Over the past few months, I have been reading, updating information, and talking to parents and higher education colleagues. I must confess I am concerned. It appears we are on the doorsteps of another year of College Planning Paralysis (CPP). Coined by Shelley Honeycutt, founder of Pivotal College Years, College Planning Paralysis is a syndrome affecting families of high school and college-aged students. It is discouraging to speak with and learn of the sheer number of parents suffering from CPP.
College Planning Paralysis
Most family’s experience a mild case of College Planning Paralysis (CPP), missing a few deadlines, a campus visit, or a task that generally doesn’t cause an issue. Schools are selected, applications submitted (admission and financial aid), and students ultimately enroll. But in other cases, CPP can throw households into a tailspin. Relationships become tested and the mental and physical well-being of the family. Stress, fatigue, anxiety, and panic become part of one’s daily life. CPP can disrupt school and work performance. CPP plays out in many ways, including:
- Decisions made on emotions, not based on realistic goals
- Financing strategies that turn into excessive debt due to borrowing
- Post-high school goals derailed due to attitude and lack of motivation
- Enrolling in college because everyone is going
Tips to Avoid College Planning Paralysis
- Start now – as a family, map out the post-high school goals and needs
- Conduct an honest review of financial and academic capabilities
- Draw up an individualized plan to follow; make life easier at home, school, and work
- Include a checklist to meet deadlines and manage everyday tasks
- Ignore external distractions that can derail wise personal choices
- Learn your price point. What can you afford, annually and 4-years?
- Learn the terminology – Expected Family Contribution, Net Price, Cost of Attendance, Selectivity
- Look beyond the rankings and consider unknown schools when building a college list
- Don’t be afraid to stop, ask questions, and seek guidance
As I mentioned in a previous post, the pandemic has changed the game. So STOP the College Planning Paralysis and get moving today. Understand the rules and processes of admissions and financial aid and how decisions can affect family budgets, long-term debt, and sound education choices.
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 complexity 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.