Plan for the Future

“Marty, feel free to use me as an example in your next workshop”

This past week as I was returning home from a business trip to Salt Lake City with my wife and had just landed at the airport, I got two frantic phone calls and one text from a client whose daughter was supposed to be moving into her dorm this coming Saturday.  He had several issues that they were trying to work out at the last minute and needed to talk to me ASAP.    

I called him back on the way home after leaving the airport and arranged to meet with him the next morning at my office.  This is where, at the end of this meeting, he stated to me, “Marty, feel free to use me as an example in your next workshop.” He added that he didn’t want other parents to make the same mistake he and his daughter had made.

That mistake was waiting until his daughters second semester of her senior year of high school to begin the process of getting into college and trying to get the funding his daughter needs to attend college.  This mistake is probably one of the most common ones that parents and students commit in this process. I think that in this case, she will be able to attend that college that she wants to go to but it will cost her thousands of dollars more because she and her dad did not know about the timeline that starts as a freshman in high school.  She said to me, “I wish that I had started as a freshman in high school.”  

The fact is, this has been a common occurrence for me over the last several years.  The variation sounds something like this; “I wish that I had met with you last year,” or “I wish I met you with our first child that was going to college.”  Unfortunately, as a general rule of thumb, we believe that we do not need to begin the process of getting into the school of their choice until their senior year of high school.  This is also when we begin worrying about how we are going to pay for their education.

I would like to mention three or four things that you can start doing as a freshman through your junior year of high school that will keep you out of this situation and put you in the 10% of the students who are going to get into the colleges that you would like to attend.

There are three time frames that you should become conversant with during your student’s high school career.

  1. Freshman and Sophomore years.
  2. Junior year.
  3. Senior year.

For the purpose of this article I will only be talking about your freshman and sophomore years of high school.

Your freshman and sophomore years are very critical to your success, and there are two key areas that you should focus on.

The first is beginning the process of understanding of what area or fields that you would like to work in.  I have had some students who have been very laser like by the time they are a junior or senior in high school and know exactly what they want to do and become, and some students who have only a general idea of areas that they think they would do well in.

Once you have accomplished this process this allows you to do two very important things that must be done before your junior year of high school.

You can begin the process of choosing the major that fits your needs the best.

Once you have narrowed down the majors that makes sense to you, then the real fun can begin.  You begin by looking at colleges that offer that major, and then can begin analyzing the top five to ten colleges that fit your specific criteria.

The second one is preparing your student to take the PSAT in October of their junior year of high school.  In one of the articles that was published earlier this year, we talked at great length that the most important test that your student will take during their high school career is the PSAT of their Junior year.

I know that I have not been able to talk about the junior and senior timelines in this article however I will follow up with that in the next couple months to hopefully give you an idea of what you need to be doing.  

To wrap this up, there’s a couple things that I would like you to take from this article.  The first is you cannot wait until your student is a senior in high school and accepted into the college of their choice for them to receive the financial aid that is possible.  If they put forth the time and effort as a freshman and sophomore, they will have a higher chance at getting the funding needed.