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College Planning 101 - Myths and Realities

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At Heartland we’re always looking for ways to give you the tools you need to be successful. We’re pleased to announce a new partnership with Jeff Bria, of Bria Consulting LLC, to offer you and your family a series of college planning seminars and educational articles. Jeff has been a college administrator for 20 plus years, has consulted within the higher education community since 2006, and is in the process of being certified as an Independent Education Consultant (IEC). So what is an IEC?

An IEC works with families and students to help navigate all aspects from planning for – to graduation from college.

Through assessment and evaluation of personal preferences (beyond GPA and ACT/SAT scores) the goal is to identify which of the 4,500 plus colleges or universities would be a good personal “match” academically, socially and financially for each individual student. Research shows us that there is a direct correlation between being at the correct school and your retention and ultimate graduation from that school. Once enrolled, an IEC can also assist with strategies to help you stay on track to graduate in four years, time is money!

Aren’t the resources available through guidance counselors, the colleges themselves and the Internet sufficient? Do I really need to work with an IEC? Maybe, maybe not – each family will make that decision.

Below are some insights from Jeff about the College Planning Process:

There are many myths and realities surrounding colleges. Myths such as, “a good college is hard to get into.” The reality is that no one, to date, has been able to define what “good” is. Good for one student may mean enrolling in the Railroad Conductor Technology Certificate program at Dakota County Technical College, good for another might be the University of Minnesota – Morris (an expert choice of schools with an unusually friendly atmosphere, a school that makes it easy for a quiet or shy student to fit in quickly or easily), or good may lead you to St. Olaf College – where approximately 73% of the 2014 graduating class participated in at least one study abroad experience.

It’s not hard to get into a “good” college – the reality is 87% of colleges accept 90% of those who apply. Sure some “brand name” colleges are hard to get into but often a “good match” college is easy to get into. Some other myths and realities:

  • Reality – Minnesota has one school counselor for every 792 students, ranking it 48th in the nation – according to the U.S. Department of Education (2013). As much as your counselor would like to help, they have little time to spend with families helping you find good fit schools.
  • Reality – 27% of students who enrolled at a four-year public institution in Minnesota transferred and graduated from a different school – the highest percentage of any state. A good initial “match” can save you time and money.
  • Myth – “I can’t afford to go to a private college.” Mattresses, new cars and college tuition really do have one trait in common – you rarely ever pay sticker price. Although the “sticker price” of a college may seem outrageously high, there are also an endless variety of incentives, deals, and grants to lighten the load (At one selective University in the Northeast, not a single freshman paid full-tuition and fees last year). Reality – there are a variety of strategies to make the price of college affordable.
  • Myth – “I can count on an athletic scholarship to pay for college.” Reality – athletic ability can help get you into a school, but the proverbial “full ride” is rare – expect to be paying most of the cost of your child’s college education yourself.
  • Reality – Finding a good match doesn’t need to be stressful. It can be simple. It takes good planning. Many families start this process earlier than you think – from choosing where and what type of college savings plan to use – to determining what courses (college prep to AP) and when to take them in high school. Many begin course planning as early as 8th grade.

Don’t let college planning stress you out – all you need is a good plan. To lean more attend the upcoming College Planning 101 presentation.

You may also contact Jeff directly at briaconsulting@gmail.com to schedule a free consultation if you are in the midst of a college search and have some questions.