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:

5 Tips On How To Negotiate With A College

How to appeal a lousy financial aid offer after it's given

When I speak to parents about college planning “loopholes” and “landmines,” one of the most interesting topics (judging from the questions I get) is how to negotiate with colleges.

I’m speaking tonight in Dix Hills in detail about this, but I wanted to quickly share my 5 steps for successfully negotiating with a college:

  1. Understand that colleges are BUSINESSES (I know, they’re “nonprofit!”) and, as such, do not always give their highest and best offers because they want your money!
  2. The best way to stack the odds in your favor is to have offers from other, competitor colleges. This means that high school juniors should think about applying strategically – NOT only to colleges featured on rear windows of cars in your neighborhood, Saturday afternoons on ESPN or in March Madness (Prediction – Villanova will report receiving a record number of applications this year)
  3. Follow each college’s rules for appealing a financial aid offer – most have paperwork for you to complete (yay – more forms!) to request a re-evaluation of your award
  4. Have a legitimate reason to ask them to reassess your award – some colleges claim that they will not look at other offers, I’d send them anyway.  Other legit reasons are unanticipated loss of income and unexpected increase in expenses.  Not: We live in an expensive area of the country!  (They know that already, they consider that to be a choice you’ve made.)
  5. Be nice, grateful, courteous.  Not outraged, entitled or aggressive.  Obvious tip that should go without saying?  Um, yeah.  No comment.

If you want more of the “411” on negotiations/appealing and other college planning strategies, come on by tonight at the Half Hollow Hills Library!


Other topics to be covered:

  • How to “hide” your money from the financial aid formulas, the financial aid office and James Comey
  • Legal and ethical strategies to triple your eligibility for financial aid
  • The biggest college planning mistake 53% of parents make…and how to avoid it
  • The counter-intuitive, inconvenient truth behind published admissions statistics…and what you need to know – and do as early as 9th grade – to multiply your odds of getting in
  • The one question your Class of 2018 or younger kid must answer on a college application…but isn’t actually asked
  • More!

Sign up now, we still have 7 seats left as of this morning.  Bring a friend who could use this info, just forward this email


See ya!

-Andy “Art Of The Financial Aid Deal” Lockwood

P.S.  I know, I know, it’s not easy to pull yourself away from the latest Wikileak bombshell scheduled for release tonight.  But I recommend you come anyway. Chances are you’ll be able to catch up on the news after our workshop.

Financial aid, college admissions “Crunch Time!”

Last minute college planning, financial aid, scholarships tips for college-bound teens

Hi there

We’re headed into the home stretch for seniors, between struggling with college applications, essays, regular homework, teacher recommendations and those “Back To School” nights…

…Not to mention the official October 1 opening of Financial Aid Season, when the FAFSA and CSS Profile come out (less than two weeks!).

That’s why stress levels for Class of 2017 kids and parents these days are as high as Snoop Dogg!

(Note:  I thought about substituting “Gary Johnson” but went with Snoop Dogg instead.  Each made me giggle.)

Permit me to throw out three quickie, important tips:

  1. Trust your recommenders, guidance counselors to do their jobs – writing up your letters, sending your transcripts to EVERY college…but VERIFY.  A little paranoia goes a long way.

  2. Get a handle on your financial aid deadlines – they vary by school!  Look ‘em up on each college’s website.

  3. Also get a handle on WHICH FORMS each college requires, some want only the FAFSA, others want the CSS Profile also (NOT “in lieu of” the FAFSA, in addition to), still others have their own or additional forms

Failure to do any or all of the above could result in needlessly shooting yourself in the foot re: getting into your top choice colleges,  or getting the grants, scholarships and other financial aid you otherwise deserve!

Here’s a list of upcoming events that we’re holding to help you cope, whether you’re Class of 2017, 2018 or younger.

Please forward this notice around to any/all parents who could use it!!!

Speak soon,

-Andy “Crunch Time” Lockwood

When Can A College Change Your FAFSA Without Your Knowing It?

BONUS: Rarely Disclosed College Admissions Tips & Tactics
Andy grills an admission officer from an elite college about what it REALLY takes to get into a top school [FREE - download here]

College consultants Pearl and Andy Lockwood discuss how your FAFSA can change AFTER you’ve filed it. College financial aid offices have the power to modify you FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Aid), and, thus, your eligibility for grants, scholarships and loans.

Hidden Financial Aid Deadlines and Overlooked College Planning Timelines

Hi there

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about time lately.  Which do you have?

Some questions have to do with filing financial aid forms – “When are they due?  Should they be filed [12:01]am on January 1st?”

Others are from parents with juniors or sophomores in high school, as in, “What’s the best time to get started?  My son/daughter is so busy right now.  He/She has no idea what college he/she wants to look at or major in.”

So I thought that I’d take some, ahem, time, to make a few comments.

Re:  financial aid form deadlines.  Each college has its own priority financial aid deadline.  If you file on or before the priority deadline, you will receive full consideration from the financial aid office.

Miss it by a day, you could be completely out of luck.

Many colleges require the FAFSA (one of the two main financial aid forms) by February 1.  Others have priority deadlines of February 15th or March 1st.

Warning:  do NOT look at the deadline listed on the FAFSA – June 30th.  It’s easy to be fooled into thinking you have more time than you really have.  Ignore the FAFSA, look up your deadlines on each college’s website.


Commercial message:  We offer a “do-it-yourself” training course on how to do the FAFSA, CSS Profile, improve your eligibility, negotiate with a college and a lot more.  Details at:

We also offer a “done-for-you” financial aid forms preparation service.  Read more at:


For parents of juniors and sophomores who are wondering when to get serious about college planning, a few facts:

  1. According to Don Betterton, member of Princeton University’s admissions committee and Director of Financial Aid for 35 years, non-academic considerations count 40% of the application!  In other words, only 60% of your application is grades and academic credentials.
  2. The moment you set foot in the halls of your high school in 9th grade, you’re creating the body of work – including the non-academic stuff -that will be scrutinized by admissions committees in senior year.  (Actually, it’s 8th grade for many kids, according to Oyster Bay High School principal Dennis O’Hara, who was kind enough to remind me about the error of my ways.:)
  3. The sooner you start planning, the more options you’ll have.  Families who put things off until the last minute have fewer options.

So when parents tell me that they don’t think they or their child is “ready” to plan for college.  Or has time…

…I understand, I speak with hundreds of families each year.  But let me offer two thoughts.

First, your child is likely competing with thousands of other kids with similar academic credentials, many of whom are somehow finding time to plan for college.

Second, the college process does not care whether you are ready or not ready.  It just rolls on.

It’s like a train leaving Penn Station.  If it’s scheduled to leave at [5:40], but you’re not there with a ticket in a seat, do you think the conductor will slam on the brakes and let you climb aboard even 30 seconds later?

I’m still interviewing Class of 2016 kids and parents who are interested in being coached through this process.  If you are interested in learning more, please schedule a free “Mini Strategy Session” on our online calendar:

Your Correspondent,

Andy Lockwood

When a $219K College Conference Table Isn’t Enough

kean conf table 448 x 326

I don’t know about you, but I was outraged when I learned that the geniuses at Kean University were actually under fire for purchasing a $219,000 conference table!

Let me point out a few facts that I hope NJ Assemblyman Joe Cryan considers on his witch hunt to “investigate” this purchase.

First off, the true value of the table was $500,000 (if it were made in the US, according to very logical, very in tune with modern life university president Dawood Farahi).  So 219K is a bargain!!!  There’s no other way of looking at it.

Second, we’re not talking about some dumb “table.”  There are all sorts of bells and whistles that add to the meeting attendee experience, including an illuminated world map and a motorized, two-tiered turntable.

You paying attention?  This means that anyone sitting at this table will be able to INSTANTLY identify any country, ocean or longitudinal coordinate with unprecedented ease!  Talk about a priceless investment. I mean, what do you expect meeting goers to do, check google maps?  Are you insane?

Also consider that the motorized glass turntable will result in immediate cost savings of $2.43 per conference hour (my estimate) in terms of the reduced distraction time associated with busy meeting attendees asking, “Can you pass the coffee?” over and over.  Not to mention the eradication of the unquantifiable irritation associated with these requests.

This is an instant productivity boost, and when you consider a conservative 20 conference hours, 40 weeks per year at $2.43 per hour, the savings add up rapidly – I bet they break even in 96 years!

Third, if Kean wants to keep up with the times and attract today’s demanding prospective college students, it’s gonna take a heck of a lot more than a conference table (albeit the world’s most badass conference room table!).  Consider some amenities that other colleges are offering:

  • Free movie theater showing first run movies, complimentary snacks (High Point University)
  • Ice cream truck serving free ice cream (High Point University)
  • Five Star steak house (High Point University)
  • Free massages for students (High Point University, many other colleges)
  • Rock climbing wall (every college, including High Point University)
  • Ropes course (University of South Florida)
  • Indoor driving range (Temple University)
  • Indoor, I’m not kidding (University of Missouri)
  • Lazy River (Texas Tech, LSU, University of Missouri  and many other colleges)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but did you see any mention of “Awesome Conference Table” in this list?

Of course you didn’t.  Because there’s only one college that “gets it,” a certain little school in The Garden State that starts with a K and rhymes with “lean.”

And don’t give me or my good friend President Farahi any guff about the rising cost of tuition, student loan debt, lack of jobs for college grads, blah blah blah.  I’m sick of those stories, aren’t you?  One (awesome!) conference table will not affect student loan default rates one iota.

So I come today to praise Kean, not to bury it. Congratulations on taking an important, but only a baby step, toward the big time!

See you at the next meeting!

Andy Lockwood

Andrew Lockwood is the best selling author of How to Pay Wholesale for College and publisher of The College Success for Less Bulletin.  More information is available at