Are you just getting started with college planning? Not sure if you are on track? This show is for you! Expert Brad Baldridge helps you get organized with 4 key areas to consider for a smooth and simple planning for college process.
Organizing a Formal College Plan
The first step is to access where you are in the 4 plans to work on:
- Visit Plan.
- Test Plan.
- Scholarship Plan.
- Financial Plan.
“The whole purpose of the visit plan and test plan are to support your creating the school list,” states Baldridge. Earlier is better when it comes to having a school list, but students have to grow up and figure out what they want. It should be pretty well worked out by the end of a student’s junior year.
Each student and situation is different. When making a school list, one strategy is to make a larger list with 2 or 3 schools in the following categories:
- Reach or dream schools that are unlikely to work out due to academic or financial reasons.
- Target schools that are a good fit academically and financially. They would be a great opportunity for the student.
- Safety schools which are places you are very confident you will be accepted and the financial side will also work out.
Another strategy is a shorter list with 2 or 3 local schools because you don’t want to travel too far or picking colleges that are just close to family.
Your ultimate goal is to have something to work with to move on to the other steps. “Start early so you have time to plan and it’s a little less pressure on the whole family,” stresses Baldridge.
This is how you will gather information from the colleges you are interested in. Visit planning, for many families, is done during the junior year. Put it on your calendar and decide:
- How I’m going to visit.
- When I’m going to visit.
- What I will do while I am there.
This coordinates with the test plan. “If you are visiting schools that require relatively high test scores, you need to work on getting the test scores required to be accepted,” explains Baldridge.
“Are you going to test and plan to get into the schools you are visiting? Or are you visiting the schools that your test scores indicate you can be accepted at?” asks Baldridge.
In addition to the actual visits, you can do college fairs and talk to college reps. There are some virtual tours available also for many colleges. See podcast Episode 18 on virtual tours: http://www.tamingthehighcostofcollege.com/18/
This goes along with visit planning. Some things to consider are:
- How many times should I take the test?
- Is it available at my high school?
- Should I take the SAT, ACT, or both?
- Find out which format works best for your student or is popular in your area.
- Will there be prep in between?
- Free online resources, classes, or one-on-one tutoring, etc.
- The competition is doing it, so if you are planning for a more competitive school it might be something to consider.
Take the test in February, figure out if you need to do any prep work, then take it again in April. If you must, it’s also available in June and one more time fall of senior year.
“Understand your opportunities and what your plan is, then coordinate the test with your visits,” says Baldridge.
See podcast episode 5 http://www.tamingthehighcostofcollege.com/005/ and episode 43 http://www.tamingthehighcostofcollege.com/how-to-help-your-student-win-scholarships/ for more resources on scholarships.
Free resource “Scholarship Guide for Busy Parents” available at http://tamingthehighcostofcollege.com/scholarships
Most families just need to do a basic scholarship search with 10 or less scholarships that are closely associated with your student or family. If you are going to apply to 20 scholarships, it will most likely be a family event with help from parents to search for these scholarships and get them done, which requires more time management.
This is how college can be paid for which includes:
- Pursuing aid.
- Attending an expensive school or low-cost school.
This is the last thing parents need to work on and can be slightly independent from the other plans. “Focus on the information you DO know relative to the family,” mentions Baldridge, such as:
- Qualifying for aid.
This is important because when you go on college visits you can then ask the right questions and even talk to the financial aid office.
If you don’t have time, or are starting late, don’t panic! “Pick up the pieces from where you are,” encourages Baldridge.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
- The 6 Types of College Visits
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We are starting a new video series called, “The Scholarship Guide for Busy Par-ents.” It is going to be 4 videos that are 12 minutes or less complete with cheat sheets and other resources to help you find and win scholarships. If you are inter-ested in learning more about scholarships please visit:
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