On the last episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, host Beth Heaton and guests discussed how much is too much to borrow when it comes to paying for college, reviewed essay brainstorming homework and discussed starting a college list in our School’s Out: College Application Workshop segment, and finally wrapped up with Office Hours to address listeners’ admissions questions.

How Much is TOO Much?

Financial aid expert, Jeanne Mahan, joined Beth to help listeners think through the logistics and realities of taking out loans to pay for college. Among the most important questions to answer is, “How much is too much to borrow?” The first step in addressing that question is to try to predict the student’s expected first year salary after graduation, and Jeanne offered several resources and things to think about when deriving a best estimate.

Families must also decide who will do the borrowing for college. Will the student take out the loans for himself, will parents borrow, or will parents co-sign loans in their child’s name? In terms of impact upon one’s finances, these options each have their pros and their cons. Listen to the full segment to help make the best borrowing decisions for your family.

School’s Out College Application Workshop: Building a College List

For the second segment, college admissions expert, Ian Fisher, reviewed homework from the previous week’s School’s Out: College Application Workshop essay discussion. Ian and Beth covered next steps in your essay writing now that you’ve identified emerging topics that allow you to reflect a unique perspective.  What will the admissions committee talk about when they review a one sentence summation of your essay? If you don’t feel like you’re anywhere close answering that question, then go back two weeks to review the homework assignment on essay brainstorming!

The discussion and homework assignment for this week’s Workshop revolved around building a college list. Ian suggested identifying 7-10 schools that you really like. Don’t worry yet what is the best fit—just choose a good fit. This exercise will get you thinking about fit without getting stuck on one “dream” school. Ian and Beth also asked students to deeply research five schools with very different offerings (Ian guided listeners on where and how to pick those five colleges). Listen in for the full details of what to do after you know the ins and outs of those five colleges.

Office Hours: Answering Listeners Admissions Questions

The radio show wrapped up with Erica Braley joining to pose listeners’ questions on pressing issues in college admissions. Questions included: What are the top three strategies for college essay writing? What is the purpose of the Common App additional information section? What is the code to crack in terms of extracurricular activities? If these questions are also weighing on your mind, tune in to hear Beth’s responses!

On the next episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, Beth will chat with a former colleague about how to accurately assess your chances at an Ivy League college. There will also be another School’s Out Application Workshop segment to check in on your homework and discuss how to factor finances into your college list. Finally, if you don’t think your child will qualify for the typical academic scholarship, listen in to hear a rundown of some of the quirkiest scholarships available.


Written by Lauren Randle
Lauren Randle is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Prior to joining College Coach, Lauren worked as a senior admissions officer at Georgetown University and previously held positions in college counseling at Malvern Preparatory School and the Canadian International School of Hong Kong. Visit our website to learn more about Lauren Randle.