Plan For College

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Start Planning Early With a College Resume

Start college planning early.  One of the best ways to do this is by creating a resume.

A student resume is a summary of all your accomplishments.  Keep a diary/resume as soon as freshman year and build on.  Everything counts and a resume is a great way to showcase yourself.  It is okay to brag!

  • List school projects, outside of school projects and hobbies. 
  • Don’t forget extracurriculars such as robotics, debate team, chorus, band, etc.
  • List your jobs such as baby sitting, house sitting, dog walking.  No job is too small and colleges want to see how hard you have worked. 
  • Colleges want well rounded students.  Church groups, scouting and civic group involvement help show schools that you are responsible.
  • Of course, colleges love sports.  List all of them that you participate in, especially if you hold a position of leadership on the team. 
  • Self-awareness, self-confidence and personal initiative are all qualities that deserve bragging rights.  Don’t be shy.       

If you are not sure about the best format for your resume, seek out your English or Business teachers and review with them. (They will also be more likely to give you a better, more effective referral letter if you have sought them out!)

Once you have a resume draft continue to build on it.  Updates will be easy to add once the base of the resume is in place. 

When your resume is complete make several copies, and feel free to hand them out.  College admissions officers love resumes, it takes the sting out of the college interview and brings the focus back to you.

Hope this helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Larger Colleges vs Smaller Colleges: Myth vs Reality


The College Planning Group Blog Post   Apr 2018

Larger Colleges vs Smaller Colleges: Myth vs Reality
There are many questions surrounding the benefits of attending a large university as opposed to attending a smaller college. Larger schools do not necessarily mean a student will receive a better degree.  Ivy League College graduates do not necessarily have better careers. 
As far as staff, many smaller colleges have exceptionally qualified professors and richly established classes.  Also, smaller colleges do offer some students generous financial aid packages.
Why consider a Small college:
  • Smaller campuses mean you are part of a smaller, tighter-knit community.
  • Smaller colleges and universities offer “boutique majors” that may only attract a few dozen students a year…this means your unique niche major may only be offered at a small school.
  • Many smaller colleges allow you to take classes at nearby larger schools.


You may get a great financial aid package at a smaller college. Smaller colleges wish to attract students too. Don’t underestimate endowments made to smaller colleges made by graduates that absolutely loved their school and wish to give back.  
We recommend you look at a few smaller colleges. They may be a better fit.
Hope this helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569



Thursday, May 3, 2018

Tips for Sophomores and Juniors: Planning College Tours



The College Planning Group Blog Post Apr 2018

Tips for High School Sophomores: Juniors: Planning College Tours

The summer is coming sooner than you may think, which means that
sophomore and junior year high school students should start planning
their summer college visits now. Visiting colleges early can be fun and
adventurous and will help to reduce some of the stress that comes with
college planning.


Start Early

Visit local campuses now with your family. Enjoy beautiful campuses
near you during the nice weather. Stroll along the walks, check out the
quad, poke around the dining area and talk to students. Without
pressure your mind will be open, be sure to ask questions and learn all
you can about college life. Take notes and have a good time.


Time to Get Serious

Once you have your college list and have a better understanding of
college life you should be ready to plan your road trip. Don’t forget to
schedule college tours ahead of time. If you plan to visit out of state
colleges consider the demographics. Map out a few colleges to see on
the way to your dream school and if you have time visit one or two
colleges on your way back home.


Make the College Tour Count

Talk to senior students on campus, voice your concerns and get their
views on college life. Explore academic departments, ask about class
size and whether the class is taught by a full professor, assistant
professor, associate professor, adjunct professor or research associate.
Visit the dining hall and student center. Ask about campus safety and
security policies. Get financial aid information. 

Drive around the surrounding area to get a feel for the neighborhood, stores, restaurants
and parks. Pretend you live there. Make sure the school fits you and
that you will feel happy in the college community for four years.

Get started today and you will be happy you did!

Hope This Helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985- 8569

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Sophomore College Planning Tips: What you can do now


The College Planning Group Blog Post   March 2018

Sophomore College Planning Tips: What you can do now

There are many things that high school sophomores can do now to prepare for college and university. Simple steps such as evaluating your courses, activities, and summer plans can set you on the right path.

Choosing Courses
Colleges look carefully at your high school transcript. They want to see students that take challenging courses in their areas of interest.
If you’re interested in STEM, plan to take whatever science and math classes available to you, including honors, AP, and IB courses. This is the time to make sure you’re on the right academic track.

Exploring Your Interests
Sophomore year is the time to get serious about focusing and developing your interests. Zone in on classes, clubs, and activities that are related to what you want to learn about.

Activities
Quality is valued over quantity when it comes to extracurricular activities.  Colleges like to see students involved in what they are passionate about.  Zone in on what you like and not on what your friends are doing.

Summer Experience
Make summer count.  Research summer jobs and internship programs that match your interests. Set yourself up for junior year. Make planning fun!

Hope this helps!


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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569





Thursday, February 8, 2018

NEW POST: Financial Aid Award Letters

How to Read Financial Aid Award Letters


Congratulations! You received financial aid letters from colleges.  You worked hard to get this money, but do you know what all the dollar signs mean?


After you submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you’ll receive an award letter in the mail from each school you have been accepted to. Your letters will outline how much the school will cost and what kind of financial aid package you will receive. 

>> BUT Not all financial aid award letters look the same.


Below are some points to consider:
  • There are big differences between a federal loan, school aid, gift aid, scholarship, award and grant money.
  • Are you sure you understand what money you must pay back?
  • You do not have to accept all the financial aid from your award letter. 


We recommend that you first consider accepting gift money such as scholarships and grants that you do not have to pay back.  Also, earned money (work-study) is always good and does not have to be paid back.  Lastly, consider borrowed money (federal student loans) that you do have to repay.


Once you decide which financial aid package you wish to accept, you will need to respond within the deadline set by the school. If you wait, another student gets that money!


College Planning Group reads hundreds of award letters each year and will help you decide what is right for you.

Hope this helps!


The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Financial Aid Schedule: Oct 1 Opens "FAFSA Season"!


Saturday Oct 1, 2017 marked the opening of the 2017 - 2018 "FAFSA Season"
For those unfamiliar with it, FAFSA stands for "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" and it’s a government form that give you access to $Millions of Federal money for college…Hundreds of $Millions have been awarded in the last few years alone!

You can find the deadline schedule for the federal applications here: https://www.fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm  As far as each school's deadlines, check with your college directly.

Now that the opening date has passed, you should be working on in now…(Or have a College Advisor working on it!) NOTE: If you are late or wait too long, the money may be gone until next year!

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>> Here are some tips and links:

> Federal FAFSA Deadlines: You can file a FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year NOW so do it quickly to maximize your chance of federal monies. The latest they will accept applications is (not recommended!) June 30, 2018 and any corrections or updates must be submitted by September 15, 2018. See https://fafsa.ed.gov/

> State Aid Deadlines: As far as MA students pls visit the website for the Office of Student Financial Assistance at the  Massachusetts Department of Education  www.osfa.mass.edu. This is the official website of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Ed. For RI, CT, see your local state websites.

> If you have large assets or cash accounts or liquid investments that you think would disqualify you, Do Not Assume you should list them…not all assets need to be listed! The FAFSA is not an department of the IRS so be careful in detailing your financial picture.

> Some help can be found here:
          https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/ 
              https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types



As always, consider using a College Planner who has filled out hundreds of FAFSA forms (and is likely filling out dozens for students right now!) Make sure they know all the tricks for getting you the most Financial Aid…

Many "weekend experts" just fill it out assuming old rules and statutes without learning the new laws and requirements, and, as a result, do not maximize your Financial Aid.

Hope this helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569






Saturday, September 2, 2017

Financial Aid Schedule: Deadlines Approaching!

The College Planning Group Blog Post 

Financial Aid Schedule: Deadlines Approaching!

What is FAFSA? "Free Application for Federal Student Aid"
If it's Free, it must be simple, right? No…it is a 14-page form that requires a lot of data and information and, if it is incorrect, you may get Less Federal Financial Aid!

When is it due? Soon! You should be working on in now…(Or have a College Advisor working on it!) If you are late or wait too long, the pile of money will be gone…

What mistakes do most people make? They make all kinds of mistakes but the most common is waiting too long! If you are off on your income or assets, these could affect your aid package…But if you wait even a month longer than most, you may have the perfect FAFSA but miss out anyway!

>> Here are some tips and links:

> Federal FAFSA Deadlines: You can file a FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year as early as October 1, 2016 so do it quickly to maximize your chance of federal monies. The latest they will accept applications is (not recommended!) June 30, 2018 and any corrections or updates must be submitted by September 15, 2018. See https://fafsa.ed.gov/
> State Aid Deadlines: As far as MA students pls visit the website for the Office of Student Financial Assistance at the  Massachusetts Department of Education  www.osfa.mass.edu. This is the official website of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Ed. For RI, CT, see your local state websites.

> You will need various tax forms and historical tax data. You may be able to use 2015 or 2016 tax returns depending on your situation. The College Planning Group are not tax advisors but we know exactly how to navigate the FAFSA and get it right the first time…NOTE: any mistakes will lower your chance of financial aid!

> You can always edit your data on the FAFSA website but do it before you commit the data. You can edit income, assets, debts, addresses, etc etc at any time but once you commit that is it.

> If you have large assets or cash accounts or liquid investments that you think would disqualify you, Do Not Assume you should list them…not all assets need to be listed! The FAFSA is not an department of the IRS so be careful in detailing your financial picture.

> If you are separated or divorced and have sole-custody or joint-custody, these need to be handled very carefully: Do Not Assume that, if you have 100% custody of a child, that you alone should fill out the FAFSA…an ex-spouse may be included in your financial picture in many cases to show increased need.

As always, consider using a College Planner who has filled out hundreds of FAFSA forms (and is likely filling out dozens for students right now!) Make sure they know all the tricks for getting you the most Financial Aid…Many "experts" just fill it out assuming old rules and statutes without learning the new laws and requirements, and, as a result, do not maximize your Financial Aid.

Hope this helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569






Monday, August 21, 2017

Rising Seniors Alert!


The College Planning Group Blog:  >> Rising Seniors Alert!

 

As summer nears a close and the Back-To-School Sales are everywhere, there is a big reality check for thousands of parents of High School Seniors: Their Rising Senior will be going to college in 12 months!

Are you prepared? Have you been following our advice for the last 3 years and this reality has no effect on you? If so then you can stop reading…enjoy the rest of your summer!

If you are starting to panic, You might be in one or many of these situations:

          - You have not visited any colleges yet

          - You do not know how to apply for financial aid

          - You have not saved much money to pay for college

          - Your student has not asked for Recommendation Letters

          - Your student has not taken the Standardized Tests yet

          - Your student has decent grades but not great

After all that, you do not need to panic: We can help you and your child like we have helped many before you…There are some things you need to do, however:

First: Download our Free College Planning Timeline…start at page 12 to see the overall plan.


Second: Get your 2016 tax federal tax return and W-2s together so you are prepared to complete the FAFSA form online. (NOTE: We know tricks and tips so let us help you)


 

Next: Talk to your financial advisor to see how you can afford college and minimize your child's student debt.

Next: Book a meeting with you and your student with their High School Guidance Counselor ASAP. They can help you find local and regional colleges best suited for your student.

 Finally: Sit down with your student and discuss WHY they want to go to college. Listen for positive reasons and negative ones: If they want a certain career in a field they love, we can help you find colleges that will fit their needs.  They should apply to 6-10 colleges.  If they only offer reasons to avoid certain jobs they may need to explore local Community Colleges while they focus their goals.

 

Rising Seniors: Let us help you have a great Senior Year with less stress and worry…it is not too late!

 

Hope this helps!

 


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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

 


 


 



 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

College Planning in the Summertime

College Planning in the Summertime

Planning a family road trip this summer? Instead of visiting the World's Largest Ball of Yarn or Muskrat Carnival Village, why not make a stop at a couple of colleges in between? Many families are realizing that the best time to visit school campuses is in the summer, and colleges are more than eager to have you visit.

If you would rather be at the beach or the lake, no problem: Find a college near the sandy shore or a few miles away from the lake house and spend a few hours there...you will not regret it, especially if you happen upon the hundreds of smaller, unknown schools that are very attractive and great institutions of learning. Rather be in a big city? Same thing goes: Inner city colleges love summer visitors so they can show off their summer learning and sports programs and give tours of more buildings because the school population is down 90% from the rest of the year.


So here are some ideas on how to find a college that is the right fit for you:

  • You get to see a lot more areas of the country while you travel. Don't change your destination, just the route. Driving through 3 states? Look at what colleges are in the towns along the way, plan a stop for 2 hours
     
  • Many colleges have summer programs for Grad Students and underclassmen with double majors. These students make better tour guides because they are more invested in the school and have more experience with the community.
     
  • Call Ahead: Many professors and coaches are on summer leave. If you want to tour the Computer Lab or all the sports facilities, you will need to communicate directly with those departments. Check the school website for a list of emails.  Some facilities may be closed for renovations also.
     
  • You may be able to get High School credit for a Road Trip Report…Your English or History teacher may take a 3-page summary of your trip if it meets criteria for a writing or research project. Visit a college and include some notes about the school's history or an anecdote about a famous student in your paper. Less homework in the Fall maybe?  hmmm…
     
  • Family Friendly: While you tour the science wing with Mom, your younger siblings can hang with Dad (or vice versa) to visit the town and have their own adventure...they can tell you about the rest of the town you did not get to see
     
  • Social Media: Post from campus, create a photo album of the campus, hashtag the college and add yourself, make a FB Live video as you walk the Music Rooms for all your friends to see…you get the idea. Note: Selfies with the College T is always a good image especially when college recruiters see your post (and they will!)
     
  • Don't be afraid to visit colleges that do not have a big label. Prestige has nothing to do with a good education. campuses tend to be more beautiful and lush if they are in the countryside where land is more plentiful.
     
  • Take advantage of extra time: College visits during the school year are often limited in order to avoid missing lots of classroom time. This usually isn't the case in the summer. If possible, stretch out your visit for an extra day or two, especially for schools that are high on your student's list.
     
  • Tours are more personalized: In general, fewer students visit schools during the summer, which means that your group will be much smaller—perhaps just you and your family! Use the personal attention to get all your questions answered, either by your campus tour guide or another admissions representative.

STUDENTS: Here are some other ideas on how to plan for college in the summer:


  • If you work, make it count! Save as much money as you can. Your college resume is stronger if you show you can keep a solid job when other students are getting tans and sleeping until noon!
     
  • Sport Camps: If you attend a sport camp, use it to impress College Coaches: Post with pro college messages. Ask the coach for a leadership role or help run the camp anyway you can. Wear a college T and send a selfie with the team.
     
  • Be careful of Social Media Fails: Smart Social Media is a must…College Recruiters are watching and are being trained on how to scour the internet for reputation-ruining posts. The Internet never forgets!
     
  • Volunteer while you have time away from High School stress. Giving back to your local community shows a college that you will do the same when you get to college. They don't just want 4.0 students…They want students that help create a sense of community, inclusion and camaraderie to keep their campus vibrant and innovative.

Hope This Helps!





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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569









Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Introducing another team member at The College Planning Group

A quick note about another great resource available to our families: College Planning Group Consultant Mark Haberland



Mark was interviewed recently at a College Event and had this to say:


"Guiding high school students was my profession for 35 years. I had the pleasure of being a guidance counselor at Gloucester High for all of those years. My philosophy is simple: We will work together as a team to find the best match for you, regardless of the challenges you may face. 


I am aware that getting ready for college is a big step.  We will however proceed in tiny steps, one foot at a time until you get there. The journey will be part of the overall goal.  College planning can be fun."


So we are very excited here at CPG to offer this awesome resource to all our new and existing families...Mark has a unique insight from the High School perspective. He knows how to work with High School families and how to get the students to step up and get deeply involved in teh planning process.

As a side note: Mark agrees that starting the college planning process in the Freshman Year is a great strategy for finding the the best college fit for the student...


You can reach Mark via email: Mark@thecollegeplanninggroup.com



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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569