Fair warning, this is a bit of a “mini-rant.”
But I need to get this off my chest, because it’s been going on for far too long…
…and it’s hurting our kids’ futures.
Be honest – we choose colleges for the dumbest reasons. Just because a particular college “went deep” in the NCAA tournament, or is in The South, or happens to be festooned on the rear window stickers of cars in your neighborhood, does NOT mean that it’s a “good school.”
Even US News & World Report rank is seriously flawed – not to mention easily manipulatable. I wish guidance counselors would explain this to their students – and parents.
The next gripe has to do with getting our kids’ hopes up about their chances of admission at top colleges. It’s easy – and, frankly, a bit lazy – to use a tool like Naviance and proclaim, “These are your Safeties, Targets and Reaches.” How helpful is this?
You be the judge. Naviance factors two things: academic credentials (grades and standardized test scores) and how your child stacks up compared to his/her peers from that high school.
However, academic credentials are weighted approximately 60% (!) in the overall admissions decision. In other words, Naviance ignores 40% of the elements that admissions officers examine. How comfortable can you feel?
College admissions is more marketing than meritocracy!
Even if you don’t like it.
Even if it’s “not fair.”
The other fatal flaw is that your kid is facing competition from all over the world, not merely from your particular high school. I know you and your kids are curious about where you stand, but how are you supposed to rely on this microscopic amount of information?
You’re competing with thousands of kids with the same grades and scores, Naviance shows you a handful of them, artificially chosen.
Problem 3 is that most kids – and parents – don’t have a serious college planning discussion until late in 11th grade, when they have “The Meeting” with their guidance counselor (and walk out with the same list of colleges as the family who met with her before them).
My issue is that kids start creating their “body of work” that admissions officers will judge as early as 9th grade. By the time you meet with your guidance counselor, at least half of the choices and decisions about classes, extracurricular activities, what to do over the summer and so forth will already have been made. Whoops!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing individual guidance counselors, although I know that many will take what I’ve written this way. Guidance counselors are part of the system, but most of them are hard working, they have far more to do than meet with kids about college, and most genuinely mean well.
Look, I listed only three problems here, I didn’t get into financial aid, scholarships, college essays, negotiating with colleges and a LOT more stuff that needs to be addressed.
I’m conducting a free workshop on all of the above this Wednesday night, in Garden City.
Discussions topics include:
Which types of savings accounts “penalize” you in the financial aid formulas, which do not count against you at all
What to do at the 11th hour if you’ve saved in the wrong places
The inconvenient, politically incorrect truth about what college admissions officers REALLY want to see (hint: it’s not just super high grades and ridiculous standardized test scores)
How millionaires can get discounts of 48.6% off the cost of college
How to “10X” odds of admission, even if your kid didn’t cure a deadly disease last summer or build a village in a Third World country over winter break
WARNING: your guidance counselor’s, accountant’s or “financial guy’s” advice may have SABOTAGED your chances of aid
The new changes to the FAFSA financial aid form and what they mean for your family
The surprising truth about what admissions officers are REALLY looking for
Little-known financial aid “loopholes” for business owners
Negotiation secrets: How a mild-mannered college planner got an extra $30,000 – per year – out of a top West Coast college AFTER its “final” offer
We added more seats last week, so please send this invitation along to any of your fellow parents who are facing the same obstacles and have the same questions. As long as we have room, they’re welcome to come!
I hope you can make it, especially if you have a Class of 2018 or 2019 kid.
Andy “Busted Bracket” Lockwood
P.S. I know the tone of this message was a little, ahem, “strong,” but our kids are facing severe obstacles and I feel like someone needs to shout til they’re blue in the face about it to get us all to wake up: Student debt and defaults continue to skyrocket, 50% of kids who graduated college two years ago STILL don’t have jobs that require a college degree, 93% of employers say that college grads are unprepared to work for them. I could go on, but you get the point! 🙂