College

Planning for your Child’s Financial Success

“Key Ways To Avoid

College Debt And Protect Your

Student’s Future Financial Health

 

Dear Parent,

There are many important tasks that we take on whenever we work with the family of a future college student – but one of the overarching goals that we have for each and every aspiring young person is to allow them to complete their college education without incurring student debt.  It is not an exaggeration for us to state that accomplishing this goal for a new college graduate can literally alter the financial trajectory of their young lives as they begin their pursuits and professions as adults.

There is no question that student debt is increasing to staggering amounts for an enormous amount of college students – often the case whether these students graduate or not, remember, because the debt does not disappear if a student drops out of college – and this can have a sobering effect on young people who are just getting started in life.

We focus on this because we have seen how proper planning with regard to the financial aspect of college preparation can save both college students and their parents from incurring unnecessary debt, even at “expensive private schools.”  A debt-free start to a career post-college is quite seriously one of the most important advantages that we can offer to a young person, and it is becoming less and less frequent these days.

College debt is now being viewed by far too many people as a “normal part” of the educational process, and far too many families think nothing of racking up tens of thousands of dollars (or even more than that!) in pursuit of a college degree.  We could not disagree more!  There ARE ways to avoid college debt, and doing so allows for a freedom and a brighter future that is sorely lacking for many new college graduates these days.

Because of the importance of this task, we have decided to devote this month’s newsletter to some of the many opportunities and strategies that we employ wherever and whenever possible to specifically help students and their families avoid student debt while they complete their years of higher education.  Of course, the individual situations can be extremely different for each family, depending on a vast variety of considerations, so when it comes to avoiding college debt there is really no better partner than a college funding advisor… your resident expert on all details related to the management college costs.

Old Fashioned Savings

There is something to be said for all of those students who take the initiative to work during the summer vacation – or even during the school year in some cases – in order to save up money for their future college education.  Perhaps surprisingly, aside from obviously applauding their excellent work ethic and forethought regarding college preparation, the other thing that is to be said is: BE CAREFUL!

Yes, even with something as seemingly benign as saving money for college, students need to be aware and recognize that they really need to obtain good advice and keep a close eye on their savings.  This is because there are actually strict federal limitations on the amount of money that a student can earn and put away toward college before it begins to adversely affect their eligibility for college financial aid!

There are many, many good things that can come from being willing to work and save for college.  The lessons that can be learned from that experience can play a huge role in their future successes later on in life.  But we urge you to confer with a qualified college funding advisor so that you know how much of their hard-earned savings can go toward college, so as to avoid disappointment later.

«Good» Financial Aid

Student financial aid sometimes can get a bad reputation in some circles when people only focus on the student loan side of things.  Well, as we mentioned above, student loans for college are something that we very purposefully aim to avoid! However, it is important to understand that there are many different elements to student financial aid and they are NOT all detrimental to the future money management of a young college student.

Without sugar-coating things, student loans are, quite simply, loans… which means that these funds need to be paid back after college graduation (with interest, as well).  The fact that student loans are so prevalent in America does not in any way mean that they are a good idea!    In July federal student loan rates will increase to 5.05% for undergraduate loans and 7.6% for the parent plus loans.

On the other hand, student aid in the form of grants are what we like to call «free money» because they DO NOT need to be repaid after graduation.  Grants may be given to a student for a variety of reasons ranging from financial need, to the encouragement of higher education among certain groups, to students who are service veterans, etc.  The amount of money can vary, sometimes substantially, but regardless, they do not need to be repaid!

Scholarships are another – perhaps better-known – form of «free money» that are offered to a student directly because of his or her high performance and/or promise in academics, athletics, the arts, or other areas.  Like grants, they also can vary in size from relatively small sums (which still look great on a resumé, by the way) to the so-called «full-ride» scholarships which cover all – or nearly all – costs!

While grants and scholarships are great, and it is gratifying to receive one or more of them, the simple fact is that most students will find that it is NOT possible to fully fund their college education based on these sources of « gift aid ».  Because of this, it is extremely important to look at all of the college funding options available in order to avoid racking up student debt during the college years.

Work-Study Programs

Some students are scared away from «Work-Study» programs either because they are afraid that they will have no life away from class and an on-campus job, or because they have heard some (usually unsubstantiated) rumors about students being forced to work at terrible jobs at their college or university.

In actuality, there can be some truly inspiring and exciting options available to students who are willing to look for them.  Work-Study is a program that offers students financial aid based on their willingness to work on campus in some capacity.  Students who start the process early enough can find work options in departments that are of great interest to them, which can lead to experience in their area of study, not to mention valuable working interactions with faculty members and professors.

Even those who come later to the process and accept more menial positions will often find that the hours are flexible (or sensibly planned) and that a part-time job can be a great opportunity to have a regular, temporary escape from the stressors of college… and one that helps to keep them out of student debt, to boot !

Family Financial Foresight

One of the most important ways for students and their families to avoid student debt is by implementing a solid and well-thought-out financial plan – preferably as early as possible – with the insight of a college funding advisor.

A college funding professional can help with all aspects oft he college application and funding process, including the optimized planning of financial decisions – because remember, these decisions, many of which will not seem to have anything to do with college at all – will directly affect aid determinations in the future.

Determining a timeline for college applications and admissions can also help with the overall (and ever-increasing) cost of the admissions process, and a similar timeline covering major financial decisions and management can literally save families thousands of dollars within a very short period of time.

Because of this, we always recommend seeking insights from someone who knows all of the details surrounding the college process best, and someone who specializes directly in these areas.  We have seen it pay dividends and assist in the fulfillment of college dreams time and time again, so there is no question in our minds that it is an important step to take.  We certainly urge the families of future college students to begin early with this all-important process, regardless of current circumstances !

Now, some of the details in this month’s newsletter regarding the avoidance of college debt could apply directly to your family’s finances or your student’s circumstances.  By the same token, others may not.  For more personalized details, of course, we are pleased to provide individual help that is tailored to your needs, as well as the future academic pursuits of your high school student(s)… wherever they might lead.

While we are quite proud of these monthly newsletters, the simple fact is that the newsletters are far from the ONLY way that we reach out to help the parents of college-bound kids when it comes to the nuts and bolts of financial management for higher education.  Another popular option for many parents involves attendance at our live College Funding Workshops, which are delivered by some of the best college funding professionals around.

These presentations are specifically tailored to the needs of parents who are seeking a greater understanding of the often-confusing financial preparations for their child’s upcoming efforts in higher education.  We are also proud to report that the information provided at these workshops is up-to-date with regard to any of the yearly changes in college funding requirements, because we stay right on top of these details each and every cycle.

Our workshops are offered without any attendance fee or obligation for those who attend, but we do require a reservation in advance in order to manage our logistics and keep the attendance to a reasonably sized group.  To receive more details about any of the upcoming College Funding Workshops scheduled near you, simply place a call to our helpful workshop staff members.  You can reach them by dialing 614-934-1515.  They will be able to help with details about times, dates, locations, or any other questions about upcoming workshops.  They will also be happy to assist with reservations, of course.

In addition, we offer a key report that is published for parents seeking the vital information about optimal preparation for future college funding.  Our report is called “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College” and our team is instructed to mail it to parents free of any cost or obligation – just like the workshops.  If you would like your own copy of “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” contact our staff at 614-934-1515.  It will be our pleasure to send one to you directly.

Until next month,

Considering Distance & Environment in College Search

 

“Location… Location… Location…

The Pros (and Cons) of Distance and

Environment at YOUR Child’s College

 

March, 2018

Dear Parent,

There are a number of considerations that play a role in the overall cost of any student’s higher education, and these can range from the obvious (tuition, room and board, etc.) to the less apparent (student activity fees, the every increasing cost of textbooks, etc.).  As College Funding Advisors we frequently see some elements of college that tend to creep up on families’ time and time again, as well as some that can play a distinct part in determining how well an individual student adapts to college life.

One of the things that we see over and over again is that each rising college student is a distinct individual with specific needs and strengths – a school that might be perfectly suited for one student could turn out to be an extremely poor choice for another student, even if all other variables (like GPA, standardized test scores, etc.) are equal.  Because of this, it behooves families to make wise decisions when it comes to selecting a college or university, basing their choice not on external influences – such as this year’s ranking in a news magazine – but on the school’s actual overall “fit” with the individual student him/herself.

Of course, all students should seek out the best possible institutions to apply to for their educational future, but there are far more things that determine “best” than simply magazine rankings, which may be based on statistics that have no real bearing on the education at all.  One of the things that we pride ourselves on is the ability to see beyond the superficial rankings to find the real best programs, institutions, and “fit” for each high school graduate with whom we are privileged to work.

One of the major considerations when looking at a list of potential colleges and universities – and one that some families simply do NOT pay enough attention to – is the geographical location of the school with relation to home.  This can be a huge factor in not only the overall cost of a year’s education, but also in the individual ability of a student to perform as a freshman beginning his or her higher education.

Because of the importance of this consideration, we are keying this month’s newsletter on some of the ways that distance from home – both near and far – can play an enormous role in college funding and adjusting to the first year after high school.  There are no hard and fast rules for this decision, it is something that each student must be able to decide intelligently with his or her family.  We hope that these guidelines can offer a bit of insight in that regard.

Consideration 1: Travel Expenses

Depending on where a student decides to attend school, just getting to campus can cost a significant amount of money.  A kid from the Pacific Northwest who decides to attend college in Florida, for example, will be looking at a costly airfare to and from the Sunshine State… and that assumes one round trip ticket, usually each semester, with no trips home during the academic year.  This may not be a problem in some cases, but depending on cash flow and emergency situations, just one trip home can definitely be a budget-breaker.

However, even a school that is closer to home can have hidden costs, especially if a student wants to drive (or take the bus, etc.) “just a couple of hours” home on several weekends per semester.  Gas prices can take a significant toll on a semester budget, especially if friends are going to be frequently visited – this is often a temptation when college is relatively close to home, so communication and boundaries are a must.

Another hidden cost that seems to crop up with some regularity is the additional tuition and fees for international programs or study abroad, which many institutions have set up with partner schools in Europe, Asia, South America, and elsewhere.  These are exciting and highly rewarding opportunities, to be sure, but the travel costs alone can be daunting if a strict budgetary guideline has already been set without considering such additional expenses.  Because of this, any college students who wish to take advantage of foreign study (or even partner university programs in the United States) should plan these out well in advance so that the financial elements can be included beforehand.

As long as plans are made in advance – preferably with some wiggle room worked in, and we can assist with that if need be – then there is usually no need to fear travel costs.  But our experience advises parents to remember them, and plan for them, or else they can very quickly become quite a bear!

Consideration 2: Living Expenses

Living far from home can definitely add to the overall cost of living for students who are starting at college. Yes, most schools will require freshman students to live on campus, and the set costs of room and board can appear to freeze costs at a (hopefully) manageable level.  Without a set budget, however, and the willingness and self-discipline to follow it, things can very quickly spiral out of control.  Students who are far from home will sometimes find it difficult to socialize without including food in the equation, which in and of itself is fine.  However, the fact remains that eating out is expensive and it can shoot a large hole in a semester budget.

Truth be told, however, there remains some question in our minds about whether college students who live at (or near) home and take advantage of their parents’ refrigerator are actually saving them a whole lot of money, but it is almost always less expensive than nightly splurging on pizza or other take-out foods.  The cost of living for students who live at home and attend a college nearby is almost always significantly less expensive overall than for students who are at a college even a few towns away, let alone studying in another part of the country.  However, college students who live at home during their higher education may sometimes feel that they are not having the “full college experience” so there are considerations to look at on both sides of the equation.

Remember also that costs of living can vary substantially depending on where a student’s college is located.  A university in the heart of New York City, for example (or any other large, expensive metropolis) will almost certainly have a much higher cost of living than a college located in a more rural location, even if tuition is the same at both institutions.  Of course, this does not automatically make the more expensive school a worse decision – there are far more elements that are included in making that sort of a determination – but geographical cost of living is definitely something that must be taken into serious consideration early in the college preparation process, in order to allow for optimized college financial planning.

Consideration 3: Homesickness

It is not always easy to tell in advance whether or not a new college freshman will experience a lot of homesickness during their first semester (or academic year) away.  In some cases, students have no interest at all in straying too far from the nest, and in other cases students cannot wait to spread their wings and head off into the great wild yonder!  (Of course, it is not uncommon to see that some of the students who were very anxious to get away can also experience homesickness, too.)

Students who stay at home to attend college are generally pretty immune from the homesickness bug, of course, but we have noted that even students who are staying on-campus at a college across town – or in another part of the same state – can find themselves missing a home cooked meal, or the faces of their friends and family from time to time.  A closer location makes remedying these bouts of homesickness with a quick weekend visit much more manageable, both with regard to time and expense.

On the other hand, it cannot be overlooked that college students today have access to communication options that previous generations could never have imagined.  A student who is studying thousands of miles from home – or even in another country – can Skype with family members and friends in an instant and overcome some of the challenges of homesickness at minimal cost.

The most important thing when looking at the potential costs of dealing with homesickness during college is communication and a realistic view of what will manage the challenge, should it arise.  If this is done in a sensible and honest manner, then most cases of homesickness can be dealt with without having any long-term deleterious effects on a student’s college career – or the semester budget.

Consideration 4: College Environment

It is absolutely vital that a potential college or university should fit with the lifestyle and interests of a student – because no matter HOW well a school is ranked or viewed socially, if it does not fit the needs, lifestyle, and interests of the student, there is almost zero chance that the school can provide the best education possible for that young person.

There are wonderful schools in enormous cities that can offer great opportunities to students, but if a young person is best suited to a bucolic, small college atmosphere then that BNU (“Big Name University”) might not be the best environment for his or her higher education.  This can also be the case when it comes to specific fields of study.  Some very prestigious universities might only offer a middle-of-the-road education in a certain major, whereas a smaller school could be at the very top of the field, but only truly recognized by insiders and decision makers in that arena.

These are hugely important considerations, and the physical environment, academic offerings, and even the weather can all play a part in the overall success (or failure, for that matter) of college students.  We encourage parents and students alike to discuss their preferences, their goals, and their aspirations with us as seasoned College Funding Advisors to help make the best decisions possible!

In addition to our monthly newsletters, like this one, we also aim to assist parents of high school students in learning more about fiscal preparation for the college years. One of our most popular offerings is our live College Funding Workshops.  These workshops, which offer in-person interaction with the brightest college funding professionals around, offer a tremendous service to those who wish to understand the financial elements of their child’s higher education.  The workshop information current and extremely helpful, and we are proud to make it available!

Our workshops are available with no entrance fee, however we do need to have reservations from attendees in order to plan and keep each workshop group to a manageable size.  If you have questions about a College Funding Workshop in your area, our staff members can be reached toll-free at 614-934-1515.  These helpful team members can help you with any information about upcoming locations, dates, times, or any additional workshop queries.  Of course, they can also assist with reservations for those who are interested.

Additionally, we offer a special written report for families seeking the most up-to-date information about planning for college finances.  We have published this report, called “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College” in order to make it available without cost or obligation.  We deem this information to be that important.  If you would like to receive a free copy of “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” call our staff at 614-934-1515 and we can place one in the mail to you without delay

Until next month,

 

 

 

Hidden Costs of College Revealed

                                                                          January 2018       

“The Hidden Costs of College

That Many People Rarely Seem to Talk About!

With the holidays in the rearview mirror and a new calendar year beginning, there are plenty of folks who are spending a little time focusing on plans and changes for the New Year.  Whether you are engaging in some resolutions or not, we find that it is a good idea each year to expend some effort in planning for and understanding all of the details surrounding your child’s future educational endeavors.  Again, it is our experience that the earlier one begins this process, the better things seem to work out in the long run!

We are the professionals when it comes to understanding and preparing for higher education, from application plans and college selection, to fiscal preparation and cost-saving plans for the college students of tomorrow.  This is what we focus on day in, and day out, and it gives us great professional pride and satisfaction to help families tackle such an important step in the lives of their children.

One of the biggest surprises that seems to blindside a lot of parents (and their college-bound kids) is a breakdown of the overall costs of college these days.  It is no secret that tuition costs are rising, and with the increase in cost of living the total bill can be something that puts a large lump into a lot of parents’ throats, no matter how much money their family takes home in salary each year.

However, completing that college or university degree is an important goal, so it is vital to have a keen grasp on the overall costs so that proper and sufficient preparation can be made in advance.  Let there be no doubt about it, paying for college these days represents a significant financial challenge, and it is important to understand all of the potential costs in advance, so no huge surprises crop up later.

In an effort to help families prepare, we are focusing this month’s newsletter on some groups of education costs that tend to really add up during the college years, although we find that some families either grossly underestimate (or even sometimes completely overlook) them in looking ahead to their child’s years pursuing higher education.

We recognize these things because we see them regularly as college funding experts – and if our experience can assist with your family’s personal college funding circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.  We have managed this type of monumental event in other families’ lives, and we can proffer the most suitable information for your family’s college preparations, as well.

Group 1: Living Expenses

Yes, of course, most people are quite well aware that there are living expenses at most colleges and universities (while places like the military service academies are a rare exception, for example).  However, what can be surprising is just how quickly these costs can add up – especially when a college student changes living circumstances between semesters or academic years, as an example.

It simply does not take very long at all for costs like off-campus rent, restaurant or take-out food costs, mobile phone bills, and others to add up and put a serious strain on the semester budget.  Remember that schools will give an estimated cost for living expenses, but these estimations can vary wildly in their accuracy and their expectations, which may or may not represent those of your family and/or your student.  Your list of expenses may not match up with the school’s anticipated list of expenses, and it is infrequent that the differences work out to the advantage of the parents, in our experience!

Of course, the school has direct control over the costs for a dorm or apartment on campus, and the on campus cafeteria food plans are also not going to come as a surprise to those in charge at the college or university, since they are part of the organization making the price lists.  But wow, once you start factoring in off-campus or unrelated expenses?  Well, that is one time when things can certainly start to add up to real money in a hurry.

For this reason, any changes in living arrangements during the undergraduate years should be gone over extremely carefully, and not made in haste if it is at all avoidable.  Budgets are generally set in advance for an academic year, so making a change between terms or semesters can also create some unintended – but very real – challenges with the cash flow.  Regardless, remember that a chat with your college funding advisor can be extremely helpful when it comes to reviewing and planning for the full spectrum of living expenses at your child’s college or university of choice – and any changes that may come around during the college years, as well.

Group 2: Direct Academic Costs

We hope this does not come as a surprise, but no… tuition costs are not the ONLY academic fees involved in higher education!  Yes, it is the largest one in most cases, but there are a number of additional potential costs that can wreak havoc with the finances if they are not reviewed in advance and taken into full consideration.

Students who are interested in studying the sciences, or taking a series of pre-medical coursework, especially classes with extensive laboratory components, will find that “Lab Fees” are added to the regular tuition costs.  Even students who are only taking a required science class as a graduation requirement will often find Lab Fees or other course fees tacked on to their tuition bill.  Schools have to calculate in extra costs for lab materials and lab instructors for these types of courses, and they pass those costs directly on to the consumer… meaning, the student!

Students who find themselves having challenges in a certain area may also wish to avail themselves of outside tutoring, which is usually at an additional cost to tuition, as well.  Some schools will have peer tutoring available, which is great in principle, but the quality of the academic help can vary substantially depending on who is available.

Group 3: Extracurricular Costs

Many universities and colleges offer a wide variety of outside educational activities for their students, which can be absolutely wonderful opportunities for learning, growth, development, and even future careers and job options.  Many of these optional activities also can tend to significantly drive up the overall costs for a student while in college, as well.

A few of these options can be exchange programs with other universities, foreign language immersion programs (in a foreign country, with program and travel and living costs!), special training options at industry or government programs, etc.  Clubs and other organizations will also add to the costs for a semester or academic year, sometimes quite substantially, so these things need to be discussed in advance whenever possible.

With this type of expenditure in mind, it is important to look ahead and see what offerings might be of interest to your child during his or her studies – both in the classroom and outside of the study hall – especially considering his or her interests, and try to plan for these types of costs in the academic budget.

Group 4: Unnecessary Costs!

Yes, it is true… the very presence of this group in our newsletter DOES mean that there are costs that many people pay for higher education that are completely and utterly unnecessary.  Often, these costs are due to poor planning or incomplete preparation, and the assistance of a college funding professional can make all of the difference in that regard.  Here are a few examples of frequent costs that people take upon themselves that could be avoided in many, many of the cases we see.

Paying for extra terms, semesters, or even years of tuition, for example, is almost always something that can be avoided with proper planning and focused student performance.  However, the average time that students spend in their undergraduate studies seems to be extending well beyond four years pretty regularly, which means that the schools are able to sock away more and more tuition from students who could have (and very often should have) graduated long ago.  As long as they can keep filling the classes, of course, the schools will usually be happy to keep taking tuition money!

Unbudgeted recreational costs can add up in a hurry, and we have seen cases where undisciplined students have blown substantial college funds on their “social life” and literally run out of money before the end of a term or semester.  Preparation is key, and it is important to include (and follow!) a budget with money for recreation planned into the overall cost.

Even costs like food can come back to unnecessarily bite students (and their parents) later, if a student does not have a well-organized food plan at the college level – there is a huge difference between a pre-paid, on-campus plan with the cafeterias, and unmanaged spending on take-out Thai food and pizzas, so there must be an understanding and a realistic plan in place to avoid running up a food bill that decimates the financial plan for the whole academic year.

Understanding all of the expected costs helps families prepare in ways that can avoid the unnecessary hits to the wallet that many others will experience.  We are well-versed in these issues and will be pleased to assist you should you so desire – just let us know if we can help out in any way!

Aside from our monthly newsletters, one way that we try to help the parents of college-bound high school students understand more about financial preparation for college is through our excellent, live College Funding Workshops.  These presentations, including face-to-face interactions with some of the best college funding professionals available, provide a valuable service to parents who want to learn more about the money side of their child’s future college or university education.  Our workshop information is always up to date and accurate, and we find that parents recommend it highly!

The workshops are without any entrance fee for participants, but we require advance reservations for planning and maintaining an optimal learning group size.  For questions about the College Funding Workshops coming up in your area, our workshop staff can be called 614-934-1515.  These team members will be able to assist with information about locations, content, time and dates, or other workshop details.  They are also able to offer reservations, if you already know that you wish to join us.

We also have published a written report for parents who need the most vital information regarding optimal planning for college expenses.  We call this report “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College.” As with the workshops, we send it out to interested parents free of charge and without any obligation.  For your own copy of “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” just reach out to our staff at 614.934.1515 and they will be please to e-mail one out to you right away.  Happy New Year!

Until next month,

The Admissions Wish List

  • Our Blog

What Admissions REALLY Are Looking For In Their Incoming Freshman Classes

The first term of the school year is in full swing, and students (along with their parents, in many cases) are likely looking forward to the holidays for a bit of a break. However, we college funding advisors are remaining diligently focused on preparing students and their families for all aspects of their college futures, from academics to college finances, and we are pleased to keep you updated on our findings. This is truly what we do best, after all is said and done.

One important area of focus – and something that is misunderstood by a significant number of college bound students as well as their parents – is an accurate understanding of the things that are MOST important when it comes to gaining admission to a desired college or university. Now, obviously, there can be some differences depending on which schools and institutions are being talked about, but there are also several key aspects that are almost universally important, no matter which schools are being considered.

The sooner a student is able to obtain a general understanding of these key factors, the sooner he or she will be able to implement them as a part of his or her high school education, meaning that it can pay dividends as soon as the time comes to start applying to colleges and universities for their impending step upward into higher education.

Some of these points are fairly reasonable and make good, common sense. Others might be less well-known, but they are still extremely important. Still others are simply ignored by far too many students these days, and absolutely warrant a timely reminder so that your student is not missing out on something vital for his or her college application process!

Remember, we keep our finger on the pulse of these kinds of things specifically because we are serious about being the experts in our field – we have gleaned much valuable experience in watching college students and their parents maneuver through the college application process each and every year. Upon completing your perusal of this newsletter, please do let us know if you have questions or specific worries about your family’s unique situation. We will be pleased to assist you in providing reliable information for your family’s college preparation activities at all levels for the higher education of your child.

The Obvious: Strong GPA and Class Ranking

It should go without saying that grades count. They don’t count for everything, but they count. If your child has a high GPA, this will only help to separate your child from the rest of the applicants. Overall GPA is important, but some schools will also take note of how your child did in his/her individual classes. Some high schools offer class ranking. If this is the case for your child’s high school, the college will want to take a look at this so see how s/he ranked among his/her peers.

Advanced Placement (AP) and/or Honors Classes

Taking difficult classes such as Advanced Placement or Honors classes can give a very good impression to admissions officers. However, it is actually doing well in these classes that shows the college that your child is serious about his/her academics. This demonstrates discipline and dedication, which are attributes that will help a child excel in college. International Baccalaureate or IB programs are also highly regarded, if available.

Engaging in Extracurricular Activities

It is not sufficient to merely have good grades in one’s classes. Colleges are looking for students who have passion, interest and drive. Taking extra curricular activities demonstrates that the students have interests that extend outside the classroom. The types of activities chosen will show what the students find compelling and interesting. Developing talents and skills outside of the regular school day is something that helps to develop a well-rounded student. Remember, though, that the better schools want to see a real level of commitment and achievement in these activities – not just something that has been done to “fill in a box.”

Volunteerism

Taking time outside of high school life to volunteer one’s time is a special thing. If your child has done projects outside of school for any charities or did any sort of volunteer work at all, these things should be noted on the application. These are traits to demonstrate a strong character and these are the types of student’s college admissions officers would like to admit into college. Some students have been able to work these activities into the school year, while others make them a part of their vacation time. Either way, it should be something that resonates with your child, so that it can be presented with honest enthusiasm.

Gathering Work Experience

Does your child have a part-time job during high school? Does s/he work during the summers? These qualities show independence, in some cases, as well as leadership and commitment. List any employment work that is applicable for your child. If your child had any leadership responsibilities such as managing a project, be sure to include those, as well. Any special recognitions or if there were promotions during your child’s tenure at the job, do not forget to include those. Remember, however, to discuss these activities with your College Funding Advisor, as these jobs can sometimes affect eligibility for student aid!

Standardized Testing (SAT/ACT)

There was a time that schools weighed the SAT and ACT quite heavily, and many still do, but not every school gives them the same weight these days. Regardless, however, it is advisable for your child to work hard and prepare to do as well as possible on these tests. They are still a valuable benchmark for colleges to use, and admissions officers can review these tests and compare with other test results (such as AP tests). Your College Funding Advisors can help you research the specific schools to which your child would like to apply, and determine whether they regard the SAT/ACT highly, and which tests might be required for admission.

Strong Recommendation Letters

While a good recommendation letter can go a long way, a meaningful recommendation letter can go even further. For this reason, your child should try to secure recommendation letters from people s/he knows quite well. Most colleges will ask for at least two so it would be useful to probably have three letters on hand, just in case – and some letters might be particularly helpful at certain institutions.

These recommendations need to speak to the overall character of your child, beyond a simple listing of accomplishments. The writer could be a teacher in a particular class, an extra-curricular teacher or instructor, an ecclesiastical authority, a coach, a mentor, and so forth. These letters should obviously cast your child in the best light and will be able to tell a story about your child which grades and activities – on their own – cannot.

Tailor The Admissions Essay

While it is true that a well-written essay may take some time to craft, it is well worth the effort. This is another chance that admissions officers will get to see a side of your child that grades, activities and recommendation letters can’t show, and an opportunity our child to connect with the reader on the admissions committee. Every child is unique and this is the chance for your child to show what is unique about him or her… so the essay should be reviewed for both content and for grammar well before it is ever sent out. It should also be tailored a bit to appropriately match the application to each different school on his/her list.

Demonstrate Passion And Drive

We can readily report that too many kids are pushed into a plethora of activities without ever having a chance to develop a skill or talent in a particular area. Colleges are most interested in seeing drive, interest, and passion for the activities in which an applicant is engaged. They certainly do not prefer seeing a student listing a page full of different activities with no demonstrated meaning, and without time invested to grow in those disciplines.

How can an applicant show the meaning in their activities? There are many ways. For example, if your child took band and excelled at playing the trumpet, make sure that fact (along with any special awards or engagements) is prominently displayed on the application. Or, did your child have a passion for building and was always staying late in shop class? Maybe you have a budding engineer on your hands. Be sure to let admissions officers see that your child has a solid and well-developed interest in areas that truly matter to your future college student.

Growth Potential?

The very best colleges and universities often go far beyond SAT scores and essays (which should be a given at the top levels). They want to determine whether your child is the type of person who learns and grows, and truly enjoys the process of learning and growing. They want to see how your child stretches him/herself. They want to know how your child sees him/herself as a human. They also want to see how your child wants to contribute to the world – as a potential alumnus or alumna of their institution. Show them!

As you consider the topics mentioned in this month’s newsletter, we hope that the information can help your student to strengthen his or her future college applications. Remember, should questions arise, we are ready and able to help with all aspects of the application process, admissions decisions, and fiscal organization for higher education. It is what we do, and we are more than pleased to assist in the procedures.
We also devote a lot of time and effort to education for families as the college years approach. One key service that we are pleased to provide for the parents of college-bound kids – with an eye on the financial aspects required – are our excellent, in-person College Funding Workshops. Imagine, a live presentation provided by the best college funding professionals available in the area, providing and informational service to families regarding the money side of their child’s upcoming college or university years. It is a terrific opportunity that invariably provides vital information for the parents in attendance.
While the workshops themselves are free of charge for attendees, because of seating requirements and workshop logistics, it is necessary for us to require reservations in advance for admission. If you would like more information about the next College Funding Workshops planned for your region, our workshop staff is awaiting your call at 614-934-1515. Any questions about general workshop content, locations, and schedules can be placed with our team members. They will also be happy to take a reservation, of course, or help you decide on a location and date if required.
Aside from these workshops, we also have published a written report for parents who seek the most up-to-date information about the management of and preparation for college expenses. The report was created specifically for the parents of rising college and university students, and it is called “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College.” Just like the workshops, we offer this report absolutely free of charge and without any sort of obligation. For your own free copy of “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” simply direct your request to our staff at 614-934-1515 and we will get it out to you right away.
Until next month,

Optimize College Education for Real World Work Environment

“Top Ways To Optimize College Education For

The Real World Work Environment

August 2017

 

Dear Parent,

There is a lot of work and sustained effort that goes into getting a young high school student through to graduation and accepted into a good college or university… and that is only the beginning of the story.  Once arriving on campus at his or her dream institution, college freshmen soon learn that they are facing a whole new set of exciting challenges at the next level of their education!

One of the most important things that we do as College Funding Advisors is help families and students to optimize their efforts – both during high school AND during college – to make sure that they are prepared for the next steps on their journey to an excellent education and a rewarding career of their choosing.  Yes, a huge chunk of this preparation is financial, but we are also extremely well-versed in how to make the college experience a successful one.

You see, getting through high school and into college is a great accomplishment, but it does not mean very much in the long run if the student becomes one of the roughly 41% of college freshmen who do not graduate with a four-year bachelor’s degree within six (!) years.  That is a statistic that, unfortunately, is not going away.

Equally important, however, is the sad fact that even many students who do graduate are quite poorly prepared to seek jobs in their fields of interest.  Yes, many students have dutifully checked all of the boxes for graduation and receiving a diploma, which is great, but they have not focused on optimizing their college degree to help them afterward in the real world work environment.

With this sobering reality in mind, we have chosen to focus this month’s newsletter on some important steps that students can plan to take to make their college years truly preparation for entering the workforce.  Young people who are able to prepare themselves well for their future careers will usually be able to avoid many of the frustrations that new graduates often face – having a diploma in hand, but not being able to find a rewarding job is an ever-increasing and disturbing reality!

 

After your review of this month’s newsletter, should you have any particular questions or concerns about how you’re your student can best prepare for the college years (and thereafter), please so feel free to contact us at your convenience.  We are also able to assist with all of the financial elements involved with preparing for these college years, and the information we offer can boost your family’s preparations for all aspects related to the upcoming years of your child’s higher education.      

1) Begin With The End In Mind    

While some college students enter their higher education experience with a clear idea of what they want to pursue as a career, there are many more who finish high school and enter into the next level without any particular direction in mind.  Neither path is necessarily better than the other, but those who enter with more of an “open slate” should endeavor to take advantage of some of the important opportunities to increase their academic performance early on as well as their marketability for later.

For example, starting college with a full slate of required courses can be a great way to buy some time and to free up the later years of university for more specialized academic work (which can also be helpful when internships and other opportunities arise).  It is also a good way to get one’s feet wet at the college level, while gaining experience in learning how one can best manage the academic rigors that will define their GPA and other credentials – this can be managed best on a personal level, because what works for one student may NOT have the same effect for another student.

Of course, new college students who are beginning college with a pretty good idea of their future career already will also be required to take this barrage of mandatory coursework that is needed for graduation.  These students will often also do well to take these classes in a planned manner that will best mesh with their degree requirements.  In fact, some students may find that courses which mesh well with their major can also fit into some of the predetermined general requirements, so consultation with a good academic advisor can make a huge difference in planning their courses.

2) Work With GOOD Academic Advisors

 Let’s focus on an important adjective from the last sentence of the previous paragraph.  A GOOD academic advisor is worth his or her weight in gold, with platinum lining.  Now, what actually defines a good academic advisor can vary depending on the person with whom you are speaking.  We tend to define a good academic advisor as someone – whether working directly for a college or university, or not – who offers the best and most accurate advice to budding students in a particular field.

Many universities and colleges will have someone assigned to students almost at random (or, more accurately, often by the first initial of the last name).  Now, while these individuals will definitely be able to offer a full spectrum of insights into which classes will meet which graduation requirements (and this is a very important detail, to be sure!), they may NOT be the best people to speak with about entering a particular career field after graduation has come and gone – or have knowledge about details for those entering a particular professional training track, such as medicine, law, or business school.

Be aware that most schools will have specific offices to help serve the particular needs of students who are entering these highly competitive fields, and a good advisor in these areas is an enormous help in the challenging process of application, interviewing, and admission to professional schools after college.  It can also be a good idea to seek out advice from someone who is working directly in a student’s field of interest, to get insights and recommendations for the academic path.  The most important thing is to gain accurate and timely information, regardless of the source!

3) Do Not Ignore “Minor” Things

While most students will be focused on selecting their college major (or even, for the extremely motivated, a double major!), it is often overlooked that students can also choose a related – or even completely unrelated – subject for a minor area of study.  These are areas of academic emphasis that will require fewer classes than a second major, but are still then part of their academic credentials upon graduation.

Some students (and parents) will tend to look down on minor emphases as something “unworthy” of effort, but they can be extremely valuable in many cases.  For example, one can complete a minor by simply taking a steady regimen of a favorite foreign language, or a secondary subject of interest, or even by completing course prerequisites for professional schools!  (For example, pre-med students often find that they qualify for a minor in Chemistry simply by completing the pre-medical chemistry and organic chemistry requirements, and perhaps one or two other related classes over the course of four years).  Minors can be completed in almost any field of interest, and can add to the college experience and to the credentials of any graduate later on in his or her life.

One thing that a minor offers is an opportunity to show that a student has broad interests and abilities, and if their minor is in something that can provide practical experience as well (such as speaking Spanish, French, or Russian… or computer programming… or anything else), then that looks great on a resume later.

4) Diversify Your Options

 One of the things that we are quick to recommend to students is that they work hard toward their goals, while also diversifying their goals to a reasonable degree.  This means planning and working toward a specific graduate school or career, for example, but also being able to seek alternate pathways to their goals.

In general, success does not come along a straight line, and many students will find divergent pathways to their goals, or even new goals that emerge completely unexpectedly over time during and after their college years.  The more open students are to exploring and finding out what options exist for them in their lives, both academically and professionally, the more they are likely to discover enriching and exciting opportunities that they might not have even known about earlier in their lives.

For this reason, we urge students to make exciting plans, aim high, and always keep their eyes open for the opportunities that tend to arise over time – but are only seen if one is actually willing to be looking for them.

 

We hope that you will be able to use the information from this month’s newsletter to help your future college student make the most of his or her higher education experience, and the career efforts that come thereafter.  It is our job to help as much as possible in making these plans a reality while we help with the details of college application, admission, and monetary preparation.  After all, we are the experts in these tasks, and we manage them effectively for families in a variety of ways.

One of the most popular ways that we are able to help the parents of tomorrow’s college students, especially with regard to the financial preparations for higher education, is by presenting our live College Funding Workshops.  These face-to-face presentations are given by the finest college funding professionals in the area, and they serve as a wonderful (FREE) service to parents who are interested in learning more details about adequate preparation for the financial side of their student’s upcoming years of higher education.  The information provided at these workshops is always up-to-date and accurate, and we have seen that it makes a significant difference for parents who attend.

College Funding Workshops are offered for free to all interested parents, but because there are seating limits we must require all attendees to place a reservation in advance.  This also guarantees that we can maintain an excellent teaching environment.  Should you like more information about any of the College Funding Workshops for your area, please call our workshop staffers at 614-934-1515.  They will be pleased to assist with questions regarding times, dates, locations, etc.  Of course, they are also the right people to speak with about a reservation, for any parents who have already decided to attend.

Aside from the workshops, we also publish a special report prepared for parents who are looking for important information with regard to planning for higher education costs.  We have created this report specifically for the parents of college-bound high school students, and it is called “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College.” Just like the workshops, we are proud to offer this report to families without any attendant cost or obligation.  To receive your very own copy of “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” simply ring our staff at 614-934-1515 and they will be more than happy to send one out to you right away.

Until next month,

 

 

Ways to save Money on College

                                                        

                                                                                    June 2017          

“The Best Ways To Save Time (And Money) By Shortening Your Child’s Stay In College

Dear Parent,

We are approaching the end of another school year, as hard at that may be to believe, and for about a quarter of our readers the tale of high school has reached its end… at least, for one student.  This means, however, that about ¾ of our readership – not to mention those with incoming high school students for the first time – still have a year or more to prepare for graduation and college.  What a relief that can be!

The sooner students start thinking about and preparing for their efforts in higher education, the easier it can be to plan for success.  This is true not only when it comes to academics, but also (and especially) when it comes to the financial side of things.  Preparing for college or university studies is a process that ideally starts long before the first day of college on an autumn day (usually) at the age of eighteen.  In fact, the best-prepared students have often found intelligent ways to prepare and affect their college experience even several years in advance.  We think that this is highly advisable, because it can positively boost the student’s academic experience as well as saving their family a significant amount of money over the long run!

How is that possible?  Well, by seeking out ways to shorten their required stay in college or university, a student can shave of a semester (or even more) of tuition, fees, and living expenses from the overall college bill.  This can add up to tens of thousands of dollars in many cases!  This year, there are some motivated students who are graduating from high school and heading off to college… where they will begin as college students with advanced standing, when based on their accumulated college credits.

For this month’s newsletter, we are providing parents and students with some practical and important thoughts and suggestions on how to shorten the amount of time spent (and paid for) in college, but leading to the same degree for which other students will have to work longer… and yes, other students will wind up paying more tuition for the same piece of paper at graduation.  Please remember that as college funding professionals – with expert insights into the entire process of higher education – we are especially qualified to offer this type of important information for the benefit of your college preparation and planning.  Your child’s circumstances can certainly benefit from an individual analysis.

Completing AP Courses

When your child is in high school, s/he can already begin to make headway in college. If you are child qualifies or is able to choose to take Advanced Placement classes, this is a great way to begin to earn college credit while still attending high school.  Many colleges and universities will allow AP credit to take the place of required “core” classes during freshman year.  In this case, a bit of extra effort during the high school years can have a big payoff later!

Another way that students may sometimes earn college credit is to take International Baccalaureate classes, if available in your area.  Completing college credit in this manner, and doing so in advance, can also provide some flexibility when it comes time for a student to choose a major. AP and IB classes are high-level high school courses, and they also give your child a taste of what to expect in college or university classes.

There is no guarantee that AP or IB coursework will be accepted at the next level, so it is always important to review individual school policies on these types of classes.  However, there can be no question than the increased level of academic rigor pays dividends when college days begin in earnest.

Community College Credit

There are some community colleges that will allow high school students to take their college-level courses.  If this is available for your student, and the community college credits are accepted at a university, it can save a ton of time and money. Many core classes can be taken at a community college and they will almost always be much less expensive than university classes. It may be a good option if your child is unsure about which direction to go during college. Taking some core classes in community college would buy additional time in college for determining a major course of study and/or a career for the future.

Usually community college credit is accepted as transfer credit at public universities within the same state or region, which can be a tremendous benefit for students who are interested in these schools.  Some highly motivated students have actually graduated high school with an Associate’s degree in hand, meaning that in the right circumstances they can theoretically start university with junior status!  Talk about saving time and money over the long run…

Take Core/Elective Classes Strategically

OK, so it is clear that not every student is able to make a firm decision regarding a major right away. That is just fine. One way to combat the threat of losing time due to indecision is for freshmen to focus on completing any remaining “core curriculum” classes during the freshman year in order to stay on track and make sure the basic requirements for graduation are being met.

Remember also that students can use electives to “test out” different fields of specific interest that could become a major.  Even if he or she decides to go in a different direction, the elective then still fills the space of a course for graduation later.

Proper Consultation

One way to be able to assist your child in getting through college quickly and smoothly is for your child to meet regularly with his or her college academic advisor.  Each school will have its own requirements for graduation, and the academic advisor can often offer valuable insights into the best way forward – therefore, it is important that they develop a plan together. Your child specifically should let the advisor know that it is very important to him or her to graduate within four years (or less, if possible).

Of course, as mentioned above, many students enter college unsure of which major to choose. That is ok, but meeting with an advisor early on to prepare and develop a plan is helpful to turn that undecided time into productive time. An advisor can offer guidance on what courses to take that will help to point your child in the right direction. They will know which courses are appropriate to consider to and take that will help to develop their passions. They can also connect them with other older students or faculty members will be able to offer additional guidance and understanding that might be helpful coming from a peer.

Not all academic advisors are helpful, but many are, so this is an important resource to investigate during the early college stages.  Also, many schools will have specific advisors for particular careers, such as pre-law, pre-medicine, or pre-business studies.  Students who are interested in these professions should always seek input from the experts so they do not miss any requirements for their professional schools!

Thorough Research

Having realistic expectations is important when your child goes to a college or university. It is also important to know if the university or college that your child will be attending is committed to his or her success. If you and your child visit colleges, it may not be a bad idea to go to the admissions office – or even faculty in a field of your child’s interest – and seek out a chat with one of the staff. You can ask them directly what their rates of graduation within 4 years are and if they are unwilling or unclear about it then that might give you some pause.

It does not necessarily mean that it is not a good institution, but it may deserve additional research. Most colleges do not post these rates so in order to uncover graduation rates and related information, parents often need to ask directly. Having a low rate of graduation within 4 years could mean a variety of things. If there are a great number of students who only go to school on a part-time basis, then this might be a red flag.  This is a great time for us to remind you that your college funding advisor can also provide loads of valuable information regarding these details, which can be enormously valuable in selecting which school to attend.

Express Interest

Another way to help your child to stay on track is to express your interest in their education. Parents who express their desire for their child to have a meaningful college experience are more likely to have children who are also vested in their college experience, as well. It is important not to become extreme “helicopter parents,” which serves no positive purpose in the educational process, and no parents should insert themselves into tasks that students are fully capable of doing for themselves.  However, parents can communicate their interest and their wishes for a helpful and meaningful college education to their child. Educators have noticed that the students who have the best outcomes are ones who come from households where the parents are vested in their college experience and want them to succeed.

Bear in mind that it may not be possible for every student to implement every suggestion listed above – some students may not have a firm grasp on exactly what they want to study as early as others, for example, and other students may not have access to college credit courses in the area where they attend high school.  However, we make it our goal to assist our students in finding the best options for their speedy success in higher education.  If even a couple of the suggestions listed above can be implemented – and there are others, as well – then the chances are good that a student will begin to cut down the amount of time (and money) spent on completing a college degree.

There are also ways that parents can become involved in the process, of course, and the sooner this happens, the better.  One of the top ways that we assist the parents of future college students in learning more about the financial elements of college and university studies is with our live College Funding Workshops.  These workshops feature the finest college funding professionals in the area and offer unparalleled access to information with an in-person setting.  The presentations offer a wonderful service to many parents who are focused on finding the best way to manage the fiscal details of their child’s forthcoming years spent in their college or university studies.

We do not require admission fees for attendance at these workshops, but due to space requirements and our desire to keep a positive and effective learning environment, we have determined that we need to require advance reservations for those who wish to attend.  To receive more information on upcoming College Funding Workshops in the area, you can get details directly from our workshop staff at 614-934-1515.  These professionals are able to assist with any of your questions with regard to schedules, workshop locations, and other presentation-related specifics.  They will also be more than willing to assist with a reservation, should you desire to attend.

We also publish a special report that is of interest to many parents who are on the lookout for more information about how to deal with college costs.  Our report was prepared specifically with the parents of current high school students in mind, and is titled “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College.” Like our workshops, the report is happily provided without any requiring any cost or obligation.  To receive your very own copy of “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” simply place a call to our team at 614-934-1515 and we will place it in the mail right away.

Until next month,

 

 

 

Financial Realities of College-how much do you share?

April 2017      

 “The Financial Realities Of College:

How Much Should YOUR Child Know Before Starting?

Dear Parent,
As Spring rolls around it can become more and more challenging for many young people to focus on school, for a variety of reasons.  Of course, this is right about the time when the dreaded diagnosis of “senioritis” tends to set in for those students who are about to graduate from high school – but let’s be honest, almost no student is immune to feeling a little bit distracted as the school year wears onward without any indication of ending, and the weather outside looks better and better!
Well, there are a ton of distractions that can affect students and their families when it comes to preparing for college, as well… and the simple fact is that there are certain details about college preparation that are vital for a successful transition to the next level of education.  Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, these details are often ignored… and both parents and students can be guilty in this regard.  This can definitely have a deleterious effect on their levels of financial, academic, and personal stress during the college experience.
We understand fully that preparing for college or university studies can be stressful, in many ways.  Perhaps because of this reality, there can be a tendency for people to want to ignore some of the more challenging topics related to the transition to the next level of education.  However, ignoring these topics does not make them disappear.  By the same token, if only the parents (or, more rarely, only the students) are involved in these preparations, then it is not a team effort and there can be miscommunications and problems further down the road.  Our experience has been that it is absolutely vital for parents and students to have a mutual understanding of how things are proceeding for college preparation.
At the college level this becomes even more important, because the students are becoming young adults with a significant amount of autonomy, so a knowledge of how things are functioning is going to make a world of difference in keeping things on an even keel academically, financially, and in all other important elements of college life.
For this month’s newsletter, then, we want to explain a few of the most important elements that new college students should understand when it comes to starting their experience in higher education.  Yes, there will be a lot of students in their peer group – far too many, in our experience – who have no idea about these things.  However, rest assured that this lack of knowledge will more than likely become something that will come back to haunt them in the end.  As college funding professionals – and people who deal with these things on a daily basis – we want to help you and your family to experience a smooth transition into and through college or university studies.  We have a special skill set and will be happy to assist in any way possible with your family’s plans in this regard.

 Be Clear From the Beginning
Culturally, we tend to have many “taboo” subjects in the US. Depending on the individual, they may range from religion to sex to money. The subject of money, in particular when it comes to higher education, can get families into deep water if not dealt with from the very beginning with honesty and clarity.
How to pay for college should be a family discussion. This is a subject that should take center stage when getting ready to choose a school. It will have a lot to do with the choices your child will be able to make about where to go. It can also have a big impact on the family for the future.
If your child has his or her heart set on a ‘dream’ school then it is important to have the discussion and have the plans in place to cover the costs of such a school. This can all be done strategically and carefully, as well, with a thorough college funding expert. No parent wants to be saddled with massive amounts of debt when looking to cover costs at a prestigious school, nor do children want to feel that they have become a burden that the family has to bear in order for them to attend school.
Communication and (early!) preparation are really the keys, here. Will the parents be covering the entire costs of college? Will it be a combination of loans for the child plus what the family is able to contribute, or can this be avoided with proper planning?  (Note: it often can.) Having clear goals from the beginning and discussing those goals openly as a family will only bode well for the future college student. Tackling those goals with an expert will make it possible to move forward with those plans smoothly and successfully.
Focusing on the “Why” of College
Unfortunately, we see that not all kids and future college students have a clear vision of why they want to go to college and exactly what they want to get out of it. In fact, many visit colleges and make decisions on whether to attend or not based on a ‘vibe’ they get at the school, or where all of their friends are planning to go. That’s not very thorough, to put it mildly. It is important to make the most informed decision possible when going to college. This starts with the ‘why’ of going to college and then extends all the way through to the ‘where’ of going to college!
Some of the things that should be discussed and explored before beginning a college search include finding out what your child’s academic motivations are. Once these are laid out, it can be easier to look at options at that point. Clarifying interests and academic goals and motivations will make choosing the right college easier and it will mostly likely be a much better return on the investment. Students who enter college without a clear vision or purpose often tend to stay in college longer which, of course, costs a lot more money.
Say your child wants to go into investment banking. This is a field that is dependent on keeping close networks with specific training. A prestigious school – or one with industry connections – might well be necessary for these types of jobs. If this is known from the onset then plans can be made accordingly to identify the correct institutions, get into one of these schools, and also how to pay for it.
Not every child is so clear on his or her ambitions in the teen years, however. This does not mean that all is lost. If they are not sure exactly where their academic focus is you are still able to make informed decisions. If they are able to narrow their interests down to a few different areas then you can search for colleges that have strong programs in the areas where their interests lie.  All of these discussions, when completed early on, can go a long way toward making the transition to college more manageable.
How (Or How Much) To Contribute
Many parents feel guilty if they determine that their ability to completely pay for their child’s education is not possible. It is easy to find parents who have gone into massive debt in order to make their child’s dreams of a college education possible even when it puts their own financial stability in jeopardy. This is one instance where having a solid college planning expert will help to ensure that these types of dire situations can be avoided.
Parents taking stock of what is realistic and what their child’s goals are will be very important in the part of the planning process. Do the parents want their child to attend a specific school?  Even more importantly, is that school a good fit for the student?  If so, is it currently possible to send them there, considering academic and financial realities?  What other options are available?  Once these questions are asked then the parents can move forward and see what will be required in terms of their contribution.
It is also important for parents to understand that where their child goes to college is not a reflection of their parenting skills or who they are as people. Keeping their child financially secure is a major requirement for parents and placing them in a school that they cannot afford and/or will place an undue burden on their child by way of student loans is not a great way for a child to be starting out in life. Planning ahead and making prudent choices based upon real financial circumstances and careful planning with an advisor will ensure the best choice possible is made that will benefit all parties over the long run.
Managing Parental Contribution/Retirement
There is no question that paying for a child’s college education can be a big sacrifice for parents. Parents who have an average annual income of $100,000, for example, can find that college expenses for just one child run $100,000 (and that is being moderate)… which can mean that they should expect to work an extra 10+ years in order to recoup those costs. That could mean delaying retirement in most cases – or, as mentioned above, saddling kids with significant student debt.
Because of these realities, this is another area where careful and early planning can make all the difference. The right adjustments and placing money in the proper strategic places may help to prevent some of the drastic measures to which many people succumb. These are definitely things that can and should be discussed with the college planning advisor – and the earlier that happens, the better! 
Probably the most important element of this part of college preparation can be boiled down to “communication!”  When people do not know exactly what is expected of them (financially, or in any other facet of life) then they are much more likely to make significant mistakes.  This is even more apparent when it comes to young people who are just starting out on their own – at college, or anywhere else… the more things can be clarified and communicated, the more likely they are to be able to manage these expectations successfully.  As college funding advisors, we are focused on helping families make proper communication and excellent planning a part of their college preparation experience.We directly assist parents of college-bound students in understanding more about the financial preparations for college education via our live College Funding Workshops, presented with some of the best college funding professionals around.  These special workshops offer a valuable service to parents who have a desire to optimize the financial aspects of their student’s coming years studying at their college or university of choice.There is no admission fee for these presentations, but due to limitations on space and our desire to create an ideal learning environment, we do insist on an advance reservation for those who wish to attend.  To receive more details about College Funding Workshops planned for your area, place a call to our workshop team members at 614-934-1515.  They will be happy to answer questions about locations, times, dates, and other workshop-related information.  Of course, they will be more than pleased to assist you with a reservation, too, if you would like to be in attendance.We also publish a special report for parents who seek additional information about the management of future college expenses.  We have published this report specifically with the families of college-bound students as an audience, and it is titled “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College.” Like our workshop presentations, the report is available without cost or obligation.  To receive your own copy of “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” just call our team at 614.934-1515 and the staff will send it via email.

Until next month,

A Must Read for College-bound Athletes

I ran across this article and feel it is not only relevant but enlightening.

Dear Prospective Student-Athlete,

I received your introductory two-line email and read through it. I must say your first sentence was painfully familiar as you introduced yourself by first name only. I assumed if you were trying to make an impression that you would have paid more attention to punctuation, but my assumption appears incorrect. While your opening email failed to identify your last name, what year in school you are, where you are from, or what position you play, you managed to include your most pressing question as to whether our team is “giving out scholarships”.

A week later, I received a second email with full color resume attachment including your action photos, and a variety of links to related newspaper articles. Each of these items were compiled in an orderly fashion and sent out directly from both your parents’ emails.

While it took a bit to thumb through the long list of your impressive extracurricular activities, please thank your parents for putting this packet together and understand that it would have been far more beneficial for our staff to speak to you personally by way of an old school phone call. As my staff sent correspondence to your personal email, we have received only a return from your parents apologizing and explaining that you are simply “too busy to answer”.

As a word of advice, while many college coaches support parental enthusiasm, initiative taken by the athlete is crucial if you are serious about connecting with a quality program. Our staff explained to your parents that we would prefer to connect with you directly, but they continue to respond on your behalf. This will be a red flag for any coach, so please be aware of this feedback being a possibility from any of your other options.

When you visited the campus with your parents, the first thing I noticed is that they did most of the talking for you. However, when you did speak, you were openly correcting and verbally scolding them when you deemed their information sharing inaccurate. As a coach, an athlete who displays disrespect, especially to their parents, is a red flag in the recruiting game of analysis and observation.

As we toured the campus I took copious mental notes including a short ponder on how you were too busy for a returned phone call or email to our staff yet, your email-ready smartphone was all but attached to your hand the entire unofficial visit.

Upon your departure, our staff reviewed your stats, strength numbers and transcripts. All are impressive, but of course we had to see you compete. Unfortunately, the highlight film you left us with that was edited to perfection to omit mistakes, was unhelpful.

Despite my reservations, I made the trip to watch your game live so I could determine if your resume matched your talent. After observing only a few minutes of the team warm-up, I noted that you were clearly the most gifted on your squad. However, your talent was unfortunately overshadowed by the lack of energy and effort you displayed.

At halftime, the team huddled up and as always when observing recruits, I honed in carefully on your demeanor and body language. I watched you walk in the opposite direction of your teammates and take a seat on the bench away from the group. You did not return to the team circle until prompted by your assistant coach. As the head coach spoke, I observed you break off into a private conversation with another teammate, rather than offering the coach your attention.

In the second half, when you scored I noticed you waited for the other players to huddle around you and celebrate. In contrast, when a teammate scored, you retreated to your position without acknowledging or congratulating them.

You added much depth in the scoring category with some impressive runs but when you made mistakes you became vocal and eager to point out where your teammates needed to improve. You had moments of greatness but they were followed by sporadic lulls of half-hearted effort.

As you are the team captain, I found it disappointing that you did not contribute to the post game team discussion. I watched as your mother brought over snacks and saw that you made no effort to assist her in bringing those large containers of cupcakes from the bleachers out to your 40 other teammates. Last, as the rest of the team broke the field down and put equipment away, you found a quiet spot on the empty bench to text on your phone.

Perhaps as a high school-age athlete, these are behaviors you are simply unaware of. In a world where you are being taught the X’s and O’s of mastering a sport, so much practice and dialogue in character building is diminishing. I realize that you have been told repeatedly by many of your previous coaches that you are amazing in your sport. However, players like you, with similar demeanor are a dime a dozen.

Since you have been a star in your sport for quite a while with coaches and parents who have clearly allowed these details to slip through the cracks also, you are not entirely to blame. However, please bear in mind, none of this makes you a bad person only potentially, a bad teammate. The attributes I am judging you on happen to be far more important than any of your trophies, all-star selections or travel team accolades.

There is no doubt you are talented. However, from my experience, here are the 10 things I know about athletes like you.

1. Your incredible talent is the same talent that in your sophomore year of college will suddenly suffer an ego blow when a new freshman arrives with equal or greater talent. Battling your feeling of ownership over your position and feeling threatened is inevitable.

2. Rather than working hard to better your game, you are more likely to be the athlete that is constantly comparing your success to others rather than focusing on growth for yourself. This will become a tedious and exhausting process for your coaches and team to constantly have to reassure you of your self worth and value.

3. As those around you put in the work, rather than be grateful to be surrounded by a committed group of individuals who share common goals, you are more likely to resent them and seek out allies to split the team support in half and create locker room chatter.

4. In the event you see time on the bench you may not be emotionally prepared, willing to engage or support the teammate who is starting over you. Also, it is likely you will find it challenging to support the success your team obtains when they win without you on the field.

5. When you become unhappy with your own performance you are more likely to blame your coach, teammates or anyone other than yourself.

6. Since your previous coaches and adult guidance have fallen short in emphasizing the importance of accountability, you will likely be that much more of a challenge for our staff and program to work with.

7. Aside from your time in college, the end goal of being a student-athlete is to get a degree while playing a sport you love. If your goal as an athlete-student is to get a starting position while earning a degree you tolerate, your goals will be out of alignment with the program from the start.

8. Athletes who truly work for their program become stronger people who work well with others and are able to admit their weaknesses in order to improve. If I am forced to spend your first two years of college trying to catch you up on late lessons of being accountable and respectful, it is probable you will spend your second two years resenting me which ultimately leads to an ambush of bad senior exit interview feedback.

9. Athletes are treasured in the workforce and therefore, you are likely to land a job after you graduate. However, if you fail to get along with those in our program you are prone to carrying this over into your professional life. If you are unhappy with your boss or coworker you will be more likely to find yourself unequipped to work through your problem without soliciting complaining or quitting.

10. By choosing not to recruit you, I am saving my team culture. On the bright side, perhaps if you are rejected this will be your first opportunity to face adversity and grow from it.

I recognize that it is possible you could change with guidance by coming to our program. However, the investment on my end presents high risk to the health of team morale, my livelihood and sanity. In my younger coaching years I believed far too often that many like you were capable of transformation. Over time, without consistent support from the powers that be, I have lost my fair share of those battles and have watched colleagues lose their jobs when athletes like you are unsatisfied. I am a great coach who takes so much of my success and failure home with me at night and am actively making the choice to choose ethics and attitude over talent.

Today I crossed you off my list as a potential recruit despite your obvious talent. Over the thousands of hours I have spent away from my family recruiting, answering emails, calls, official visits, watching game film and logging contacts and evaluations, I have learned from my mistakes. As a result, although the athlete playing right next to you has half the stats and three quarters of your speed, they are supportive, determined and selfless. This kind of athlete, will be our next signee.

Please take these words and advice into consideration and I wish you all the best.

Coach

Source: Fearless Coaching, An Open Letter May 16, 2016.