Plan For College

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ensuring a Positive Social Media Image

The "Why Start College Planning Early?" Series    #3 of 6

"Ensuring a Positive Social Media Image"

News Flash: Last year hundreds of applicants were rejected by a college because of their Instagram or Facebook posts! Many more got much less scholarship money than they could have because their Social Media Image was damaging...But smart applicants can avoid this very easily: Clean up your Internet Image!

Colleges look at Social Media to understand who a student is and if they are a fit or not for their unique community. If you are a student athlete that is being considered for a large scholarship, admissions staff can find you easily on any Social Media platform and look at years of pictures and posts. If they see anything they don't like, do you think they will call you and ask about it? No...they will go to the next candidate in the pile and keep looking.

What does your Social Media say about you? Does your college resume and application contradict your FB and Twitter stream? Are you a great student on paper and on your Twitter feed or are they contradictory? Do your daily videos and pictures show a lot of partying on the weekends and skipped school days on the beach? Do you have pictures of you holding a Red Solo Cup? Everyone knows what that means and if you are under age, it's not helping your image!

Or do you use Social Media as a promotional tool to convince colleges to accept you? We are not saying that you should stage pictures in front of a church or homeless shelter or in the library to pretend you are a good person...And we are not saying that you can't show fun times or crazy adventures...Colleges like applicants that are well-rounded, mature and adventurous so show them your best sides! Your Social Media Image is you and it may need to cleaned up!

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Some General Do's for Social Media:

·         * Make sure you tag the college often...They can see if you include the College Name in your posts

·         * Like the College Social pages, add them to your incoming feeds, follow the college Social Media Site, re-tweet their posts and add your own positive comments
 ·         * School Clubs: Post pics and vids from competitions and meetings.
Community Activism: Post from the food pantry showing co-workers. If cleaning a local park on weekends, make a FB event and invite all. Making care packages for soldiers or flood victims? Selfie that!
Sports: Live FB feed from meets / games with peers (Parents can help video from the stands)
Hobbies: If it fits with your desired major, post away! If not leave it out.
o   Good Example: If you are a big gamer or Cos-Player or like computers and are going into art, theater, design or graphics etc., then post plenty of events, projects and group photos at festivals or conventions. Show how much you love it...colleges want passion in their students!
o   Bad Example: Hoping to get into a top Nursing Program? Don't post party pics on Facebook from 3AM. Hoping to score a big scholarship for accounting at an Ivy School? Don't flood Instagram with only

Some smart "College Planning-Friendly" posts for your Social Media Feeds:

·         Visiting a College
o   Pictures in front of the College Sign wearing a school hoodie
o   Selfies with the tour guide or Dept Head in a classroom
o   Use comments like:
§  "I love (Tag College Name)! I love their engineering program and their dorms are so nice"
§  "Met some great people at (Tag College Name)...I want to go here so bad!"
§  "Fingers crossed that I get into (Tag College Name)! This would be a great fit for me!"
o   Even if you visit multiple colleges, still post about each unique in your comments. The college admissions staff will likely see your multiple visits as a sign you are serious about college and even consider more financial aid to sway your view of them.

·         Sports Teams
o   Sports show teamwork, dedication, personal achievement and focus: Post often showing progress and the fun you are having
o   Win 11th or 4th or even 1st place? Post it with your award!
o   Videos of you competing can be casual or professional: If you are hoping for sports scholarship, then post higher-quality, edited content
o   Selfies with the team on and off the field
o   Use comments like:
§  "(Tag College Name) has a pretty good sports program...can't wait to go there to show my skills"
§  "I definitely will go to all the games at (Tag College Name)...Looking forward to going in the fall"

·         Work Time
o   If you have a job, college admissions staff will view you as a young adult that is organized, reliable, hard-working and responsible. Posting from work will help your image
o   Have customers post positive testimonials about you, tagging your name so it shows up on your feeds. Twitter is great for viral messages
o   Pictures of the staff with you in the middle are great memories and if you comment about how much fun you are having while working hard, that is even better
o   Use comments like:
§  "Working late tonight...Making money so I can go to (Tag College Name)"
§  "Here I am at work with my favorite customers...I hope I can get a job on campus at (Tag College Name) like this!"

You get the idea...put yourself in the shoes of a College Admissions Director and ask yourself: "Will my Social Media help me get into college or not?" If Yes, bravo...keep it positive and you will do fine. But if it is No, you may want to delete some sketchy posts or maybe even delete your entire existing account and start fresh.

Hope this helps!

The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


"Start your Student Resume Early"

Why have a Student Resume? When should you start? Who will read it 2+ years before you start applying to college? What should be on it? 
  • Here are some answers and other tips:

    ·         We recommend starting as soon as possible so you don't forget anything that you accomplish during your early years of High School.
    ·         What should be on it?
    o    School Projects: Colleges want students that start and finish projects on their own and on teams. How did you demonstrate good teamwork and initiative on your Freshman or Sophomore Science Fair project? Did you talk to experts outside of school or in industry?
    o    School Extra-Curriculars: Robotics Team? Debate Team? Vocal Chorus? These are all great indicators of a hard-working student that will thrive in college...will colleges give you more money to attract you? Perhaps they will so list everything you did after school.
    o    Work that relates to your college field: If you don't know what you want to study in college, list your work in terms of how it shows your responsibility, work ethic and reliability. The money is nice but the admissions department likes hard workers.
    o    Summer camps: If you want to go to music school and you went to a music camp that's great but any camp experience adds to your resume. What did you learn? Did you work in teams or lead a group? Did you demonstrate maturity or problem solving skills in games?
    o    Boy / Girl Scouting: These programs, as well as church-based groups, produce some of the most mature and responsible young adults and colleges want to know you participated, even if you stopped before the top ranks to change your focus on a higher priority. Colleges wany well-rounded students in their population..
    o    Sports: Even if you were not the captain, all organized sports show ability to work on a team, have personal initiative, self-awareness and confidence and goal-centered focus. Colleges also want a lot of healthy students that are involved in all their activities because that attracts other students etc. List every position and # of years.
    o    Civic Programs: Churches and Social Groups offer opportunities to travel, work on socially-significant projects, help others in need, learn about other cultures and educate yourself outside of school. Colleges offer similar programs like Study Abroad, Consortium School Work and Team Projects...they want students that can handle travel, living on their own, being in a new environment, meeting new people, helping others and being a leader...If you have this on your resume, they will want to meet you!
    ·         TIP: When you go on a college tour, have one ready to hand to the organizer or Admissions Manager...most students will bring nothing and leave no impression whatsoever...take every opportunity to make them remember you.

    ·         TIP: Always have 5-10 resumes on you while visiting a never know who you will meet or who will want one. If you visit a Science Lab class, and the department head stops in to sell the schools BS in Sciences and Technology, why not say hello and hand him your resume with a red circle around your Science Summer Camp experience? Connection made! You say that sounds far-fetched and she will just throw it away? Try it and see...

    ·         TIP: In your interview, give them the resume immediately before they ask you a question. That way you will stand a better chance that the first question will be "What did you like about your Summer Camp experience in Nashville?" rather than "What can you tell me about your favorite math class?" The resume will focus on you and what you want to say, not what they like to ask.

    ·         TIP: When looking for Letters of Reference your resume can be used to find many unusual sources of valuable references: When you visited the local manufacturing company for your Freshman project or helped run a training session at Soccer Camp who was in charge? Did you meet with an author to write a paper in Junior Year? A reference from a top business manager or owner of a sports camp or a known literary figure is a big catch that will set you apart from the group.

    Call us today to see some great examples of Student Resumes that helped students just like you get into college and attract more Grants, Loans and Scholarships...

The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

NEW College Planning Timeline for 2017!

We just updated our College Planning Timeline for 2017!

If you have a student in 9th to 12th grade then you likely have a lot of questions about planning for college...You can now get a FREE College Planning Timeline from The College Planning Group that will give you a step-by-step guide from Fall of Freshman Year to even after your student gets to college...


Some of the highlights:

  • It reviews PSAT and SAT Prep schedules and planning (So you dont miss the test date!)
  • How and When to ask for Letters of Reference (Early and Often!)
  • New FAFSA Regulations! (What month is it due again?)
  • When to start your Resume (you will be surprised!)
  • Parent Tips and Tasks (No you don't have to write the essays!)
  • And much more!

So click here to get yours:

Or here: 

The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New College Financial Planning Seminar

New College Financial Planning Seminar

Feb 8, 2017 7PM Canton MA

Canton Public Library, 786 Washington St., Canton, MA 02021

Register Today:

The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Focus on College Planning / Courses / Grades as Freshman

"Why Start College Planning Early Series" Article 1 of 6:

Focus on College Planning / Courses / Grades as Freshman

When is the best time to begin College Planning? Some say Junior Year or even Sophomore Year to give the student time to acclimate to High School. They recommend "let the young student navigate the first 1-2 years of High School without the added pressure of College Planning"...But this only adds to the mounting pressure and could negatively impact finding the right college.
Starting your College Planning in Freshman Year has many benefits to consider:
  • It makes the last 2 years of high school much easier on the student, the parents and the family.
  • Having good study habits that have been cultivated during the first 2 years makes the last 2 go smoothly
  • The Senior Year schedule is planned and predictable, this is the preferred option instead over cramming in classes that are a larger jump in difficulty.
  • You can visit more colleges in 3 summers versus 1 and you are not sacrificing all the shorter breaks: Summer road trips are less stressful and the better weather makes for better family experiences.  It is suggested that once the preferred colleges are selected, visiting when colleges are in session is very beneficial.
  • Teachers can help plan all 4 years of courses and help adjust if detours arise. Imagine knowing that the basics and foundation is planned out and the student has electives decided early.
  • High School Guidance Counselors will learn your student's personality better and will create a more collaborative and helpful environment...they have hundreds of kids to help and yours will stand out.
  • Parents can be involved in homework and study planning and arrange home life to support this
  • Don't forget Summer Work and Vacation Learning opportunities: 3 summers of productive job experience and specialty college prep classes versus 1 or 2 summers.
  • Some of the better College Planners will only charge 1 fee for all the College Planning activities...get 4 years of help for 1 fixed fee!

There are many more but you may want to consider starting your College Planning in the students Freshman year. When the student arrives at college, they will be more prepared, relaxed and enthusiastic knowing they are at the right school for the right reasons!

> Look for the next Article in our ongoing "Why Start College Planning Early Series"...

The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Monday, January 16, 2017

Announcing our 2017 Focus: Why Start College Planning Early?

Along with our regularly scheduled blog posts with quick updates, college news and insider tips, we have created a 6-Part Early College Planning Series that will span the next few weeks...

"Why Start College Planning Early?"

In other words: Why families of Freshman and Sophomore High School students should start College Planning now...And not wait until Senior year...? Lots of reasons!

Here are some of the main points we will cover:

  • Focus on HS Grades as Freshman
  • Focus on Course Selection Early
  • Why start Resume early?
  • College Financial Plans need time
  • Must Have: Attractive Social Media Landscape
  • Tour Colleges Early
  • Essays done sooner = better message
  • Start Earlier = Better College Fit
And many others...Stay tuned!

The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Monday, October 3, 2016

Changes to the FAFSA-- Part 3---Common Questions

A Few Common Questions We Are Asked Each Year

When will the federal government distribute my financial aid for the upcoming school year?
ANSWER: Your college is the one that disburse (pay out), your financial aid, not the federal government. Since each school has a different timeline for awarding aid, you’ll have to call your school’s financial aid office to find out the specific date.

What can I do to get more financial aid?
ANSWER: A lot of students get disappointed when they see their financial aid offer and don’t receive the amount or type of aid they were hoping for. Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), is calculated using the information that you provided on the FAFSA. The amount of federal student aid you qualify for uses a formula that calculates your need and was established by law.  Of course, that amount can change every year, depending on a number of factors. Also, some states and schools offer financial aid of their own, called institutional aid. Some of that aid is need-based, other types are merit-based, and some of that aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. We recommend you talk to a competent college consultant to find out how you can increase your chances of getting the most aid possible or talk to your school directly, but don’t expect much help from the colleges

I want free money -  Not more loans
ANSWER: Everyone wants free money!  There are several grants offered by the Federal government, includes the Federal Pell Grant, which are “need-based”, meaning you must have certain level of financial need to qualify. Your school will use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for these grants.  Colleges and universities will also distribute scholarships out based off of merit (high ACT/SAT test scores and GPA), or special talents. If you do not qualify for federal need-based aid or merit or special talent scholarships you’re just out of luck.

Why am I considered "dependent" when I'm 21, don't live at home, and my parents don't pay for my bills/living expenses?

ANSWER:  Living on your own doesn’t make you an independent student for purposes of the FAFSA.  FAFSA dependency guidelines are set by Congress and are different from those of the IRS. This is why even if your parent’s don’t claim you on their taxes, you still won’t be considered independent unless you can meet one of the 13 questions in Step Three of the FAFSA form.

Why should I complete the FAFSA when I know my family’s income is too high to qualify for need-based financial aid?

ANSWER:  This is a common mistake many families make. There are many colleges and universities will refrain from giving out merit-based and special talent scholarships to individual students without first completing the FAFSA form. Even though you may not qualify for need-based aid you could qualify for merit-based aid. Therefore, everyone should complete the FAFSA.

If I want to discuss the potential of receiving merit-based scholarships do I talked to financial aid or the admissions department?

ANSWER:  The Financial Aid Office of a college handles need-based financial aid, but the Admissions Office administers all merit-based financial aid.

Is our EFC really what the college expects us to pay?

ANSWER:  Families often confuse the meaning of their EFC (Expected Family Contribution) calculation as derived from the FAFSA form. The federal government as well as the colleges are NOT saying that your EFC represents what you can comfortably afford/write the check for.
They’re saying that based on the federal formula (called the Federal Methodology), it’s what they expect you to pay (minimally), notwithstanding merit scholarships. Realize that they have defined the phrase to be EXPECTED Family Contribution, not AFFORDABLE Family Contribution.
Adding to the confusion of this term (EFC) is the fact that very few colleges limit a family’s out-of-pocket costs to the EFC calculation! We see many cases where a family has an EFC in the $15K-ish range, yet their “Financial Aid Award” package consists of nothing but loans in excess of $30K, even $40K in some instances.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Changes to the FAFSA- PART 2- More Questions You Might Have...

If we completed the FAFSA in 2016-17 will this information automatically carry over to my new 2017-18 renewal FAFSA?

According to the Federal FAFSA processing center
“No. Too much could have changed since you filed your last FAFSA, and there’s no way to predict what might be different, so you’ll need to enter the information again. However, keep in mind that many people are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically import their 2015 tax information into the FAFSA, making the process of reporting tax info quick and easy.”

Do I have to update my 2017–18 FAFSA with my 2016 tax information after I file my 2016 taxes?

According to the Federal FAFSA processing centerNo. The 2017–18 FAFSA asks for 2015 tax info, and only 2015. Beginning October 1, you can fully submit the FAFSA in one sitting using your 2015 tax info. No updating necessary.”

But what if my family’s financial situation has changed since our 2015 taxes were filed? Can we report our 2016 tax information instead?

According to the Federal FAFSA processing center – No. You must report your 2015 tax info on the 2017–18 FAFSA. You do not have the option to report your 2016 tax info. If your family has experienced a loss of income since the 2015 tax year, talk to the financial aid office at your school. They have the ability to assess your situation and make adjustments.
Note: The FAFSA asks for marital status as of the day you fill it out. So if you’re married now but weren’t in 2015 (and therefore didn’t file taxes as married), you’ll need to add your spouse’s income to your FAFSA.
Similarly, if you filed your 2015 taxes as married but you’re no longer married when you fill out the FAFSA, you’ll need to subtract your spouse’s income.”

Will FAFSA deadlines be earlier since the application is launching earlier?

According to the Federal FAFSA processing center – “We expect that most state and school deadlines will remain approximately the same as in 2016–17. However, several states that offer first come, first served financial aid will change their deadlines from “as soon as possible after January 1” to “as soon as possible after October 1. So, as always, it’s important that you check your state and school deadlines so that you don’t miss out on any aid. State deadlines are on; school deadlines are on schools’ websites.”

Will I receive aid offers earlier if I apply earlier?

According to the Federal FAFSA processing center – “Not necessarily; some schools will make offers earlier while others won’t. If you’re applying to multiple schools or thinking of transferring to another school, you might want to look at the College Scorecard to compare costs at different schools while you wait for your aid offers to arrive. Note: You should be aware that the maximum Federal Pell Grant for 2017–18 might not be known until early 2017, so keep in mind that even if you do receive an aid offer early, it could change due to various factors.”

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Changes to the FAFSA for the 2017 school year; PART 1

Changes To The FAFSA For The School Year 2017–18.

There are few changes for the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid that everyone should be aware of. In this publication we will go over these changes as well as give you some insight on some of the most common questions we are asked when completing the FAFSA form.

·      The first major change is you can now complete the FAFSA earlier than in the past. For the school year 2017-18 you can complete the FAFSA as early as October 1, 2016.

·      You’ll use earlier income and tax information. The new 2017-18 FAFSA will let you use earlier tax year to complete this form. This is called prior-prior year completion. For the 2017 18 school year you will use 2015 income tax information, rather than your 2016 income and tax information.

Using 2015 income tax information could cause some problems for a few families. For example, the family could have a higher income in 2015 tax year then they have in 2016. If this is the case for you, you must complete the FAFSA with the info it asks for (2015). Then, after filing your FAFSA, contact the financial aid office at your school to explain your situation. The school has the ability to assess your situation and make adjustments to your FAFSA.

Will these changes benefit me?

According to the Federal FAFSA processing center:
·      Completing the FAFSA could be easier. The FAFSA will ask for older income and tax information that you will already have. This change means you won’t have to use estimates anymore, or log in later to update your FAFSA after you file taxes!
  • Because you’ll already have done your 2015 taxes by the time you fill out your 2017–18 FAFSA, you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA.

  • Having the FAFSA available three months earlier will give you more time to meet most deadlines (although some will be early, so fill out the FAFSA right away just in case) and to explore and understand your financial aid options.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Are you ready for college? Tips from the experts on college planning and individual learning needs

Written by Stan Ezekiel and Rachel Buday

There is no need to stress about preparing for college. Your junior and senior years in high school are demanding enough without losing your cool while getting ready for some serious college planning. In this article, Stan Ezekiel of College Planning Group, and Boston-area Learning Specialist, Rachel Buday, will share insider college preparedness expertise for high school students, including those that used IEP’s and 504 plans.

Here is a checklist of 6 tips to keep you on track as you start planning…

1.     Prepare for filing your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You will be able to file the 2017-2018 FAFSA as early as October 1, 2016. If you have already looked into this, have complicated financial records, or are not sure how to start, we can lead you through the process.

2.     Get your resume together. If you do not feel like you have anything to include in a resume of if you have never written a resume fear not! It's easier than you think, and you probably have more experience than you realize. Having your resume handy will also make filling out the college application easier. Include extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, and part time jobs. Brag a little! This is a document meant to showcase your amazing talents, goals and accomplishments.

3.     Work on your essay. Not sure what to write about? The essay prompts can be found on the Common Application for College website (  Write it, read it and write it again. Let others read it and get their feedback. If you'd like professional assistance with your essay, send us a copy.  We will help to make it college-ready.

Have you used an IEP or 504 Plan in high school for learning or medical needs? Do you have an interest in keeping some of these accommodations in college? The process, laws and supports are extremely different!

4.     Make sure you have copies of the testing that was done to create the IEP. Often, IEP’s are not sufficient forms of documentation for colleges.

5.     Be prepared to realize that an 18-year-old student is the only person that can initiate accommodations in college! Parents are no longer part of the process unless the student signs a release form. Our experts can help students develop self-advocacy skills.

6.     There will no longer be a team of school staff and teachers to take care of all issues related to learning and medical accommodations. The student must initiate the process. They must identify the appropriate office, schedule appointments, and follow protocol. Again, parents may not call the college to inquire about what a student has or has not disclosed, or make appointments for them. If you are a student, or parent of a student, that would be interested in having a Learning Specialist meet the student for coaching, strategies, and college prep, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Stan Ezekiel, CCPS
College Planning Group
Ph:  781-828-1114

Rachel Buday, MAT
Rachel Buday Coaching
Ph: 617-306-5517