April Tears

While raking the yard today (March 25), I got a call from a parent. Upset and confused. It seems that her daughter did not get accepted at her dream school, not to mention any of her other ivy and selective schools—1350 SAT, 3.8 GPA, active in sports and dance. From the three she did get into, little financial aid was offered, just a loan. I promised to call her back in a few minutes and put the yard tools away. The air was getting colder, and half the yard was raked. Yes, my office is open on the weekends.

Inside I jumped on a call and congratulated mom and her daughter on the outstanding acceptance offers from schools in and outside New England. I thought she would be very successful in any of the three. I listened, acknowledged her and her mother’s emotions, and shared some insights on what is happening in today’s college enrollment.

In March and April, families compare offers and make the final push to select the right school for the right reason at the lowest cost. An eye-opening and sometimes unsettling experience. We made plans to have a follow-up call to review possible appeals and finalize financing strategies with dad. I could feel the emotions in both voices and even a few tears. I reflected on the anxiety and stress; unfortunately, it is not unusual.

Parents of 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade students looking to college after high school are encouraged to begin the college planning process early. Like our students and their progressive learning, parents must invest time to obtain a working knowledge of college enrollment. Learning the who, what, when, and how of college admissions, funding, and available resources takes time and patients. Getting ahead start is a surefire way of eliminating April Tears! I’ve been a post-secondary education geek for 35+ years, and I’m still learning.

I’m In What’s Next

Check out my colleague Shelley Honeycutt from Pivotal College Years as she shares her insights on practical steps once accepted – I’m In What’s Next – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3v5DHP5b1c

For those who have decided, the deposit should be on its way. National Deposit Day is May 1. However, families can submit their acceptance (save my seat) and housing (I need a dorm room) deposit anytime prior.

Families working through their final selection and calculating the plan to finance the remaining education we have information on our website. Two reference tools: Five Criteria to Say Yes and the 2023-2024 Funding Checklist. Visit our Resources page to download the documents


 A Different 13th Year

I hear more and more families talking about skipping college after high school, choosing a different education path, or entry point to the workplace. Recently a brighter lens has been focused on the importance of families looking at alternative pathways after high school. Educators, business leaders, and others now encourage families to begin as early as middle school to introduce the many opportunities students can to pursue their talents and interest after high school. If your family is one, I recommend you check out the work underway at American Student Assistance – www.asa.org

Need Someone On Your Team – Consult an Independent Education Advisor

Need help calming the waters, getting started, and addressing technical questions before, during, or after college, consult an experienced independent Education Advisor. They listen, focus on needs, and should have a holistic view from funding to enrolling (and beyond). Plus, you get the peace of mind that a professional is on your team 100% of the time.
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Rethinking the Approach

Recently I spoke with an employee group as part of an educational enrichment program attended by parents of high school and college-age students. We talk about the classic nuts and bolts, managing deadlines, scheduling campus visits, the application processes, and how to pay for college. All are part of the responsibilities parents must oversee as they navigate selecting their students (families) right education pathway after high school.

As the meeting started to break up, a few parents voiced their frustration, some even saying they might have a better chance throwing a lucky penny into a fountain than getting their kids into school and being able to afford it. I looked at the session organizer and asked if we could extend the lunch and learn for those who wanted to continue.

For the next twenty minutes, we discussed the importance of planning, with a twist – it’s time to understand and recognize the wild vortexes families can get drawn into, willingly and unknowingly – why – because we allow ourselves. Parents must rethink their approach to education, work, and careers after high school by first accepting that the system has created some significant pitfalls.

Six Vortexes To Avoid  

  • Emotions – we hope we follow a natural thought process. Still, once our son or daughter gets their hope up, it becomes emotionally driven, and things like the right choice and our financing capabilities get thrown out the window.
  • Financing Realities – after purchasing a home, investing in college is the most expensive life change event in a family’s life. So why do educators, financial planners, and other advisers position families to focus on paying for college incorrectly? Knowing if we can afford the cost is paramount to how we help our students find their authentic education path in high school. Financing first – shopping for the beautiful campus is second.
  • Vanity and Prestige – for some psychological reason, we worry about what our neighbors, relatives, and friends think about the choices we hope our students (family) will make. Are they paying the bill? Are they losing sleep over the agonizing process? Do they really know your student – truly. Or is it some misguided reality game we are allowing ourselves to be playing? Why?
  • First Generation – like having a child (I have four), first-time high school and college-age families have questions and need help. Even if you are a veteran college parent, without practical and experienced-based guidance, you can get overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. Always ask why? How come, and can you help me? Knowledge is power!
  • Poor Communication – there is a massive gap in the flow of information. School systems expect students to communicate vital information to their parents – NOT! Parents with questions or inquiries must seek answers, not wait for meetings. Living in the dark is another primary source of stress and anxiety.
  • Peer Pressure – what 17-year-old will raise their hand and proclaim, no, I’m not following the herd; I’m going to do my way? Education to career planning post-high school is no longer a one-fits-all process. Helping students step out of social media’s shadows and peer pressure to find their authentic self takes courage. Celebrate the student-athlete, the skilled trade professional, the academic dancer, and the community college learner on the same level.

Starting Point – Just One

  • Goals and Expectations – if you are a parent of a high school student and have not discussed four critical topics, then get at it – start helping them shape their future – ask:
    1. What are your strengths, skills, and experiences – in and out of school
    2. Who do you balance a checkbook, calculate compounding interest and be financially literate
    3. What are you interested in, values, hobbies, ideas, and the occasional job, and
    4. What do they like their life to look like? What hopes, dreams, and lifestyle preferences

We ended the intense and highly energetic session with the need to keep talking. Everyone had to go back to work. I shared my number – the office door is always open.

A reminder – this is an emotional process with many peaks and valleys for their students and themselves. And yes (I beat a dead horse), proper planning and asking (not waiting) for guidance, advice, and help will make the journey much more enjoyable.

Ben Franklin once said, “Failing to prepare is planning to fail” The college search, selection, and payment process can be a long, sometimes consuming experience. Understanding the twist and turns, rules of the road, and how they apply to you and your students are crucial to surviving the journey. Need help with your plan? Schedule a free consultation to learn how we are helping students and parents. Text or call 617-240-7350 or email tom@getcollegegoing.com. Learn more at www.getcollegegoing.com

Our four pillars at Get College Going: find the right education pathway, for the right reason, at the right school, at an affordable cost