“Top Ten Ways to Enjoy the College Admissions Process”
May 20, 2015

Ian Welham’s colleague on “enjoying the college admissions process.”

Note from Ian: The following was originally written by my colleague Paul Partridge, who was covering for me while I was on vacation a few years ago. The handout he offered is still a favorite of mine, so I thought I’d share it with all our new members, and as a timely reminder for our stalwarts

Friends…

I just recently got back from a trip with my family. Part of our travels included several college visits for my 16-year-old daughter. Even though she’s always said her preference is for a larger school, we stopped in at Middlebury College in Vermont, and Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Short story is, she was smitten with both, which I think surprised her quite a bit. So the lesson there is, don’t take what a 16-year-old says to heart, and definitely not literally. It’s only today’s ‘opinion’ masquerading as ‘fact’ – which can change as quickly as a hair style.

Reminds me of Ian’s daughter, who in high school said she didn’t want to attend any college she had to fly to – and who now matriculates happily at the University of Miami (Fla.), a 3-hour plane ride away from New Jersey.

Go figure.

Anyway, one of the interesting takeaways of the trip for me – and what I wanted to share with you – is a handout given to all college-bound visitors by the Middlebury College admissions office. The two-sided handout is called, “Top Ten Ways to Enjoy the College Admissions Process.”

I’ve attached a copy for you:

http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1103369848481-8/Middlebury+WofW.pdf.

There’s lots of good stuff in there, but my favorite words of wisdom are:

“The quality of your educational experience is far more up to you than it is up to the institution that you attend.”

Enjoy,
Paul Partridge

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Have you ever visited a college for an official visit?
May 18, 2015

Ian Welham on your official visit to a college.

Friends,

Have you ever visited a college for an official visit? At most universities, the process goes like this:

Step 1: the Director of Admission or Assist. Director of Admission gives a speech.
Step 2: some students and/or professors are brought in and they give a speech.
Step 3: question & answer session.
Step 4: one or more student guides are brought in and the visitors are assigned guides and off you go on the tour.

I’ve certainly seen my share of colleges, and during the Q & A session there’s one question that always seems to be asked. Usually it’s a Mom (with her son or daughter turning beet red beside her) who raises her hand and inquires, “Is it better to get a ‘B’ in an Honors Course or an ‘A’ in a regular course?

Usually the Director of Admission will start in with the answer and often the audience will finish the sentence… “It’s better to get an ‘A’ in the Honors course.”

One question that’s less frequently asked – and usually stumps the audience when it is – is this: Is it better to be a well-rounded student or to have a single special skill?

The myth is that colleges and universities seek well-rounded applicants. While true to some extent, the truth is, you have a better chance of getting accepted — and getting a tuition reduction — if you have a unique or special skill that distinguishes you from other applicants. The fact is, there are tens of thousands of well-rounded kids out there. But there are very few kids who play the vibraphone well enough to perform at the Village Vanguard in NYC, for example (I was just reading about a youngster doing just that).

Think about it: Every incoming freshmen class is a unique mini community. What does that community need? It needs dancers and debaters, newspaper editors, long jumpers, tuba players, glee club members, etc., etc. — not a whole bunch of generalists.

If you have a special skill or talent, what’s the best way to communicate that to a prospective college? For starters, include it on your application; and also talk about it in your essay, personal statement, and if possible, during an interview. In addition, you can ask your coach/teacher/mentor to write one of your letters of recommendation.

Sometimes parents ask: Should we include newspaper articles or citations that highlight activities or achievements? I suggest caution here. For one thing, admissions officers don’t have lots of time to read extra information beyond what’s requested. And even though Grandma Jones may think it’s a big deal to be mentioned in the local town paper, the college admissions officer probably won’t.

Warmest Wishes,

Ian “The Professor” Welham
Ian Welham
Certified College Funding Advisor
(973) 467-0101

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Want the inside scoop on what that college is really like?
May 12, 2015

Ian Welham suggests InsiderVisit for inside scoop on what college is really like.

Friends…

When visiting a college, ever wish you had a friend on campus who could show you around and give you the inside scoop on what that college is really like?

That’s the premise behind a new business started by student entrepreneur Eric Saunders of Westfield.

InsiderVisit is a student-run business that helps high school students decide if a college might be a good match for them. They connect you with a student at the college you are visiting, known as an Insider. The Insider serves as your friend on campus. S/he shares information that may not be as openly talked about on the school-sponsored tours, such as the truth about nightlife, the vibe or cliques on campus, the plusses and minuses of the dining options, a full explanation of the differences of the living communities, and anything else that might help you in your decision making.

InsiderVisit serves as a supplement to the traditional campus tour. Your Insider is personally matched to you based on your interests, and meets with you one-on-one to help you better understand that college. Your friend will share their objective experience, not to “sell” you, but to enlighten you about the college. Unlike school tours, each opportunity with InsiderVisit is personalized for the prospective student. It’s an easy way to get questions answered, free of judgment.

In an interesting twist, InsiderVisit’s philosophy is that the service is designed for students. They recommend that parents don’t sit in on the visit, but rather ask questions at the beginning or end. You can see their growing list of over 35 popular colleges and universities at www.InsiderVisit.com. The cost for a standard one-hour visit is $45.

Warmest wishes,

Ian “The Professor” Welham
Ian Welham
Certified College Funding Advisor
(973) 467-0101

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Remaining five of my list of Top 10 Unusual Scholarships
May 7, 2015

Ian Welham and his remaining 5  unusual scholarships for college.

Friends…

Here are the remaining five of my list of Top 10 unusual scholarships:

6.) American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship
This scholarship opportunity requires a little bit of homework and passing a test. The AFSA gives 10 scholarships worth $2000 annually, but to qualify the entrant must read a Fire Sprinkler Essay and pass a test. For each question answered correctly the student will get one entry into the contest for the scholarship. The test is open book and given online. Students may only attempt the test once.

7.) National Marbles Tournament Scholarship
This scholarship requires skill with marbles. Marble shooters compete for national honors, college scholarships and awards annually at the National Marbles Tournament in New Jersey. There are a variety of scholarships given including a sportsmanship award. Participants must win local contests first to be eligible to participate in the national tournament.

8.) Starfleet Academy Scholarship
Star Trek has continued to have an influence on popular culture since it first aired in the 1960’s. Now fans can even get a scholarship from StarfleetAcademy, the fictional military academy where Spock, Captain Kirk and all of the subsequent captains graduated. This $500 scholarship can be used to attend the college of your choice. Applicants must be a member of StarfleetAcademy for at least 1 year before applying. Winners are announced at the annual conference each June.

9.) Society of Vacuum Coaters
Vacuum Coating has nothing to do with the vacuum cleaner sitting in your closet. This technology is used to apply a variety of coatings directly to materials. One example is paint on bikes. This $2,500 scholarship is intended for students who want to study vacuum coating technology. This is an international scholarship. Recipients are invited to attend the annual conference and present papers about their work.

10.) Common Knowledge Scholarship
This is another scholarship that requires taking a test. The Common Knowledge Scholarship Fund offers a variety of tests throughout the year for students to take and earn money for college. This program is unusual in that students can participate throughout high school and don’t have to wait until their senior year. Students can win up to $5000 in scholarships.

If you’re looking for scholarships, a good place to start is to get a list of last year’s honors students and check to see what grants they received. This may highlight some local or regional grants and scholarships that are not widely advertised.

For more information on paying for college and the options available contact us.

Warmest wishes,

Ian “The Professor” Welham
Ian Welham
Certified College Funding Advisor
(973) 467-0101

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Unusual Scholarships available for College
May 4, 2015

Ian Welham and unusual scholarships for college.

Friends…

Some families with kids who don’t excel in sports, music or academics may not even bother to look for scholarships to help pay for college because they don’t think their kids will qualify. That’s a mistake, because there are many scholarships available for kids who belong to specific ethnic groups, volunteer in the community or are interested in studying specific topics.

Here are my Top 10 unusual scholarships available.

1.) Kae Sumner Einfeldt Scholarship
This international scholarship is sponsored by the Tall Clubs International group and is worth $1,000 to students under 21 years of age who are tall. Girls must be at least 5’10” and boys must be at least 6′ 2″ to qualify. Applicants need a Tall Clubs International member to sponsor their application. Applicants must complete an essay about what tallness means to them. Information to help find a local Tall Club member and the application is available at the Tall Club website.

2.) Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest
StuttgartArkansas has an annual duck festival to celebrate their town’s long history of duck call manufacture and duck call champions. The festival includes the World Championship Duck Calling Contest. Another contest is held for graduating seniors with a grand prize of $2,000 to be used for education in any field. Contestants must demonstrate their duck calling skills. The contest has been held in StuttgartArkansas since 1974 and contestants must register through the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce.

3.) Stuck at Prom
This annual scholarship is sponsored by Shurteck Brands LLC and is available to any student over 14 years old. High school students who attend a prom and wear clothes made of Duck Tape must submit a photo of the outfits along with the application. Creativity is key with this contest as Duck Tape is available in a variety of colors and entrants must enter as a couple. The winners will receive $5,000 in prize money and an additional $5,000 for college.

4.) AACT John Kitt Memorial scholarship
This scholarship is sponsored by the American Association of Candy Technologists and is worth $5,000 for the winner. This is one more example of a specific industry offering financial support to encourage students to join their business. Students do not need any special skills or talents, but must have shown an interest in confectionary technology. That means the making of candy not the eating of sugary treats. They must also be majoring in food science, chemical science or a related field.

5.) Eileen J Garrett
The Eileen J Garret scholarship demonstrates that there is a scholarship specific to almost any area of study. This annual scholarship for $3,000 is for students who want to pursue the academic study of the science of parapsychology. With the recent explosion of interest in ghost hunting there may be more competition for this scholarship in the future. Applicants must be able to demonstrate a previous interest in this field.

Next week I’ll be back with 5 more unusual scholarships. Meanwhile, for more information on paying for college and the options available contact us at 973-467-0101.

Warmest wishes,

Ian “The Professor” Welham
Ian Welham
Certified College Funding Advisor
(973) 467-0101

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
April 30, 2015

Ian Welham on the cost of college loans after graduation.

Friends…

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It used to be so simple. Unfortunately, some parents may be asking, “What do you want to be after you pay for college?” Without proper planning and ingenuity, the price could be higher than you or your child could have imagined.

That’s exactly what happened to Elizabeth.

After graduation, she took a job at a non-profit organization. She was happy with the work, but it paid a modest salary. Under different circumstances, that wouldn’t be a problem. But Elizabeth had accumulated over $90,000 of debt during college!

Between trying to pay off student loans and living expenses, it seemed Elizabeth was in a hole she would not soon dig out of. Imagine the anxiety her parents feel, watching her struggle month to month.

With college tuition at an all time high, college funding definitely takes more forethought than it used to.

Despite her parents’ limited funds, Elizabeth chose to attend two out-of-state universities that had a lousy track record for giving aid. She also didn’t apply for any scholarships or grants, but instead, funded both degrees with student loans.

Today, she admits, “You don’t grasp that you’re going to be 23 and earning a modest income – while trying to pay back loans that total twice your salary.”

To have your children avoid Elizabeth’s situation, schedule a conversation with one of our college funding experts. Gina from our office will be glad to schedule your appointment. You can reach gina at: gina@completecollegeplanningsolutions.com

Warmest wishes,

Ian “The Professor” Welham
Ian Welham
Certified College Funding Advisor
(973) 467-0101

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Factors on picking a major
April 28, 2015

Ian Welham on picking a major.

Friends,

Do you want your children to have a good life and never have to worry about money? Tell them to major in engineering.

That’s the conclusion one can draw from reading the latest Census Bureau data.

Over a 40-year career, students who major in engineering will take home $3.5 million on average.

That’s at the top of the list. Which major is at the bottom of the list? Education, at $1.8 million, then arts majors, at $2 million. Men and women with master’s degrees are projected to earn $2.8 million during their working tenure, while doctorate degree holders earn $3.5 million. Those with professional degrees take home the most: $4.2 million.

Lifetime earnings were calculated from the median earnings for each group in various age increments between 25 and 64. Earnings are usually higher for those who work in the private sector vs. the government, except for educators, where the opposite holds true.

What’s not considered is that the position one assumes within the industry can have an impact on salary as well. For example, engineers working in management earn $4.1 million over their careers while those working in education take home much less: $1.8 million.

Similarly, computer or math education majors come in at $2.6 million, while those in the service sector can expect only $1.3 million. That, according to the Census Bureau, is even lower than workers with only high school degrees.

Which major has the best chance for employment? Business majors, at 64.1%, are among the most likely to be employed. Computer and math majors, statistics majors, and engineers have even better employment rates.

On the other side of the coin, less than 50% of visual and performing arts majors were employed full-time, year round. Ditto for literature and language majors.

Warmest Wishes,

Ian “The Professor” Welham
Ian Welham
Certified College Funding Advisor
(973) 467-0101

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Secrets of How to Reduce College Costs
April 24, 2015

Ian Welham gives you the secrets to reduce college costs.

Friends,

Have you been meaning to attend one of our college funding workshops but just haven’t been able to make the time?

Not to worry. Now you can learn the secrets of how to reduce college costs from the comfort of your favorite chair.

Because for a limited time, we’re making our most popular college funding workshop available online.

The workshop educates parents on how to navigate the complex financial aid system. You will learn why those who told you there is no way you’ll get financial aid are flat out wrong! Watch and hear tested and proven strategies you can implement to save $25,000 or more off the cost of college.

The video reveals insider secrets you can apply to ANY college, including:
√ How to receive thousands of dollars in free money for college, even if you have been told you
make too much money.
√ How to solve the cash flow crunch of paying for college and saving for retirement at the same
time.
√ Why advice from your accountant, broker or financial advisor may have already cost you
thousands of dollars in lost college aid – and what you can do to get it back!
√ Ways to simplify the complex formula every college uses to calculate how much financial aid
you will receive, and how making a few legal and ethical changes could dramatically increase
your award.

There is no charge and nothing is for sale. But missing out on this life-changing information could literally cost you $20,000 or more.

To access the online video simply go to: http://completecollegeplanningsolutions.com/app/video

Warmest Wishes,
Ian “The Professor” Welham
Ian Welham
Certified College Funding Advisor
(973) 467-0101

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Helpful hints about insurance for college students
April 16, 2015

Ian Welham gives helpful hints about insurance for college students.

Friends,

Do you have a student in college or about to leave for college? Here are some helpful hints about insurance.

If your student is a freshman, you may find s/he forgets to pack essentials such as bed sheets or a winter coat. But I guarantee they won’t forget their iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac, iSpeakers, etc. (hopefully they’ll bring their iQ).

It’s wonderful to have all these gadgets, but they’re quite expensive to replace. If your child is a full-time student and under the age of 24, most homeowners insurance policies will cover students’ possessions if they live in an on-campus dormitory. Some provide coverage if they live off-campus, as long as their primary residence remains your home.

Check with your insurance agent about caps. Some policies cap coverage at 10% of the possessions limit on your homeowners policy. In most cases, the liability limits for your student(s) is the same as for you.

If you discover that your policy doesn’t cover your child’s off-campus apartment, or if you’d like higher coverage limits, a renters insurance policy might be a good option. They generally run under $200 a year. If your student has roommates, each person needs a separate renters policy.

Here’s a way to save cash if your child attends a college more than 100 miles from your home: Does your child have a car on campus? If no, alert your insurance agent. Your premiums should drop (up to 20%). Coverage should not change. Your child should still be covered at school and retain coverage when s/he’s home for breaks/holidays or the summer. You’ll just pay less.

If your child does have a car on campus, your insurance costs will rise or fall depending on the school’s location. For example, probably higher at NYU and lower at Slippery Rock.

Warmest Wishes,
Ian “The Professor” Welham
Ian Welham
Certified College Funding Advisor
(973) 467-0101

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Two ‘schools” of thought regarding college visits
April 13, 2015

Ian Welham has two schools of thought on college visits.

Dear Friends,

Between college applications, standardized testing fees, test prep and college visits, the average family spends over $3,500 just getting ready for college.

Of course a large part of this is spent visiting colleges. Many families try to incorporate college visits into their summer vacation plans. If that’s you, here are a few hints and tips.

First, there are two schools of thought regarding college visits, and each has its merits. One is more of a shotgun approach. Families travel to a certain city or region and visit as many colleges as possible within that area. The thinking here is to get exposed to a variety of campuses and college environments. For New Jersey families, the most common trips of this kind are visits to Boston or Washington, DC or the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina to explore their myriad colleges and universities.

The second school of thought is more of a rifle shot approach. The strategy here is to hold off on visiting schools until after the student has been accepted. The idea is to visit a smaller number of schools – only those being seriously considered after acceptance. This approach also avoids
a) having your child fall in love with a school that may reject him/her;
b) wasting money visiting colleges or universities you cannot afford or won’t give you the aid you need.

Regardless of which school of thought you adopt, I suggest you have your child spend an overnight at any school they’re seriously considering. Spending time in the classroom, the dining hall and the dorm can be the critical factors when it comes to decision time.

If you have kids who don’t seem very interested or motivated about college, a casual visit to a college town such as Boston might pique their interest. All you’re trying to do is get a sense of what they’re looking for so you can tailor your college search and not waste valuable vacation time seeing schools that are unlikely to be of interest. Remember: you’re ruling out what you don’t like as much as determining what you do like.

One mistake I see families make when shopping for college is, they go to a city like Boston that has such a wide diversity of schools… and then they go see the exact same kinds of schools. Visiting a large urban campus such as BU or Northeastern is fine. But be sure to mix in some smaller schools such as Brandeis or Emerson, and include suburban campuses such as Tufts or Babson.

If you visit a college town that’s not also a major summertime destination (in other words, not Boston or Washington, DC), I recommend using a service such as Priceline to book your hotel. Lots of college towns go quiet in the summer and the local hotel rooms can be had for less than advertised prices.

Finally, if you can’t get away, or want to get a feel for a college before applying, take a “virtual” tour. Granted, it’s not the same as visiting a school first-hand, and the school gets to control what you do and do not see. But it can give a hint as to whether you want to invest in a visit. The easiest place to find virtual college tours is on YouTube (hint: don’t just go to the main YouTube page… go to www.youtube.com/education). You can also find virtual tours at CampusTours.com and eCampusTours.com, among others.

Warmest Wishes,
Ian “The Professor” Welham
Ian Welham
Certified College Funding Advisor
(973) 467-0101

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Ian R. Welham, Certified College Planning Advisor  -  Tel: 973.467.0101