by Todd Fothergill, Founder

One lesson I’ve seen play out over the past 30 years is this:  If you don’t have a plan for college admissions and funding, the government and the colleges have one for you – and it’s going to be stressful, inefficient and expensive.  Allow me to provide a few tips on how to avoid this scenario.

Tip 1:  Identify the major activities that need to be part of your plan.  Things like college visits, standardized testing, applications and essay writing are only a few of the things you’ll need to get on your calendar.  If you need help with this, download this Special Report.  It will show you how to get organized, what needs to be done and the timeline for each major event.

Tip 2:  Start early.  Sounds trite, but once you identify all the relevant activities you will immediately recognize that your planning should begin when your child enters 9th grade.  Need convincing?  The tax year that will determine eligibility for your child’s financial aid in college year one will begin in January of the sophomore year in high school.  If you will be seeking funding at the campus level, you need to be an early bird.  You’ll want to know how the college financial aid game works as early as possible.

Tip 3:  Learn how to tune out the “experts” who have gone through the process with one student.  These well-meaning folks believe they have it figured out and are all too happy to share their expertise with you.  Remember, they are operating on a sample size of N=1.

Tip 4:  Get to know your school counselor early.  Determine the level of expertise in the admissions process and be aware that school counselors are under tremendous time constraints.  If you are satisfied that your school can provide what you need for the college search and admissions process, go with it.  If not, seek an independent admissions counselor.

Tip 5:  Your accountant and financial advisers are very unlikely to be knowledgeable about college financial aid and college funding.  If you are not a numbers person, find an expert in college aid.  If you are a numbers person, you have a lot of research to complete.  Remember, this could be a $300,000 decision for one of your children.  It’s probably prudent to find an expert.

Good luck on your journey.