We would like to wish a Happy New Year to you and your family… we hope that this coming year of 2023 is one of great success and happiness, and that there are many opportunities for you to take great strides toward accomplishing the academic dreams of your college-bound high school student.
Of course, each new year brings your child closer and closer to the day when he or she will graduate from high school and head off to an exciting new life as a college or university freshman… and time certainly does not seem to be slowing down at this stage of the process! If anything, as we work with tomorrow’s college students, it seems that things are speeding up exponentially as we do so.
One of the things that we have noticed over our years in this field of college preparation is that the students and families that tend to see the most success are often the students and families who grasp the importance of organization as they approach high school performance, college application, college financial preparation, and nearly every other element of the higher education process.
Now, rest assured, we are fully aware that some people just seem to have an “organizational gene” and they thrive on having everything “just so…” and other people are more challenged in that regard. Honestly, it is our experience that this sort of predisposition can be a benefit, but in the long run it really does not matter – as long as students and families can follow instructions and have a desire to make the right steps, organizational skills CAN be taught… and learned! We see it each and every year.
Along those lines, we have a series of tools in place to help with the organizational elements of college preparation and application, and we are definitely the experts in helping families with the management of these important tasks as well as preparing financially for the college years. But why do we bother?
We bother because it matters to us. The future success of your college-bound student, as well as the ability of your family to be able to make these dreams happen financially, are precisely the things that make the difference in everything that we do as college funding advisors. It is what we do.
Bearing that in mind, this month’s newsletter will focus specifically on the importance of organization in college preparation at all levels, both academic and with applications, as well as introducing some of the things that we make available to help families of all types to be optimally prepared for the coming realities of college application and college financial preparation. We hope that this will be a key in either cementing your resolve to organize the process, or to spark your interest in making it a reality for your family and your student.
1. Organizational Skills In High School
Ideally, tomorrow’s college students should start developing some excellent organizational skills during the high school years. Now, we know that some parents (OK… many parents) will take a look at the state of their child’s bedroom and shrink away in despair at that idea, but let us remind you that it is a PROCESS, and developing these organizational skills takes some time for many young people. The most important thing is that it happens, and this can be a huge benefit academically and in their future college career.
For most students, seeing a modicum of increased success by planning a project well helps to instill a desire to continue in that vein… even if it is not always consistent at the outset. A series of rewards and assistance in the process can make a big difference early on, and the results will begin to speak for themselves. Once a college-bound student – who is usually interested in his or her Grade Point Average – can see what organizing a project does for the end result, it can serve as a huge motivating factor.
There is no one correct way to organize high school academics. Some people swear by technology and smart phones. Others prefer to use a more old-school method of writing in a notebook or planner. It really does not matter which way works best for your child, as long as the process is in place. Regardless, the main thing is that the overall process gets started, and that the positive results instill a desire for increased organization.
Remember that most students who can slide by with decent (or even very good) grades in high school while procrastinating often find that such actions have a rather dire effect on their academic performance at the next level of their education… so help your student to start now, the earlier the better.
2. Organizing The College Application Process
This is an organizational effort that far too many families do not think about until they are knee deep in the process, and trying to dig themselves out of a confusing mess! Going into the college application season without an organizational plan can be frustrating, yes, but it can also actually be disastrous.
All it takes is one missed deadline at a dream school to actually submarine a student’s acceptance or financial aid offer, and we are sorry to report that this literally happens each and every year. Imagine a student working so hard and diligently for four years of high school, and then having a dream crash and burn because of something as silly as a missed deadline! For this reason, as well as several others, we seriously recommend having a separate application calendar for the management of the entire college application process – and it should be one of those large-sized wall calendars, ideally.
It is also important for students to have an organized application strategy, so that he or she is applying to the best schools for his or her interests, background, goals, and personality. All of these types of details are available to students, but they can only be optimally managed in advance when you work with an expert who knows the process, the specifics about each school that interests your child, and their admissions statistics. Obviously, as professionals in this area, we are uniquely well-equipped in this regard and are happy to assist with the organizational elements of college application.
Having a well-managed application process can actually lead to more acceptances, and it can help families to obtain the very best financial aid offers, as well. It really does make a difference.
3. Successfully Managing The Money Side Of Things
The bulk of the financial preparation for higher education naturally usually falls to the parents, since very few high school kids are able to fund a college education on their own and most forward-thinking parents want to help their children to stay out of student debt as much as possible. With this reality in mind, it is absolutely vital for parents to start their organization of finances with an eye toward college costs as early as possible.
Some parents (or grandparents, for that matter) will start a college funding account for a child at a very young age, and some families even manage to save some money in that account over the years leading up to high school. Many, alas, do not. But regardless, this is NOT the kind of organization that we are talking about when we discuss college funding organization. The subject is far too detailed and multi-faceted (not to mention, too expensive) to be effectively managed with a simple savings account!
We keep our fingers on the pulse of the ever-changing college funding scene and are uniquely qualified to help families manage their fiscal decisions in the years leading up to college to optimize their efforts. And yes, ideally, we mean in the years (plural) leading up to college. While we are able to help families from almost any circumstance, even later in the game, our hands are definitely somewhat tied when parents do not decide to plan until the last year of high school. By that point, many of the tried-and-true options available to families are no longer available. So yes, in this case, the early bird gets the worm… or at least, access to more worms.
With that in mind, we can detail the best options available to parents, and help them to organize these efforts to maximum effect as the college years approach. An organized and knowledgeable strategy is the most effective way for a family to prepare for the college years, and we are able to detail each step of the process so that there is no need to feel overwhelmed. Simply contact us at your convenience and we can show you how.
If parents and students are willing to take the steps necessary to organize themselves in preparation for the future college and university experience, they will often find that they are much more successful in their endeavors than those people who did not do so. As students approach their application process, we have a number of services available to help them select schools for which they are ideally suited, as well as assisting them in organizing and managing the entire process from application to admission letter.
Until next month,