If you follow dates on the calendar, here are a few to watch for as of today:
- 37 days till Christmas
- 43 Day till new Tax Year
- 43 Day till the start of Regular College Admissions
We’re all waiting for December 25 with joy and excitement, even if it means Santa drops in through the virtual chimney. If you’re the parent of a high school student, 1/1/2021 is a day to circle on the 2021 calendar.
Christmas comes but once a year. We prepare some beginning before Thanksgiving, others hoping for good deals on Black Friday, while others procrastinate till Christmas eve and rush to find one last gift.
College planning can replicate preparing for a significant holiday or life event with many high school students, and parents are ahead of the game; many have unfortunately been procrastinating.
- High school seniors who are still evaluating and considering options have time, but the next deadlines are fast approaching. The pandemic has adjusted many premier colleges and universities’ deadlines; meeting early Spring Admission deadlines can only benefit students.
- Financial aid applications are another story. The timeline is now! Understanding cost, eligibility for financial aid, and the ability to receive timely notification of aid award offer from schools will only happen if the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid is submitted now.
- January 1, 2021, introduces a new tax year that will affect families’ financial aid eligibility for students entering college in September of 2023. That is right; a two-year look back is part of the college financing landscape. Parents of high school juniors, your base year 2020 is closing fast.
Our Thanksgiving feast is right around the corner; 1/1/2021 might seem like tomorrow for many anxious high school parents and students.
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Unprecedented. One word describing the perils of COVID-19 and being felt by many, including high school students and their parents. College planning, the experiencing of finding, selecting, and paying for college can raise the anxiety level for individuals working on the post-high school educational goals.
Placed on temporary holds are many of the events, activities, and ways that students and colleges traditionally connect. College fairs, high school visits, and in-person campus tours have all moved virtually. The Student to College Networking Community (S2C), fosters a new philosophy emphasizing the need for students to be proactive in marketing their interests and talents to college options.
Understanding Enrollment Goals & Needs– Matching student applicants is an art but more of business—the business of attracting students (families) who can meet specific enrollment needs and goals. Schools work to address their Needs that include majors, housing, academic profiles, extra-curricular programs, and socio-economic households. Goals look at the big picture; long term needs affecting revenue, alumni fundraising, and keeping the doors open. Knowing a school’s objectives are critical to the recruitment game.
Who is Recruiting Whom – The college enrollment game is 90% organic, with the majority of the schools relying on the submission of an application to gauge a student’s interest. There is relatively little recruitment. So why do students and parents think it’s the opposite? Glossy viewbooks, brochures, timed campus tours, and limited access to decision-makers fuel anxiety drive consumer behavior. COVID-19 has changed the game. The new playbook is now all about becoming one’s own marketing representative.
Simple Starting Points
- Build a Strong HS Resume – The accomplishments and activities of a student during their high school years are those to be showcased in the resume and communicated during the S2C process. In-school, community-based, academic, personal achievements from 9th grade on are vital. Individual wow factors that define a student are essential to showcase student talents and treasures.
- Engage and Be Authentic – Everything begins with a conversation. It starts through an email, text, or phone call, but centers on a discussion. People exchange pleasantries, get to know each other, build a relationship, and then discuss needs and solutions. As students and their parents work the college list evaluating possibilities, options, and choices, contacts across campus need to be determined and engaged as part of this new S2C initiative.
- 90 Second – When the call comes, when the email or text arrives, be ready. Every student should be able to answer three questions:
- WHY- Attend College?
- Who are You- Accomplish and Personal Characteristics; What Sets You Apart?
- WHAT is the Desired Outcome-Career, Job, Financial Security
- The Fit – Search for colleges and universities that match you. Academic, personality and financial.have a range but be realistic with expectations of competing to get in and affordability. There are over 35oo schools in the US, but everyone chases less than 20%. Be a different consumer and look for the unknowns. They might surprise you!!
- Virtual Communications – School administrators, faculty, and coaches are working like the rest of the workforce, remotely. COVID-19 will dictate how fast they return; its clear things will remain different for a while. Virtual communication, mobile applications, plus the use of texting, email, and phone calls, need to be part of a student’s college plan.
Checking a box on a card (in-person or virtually), registering on a colleges’ Admissions page is important but alone will limit the exposure a student has with a college. A new section of the college planning guide/checklist should include steps on how to stand out to a college or university. Differentiating oneself through their HS Resume and the way they communicate their value to a college or university can be the difference between getting in and earning valuable tuition assistance.
Whether you are a Student, Parent, or Educator looking for quality virtual (college planning) support in uncertain times, Pivotal College Years is making the College Planning Portal for Families FREE to EVERYONE. EVERYTHING you need for college planning in one place. COVID-19 Community Commitment: FREE Until 2021
Paying for College – Know Numbers Early!
Education after high school is a critical life event that every student (and their family) need to prepare for and pursue. Planning one’s pathway is based on academic potential, personal interest, and the motivation to attend that begins as early as middle school and culminates at high school graduation. Planning typically centers around setting goals and expectations, talking about majors and school settings, and one’s readiness to follow an educational path after high school.
But there is the elephant in the room. Students and their parents, many times, search, apply, and even commit to a college or university without understanding the financial implications. Today, the process of purchasing a first-time home, car, or even remolding one’s home requires prequalification. A review of one’s budget, resources, and ability to pay occurs are all part life-changing purchase. The process of prequalifying is to learn what one’s financial gap could be when considering large consumer purchases and how to make wise choices to achieve goals. A process that, to this day, seems to come late in the college shopping experience.
Two Steps to College $$ Prequalification
Parents of rising Sophomore and Juniors with an eye on college should learn their Expected Family Contribution, the EFC number early.! Although not carved in stone, the EFC is the first number used in the process of determining a student and families demonstrated (financial) need. As the first chart illustrates, as options change, so will the cost of attendance (tuition, fees, room, board, and other indirect charges), and need. Secret #1 – the EFC, never changes.
Now we need to learn the rest of the calculation to understand what our financial gap (prequalified) would look like as we go shopping.
As part of the overall college selection process, we need to know a student/family’s tuition assistance number. Tuition Assistance is the financial support provided through multiple sources to help supplement a student/family’s ability to meet the cost of attendance at a specific school. Financial aid, scholarships, grants, and self-help (loans and work) are typically what fills the category. The other driving factor is how a student’s profile matches a school’s admissions requirements and enrollment needs. Secret #2 – Schools have different needs.
So now we have walked through a high-level paying for College 101 Overview. Understanding one’s Financial Gap at the beginning of the college search and selection journey should be part of every college planning checklist. Students and parents should know the numbers, while at the same time, learning about academics, athletics, selectivity, and the graduation rate. In the end, the choice to enroll in the college of one’s dreams must answer the question, is it the right choice, academically, personally, and financially.
Question on your EFC and how to ultimately learn your financial gap, schedule a conversation to learn how Get College Going can help!
Looking for college planning support during these uncertain times, consider Pivotal College Years. Pivotal College Years, an online college planning resource, offers educational information, downloadable reference documents, and resources before, during, and after college. Sign up for Free Access to the College Planning Portal for Families FREE TO EVERYONE until December 31, 2020. Everything you need for college planning in one place!
We double-check triple-check our lists. We visit the doctor and dentist for annual exams. When the “check maintenance light,” the car goes to the garage.
As parents of high school and college-aged students approach the mid-year of their student’s journey, consider a few checkup items for a healthy second half!
Meet College Costs – The sticker price of college is now an investment that rivals buying home. Understanding the direct and indirect costs is an essential part of knowing how to pay. Can we, as a family, afford a net tuition cost of $10K, $20K, or higher? What is our debt tolerance? Parents of high school students should know their spending capability before students go shopping.
Parents of students enrolling or enrolled, are you able to meet and keep up with the costs? As a four-year financing process, anticipating payment costs in years two, three, and four is critical.
- Applying for financial aid, completing the FAFSA is vital whether you’re going to a traditional, community college or part-time program. Don’t leave money on the table!
Hunting for Private Scholarship – Supplement one’s resources to pay for college—undergraduate, graduate, or professional studies. One might say it is time-consuming, but one will never know until they search. Email us to obtain a free Scholarship Guide full of tips and ideas to enhance the search.
Essay, Common Application, and Recommendations – All are an essential part of the application documentation needed when applying. Right now, it is a perfect time to write the essay and personal statements and start the Common Application. The new school year is going to be very hectic for high school seniors. Taking a few items off the list can make for a calmer senior year.
Searching and Raising Your Hand – Where will I go? How will I get in? Are you asking these questions? If so, you’re not alone. Campus tours and visits will return by the end of the summer. Is the college list complete, well rounded, and are you scheduling appointments that were missed this spring or forced to virtual? Do the colleges know you are interested? I bet not. If you’re not calling, texting, or emailing, they don’t!
Gap Year – Be cautious. Each school has its own rules and policies regarding deferring, taking a semester or year off. Contact your school and learn the rules!
Managing Education Loan Debt – Not to be forgotten is the recent core of graduates and individuals already in the workplace and managing the repayment of their education loan debt. The mid-point in the calendar is a perfect time to evaluate one’s ability to manage its debt. Federal loans will be coming out of their temporary hold in September, and refinancing of private loans continue to offer relief. Current loan holders should prepare for the return of monthly loan payments.
- Employers can now be a great assistance to their workforce. New changes to IRS Business Tax Codes allow employers to use education reimbursement funding to assist employees in repaying their education loan debt.
Reopening???? – COVID-19 throws a significant curveball during this first half of the year. Now it is a process of monitoring how schools will be reopening their campuses. Modified academic schedules and dorm living arrangements are being analyzed, questioned, and reviewed, to bring students back to campus. Colleges want and need students back. Plan to return!!
CALM THE WATERS – Are you feeling anxious? Have questions? As a parent of four working college graduates having spent my career in college and high school enrollment (admissions and financial aid) and marketing positions, I understand the complexing of college planning. I welcome the chance to provide clarity and insights to your questions. Feel free to reach me by text or telephone at 617-240-7350 or email at email@example.com.
Looking for a quality virtual (college planning) support during these uncertain times, Pivotal College Years, an affiliated partner of Get College Going, is making the College Planning Portal for Families available to parents, students, educators, EVERYONE, FREE until December 31, 2020. EVERYTHING college before, during, and after-one place, one-click!!
Keep the Plan Alive
We are embracing a whole new lifestyle, means of working and learning. For many, it is a shock to the system, an experience that takes time to adjust. If there is a silver lining to this new experience, it’s that everyone is experiencing it together.
High school students and their parents embracing homeschooling while thinking of the journey beyond, may now be taking on extra stress and anxiety. To help minimize the temptation to be drawn in such a direction, students and their parents need to stick with the plan. Yes, the feeling might be that everything has been turned upside down. However, with a few modifications, adjustments, life can get back on its intended course.
The Great Pause: If life was in its regular rotation and everything was relative, students and their parents would be looking towards September with enrollment in mind. Final lists narrowed, last campus visits, and Q&A’s would be happening. In the end, the goal is to select one’s fit, matching critical selection criteria. Ah, the plan. We shift to virtual tours of campuses, and the use of other touchpoints to finish the evaluations. College and universities are moving to 360 Degree and virtual reality tours, they’ll connect accepted students with faculty, coaches and students. To ease the stress, campuses are rolling back moving deposit days! Campuses are pivoting, so you can too. Remain on track, be flexible, and keep the plan alive!!!
Paying the Bill: In the blink of the eye, this critical aspect of enrolling and attend school went form traditional to the unknown with the snap of the finger. Resources, meeting college costs, and financial aid awards for the incoming Class of 2020, changed in a heartbeat. Students and their parents went from; we can finance that balance too, not now. A message that institutions are hearing loud and clear. Students and families who find themselves experience changes in income, loss of employment, and significant changes to their financial profile need to file an appeal for additional aid. Will, the school, be able to meet all need, most likely not, but their mission will be to reach what is financially possible.
Plan B: All plans, whether when making a restaurant reservation, putting in an offer on a new home, or selecting the choice to pursue one’s next level of education, alternative plans are a reality. Today, this is never truer. If the college list went from broad to my choices, the truth is an opportunity is the list. After filing appeals, is there a new choice that checks all the boxes, including affordability? The question is, can we pivot, and keep the plan alive?
Plan ME: If you’re part of what seems to be a new movement to postpone, defer or not go to college after high school, that’s fine. But do it for the right reasons. If a college has been in your path along, but this current time has paralyzed you. OK, but I challenge you to get work on your plan. Hundreds of colleges need you on their campus, and your fit is ready to accept you. If going to work, invest in a skilled professional role, serving our country is your alternative path, go for it. Make it your plan.
Juniors – Your Journey Awaits!
Essay, Building Your List, learning about your Options, and Speculating Costs. All part of the lives of the incoming Class of 2021. Parents, you, too, have items in your plan that need attention. Yes, I’m talking about what the plan is to meet tuition, the education cost in 2021? Were writing about you next!!
Resources – These are interesting times for sure! Utilizing all of your support and resources is the #1 priority to assist with managing the College Plan. Students need to be proactive and communicate with their High School Counselor, engage college administrators, coaches, and other advisers. As the father of four working college graduates, I know firsthand the effects of stress on relationships at home and work. I also understand and appreciate the power of having a plan, a comprehensive college plan. It will keep everyone focused, and on the same page while traveling on the college search and selection journey.
I have gone to school for twelve (12) years, and I don’t want to go anymore! I do not know what I want to study or major? I’ll go where everyone else is. I’m only applying to these colleges, and I will get in! I’m going to get an athletic scholarship! I heard you and dad talking, I know we have no money. I told you I’m just going to join the Army.
These and other statements and questions are part of many household conversations in neighborhoods all over the North Shore, Eastern MA, and beyond. Parents and grandparents of middle and high school students are involved in the process of wondering, planning, and for some worrying about the path of a student after high school. Struggle, confusion, and stress are also common around this time of year.
When asked how to manage my student and bring harmony to my house during this daunting and sometimes overwhelming experience, my question is, do you have a plan. We plan for retirement, when taking a vacation, we make to-do lists and restaurant reservation. Managing the journey through high school and beyond calls for a plan, beginning as early as middle school. A strategy built on the goals wants and abilities of a student and the financial capabilities of the family. A plan that evolves and adjusts due to change but can serve as a foundation to map a student’s journey through high school and beyond.
Historically, March plays a pivotal role in the timeline for college planning. Parents and grandparents of Sophomores and Juniors begin their journey through learning and awareness. Tapping into resources through one’s high school, attending seminars and workshops, and yes, surfing the net and having “heart to heart” conversations around the kitchen table, are many of the starting points. Over the coming months (18-24 months), the plan will guide, direct, and monitor the many tasks and responsibilities. If followed, the plan can bring harmony and joy to any household.
Starting a Plan
- Step One: Explore the world of possibilities after high school; college, work, skilled professional, military.
- Step Two: Schedule a family financial checkup early. We do it for our health and wellness, even our car. Learning how much one can afford before we are shopping can be helpful.
- Step Three: Build a plan that shoots for the stars but is realistic at its core.
- Step Four: Work the plan, make modifications, let it evolve, and it will bring harmony to the experience.
March also sees HS seniors approaching their finish line as final Offers of Acceptance and equally important Financial Aid Award Letters arrive at home. These critical documents are evaluated and compared to select one’s final choice, one’s “fit,” the institution that will receive a student’s May 1st Deposit.
For decades the general plan was that everyone needed to go to college. If not, it was work or the military. Now, there is a more significant movement, a greater acceptance to slow the rush for students who are not sure if they want to attend college after high school. Yes, the tendency is to follow society pressures, but sending a student who is not academically prepared, motivated at the idea, or with the financial support will have a negative impact. Use the same concept of the college plan to map out the next steps that can include Community College, work, or a blend of both. If we have learned anything from the recent/ongoing Varsity Blues Scandal, chasings society’s pressures do not always work out best for the student and family. Send up being the best plan!!
Learning and Educational Programs
Before the internet, DIY, chasing millions of hits and website leads, many of us obtained information by attending workshops. Workshops that offered chances to examine timely details, ask questions specific to one’s world, and learn with one’s peers. These types of programs are making a revival through the new Spotlight Connect Program. New venues are now available for students, parents, and extended family members to gain critical information to aid in their college experience.
Pivotal College Years is another resource I would recommend parents to investigate. Yes, we need the internet, but we do not need 335Million hits to research when looking for admissions and financial aid information. Pivotal College years are an online content library supported by a team of experts, including us at Get College Going.