really gets a ‘feel’ of what the community and college feel like. If your child has an interest in agriculture, a rural college may be just the place for him or her. Outdoor activities are plentiful in rural colleges so if your child has a passion for the outdoors then a rural setting may be a good choice.

Choosing What to Study

Choosing a major is very important because it determines what your child’s primary educational focus will be. The nice thing to know is that there is (usually) no immediate rush to choose a major. Many incoming students believe that they need to have their major chosen prior to entering college. It’s simply not true! One can even change his or her major midstream if the need arises, although this can add to the length of study in many cases.

However, if your child needs some guidance to get started on thinking of his or her major, here are some questions to consider:

1. What are your child’s favorite subjects in school?
Does your child have a blast in math class? Does physics come easily to him or her? These are just some questions to mull over while your child is deciding on what major(s) to choose college. The classes where they show the most aptitude may also be ones they might want to pursue in college. If their aptitude and enthusiasm for the subject are aligned then moving in that direction for a major seems absolutely the right choice.

2. Does your child have an interest in different subjects?
The nice thing about college is that one does not have to focus entirely on one area. One can double major or do a major and a minor in two different areas. This is a great option for those students who have strong interests in different fields.

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Bearing these topics in mind as the high school years pass, and as your student begins to consider and research different colleges and universities, can help to make the process significantly less stressful. Looking at the things that really matter, and focusing on how to prepare your child to succeed at the next level, will also help to keep a lot of the background noise to a minimum. If you ever find that you are in need of insights or assistance along these lines, please remember that we as college funding and application experts not only will have proper answers, but we are always willing to help!
One of the ways that we directly help parents of college-bound students to learn more about the financial side of college education is through our live College Funding Workshops, which are presented by the best college funding professionals in the area. These presentations provide a tremendous service to those parents who are interested in managing the financial side of their student’s future at the college or university level.
We charge no admission fees for these workshops, but because of space limitations and our insistence on maintaining an optimal learning environment, we have found that we must require an advance reservation for attendance. For more information about College Funding Workshops coming up in your area, please call our workshop team at 614-934-1515. They are pleased to assist with any questions regarding scheduling, locations, and other workshop-related details. They can also help you make a reservation, if you already know that you would like to attend.
We are also pleased to inform you about our excellent published report for parents who wish to receive more information about how to best manage the ever-increasing costs of a college education. This report is called “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College” and it was written specifically with parents like you in mind. Similar to our in-person workshops, the report is also sent to parents without incurring any cost or other obligations. To receive your own personal copy of “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” just place a quick call our team at 614-934-1515 and they will be more than happy to send one out to you immediately. Thanks for your interest!

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Until next month,

Extracurriculars & College Success

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Organized, Extracurricular College Prep Activities:     

What Are The Options?

 

Dear Parent,

The parents of college-bound high schoolers can sometimes find themselves dealing with uncertainty when it comes to preparing for the college years… and as college funding professionals we are fully aware that the subject can often feel like a somewhat overwhelming one.  This is true regardless of how early a family begins to manage the overall process.  Of course, the day-to-day realities, requirements, and overall importance of schoolwork, activities, and grades are usually pretty clear, at least when it comes to the basics.  But what about extracurricular activities for optimizing college preparation?

Well, there are definitely many options out there for families.  The simple fact, however, is that not all of them are created equally – some may be very helpful, others could be marginally worthwhile, and many others could be a waste of time and money.  Remember that most parents are very interested in the future of their children, and often willing to invest heavily in the process of creating improving their advantages, and this creates an enormous market offering all sorts of “college-prep” opportunities.

The fact is that it is important to evaluate which activities are going to bring a lasting positive effect for the child, and also to remember that each student has a different and unique set of abilities, talents, and needs that should be addressed.  Because of this, it is nearly impossible to make blanket recommendations for students who wish to attend college after they graduate from high school.  What might make a great difference for one kid could be essentially worthless for another.

For this month’s newsletter, we are pleased to present some of the extracurricular college prep options that could be worth considering for your child.  They are, after all, EXTRA-curricular.  Nothing is mandatory in this regard, but some of them could be helpful.  Costs will vary from almost nothing to rather significant, so consider all of the options available!  Remember also, if you have questions about these activities – or any others that you might come across – please feel free to give us a call.  Our years of experience in this field can offer information that is not always available to parents, and it is a pleasure for us to share insights about college preparation activities and college funding details.

College Preparation Camps

One of the most enjoyable ways for some students to prepare for college is by heading to a college prep camp. These types of college camps are plentiful, can have a variety of areas of interest, and they are a wonderful opportunity for kids to gather together with other like-minded future college students and learn all about getting into college.  Some kids go once, some go more than once, and of course some never go at all.

Many of these camps offer classes around personal statement writing, SAT/ACT prep, and finding the right college. These camps are often located in beautiful and scenic areas. While there are classes offered, there are still many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and have fun. The students get to work hard and play hard.

There are also pre-college enrichment camps. These camps are focused on giving high school students the ‘college experience.’ These camps are located on various college campuses. The camps give students a chance to see what it will like to live on a college campus. This can make the transition from home life to college life a lot easier.

In addition to getting a ‘feel’ for a college, students can discover what different cities are like. These type of enrichment camps are provided by colleges large and small and all over the country. Your child would get to know what it was like to manage a big city or see what a smaller town might have to offer.

Another advantage is that students can meet other students from all over the world.

University Tours/Visits

College prep is certainly not all studying for SATs and essay writing. One of the most exciting aspects of preparing for college is getting to visit the campuses of prospective colleges and universities. This is the ideal opportunity to learn first-hand what the university your child may attend is really like. Here are some tips to make the most of a university or college campus visit:

  • Don’t wait to discuss it – College may seem like it is a long-away goal for many, but it comes much more quickly than we think. The high school years are busy, full of activities and studying. Schedules fill up fast. Begin to discuss early on where your child might like to go to college. It can begin as early as elementary school.
  • Make it a two for one – Taking time out to visit colleges can be costly and time-consuming. If you are planning a family vacation, maybe schedule in a road trip that could cover visiting several colleges at the same time. This would allow you to have some relaxing downtime, but would also provide the opportunity to visit some campuses that are on your child’s list.
  • Leverage the internet – It may not be physically and financially possible to visit all the campuses in which your child may have interest. That’s ok! You can do virtual tours of many colleges. While it’s not as good as the real thing, it’s a very valuable tool to get a look at what campuses look like and what they have to offer.
  • Chat it up with other students – While on a campus visit, find a student who would be willing to sit down and answer questions about the college or university. Students currently attending a school are an extremely valuable resource. It may also be worth your while to speak to several different students. As we are all individual, one person’s experience may not fully reflect what the university or college is all about it. It would be a good idea to gather several different perspectives.
  • Reach out to different departments – Your child may already know what s/he would like to study while in college. This is a great opportunity to get a closer look at the school or department in which s/he will be spending most of his/her time. You could even ask if it would be all right to sit in on a lecture. Many professors would have no problem at all with it.
  • Check out student life – The student center and cafeteria may be place where your child will spend a good amount of time. It’s a good idea to check out both places to see what they offer and if it’s a place where your child would be comfortable.
  • Security – Campus safety is an issue on every college or university campus. You can ask to find out what campus safety measures are in place. It is imperative that students feel safe, so it is a good idea to learn whether or not campus safety is given the full attention it deserves.
  • Visit the financial aid office – Ask to make an appointment with a financial aid officer. You could also go in with a list of prepared questions. Each school offers different types of aid so it’s worth your while to sit down with a financial aid advisor to find out what sorts of options would be available to your child.
  • Check out the campus paper – Each college has a campus paper. This is a fun and easy way to get to know a college better. You will get to know what issues are currently being discussed on campus and what areas are most important to the students.
  • Take a lot of pictures – You may want to put your amateur photographer skills to the test when visiting a college campus. There are so many things to see and it’s nearly impossible to remember them all. Taking a lot of pictures will give you the visual reminders of what you liked about that particular college or university.

Internships

Once your child is in school, s/he will have to take a lot of classes towards a degree that will put them on the path of their career. However, if your child already knows (or has a pretty good idea) what s/he would like to do right now, an internship can be an excellent way to discover the ins and outs of an industry first hand.  It can also be a great leg up when applying for specialized college or university programs later.

There are different types of internships, as well. Some are paid and some are not. It really depends on the industry and the particular company or organization. Getting an up close and personal perspective on how certain businesses are run will be extremely valuable to your child as s/he decides which career path best suits him or her.

Internships can also add a lot of weight to a college application. Acquiring and completing an internship shows prospective colleges that your child is motivated and disciplined. These are seen as valuable characteristics to any college admissions officer.

While many internships are available to college students, high school students can still find opportunities. A quick internet search can provide resources to different industries and areas where your child might find a position.

 

When looking at the above options – and many others targeted toward college-bound high school kids – it is important to look at all of the individual variables before making a decision as to what it right for your child.  We operate the same way.  We make college financial and application services the foundation of our work, and help families prepare for the best college options based on all of the important academic, personal, and financial details.  This requires us to make personalized education the core of our activities.

Among our most popular educational activities for parents are our in-person College Funding Workshops, offered by experienced college funding professionals.  These workshops serve as an excellent way for parents to become informed regarding financial preparation and the diverse requirements related to their child’s academic future at the next level.

The live workshops are free of any admission cost, and we make sure to schedule them at times that will work for most parents.  However, because of space requirements and optimal group learning size, we do require an advance reservation for those who would like to attend.  For more details about upcoming College Funding Workshops in your area, or to make a reservation, please call our helpful workshop team at 614.934-1515.

Aside from the workshops, we also publish a helpful report covering the details surrounding funding for higher education.  This report was prepared and updated specifically for the parents of college-bound students and is a great resource for an understanding of the current college financial situation.  The report is called “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” and like the workshops, it is also free of any obligation.  To receive a copy of “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” our staff members will be happy to help you at 614.934.1515. They will be able to place a copy of it into the mail for you right away.  Thank you for your interest!

Until next month,
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