If the American Dream is broken, the current woes in our higher education system certainly play a key part. Do you realize that more than 68,100,000 websites inundate a parent when they try to understand how to help get their teenagers into the right college? Heaven help us, the Internet is glutted with so much disjointed, inaccurate advice that moms and dads don’t know where to turn. That’s one of the reasons I do what I do. I really want to help parents find peace in this process.
Popular search engines like Google do little to separate wheat from chaff, since their results for a search for “college admissions help” mix and match scattered information lacking in cohesion, data, sequencing, and the actionable steps students need to be taking. Blogs and amateur educators with little or no training or certifications post much of this white noise, while huge for-profit corporations data-mine email lists worth millions of dollars when parents wander into their virtual portals. Subjectivity abounds. Greed looms. Parents panic. Yikes!
This dread often begins as their children enter the 9th grade. For the next four years they suffer through anxiety and stress over every report card, student schedule, and standardized test. The stakes are high and they know it; they just don’t have the right information being presented in the right way to let them off the hook. Strained relationships with their teenagers result, alongside lost opportunities as deadlines and possibilities pass by unknown. This just breaks my heart; it doesn’t have to be this way.
In truth, the American education system has devolved so miserably that many parents now question the value of a college diploma. The sticker shock of a four-year degree, not to mention the price of graduate work to follow, leads some to dream that their children may be able to build independent lives outside of academia. For a lucky few, this may be in the cards, but statistics tell the tale of college as a necessary, not optional, rite of passage into the adult workforce.
Despite objections that college may no longer be the panacea it once was, according to the US Census Bureau, a typical college graduate earns $46,000 more annually with a Master’s degree or higher than someone with only a high school education. That’s $2.4 million over the course of a lifetime – an irrefutable return on investment.
Parents nowadays need to essentially develop a system for getting their teens into the right colleges, especially as their sons and daughters navigate the sophomore and junior years of high school. Four key areas I recommend every mom and dad target to help them succeed are: ensuring they are taking the proper proportion of honors and AP courses, offering them support if needed to attain a 3.5 or higher GPA, securing strong test scores on the SAT or ACT, and helping them narrow a target school list from the over 4,000 colleges in the US alone.
Even when amazing parents I know have done all of that, they still have to try to figure out financial strategies — scholarships, gift aid, financial aid, FAFSA information, and more. No wonder most are ready to bite the bullet and hire a pro to ease the pain and fear of a misstep by that time. It’s just crazy!
Please follow this blog for ongoing, up-to-the-minute information. I promise to hold your hand every step of the way to your teen’s college admissions success.