Common App "Glitch"

So I received two panicked calls last night and this morning – from a client who shall remain nameless – about problems with the Common App.

My first thought was, “Oh no, here we go again,” since last year’s Common App was a disaster.

So far this year, I haven’t seen any issues, until now.

The problem was that the client could not select his high school. And if he couldn’t, there’s probably another 500,000 or so other frustrated families who can’t either.

The solution was to use the browser Firefox, instead of Google Chrome, to fill it out.

(This fix constitutes 50% of my technical knowledge, the other 50% is “turn computer off, turn back on.”)

But there’s a bigger problem than a stupid glitch on the Common App. I’m talking about:

  • 48% of college grads have not found full time work two years after graduation
  • Huge amounts of college grads are employed in jobs that don’t require college degrees (the “college graduate underemployment rate” – 46% according to the Wall Street Journal
  • AVerage student debt is $33,000, 10% of borrowers is 90 days late or more on loan payments.
  • Parent loan debt is on the rise, although it’s hard to find recent stats on this, interestingly

What’s the solution?

First, this may sound odd coming from a “College Guy” and may cause you to leave my email list, but not all kids should go to college. If you’re in the bottom 40% of your class, you should take a hard look in the mirror.

Second, every college-bound teen should do some career counseling. I know, I know, what 16 year old kid knows what he wants to do?

Answer: not many, even the kids who claim they’ve always wanted to be a vet because they like their cat.

Or a lawyer because “they’re good at arguing.”

Here’s a quick anecdote I’ve been telling a lot.

We had a client who wanted to be an architect since he was in utero. Always played with Legos, interned with a local firm, went to “architecture camp” over the summer (sounds almost as fun as “Band Camp”).

Young Roark (not his name but note the clever reference) does our career exercise and has a conference call with our career counselor, me and his parents. Lo and behold, the field of architecture correlates highly with his interests and aptitudes.

But there’s one problem: he’s unlikely to make a living. Architecture is not exactly a growth business these days, due largely to a lousy construction market.

In our case, we refocused him on other careers that also correlated highly with his skills and interests and how he liked to learn and work. But 99% of kids never do this.

That’s why kids switch majors two – three times.

It’s also a big reason why kids take six years to graduate, which costs more not only in terms of extra tuition, but also the opportunity cost of being stuck in school and not earning a starting salary ($40K/year? 50K?)

I recently drew a line in the sand and have demanded that all new clients sit with our career planning partner. Even though “demand” makes me sound a little pouty, I hope you agree that the stakes of the game are too high to ignore this.

After all, college isn’t really about the next four years of your child’s life, it’s about the next 40.

Your Correspondent,

– Andy Lockwood

P.S. Got any of these concerns, or other college-related questions? Book a “Mini Strategy Session,” free.

P.P.S. Please forward this email to anyone who needs to hear this stuff:  friend, family, guidance counselor, client, guy in a van down by the river…