To Which School Should You Apply?

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You’ve done your research…

You’ve gathered all the information you believe you’ll need…

You’re ready, willing, and able to make an informed, reasonable, and heartfelt decision, picking the right school for you…

Hold your horses, youngster!

Are you truly ready? Have you reviewed the list of potential schools from the following angles?

Will it be an informed decision?

Do you have ALL of the facts? Are you missing any information? Fill in your gaps, finding the needed information online, from publications, or from a phone conversation with a representative of the school.

Will it be a reasonable decision?

Have you actually considered your chances of acceptance at the schools in which you are most interested? While you may be confident about being admitted, do you know if you meet the admission criteria? More importantly, do you know if you’ll be able to afford those schools?

Will it be a heartfelt decision?

Are you basing your choice strictly on measurable data? Or, are you following your intuition and instincts, as well? Follow your gut! Be sure you feel good about the campus and the people there. Be sure the school is challenging and fits your personality.

Will it be the right decision?

Are you sure you’ll be happy attending any school that made your final cut? Be sure to pick 2-3 “dream” schools, provided you have a real chance of being admitted. Pick 2-3 schools that aren’t as selective as the “dream” schools, but meet much of your selection criteria. And, pick 2-3 “safe” schools, schools you know you’ll like and that will admit you.

If you carefully consider each school that made your list of final possibilities, be assured that, regardless how things transpire, you will be attending the right school for you.

Qualifying for Merit Aid

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Other than need-based aid for which many do not qualify, the next best source for covering the cost-of-attendance is merit aid. Merit aid can reduce the cost-of-attendance by a significant amount.

So, how do you qualify for merit aid?

Merit aid is “free” money (e.g., grants, scholarship, tuition discounts) awarded by the school to certain applicants based on the value they’ll bring the school. As the money comes from the schools, they can set any criteria they choose.

Merit aid typically is awarded for a variety of non-need reasons, such as academic achievement, athletic talent, or musical/artistic ability. Furthermore, the school simply may be looking to attract students in order to meet enrollment goals.

What’s the secret?

Applying to schools that want you and that have the money to give. Be sure to look for schools that:

  • Offer merit aid (not all do);
  • Have a history of awarding generous grants and scholarships;
  • Will consider you a top student (you’d be in the top 25% of the recently admitted class);
  • Will consider you valuable based on major, gender, home state, musical talent, athletic ability, background, or ethnicity; and/or,
  • Will award you for your exceptionally strong desire to attend that institution.

While applying for admission may qualify you for merit aid, there actually may be a separate application process (at least for certain awards). And, there may be additional requirements.

Be sure to confirm the process with the school’s admissions department.

Be careful…

At most schools, merit aid counts toward meeting your financial need. And, these awards usually come with requirements, such as maintaining a certain GPA. Finally, some may be for freshmen only, designed to entice an applicant to enroll at that school.

If you need help finding the schools that award the most free money for your particular student, contact our Professional College Planners for assistance with your family’s college planning campaign.

Admittance to Highly Selective Schools


What does it really take to get admitted to a school like a Harvard or a Yale?

Do you have what it takes?

You may have an exceptional, even stellar, academic record and you may not be admitted.

Every applicant to a highly selective school has a “perfect” GPA, strong AP or IB performance, astronomical ACT/SAT test scores, amazing extracurricular and leadership resumes, outstanding letters of recommendation, and personal statements beyond compare.

They demonstrate exceptional talent in a plethora of areas; yet, many are turned away. In fact. Most are denied admittance by the most selective schools.

What is your “X” factor? What makes your application “POP?”

Who knows?

It may just depend entirely on which admissions officer picks up your application and how he or she feels on that particular day. There is no rhyme or reason to the process when highly selective schools are involved.

Yet, such a school may not be the right school for you.

Competition doesn’t end once you’re admitted; in fact, it may just be beginning. You’ll find a blistering academic pace, peers who rather enjoy the extreme pressures, professors who expect you to stand on your own with little-to-no hand-holding. Moreover, extracurriculars may be just as demanding and intense.

No two schools are the same, highly selective schools included. Evaluate them just as you would any other school. Be sure they match your requirements; don’t try to fit into theirs.

Despite your level of determination and no matter how good your chances may be, find a number of “backup” schools. Many offer the qualities of the highly selective without much of the pressure.

You just may attend one of them…

Contact our Professional College Planners for assistance in finding the right school for your son or daughter at the right price for your budget.

School Loans and Your Love Life

Can school loans, both student and parent, affect your love life?


According to an article by Shawn M. Carter found on the CNBC website, based on a Student Loan Hero survey of more than 1,000 Americans with school debt:

32% stated that stress caused by debt has decreased their sex drive.   In fact, for some, that stress has led to arguments over finances, topic avoidance altogether, or both;

43% stated they “somewhat often” argue with their partners over money;

36% indicated they have lied about money;

24% have kept school loans a secret;

46% have delayed starting a family due to their school debt load; and,

35% have delayed discussions of marriage.

According to another survey (joint research by Discover and Match Media Group) of more than 2,000 online daters:

58% found good credit in a partner more attractive than driving a nice car;

50% believe good credit is more important than an impressive job title; and,

40% favor good credit over physical fitness.

Accordingly, “All of this points to a desire to see a strong financial foundation – and how having a plan for the future can be more important to potential partners than not having debt today.”


If you’re now in, or currently contemplating, a relationship, be forthcoming about your debt.

You’re in good company, as more than 44 million Americans hold around $1.4 trillion in school debt.

What should be your course of action?

The reality is this:

  • Whether you’re parents with college-bound 7th-12th graders with the prospect of future school loans, both student and parent;
  • Whether your currently in the midst of amassing school loan debt, as a student or a parent; or,
  • Whether you’re in the post-graduate phase wondering how in the world you’ll pay off the debt;

You need to implement and follow a plan.

The good news?!?

We have a no-cost program that, if followed, typically can get an individual or family out of debt in 9 years or less, including mortgages and student loans, without them spending any more than is currently being spent and with negligible effect on current lifestyle. Moreover, the program also can provide a structure for preparing for and paying off projected school loans.


Contact our Professional College Planners for more information.

Private Source Scholarship Application Tips


Applying for private source scholarships is much like applying for admission to your schools of interest – match your strengths to the scholarship sponsor’s needs!

Get Organized. Implement a system for tracking the scholarship requirements and for filing materials that may be needed for the application.

Keep a Calendar. Be sure to include all deadlines and follow-up dates.

Prepare a Checklist for Each Scholarship’s Requirements. Check them off as you complete them.

Prepare a Separate Folder for Each Application. Include all materials related to the scholarship, including a copy of the completed application.

Develop a Resume of Your Accomplishments. Use it as a reference as you complete each application. Make it available to your letter of recommendation writers.

Gather Commonly Requested Items. Include tax returns. Financial aid applications. Essay samples, letters of recommendation (give writers three weeks to write and send their letters), and (perhaps) an incredibly attractive headshot.

Be sure to review the submission package. Incomplete applications, those with errors, and those that violate any of the rules are quickly eliminated.

And, if you can’t meet the deadline, don’t waste your time. Your application must demonstrate that you not only meet, but exceed (if possible) the stated requirements. Provide evidence (academic and/or extracurricular) of your interest in matters related to the scholarship.

First impressions mean everything. Use correct spelling and grammar.

If applications are by paper, type answers or print clearly, and include your name on each page you submit. If sending by mail, utilize a delivery system that allows you to track delivery.

If online, be sure all files (in the requested format) have been attached. Submit the application as early as possible.

And, be sure to follow up with the organization if you haven’t heard back in three to four months.

Good luck!

Is it Possible to Improve Your Chances of Admission?


When you gaze upon the faces of your classmates, do you wonder if you’re really just an average student?

Do you wonder then, if you’re “average,” if and how you’ll be able to improve your chances of being admitted to the schools of your choice?

Shoot, maybe you wonder if you’ll be admitted to any school at all…

Did you know that admissions officers are most interested in innovative students, in students that show a passion for learning?

So, how can you become an ideal candidate?

First, challenge yourself!

Seek out the most challenging courses available to you. If you aren’t enrolled in high school honors courses, enroll in some. If already enrolled in honors courses and your school offers AP courses, consider taking some of those. Schools will notice if you do well.

Next, familiarize yourself with standardized tests!

There’s only one way to improve your confidence, temper your nerves, and become more efficient. Yep, you guessed it – practice, practice, practice.

Next, step beyond your schoolwork!

Good grades and community activism no longer make you stand out. Schools look for students who work hard outside the classroom throughout their high school careers, who stick to commitments, and who demonstrate leadership skills.

Next, improve your writing ability!

Showcase your writing. While poor writing skills can ruin chances, grammatically correct, well-thought responses and essays can tip the scales dramatically in your favor. Ask skilled writers you know for advice on how to improve grammar and communication skills.

Finally, search out assistance!

Don’t make this trip alone. Take advantage of those who can help, whether it be a teacher, your parents, a guidance counselor, or college reps. They can be of tremendous benefit as you navigate this road to a higher education.

Contact our Professional College Planners for assistance in finding the right school at the right price for your children (and your budget)!


2 Question You Absolutely MUST Answer Today!

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If you’re a current college planning client, a prospective college planning client, or an individual or family with outstanding debt (e.g., mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, etc.), there are 2 questions you MUST answer truthfully, if only to yourself…

First – Are you 100% sure you’re going to have a great retirement, or do you have some doubt?

If you’re like most people I engage in conversation on a daily basis (and you’re honest with yourself), you have some doubt.

You’ve seen what the market has done twice since 1999 and how the “corrections” have decimated people’s retirement accounts and plans.

Second – What if I could show you how to get out of debt in 9 years or less, including your mortgage (and student loans, if applicable), without spending any additional money than you are right now…would that be of interest to you?

Without question, everyone I’ve asked that questions responds with a resounding “Heck, yeah!” (Actually, many have used a different word than “heck”!)

Earlier this month, I received training in a program designed to do just that – get families totally out of debt typically in 9 years or less AND provide for a great retirement.

If you find this incredibly hard to believe, I completely understand. I know you’re thinking, “That Baird dude must think I’m a nimrod. No one seems to be able to get out of debt, let alone in 9 years or less. This program has to be too good to be true.”

Well, maybe it is…

However, the results show otherwise.

In fact, I’m so convinced of the power behind the program that I’m recommending it to every current client of mine and will place every prospective client of mine on this program.

The program is that powerful!

Maybe you’re the exception to the rule, the one person or family that has no hope of ever getting out of debt, no hope of a great or even comfortable retirement, destined to work until you keel over from exhaustion…

But, what if the program could work for you, too??

Isn’t it worth taking some time to see what the program might be able to do for you and your family?

I’d wager that, if you reach out to schedule an appointment, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and want to implement your own get-out-of-debt-completely plan.

And, if you don’t, well you’ve got years and decades ahead of you in which you’ll live just as you always have…

I’m waiting for your call (317-536-1391) or email (…