Year after year, college-bound teens and their families commit the same mistakes, which can prevent them from attending the “Dream Colleges” they deserve at the prices they need! Here’s a short list to help you manage the college process successfully.
1. Not applying for financial aid because you assume that you will not qualify for anything. It’s not only low income families that receive financial aid and scholarships. Most funding goes to families in the top quartile of income, i.e. six-figure earners.
2. Focusing on rank. US News & World Report built a business out of ranking colleges. But if you look at the criteria used, you won’t find anything relating to quality of education.
Rank is easily manipulated. Ever wonder why colleges that were “safety” schools when we grew up are now crazy-hard to get into? Today, you need a 1400 SAT or low 30’s ACT and a solid A average to be admitted to U Miami. In the 1980s, you’d get in if you had a C average, rich parents and a drug habit. (Google, “How Northeastern gamed the rankings” for the jaw dropping story about how another “regular” college became elite.)
3. Naivete about the truth: College is a business. You likely understand this, but if you’re uncertain, tour a college and check out the workout facilities and dining options. Oh, and the rock climbing wall. And Lazy River. Are you at a college or a resort? Yes!
Here’s how you can beat them at their own game. Apply to colleges that compete with one another! This way you might be able to improve your scholarship or financial aid award by “playing them off” each other.
4. Blowing deadlines. Most families fixate on Early Decision or Early Action deadlines, commonly November 1 or November 15 (but they vary by college). However, all-too-often parents get blindsided by priority financial aid deadlines, which are buried in on each college’s website.
Priority financial aid deadlines also vary from college to college, so you must research which forms to file – and when to file them – for each and every college on your list. The FAFSA and CSS Profile come out October 1, but the DEADLINES to file are whenever each college tells you to submit them. If you inadvertently blow a deadline, you’ll miss out on grants and scholarships you otherwise deserve.
5. Starting too late. I could rack off another 25 mistakes that could sabotage your chances of admission and/or getting funds without breaking a sweat. Most of the time these errors can be easily avoided…if you get a jump on the process and go about it strategically, not by merely “winging it” at the last minute.
Andrew Lockwood, J.D. wrote the best selling books How to Pay ‘Wholesale’ for College, The Incomparable Applicant and College Essay Insider Secrets. He and Pearl Lockwood (his wife, the last name isn’t a coincidence) own Lockwood College Consulting in Jericho and specialize in helping “Forgotten Middle Class” families get into, and pay discounted prices for the best colleges in the country. Contact us today for a complimentary College Strategy Session by going to www.BookLockwood.com!