Mid-Year Check-up

Mid-Year Check-up

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 tom@getcollegegoing.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!!

Navigating College Decisions During Unsettling Times

Navigating College Decisions During Unsettling Times

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.

Mapping the Journey Through High School and Beyond

Mapping the Journey Through High School and Beyond

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.

No Idea

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.

Scholarship Sunday

Scholarship Sunday

Football on Sunday drives everyone’s competitive mojo. The game of hunting for scholarships requires some strategy and a lot of luck. Just like the game of football.

There are the classic plays and those that can surprise you. Some scholarship providers, schools, philanthropic and high schools, control the matching and awarding, while others require some tenacity on the part of the student to compete on talent and leadership.

Sampling of Offerings

Massachusetts Public Programs
Small Private
Big Private
Adult Students – Traditional & Community College
Early Grade Search

Get your game on and if you need a little more sideline help click and read more about the scholarship search!!
School Bells are Ringing

School Bells are Ringing

Attention Parents with High School Students

Planning for the new school year is underway. Trips to the mall, school supplies, getting ready for classes and new surroundings are now top of mind. Question: Is planning for after high school on your mind?

Freshman and Sophomore – The newest students to the high school scene will be experiencing new surroundings, academic thills, and the start of building their resume. Freshman and Sophomore students should use this time for discovery and exploring what interests and motivates; academically and personally.  For the family, it is time to learn about college cost and a review of financial capabilities.

Juniors – This is the pivotal college year and September is when it all begins. Time to create the post-high school plan! A plan that maps out the steps, tasks, and activities required to enroll in college, start a skilled professional career or maybe a combination of both. Here’s when the search, evaluation, and hard-core preparation for post-high school decision making truly begins. Visiting colleges, promoting a student’s interest, test-taking and determining how to pay for college just a few of the things many things to do during this pivotal year. Hint: the clock ticks quickly!!

Seniors – If a plan is not in place or not being worked, it’s scramble time!! What typically takes the whole junior year now must be condensed into 3-6 months. Doable, yes. Faster pace and a little more intense, for sure!  For those seniors already working their plan, September kicks into gear the final steps and action items including filing admissions and financial aid applications and culminating by making a choice! It’s all about the 3 W’s and one H – on the fast track!!

6 Keys to Making the Post High School Move Easier

The thought of determining what happens after high school can turn calm and easy-going households into the Goliath ride at Six Flags. A ride that can make what should be an exciting experience a stressful ball of fire. Here are a few ways to turn a potentially wild ride into a smooth and rewarding experience.

Communication

Communication is the #1 ingredient when developing the secret sauce for a successful experience. Establishing and keeping a stream of information flowing is critical. A two-way flow that feeds openly by a student, parent(s), and others involved. Strong communication that is connected to a sound plan is essential to mapping out what’s next for a student after high school.

Expectations

Understanding what one wants to do, might be thinking, and capable of, are critical to the planning process. Majors, type of schools, family spending power, available resources are just a few areas that need to be on the table. Identifying wants and understanding expectation is essential. Being on the same wavelength is critical for everyone on the team. Communicating and maintaining a clear understanding of expectation adds to the success of the secret sauce.

Understanding the Game 

Knowledge is power. Learning and understanding the different parts of one’s options, moving on to college, securing an apprenticeship or even enlistment in the service is critical to the sauce. Deadlines, application flows, cost, eligibility for funding resources are complicated in themselves. Developing and maintaining a strong understanding of all the parts will make connecting them easier. Asking questions, attending information sessions, and obtaining information are all critical steps to the learning experience.

Share the Tasks

As they say, there is no “I” in team! Everyone, a student, parent(s), school administrators, teachers, coaches, and extended family members are all part of guiding a student’s next move. The work should be shared and communicate regularly. Researching, networking, traveling to college visits, and managing the calendar of events is a group effort. No one person can or will do it all!!

Be Realistic

“Dream big but be realistic.” A statement used when we encourage and motivate students to strive to be their best. Out of fear and societal influences we under mind to the true essence of the message. We fail to celebrate the value of individuality. In the college world, it worsens when students and families exceed their realistic levels, a measurement of authentic (genuine) abilities and capabilities.  As a result, students and families overshot their opportunity to be “their best,” only to keep up with classmates, myths, and those dam societal pressures. Let’s shift the conversation. Dream big, be realistic, and be proud!!

Have a Plan

Today, mapping one’s path after high school can be very overwhelming. College, work, skilled professional, military service, a gap year can easily lead to I don’t know! Sometimes the pressure can make one seem like the Mad-Hatter; too much to do, not enough time.  Add in what society and social media communicates, and yes, it’s no wonder more, and more students and families do not struggle with their options and choices. Utilizing a comprehensive college plan can be the key to reducing stress and helping everyone stay focused. Putting a plan in place that outlines tasks, activities deadlines and critical steps throughout the junior and senior year can bring harmony to any household

Still Thinking? Undecided

Still Thinking? Undecided

National Decision Day has come and gone. Students have made their choices and are now thinking about roommates, orientation and summer work. Parents are shifting their thoughts from acceptance to trying to figure out how to pay the educational cost.

But what about me? I didn’t commit – I’m still undecided. You’re not alone!

Considering college after high school can be a very stressful and overwhelming experience. For some the process of deciding on what to do and where can require a little extra time.  Today the pressure to go to college straight out of high school may not be the right “next step” for all. Pursuing one’s education after high school can take multiple paths, each designed to support an individual student and family needs.

Yes, the general trend continues to be that all high school students and families to think four-year college right after high school.  Although a traditional path to college after high school is not wrong, the pressure to follow the pack is wrong. Working through one’s college plan can take a student past May 1 and for some offer alternative paths, equally important to students desired career, first job outcome.

Delaying one’s choice, stepping back and slowing the decision-making process can be a wise option for many students and families. On the fence, not 100% sure are strong reasons to invest more time. Questions related to academic and personal readiness, ability to pay and overall interest in school are all valid reasons to take one’s time. College planning is an individual experience!

What’re my options?

Enrollment at traditional college and universities did not end on May 1, National Decision Day. The truth be told, a vast number of colleges and universities across the county (400+) are still accepting and enrolling students for September. In Massachusetts alone, 25 schools (as of May 13) are actively considering new admissions applications and some even have financial aid available. Across New England, NY and the Mid-Atlantic there are 120+ college and universities actively looking for you. As the process moved past the May 1 date, rolling admissions kicks in! Interested students and families who are ready should contact the Admissions Office at their school(s) of interest to learn about their specific admissions and financial aid procedures.  Applications for admissions and financial aid will be required and details related to following up should be watched closely.

If a 4YR school is just too early than beginning at community college first is just the right thing. Completing one’s Associate Degree and transferring to a 4-Year institution is an excellent option and one that should be celebrated. In the fall of 2017, 34%1 of the total undergraduate student population was enrolled in a community college. Attending a two-year program is a great option that allows a student to strengthen their academic and personal resume and obtain an Associate’s Degree at a very affordable rate. For those who begin at a community college individual states, like Massachusetts, Maine and others offer tuition and enrollment incentives for students to utilize the Associates to Bachelors educational paths.

Ok, but if the idea of going to school after high school is just not in the cards, launching into work is a perfect way to use the gap to analyze current and future goals. Work and learn! The need for trade and skilled professionals as well as individuals working in financial services, healthcare and sales are all critically needed today. In the fall of 2017, 58% of those students enrolled in school after high school was part-time2. High school and recent graduates who are interested in this path, work and earn, are encouraged to continue with their direct employment searches, building their personal network and using a local career center. Investigating trade organizations like the IEBW is also an excellent resource for those thinking of a skilled professional or apprenticeship.

Choosing to attend college right out of high school is not an easy task. It requires a strong evaluation of the student wants, needs and expectations. It should not be based on the fact that everyone is going or even one single consideration. It is about where will the investment; academic, social, emotional, financial and career-outcome will take a student. For if the investment hits the mark then the selection for the college is the “right fit”!!

 

1 Community College Research Center (CCRC)

2 US Bureau of Labor