College planning is now upon us. When high school juniors and their parents begin the journey, they ultimately find the student joining the incoming class 2022 at the college of their choice. This is an exciting time, occasionally a nerve-racking time culminating with a student opening the door to their next educational experience.
When asked how to start, my answer is always, create a college plan, a comprehensive plan. A college plan provides peace of mind to all participating in the student’s journey to find their right match. A plan provides clarity, aids with communication, and keeps everyone moving forward, supporting students in reaching their educational goals after high school.
A Good Plan Should Include?
- Tools to assist a student and their family determine their college financing capabilities and financial needs. College is an expensive investment, so students and their parents must be under costs, financing, and debt tolerance. Information essential to the search and selection process, a process well known for every who has purchased their first home.
- A process to create a broad view of colleges and universities options that, when narrowed, becomes the student’s pool of right-fit schools. A group of schools checks the boxes for goals and needs and challenges students to exceed their high school accomplishments and achievements.
- Structure to help keep students, their parents, and other family members organized and accountable. The college experience can be complicated and overwhelming, and for busy households, the structure offered through a college plan is essential. Important for students with heavy in and out of school commitments, parents who travel, and divorced or separated parents. Surprises typically lead to heightened anxiety and frequently miss opportunities.
- Provide resources and tools to navigate the journey during unprecedented times. Resources and tools are both conventional and new to support a student and their family through the search, selection, and financing processes. Students and parents today need help with alternative methods to accomplish critical tasks in the absence of college high school visits, college fairs, and virtual worlds.
- The guidance and direction need to connect multiple components, and stages into one efficiently managed holistic college enrollment experience.
A college plan is not merely a checklist managed through software. It is an ever-changing process that must be easily adapted based on external forces, unpredicted changes, and the student and their family’s underlining needs. It requires open, two-way communication with participation at all levels. A college plan should spark questions and helps dismay myths.
Consult an Independent College Counselor
An experienced college counselor (can’t fault me for banging my own horn) can help a student and their family develops and manage a customized college plan. A plan that meets individual needs, expectations, and capabilities. A college counselor can cut the stress of the process considerably by layout clear timelines and ensuring the student and parents invest in submitting the strongest application possible. Using a holistic lens, a good counselor will connect all aspects of the college experience, finding, enrolling, and financing the right college to career choice.
Schedule a free consultation and receive a customized plan for your student and family!
Planning saves time, reduces stress, and creates harmony within a household.
Rank, GPA, academic rigor, test scores, sports, dance, and part-time work are many of the components that make up a high school student’s resume. As parents, we work hard to guide our students to become their best, authentic selves. We motivate our students with rewards if they work hard academically and become good citizens.
So why does a student with a stellar resume find themselves deferred or waitlisted at their dream college? Do they receive little or no tuition assistance, scholarships, or need-based grants if they are accepted? The answer is, it is not always about the student.
In a previous article, Pre-qualifying For College Costs, we discussed how important it is for students/parents to know their financial numbers before starting their college search. Equally important is knowing that higher education institutions are businesses. Not unlike students and their families, colleges and universities have their needs and wants. As a business, higher educational institution must manage their needs and wants against hundreds of influencers and business factors. Sometimes these are in direct conflict with the consumer group they are trying to serve.
How do these factors affect students/parents and their college choices?
ð Supply and Demand – selective institutions are reporting dramatic increases in their incoming applications pool while others are down. Changes are partly due to amended admissions policies, heavy brand marketing, and continued societal pressures: But 60K applications for 3100 enrollment seats. With over 4200 degree-granting colleges and universities in the US, students and parents need to shop as consumers and explore a broad view of all options, offerings, and possibilities.
ð Revenue – college and universities rely on tuition and fees and indirect revenue from housing, athletic events, and on-campus consumer purchases. Swings in enrollment, on/off-campus learning, and other concerns due to the pandemic may result in belt-tightening. The financial status of an institution should always be on the radar, just like at home.
ð FIT – is the academic, personal and financial match that all students and parents strive for during the college planning process. As previously noted, college and universities have their fit, which can mirror a student or be very different. Mastering the FIT can depend on how achievements, personal accomplishments, and authentic self-align with the needs. Results can be surprising and very rewarding.
ð Costs – achieving educational goals within the realm of one’s financial means is the art of affordability. Knowing how the sticker price becomes the consumer price is every college consumer’s challenge. Understanding the impact of tuition assistance, scholarships, need-based, and self-help aid is essential to the affordability equation.
ð Emotional Purchasing – investing in one’s education is a personal and monetary commitment, a big one. Relying on information gathered, research, consultation with knowledgeable advisers, and yes, a time-tested pros and cons process a student and family can make a wise personal and financial decision.
The incoming class of 2022 are on their journey now. Students and parents are encouraged to create their college plan on realistic goals and expectations while keeping a keen eye on the needs, the student and higher education institutions.
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!!