If Your Friend Jumped Off a Bridge, Would You?

My parents, and probably all parents, used to say this. They weren’t actually worried that I’d jump off a bridge. The point was not succumbing to peer pressure. You don’t have to do what your friends do.

It’s the same with college.

When it comes to college information . . . it’s everywhere. The problem I see is the hearsay nature of it. How your scenario plays out is entirely different from your next-door neighbor, your friend, or your coworker. People get college information from so many sources, and they develop preconceived notions about what works and what doesn’t. The reality is, we often sit down with people who have biases or ideas based on what worked for another family. It’s rarely plays out the same way for yours.

We hear information, we process it, and we try to plan accordingly. The unfortunate part is we hear what happened to someone else. We may think we would know what to do differently, to avoid whatever situation they encountered. But college planning is more like getting private athletic instruction. There is no “one-way” to do it. There is no “one size fits all” solution. What you need is to learn as much as possible. Take in all of the information you can get. Do your research. And never take someone else’s experience as gospel towards your experience.

One of the mistakes most people make is judging their own situation and preparing based on someone else’s experience. In almost every case, that doesn’t line up with your own situation. Your child shouldn’t choose a school because of what was best for “Tommy down the street.” Tommy is a different kid. You don’t know your neighbor’s or friend’s finances or income. You may have an idea, but you don’t truly know all of the particulars.

Getting back to the private instruction. There is no “one way” to coach a kid about how to hit or throw a baseball. There are methodologies like keeping your eye on the ball, or keeping your elbow up. But the reality is, if you look at major league baseball players, they all throw differently and have their own style. What I always tell kids in the coaching environment is listen to every coach. Take pieces of what you’ve been told and what fits your style and capabilities, and develop your own technique.

It’s the same thing with college. Hear it all. Take it all in. But try to understand how something that works for someone else, may not be applicable to you.

A decision as significant and costly as college should be based on all of the nuances of your particular family situation and the criteria that matters to you.

Our advice: Do the research. Talk to people who know the industry and understand the ins and outs of admissions and financial aid.

At Elite Collegiate Planning, we’ve helped thousands of families choose the right school, get admitted, and afford but not overpay for college. We know how all of the pieces fit together. No matter how hard you try, you cannot fit a square peg in a round hole.

Check out one of our free college financial workshops to get accurate information about the FASFA, the financial aid system, how the government calculates your EFC, and more. Not because “Tommy told you to,” but because if nothing else, you’ll learn some valuable information.

Dave Kozak
November 14, 2019

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  • If Your Friend Jumped Off a Bridge, Would You?
  • November 14, 2019

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