Which Test Is Best (ACT v SAT)?

Hi ho

Can’t tell you how many times I get asked which test, the ACT or SAT, a kid should take.

The answer, of course, is the very weasly “It depends” type of response that I’m partial too.

Here are some facts, submitted for your consideration:

  • Colleges accept both, so it doesn’t really matter what you take (with extreeeeeemely limited exceptions)
  • Most kids do about the same on either, but 30% -ish favor one.
  • The ACT is faster-paced, i.e. more questions per minute.
  • The Science section on the ACT should not dissuade “non-sciencey” (should be a word) kids, it’s a glorified critical reading section with charts and graphs. You don’t need to memorize the Periodic Table, or even the Periodic Table song (Google it, it’s hilarious. Not the Daniel Radcliffe version).

This Thursday, I’m going to run a live, interactive webinar with our star, celebrity tutor, Marissa U, to ask her about the key differences on the tests and to get her to give away her top tips and tactics she teaches her students.  If you want to join us and have the opportunity to ask YOUR test taking questions, here’s where you can see the rest of the details and sign up:


This is a one-time event, we’re not doing a replay.

Hope you can make it!

-Andy “Testy” Lockwood

P.S.  One more thing – we’re discussing offering a free 1/2 SAT, 1/2 ACT mock exam this Saturday in our Glenwood Landing office, but only if there’s sufficient interest.  You can email vip@andylockwood.com if interested.

Live State Of The College Union Address Tonight

No spittle/drool-infused rebuttal anticipated

Hi, quick reminder that Pearl and I hit the airwaves tonight, [7:00]pm sharp with our Predictions For HS Class of 2019 And Beyond!

So grab an adult beverage, kick back and enjoy our live, interactive (meaning you can participate) webby right here:


Tonight we’ll share at least 10 college predictions, including:

  • Which colleges will be “hot”

  • Which colleges will be “not”

  • Which colleges will give out the most in financial aid and scholarships

  • Which colleges will be the stingiest

  • Will it be harder or easier to get into college next year?

  • Predicted changes to the financial aid process

  • Student loans and the Trump administration

  • More – ESP your questions – we’ll be chatting live!


Please forward this to your friends on the left and on the right, red, blue, green, libertarian, whatever – after last night’s speech, I finally understand that we’re all one big happy family!

If you have a child graduating high school in 2019 or later, you’ll want to tune in tonight to hear where we believe things are headed  – based on 17+ years in the trenches – in terms of college admissions and financial aid trends.

Naturally you’ll want to trust us, we have a crystal ball.

One cautionary note/public service announcement – although I don’t intend it, occasionally people get offended by our opinions.  If you are thin-skinned and looking for an insult, you’re still welcome to come and sit there in front of your laptop of phone with your “Pelosi Face,” but consider yourself forewarned!

Oh, and we are not doing a replay, tonight is it – live and unplugged!

Hope to see you at 7!


P.S.  To our knowledge, there will not be any drooly rebuttals after we wrap, so you can keep your sneezeguard in storage.



Our State Of The (College) Union Address

Tomorrow night Pearl and I will be on message and tightly scripted and teleprompted when we issue our 3rd annual College Predictions For HS Class of 2019 And Beyond!

Or, we’re just going to wing it. 🙂

The truth – and sooth – is somewhere in between.  If YOU can handle the sooth (still funny), tune in tomorrow night, when we peer into the future and share:

  • Which colleges will be “hot”

  • Which colleges will be “not”

  • Which colleges will give out the most in financial aid and scholarships

  • Which colleges will be the stingiest

  • Will it be harder or easier to get into college next year?

  • Predicted changes to the financial aid process

  • Mistakes that thousands of college-bound teens will make!

  • Student loans and the Trump administration

  • More!


Judging from that photo, either Pearl ate something that didn’t agree with her or she doesn’t like what she sees!  You’d better hurry and sign up!

We are also going to give away a cool prize, but you’ll just have to wait and see what it is (unless YOU’RE the psychic one! 🙂

PLUS…we’ll be chattin’ live, so you’ll have an opportunity to have your tea leaves read!

Here’s where to sign up, and please forward/share this with a fellow parent who needs this info and trusts people in shiny hats and capes!


See ya tomorrow!


P.S.  Our predictions are strictly about college trends. Don’t ask us anything about bitcoin, football playoffs or political stuff….


P.P.S.  We don’t have a replay set up – one show…goodbye.


You WISH Your Guidance Counselor Would Tell You This!

I’m hitting the air at 9AM EST today (Friday) for another installment of College Coffee Talk, a/k/a a free hour of college coaching, answering your “burning” questions, or challenging me with obscure college-related questions (“Stump The Chump”), as the case may be.

Tune in here in a few minutes (or watch on replay, you can still get your questions answered.)

Also, we posted our workshop schedule for 2018, including tomorrow, Saturday morning in Huntington where I plan to cover a Dirty Dozen college planning mistakes to avoid.  As of the time I’m writing this, we have 2 seats left.

The presentations are designed as a “101” level intro to college planning for parents of HS juniors, sophomores and younger.

However, I will admit that these workshops are not full of the same-old, same-old you may have heard at your high school “College Night.”  Those evenings usually consist of information from a visiting financial aid officer from a local college, i.e. an employee of an organization who wants your money, ostensibly telling you how to get more money from their employer.

Not the best career move, in this guy’s opinion!

The gist of what happens at your high school’s College Night is that you’ll get a walk through of one of the financial aid forms, the FAFSA, be told that you probably won’t qualify for anything, and be sent on your merry way, more frustrated and confused then when you arrived.

Our workshop is more about how to “game” the system to get more money, and improve your odds of getting in.  They are definitely not politically-incorrect, and, candidly, 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 soon, so keep your eyes peeled 🙂

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

Hope to see you soon!

-Andy “Popular With Guidance Counselors – NOT” Lockwood’

P.S. If you want to join me for coffee, you can do it today and every Friday at [9:00]AM EST on our Facebook page

If you’re trying to register for tomorrow (Saturday) morning’s event but tickets are no longer available, shoot me an email and I’ll talk to the guys at Long Island Achievement Center about whether we can squeeze you in somewhere. 🙂

Here’s the schedule of upcoming events.


A Dirty Dozen College Financial Aid, Scholarships And Admissions Mistakes

College advisor to host series of college planning workshops January 27th through April 2018

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 :).


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.


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…


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:


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!


P.P.S.  Bwah ha hahahahahaha!!!!!