A Dirty Dozen College Financial Aid, Scholarships And Admissions Mistakes

Pearl and I have tallied more than 79 deadly mistakes parents (and kids) make in the college admissions, financial aid, scholarships and test prep process, but in this post  I’ll cover a mere three of the biggies.

Mistake 1 is an error of omission – assuming that you can’t qualify for ANY type of financial aid or scholarships.  I say “mistake of omission” because this gaffe involves something that you DON’T do – learn about all readily available sources of funding.

The average college tuition discount, nationally, is 49.1% – including need-based and merit based offers.  Ergo, paying full price is a choice, not a “have to!”  (Note:  that will be my last use of “ergo” this year.)

You’d be surprised at who gets aid, specifically, what KIND of families and how much they make on paper.

Spoiler alert:  it’s not only low-income families, aid goes mostly to six-figure earners, fair or not!

Then there’s money that comes from the good ol’ tax code, especially for business owners by way of deductions and other strategies to pay with pre-tax dollars.

Bottom line:  I have never met a family, in 17 years in the college planning biz, who can’t get at least 25-33% off “sticker price.”

Mistake 2 is all about the college list and the irrational reasons kids -and parents – choose colleges.

He wants “Rah rah?”

The campus “felt right?”

“I just knew when I got out of the car?”

(Counterpart:  “He wouldn’t even get out of the car when we got there, he’s not applying there.”)

High rank/prestige.

(Counterpart:  “She worked too hard in high school to go to THAT school, it’s too easy to get into.”)

Yeah, ok.

How about factors like career center support, recruiting on campus, alumni network or graduate school placement percentages?

Why are these considerations afterthoughts?

(Awkward silence.)

Mistake 3:  “Winging it.”  I hear it from parents all the time, “I can’t believe she’s a junior, I remember when she was in pre-school!  We have no idea where to start!”

Look, even if you’re not mentally or emotionally ready to deal, the college thang is a-happenin.’  Like a train that arrives and departs at set times, without caring whether you’re ready.

You’re either on board – or left behind on the platform.

The sooner you deal, the better.  Even if your high school guidance department doesn’t have the College Meeting until your kid is a junior, get your butt in there a year or two sooner.

Admissions officers will judge your child’s body of work from 9th grade on, so the sooner you plan, the greater your odds of college success.

There, that’s three of the biggie college mistakes.

I’m running a series of live workshops starting this Saturday morning (Huntington) where I plan to cover a Dirty Dozen mistakes to avoid, and answer as many audience questions as time permits.  Here’s our workshop calendar that lists dates, times and locations:


Please forward/share this with anyone you know who is uptight about the college process and could use some real world advice!

The schedule goes out through April, and I anticipate adding a handful to the current docket.

The presentations are designed as a “101” level intro to college planning for parents of HS juniors, sophomores and younger.  There is nothing to buy or weird coercion to fork over your wallets, either.

However, I will admit that these presentations are not full of the same-old, same-old you may have heard at your high school “College Night.”

Truthfully, my presentations are slightly politically-incorrect, and I’m never 100% sure what’s going to come out of my mouth.

But I can promise that I will share EVERYTHING possible, in 60-90 minutes, that is agenda-free and purely based on our real world experience advising and coaching families who get into Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Duke, Cornell…

…as well as community colleges, state universities and everything in between.

I’ll also work in some case studies about negotiating with colleges, which, again, will be based on actual experience derived from years in the trenches, not theoretical fluff.

If you’re non-local or too busy to come, we’re planning a webinar in the next 7-10 days, so keep your eyes peeled 🙂

See ya!

-Andy “King Of Mistakes” Lockwood’

P.S. We’ve received a small, growing flurry of emails and calls from people looking for me to answer their questions.  Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do this because I’m too busy with our current, paying clients.

But that’s exactly why I do a lot of live events, webinars and our live shows on our Facebook page – to help parents, anwer their questions, etc. for free.

Here’s the schedule of upcoming events, which are all free, for old time’s sake :).