Review Of The College Planning Process-Part 1

VISIT COLLEGES EARLY
If you can, begin visiting colleges the summer between your child’s sophomore and junior year of high school. Because high school grades are so important, especially for your junior year, you may consider limiting your visits during that time.

Once junior year is complete, try to finish your first round of college visits that summer. During that summer, consider incorporating a weekend trip or vacation around some college visits.

Preparing for Higher Education

GATHERING CREDENTIALS
Credentials are important too. If your son was a camp counselor or an assistant camp counselor, consider getting a recommendation. Recommendations could come from current or past employers in middle or high school. What about extracurricular activities for your daughter? Maybe a recommendation from a middle or high school staff member? My daughter was involved in girl scouts for 13 years so she utilized those contacts for recommendations to help market herself in a favorable light. In addition, her Gold Award achieve through Girl Scouts also adds to her credentials.

The summer between my daughter’s sophomore and junior year was invaluable. She was able to volunteer a number of times which helped her acquire valuable experience and credentials. She also studied for her ACT and also had time to take driver’s education.

ACT OR SAT TEST ANXIETY
If your child struggles with test taking, consider taking the ACT or SAT more than once. Some high schools give the test the spring semester of their junior year but before the official test, students could take it one or two times. Consider taking it the summer before your junior year to provide feedback and a valuable baseline. If the student does well with reading and writing but struggles with math, the tutor can focus primarily on that weak area to overall improve the ACT or SAT score.

SENIOR YEAR IS IMPORTANT TOO
Even though many universities focus on the first three years of a four year high school, students need to be careful not to “get lazy” and lose focus their senior year. I’ve heard situations where students were initially admitted into their “dream university” only to see it lost when they did poorly their senior year. High school admission counselors say most universities don’t focus on the last year of high school unless the student grades significantly trend in the downward direction.

On your college applications, for your senior year, you need to include what you’re taking for both semesters. If student drops a class, let the university know through written communication. Senior year, students should be conscious not “slack” and take easy curriculum. From what I’ve ready, colleges and universities wants to know students’ curriculum is challenging for all four years.

Notes and Notes

CONSIDER THE ENTIRE PICTURE
When you consider private versus public institutions, be certain to gather all the facts before you lean in one direction or the other. Your child may be interested in a private school although the price tag may be $35,000 per year, making it less attractive but be sure to factor in everything. However, they may qualify for a $10,000 annual scholarship, so the $35,000 per year college becomes more attractive at $25,000.

The contrast is a public institution like University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Even though it’s a public institution, the total tuition will be in the neighborhood of $30,000 annually. Considering the fiscal situation with the State of Illinois, that tuition will not level off any time soon. Also factor in that most students will not qualify for any scholarship money, so receiving scholarships at a private institution needs to be carefully considered to determine total out of pocket costs.

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.