I hope you all do not think I forgot about you. I always like to remind you that I am a full-time college planner and only a part-time blogger and podcaster. My absence has largely been attributed to the busy time of our college planning season. This is the time of year that so many families begin to come from out of nowhere, ready to plan and in a sudden state of panic. At last count, I am working with over 170 families with probably 20-30 more families that will come on board before the end of the year.
Thanksgiving has come and gone and the busy shopping season has brought me a long weekend to allow me catch-up on my work, my blog and podcast. I think this is a great time to reach out to all of the procrastinators and leave them with a useful set of tools and concepts that may point them in the right direction with their college plans. These points may not apply to all of you, but are each worth considering as you navigate the college planning process. Here are as many key points that I think you can still use even this late into the process.
1. Your in-state option may be the most expensive option. This is probably the one statement that gets the most incredulous looks from the families and students I talk to. There are many private colleges that have large endowments that allow them to discount their costs a significant amount. Often times, families have so many more options than were originally thought. Posted below is a link to a great article from U.S News & World Report that discusses the finer points.
2. Did you miss early action? No big deal. Most students do not really see the benefit of early action. Most families should be fine getting their college applications in by the regular deadline. For procrastinators, this still leaves you with at least 2-3 more months to plan before the application deadline. Students need to be really sure that their transcripts up to junior year are enough to get into the college of their choice. Early action may also leave students without the benefit of showcasing their senior year. Here is an online article from the Boston Globe that talks about the pros and cons:
3. Stressed about getting into a college? Colleges are probably more stressed about filling their seats. Many great private colleges don’t even fill all of their seats by the May 1st national decision deadline and may accept applicants beyond May 1st. This is not an excuse to procrastinate even more, but an opportunity to really take more time to properly consider more college options. Colleges like to discount their costs with significant scholarships to get your student to fill an empty seat. Many colleges that struggle to fill their seats include some very prestigious institutions. You can take advantage if this situation. It may prove to be a mutually beneficial relationship. Your student gets a great education at a great discount and he or she fills a vacancy that the college desperately needs to fill. Below is a link to a recent article that may gibe you some additional insights.
4. Colleges compete. This piece of information can result in a very generous award letter. If you can leverage like colleges against each other, you can open up more options for your student while increasing the awards from each college. It is not unheard of to use a competing college’s award letter as a way to negotiate a better award at another college. You can’t get colleges such as an Ivy League to compete with your local pubic college. You have to have colleges of equal academic and financial level, such as two elite private colleges or maybe a couple private college just a step below the elite level. The link below will take you to a great podcast that shines a light on this little known fact.
5. Leverage your social media and don’t hide from it. So many students hide from social media in fear of getting caught doing something they don’t want the colleges to see. Instead of hiding, students should embrace social media. There may not be many social media strategies left for college admissions, but there are still a lot of social media tools at your disposal to research colleges. Your student needs to create a LinkedIn profile and make use of LinkedIn’s University Pages to research potential colleges, alumni, common occupations and employers associated with each college. Starting today, your student can document their college experience and set themselves up for a strong network of potential employers by the time they graduate. Be sure to look into Social Assurity. Founded by Alan Katzman, they are defining the intersection of higher education and social media and can give you the tolls you need to properly leverage your social media. A link to their site is posted below.
No more procrastinating. Get your college plan started today!