College Planning & High School Parents

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The recent college admissions scandal served to highlight the confusion and worry faced by millions of parents as they confront the college planning process.

Confused and worried they are; confused and worried they should be. Most parents have delayed planning for a multitude of reasons, many of them believing they had time to plan.

The reality is they need to begin planning earlier than ever before, long before second semester junior year or the beginning of senior year in high school. Planning should begin somewhere between 7th-10th grade. The earlier, the better!

Where should parents initially place their focus?

First, remember the college planning campaign (it is a campaign) is about your child. It’s not about you. There are well over 3,500 four-year schools, many of which will be perfectly suited to your child.

It needn’t be an Ivy or other select private institution. It should be a school at which your child will flourish. A broad search is required to find the right school at the right price.

Second, remember that your money matters. While we want to offer our children the best opportunity, the education should not be one you can’t afford.

How do you know what you can afford? Have you had a professional college planner review your family’s financial situation? Do you know how to find the schools that will offer your child an excellent education and the most “free money?” Do you know that “sticker price” is rarely what a family pays?

As the financial aid forms aren’t completed until fall of senior year in high school, you should search out a professional college planner sometime during your child’s 7th-10th grade years. During that time, there are a variety of options to pursue regarding all financial obligations, not just college funding.

Third, remember college is not just about career planning. While a college education should focus on the probability of employment following graduation, the education is about much more than that. It’s about gaining life experience (independence, responsibility, exposure to those different from you, etc.), value that may not directly impact the bottom line.

Finally, remember your child’s entire high school career matters. It’s not just about academics; it’s also about extracurriculars. Your child should explore a variety of interests early on, then focus on those interests that matter most to them.

Be sure to have a plan for the high school years, not just about funding sources, but about the aspects that will most affect school admissions. And, as it is a college planning campaign, seriously consider engaging the services of a professional college planner.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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