# 1 Biggest Mistake that parents make when planning for college
The biggest mistake that parents make is that they start late in the process of planning. Many parents do not understand the timing and preparation it takes to get their student ready to maximize their academic s for merit awards and preparing their finances properly. Having dealt with hundreds of families of over the past years, many parents attempt to cram everything into 3 months. I see students taking 3-4 exams between the SAT, ACT, and subject testing. This is too much stress and pressure for the students, is it doable? Sure, your student just needs to study for all of these exams on top of a full load of classes with their 2-3 or more AP/IB classes. On top of all of this testing, they will be doing college applications and essays. The average student if they are applying to 8-10 colleges could be writing at least 5-7 different essays between the UC colleges, Private colleges, and the supplements.
Tip: Start your college planning early in the Jr. Year, at least to spread out all of the testing. This will help keep your students sanity and keep the stress level between you and your student lower.
One of the last things that you want to deal with the last year your baby is going to be in your home is fighting and arguing over college applications and essays. Life is already stressful for them the first few months of their senior year. I know that as a parent, it’s much easier having a coach telling them what to do and when to do it. I’m sure you’re tired of getting on their case about college applications and essays.
Cost of Applying
When it comes to the cost of applying for college, be prepared to spend around $600-$800 on application fees to the colleges. Some colleges will also require you to pay a fee for filing some of the financial aid forms to receive their scholarships; this is generally paid through collegeboard.com
Make sure you know the dates and deadlines
Missing a deadline for an application could really mean a rejection. I see this happen every year to families. Do not assume that all of the colleges are the same and all have the same deadlines for applications, financial aid, and scholarships. You can use a simple excel spreadsheet or your own calendar to keep track of everything. Make sure you go to the college’s website and view all of the important dates.
Do Not apply to all of the same type of colleges
One of the other biggest mistakes is that I see parents and students apply to only one type of college i.e. UC System. I love the UC colleges, but what if your student does not get into these colleges. What if your student gets into the UC school system, but it’s not “The One”. Well, then you have problem.
Here is the proper mix; large, small, public, private, in-state, out of state.
Total of 10 colleges, also try to have some of these colleges, “like-like colleges”. For example, try to find colleges that are equivalent in academic, prestige, and in the same athletic circle. This will give you some competition with the colleges that they may sweeten the pot a little bit more for you once they discover you applied to their rival school across the way.
That’s it for now, best wishes in your college application season. If you would like to attend a free college workshop or a free conference call check the website at www.collegeplanningabc.com or email me at Manuel@collegeplanningabc.com