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www.planningforcollege.com © Planning for College, March 2008
The New Age of
How coaches are changing the College Planning Process…
and why they can work for you.
www.planningforcollege.com © Planning for College, March 2008 2
The New Age of College Planning
How coaches are changing the College Planning Process… and why they can work for
Graduating from college has been the key to a successful life for millions of Americans. Studies
have shown college graduates earn $1 million more over the course of their lifetimes than those
who do not graduate, and that graduates are healthier, happier, and more civic minded than non-
It’s never too early to start preparing for college—but for many parents of current high school stu-
dents, it can already feel like it might be too late. More students are competing for admission into
the top schools, college tuition continues to skyrocket, and the admissions process itself has be-
come increasingly complex. In addition, schools such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale have recently
made national news with their programs to waive tuition and disallow student loans, making admis-
sion to these schools even more competitive. When you consider that the college preparation proc-
ess can include academic preparation, choosing one of more than 8,000 accredited institutions of
higher education nationwide, choosing a major, saving for college, and career planning, it’s easy to
see how both students and parents can become overwhelmed.
To face the challenge, many parents have determined that “going it alone” in the college planning
process may not be the best alternative for their student. Professional guidance for important life
events is an accepted practice in our society. Families employ the services of athletic coaches, bal-
let instructors, piano teachers, academic tutors, retirement, event, and wedding planners. Accord-
ingly, it is becoming a common practice for concerned parents to employ the services of a “college
But how do you get all the advice you and your student need to make the best decision?
It’s a critical question. When you consider that on average, college can cost more than $40,000,
this is one of the most important investments parents and students can make that doesn’t come
with a roof attached. With the right guidance, parents will save money, help their students gain
admission into the college of their dreams, and further—help ensure that their students complete
their education successfully. Without any guidance, however, parents may risk not only their
money—but the opportunity of a good start to their child’s education and career.
This report will help you find the guidance that’s right for you.
www.planningforcollege.com © Planning for College, March 2008 3
Access to Education… It’s not what it used to be.
Everything about the admissions and college process has changed. These changes have increased
the impact on students’ college-going experience as well. Costs have increased so dramatically that
it is no longer possible to “work your way through college.” In addition, graduating from college is
imperative, as “fall-back” industrial employment that previously led to a decent life for non-college
graduates no longer exists.
In 2008, we will see the largest freshman class in U.S. history. The competition and need to make
good decisions regarding going to college has never been greater. Here’s why:
1. There are more students competing for entry into top colleges. By 2012, the number of
college-age young adults will grow by 5 million, reaching a population of 18 million. Increas-
ingly, students are turning to online college application processes, which make it easier for
them to apply for many different schools simultaneously, including coveted slots at top-tier pri-
vate universities and colleges. This increased competition has led to an admissions process
that has become very subjective, with admissions officers forced to choose between many can-
didates with similar credentials. In this environment, it’s important that the student do every-
thing possible to differentiate his or her application from the masses. In addition, this increased
competition makes it necessary to perform a broad search to identify schools that match the
three “fits” for a student: academic, social and financial… and to find “fit” schools that are also
accessible to the student.
International Students on the Rise
The top 10 countries of origin for international students attending
U.S. colleges and universities in 2005-06:
Country Number of Students Percentage of
India 76,503 -5%
China 62,582 +<1%
Korea 58,847 +10%
Japan 38,712 -8%
Canada 28,202 +<1%
Taiwan 27,876 +8%
Mexico 13,931 +7%
Turkey 11,622 -7%
Germany 8,829 +2%
Thailand 8,765 -2%
*percent change is from 2004-05; Source: Open Doors 2006
2. There are fewer resources available to families to help students receive admittance to
their preferred college. High school students and parents aiming for these institutions have
two major concerns: How to obtain acceptance letters to their schools of choice, and how to
finance their education. High school counselors, typically considered an expert resource in the
college planning process, are falling behind in the face of increasing demand for planning ex-
pertise. There is a lack of faith in the ability and availability of high school counselors to assist
with this process, and many states do not supply schools with an adequate number of counsel-
ors. The national guidance counselor-student ratio average for public high schools is 311:1;
the average for private high schools is 234:1. In California, for example, the average student-
to-counselor ratio is 471:1, nearly double the 250:1 ratio recommended by the American School
www.planningforcollege.com © Planning for College, March 2008 4
Counselor Association (ASCA)—this ratio will only get worse in
light of recent budget cuts that will further strain the already-
over tasked counselor base. In addition, according to a recent
report published by The New York Times, 19% of guidance
counselors spend an “infrequent” amount of time addressing
financial aid and scholarship options with their students.
3. College costs continue to rise, and students who are
ill-prepared for the college experience often take longer
to graduate, thus increasing the overall cost of college.
In 2006-07, total college costs increased by more than 5%
over the previous year for both four-year public and pri-
vate colleges, according to industry watcher, the College
Board. Here’s how the tuition and fees add up:
! In-state Public four-year college: $6,185
! Out-of-state Public four-year college: $16,640
! Private four-year college: $23,712
! Elite private university: $38,500
Unfortunately, many students take an average of 5.3 years to graduate. This extra time not only
adds the extra cost for tuition, books, and room and board; it also means a lost year of wages. An
extra year in college can increase cost by nearly 50% when lost income is included.
College Tuition Costs on the Rise
Some vital expense categories have far outstripped the consumer price index in the past 20
years. Percentage changes from September 1986 to September 2006:
Living Expense Percentage Increase
College Tuition 289.5%
Medical Care 173.5%
Food and Beverage 78.8%
New Car 23.0%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
INSIGHT: A College Admissions Director
There are many reasons to seek professional assistance in managing the college matriculation ex-
perience. The process is complicated and the stakes are high. In almost any other life situation
with these two factors, you would seek the help of an expert. Consider: Tiger Woods is recognized
as the best golfer in the world, and Tiger uses a coach. Why? Even though he is at the top of his
game, he knows that someone observing him play can see things he cannot. His coach can help
him perform at a higher level and continue to improve. A college “coach” can do the same. Your
child is performing in high school, showing great promise. How will that promise of future success
be managed? A college coach can help you manage the entire experience and increase the likeli-
hood of the success you and your child are striving to achieve. When most of today’s parents en-
rolled in college, many things were very different. Today, competition at elite institutions is para-
Source: U.S. News and World Report
www.planningforcollege.com © Planning for College, March 2008 5
mount. Even though the applicant pool at top-tier schools is comprised of the very highest perform-
ers from the best high schools across the country, it is typical to see only 10% of the applicants
Even the “Public Ivies” such as U.C. Berkeley, University of Michigan, UNC Chapel Hill, Penn State,
the University of Illinois, etc. are known to deny admission to thousands of students with perfect
4.00 grade point averages in high school. A college coach can both improve the options available
and manage expectations in finding the perfect fit at your university of choice.
A Parent’s Options
Faced with these challenges, parents have a variety of sources from which to choose to help them
navigate the college planning process.
High School Guidance Counselors
While high school guidance counselors are the traditional
resource for parents, the sheer volume of information avail-
able now to families is simply too much for most counselors
to manage. According to Jeffrey Brenzel, the Dean of Admis-
sions at Yale, guidance counselors must address two critical
components: “Helping students understand the range of
colleges of which they are reasonably likely to win accep-
tance, and helping students understand how to present
themselves effectively in an application.” However, with
fewer counselors to help a growing number of students,
most families find this option limiting at best.
Friends and Family
Surprisingly, this is a very good choice for parents, if you can find associates whose children have
attended the same schools your son or daughter is considering. Personal, hands-on experience is by
far the best guide, and many families have found the informal communities they develop with other
parents of college-age students to be extremely helpful.
General Information Available via the Internet
Although the Internet has revolutionized the way U.S. high school students and their parents apply
to colleges and universities, the amount of available information remains overwhelming and difficult
to harness effectively. The Internet is an outstanding tool for supplemental research, but as a guide
it can leave a parent uncertain about the best direction.
College Financial Aid and Admissions Counselors
College financial aid and admissions counselors definitely can help you gain admission to their
school. Unfortunately, many schools have unique requirements or are looking for specific types of
students, so it’s difficult to get broad-based information from this group. Before parents get too
deep into the details of a particular school, they need a bigger-picture perspective of all of the op-
Once only an option for affluent families seeking entrance for their students to Ivy-league caliber
schools, college coaches have now become a mainstream choice for many students. Because there
are hundreds of outstanding college options of which many students aren’t even aware, college
coaches can help broaden the search beyond a student’s or family’s initial search options. Coaches’
services vary widely, as we will explore in the next section.
www.planningforcollege.com © Planning for College, March 2008 6
College Coaches: The New College Planning Aid
Choosing to use a college coach makes sense for many families—and in today’s competitive environ-
ment, families can turn to this option to improve their students’ chances for successful admission
into college. Because the competition to get into top U.S. colleges and universities remains fierce,
the college planning industry is surging to prepare high-school students and their parents with the
strategies and resources to compete effectively.
In many cases, today’s teens are also more likely to listen to the insight of a coach or outside ex-
pert rather than the input of parents or family. A coach can keep the student focused at all stages
of the process, as well as help preserve good relationships the last few years they live at home.
Within the category of college coaching, however, significant differences remain:
In many cases, admissions counseling is not enough for most families. Families are now devoting a
larger percentage of their incomes in addition to taking out larger student loans in order to finance
their children’s college educations. The U.S. Department of Education processes 14 million student
financial aid applications (FAFSAs) each year, resulting in more than $80 billion in total student fi-
nancial aid (including grants and scholarships) through individual schools. More families receive
some form of financial assistance to help pay for college expenses than those who do not.
Coaching Type Description
Financially Focused Coaching An often offshoot of financial planning firms, this approach helps parents
manage/explore the various saving options and financing alternatives of a
Admissions Focused Coaching Typically small firms focused in niche markets, this coaching approach fo-
cuses on aiding in the admissions process—assisting with college selection,
essay writing, application completion, and interview preparation.
Comprehensive Coaching This approach takes a more comprehensive view to college planning—
offering guidance for admissions, financing and financial aid—as well as
helping the student to succeed once enrolled in their ideal school.
INSIGHT: A College Financial Aid Director
Most families rank their ability to pay for college as their highest concern in the college plan-
ning process. As a result, all too many ignore the financial side of the equation or leave it to
the last minute and suffer extreme negative financial circumstances as a result. This leads to
those last-minute, desperate searches for assistance from any source, usually in the form of
high interest rate loans. In addition, even the very best high school and college guidance
counselors with small caseloads at elite private and public schools have limited knowledge in
financial aid. You will find many that were previously college admissions officers and few, if
any, served as financial aid officers.
The demand for student loans is expected to grow dramatically in coming years. In 2006, federal
student loan volume topped $68 billion. According to a 2006 study from the National Center for
Public Policy and Higher Education, 73% of private college graduates currently leave their institu-
tions with a sizeable debt. Worse, with the College Cost Reduction Act, which was passed into law
Oct. 1, 2007, many lenders have determined that it is too expensive to continue to make student
loans. As a result, there will be fewer loan programs from which families can choose – and those
loans will not have the same level of repayment incentives previously available.
www.planningforcollege.com © Planning for College, March 2008 7
INSIGHT: A College Financial Aid Director
College costs have increased at more than twice the rate of inflation for the past several dec-
ades. Although it was once possible to “work your way through college,” that is no longer pos-
sible. A recent study has revealed the a college student would have to work nearly 60 hours a
week to pay for an average state college education. Highly ranked private universities cost well
over $40,000 PER YEAR! There are financial planners that specialize in managing assets in or-
der to maximize the efficiency of your college savings plan. Other experts can provide immedi-
ate assistance to increase scholarship opportunities as well as improve financial support from
the colleges directly. The best approach is to link effective pre-college savings with financial
support during enrollment.
Deciding on the right action plan for your family
Millions of Americans have used a college coach to determine the right plan for college. But how do
you pick the right coach? Most college coaching services offer clear-cut programs that focus on ei-
ther the financial or the admissions process—and a few offer a comprehensive approach to cover all
potential college preparation needs. Here is what to look for:
1. Services offered
Programs offered in coaching packages can include the following:
2. Geographic location served
Determine whether a local or national firm is the best fit for you and your family.
Pricing should be consistent with other professional service firms and a satisfaction guarantee
should be offered.
4. Staff experience
College coaching is a relatively new field, but the experience of coaches themselves should be
deep and varied. Typical coaching expertise includes financial or financial aid planning, experi-
ence with college admissions, student loan industry, and high school guidance counseling. Look
for certifications, like the Certified College Planning Specialist (CCPS) designation from the Na-
tional Institute of Certified College Planners, and membership with professional associations like
American School Counselors Association (ASCA) and others.
5. Depth of counseling
Does the coaching service focus on one area of the college preparation process? Do they include
post-admissions guidance to ensure a successful academic experience for the student?
It’s important to know your own needs. Whether you need comprehensive guidance or highly spe-
cific assistance, your needs should dictate your search for the right college coach. In addition, par-
ticularly if you begin your planning process early, you should expect to manage that plan and allow
for adjustments. College plans should develop over time to reflect your changing life circumstances,
and should be reviewed regularly to ensure they continue to meet your family’s needs.
!" Student Life Skills !" Career Planning
!" Athletic Recruiting !" Admissions
!" Scholarship Search Assistance !" Curriculum Planning
!" Financial Aid !" College Selection
!" Test Preparation !" Major Selection
www.planningforcollege.com © Planning for College, March 2008 8
INSIGHT: A High School Guidance Counselor
A wide variety of families have chosen to use a college coach for their unique circumstances.
Some families are only interested in finding the right university – the perfect school for their
child’s skills and goals. It is common for students to require training and support outside of
their classroom performance to “polish” their credentials and their ability to present themselves
to their college of choice. Other families want to insure that they are managing their assets
properly to use the funds for college in the wisest way possible. Many successful families just
need help in managing their time to commit to the college enrollment process. The world has
become much more complicated and making the right choices can make the difference in col-
lege success versus a disappointing experience.
The Planning for College Difference
Planning for College is committed to simplifying the college preparation experience by offering a
comprehensive consultative service that will provide structure and service to college bound students
and their families. Unlike other college planning programs, which typically focus on only one aspect
of the college preparation process, Planning for College offers a holistic approach to college prepa-
ration. Our services include providing information and guidance on financing college costs, offering
step-by-step instruction to assist families through the college admissions process, and ensuring that
students maximize their college experience through a comprehensive academic orientation.
A family is engaged with Planning for College when a free, comprehensive assessment is submitted
that outlines the student’s academic and social profile as well as his or her short and long-term
educational goals. With that assessment, combined with a family interview, the Planning for College
coach writes a program roadmap which spans the duration of time between the day the assessment
is completed to the day the student leaves for college, whether that student is a junior or a fresh-
man in high school. Roadmaps are highly customized for each family and outline the goals and
hours to be spent in each of the following areas: academic planning; college and major selection;
career planning; financial aid & financial planning; scholarship search; athletic strategy; admissions
strategy; test preparation; college interview preparation; and life skills for the college student.
Once the family approves the roadmap, the college coach designs a specific timeline of goals to
keep the family (and the coach) on target through the entire process. And finally, while the family
will have access to and regular communication with the college coach, they will also have direct
regular communication with the rest of their specialized team including financial aid and admissions
specialists. Understanding that no two families are alike, nor any two students, is critical to provid-
ing a comprehensive plan that will work and prove to be effective over time. Planning for College is
committed to providing each client with a menu of customized services that speak directly to the
family’s distinct needs.
Example: Jonathan Mofid and his father came to Planning for College with a particular dilemma.
While Jonathan is an extremely talented student and aspiring engineer seeking admission to top tier
universities, he is a citizen of Canada, not the United States. He is therefore ineligible for any Title
IV financial aid, including the Stafford Loan and the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students. Jona-
than has been in the U.S. for over ten years and is committed to attending college in the U.S. Jona-
than’s family is not in a financial position to pay cash for four years of college, so they have en-
gaged Planning for College to assist with college selection and financial planning. Jonathan’s coach,
recognizing some challenges that the family will be facing, designed his plan with particular focus
on identifying colleges that provide institutional aid to Canadian citizens and creative scholarship
searches. By focusing on the family’s very specific needs, Planning for College was able to walk
Jonathon through the entire college preparation process with emphasis in all the right places, mak-
ing the experience far less frustrating for the entire family.
www.planningforcollege.com © Planning for College, March 2008 9
The Last Word on College Planning
Preparing your student for college is one of the most important gifts you can give as a parent. In
today’s highly competitive college admissions market, opportunities abound for you to learn how to
help ensure that your student gets the best possible chance to identify, gain admission to, and suc-
ceed at the best college for him or her. By working with a comprehensive, knowledgeable coaching
service, you can get the information you need to make sound decisions – not only about how to
choose the right school, but how to pay for it effectively and make the choices necessary for a
high-quality college experience. Considering the importance of a college education to today’s stu-
dents, finding the right coach to guide you through the process may be the wisest investment you
can make for college success.
About Planning for College
Based in New Haven, CT and San Diego, CA, Planning for College focuses on the entire college
planning process—from admissions to financial planning. Dedicated to serving students from the
early high school years through the successful achievement of an advanced degree, Planning for
College is staffed with the most experienced and best qualified counselors and college financial aid
experts in the country. Each client will be prescribed an individual college planning program that
will provide services matched to the family’s needs.
For more information or a complimentary consultation, contact Planning for College at 888-433-
8262 or via email at email@example.com.