- Common Challenge: Failing to plan early enough. Often parents say, “I wish I would have known” or “I have time.” Many procrastinate because they want to avoid the numbers. They often take a head in the sand approach.
Proactive Solution: Begin planning when the student is in 9th or 10th grade; 11th and 12th grade is the time to execute the plan.
- Common Challenge: Failing to do the necessary research and a lack of understanding that these are all systems – college selection, college funding, scholarship mining.
Proactive Solution: Select a list of 50-60 schools you can afford and whittle it down to a smaller list of 3-5 that meet your other criteria. The same approach can work with scholarships.
- Common Challenge: Many miss out on several of the options available. Often parents say, “I’ll figure it out later.”
Proactive Solution: Parents get educated early and first, then get your child involved. Explain the various processes; lay out the options. Remember: this is a parent/student partnership.
It’s so important to begin your college strategy with a longview and long runway so the student’s take off is as smooth as possible. There may be a few bumps along the runway and a little turbulence at take off, but not nearly as much as will be experienced with last minute planning or no plan at all.
- Focus on the fundamentals through middle school and into early high school – develop good study habits, notetaking techniques, test taking skills – the basics that will will prep them to take the ACT and SAT (it’s hard to start thinking about and prepping for these when the student is in 11th and 12th grade.
- Focus on a strong GPA – more options are available.
- Explore what you like/love to do and have a pretty good idea which path you want to follow.
- Understand college costs.
- Understand EFC (Expected Family Contribution), which s a number that determines students’ eligibility for federal student aid.
- Understand scholarships (needs-based, merit-based, etc.)
- Disregard college rankings info – it’s meaningless.
- Understand and use the net price calculator for your school of choice (if there are glaring discrepancies between your calculations and your college’s costs, don’t be afraid to rock the ivory tower – don’t accept any large differences in costs, ask questions.
It’s not the destination that’s most important, it’s the journey.
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YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE, CHOOSE CONSCIOUSLY!