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5 Reasons Why You Need to Hire a College Planning Advisor

I went to college. Did I go to the best college for me? I’m not sure. Did I explore all of my options? I did not. I applied to one school, did no tours, majored in education and graduated in four years. Then I proceeded to not teach high school English. School had always been easy for me, and my major, although I didn’t teach, laid the foundation for my future careers in school counseling and all things related. I was lucky. What about all of you reading this? Are you working in the field you majored in? Did you change majors, transfer schools, take a few extra semesters to finish? Did you drop out or fail? Did you dutifully trudge through a major you didn’t love, get a job you weren’t excited about, and now you think you are too far in to make a change (you’re not, by the way)? We want more for our kids than a job that’s just “OK.” We want more for our kids than a college degree just for the sake of saying “I’m a college graduate.” Sure, some of us were lucky and got it right the first time and are in successful careers that we love. But for others, it’s a stab in the dark. Unfortunately, higher education is too expensive now to experiment. It’s cost prohibitive to figure it all out in the first two years of college and hope to get it right. Sure, there are some basic required classes to get out of the way those first two years, but what about when you’re done taking those? Will you all of a sudden know what your major should be? It benefits our kids to spend some time exploring options before they step foot on campus, before the financial pressure, and before the stakes are too high. College is not the same for our kids as it was for us. It is not simply picking a school and filling out an application. So how can a College Planning Advisor help? Below are five ways a College Planning Advisor can help with the daunting task of planning for life after high school:

  • Giving your teen the opportunity to talk to someone other than their parents. Most parents we work with say their teen shrugs their shoulders when asked questions about what they want to do. Some even get angry when the subject comes up, probably because it’s a stressful time. Everyone is asking them the same questions, so they feel pressured to give an answer. They feel pressure from their parents to pick the “right” answer. On the other side of the spectrum, some teens are extremely intense about the process, whether from pressure from peers or their parents. They seemingly know exactly what they want to do and where they want to go. These teens need guidance to ensure that they are organized and focusing on the right things. They require a calm voice of reason to help them sort through the overwhelming advice and opinions. Parents are often amazed at how much their teen talks and shares in sessions with us.

  • The Career and Academic Assessment Process. At OptimumEd, we always start with a thorough assessment that consists of an evaluation of cognitive ability, personality/behavioral traits and interests. This comes together to deliver an array of careers that fit your unique profile. But that is only the beginning. We spend time reviewing the results and educating the teen and family about what it means for them. We explore careers of interest by looking at the day-in-the-life activities. We also arrange for teens to have conversations with individuals who are currently working in their potential career interest. We spend time discussing ways that they can further explore their interests through clubs, elective courses, volunteer activities, etc. We truly want them to explore possible options before there is the cost of college courses attached. We don’t expect a teen to choose the career they will have for the rest of their life, but we want them to have a successful first step into the world of work.

  • Did you know that marketing plays a role? Yes, it is important to market your student to prospective universities. This thing called “demonstrated interest” is something that is unpredictable (every school is different), but if a college tracks it, it can play a part in whether or not you will be accepted. Admissions representatives are often evaluated on their ratio of acceptances offered to students who actually register to attend. So it makes sense that they would be more likely to offer an acceptance to students who have demonstrated a strong desire to attend their school. So how do you boost demonstrated interest? We have students develop a personal resume and cover letter that tells their story of extracurriculars, leadership, clubs, employment, athletics, etc. Scheduling campus visits, reaching out for information, requesting an interview, asking to audit a class, following the school on social media and more will help illustrate a desire to attend.

  • Organizing and making sense of the college application process. Students who work with us are given access to a personalized, private online platform that will help them organize the entire process. It provides a wealth of statistical and subjective information on schools, including size, demographics, student surveys, academic programs, and links to outside resources. So instead of choosing a school because their friends are going there, or because their uncle says it's a good school, or because mom or dad say we have to go there, we help students choose a list of schools that fit their wants and needs in a campus. We can provide analysis on the platform of likelihood of acceptance based on a number of factors. Essay requirements are also listed for each school, and we assist with essay topic generation, organization of essay requirements, and assistance with editing. Once we decide on an application strategy - early decision, early action or regular decision - the platform provides a checklist for keeping track of each step in the process.

  • Figuring out how to pay for college. Money for college comes from a number of various sources. OptimumEd provides a financial planning portal that allows families to enter student information, family finances, and colleges of interest. This allows families to get an estimate of cost and family contribution. We can help sort through all of this and guide families in making the right financial decisions when it comes to paying for college.

At OptimumEd, we take planning very seriously. We support teens and families through a very stressful time by taking out the guesswork and assisting in making educated decisions.


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