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CASH FOR COLLEGE NEWSLETTER College Bound Cash Box 45484, Westlake, OH 44145 440-263-1575

September 2011

“Heading Back To School… With The Very BEST People To Help You Plan (And Pay) For College!” Well… that was quick! Summer vacation never seems to last very long, and it seems that the older college-bound high school students get, the faster the summers pass by. As we now head into September and all of the necessary changes that surround back-to-school, it is once again time to focus in earnest on the things that will make the biggest difference as you prepare for your student to begin college or university studies after the completion of high school. As we always try to remind parents and students at every opportunity, the earlier you begin these preparations, the easier they will be! This is not something that you want to put off until the last minute, because the consequences – especially in these economic times – can quite literally be disastrous to a young person’s academic future. The good news on this front, of course, is that you are not in this alone. Many of you have certainly heard of the African adage that “It takes a village to raise a child.” Books (and even occasional political platforms) have even been written about this idea. Well, there is some truth to it, especially in the realm of preparing a high school student for the rigors and expenses of higher education. Things go much, much smoother in the preparation for future college studies and expenses when you are not the only people involved in the process. So, then, who else should be involved, and how can you find these people who are supposed to be interested in helping your kid (and you) prepare for college?! In this month’s newsletter, we have specifically focused on introducing you to some of the people you should begin working with NOW in order to help you prepare optimally for college and university studies later. Some of them may be readily available to you, and others may not… this will depend largely on your child’s high school, the quality of the people who work there, your geographical area in general, and the people you know. Almost every year, we find that there are a certain number of people who will vainly attempt to complete their family’s college preparations – both academic and financial – entirely on their 1


own. However, they invariably find that it is really not possible. Applying for college requires input and assistance from a variety of people, and knowing the best people with whom to work, as well as the best strategies to take, will make all the difference in helping your child and your family to be optimally prepared for the challenges and expenses of the college or university years. Here are some of the people you will want to work with during the high school years in preparation for higher education! ********** High School Guidance Counselors: This one may seem like common sense, but we are often surprised to see how few of our clients have effectively worked in concert with their high school’s guidance counselor. The simple fact is that a dedicated high school guidance counselor can be one of the most valuable and effective aids in helping your child prepare for college on the academic side of things. (We also have to recognize, of course, that not all schools are blessed with dedicated guidance counselors, which is a shame. However, if your school does have one then we urge you to work with him or her!) For one thing, good guidance counselors often are among the most well-versed people in many schools regarding which high school classes will meet which requirements for eventual university admission. They can offer advice and encouragement to students who are college-bound, as well as serving as student advocates in other ways. Some experienced counselors also have connections at universities and colleges, which can help when it comes time for applications. One vital suggestion however, is that while we do recommend that parents and students work well with their guidance counselor, it is imperative that parents also independently verify the information that they receive from the counseling office! Requirements may change from year to year, and sometimes schools will not remain on top of each and every alteration. This is one reason that your college funding advisor is another great team member, because we operate with an updated computer data base each and every year, both with academic and financial details. High School Teachers: As the backbone of any school district, good teachers can make a huge difference for your high school student as s/he prepares for college. This is the case not only because they are positioned to provide excellent letters of reference, but also because they can often offer insights along the path to college, including specific strengths and weaknesses exhibited in the classroom. This type of feedback is invaluable as you begin to look toward college and think about what situations are best for your child. Again, not every teacher may be exceptionally well-qualified to help with the college preparation of your child, but many of them are‌ your job, along with your child, is to discover which teachers will be inclined to help along the way. Some of these teachers will probably be in subjects which interest your child, but remember that all of the teachers have attended college, and a well-crafted letter from a teacher in another subject can also be of great value. In addition, a good high school mentor can go a long way. Take the time to attend parent-teacher meetings. See which teachers express an interest in assisting your child on his or her path to college, and pay attention to their comments. The aid and advice of a knowledgeable teacher can make a huge difference in your child’s preparation for the 2


academic future! Group Advisors and Team Coaches: Any extracurricular activities or athletics at the high school level will need to have an advisor or coach of some sort, and this individual will be extremely well placed in helping your child to prepare for college. Colleges and universities like to see students who are actively engaged in experiences outside of the classroom, and an advisor or coach will be able to define some of the “intangible� qualities that make for an excellent college student and citizen, such as leadership, talent, teamwork, and other elements that define your student as a club member, performer, or athlete. These leaders can also be of assistance in pointing out possibilities for talent-based scholarships and other options for performing at the next level, when your child enters the college or university ranks. People often only think of this in terms of athletics, but be aware that there are plenty of options for students with artistic talents, research abilities, and other special gifts. Work Supervisors or Community/Church Leaders: If your child has a part-time job, or is involved in some sort of community or church activities, then the leaders and supervisors of these groups are additional excellent resources. This can especially be the case with service groups or jobs that are somehow linked to your child’s future interests, because they show maturity and a proven interest in a subject, especially above and beyond what is required at school. Savvy parents and students are also often able to find mentors for the future, as many of these leaders may be graduates of programs at universities that are of particular interest. Letters of recommendation from these types of leaders can add value to college applications, and these individuals can also play a great role in the maturation and development of your child from a high school student to a competitive college applicant. Choose these outside activities carefully, so that the schedule does not become unmanageable for your high school student. However, managed intelligently, the benefit of these types of programs and jobs can be remarkable. (Note: If you need help in determining the best and most advantageous way for your high school student to manage his or her wages from a part time job, take a moment to confer with your college funding advisor. We can help you understand the legal ramifications and effects on eligibility for federal financial aid.) Your College Funding Advisor: If it seems odd or disingenuous to you for us to promote ourselves as a resource for helping prepare your student for college, then this might be a good time to remind you of what a professional college funding advisor brings to the table when helping your family to be ready for the costs and efforts of higher education. Your college funding advisor not only has the knowledge and expertise to help guide you through the financial preparations for university training, but we make it our business to be completely up-to-date on the annual changes to the laws and regulations that guide the awarding of federal financial aid. However, our efforts would not be complete if we did not also have access to tools that can help you compare different institutions (and their financial aid offers) head-to-head, to 3


give a clear picture of which college or university is providing the best value for your education dollar. We also make it our business to have a clear understanding of the academic requirements for each school, and our technical abilities allow us to compare these details as well. We can help you determine which schools are well within the reach of your high school student, which schools are a bit of a reach, and which schools can be considered “safety schools…” and all of this is based on the most up-to-date information available anywhere. The simple act of combining a professional college funding advisor with your family’s preparations for the college years will help you to make the very most out of all of your efforts. Having seen it time and time again, we are truly proud to bring that level of commitment and value to each and every family we assist. ********** Remember, even if you are able to find only a couple of the people on this list who are interested in helping your child on the path to higher education, if you combine the efforts of these people with the expertise of a college funding professional you will definitely have a good jump on the overall college situation. This is because we, as the experts in this field, are able to provide insights and personalized advice for both your family’s financial circumstance AND your student’s academic situation. In fact, many parents find that one of the best tools for understanding these concepts is our free college funding report. This little gem offers a general review of the college funding journey, and we offer it at no cost or obligation. We would be very pleased to drop a free copy into the mail for you! Simply call our staff at 888-799-4410. However, if you wish to gather a more complete picture of the process, and obtain more specific detail regarding how your family is affected, then we do not hesitate to recommend your attendance at one of our upcoming College Funding Workshops. These outstanding workshops are also free, but due to limited seating we must keep them as a reservation-only event. In the workshops we offer a live explanation of the funding for higher education, and we invite you to participate in one of the upcoming dates nearest to your location. For more information, or to reserve a seat now, simply call our workshop staff at 440-263-1575, or visit our website at www.collegeboundcash.com. We are looking forward to helping you with the process of planning and managing your family’s college funding! Until next month…

Jim Eastwood, CFP®

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September, 2011 College Planning Newsletter  

College planning newsletter from Jim Eastwood

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