Ep. 20 Road Trip: Philadelphia College Fair

This episode is a recap/debrief of our recent road trip to the College Fair in Philadelphia.  The college fair is sponsored by NACAC – National Association of College Admission Counselors. They have a complete listing of college fairs across the country for the fall and spring season every year.  This was my first experience and my brother’s second with his family. There were well over 800 colleges in attendance at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.College Fair

I try to describe it for you but you must attend one local to you atlas 2-3 times between sophomore and senior year of high school. The first time attending a college fair with a sophomore (or younger) is just to get them used to the concept.  The second time you attend with your child should be between 10th and 11th grade.  They most likely have more of a focus or an idea of what they want to major in. If they are interested in sports, they will be attracted to those schools and teams that they have heard and/or seen on TV.  By senior year, they will be laser focused when attending and only visit the top 5-10 schools of their choice and spending more quality time with the admissions person to show their genuine interest.

There is a lot of literature, brochures, cool stuff that they give away.  The schools that caught our interest were:

Rutgers (of course!)

Arcadia University

Virginia Tech

Rowan University

We also discuss the various workshops that we each attended.  There were representatives from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).  They answered questions about financial aid, FAFSA, scholarships etc…

Other financial aid resources:







Scholarship resources:





Ep. 18 The Common Application: What is it?

SCHOLARSHIP SPOTLIGHT: Doodle 4 Google contest for students/artists K-12.  One winner will receive $30,000 DEADLINE: December 7, 2015.

SCHOLARSHIP SPOTLIGHT: The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance will award $4000 to one student EACH SEMESTER whole life has been impacted by cancer. Apply now for the Spring 2016 Semester.
autumnbrewToday’s topic is The Common Application. The purpose of the common application is for students to fill out one application, pay one fee and apply to multiple colleges at the same time.

This idea will save the student, time, money and their website also allows you to store all of your information in one place. They tout it as a seamless way to manage the admission process.

There are currently over 600 colleges that are currently members of the organization that administers the common application and the website.

One of the resources on the website is a list of all of the member colleges, their deadlines, fees, requirements and the schools test policy.

In contrast to this, 80 public and private (upper level private and ivy league schools) in the U.S. have forged a coalition – The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success – to improve the college admission process.  Their goal is begin the “interactive process” with potential students earlier, as in 9th grade.  There was a press release on September 28, 2015 to announce the coalition, its’ goals and how they intend on creating additional tools, resources and also accept applications through their portal beginning summer of 2016.




The Common Application

The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success

The Common Black College Application

Scholarships Mentioned in this episode – Doodle 4 Google/ The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship

Book Recommendation:


Ep. 17 How To Find the Right College

How To Rind The RIGHT COLLEGE eBook

In today’s episode, we welcome admissions expert Regina Paul.  She and Marie Segares host the podcast – NY COLLEGE CHAT.  She talks in depth about a special kind of high school program that she works at that combines high school curriculum with university level coursework.

They have taken their professional knowledge as educators, the information they have shared on their podcast, their experience working with families and created a book – HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT COLLEGE: A Workbook for Parents of High School Students.

Marie Segares and Regina Paul










Links in today’s episode:

The eBOOK: HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT COLLEGE: A Workbook for Parents of High School Students

Contact Info:

NY College Chat Podcast

Policy Studies Inc.


Facebook: NY College Chat





Ep. 16 How to Start College Planning and the Black Kids College Project

VICTORYTamara Marie Jones is a tenacious parent who thought about college planning early and “treated it like a business”. Listen to this episode as she shares her story of getting both of her children into college, how she helped her son transfer to another college and gives tips for parents going through the journey of college planning.  She also shares her motivation for turning all of her experience into the Black Kids College Project.

Tamara’s tips:

  • Do not take a “hands-off model” approach to the college planning process. Too risky to leave it to chance. Risk is far too great to leave it to your child.
  • Start out by developing a strong action plan and make sure you and your child have a “shared vision” about their educational future.
  • Focus on the students’ uniqueness.
  • Consider schools out of your geographic region – small private colleges give large sums of grant/aid monies in their packages. Broaden your scope.
  • Start with your what your kid reads in middle school. Take a career inventory to find out what they are interested in.
  • Suggestion to apply to schools where your child is at the top of the test score & GPA range that the school accepts. This makes them more of a “coveted applicant”.
  • Start the college planning process by having a dialogue with college admissions counselors in the 11th grade (Parent & Child). Create touch points.
  • Find out about the “common data set” for the colleges of your choice. A PDF document that contains information about the college, college graduation rates and contains specifics of what admissions counselors care about. Keep track of this data for each school by using an excel spreadsheet. The parent would use the info to rank the school as a “reach, match or just right” for their child.

[spp-tweet tweet=”Demonstrated interest increases your childs’ chance of merit aid and admission”]

Links in this episode:


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Black Kids College Project

George C. Brooks Scholarship – (University of Missouri)

Raise Me Scholarships (as early as 9th grade!)

Sponsors for Educational Opportunities – SEO Career (Internship Portal)

College Confidential

Fast Web

How to contact Tamara:


Black Kids College Project FACEBOOK Page

Twitter – @blackkidscollegeproj



Ep. 13 Which Colleges Require You Take the 50-Minute SAT Essay?

50 minute SAT essay test

50 minute SAT essay test

In this episode, we discuss current events in the college admission industry. There were two articles of interest, the first one from a Washington, D.C. news site (examiner .com) that talked about which colleges would be requiring that students take the “optional” 50 minute SAT essay.   As if the testing changes were not confusing enough. Many schools have a “wait and see” attitude towards the new SAT, its’ sub-scores and how they will be interpreting that information. Other schools have made a definite policy decision whether or not they are requiring the optional writing section. The ACT and COLLEGE BOARD have charts on their websites with the colleges that have reported to them about this issue.

The other article from Forbes.com unveiled a little known fact that FAFSA and the ACT report to the individual colleges where they are “ranked” on your application or test. This information is critical to the schools who are always looking for an indication of how a student perceives them. Unknowingly to you, they may make critical decisions on your admission with this information. You may not have intended it the way it is being interpreted. The suggestion for a resolution is to list your schools on the FAFSA or the ACT in alphabetical order.

SCHOLARSHIP SPOTLIGHT: The CHOBANI Scholarship $5,000 awarded annually (non-renewable) given by New York Women in Communications, Inc.

Other Links discussed:

PSAT – National Merit Scholarships Qualifying Test

Scholly App (in ITunes)

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., National Education Foundation

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Foundation



Ep. 12 What College Bound Students & Parents Should REALLY Know About the Prevalence of Campus Sexual Assaults

Campus Sexual AssaultsThis episode is a interview with Ursula Johnson who is a licensed therapist and has been in the sexual violence prevention field for over 20 years.  Fortunately for her daughter, she knew the “right questions to ask” colleges about how prevalent campus sexual assaults are to ensure her child’s safety.

Campus sexual Assaults

What is Rape Culture?

She begins with sharing her college planning tips for parents:

  • Start looking early at schools, preferably in their sophomore year;
  • Make the High School Counselor work for you, its’ their job;
  • Have the “financial talk” with your child before they begin looking at specific schools
  • If they are considering a minor, will they be able to graduate “on-time”?

Ursula then cites some very sobering statistics about sexual assault such as “every two minutes a woman is raped”; “1 in 6 young men will be a victim of sexual assault”; and [spp-tweet tweet=””sexual violence is the #1 underreported crime”.  “]

She also highlights how some campuses goto great lengths to hid this information from the general public about campus sexual assaults which may tarnish their schools’ reputation and affect enrollment. One example is a story about the University of Notre Dame and their “history” of campus sexual assault cases that are not handled properly and the victim in this one instance was being harassed by friends of the accuser. As a result she committed suicide.  (The Huffington Post ran a story earlier this year about the movie “The Hunting Ground”. Read the story here.)

Another similar story happened at Amherst College and their “notorious policies” that benefit the alleged rapists as opposed to the victims of campus sexual assault. The victim himself felt “victimized” and committed suicide. (Read The Huffington Post story here.)

Ursula commented that (in the state of NJ), every county has a sexual violation prevention program/rape crisis center.  Go there (in the county of the schools your are considering) and ask them about the statistics on the college campuses in their area.

Here are Ursula’s top tips for college bound students:

  1. Don’t leave your drink unattended.
  2. Go out with Friends you trust.
  3. If your friend tell you something like this happened to them, BELIEVE THEM & Don’t Judge!
  4. Ask if the college has a Title IX Administrator
  5. Ask security during your next college visit what they would do if something happens.
  6. Parents should read the student handbook


Resources mentioned in this episode:

The President’s Task Force on Sexual Assault




USA Today Article

Dr. David Lisak Interview

Ursula’s contact info:

Twitter: @hearthetruth

Email (to talk with someone) – ucantellmeyourstory@gmail.com


Ep. 11 The Role of the High School Counselor: Are There Other Options For YOU?

Jul 31 2015_43Today’s interview is with a woman who has over 25+ years of experience in the role of the high school counselor, college administration and now as a college and career coach with her own business. www.collegeandcareermatters.com

Dr. Tawna Schmidt talks at length about the role of the highs school counselor, how their “additional” responsibilities keep them from helping students and how to maximize this relationship.

The typical counselor to student ratio (1:250) is an indication that these professionals are overwhelmed with their current duties but they are the first contact most students have with the college admission process.

Helpful resources:

Occupational Outlook Handbook

FREE Guide for Parents/Student: Top 19 Financial Aid Questions to Ask



Ep.10 Utilizing an Academic Life Coach for Your College Bound Student

We welcome to The College Money Maze Podcast a guest expert and fellow podcaster – Gretchen Wegner. She is a co-host of the College Prep Podcast and is also an Academic Life Coach.

Gretchen WegnerGretchen is an Academic Life Coach and Creativity Consultant that specializes in the “Anti-Boring” approach to studying and creating better life skills. She is fascinated with the

interplay between our brains and our bodies and uses her theatrical experience in her coaching with students. She talks at great length about the difference between a “tutor” vs. “academic life coach”.

[spp-tweet tweet=”

TWEET THIS: Perfectionism and Procrastination are two sides of the same coin.

-Gretchen Wegner


Her tips for not-stressing out on the admissions tests:

  • Create a routine & reward system for yourself
  • Study groups are always helpful
  • Take as many practice tests as possible
  • Check out the YouTube channel for Megan Dorsey (her co-host on the College Prep Podcast) for other tips on the SAT & ACT – MEGAN DORSEY

Links to contact her and her resources:


Anti-Boring Technique Course



Ep. 9 Financial Aid 101

Today’s episode is a brief talk on Financial Aid 101. What is Financial Aid and how can it help YOU? Financial aid is a source of money that can help you pay for college. Some forms of financial aid needs to be paid back or earned and some aid is a gift. We discuss the process of applying for Federal Financial Aid through the FAFSA form and submitting it. This is a FREE form and it is the gateway to the type of aid available:

financial aid


Grants & Scholarships (money you don’t need to pay back)

Work-study jobs – paid, part-time work, usually on campus

Loans – money you DO need to pay back, can be deferred until you graduate

The college admission process can be quite complex and the confusion usually starts right here with financial aid. You only need to apply once per year and your take the results to the school(s) that you will be attending in order to calculate your TOTAL COLLEGE COSTS. The prior College Money Maze episode discussed all of the various factors that can make up the TOTAL COLLEGE COSTS. Check it out here.

Another source of financial assistance that is provided by the State of New Jersey (and other state departments of higher education) is the Education Opportunity Fund (EOF). This is a need-based grant awarded to students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who attend colleges and universities on the undergraduate and graduate level.

Since we are originally from NJ, we also discuss many of the schools in NJ, how they are categorized and use them as examples. We have a lively discussion about the different TYPE of colleges and universities in NJ and how they are characterized. I am also providing a link to an article by CNN about the University of Phoenix who is under a federal investigation.

New Jersey Department of Higher Education

NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority

NJ Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF)




Ep. 8 Have You Calculated ALL Your College Costs?

College Costs


This is the first of many conversations that we will have on the subject of college costs. We define common terms as well as give real-time examples from specific institutions about “hidden” college costs.

We also talk briefly about what you may bring with you as a first-year student and what expenses to watch out for. The sample schools that we discuss are:

Kean University Net Price Calculator

Penn State University

Rutgers University Office of Financial Aide

Seton Hall University

Other Links:

College Board’s Net Price Calculator

U.S. Department of Education Net Price Calculator Center

U.S. New & World Report Net Price Calculator

Federal Student Aid – U.S. Department of Education (Expected Family Contribution)




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