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:

>>>>>>>>>>COLLEGE ADMISSIONS AND FINANCIAL AID “SECRETS” WORKSHOPS

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.

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.

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!

College Planning The Stupid Way!

As a college guy and the parent of a Class of 2017 kid, I can assure you, from both perspectives, that we’re doing it all wrong.

Kids – and parents – pick colleges for the dumbest reasons:

  • Great “rah rah” sports teams (“They went deep in my March Madness bracket!”)

  • Feelings (“When we got there, she just knew!”  Or, “We got out of the car, but got right back in. He said that he just wasn’t feeling it.”)

  • Rank (“Great school!  US News rated them top 200 most selective liberal arts colleges in states that start with “N” and have a horse for a mascot!”)

  • They know other people who attend or have attended (‘My second cousin twice removed’s former babysitter goes there, and SHE ABSOLUTELY LOVES IT!  That means I will too.  Duh.”)

  • (Fill in your own dumb reason here. Better yet, send it to me, I’ll publish the best ones! 🙂

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you ignore each of the foregoing. However, I urge you to look past rah rah, feel, rank and so forth.

Here’s how we “Backwards Plan” into the college process. Disclaimer – this is not an advertisement, namely because this approach is right only for 25% of the families I meet, give or take.

  1. Focus on the 40, not 4.  Forget college for a few moments, even though it should be an incredible four years (hopefully only four) of your kids’ lives.  Incredible, but not the best four, because that would be sad (you know those guys our age or older still talking about how great college was, or the guys who manage to work into every conversation that they went to Harvard.  Toe curler!)  Instead, get to know yourself, i.e. how you’re “wired,” and what that means for your potential place(s) in the world.  There a bunch of free or inexpensive online assessments to chose from.

  2. Narrow those places in the world to ones where you can actually make a living and get off mom and dad’s payroll!  It’s incredibly easy to major in something that will be as attractive to an employer as backstage tickets to “An Evening With Carrot Top.”  Marine Biology? Architecture?  Women’s Studies?  (Bracing self for hate mail.)

  3. Back into a set of colleges that are reputable in the two or three (hopefully) overlapping areas that match your wiring and are reasonably lucrative.  It’s OK to change majors, 80% of kids do. It’s not OK to change majors and have to spend an extra year or two acquiring enough credits to graduate.  You’ll spend an extra $40-60K per year, and you’ll delay entry into the workforce, which opportunity cost could be $50K per year.  It adds up, Sparky!

  4. Learn the rules of the game and do what it takes to get into your top colleges!  Understand that it’s more marketing than meritocracy.  Yes, of course, grades and standardized test scores are important.  But they might factor roughly 60% of the admissions decision, according to long-time Princeton University Admissions Committee Member Don Betterton.  To get into a top school, you must realize that you are in business for yourself and must answer the “Why should we pick you” unspoken question on every admissions officer’s lips.

  5. Get discounts!  The average tuition discount in 2015 was 48.6%.  When they (The National Association Of Collegiate Business Officers) release 2016’s numbers, I betcha that the discount will be larger, because it grows each year.  The point is that paying full price for college is not an obligation, it’s a choice.   If you’re strategic and think about ROI (return on investment), instead of mascots and “feel” only, your results will be a heckuva lot better than families who surrender the process over to their hormonal 16-17 year olds and “wing it.”

——-

Two local events this week to help you discover how to get in – and pay “wholesale” prices for the best colleges in the US of A.  Please, pretty please forward to any and all fellow parents who could use this info!

Free workshop – Tuesday, 4/25, 7pm at the Roslyn Public Library (13 seats left)

A free community workshop for stressed out parents of high school juniors who want to 10x their kids’ chances of getting into their “Dream Colleges” and learn how to qualify for “yuge” tuition discounts.   Learn “loopholes” and “landmines” on the financial aid forms, how to negotiate with colleges, more.  

REGISTER FOR ROSLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY WORKSHOP

Open House – Saturday, 4/29, 10am -12pm in our NEW Woodmere location (25 seats max)

This event is a “meet and greet” for parents interested in our college advising, financial aid & scholarships and/or ACT/SAT tutoring services.  Our star tutor, Marissa, Pearl and I will be there to INFORMALLY  answer questions and play “let’s make a deal!”  Special incentives to be offered.

REGISTER FOR 4/29 OPEN HOUSE IN WOODMERE

See ya!

– Andy “Tough Love” Lockwood

3 Ways Your Guidance Counselor Might Be Sabotaging You

Local college financial aid, admissions planning workshop

Recent College Planning “Secrets” Workshop

Fair warning, this is a bit of a “mini-rant.”

But I need to get this off my chest, because it’s been going on for far too long…

…and it’s hurting our kids’ futures.

Be honest – we choose colleges for the dumbest reasons.  Just because a particular college “went deep” in the NCAA tournament, or is in The South, or happens to be festooned on the rear window stickers of cars in your neighborhood, does NOT mean that it’s a “good school.”

Even US News & World Report rank is seriously flawed – not to mention easily manipulatable.  I wish guidance counselors would explain this to their students – and parents.

The next gripe has to do with getting our kids’ hopes up about their chances of admission at top colleges.  It’s easy – and, frankly, a bit lazy – to use a tool like Naviance and proclaim, “These are your Safeties, Targets and Reaches.” How helpful is this?

You be the judge.  Naviance factors two things: academic credentials (grades and standardized test scores) and how your child stacks up compared to his/her peers from that high school.

However, academic credentials are weighted approximately 60% (!) in the overall admissions decision.  In other words, Naviance ignores 40% of the elements that admissions officers examine.  How comfortable can you feel?

College admissions is more marketing than meritocracy!

Even if you don’t like it.

Even if it’s “not fair.”

The other fatal flaw is that your kid is facing competition from all over the world, not merely from your particular high school.  I know you and your kids are curious about where you stand, but how are you supposed to rely on this microscopic amount of information?

You’re competing with thousands of kids with the same grades and scores, Naviance shows you a handful of them, artificially chosen.

Problem 3 is that most kids – and parents – don’t have a serious college planning discussion until late in 11th grade, when they have “The Meeting” with their guidance counselor (and walk out with the same list of colleges as the family who met with her before them).

My issue is that kids start creating their “body of work” that admissions officers will judge as early as 9th grade. By the time you meet with your guidance counselor, at least half of the choices and decisions about classes, extracurricular activities, what to do over the summer and so forth will already have been made.  Whoops!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing individual guidance counselors, although I know that many will take what I’ve written this way.  Guidance counselors are part of the system, but most of them are hard working, they have far more to do than meet with kids about college, and most genuinely mean well.

Look, I listed only three problems here, I didn’t get into financial aid, scholarships, college essays, negotiating with colleges and a LOT more stuff that needs to be addressed.

I’m conducting a free workshop on all of the above this Wednesday night, in Garden City.

http://lockwoodworkshops.com/

Discussions topics include:

  • Which types of savings accounts “penalize” you in the financial aid formulas, which do not count against you at all

  • What to do at the 11th hour if you’ve saved in the wrong places

  • The inconvenient, politically incorrect truth about what college admissions officers REALLY want to see (hint:  it’s not just super high grades and ridiculous standardized test scores)

  • How millionaires can get discounts of 48.6% off the cost of college

  • How to “10X” odds of admission, even if your kid didn’t cure a deadly disease last summer or build a village in a Third World country over winter break

  • WARNING:  your guidance counselor’s, accountant’s or “financial guy’s” advice may have SABOTAGED your chances of aid

  • The new changes to the FAFSA financial aid form and what they mean for your family

  • The surprising truth about what admissions officers are REALLY looking for

  • Little-known financial aid “loopholes” for business owners

  • Negotiation secrets: How a mild-mannered college planner got an extra $30,000  – per year – out of a top West Coast college AFTER its “final” offer

We added more seats last week, so please send this invitation along to any of your fellow parents who are facing the same obstacles and have the same questions.  As long as we have room, they’re welcome to come!

http://lockwoodworkshops.com/

I hope you can make it, especially if you have a Class of 2018 or 2019 kid.

Sincerely,

Andy “Busted Bracket” Lockwood

P.S.  I know the tone of this message was a little, ahem, “strong,” but our kids are facing severe obstacles and I feel like someone needs to shout til they’re blue in the face about it to get us all to wake up:  Student debt and defaults continue to skyrocket, 50% of kids who graduated college two years ago STILL don’t have  jobs that require a college degree, 93% of employers say that college grads are unprepared to work for them.  I could go on, but you get the point!  🙂

How To Choose A College List

I answer this question from "Gary" - recent webinar attendee

Thought this would be helpful – Gary asked me about the best way to create a college list for his daughter, Class of 2018, 97 average and wants to major in (a very popular major).

In this video, I describe the three “Gets”

For more info:

Brady, Belichick and college planning lessons

I had to do it…

Here are are the top seven lessons about college planning we can learn from Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s Super Bowl win for the ages last night (Best game EVA!).  If you’re a non-sports fan, I apologize, but this piece is more about college planning than football.  Here are my lessons from last night:

1. Incredible challenges.  The Patriots season, and Superbowl game, was laden with all kinds of obstacles:  suspension of superstar quarterbackTom Brady, injuries to key players, a 25 point deficit last night, caused by a fumble, interception and a ridiculously fast and well-prepared Falcons defense.  Not to mention history: no quarterback or coach had ever won five Superbowls.

The college process is also full of obstacles:  rejections, deferrals, parent-child drama, peer-to-peer drama, less than stellar grades and standardized test scores, bad interviews, missed deadlines, poor guidance and so forth.  Junior year to first half of senior year is flat out the MOST challenging time in most middle class kids’ lives.

2.Detractors.  The Pats, Brady and Coach Belichick are hated by millions of fans. Pats supporters believe, with some justification, that the commissioner of the NFL also had some kind of weird vendetta against them.  Even some of Patriot Nation turned their backs when they learned of Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft’s friendships with President Trump!

College-bound teens  face detractors in the form of their fellow teens, and, yes, parents of other teens who root against them. Shocking, I know, but I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em.  You may not like or believe this, but many parents and teens are ultra-competitive and a little sneaky or secretive about their tutors, college list and plans. And yes, there’s a lot trash talking, behind the back and, occasionally, in front of the faces (or smart phones) of fellow competitor-applicants.

3. Excuses.  The Pats had every reason in the world to have a mediocre season, let alone lose last night:  the aforementioned injuries, including the season-ender to the undefendable Rob Gronkowski, the four game suspension, which led to games featuring their 2nd string and 3rd string quarterbacks substituting for Brady.

Even if you hate the Pats, you have to admit that they never made excuses for not performing up to the standards they hoped to achieve.  They won three of their four Brady-less games and pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in all sports, ever.

It’s too easy for kids and parents to make excuses in the college planning process:  ACT or SAT scores not as high as they should have been because the room was too hot or too cold. Or their tutor didn’t do a good job.  Or teachers giving bad grades because they “suck” or dislike the child for some reason.  Even when kids or parents miss deadlines to apply or file financial aid forms, because “No one told them.”  It may feel good, temporarily, to blame someone else for underperforming, but it’s not going to get you anywhere.

4. Game Plan.  The Pats had a plan for last night’s game. It didn’t look so great when they were down by 25.  But they believed in it, were flexible enough to made adjustments, and, most importantly, executed it, little by little, possession by possession.

Here’s a big issue in the college process: It is highly unusual for college-bound teens and their parents to have any semblance of a strategy, or plan. Instead, they focus on tactics, such as loading up on APs, taking the ACT 12 times, haphazardly coming up with a big project to fill up their activity sheet to “look good” on their college applications.  These types of tactics are arguably necessary, but lack an overarching, cohesive plan because they ignore fundamental questions such as “What is the goal beyond ‘Getting into a good school,” The definition of a “good school,” applying to a set of schools that compete with one another for the type of student your kid presents, “positioning” your child to enhance his/her candidacy, positioning yourself for the maximum amount of scholarships and financial aid, and more.  College-bound families would be smart to stop, take a breath, and do some serious THINKING about what they’re doing, and why.

5. Work ethic.  Sports writers have chronicled the insane work ethics of Brady and Belichick over the years. But my guess is that Belichick does not work harder than his peers, I’ve had three or four NFL coaches as clients over the years, and have always been struck by how much time they put in at the office.  I’m taking 14-18 hour days, six days a week for nine months.

But I marvel at Brady, whose motivation level is off the charts and unexplainable to a guy like me, considering how much he’s accomplished already and what he has going for him – the championships, the supermodel wife, more money than he can spend, the looks. If anyone should feel entitled to slack off a little, it’s Tommy. Yet he still, at age 39 (!), works as hard as any player in the NFL and has a mind blowing off-season routine of diet (green shakes, avocado ice cream) and exercise for hours per day.  Even if you can’t stand him, you have to respect his burning desire to be the best he can be.

Many kids have far more work to do than we parents did, growing up. But if you’re applying to a bunch of competitive colleges, your competition is working at least as hard as you. So if it means taking the AP class instead of honors, or doing one more practice ACT instead of messing around on Instagram or Snapchat, make that “sacrifice.”  (Incidentally, Brady was a terrific student at U Michigan, as was his Falcons counterpart Matt Ryan at Boston College.)

6. Faith.  Reportedly, there wasn’t any panic in the Patriots’ locker room at halftime, when they were down 18 and Atlanta’s defense appeared impregnable.  Disappointment, to be certain, but no yelling, crying or suicide attempts.  Instead, they had faith in themselves, which was the backbone of their resilience and victory.

Many kids today are not resilient. Frankly, a lot of us parents coddle them and try to shield them from adversity, to give them “the best.” It’s not just parents, at least directly, grade inflation in most high schools is rampant, for example.  Everyone has a 92 average an is in National Honor Society.

But this is counter-productive. Predictably, this leads to kids having a lack of confidence, and faith, in themselves, because they’ve never overcome any meaningful obstacles.  Even the slightest bit of negative feedback throws them for a loop.  My message to kids, and families, is that it’s ok to feel like sh*t if something doesn’t go your way, but trust yourself and keep working.  EVERYTHING will work out, so have faith.

7. Coaching. Yes, the Patriots work hard in practice, but I doubt that they work harder than most NFL teams.  To win, it’s about working hard AND smart – i.e. under the eyes of an experienced coach.

The most successful college applicants get coached through the process, too.  Lest you think this is a plug for me and our firm, it’s not.  Coaching can come in all sorts of sizes and shapes – guidance counselors (there are plenty of great ones), parents, even college consultants who are not named Andy and didn’t attend the same college as the greatest NFL coach of all time, “Bells,” as we referred to him back at Wesleyan.  Just kidding, he’s a wee bit older than I (but you just KNOW that someone must have called him that!).

The bigger point is that if you work hard, but dumb, you’ll fail.  Get help from someone with a track record of success that is qualified.

If you are interested in talking to us about our college coaching or other services, we are filling up with Class of 2018 families but still have availability.  You can book a free College Strategy Session here (regularly $249) because I’m all giddy about the Patriots and am in a celebratory mood.

Have a great day, God knows I am!

– Andy “Not Too Old To Be Immature About Sports” Lockwood

P.S.  The link for non-clients to book a chat is:

www.CollegeStrategySession.com