college fairs

On the latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, host Ian Fisher and his guests discuss the common pitfalls of college visits and how to avoid them, how to prepare for the college decisions that are about to arrive, and debunking financial aid application myths.

College Visits and What Not To Do

In a bit of a twist, Ian’s first guest, Olivia Sajjadieh, has some great tips to share on what not to do when visiting a college. She stresses the importance of advance research and scheduling, and not just showing up unannounced, especially during busy spring breaks. She also advises students not to make up their mind about a school too quickly, and suggests that students and parents not just talk with the tour guide, but seek out opportunities to ask questions of other individuals on campus who are not being paid to sell the school. Finally, she has some relevant pointers about what not to do during group information sessions. While this may sound obvious, in closing, both Olivia and Ian remind students that it is absolutely not OK to drink alcohol on a campus visit, even if your host invites you to.

Preparing for Regular Decision Outcomes

Ian’s next guest, Lauren DiProspero, has some words of advice for students as they prepare to hear from colleges in the next few weeks. She reminds students to have their login information for each college ready, and double check each college’s information system to make sure the college has everything they need from you to make a decision. Along those lines, Ian reminds students to check the spam filter in their email to make sure emails from their colleges are not being blocked! Lauren encourages parents to find out when decisions are coming out (every college is different, and some will identify a certain date and time) and plan to celebrate all of the successes, no matter where the college falls on the student’s list. Ian and Lauren wrap up their discussion with a brief summary of what to look for in an admit packet, what to do if you’re waitlisted, and how to approach college visits once you’ve been accepted—you’ll want to tune in to learn more!

Debunking Some More Financial Aid Application Myths

In the second of a two-part series, Ian welcomes his last guest, Michelle Richardson, to put to rest some rumors and misunderstandings about the financial aid application process and how income and assets affect financial aid eligibility. Michelle begins by stressing the importance of saving for college (and how parent-owned assets have a very small effect on eligibility, while parent income has a very large effect). She goes on to point out the significant drawbacks of moving liquid assets into “invisible” and less liquid assets like a primary residence or retirement accounts. She reminds listeners that all 529 College Investment Plans owned by the parent must be reported on the FAFSA, not just the accounts that name the student as the beneficiary. And finally, she offers some tips on how to best manage support for college from other family members, like grandparents.

While this week’s show is full of useful advice, you also won’t want to miss our next show, when Elizabeth Heaton will return to talk about the age old question: is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? She and a college finance expert will also address listener questions. Don’t miss it!

Getting-In-CTA

Written by Kathy Ruby
Kathy Ruby is a member of College Coach’s team of college finance experts. Before joining College Coach, Kathy was as a Senior Financial Aid Officer at St. Olaf College and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.