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.

FAFSA Corrections, IDOCs And OCA’s (Other Confusing Acronyms)

We’re *ss-deep in FAFSAs and CSS Profiles around here but I wanted to issue a public service announcement to clients and non-clients alike.

FAFSA “Corrections:”  Financial aid applicants can receive notices of “correction” for many reasons.  One of the most annoying/misleading occurs when you apply to more than 10 schools.

Listen up, hear me now and believe me later:  FAFSA takes 10 colleges in one “batch.”  If you have 12 colleges on your list, the procedure should be to file the first 10, then wait two-three days for FAFSA to process.  THEN, go back into FAFSA, delete two colleges, ADD the missing two and resend.

Bam!

This addition is a “correction” in FAFSA speak, nothing more.  Remain calm.

CSS Profile IDOC: Here’s what’s up with IDOC.  After you file a CSS Profile, you will likely receive a notice from the good folks at the College Board that they need your tax returns, W-2’s, etc.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE – use IDOC to upload your info, follow the directions, they’re easy and not a scam either 🙂

Bonus “Fun” 

Don’t wait until the last minute to file anything.  There have been issues with the CSS Profile website, seemingly due to high volume and, I suspect, a hasty redesign of their site for this season.  Here’s a comforting “Alert” that Pearl’s been seeing intermittently for the last few days when she attempts to file our clients’ CSS Profiles:

If you’re interested in our help with your financial aid forms, here’s where to go:

Financial Aid Warrior Forms Prep Service

We are not accepting November 1 deadlines, fyi – just sayin’ 🙂

Speak soon,

– Andy “Financial Aid Scoop” Lockwood

P.S. If you have questions about our forms prep or other services, email us at vip@andylockwood.com or call 516-882-5464

Don’t Be SPOOKED By The High Cost Of College!

Good eeeeeeve-a-ning……

Quick question:

Are you starring in your own horror movie?

If the financial aid process makes you feel like you’re starring in your own horror movie..

…You know, where everyone in the theater knows what’s going to happen – the actor is about to “get it”when she finds herself in a basement, attic or other abandoned site…

….and hesitantly, stupidly, walks toward some creepy noise (instead of getting the heck outta there!)….

…then pauses, deciding what to do, only to inexplicably open the dark, creaky door, then…

Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!

She comes face to face with the monster!

Are YOU that actor?

Financial aid season is here, and the monster is the criminally insane price of college!

But you have one, last chance…we can rescue you from certain doom!

On Monday night (not day, we have to avoid direct sunlight), the little Countess and I are running a new webinar, 21 Deadly Financial Aid Mistakes That Can SLAUGHTER Your Chances Of Getting What You Need – And Deserve!

There’s so much at, ahem, STAKE, you don’t want to miss it!

On this presentation, you will unearth the dark magical secrets of how to:

  • Qualify for every last dollar of financial aid you’re entitled to
  • Avoid ghastly, money-sucking mistakes BURIED in the financial aid forms that could slaughter your chances of receiving the award you deserve
  • Adhere to every DEADline the creepy folks in the financial aid office torture you with
  • Actually RELAX and take a deep breath (remember what that feels like?) during this incredibly high pressure – high stakes – moment in your and your family’s precarious lives!

Don’t let the FAFSA, CSS Profile, financial aid office and monstrously overpriced, rip-off colleges do unspeakably horrible things to you –  register for Monday night’s free webinar:

www.FAFSAmistakes.com

All of the gruesome details, time, location, what to wear (please don’t conceal your neck), etc. are on that registration page.

Please invite some other victims, um, “friends,” who could use this information.

See you on “The Other Side”

Count Andrew FAFSALA Von Lockwuud

Undead College Planner

P.S.  I know, this email was a smidge goofy.  But Pearl and I are GRAVELY serious about helping families avoid staggering student loans (currently $1.4 Trillion with defaults constantly rising), a Zombie-like economy where 50% of college gradutates don’t have jobs TWO YEARS post-graduation.  Not to mention all the parents who sacrifice their retirements and mortgage their financial future up to the eyeballs just to pay for college.

Avoid these horrible fates – enroll today before it’s too late!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>REGISTER FOR MONDAY NIGHT’S FINANCIAL AID MISTAKES WEBINAR

P.P.S.  Bwah ha hahahahahaha!!!!!

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!

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