Bay College Planning Specialists

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Guide Your Child Toward Success

This is an excerpt from Professor Paul Pilzer, author of “Unlimited Wealth” and “Other People’s Money”…”One of the questions I am frequently asked by parents, particularly parents who have succeeded themselves but didn’t have the opportunity to go to college, is what subject their son or daughter should study in college in order to achieve financial success. 

I usually turn their question around, asking them detailed questions about what their child is really passionate about -sports, pets, movies, etc.- until they interrupt and tell me that they are asking my opinion about their child’s economic welfare, not their child’s social life. Then I explain the answer to their original question. The key to achieving financial success today, or success in any field for that matter, is being able to learn new things. And the key to having the ability to learn new things is developing confidence in your ability to learn. upromise

Even if there were one field or another that you could study in college for financial success, it wouldn’t matter because most of what you studied in school would be technologically obsolete by the time you graduated. Today, it doesn’t matter anymore how much you already know about a particular subject – things change so quickly that the most successful people in virtually every field are the people who learn new things the fastest. 

Thus, the goal of every educational program should be to develop confidence in one’s ability to learn. And the way to develop confidence about one’s ability to learn is to learn something very well. And the way to learn something very well is to be passionate about learning it.

The hope, then, for every parent concerned about their child’s future economic welfare, is that the child discover an interest in anything – music, art, history, psychology, math – that they passionately want to learn about. If this happens, the child, on his or her own, will master learning about it and possibly even major in the subject…eventually rising to the level where they
will debate the subject with their professors. 

If, and when, this happens, their future will be set – for they will have developed confidence in their ability to learn. This confidence in their ability to learn will lead them to success in whatever they seek.

Thus, if there is any gift a parent could give to a child, it is to nurture, whenever it occurs, the passion that a child might develop at any time to learn about any field or subject. For if the child masters learning just one subject, the parent who encouraged the child will have given a great gift. A true “gift of the magi,” a gift that keeps on giving for the rest of the child’s life.” 

About the author:

Denny Strecker has been teaching valuable Life Skills to families in Michigan for the past 15 years. His unique approach gives parents the tools to help their child improve their self-confidence, respect, goal setting and leadership.

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Filed under: Career Path, Career Search, College Planning, Home Schooling, Mothers, Parental Guidance, Public Service, single parent families, , , , ,

Tips on the Process – Choosing a College: How to Compose a List

By James Maroney

the-college-prosFirst, evaluate the 5 factors outlined in the article here. Most importantly look at your Geographical Interest and your Academic Major interest; we will use these two criteria to start our search. We will start by plugging the criteria into a search site, such as Usnews, Gocollege,Princeton Review, Petersons, or the College Board. We will use these two factors to generate an initial list. We will then want to narrow this list down by using an additional two factors: your academic profile, and the desired size of schools.

I think it is always a good idea to include some schools that will stretch your options, such as a school that may be larger or smaller than you initially wanted, or a school that might be in a different geographic region if it matches on all the other factors. You will want to use your academic profile to determine if you have a chance of admission at the school. Remember, you want to be able to comfortably handle the workload at the college so that you can fully participate in and enjoy college life. If you are trapped in the library all the time, you will miss out on the whole college experience. On the other hand, you do not want to go to a college that is too easy and does not challenge or stimulate you intellectually.

You will want to use your academic profile to break the list into 3 categories: Reach; Possible; Highly Likely. There are a few ways to try and determine your admissions chances. First, compare your SAT score to the 25-75 split of the school. You can get this number from the US news website, the College Board website, the Princeton Review website, by calling the school, or from some of the “insider’s guides.” If your SAT score is below the lower number of the range, this school will probably be a reach. You will also want to check your GPA against the 25-75 split for GPA, if available, and against the average GPA. Another method is to determine if your high school tracks the results of former students at your school and look at their admissions success rate at the schools you are interested in. If your school does not have that information available, you may want to compare yourself against the data from Amity High School, which is available online. The web address is: Remember, this is only statistical information, and other factors such as extra-curricular activities, essay, interview, and recommendations, enter into the total admission decision.

To add some additional schools to your list, you may want to look at Rugg’s Recommendations On The Colleges, and add some more schools that are strong in your major. Remember, there is a good chance that you will change your major, so if possible choose schools that are strong in a couple of your areas of interest. Once you see the schools listed in Rugg’s, cross reference them with a larger college search engine or the school website itself to determine the important statistics for the school to fill in on your list (Size, SAT 25-75 Split, Admissions Phone Number, Web Site). Your goal should be to arrive at an initial list of 25 schools.

Over the course of your search you will add new schools to the list, and of course, eliminate a number of schools. From the initial list, through your research, you will want to narrow it down to 10 to 12 schools that you will visit, and from there try to get it down to 6 to 8 schools to which you will apply. The goal should be to apply to 1 or 2 highly likely schools (schools where you are almost 100% certain that you will be accepted), 2 possible schools (schools where you have a better than 50% chance of being accepted) and a few reach schools. If you are going to be applying to the most competitive schools (Ivy League, Swarthmore, Haverford, Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan, etc), you should consider applying to more than 2 reach schools. These schools are so competitive now, that I would consider them a reach for almost every student.

Once we have our initial list of schools based on the first 4 factors, you will need to do additional research to narrow that list down to 10 to 12 schools. How should you go about conducting that research? * Look through the school website to try and get a “feel” for the school. Look at the pages of clubs and organizations that interest you. Look at student’s personal web pages, and ask yourself, “Do these seem like people that I could picture myself becoming friends with?” Email professors in the department that interests you to ask detailed questions about the department and the program in general. Look through the online course catalogue to see the classes that are required for your major, and also browse for other classes of interest to you. You will want to note how many classes are required for your major, how many classes are required for the “core curriculum”, and how many electives you are allowed to take. Also, you may want to find out how difficult it is to double major, or minor, if that is of interest to you. Finally, are there concentrations offered within your major? * In addition to the internet, look through some of the “insider’s guides” and read their reviews on the colleges. Does this sound like a school that you would be happy attending? * Contact friends you know who are attending the school. Ask their opinion about the school. Find out what they like, and what they do not like. Remember, just because they feel one way about the school, you might not necessarily feel the same way, but nonetheless, it is valuable information. * Finally, the best way of learning about a college is through a school visit. Planning the visit, and what you should look at while you are on campus are discussed in a later chapter.

The visit is so important, it warrants a section of its own. * In addition to having academic safeties, you will want to locate a financial safety. We always recommend applying to at least one of your state schools. With recent economic trends, however, state school admission has become increasingly difficult. Another way to locate financial safeties is to look for schools that would offer you an academic scholarship. One good site for this is You can search for colleges where you are eligible for scholarships based on your geographic preference and academic profile (SAT and GPA). It is not enough to find a school where you know you would be accepted, a good safety is a school where you know you could be accepted and you know you would be happy if you had to go there. You need to research these schools as well in the same manner discussed above.

About the author:

James Maroney, is an educational consultant from Milford, Connecticut. He has been helping students with all aspects of the college search since he founded First Choice College Placement in 1999. He is a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association, Education Industry Association, National Association of College Admissions Counselors, and National College Advocacy Group. He is also the publisher of,,

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Filed under: Admissions, AP Courses, Applications, College Financing, College Planning, Grants, Home Schooling, single parent families, Universities, , , , , , , ,

Secrets of the SAT and Ivy League Admissions

By John Dorian Chang

The SAT test is a rite of passage for all high school students. Score too low, and you face an uphill battle to get into Harvard. You’ll spend hundreds of the-college-pros20hours studying for, worrying about, and taking the exam.

Here, I’ll discuss two key questions on your mind.

One, what do colleges like Stanford look for with respect to SAT scores? What is a “good enough” score?

Two, how can I best prepare for the SAT? How do I spend my time and money wisely?

Ivy League schools look for high competence, not perfection

1. A high score. This is obvious – but exactly how high is high?

My recommendation for SAT score is 2100. You should target 700 across each section to be considered for Ivy League admissions. Anything sub-700 will raise an eyebrow.

Of course, the higher the better. But as I argue, at a certain point it’s smarter to spend your time elsewhere.

The best evidence of this is my experience as an admissions officer. I can count on one hand the number of times an applicant has been rejected because a 2100+ SAT score was “too low” (and that’s usually in conjunction with other negative academic qualities, such as a weak course transcript).

But there are countless times – I repeat, countless times – that students have been put into the denial/rejection pile because, despite a very high SAT score (including 2350s!), they simply had nothing else to show.

2. A record of improvement. If you’re like me, and you scored dismally on your first try (I’m not even going to tell you what my score was initially), you’ll want to take the SAT again. But keep in mind:

-You shouldn’t take it more than 3 times total – anything more, and you look desperate and a little stupid unless you get a 2400.

-You need to consistently improve your score. This is very important. If your first score was 2020, second score was 2150, and third score was 2060. Guess which score they’ll focus on? Not your highest one, but the last one. Even if you’re allowed to put your highest per section scores on the Common App, colleges still review your College Board official score reports closely. I guarantee it.

3. SAT over ACT always

While the ACT is a challenging test and in many ways superior to the SAT, you should always take the SAT. When admissions offices have 2 borderline candidates – with roughly identical high school backgrounds and similar caliber of extracurricular achievements – the one who has a knockout SAT score will always look more impressive than one with a knockout ACT

Why? Because significantly fewer people take the ACT – standards are more varied, plus the vast majority of admissions officers took the SAT themselves and not the ACT. They’re familiar with it, and they know how hard it is to get a knockout score…not so with the ACT.

Preparation should be focused on two things – sample tests and an early start

1. Start early. As said before, take the PSAT at least once before the NMSQT. It’s a risk free chance to practice. Take the SAT in 7th grade for the Duke TIP as well.

2. Be wary of SAT courses and prep programs with exaggerated promises. I took a Kaplan course back in high school – about the only thing I remember is creative flashcards that minimally improved my vocabulary. My parents were out a few thousand bucks. Sit in on sample classes before you commit.

Looking back on the whole experience, I got the most by far out of books available at your local library. The good thing about a class is that it forces you to study and practice, but if you have the self-motivation (and I’m hoping you do), you can save significant time and money with cheap and/or freely
available resources.

3. Do as many sample tests as possible. More than anything else – this is what makes the difference. The more practice problems you answer, the more comfortable you will be. Do them all – from Princeton Review to Barron’s, love your local Barnes & Noble.

4. Don’t forget online resources. New companies online are doing amazing things with online, interactive learning. Google is your best friend. The best part is, it’s free or very very cheap.

5. Practice with friends. Oddly enough, I did very little of this. But the few times where a friend and I studied and took practice tests together were incredibly helpful. Their perspective will be different, and teach you much more than if you study alone for weeks on end.

Don’t practice in large groups – you’ll be completely unproductive and you know it. Study with one other person who’s serious and committed, and solve problems together. 2 brains is far better than 1.

About the author:
Hopeless To Harvard is a former Admissions Officer’s account of how to get into Stanford, Princeton, and Ivy League schools. Click here to break into the school of your dreams! Read Ivy League admissions advice now.

Filed under: Admissions, AP Courses, College Planning, High School, Home Schooling, Ivy League Schools, Students, , , , , , , , , , ,


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