College Planning – How to Find a College Planner Who Will be a Good Fit for Your Family
Between our public workshops and private client meetings, I literally talk to thousands of parents a year on the topic of college planning. I imagine I’ve been asked every question in the book when it comes to college. And you know what surprises me the most? The questions parents DON’T ask.
For example, I can count on one hand the number of parents who’ve asked me what the graduation rate of a particular college is. When only about 50% of all the kids who start college actually graduate, I would think this is an important question. But few people ever ask it.
Likewise, nobody ever asks what percentage of the college’s graduating class end up getting a job in their field of study. I realize that finding a job isn’t the ONLY reason for going to college, but in today’s economy, isn’t that something you at least want to be aware of?
Since choosing a college advisor is so important, I don’t want you to overlook the most important questions. So let me give you the top 3 questions you want to be sure to ask. And I’ll even make it easy for you to remember them.
Remember the 3 R’s they taught us in school – Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic? Here are the 3 R’s to finding the best college planner for your family.
The first R is for Reputation. There’s no shortage of people offering college advice out there. But what kind of reputation do they have? Do their clients speak highly of them? Are they quoted in the press, on TV or radio? That’s always a clue that they know their stuff. Are they members in reputable associations such as the College Funding Association or the National Association for College Admission Counseling? What about the Better Business Bureau? These are all Reputation questions.
The next R is for Range. What I mean by this is, do they offer a range of services all under one roof? You can find lots of folks out there who offer SAT test prep or will help you write an essay or narrow your college list. But they tend to only do one thing. College planning involves many aspects, and who wants to run around to 10 different places? Also, these days, paying for college is just as important as getting into college. So you want to make sure to get expert help on the money side of things as well – especially how to maximize financial aid and minimize your out-of-pocket costs. Most accountants and financial planners don’t have the specialized training to advise you effectively.
The final R is for Results. Can they prove that they do what they promise? Ask to see actual financial aid award letters.