Gardens are returning to their luster, greenhouses are restocking, and the grower in all of us is ready to plant some seeds.
Families of high school seniors are on the doorstep of closing out their journey. May 1st, National Deposit Day is just around the corner, and crunch time is upon them. Big decisions, exciting decisions are just a few weeks away.
Those in the wings, 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade students and their parents, are activity working and may be experiencing a little anxiety. The business of college planning does not take a break. The journey to find the right education, for the right reason, at the right school, and for the best investment is a 360o experience.
Getting to Yes
Finding a college starts with setting goals, identifying needs, and understanding expectations, which are realistic and authentic. It is a process of meeting admission and financial aid administrators, visiting campuses, speaking with students and faculty, and looking at the surroundings. It’s students performing a little self-evaluation on what might be one’s academic interest and families questioning where they can afford college.
Seniors and their families that have traveled this exciting journey are now reaching the end. In my private practice, I ask all students to consider five categories. Compare the final choices to determine which one checks all the boxes using the categories. It’s time to say yes to the college.
Which school will provide a student with the chance to?
- Grow academically, technically, and personally, bringing them to the next level, prepare for graduate school, or enter the workforce
- Provide an environment to meet personal needs; remain healthy, in mind, body, and soul
- Make introductions to individuals who share one’s passion for learning and socialization
- Be affordable with the right financial support to minimize personal debt level
- Offer internships, access to alumni, and foster completion – graduate in four years
Comparing Offers is Critical
April is also when the eyes of students and families turn to finalize strategies to finance college. Comparing offers is critical, and sometimes, the first choice is the most expensive. Many award letters look the same; however, a deeper examination reveals differences. How do they compare? As shown in the chart, looking deeper into the configuration of the awards, differences do exist. Although the sticker price is never the actual price, what are the contributing awards that make up the net price?
Note: If an award letter includes a Federal PLUS Loan, which is a credit-based loan, this loan is not a guaranteed award. A separate application and approval process is required.
Don’t Wait for the Bill – Are You Ready to Pay?
They will be arriving in July, if not sooner. What is your financing strategy? Will it be a monthly payment plan, alternative private student loan, savings, or a combination? What is the debt tolerance level if borrowing is the only resource? Email firstname.lastname@example.org receive a free copy of the Pivotal College Year’s College Funding Workbook.
9th | 10th | 11th Grades – No, I Haven’t Forgotten You
What is the WHY for attending college after high school? Your tasks and activities to answer the question should be in high gear. Enrolling students in challenging curricula for strong grades (GPA), curating personal development, reviewing testing strategies, exploring talent, and investing to give back or work should all be on the table. Here are six core parts of a successful college plan:
- Understand college costs, tuition assistance works, and what will is expected – financially.
- Learn the supply and demand side of higher education?
- Work on student development; academic, personal, talent, and civic.
- Don’t fall to social pressures; celebrate the authenticity and needs of the student.
- Define and map out the Admissions and Financial Aid Strategy
- Be known as a student of interest, especially to schools of interest.
Don’t wait for the plan to come to you. Seek out the guidance, advice, and resources to create and manage a successful college plan. A click of your fingers – and it’s the senior year!
Consult an Independent Education Advisor
Everything begins with a conversation. Need help calming the waters, getting started, or just answering questions. We’re here to listen, focus on needs and expectations, and help students and families manage realistic and holistic college planning, before, during, and after college. PLUS, we’re parents just like you!