Are you like too many of our bright, otherwise reasonably competitive and motivated students (or one of the frantic parents who love them)?

Are you super stressed out and sleep deprived – not just because you’re up all night doing actual homework, but because you’re also over-scheduled, over-loaded and overly worried about that C+ you got…in Middle School?

Or maybe you’re a parent and you’ve been talking to your so-called ‘friends’ about your child’s ‘less than stellar SAT outing’ or some other perceived ‘blemish’, and they’ve confirmed what you’ve always suspected: YOU WILL NEVER GET INTO A GOOD COLLEGE… Or that even if you do, YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO GO THERE!

Well, here’s some good news: The tide in college admissions is finally changing… for the better!

And, while I certainly wish that we could take all the credit for the shift in thinking (and our regular rants notwithstanding), this time the credit goes to a newly, Ivy-led study.

In ‘Turning the Tide’, a newly published report on the state of College Admissions, Harvard (and other top schools) are calling for a major change in what they are finally acknowledging has become an unnecessarily stressful, unfair, commercially-fueled college admissions process. And what Harvard does, other colleges are sure to follow.

So this report is welcome good news, both to the beleaguered families who are ready to dial down the angst-inducing, overly competitive college madness, and the like-minded counselors who help guide them through it.

You’ll recognize many of the recommendations from some of our columns, among them a call to increase the use of ‘unconventional’ means of identifying a student’s potential in lieu of relying on unfair and frankly, more game-able standardized metrics (like over-inflated GPAs or over-prepped standardized test scores). NY Times columnist Frank Bruni had a great op-ed on the report, and here is our take.

Ivies and reports aside, many colleges already recognize that a student’s true essence (and potential) cannot be captured by a four-hour exam or even a forty minute class.

There are roughly 3 million students who apply to college every year, and there are north of 3,900 institutions of higher learning. There are multiple, terrific options for every single student.

Sure, many of these schools may be lesser known to you now, but there are some real gems out there. And I’m not talking about 2-year colleges. I’m referring to some very competitive schools with stellar programs, but perhaps smaller football players…and marketing budgets. Some of these are literally looking for ways to make it easier for you to find them, for them to accept you, and help you pay for it.

These are colleges that are looking for passionate students who will contribute to their campus life. We’d like to introduce you to the LOADS of schools who are already part of a real and now clearly growing movement that will recognize that you (or your student) are more than a number – and will reward you (or your student) for it!

That list is growing. Some of the universities on our list are considered quite prominent nationally and most offer generous need-based and/or merit scholarships for desirable students!

Bottom line is this: STOP STRESSING! Gaining admission to a good college, with a good discount to boot, doesn’t require you to be good at everything!

You have to know what you are good at, how to demonstrate that… and most importantly where (as in which schools) will appreciate and reward you for it!

Today, the right admissions strategy is often also the best Financial Strategy – especially for families who haven’t saved enough for college (which is 97% of us, by the way)…which is why we’ve been integrating the two in our practice for nearly a decade.

If you’d like to know more about what’s happening in Admissions and how it’s affecting funding, then you should come hear us speak next month. We’re offering three free, open-to-the-public events in February. You can go here to find out where and when, and to reserve a seat and your materials (suggested)! You can also pick up your Amazon copy of our new book, NOT! Your Parent’s College Plan today!

When you’re armed with accurate information well before your student gets ready to submit their first application (or even finalize their list), you will enjoy far more affordable college options and far LESS stress than you thought.

At this point, you shouldn’t sit back and just let the ‘whole college thing’ just passively creep up on you. There’s no need for you to get caught off guard. Not when you have an opportunity to take action now.

The reality is that the earlier you take action, the easier and more rewarding the entire process of applying and paying for college will be. If you have a high school student who will be applying to college, I do hope to see you in February.

Best wishes,

– Jill (and Peter) Ratzan

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