It’s almost summer, but rather than heading to the beach, host Elizabeth Heaton was back at the microphone at Getting In: A College Coach Conversation. In this week’s episode, Beth gave listeners a closer look at Connecticut College, helped them to understand the pros and cons of using retirement savings toward college, and answered a number of listener questions.

Inside admissions at Connecticut College

Beth welcomed Bridget Moore, Associate Director of Admissions at Connecticut College, a small liberal arts college in New London, CT, to talk about the college and how they review applications. Bridget started with offering up some basics about Conn College including what students typically study, and the many benefits and facets of a liberal arts education. She then provided some valuable insight into the application reading process, detailing the path that an application takes at Conn College, and how the holistic review process really works. Because Conn College has a testing optional policy, Bridget talked about what that means for students and the application process.

Using retirement funds to pay for college: A good idea?

In the second segment, Shannon Vasconcelos returned to the show to answer a very important and commonly asked question: Is it a good idea to use your retirement savings to help pay for your child’s college? The bottom line: Not a good idea at all. Whenever possible, retirement funds should be kept sacred, and should not be used to pay for college. Shannon discussed the many reasons this approach should only be used as a last resort. That said, since many folks do indeed plan to do this, Shannon gave some great advice on how to do it in the best way—focusing on the choice between types of retirement plans (IRA vs. 401K), and the timing that can help mitigate the negative impact that this type of action can have on financial aid. Beth and Shannon also addressed the common misconception that adding more money to your retirement fund can help students get more financial aid, and also discussed the pros and cons of taking a loan against your 401K plan.

College Coach ‘Office Hours’

In the final segment, Beth welcomed back Erica Braley, who brought several listener questions along with her. Questions included: how do I get started in the application process, whether I’m a 9th grader, or an 11th grader? What are the consequences, if any, of taking a gap year? What happens in the admissions process if your test scores are stronger than your grades? And how does the knowledge, or lack of knowledge, of a high school impact the student’s application? Some great and timely questions—for the answers, pull up a chair, download the episode, and have a listen!


Written by Julia Jones
Julia Jones is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Julia previously worked as a senior admissions officer at Brandeis University and was the director of admissions at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School. Visit our website to learn more about Julia Jones.