12 Tips For A Successful College Trip

Here’s the dirty little secret about those college tours (sales pitches) and “info sessions” (sales pitches):  they’re a dime a dozen!

Yes, I think it’s important to see the new science building, the new rock climbing and aquatic center, and even those blue lights scattered all over campus.

However, after two or three college visits, things get blurry because the presentations start to blend in.  So here are my suggestions on how to maximize your precious college visiting time.

  1. Go NOW.  Even if you’re “not ready” or can’t seem to find the time, prioritize it. You will run out of time, sooner or later.

  2. Go when college is in session – February and April breaks are coming up, presenting two perfect opportunities!

  3. Try NOT to visit over the summer when most colleges are ghost towns.  It’s much better to go when they’re in session, so you can observe the types of kids who go there (e.g. those pulled from a Vineyard Vines catalog vs. unwashed kids with blue hair, guyliner and tatts), eavesdrop on what they’re talking about, look at the various flyers posted around campus, read the school newspaper, etc.

  4. Relax if you can’t see all 4,000 colleges in the US.  Nobody can visit every college.  Do your best.  At least see a small, medium and large college for starters.

  5. On the other hand, be aware that some colleges consider how “interested” you are in them more than others.  In other words, if you fail to visit a college that deems your interest to be important to them, you will sabotage your chances of admission.

  6. Don’t base your decision on whether to apply to any school solely on the tour guide, the info session, mascot, the hoodies in the bookstore or, my personal favorite, the “Feel.”   I’m NOT saying that you should disregard these critical considerations completely, just put them in their proper place.

  7. Instead, make time to speak to department heads of majors you’re considering.  Go to the career center.  Speak to upperclassmen.

  8. Ask questions that bear on what YOUR college experience could be like and what your OUTCOME might be, such as, “I’m thinking about majoring in X.  What happened to last year’s grads with that major?”  “Last year, who did the best in terms of job offers, admission to grad school, etc.?”  “What companies recruit on campus?”  “What type of assistance and support does the career center offer by way of internships, coaching on interviews, resume writing help and so on?”

  9. No helicoptering.  Let your kids ask questions while you keep your yapper shut.  You’ll have other opportunities to create cringe-worthy memories for your children, don’t do it on the tour.

  10. Re:  department heads, it’s pretty easy to contact them and arrange a sit-down.  Don’t be surprised if they’re flattered or impressed. Likewise, don’t be surprised if you learn more about that college than from any of their online or offline materials (photos of acne-free kids of every nationality and color, frolicking on the quad in tee shirts and shorts, even if the college is located in Buffalo or the upper midwest.)

  11. Take notes and photos, which will jog your memory when you need it:  when narrowing your list, and when writing essays that ask “‘Why are you applying here?”

  12. Don’t visit “Reach” schools only. In other words, don’t plan a trip to see Harvard and MIT and no other colleges if you have an 89 average and a 1250 on your SAT.  Balance the list with a Safety or Target.

I hope that helps!  For more free college admissions tips and strategies to multiply your odds of getting in – and winning boatloads of fat, juicy scholarships attend one of our upcoming webinars.  See www.CollegeAdmissionsWebcast.com.

Twas The Night Before FAFSA

Twas the night before FAFSA

And all through the nation

Parents were sweating bullets

Over the cost of higher education

 

“These forms are so annoying!”

One poor father cried

As he sat shuffling papers

While a part of him died

 

“Honey, what’s the big deal?”

The mother inquired

“Our daughter deserves the best

Even if you can never retire!”

 

“I’m all for a great college”

The father practically sobbed

“But I won’t pay for rock climbing or safe spaces

Unless they help her get a job”

 

The mom stopped and stared

And gave dad the stink-eye

So he turned back to his FAFSA

With a shrug and a sigh

 

But he couldn’t let it go

Because in his assessment

College is a big rip off

With no return on investment

 

“Does she even have to go?”

He wondered to himself

“Why can’t she just read a few books

On any library bookshelf?”

 

Lost in his thoughts

He became more dismayed

Because he knew even Ivy League grads

Don’t have it made in the shade

 

But he knew better than to argue

He didn’t want to bicker

Even as he realized

He’d pay a quarter mill for a dumb rear window sticker

 

He snapped out of his fog

And turned back to see

If he filed his FAFSA

Whether he’d get a good EFC

 

“They want me to pay WHAT?”

The dad went ballistic

“What orifice should I pull that from?

How can they be so unrealistic?”

 

“I played by the rules

I saved how I was advised

I lived below my means

But now I’m being penalized!”

 

On that cold winter’s night

He entered his own private hell

Because “winging it” in college planning

Almost never ends well

 

But suddenly, he remembered

A tip from a college guy

He corrected his FAFSA

Giving it the old College Try

 

This time, the result was different!

The dad was MUCH less stressed

Now he could afford to send his daughter

Where she could study, party and protest!

 

Which change did he make

What kind of damage control?

He remembered a strategy

A little-known loophole

 

Financial aid rules are wacky

The regulations are obscene

They go on for more than 1,100 pages

And they’re punitive and Byzantine

 

But sometimes a family

With a little planning and luck

Can level the playing field

So they don’t end up getting…hosed

 

Thankfully, all ended well

For this mom, dad and student

And we can all agree

That failing to plan for college is imprudent

 

How To Cope With “Admissions Armageddon”

What happens if you don’t get into your “Dream College?”

Easy – your life is O-V-E-R. Finito. Caput.

Thanks for reading this post!

Fine, perhaps this is a slight exaggeration. Here some thoughts on rejection from your top choice college.

First, understand that there is no scientific proof that it actually matters where you attend college. Only hunches and anecdotal evidence.

There’s a famous study (that no-one’s ever heard of) by a Princeton economist that tracks graduates of A., Ivy League and equivalent colleges versus B., kids who graduated non-elite schools.

Each group had similar grades and standardized test scores. In the first study, the economists compared kids who were admitted to each type of college, but half chose option B. After 10 years each cohort earned approximately the same income.

Years later, the same economists tracked the success of similarly academically credentialed college applicants, except this time group A attended an Ivy or equivalent, but group B was rejected by all elite colleges and attended a less competitive school.

Same result – no difference in earnings between the two cohorts.

Now, I am not claiming that it’s completely irrelevant where you attend college. Attending a college with a powerful alumni network undeniably opens doors post-college. But a few comments are in order.

One of the inherent flaws or limitations in studies like these, or college rankings, is what college students PUT IN to the schools they attend, especially how much they avail themselves of internships and other opportunities provided by the college.
Another thought: perhaps a kid rejected by a top school goes to college with a chip on his shoulder and works harder to “show them?”

Comment Deux: If a child wants to pursue a career in finance, I see how it’s worth “paying up” for a Wharton or similar school with a great alumni network. If one of my kids got into a college like that and was interested in working on Wall Street, I’d consider getting three jobs and selling a kidney to pay for it.

On the other hand, if one of my kids were interested in a career like teaching, I do not see the value in shelling out $70K per year. I’ll keep my kidney, thank you very much. But that’s just me.

Here’s a non-hypothetical example. Pearl and I have a client whose daughter is a sophomore at a good – non-elite – private liberal arts college. The parents cannot afford to send her, so they are selling their home. Wait – that’s not the crazy part.

Their daughter has not yet chosen a major and has a 3.0 average, barely. But she’s always loooooooved this college, so mom and dad are frittering away their biggest asset in order to keep her happy.

Our client is not crazy, and not dumb. She knows what she’s doing, Pearl and I have had numerous conversations with her over the years. We don’t judge. But seriously, c’mon!

My point is that, even when you DO get into your “Dream College,” it may not turn out the way you had hoped.

Finally, some of the most successful people in the world were rejected by their top choice schools, Warren Buffett and Tina Fey are two that come to mind. My guess is that they could have gone anywhere and been wildly successful.

It may sting if you’re rejected by your Dream College, but your kid will get over it and it will have zero effect on their success post-college.

FAFSA Corrections, IDOCs And OCA’s (Other Confusing Acronyms)

We’re *ss-deep in FAFSAs and CSS Profiles around here but I wanted to issue a public service announcement to clients and non-clients alike.

FAFSA “Corrections:”  Financial aid applicants can receive notices of “correction” for many reasons.  One of the most annoying/misleading occurs when you apply to more than 10 schools.

Listen up, hear me now and believe me later:  FAFSA takes 10 colleges in one “batch.”  If you have 12 colleges on your list, the procedure should be to file the first 10, then wait two-three days for FAFSA to process.  THEN, go back into FAFSA, delete two colleges, ADD the missing two and resend.

Bam!

This addition is a “correction” in FAFSA speak, nothing more.  Remain calm.

CSS Profile IDOC: Here’s what’s up with IDOC.  After you file a CSS Profile, you will likely receive a notice from the good folks at the College Board that they need your tax returns, W-2’s, etc.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE – use IDOC to upload your info, follow the directions, they’re easy and not a scam either 🙂

Bonus “Fun” 

Don’t wait until the last minute to file anything.  There have been issues with the CSS Profile website, seemingly due to high volume and, I suspect, a hasty redesign of their site for this season.  Here’s a comforting “Alert” that Pearl’s been seeing intermittently for the last few days when she attempts to file our clients’ CSS Profiles:

If you’re interested in our help with your financial aid forms, here’s where to go:

Financial Aid Warrior Forms Prep Service

We are not accepting November 1 deadlines, fyi – just sayin’ 🙂

Speak soon,

– Andy “Financial Aid Scoop” Lockwood

P.S. If you have questions about our forms prep or other services, email us at vip@andylockwood.com or call 516-882-5464

Don’t Be SPOOKED By The High Cost Of College!

Good eeeeeeve-a-ning……

Quick question:

Are you starring in your own horror movie?

If the financial aid process makes you feel like you’re starring in your own horror movie..

…You know, where everyone in the theater knows what’s going to happen – the actor is about to “get it”when she finds herself in a basement, attic or other abandoned site…

….and hesitantly, stupidly, walks toward some creepy noise (instead of getting the heck outta there!)….

…then pauses, deciding what to do, only to inexplicably open the dark, creaky door, then…

Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!

She comes face to face with the monster!

Are YOU that actor?

Financial aid season is here, and the monster is the criminally insane price of college!

But you have one, last chance…we can rescue you from certain doom!

On Monday night (not day, we have to avoid direct sunlight), the little Countess and I are running a new webinar, 21 Deadly Financial Aid Mistakes That Can SLAUGHTER Your Chances Of Getting What You Need – And Deserve!

There’s so much at, ahem, STAKE, you don’t want to miss it!

On this presentation, you will unearth the dark magical secrets of how to:

  • Qualify for every last dollar of financial aid you’re entitled to
  • Avoid ghastly, money-sucking mistakes BURIED in the financial aid forms that could slaughter your chances of receiving the award you deserve
  • Adhere to every DEADline the creepy folks in the financial aid office torture you with
  • Actually RELAX and take a deep breath (remember what that feels like?) during this incredibly high pressure – high stakes – moment in your and your family’s precarious lives!

Don’t let the FAFSA, CSS Profile, financial aid office and monstrously overpriced, rip-off colleges do unspeakably horrible things to you –  register for Monday night’s free webinar:

www.FAFSAmistakes.com

All of the gruesome details, time, location, what to wear (please don’t conceal your neck), etc. are on that registration page.

Please invite some other victims, um, “friends,” who could use this information.

See you on “The Other Side”

Count Andrew FAFSALA Von Lockwuud

Undead College Planner

P.S.  I know, this email was a smidge goofy.  But Pearl and I are GRAVELY serious about helping families avoid staggering student loans (currently $1.4 Trillion with defaults constantly rising), a Zombie-like economy where 50% of college gradutates don’t have jobs TWO YEARS post-graduation.  Not to mention all the parents who sacrifice their retirements and mortgage their financial future up to the eyeballs just to pay for college.

Avoid these horrible fates – enroll today before it’s too late!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>REGISTER FOR MONDAY NIGHT’S FINANCIAL AID MISTAKES WEBINAR

P.P.S.  Bwah ha hahahahahaha!!!!!

How To Get Your Act Together For College

Financial aid, scholarships, application and essay tips you won't hear at your HS "College Night"

andy college shirt pearl red patterned shirt

Over the years, we’ve heard some of the STUPIDEST things from guidance counselors.

  • Don’t submit a resume, it’s too “braggy” and you’ll make the admissions officer feel badly
  • Stick with [State University], it’s the best you can do
  • You won’t get any money for college, it’s a waste of time to apply (but you should still sit through an excruciating line by line 90-minute presentation in our cafeteria on the FAFSA!)

Look, I actually like most guidance counselors, especially the ones who care and admit that “they don’t know what they don’t know.”

But you’re the one about to send your kiddo to college, and you need answers.

Answers to questions like,

How do I even apply for financial aid?

Should I bother, I own a home, have a job and pay my bills?

I’ve heard how easy it is to screw up the forms, how do I avoid checking the wrong box or messing up something else?

Is it true that there are “loopholes” that can help me qualify for more financial aid?  I don’t care how sleazy or illegal they are, I can’t pay $65,000 per year per kid!

That’s why we’re hosting a brand-new, free presentation for parents of Class of 2018 and younger,  How To Get Your Act Together For College.

REGISTER FOR WEBINAR

We’re going to cover a bunch of checklist items for financial aid, scholarships, applications, essays, college visits, interviews, even how to handle your guidance counselor.

(We will NOT be discussing any sleazy or illegal tips.)

(I save the “good stuff” for actual clients! 🙂

This is the first time we’re sharing information like this, to be utterly candid.  As in, I have no idea how things will go.

Especially because we’ll be running chat, live, which means that you’ll get to fire away your questions!

It all happens tonight – Thursday night!

You’d be smart to tune in tonight before the school year picks up momentum and you learn that you don’t have time for anything!

Please forward this email invitation to any family who feels like they’re behind the College Eight Ball – while there’s still time! 🙂

See you tonight!

Andy “Despised By Guidance Counselors” Lockwood

P.S. This presentation is definitely NOT going to be the “same old same old” as you’ll hear this Fall at one of those high school College Nights.  Pearl and I are 100% independent, we don’t answer to any administration or district, which is why you’ll hear a lot of non politically-correct opinion and pointers.  (Consider yourself warned! 🙂

 

5 Deadly College Planning Mistakes

Avoid these college application, FAFSA and CSS Profile errors to achieve College Success...For Less!

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!

3 College Admissions & Financial Aid Fails

We see dozens of financial aid, scholarships and admissions mistakes each year - here are three biggies

I’m generally a positive guy, but I feel the need to “go negative” today.

No, I’m not running for office or promoting a “fake news” story – I wanted to chat about three very real mistakes I see families commit all the time in the college admissions and financial aid process.

The first is a mistake of omission – sticking your head in the sand and expecting things to magically work themselves out.

Look, there’s something to be said for this approach, it’s less stressful…at least in the short term.  The problem is that, in the medium and longer term, “winging it” could very well lead to:

  • Not getting into the college or colleges you hoped to attend (or thought you “deserved” – an interesting word – to get into)
  • Graduating with a cr-p load of student loans
  • Graduating with a useless major and being forced to come home to mom and dad’s basement with your tail between your legs while you scrounge around for a job, even if it doesn’t require a college degree

Mistake Deux is about expectations – too often, kids and parents fail to have “The Talk” early on.  No, not THAT talk…puh-lease.

I’m referring to the one about financial aid, scholarships and paying for college.  Too often, hard working kids put everything they’ve got into their studies, extracurricular activiites, applications and essays and, lo and behold, get IN to their top choice college!

Then, reality hits when Mom and Dad (OK, 99% of the time it’s Dad) looks at the bill, clutches their chest and screams “What orafice do they expect me pull money out of to pay for THAT?”

It would better to say, the summer before senior year at the latest, “Hey, kiddo. You can apply anywhere you want, but the plain fact is that we don’t know what college will actually cost us until we get the financial aid/scholarship package.  I can’t promise you that we can send you to ___________. We have two other kids, retirement and financial security in general to think of.  THIS PROCESS IS NOT ONLY ABOUT YOU.”

Shocking words!

Seriously, have this tough discussion early, before things come to a head when college acceptances start coming in a matter of months.

The third mistake is not learning about the financial aid and scholarships process, which I’ll be covering tonight on our webinar.  Most parents tell me that they’re surprised at how much money there actually is out there for “Forgotten Middle Class” families;  i.e. families who think they can’t possibly qualify.

But if you never put in the time to edu-ma-cate yourself about where money is, you’re setting yourself up for a big – nay, epic – fail.

These are only three of dozens upon dozens of mistakes that Pearl and I see in the college financial aid and admissions process.  Tonight, we’re going to help you avoid as many of ’em as humanly possible.

www.CS4L.tv

Our webby is about three topics, actually:

  1. Getting into a top college
  2. Getting grants and scholarships
  3. Choosing a list of colleges that can actually help you succeed POST-college

I’d consider it a personal favor if you would forward this email to anyone and everyone you know who needs this info.  I can pretty much guarantee that they’ll want to buy you a steak dinner, take you to see Hamilton  and be your BFF for-eva!

We’re going live at [7:30] pm, I will have a helpful gift ready and waiting for you.

And, we’ll be live AND unscripted in the chat box, where anything goes and anything can happen (like last week, when the whole webinar went dark. That was…fun.)

More importantly, We will open things up to Q&A so you can get your questions answered.

www.CS4L.tv

Here’s what’s on the table:

  • How to navigate the financial aid process, including what forms to file and WHEN to file them
  • Common financial aid mistakes that will “rob” you of financial aid and scholarships you otherwise deserve
  • How six figure-earning families can receive five figure financial aid awards, even if they think, “Families like us can’t possibly qualify!”
  • College essay  – what to write, what NOT to write, how to get ’em done
  • How to stand out in a “Sea Of Sameness” when you have the same grades and standardized test scores as 5,000 other competitor-applicants
  • The inconvenient, politically-incorrect truth about what college admissions officers are really looking for in a candidate
  • Plain facts about how much grades and standardized test scores “count”
  • How to get something out of college more than what you put in (i.e. PAID)
  • More!

This class is free to attend and we have not configured a replay.   Here’s where to sign up:

>>>>>>>>REGISTER FOR WEBCLASS HERE

Hope you can stop by!

-Andy “The Mensch Of Mistakes” Lockwood