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.
Thanksgiving Week, No Time to Pause the College Planning Button
The Fall is usually an exciting month for high school & college students as they return to the classroom and campus activities. This year, life is just a little different. Covid-19 and its domino effects on the education system, social interaction, and athletics programs have made for a very turbulent and stressful time. As a parent of four, now working adults, I continue to ask myself, what if I was parenting right now. What would I do? Answer- keep to the plan moving forward.
Sticking to the plan, one focused on goals and expectations, is the best medicine for dealing with uncertainty. High school and college-age students and those who recently entered the workforce are better equipped to pivot and adjust when dealing with the unexpected before, during, and after college. Here are a few time-sensitive tasks and action items that should be part of this month’s plan.
- Deadlines – Application deadlines for high school seniors is now upon us. Admissions and financial aid applications are available, ready for completion and submissions. Getting in and paying for college are driven by two essential applications, the Common App and the FAFSA. Each critical, each requiring time and attention to be completed and filed timely.
- Students electing to apply EARLY should have sent in their Common Application by now. Students who are holding off or still making their final choices are now looking at December 1- through February 1, 2021 deadlines.
NOTE: Colleges are waiting for applications; if ready, don’t wait for future deadlines-file them now.
- The FAFSA, the Free Application for Student Aid, should be completed and submitted as early as possible. The Application launches the process of determining a student and family’s eligibility for need-based financial aid. Aid provided from sources including colleges and universities, federal and state, and external sources (employers, civic/community/philanthropic organizations).
Note: All students with an eye on attending college in September of 2021 need to complete the FAFSA.
- Compare and Evaluate – a continuous process that leads to making a final college selection. For some students and their families, it is immediate; for others, additional time to analyze offers before saying yes. The process can include revisiting a campus, the academic curriculum, and the student life scene, which might change one’s perception and impact one’s goals and expectations over time. Evaluating and questioning is common and can be healthy. A life change event like enrolling in college should answer the question, is this the right one for me? Academic, social, emotional, and financial. Will the college I select set me on my path? Deposit Day is May 1, 2021.
- Prequalification before Shopping – the college lists are ready, but how many students and families have evaluated the cost. College is expensive, ranging from $116,000 to $215,000, public and private in-state. Such a big-ticket purchase should first begin with a simple prequalification. Sticker price minus tuition assistance equals the net cost to the student and their family. Dreaming I can get in and hoping I can pay is a recipe for trouble, financial trouble.
- Evaluating during a pandemic – traditional meet and greet and campus tours are out. Virtual tours, self-guided campus visits are now the play of the day. However, we will return to actual campus visits sometime this Spring, and current juniors and their parents need to be ready. Ready with their top options and the hardcore questions to be asking when finally meeting with college representatives.
- Standing Out – Never has it been more critical for students to build relationships and raise awareness on college campuses. In these current times of canceled high school visits and college fairs, relationship building between students and college representatives is not happening. To stand out, students need to become a marketer, communicating, and engaging college. Texting, email, and phone calls are three ways a student and college representatives can connect. Waiting for college could result in lost opportunities for acceptance and financial offers. Raise your hand and say hello today!
Workforce November Checklist
- Returning to School – COVID-19 might have dusted off the idea of returning to college to complete a degree, start a new one (BS/MS/MD) or add a professional skill. Institutions are looking to your interest and can get you started quickly. Consider your eligibility for employee reimbursement benefits, federal and institutional financial aid, or use of programs offered through MassHire and the Career Centers in Salem and Woburn.
- Managing Educational Debt – federal student loans and some private education loan programs have been on hold during the CV-19 pandemic. But come December 31 and no additional offerings from Washington, loan payments will once again be due. Now is the time to evaluate the use of education loan refinancing to help stabilize budgets and loan payments, lock in all-time loan rates and help with the overall management of education loan debt post-CV-19. Resources are available to help with best practice decisions, including those through AAA Northeast.
CALMING THE WATERS – Are you feeling anxious? Have questions? Everything starts with a Conversation – Text, phone [617-240-7350], or email at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow me on FB/getcollegegoing – Learn more at www.getcollegegoing.com
Looking for quality virtual (college planning) support during these uncertain times, Pivotal College Years, an affiliated partner of Get College Going, and is making the College Planning Portal for Families FREE to EVERYONE until December 31, 2020. EVERYTHING college before, during, and after, in one place.
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.
Start a conversation – 617-240-7350 or email@example.com
September 2022 – today’s high school Juniors – the pause button might be on as your student adjusts to the new classroom setting and class schedules. Still, I encourage you to provide time to talk about your student’s educational pathway after high school. If the conversation leans towards college after high school, click the button, and start the college planning process. Building and refining college lists, learning your family’s prequalified financing numbers, visiting college campuses (virtually now), and engage college representatives can be time-consuming. Providing time to plan and complete tasks will bring harmony to our already stressful days.
September 2021 – there is no pause button for high school seniors considering college next September. College lists, campus conversations, and evaluation should be entering their final checklist stages. Here are three pressing assignments:
- October 1 – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is available for completion. All students (and families) considering enrolling in college in September of 2021 and interested in applying for financial aid must complete the FAFSA. Whether the student begins at Traditional Four-Year, Community College, and approved Technical and Professional Program, obtaining financial aid starts with the FAFSA. Read these helpful tips before starting.
- Common Application, Essay, and Recommendations – All admissions application documentation and supporting material (art portfolios) should be nearing completion for HS Seniors at this time. Application submission for many schools will begin as early as November 1 (Early Action) and run right through to January 1 of 2021. Read important tips shared by Shelly Honeycutt, co-creator of Pivotal College Years.
- Word on Test Score– if a student had the chance to sit for the exam, excellent. Consider including the score if it supports the student. If there is an opportunity to sit for October/November test, sign up and take the exam. If you can’t, don’t panic, colleges and universities know of the enormous challenges experienced by students this year. Press forward with GPA, rank, the other essential student differentiators!!
Today, September 2020 – If the current pandemic has caused a pause and the thought of returning to college is now top of mind, many options are available. Complete the degree started, tackle the Masters, or increase professional certifications through a single course.
Student Loan Repayment – lurching in the path of another storm is December 31, 2020. Unless there are other rulings from Washington, federal student loans placed on hold due to the pandemic will begin new or return on December 31. Student loan borrowers need to prepare for this change and if needed, investigate education loan consolidation or refinancing, especially if high-interest private loans are part of the picture.
September welcomes in the Fall and so much more…
CALMING THE WATERS – Are you feeling anxious? Have questions? Feel free to reach by text or telephone [617-240-7350], email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on Facebook /getcollegegoing
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 FREE to EVERYONE until December 31, 2020. EVERYTHING college before, during, and after, in one place.
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 YOUR Numbers Early!
Education after high school is a critical life event that every student (and their family) needs 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 Prequalification
Parents of rising Sophomores 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 family’s demonstrated (financial) need. As the first chart illustrates, as school options change, so will the cost of attendance (tuition, fees, room, board, and other indirect charges), and the demonstrated 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 what a student/family might earn in tuition assistance money? Tuition Assistance is the financial support that comes from 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 fill the category. The other driving factor is how a student’s profile matches a school’s admissions requirements, enrollment, and business (revenue) needs. Secret #2 – Schools have different needs; students offer different values; schools award students different money!
So we have walked through a high-level paying for College 101 Overview. Understanding the family’s financial gap is in essence a form of pre-approval, pre-qualification. The beginning of the college search and selection journey with numbers in mind is like buying a first home. You can fall in love with the home, but if you can’t afford to move in you’ll be in financial trouble. Falling in love with the “dream” school can be the same.
Find the right education path, for the right reason, at the right school for the right investment!
Questions 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 Access to the College Planning Portal for Families Everything you need for college planning in one place!