You know the feeling you get when you think about college planning for your kid?

The angel on one shoulder says, “I’d do anything to help my kid get the most out of college.”

Meanwhile the devil on the other shoulder says, “Uh! This is so expensive! I need to rule out anything that doesn’t seem necessary so I don’t end up in a run-down nursing home someday!”

When I first tell parents I’m a college planning advisor, many are quick to tell me why they don’t need my help.

You don’t need the support I provide as college planning advisor if your only goal is to get your kid into college.

That’s actually quite simple. You don’t need help with that.

But that is not how I help parents & students. I do so much more.

The value of excellent college planning is significantly more than most parents realize UNTIL it’s too late.

Here are common reasons parents think they don’t need a college planning advisor and one significant contribution I could make.

 

“My kid is in eighth grade.”

How my college planning approach could help: If you envision your kid going to college, it’s never too soon to begin college planning. Eighth grade is a particularly perfect time to begin a conversation around what college is REALLY about. When students approach high school with a healthy, accurate understanding of college, it can transform their mindset about school. A healthy college mindset prioritizes relationships over achievements, engagement over grades, integrity over popularity, and quality over quantity. The earlier this mindset is in place, the easier and less stressful college planning becomes. I help students organically choose this mindset.

 

“My kid already knows where she’s applying.”

How my college planning approach could help: Does your kid know how to start an application before submitting anything formally? My clients learn  strategies to connect with colleges in ways few students know to do. If your kid has their heart set on a school, wouldn’t it be cool if their application were received by admissions folks saying, “Yes! I’ve been hoping she would apply!” I help students learn how to create this reaction.

 

“My kid’s school already has a great guidance counselor.”

How my college planning approach could help: I have spoken with counselors in a variety of schools. Their job is to help kids select “good fit” schools and submit applications. They don’t have time to help each kid think in depth about what they want from college.  The depth of planning I offer my clients can help you do even more for your child. It’s not an either/or. You can have both. Utilize the school counselor for their resources. Then I help students maximize

  • tuition investments
  • earning potential or grad school acceptance chances
  • your kid’s strengths, talents, interests, and leadership styles
  • critical mentoring relationships
  • internships, volunteer, and work experiences to beef up qualification for desired career openings
  • academic projects that develop expertise in intentionally selected topics

 

“My kid has already been accepted into college with a full ride.”

How my college planning approach could help: Kids who earn these kinds of awards tend to have habits that lead to burn out in college. Speaking as one who knows from personal and painful experience, these habits can be well-hidden. As a certified life coach, I can help students learn to balance high productivity with long-term sustainability. Well-being and fulfillment are far more important than making the Dean’s List, but you can have both. I help students practice healthy work habits and stress management skills.

 

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  – Alan Lakein

 

Getting in to college and getting the most out of college: that’s two different things. Plenty of students get accepted and graduate without ever engaging on a level that helps them gain the confidence and skills to create their lives with purpose and joy, contributing their talents and generating bountiful income.

Research has shown that only 3% of college grads get the 6 experiences that dramatically increase the likelihood of having a great job and a great life. That’s the goal of excellent college planning.

My advice is to do differently than what most parents do to help their kids plan for college. But don’t just do it willy-nilly. Do it with help from someone who has done the research that you don’t have time to sort through.

Excellent college planning isn’t about getting accepted any more than being an excellent parent is about getting pregnant. The parents who help their kids the most understand that college is one phase of a grander journey.

Sometimes you’ll see your kid fully engage in the college experience; sometimes you won’t. But in each and every case, you can help them learn. Even if they decide college isn’t for them, your kid will still be on the journey.

And if you think about it, that’s good news.

It means it’s okay if you’re didn’t start planning in pre-K. It means you can always change your approach. It means your conflicting impulses are perfectly normal, and you’ll get through it.

So have faith that your sacrifices aren’t in vain, keep talking to your kid, and most of all, hold in your heart the highest vision of what’s possible. As the journey unfolds, your kid will find direction and make beautiful contributions in this world.

And when they do, it’ll all be worth it.