Starting as a senior, you are starting to late.

Starting as a senior, you are starting to late.


“If you start the process of getting into college as a senior you are starting to late.” This was said by a mother who has a son who is going through the process of applying to different colleges and trying to receive financial assistance.  She also said that she had no idea how to find the information she needs to help her son make himself competitive to not only to get into the colleges that he hopes to, but also receive the necessary funding that it takes these days.

So, I thought that this would be a good conversation piece for this month’s article.

How does the College Admittance and Funding process really work?

The college admissions process is highly competitive and becoming more so each year.  To improve your odds of getting in and receiving the necessary funding to attend, you must know the workings of the admissions process, and how it goes hand in hand with the institution’s financial aid strategies.

Colleges are in the business of providing higher education to our nation.  The key word here is business.  Institutions have a very definite business approach when it comes to offering admission and funding to a prospective student.

For example, a college or university will typically offer admission to three (3) times as many students as they need.  Why?  They know that only one-third of those offered admission will attend and the remaining two-thirds won’t.  Colleges want their seats full, and will typically over-book the flight to make sure they are.  It’s not good or bad – it’s simply business.

To simplify this, in my workshops I talk about the three lists that every college will put their that potential students on.

  1. I love you list
  2. I like you list
  3. I need bodies list

The good news is that you can turn the process in your favor by learning how to play game!

Just how important are the SAT and the ACT Tests?

In fact, she had mentioned to me that she had been told it would actually hurt her children if they took these tests, too early or more than once or twice. While the truth is just the opposite. The sooner that you can begin to learn and prepare for these tests, the better you will do. I am not advocating to begin taking these tests as a freshman, or even as a sophomore. What I am advocating is to begin preparing for these tests as early as a freshman and as a sophomore.

Nearly every college or university requires prospective students to submit scores from one (or both) of the most widely recognized standardized tests – the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and the ACT (American College Test).  Standardized test scores help institutions better understand how a student compares with the other applicants.

And make no mistake that these tests play an important role in a student’s potential for admission to a college or universityGood test scores make a student more attractive to a school which could result in an increase in the funding offered. If you are not preparing as early as freshman and sophomore for these tests, you are already behind your competition because they are.

This is especially true for all of those families that homeschool their children. This is the best method that you can use to show that your child is ready to perform at a college level.

For both the SAT and the ACT, an excellent strategy for maximizing your scores is to take each test multiple times As a general rule, a student’s score will increase with every test taken.  A student can usually decide which score will ultimately be submitted with his or her admission application.

Remember, for this to be the most effective, you must have the final test taken by February of your senior year. This will allow you to have the final test scores during your negotiation phase.

When should I start?

The short answer to your question is NOW!  Ideally, during your sophomore year of high school you should begin working on your career path and start researching the qualities that you are looking for in a college or university.  Planning to finance your education should start at approximately the same time.  This will give your family plenty of time to make any adjustments to the family’s finances to give you the best eligibility for financial aid.

Don’t despair if you are already past your sophomore year – even seniors in their first semester can effectively choose a college and plan for financing an education but it will take a great deal of time and dedication in a relatively short period of time to do so.  Your best plan is to start early

Who really receives the most money for college and why?

Although college financial aid was originally intended to go to those students who needed it the most, in many cases, it may actually go to those who know the most about the process.  Colleges now use financial aid as a marketing tool to attract the students they would most like to enroll.  The more you know about the overall process, and the more you are able to implement what you know into a workable plan, the more likely you are to receive the best education at the best price.

The bottom line is this.

When you begin to apply for the colleges of your choice, where do you stand against your competition? Are you preparing to be on the I love you list because your competition is!

Marty McCain

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