The talk we gave last week in Doral was an eye-opener, both for the more than 100 people who attended, and for us. Here’s why.

The class was held on November 5th… exactly 3 weeks after FSU’s early (and frankly, more important) Application Deadline and 4 days AFTERthe University of Florida’s one and only Deadline.

The workshop was full of involved parents who clearly value higher education and have the best of intentions for their children, many of whom were 12th graders who had been interested in applying to one or both of these schools.

But few of these families were aware of these early Admissions deadlines, let alone the various application requirements, financial aid and other scholarship opportunities and deadlines at these or any of the other 3,900 institutes of higher learning that are potential landing spots for their children.

Just a few quick examples:

Neither FSU nor UF, for example, require actual transcripts; both require an SSAR – for which the applicant must create and utilize an account (you can do so here). Neither of them require teacher recommendations, but each has its own and DIFFERENT essay prompts and requirements.

Each school requires its applicants to submit admissions test scores, but few of the families we spoke to and with were aware that their students actually had to contact either the College Board (for SAT) and/or the ACT to request that those scores get sent.. and that there’s a rush fee if you do so late… and that FSU, in particular, will only consider scores submitted after their first deadline if they have at least one official score on record prior to that deadline (Oct 15). And let’s not even go to the appalling lack of accurate information about scholarships and financial aid.

Obviously this is concerning on many levels… The first is that this year, as in the past several, the college process is merely ‘mind-numbingly complex’, as the Wall Street Journal called it in an article written three years ago.

Next year, it’s going to be an absolute cluster (my words, not the Journal’s, and a bit blunt perhaps, but true).

Not only has the entire Admissions Test system been upended, there’s now a coalition of 80 schools that will be upping the Admissions ante on January 1st by introducing an alternative to the Common Application that intends to engage students in the College Admissions (application) process beginning in 9th grade (yes, 9th).

And as for the financial aid and merit-scholarship situation, the entire timeframe has been moved up by months/years for the Class of 2017 — which means that like 12th graders, 11th graders’ financial aid offers will be predicated on their parents’ demonstrated needs (based on their 2015 income and tax returns).

Any real opportunity to take steps to manage those needs expires for 11th graders at the end of this year despite the fact that these students (my daughter among them) will not actually receive any financial aid until the Fall of 2017 (that’s two years from now)! This moves everything up for everyone in or entering high school next fall… and it’s left already over-burdened HS guidance offices AND colleges scrambling to adapt.

So, what I want to convey is this:  despite these changes, there are still more than 3,900 US colleges out there — and all of them will still ‘discount’.

That discount has reached a new all time high of 48% and yes, 2/3 of first-time, full-time undergraduates should receive some type of grant or scholarship.  After nearly a decade of working on this (which you canread more about here), I can assure you that the school(s) for your child and your budget are out there.  But I also know that for whatever reason, every year thousands and thousands of families aren’t given the information early enough in high school about where to find them, how to get into them and what to do to make sure that they can afford them.

Every year we see families who have both needlessly limited their children’s college options and literally left grant and scholarship money on the table.  Which is a shame – and something we’d like to keep from happening.

So, we actually added two additional public classes to address these issues: one next week in Miami.

You can click here to register for the Miami class.  And one on December 9th in Broward.  Click here to reserve a spot and materials for the Broward program.  Both are free, but seating is limited.

Parents of 12th graders, you’re in emergency mode.  Parents of 11th graders, you’re getting there… and 9th and 10th graders, you’re on-the-clock, admissions-wise and financially speaking.

I hope we’ll see you there.

Best,

– Peter

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