Ivy League as Modeling Agencies?

I absolutely agree with Malcolm Gladwell’s take on “Elite Colleges”.  If you can affordably attend an elite college and that’s what you want to do, I’m all for it.  But, there is no reason to accrue debt just to send your son/daughter to these colleges.  Listen to what Malcolm Gladwell has to say –  – Ivy League as Modeling Agencies?



Written by our recruiting consultant, Renee Lopez.  Be sure to check out her Facebook Page

First published January 9th, 2018 by Renee Lopez.  For full article, click here

As a high school student-athlete, you have likely received many college sports camp invites. Many market these camps as a way for prospects to “be seen” and evaluated by college coaches to get an athletic scholarship, while other camps focus on being instructed in skill development and focus on team tactics from high level coaches. What do you do when you have a limited budget and simply cannot attend all of them? When you have tons of camp brochures in your mailbox, how do you decide which college camp to attend to be offered that elusive desired athletic scholarship.


First, you need to really decide what type of camp experience you want to have now versus later in your high school career. If you are still in middle school or entering your freshman year, you may be looking for a camp that is focused more on fun through skill development and tactics likely found at a multi-day summer camp experience. If your primary objective is to bond and grow with your team, you may want to research a team camp. Often times, these opportunities allow your whole group to work with multiple college coaches over the course of a few days to focus on team tactics.

If you are looking for a camp that is truly geared towards you getting a roster spot for a college team, you should investigate which college camps are really designed to see you in challenging situations to see how you respond (See 3 Areas To Consider Regarding Being A Student-Athlete Blog). Depending on the sport, some ID camps are great options which are geared towards being evaluated in a 1-2 day experience.

However, it’s important to note that not all camps are geared towards this. I have worked many larger camps that simply shuttle hundreds of kids to various locations to get in their matches, and not about the college recruiting process. If you want a camp where you are truly being evaluated by the coaching staff, make sure you do your homework to see what the maximum number of participants can be for a one or two day(s) experience. (For example, we would cap our one day ID camps at 75 participants and our multiday summer camps could have almost double that amount).


If you have not already, make sure you read our recent blog on “How Do I Choose A College Beyond Athletics?” where we discuss the importance of setting priorities in evaluating schools that are the right fit for you. I always encourage student-athletes to take a “broken leg test”, meaning if you break your leg on the first day of preseason, would this college still be right for you beyond your sport?

You should research each college inviting you to their camp to see if the college meets the criteria you desire in a college. Just because a college coach sends a camp invite does not mean that it is the right fit for a college for you (or even for their program).

  • Do they offer the academic major(s) you would like to pursue?
  • Are the class sizes and student-professor ratio right for you?
  • How about the distance from home for your family to come see you compete?
  • Socially, does it offer the opportunities you are looking for to get involved in other groups on campus like student-government, volunteer organizations, or church-related activities you want during your college experience?

Evaluating these areas can help you decipher which invites should be thrown out!


While the NCAA, NAIA, and other governing bodies do limit some levels of communication by college coaches to prospective student-athletes, there are ways to identify their interest level:

  • Have anyone of their staff members actually seen you compete live?
  • If they weren’t able to communicate with you directly, did they discuss anything with your coaches or team managers?
  • Did you get an email in the first week after a recruiting showcase or did it take weeks before you heard from them?

It is important to note that the if you are in your freshman or sophomore year, the emails may sound rather generic as they are limited in what they can say. You (as the athlete, NOT THE PARENT) can always try to catch the coach in the office by calling them directly. Otherwise, a club or high school coach may be able to contact them and gauge their interest level as they may be restricted in if they can return a phone call or not to you as a student-athlete.

Finally, it is imperative you also investigate where the coaching staff is at in their process for your recruiting class. Do they have you on their short list? The coaches may be using camp to really take a good look at student-athletes. However, if you are early in your high school career, they simply may not really be focused on evaluating that class quite yet. Sometimes that is just dependent on simple manpower with the number of staff members, but note that every coaching staff have their own ways of recruiting. For example, as a NCAA DI Head Coach, I would usually focus on our short list of juniors and seniors, while my assistants would evaluate freshmen and sophomores we really had not seen much of before attending our camp event. I know head coaches who did the exact opposite, especially if they had part time assistants. Every situation is unique.

In Praise of Mediocre Kids

Last year, my son Finn came home from school and announced that he wanted to play the French horn. Naturally, I signed him up. A few weeks later, we got an email from the music director politely letting us know that Finn would benefit greatly from a tutor: The French horn is a tricky instrument, and it’s difficult to match the correct tone of the instrument to the notes.

No kidding. We’d had to endure the sounds of a drowning elephant coming from our living room almost daily. So although I’d already paid $150 for the music program and rented the instrument for $42 a month, I agreed to look into a tutor.

Turns out, tutors charge between $12 and $25 for half-hour lessons. That seemed like a lot of money to invest in an activity Finn had just started. But if we didn’t hire a tutor, would we be depriving him of an opportunity to achieve true musical greatness?

My husband and I went back and forth about what to do and eventually decided that we weren’t looking for our kid to become a prodigy; we just wanted him to try out an instrument and see if he liked it. Besides, it was already a struggle to persuade him to practice; getting him to a tutor every week would be another battle, and I worried it might make him lose interest altogether. So we said no.

But the whole experience got me wondering: Why are we pushing our kids to excel at just about everything? It’s no longer enough just to play town soccer; elementary schoolers also have to be on a year-round club team and receive private coaching. Your daughter’s getting As in math class? Time for an afterschool enrichment program to learn more-complex concepts—and might as well throw in tutors for reading, science, foreign languages, and dance for good measure. Every time I decide to let my 11-year-old twin boys and eight-year-old daughter find their own way, like my parents did when I was a kid, I get sucked back into thinking that I need to help them get ahead. No one wants her kid to be average anymore—at anything.

But to what end? Not every child is going to get into an honors class, or make the select team, or earn a spot in the ensemble—no matter how much money a parent throws at the situation. Is this endless quest for success contributing to our kids’ growing anxiety in ways that will affect them for years to come? Looking around at the children in Wayland, where I live, and the surrounding towns, I’m worried we’re headed in that direction—and I’m not alone.

Kate’s son Thomas (not their real names) was two years old when she signed him up for skating lessons to channel some of his energy. By age five, he’d joined a MetroWest hockey league, which practiced twice a week, with games monthly. Kate was happy with his progress—that is, until she spoke with other hockey parents. They encouraged her to enroll Thomas in another program that would help him advance to a select team—one with two practices and as many as two games every week. Another mother she befriended at the rink was already thinking ahead to college scholarships. Toward that goal, she’d signed her two kids up for skills classes focusing on agility and stick handling, in addition to the demanding elite-team schedule.

Did I mention they were only three and six years old?

“What if they decide they don’t want to play hockey? Or if they get hurt?” asks Kate, who ultimately decided she wanted her son to simply enjoy playing the game. College “is 12 years from now. They’re too young to be this intense—about anything!”

I’ve seen firsthand what that pressure can do to a kid. My friends’ son once loved the game of lacrosse. All of his parents’ time and resources went into the sport: They signed the teenager up for private trainers, club teams, and travel tournaments—to the exclusion of sleepovers, ski trips, and hanging out with friends. When he didn’t make the varsity team as a freshman, they pulled him from his public school and sent him to a private one, where he started on the team all four years. He’s now at a Division III college having the time of his life—but no longer playing lacrosse. After so many stressful years, he dropped it like a bad habit. It was just too much.

Adam Naylor, a sports psychologist at Northeastern University and Boston University, says he observes plenty of college-level players who are on the team “out of obligation, not passion.” They’ve trained for a sport most of their lives, and by the time they get to college they’re just going through the motions. Naylor thinks part of the problem is that children are specializing too soon—and not just with sports. “We’re overdosing our kids on everything,” he says. “The general thought is: The sooner you start something, the sooner you peak.”

But how soon is too soon? Like many mothers of my generation, I confess to plunking my six-month-old boys in front of Baby Mozart videos on the off-chance it might enhance their cognitive development. (They’re still a pair of knuckleheads, if you ask me.) And there are countless tutoring centers to help your toddler get a leg up on his or her peers. The nation’s largest chain, Kumon, assists preschoolers ages three to five with vocabulary, reading, and math. Kindergartners at the Russian School of Mathematics, a popular enrichment program with 15 branches in Massachusetts, are taught algebraic elements. Some see these early-education initiatives as a way to give kids a jump-start, while others, including one former middle school teacher who wished to remain anonymous, think they’re simply a waste of money. “There’s nothing a three-year-old should be doing academically,” she says. “That makes kids hate learning. A love of learning is what makes them successful.”

When students reach middle and high school, a striking number use private tutors to move from average to honors-level classes, or to help them stay afloat under their heavy AP course loads, according to numerous teachers and parents I spoke with. Interestingly, there’s no stigma attached to having a tutor the way there was when I was young. To these kids, it’s just another extracurricular. That concerns Dori Hutchinson, the director of services at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University. When one of her sons was in middle school, Hutchinson remembers another mother asking if she had tutors lined up for next year. She was taken aback: Her son was doing well in school, so why would he need extra help? “Well, it’s so hard to get As,” the mother replied.

“I was not going to get him a tutor to go from a B to an A,” Hutchinson recalls. She worries about the message that sends to kids—that a B isn’t good enough. “There’s this thought that we need private lessons to get better,” she says. “Instead, we need to show our kids that it’s okay not to be the best at everything.”

What’s so wrong with wanting our kids to succeed, anyway? Nothing, technically, but nearly half of all college students are struggling with anxiety and depression in pursuit of perfection, Hutchinson tells me: “They’re incredibly driven…but not all that happy.” While she says there’s no direct causal link, she definitely thinks this “high-performance, high-productivity culture” is contributing to their fragile states of mind. Kids nowadays have worked so hard to get to where they are that they’re burned out by the time they reach college. Rather than thriving, they’re merely surviving. They’re anxious, depressed, not sleeping, abusing substances, dropping out of school, battling eating disorders, or worse. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among teenagers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the 2013–2014 academic year, three Newton high school students took their own lives within four months. In April of this year, a Lexington High School senior committed suicide. The stress levels are palpable in hallways.

Hutchinson points to teenagers’ lack of resilience—the ability to face and overcome challenges. The issue is that “we’re not allowing our kids to make mistakes and learn from them,” she explains, giving the hypothetical example of well-meaning parents who hire a math tutor for their son throughout high school. As a result, he gets As. When it’s time for him to take the SATs, they again get him a tutor and he scores 700 on the math section. “But then the kid goes off to college on his own and is devastated when he gets a D in Calculus 101,” Hutchinson says. “He hasn’t had the chance to recognize that maybe math isn’t his strength.” Nor his passion. “You need to make sure your kid is there because he or she loves it—not because it’s a résumé-building line,” she adds.

Hutchinson understands parents’ motivation: “It’s coming from a place of love…and anxiety. You hate to watch your child struggle.” The problem is, “We’re trying to develop kids who have no deficits,” she says. “We all have weaknesses and vulnerabilities—that’s part of being human.”

Naylor, the sports psychologist, sees the same thing happening on the playing field: “As parents, we’re great at supporting our kids; we’re bad at letting them feel challenged.” If a child doesn’t get playing time, or if she has to sit on the sidelines, “that’s okay,” he says. Tears of frustration indicate passion—and intrinsic motivation. Look at Michael Jordan, who was cut from the varsity basketball team during his sophomore year of high school. He managed to turn out just fine.

We jump through hoops to make sure our children succeed for many reasons. Obviously, it’s because we want them to be happy and healthy…and we don’t want to close doors to opportunity prematurely. And maybe we’re also hoping for a competitive edge to get them into college (and some help paying for it, too) when acceptance rates are at an all-time low and tuitions are skyrocketing.

But might our own egos have something to do with it? A Westwood mother of three whom I’ll call Jill tells the story of a mom who arrived visibly upset to a fifth-grade graduation party. When everyone asked what was wrong, she told them her son hadn’t placed into the honors math class for middle school. She began to cry and said that her “biggest fear was that her kids would be average,” Jill explains. “She said, ‘My kids are a reflection of me—out there for the world to see what kind of mother I was.’”

I was shocked she’d say that—until I realized that thought has probably crossed all of our minds at some point, however fleetingly. When our kids shine, we take credit. Every time I go on Facebook I see one parent or another trumpeting their kid’s most recent achievement—whether it’s winning a ribbon at a swim meet or getting first place in the spelling bee. No wonder we feel pressure to help our kids excel. It’s no longer about keeping up with the Joneses—it’s about keeping up with their children. Still, it’s important to remember that our children are not extensions of ourselves. They are freethinking beings with their own interests. We can’t mold them into mini-me’s, nor can we live out our dreams vicariously through them.

A friend recently sent me a New York Times article in which college admissions officers shared advice they give their own kids. A quote from MIT dean of admissions Stuart Schmill resonated: “If you couldn’t write about this on your college application, would you still do it? If the answer is ‘no,’ then you shouldn’t be doing it.”

How freeing would it be if we actually followed his advice? If we backed off and gave our kids space to figure out what they enjoy doing—not what we think they should do, or what their friends are doing? If we stopped overscheduling them? If we let “good” be good enough and didn’t rush to hire tutors and private coaches at the first hint of interest or glimmer of talent?

A former competitive college athlete, Jill says it took her 13 years of motherhood to learn what she calls the magic words of parenting: “I want to do that.” She’d always struggled to get her eldest son to participate in soccer, band, baseball—you name it, he dragged his feet. Then one day he announced he wanted to try fencing, a sport that wasn’t even on her radar. From day one, “he had his bag packed and ready to go,” she says. It was her awakening: “I’d put in no time, energy, money, or volunteer hours. I didn’t even know the rules.” And yet her son was good at it—and actually enjoyed it. “I finally learned that mothering is easier and requires less effort when the kid drives an activity,” she says.

It’s not easy to ignore societal pressure to push, push, push; to trust that our children will find their own way without our stepping in to be their street sweeper, snowplow, Zamboni, or whatever you want to call it. But here’s some perspective: Our parents didn’t sign us up for all the extras—in fact, they didn’t sign us up for much at all, instead booting us outside to make our own fun in the neighborhood. They were more concerned with whether we ate our vegetables than how many goals we scored (at a game they likely didn’t attend). And look how well we turned out. We don’t owe our success to private coaching and tutoring; we owe it to our intrinsic desire to be our best self. That’s what we need to focus on with our children: building their self-esteem; creating a safe environment where it’s okay to fail and okay to try again; and encouraging them to be nice, honest, and loyal. And, perhaps most important of all, embracing mediocrity.

College…It’s Not Just an Experience

Not so long ago college was not only a place to continue a youth’s education, it was a time for growth, maturity and to simply experience and enjoy life with a little more freedom. The rising costs of college coupled with the challenging economic times has, for most, completely changed the emphasis on what is most important about sending a child to college.

Job security and economic independence are what families are now looking for from their tuition dollars. Mom and Dad are simply hoping that their kids can obtain education and/or training that will allow them to obtain a job that will provide them an income and standard of living that justifies the expense of college.

Because of these changes the college selection process needs to change also, and so does the approach that Mom and Dad take to pay for college.  It boils down to an investment decision. In other words, the school and major selection are components of the “return” that one will receive on their tuition dollars.

School selection should take into account the percentage of students that graduate, the percentage of students that graduate within 4 years, the placement ratio of graduates into jobs of their field, and the net cost of college after factoring in financial aid and scholarships. Certainly, a proper fit for the student based on size, distance from home and geographical location are all also very important non-financial components that should be included.

Career or major selection should  be a good fit for the student’s “hard wiring” or said another way, what suits his/her personality. Future job outlook and earning potential for a prospective career should also be taken into account.  Considering these factors will increase the likelihood of providing the student a future that they are looking for.

School costs should be weighed against income potential from the desired education from that institution. Furthermore, consideration should be given as to whether or not the prestige of the school that one may be paying a premium for is justified based on the income potential. For example, a private school that has an annual cost of $50,000 per year that will likely provide a student a similar job opportunity from a public school that costs $25,000 might not be a wise financial decision.

Mom and Dad need to also determine how much of their income and how many of their assets they can pledge toward college before it impacts their own financial future. Once that determination has been made the residual costs of college will likely be financed by the student through loans.   Parents should make sure that their student completely understands the financial impact of taking on student loans. Based on the horrendous state of the student loan industry it is quite clear that individuals are obligating themselves to debts that they will have no ability to pay back without serious impact on their future.

College is big business and should be approached that way. All parents want their students to enjoy their college years however the emphasis needs to be on preparing for economic success after college.

Isn’t the Basic Point of College to Graduate?

Originally posted by DIY College Rankings by our favorite blogger Michelle Kretzschmar.  Click here for full article.

I don’t know why, but whenever I bring up comparing graduation rates when considering colleges, I get a fairly hostile reaction–at least in online forums. It’s almost as if I suggested using a school’s football rankings as a way to pick the school. So what is wrong with looking at college graduation rates?

The most common response is that the college graduation rates are simply a reflection of the quality of the students and have nothing to do with the college. Therefore, I’m not being fair to the school if I focus on graduation rates.

Compare Colleges with Similar Students

I get the feeling that these critics are thinking I’m comparing the Harvard graduation rate with the graduation rate of the state university’s local campus. No, I’m interested in comparing apples to apples so I would compare the local campus of State U to another campus in another city and Harvard to other Ivy League Schools.

Just as a FYI, according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Harvard’s four-year graduation rate was 86%, Princeton’s 90%, Yale 87%, and Stanford 76% (and yes, I know Stanford isn’t part of the Ivy League).

Take Into Consideration Type of Degrees

Reciting these statistics would inevitably lead to the second most common argument against comparing college graduation rates, some schools have a higher percentage of students in a degree that often takes more than four years to complete, such as engineering. Okay, so then compare it to other schools with a similar percentage of engineering grads. Engineering degrees represented 19% of Stanford’s undergraduate degrees compared to 4% of Harvard’s and 26% of Princeton’s. Princeton’s graduation rate is higher than Stanford’s even with more engineering graduates.

Graduation rates are becoming more prominent in college rankings. Both the Washington Monthly College Rankings and US News College Rankings include a predicted graduation rate based on factors such as the number of students with Pell Grants. According to US News, Harvard “overperformed” its expected graduation rate by one percentage points but Stanford underperformed by one percentage point.

Essentially, US News is saying that schools are doing equally well given their student characteristics. The fact is that the Stanford freshman class had lower test scores and a higher percentage of Hispanic students when compared to Harvard. So are we comparing apples to apples yet?

Make Sure You Understand the Limitations of Comparing College Graduation Rates

Look, I know there are all kinds of problems in calculating and comparing college graduation rates. Since transfer rates are difficult to include, if they are included at all, community colleges are especially vulnerable to unfair evaluations based on their graduation rates.

Then there is the issue of how well prepared the students are who enter the school. It’s not really fair to compare a community college that pretty much takes any student no matter how many remediation classes he has to take with a college that has minimum testing score requirements.

But knowing these limitations, why wouldn’t you use this information in making your decision?

Graduation Rates Are Important

I’m not saying graduation rates should be the only consideration in selecting a college. For many students, there is no such thing as choosing a college, they go where they can afford to or what is immediately available in their area.

Of course, you shouldn’t compare a local commuter school with a nationally ranked Liberal Arts College. But if you are considering more than one college with some hefty price tags, wouldn’t you want to know what the odds are of graduating in four years?

To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, let’s pick on my home state of Texas for a while. According to the IPEDS data in the DIY College Rankings Spreadsheet, there were a total of 15 schools with an estimated median SAT between 1000 and 1099. The eight private schools had four-year graduation rates that vary from 19% to 45%. The six public universities reporting graduation rates, varied between 11% and 29%. Should you pay private tuition at a school that has a 19% graduation rate when you could probably get into the state school that has a 29% graduation rate?

The following chart shows the graduation rate for 18 colleges and universities in Texas with an average estimated SAT score of 1100 or higher. Five schools with an average SAT score between 1100 and 1110 had graduation rates ranging from 26% to 54%. Given the cost of higher education, don’t you think you should know why the differences exist?

These differences are more pronounced when you look at institutions across the nation. According to IPEDS, there are 26 colleges with at least 500 undergraduates and an estimated average SAT score between 1300 and 1350. The four-year graduation rate for these schools vary from 40% to 91%.

I think it’s reasonable to compare public school schools five-year graduation rates with private schools four-year graduation rates since the cost of public schools is significantly lower and can justify an extra year to finish a degree.

Don’t Just Look for Difference But Why There Are Differences

This group of colleges also includes a perfect example of the potential role of engineering on graduation rates. The Stevens Institute of Technology awards 62% of its degrees in engineering. Its four-year graduation rate is 40% but its five-year graduation rate is 78%. But then there’s the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology that awards 80% of its degrees in Engineering and has a four-year graduation rate of 57% and a five-year rate of 71%.

Does the difference in graduation rates between the two schools automatically make Rose-Hulman the preferred school if you want to graduate in four years? Not at all. There are enough differences between the schools in the areas of average net price, endowment per student, percentage of freshman receiving Pell Grants, and the student’s racial/ethnic composition to require anyone interested in the schools to look more closely at both schools.

Looking at this information is a way of identifying trade-offs. You’re willing to attend a school with a lower graduation rate because it offers the program you’re interested in or they’re providing you with a scholarship. There are lots of good reasons to attend schools with lower graduation rates. What constitutes good will vary from person to person so while the difference in graduation rates might be justifiable to one person, there may not be any mitigating circumstances for another.

Ultimately, if this information is available, why wouldn’t you want to know it?

Employers Want to Hire College Athletes

Article published USATODAYHSS.com on October 2, 2017, by Fred Bastie, playced.com.  Click here for full article.


Article published USATODAYHSS.com on October 2nd, by Fred Bastie, playced.com.  Click here for full article.

The life lessons learned from athletic competition are many, and apparently they pay big dividends.  For most college athletes, the ultimate goal is to make a living playing the game they love.  If that plan doesn’t work out, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Lately, there have been a number of studies indicating that the vast majority of businesses want to hire college athletes.  Most employers associate college athletes with the traits they are looking for in prospective employees.  They want hard-working leaders that put the team first and are goal-oriented.  In fact, a large number of CEOs either played high school or college sports and they would prefer to hire a student-athlete, rather than a non-student-athlete.

Prospective employers are looking for employees who go the extra mile.  Participating in college sports is viewed similarly to other extracurricular activities such as being involved in student government, volunteering for charitable organizations, or even working part time. Balancing the hours of practice and games while going to college is difficult, and it is an indication of a student’s work ethic.  It can be argued that sports has a direct correlation to higher incomes, promotions, and better jobs.  There is no question that the leadership skills, development of teamwork, time management, and determination of many athletes surely help prepare them for the working world.

Here are five reasons why employers are interested in hiring college athletes:

College athletes are goal oriented

Most college athletes started playing their sport at the age of four or five.  They have been competing their entire life.  They know how to set goals and they work hard to achieve them.  Most athletes talented enough to play in college have set goals every year, every season and every game.  Being goal oriented is a mindset and is a trait employers look for in prospective employees.  College athletes generally know how to ignore distractions and focus on the task at hand.

College athletes are hard workers and good time managers

Zig Ziglar once said, “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.”  Every college athlete learns this lesson, the hard way.  Let’s be honest; playing college sports is like having a job while you are going to school. It is a commitment. You have to be disciplined, work hard and manage your time or you won’t make the grades necessary to stay eligible.  Student athletes have many responsibilities including attending class, homework, strength training, conditioning, practice, travel and games.  In addition, they have to find the time to eat and occasionally catch Sports Center.  Any student that can pull all that off and maintain a good GPA has to be an excellent candidate for employment.

College athletes are self-confident

The dictionary definition of self-confident is “trusting in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment”.  Most athletes develop this trait early on and to be honest some athletes take it too far.  However, a self-confident, mature student-athlete who isn’t arrogant or overbearing can be a great find for an employer.

College athletes are good teammates

Good teammates make good employees.  The ability to work with others toward a common goal as a team is the definition of a good teammate.  It is also a great attribute for an employee.  Part of being a good teammate includes being coachable, respectful and having the attitude that the goals of the team are more important than the goals of the individual.  Most college coaches will drive this point home with all their athletes.

College athletes know when to be a follower and when to take control of a situation.  By the time they graduate from college, most have been a member of a team for 16 to 18 years and being a good teammate has become a habit.

 College athletes tend to be leaders

Right or wrong, in today’s society athletes tend to be looked at as leaders.  14 of the last 19 United States Presidents participated in college athletics.  To be a good leader you have to be confident, resilient, a strong communicator and willing to put the team’s goals ahead of your own.  Many athletes tend to have those traits and they most likely know how to be a leader.  Employers want to hire employees that have the potential to become leaders in their company.

There is no better place to learn the skills of selflessness and leadership than on the playing field or court.  Certainly you don’t have to be an athlete to be successful in life.  Ask Donald Trump!  But, if you have the talent and desire to play your sport in college then I would encourage you to pursue your dream!  There are many benefits.


The Importance of Completing the FAFSA

The magic date of October 1st is fast approaching.  The cost of sending a student to college is undeniably stunning for most families. Not only is there the cost of tuition, but you also have room and board, books and supplies, student activity fees, health insurance, lab fees, transportation and personal expenses. It goes without saying that, for most families, these expenses will cause a crimp in the monthly household cash flow.

Unfortunately, some students feel like they shouldn’t bother filling out a FAFSA because of some common myths. These include:

  • “I (or my parents) make too much money, so I won’t qualify for aid.”
  • “Only students with good grades get financial aid.”
  • “The form is too hard to fill out.”

However, these concerns are usually unfounded.

If you have not set aside time to complete the FAFSA, I encourage you to make it a priority. Some people think that they have to wait until they have completed their taxes, but this is not true.   FAFSA now looks at prior, prior year.  Waiting can actually result in an insufficient financial aid package, or worse, no financial aid at all. Some families are taking a laid back approach to the FAFSA because they are convinced that they make too much money and therefore, make the false assumption that they won’t qualify. Hopefully no one is waiting for their letter of admission to a college before they start the financial aid process. The truth is that even if you don’t qualify, the FAFSA is a good form to have on record. There are a number of reasons for completing the simple online form:

  • It may make you eligible for a low interest loan
  • It may be required by some institutional merit based scholarships
  • It may be that your fortunes change through the year and having the form on file can help make a difficult time a little easier

Since federal money is disbursed as the applications are approved, it is to your benefit to submit the form as soon as possible. The FAFSA form needs to be accurate so it is best to complete the

FAFSA online, which identifies mistakes and allows you to correct them. Your financial package can be delayed by inaccuracies, which in turn can affect the amount of your financial aid award.

Just a reminder – if you are applying to a private college, check to be sure whether they require the CSS/Profile and/or their own institutional forms. If so, do those forms immediately. Colleges start accepting these forms in the fall. Unlike federal funds that are dispensed by a strict formula, private institutions are able to decide their own formula for how they will disburse the funds they have at their disposal. Each college will use the institutional methodology as they see fit. That is why financial aid packages can differ greatly from one college to next.

After your FAFSA is processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that will summarize the information you completed on the form, and see your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the amount that a family in your situation should be able to contribute towards a college education.

In summary, The FAFSA is one of THE most important steps in obtaining financial aid, as it is the basis for determining a student’s eligibility for scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans.  The good news is that it is now simpler than ever…. so it’s time to get started!

Learn How to Differentiate Your College Application

Article in US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT By Caroline Duda, Contributor |Sept. 12, 2017, CLICK HERE to View Full Article

The college application process can be daunting for even the most prepared of students, and it has only grown more competitive. For instance, in 2016, Harvard University received more than 39,000 applications but accepted just a little more than 2,000.

Students with moderate engagement in extracurricular activities and an average GPA might worry that their application will get lost in the shuffle – and might also wonder how they can stand out.

  • Determine your approach: Most students hope that their applications will stand out so that they can secure an acceptance letter to college. However, it is important to determine how you will approach your applications based on your underlying motivations and goals.

For example, Ginger Stanciel, a sophomore at Kent State University in Ohio, was passionate about fashion but felt it was crucial “to come across as a well-rounded art student.” She hoped to highlight her interests and strengths both in art and fashion and outside of it. Why? “The schools I was applying to specifically wanted well-rounded students to encourage a diverse art environment,” she said via email.

Motivations for wanting to stand out in college applications can vary by student. Katrina Wheelan, a freshman at Williams College in Massachusetts, tried her best to avoid doing anything specifically for her applications.

“I did what I wanted to do, not what I thought I should do for getting into college,” she said via email. This mentality helped her focus on selecting experiences that were true to her interests and her personal and career development.

As you begin to build your college application, consider your goals and how they align with the selection criteria at your top schools. Are you hoping to demonstrate your growth from a low-C’s student to a member of the honor roll, or are you hoping to cast light on your passions? Once you outline goals and motivations, review your high school “highs,” and decide which you will highlight.

  • Highlight your activities: No one activity is guaranteed to secure you a college acceptance letter. Instead, the key lies in linking your activities to your goals.

For example, Bryce Dellamano, a sophomore at Southern Illinois University— Edwardsville, let his passions speak loud and clear. “I volunteered after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays at a place called Homework Help and Hoops Tutoring. Basically, I helped tutor kids after classes on various subjects and then played games with them to reward their hard work,” he said via email. Dellamano thought this helped make his application stand out because it combined his enjoyment of sports with community service.

Sophomore at Indiana University—Bloomington Alexis Miller believes that simple participation in extracurriculars is not enough, though. “The more I poured over the many (essay) prompts, the more I realized that although the people who would be reading my essays had surely seen thousands of applications with similar activities, like National Honors Society or club volleyball, it was the unique experiences and lessons I learned that would distinguish my application,” she said via email.

Miller grounded her application with “a foundation in the connections I made with the people I was aiding.” She believes these relationships that she built during high school – both with organizations and people – made her application more personal and memorable.

Stanciel likewise devoted time and energy to extracurriculars, which included two internships and starting a ski club at her high school, and believes it is critical to learn how to properly discuss your activities on your application.

She realized this while reading the first prompts and writing her initial essays, which required a certain degree of storytelling. “One of my applications had a prompt asking about a strong childhood memory. I chose to include a memory that would touch on my strong sense of family, my love for travel and my appreciation for hard work.” Within that response, she called attention to travel experiences with her family.

Stanciel advises students to be creative and eloquent and try to “interpret these experiences, and use them to show growth and why you are a good candidate.” She encourages telling a story with your essays, “not just because it makes it more interesting and stands out for admissions officers to read, but because your life is a story.”

  • Avoid overcompensating: All four of these college students agreed that it was possible for students to make their college applications stand out too much. Miller, for instance, cautioned against writing essays that aren’t genuine, like “an inflated and overly decorated essay.”

Stanciel added, “Remember that your application is supposed to be a reflection of who you are, not just a puff piece.” While an unusual experience can certainly distinguish your application, one with no connection to your academic or extracurricular interests and goals may draw the wrong kind of attention.

And be careful not to overload your application or resume. Dellamano cautioned, “It might get cluttered and/or bore the person reading it. Keep it concise and to the point.”

Finally, Wheelan offers a philosophy that she followed to build an authentic and engaging college application. “I feel like it’s cliché to say ‘be yourself,’ but the key is to live your life as if college didn’t exist,” she said.

As you begin the process of applying to college, prioritize your passions – your personality and applications will then stand out.

It’s FAFSA Time

The ever so time-consuming process of filling out your FAFSA may seem horrifying, but following some of our time-tested tips and tricks will help you get through the application process. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your ticket to federal student aid, including scholarships, grants and student loans.

Completing the FAFSA is a question-by-question guide to the FAFSA. It offers help, hints, and definitions in case you get stuck on any of the questions.

Here are some of our tips to filling out the ever so important FAFSA form:

Create a FSA ID

You and your child should get FSA IDs. A FSA ID is a username and password that you’ll be using to sign the FAFSA. You and your child each need your own FSA ID—and you each need to create your own for privacy purposes and because the information is easier to remember if you create your own. (Note: Only one of a student’s parents needs to sign the student’s FAFSA, so only one parent needs an FSA ID.)

Gather The Stuff You’ll Need Before Filling Out The FAFSA

Some things you will need are:  your Social Security number; driver’s license; W-2 forms federal income tax returns for the prior, prior (2016 for 2018 FAFSA) year along with your spouse’s, if married; student’s federal income tax returns for the prior, prior year; current bank statements; and alien registration or permanent residence card for non-U.S. citizens. If applicable, you will also need business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, and stock, bond and other investment records.

Apply Early: October 1

Fill out and submit your FAFSA on October 1 or as soon after as possible, no matter how far away the actual deadline. Some college and federal aid, particularly grants and scholarships, is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so filing your FAFSA early ensures that you will receive the maximum amount of financial aid.

Check and Double Check Your Answers

Errors and omissions slow things down when it comes to the FAFSA, making you miss out on some or all of your financial aid. You want to double-check every piece of info you put down. Even things as simple as an address that’s incorrect can greatly slow things down.  Make sure that both you and the student SIGN the FAFSA!

Put Everything In Your Name, Not The Student’s Name

Having extra cash laying around in your bank account is not a good thing before filling out the FAFSA.  Consider making purchases such as books, computers and other things you’ll need for college and to get a jump start on bill payments for the next few months, or even the entire year. You want to have as little cash on hand as possible when filing.  Spend the money on things you would have to spend it on in the future anyways, such as bills, equipment, etc.

Don’t Earn Too Much Income

Not only should you minimize your income, if possible, during the base year, watch your student’s income earnings, as earning too much money can reduce the amount of financial aid you receive.  (BASE YEAR is now “PRIOR, PRIOR” year, which means that for the 2018 Graduates, the FAFSA will look at 2016 income.) The first $2,440 in income that your child makes is exempt, but wages beyond that amount will be assessed at a rate of 50 percent. This means that you lose 50 cents in financial aid eligibility for every dollar your student earns beyond $2,440.

Talk With One of Our College Planners About Configuring Your EFC

College Planners are great at helping you position money and assets to greatly reduce your EFC.  Our college planners won’t even bill you or take you on as a client, if they can’t save you well more than their fee.  It’s a huge win for the family.  At minimum, call one to see if they could shave money off your tuition responsibility for a free consult.  Our office number is 904-625-0299.