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

Fact vs Fiction For College Applications & Financial Aid [webinar]

Hi, there are SOOOO many half-truths, urban legends and outright lies about the college process circulating among parents and kids.  I’ll give you a few of my faves so you can be on the lookout, esp. during junior year of high school, creshendoing in the summer and fall of senior year.

Some are perpetuated by uber-competitive parents, jockeying for position on behalf of their kids.  You know who I’m talking about, the ones who bump and elbow themselves to the head of the line during “College Night” at the local hotel or high school, or ask loud questions-that-aren’t-questions on college tours to 1. brag about their kids, 2. hear their own voices and 3. psych out other families.

But others are reinforced by unwitting guidance counselors and teachers, who you’d think would know better.  Here’s a short list:

  • We can’t possibly qualify for any financial aid because we make too much
  • My kid will never get a merit scholarship because she hasn’t cured a deadly disease yet
  • Colleges love kids to do a ton of extracurricular activities because it shows that they’re well-rounded and “looks good” for college
  • _________ college accepts 5 kids from our high school each year, max (so I’m not going to tell you where I’m applying because I don’t want you to also apply and “take my spot” from this quota)
  • We’re getting a lot of emails and phone calls from _________ college, they’re really interested in us!
  • Reading emails/social media posts/random thoughts from a heavy, Jewish college planner in Long Island who thinks he’s funny is a good use of your time

OK, so I hope you don’t think the last one is a lie, but, sadly, plenty of people do.  (Personally, I prefer to think of myself as “big-boned.”)

Tonight we’re running a live webinar to cut through the clutter in three gi-normous areas:

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

Here’s where to get all the deets and sign up:

12 Summer To-Do’s For Class Of 2018 Families

We’re going live at 7pm, I will have a gift ready and waiting for those of you who show up on time!

Pearl will be running chat, so you can get all of your questions answered, time permitting.  Topics to be covered include:

  • How to navigate the financial aid process, including what to file and WHEN to file them
  • Common financial aid mistakes that will “rob” you of financial aid and scholarships you otherwise deserve
  • College essay  – what to write, what NOT to write, more
  • How to stand out in a “Sea Of Sameness” – The Activity Sheet and Resume
  • The inconvenient, politically-incorrect truth about what college admissions officers are really looking for in a candidate
  • More!

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

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

Please forward/share with everyone you think could use this info!

-Andy “No Filter” Lockwood

Summer College To-Do’s For Class Of 2018 Families

Can you guess the biggest problem that frustrates college applicants and their parents (esp. their “Primary Parents,” a/k/a “Mom”)?

It’s not financial aid and/or scholarships paperwork.

It’s not the essays.

It’s not even the general feeling of overwhelm, as in, “I don’t even know where to start or what questions to ask!”

These are daunting, fo’ sho’, but for my money, they’re not the Numero Uno biggie.  My pick:

Running out of time.

But don’t take my word for it, ask any parent who’s been through the college application process, my guess is that 95% of them wish they had gotten “serious” earlier.

If you have a high school junior (Class Of 2018), we’re doing a free webinar geared toward you – 12 Summer To-Do’s For Class Of 2018 Families

Here’s a sneak peak at three of them, which may or may not make the final cut for Thursday’s class:

  1. Get a handle on the college essays, meaning put the Common App essay to bed by the end of July (even though the Common App gets released August 1, we already know the essay prompts, or questions).
  2. Figure out whether you can possibly qualify for need-based aid by using a tool like the FAFSA Forecaster to calculate your Estimated Family Contribution. But do not stop there – determine whether you can improve your eligibility by “sheltering” (not “hiding” – that’s so sleazy! 🙂 your assets legally and ethically.
  3. Manage expectations.  Yes, it would be nice to brag about attending an Ivy League school, but if you’re an A minus kid with above average (but not record setting) ACT or SAT scores, you’d be smart to balance out your list.  Parents, have that awkward conversation about FINANCES now, as in, Look, I hope you get into your  “Dream College,” but we don’t know whether they’ll give us enough financial assistance to send you.  This process is not solely about you and your needs, we have your siblings/our retirement/fill in the blank to consider also. Trust me, enduring the unpleasantness of this chat now will be much better than medium term severe pain in six months or so, when college acceptances roll in.

There’s your snippet!  Lots more to come this Thursday night.  This class is absolutely free to attend but we have not figured out whether we’re going to do a replay or not.   All details are here:

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

Please forward/share with everyone you think could use this info!

Hope to see you on the interwebs Thursday night!

-Andy “Summer College Fun In The Sun” Lockwood

For Incomparable Applicant Organizer Members Only

Book a FREE College Strategy Session (regularly $249)

If you want help with:

  • Choosing a balanced list of colleges that will help your child succeed post-college
  • Getting into those colleges via our proprietary Incomparable Applicant system
  • College essays, applications
  • Financial aid and scholarships
  • Inspiring, motivating and coaching kids through choosing majors and careers
  • Removing the stress, frustration and panic that afflicts parents of college-bound teens!

You can book a complimentary College Strategy Session, here, because you own the Incomparable Applicant Organizer!

get started today yellow button

Non-politically Correct Facts About Getting Into College (and what it takes)

Last night at the Smithtown Public Library I went off on a mini-rant about what it REALLY takes to get into top colleges.

Jaws dropped, women and children cowered, men brandished pitchforks.
I wish I had more time, because they closed up at [8:45].
Tonight is a different story, however.  We’re hosting an all-new webinar, How To Get Into Your “Dream College’” And Pay Wholesale Tuition.”  Leave your pitchforks in the shed.

www.CS4L.tv

Here’s what Pearl and I will cover:
  • How to win merit scholarships if you cannot qualify for need-based aid

  • The problem with Naviance® – and why it can mislead you into a false sense of security about your admissions chances

  • Just how important are grades and scores?  This answer will shock or offend, depending on your personality and what meds you’re on

  • Three simple words that describe what admissions officers are looking for on the Common App – but don’t find 99% of the time

  • How to stand out – for the right reasons – among a “Sea Of Sameness” (thousands of competitor-applicants who look identical on paper)

  • Advice for Class of 2018, Class of 2019 and younger families re: how to create a body of work that will make admissions officers roll out the Red Carpet

  • How the admission system is “rigged”…and what to do about it (if tweeting insulting comments to millions of followers isn’t an option)

  • How to choose a college that will actually HELP YOU GET A JOB after college, and avoid coming home to the basement with your tail between your legs and butt cheek-deep in student loans

  • Your questions – we’ll be chatting live!  (Anything goes!)

Here’s where to register. PLEASE NOTE:  we have NOT set up a replay so I humbly suggest that you DVR whatever program you were going to waste time on, and drop everything to join us!

>>>>>>>>>REGISTRATION DETAILS

Please pass this invite around like a communicable disease to any stressed out families with college-bound teens!  They’ll think you walk on water, which is nice!
See ya!
-Andy
P.S.  Tonight is one-shot deal, there’s no replay on the books.  Register at www.CS4L.tv

Your kid…blowing off the college applications, essays?

If you listen to other parents, most Class of 2017 kids have tied up their applications and essays into a tidy little
bow and gift wrapped them to their colleges by now.

Um, yeah…that’s not exactly true.

If your kid hasn’t applied to college yet, you may feel like you’re behind the Eight Ball, but you’ve got plenty of
company.

If you’re sick and tired of bugging your son/daughter about getting their essays and applications done, we can make all
of your pain vanish, quick like a bunny!

Today we’re announcing the first annual “Incomparable Applicant Implementation Bootcamp,” Saturday, October 15th, [9:30]
am in our offices.

>>>>>>>>>BOOTCAMP DETAILS

Your Kid:  OUR Problem, Now! 🙂
I’ll be candid – if you’re facing a November 1 or November 15th deadline, the clock is ticking.

Ditto if you’re not applying early, you have only another few weeks of breathing room.

Instead of adding more stress and high blood pressure to the mix, consider dumping your procrastinating kid on us!

Here’s what you’ll receive when you sign up for The Incomparable Applicant Implementation Bootcamp

Expert instruction on the college essays (advice from actual admissions officers from elite colleges, not a high school
English teacher or guidance counselor who does not understand that applying = marketing)

How to distinguish yourself from your 5,000 competitor-applicants who have the same grades and standardized test scores

A “time cop” to hold your kid accountable for finishing up applications and essays…so YOU don’t have to be the bad
guy

Peace of mind that true experts are taking this immense burden off your plate!

Checklists and other tools to make sure you don’t blow an application, scholarship or financial aid deadline

How to create a balanced, strategic college list and avoid “Admissions Armageddon”

Insider advice on the make-or-break “Activities” section on the Common App

All of your questions answered about the pro’s and con’s about applying Early Decision (yes, there are potentially
significant negative consequences)

Instruction and support BEFORE and AFTER the event via private, client only workshops

Brainstorming, editing, proofreading of the Common Application essay before, during and after the event

Paint-by-numbers “blueprint” training on supplemental essays

Financial aid forms prep and scholarship bonuses, which could be worth the entire tuition for the Bootcamp!

>>>>>>>>>>>Incomparable Applicant Implementation Bootcamp

Is your current plan working (be honest!)?
Is your kid on top of everything? If yes, great.  Stop reading now and pat yourself on the back.

Or do you have a pit in your stomach because you know you’re headed for a drama-filled, stressful all-nighter – or
series of all nighters – immediately before application due dates…

…And, to add insult to injury, sending in sloppy applications that represent your child in the worst possible light?

Maybe you’ve known, deep down, that you were heading this way since the summer, when you first suggested that he start
the applications.

Perhaps you thought “OK, I’ll let him do it his way. He’s got plenty of time.”

That was then, this is now.  The game clock running out, now is the time to get serious!

The Catch

I’ll level with you.  We have never offered a bootcamp camp training before, this is an experiment of sorts. So we
decided to:

Limit the class to six (6) students only, to ensure that everyone gets the personalized instruction they need

Charge far less than our customary private consulting fees ($6,000-$9,000, typically)

Offer a payment plan

Offer a “no-brainer” bonus to make sure you see the value

But once these six slots go, it’s game over, you may not get another bite at the apple.

BOOTCAMP DETAILS

These spots are first-come, first-served.  But, to be 100% transparent, I do NOT want you drop everything and enroll
immediately.

Pardon?

I have my own agenda – to achieve a 100% success rate with our students.

I want them to get into at least one of their top 3 choice colleges and get the applications and essays done and shipped
off in a way that helps them explain why THEY should be chosen.

But in order for me to do this, I need to stack the deck in my favor.

I can only help “coachable” kids, i.e guys/girls who are open to our advice and willing to IMPLEMENT it.

The Incomparable Applicant Implementation Bootcamp is not for entitled, slacker-types who are unwilling to take
responsibility for their actions.

Harsh?  I’m sure I turned off some of the folks reading this letter. But hey, what else is new?

I’d rather be clear about expectations, and candid about who will benefit, and who will not.

Ball’s in your court!

Speak soon,

-Andy “You’re Worthless And Weak, Drop And Give Me 50!” Lockwood

P.S.  I should have said this earlier, although it may seem indelicate:  this is a STUDENT bootcamp. Meaning parents are
not invited (there’s no room in our conference room anyway!).

Trust me, it’s better for all of us – your child, you and us – if get this done without parental “help.”

P.P.S.  I know that October 15th won’t be free for everyone.  If the date doesn’t work for you, there are two options.
1. watch it “live” (we’re streaming it to our private client Facebook page), 2. watch the recording.

You will still get the pre and post-event trainings via our private client-only website, as well as one-on-one essay and
application accountability support.  The live training is a bonus.