Even if you are not an impassioned baseball fan, the name, Ted Williams will surely ring a bell.
How does a baseball icon correlate with a successful college search?
The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams (image by Kriss Szkurlatowski) was the last baseball player to bat over .400 (.406 to be exact!) in a season. History shows he is one of the best hitters of all time.
Generally, a batting average in the .300 range is considered exceptional. Professional players practice every day to raise their average from .250 to .300 or better. Given the number of times at bat in a season for a regular player this comes down to one more hit a week.
Getting a hit every 3 out of 10 at-bats is worthy of multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts in this national sport!
What constitutes a hit for a college bound student?
Well, to make it simple, let’s define it as finding an affordable quality college that is suitable in relation to your interests, your personality, and your abilities.
- If you find 10 strong candidate colleges, it does not necessarily mean you are batting a thousand.
- At least you are still in the “batters box” and, if after your final analysis, you still have three solid options standing (i.e. where you would happily enroll) you would be batting 300.
- That would be great given that you can only attend one anyway.
To get the original list of ten, as a student you have to:
- Do your homework
- Practice and learn to recognize a hittable option
- You don’t want to throw out good schools for the wrong reasons
- And you don’t want to be duped into pursuing the wrong choices either…
Much like a hitter selecting pitches at which to swing
So to do this right, you need to know your strengths, weaknesses, the rules of the game, the tools of the trade and your competition… just like baseball.
Preparation and work are key ingredients for success.
First, look at the student side, and here is where pessimism begins:
2012 Survey of over 1400 Seniors Reveals Disappointing Preparation for College
- In this study, studentPOLL found that a mere 35% of students reported using “any” online financial aid calculator
- Only 3.5% reported that their parents had used a calculator
- Only a very small portion of students (7%) reported that “My family can afford to send me to almost any college.”
- Another quarter indicated that “My family can afford to send me to most colleges, if we stretch a bit” while 67% indicated that paying for college will be a financial hardship to some degree
Sadly, students and families remain engaged in what appears to be naive or incredibly wishful thinking. Many report that they believe “things will work out when the time comes” or that they “don’t think my family can afford to send me to college, but we’re going to try anyway.”
Unfortunately, students don’t inform themselves financially, any better than parents do. Adult studies show that in the U.S. only 20% seek professional help in financial planning.
Examples of student complacency derived from the survey include the fact that fewer than 30% of students even take advantage of workshops they may have in their own high school or later on at college. Only 25% of the students surveyed even use an online tool or website calculator to learn about college cost and financial aid.
Survey Results Prove How Severe the Information Vacuum Really Is
- More than half of the students and/or their families are screening out colleges from their list of candidate schools based on the sticker price.
- This is a cardinal sin and clearly demonstrates a total lack of understanding of how the real costs of college are determined.
- Although 45% of students surveyed claim to check out the information they find on college websites, they obviously are still not making informed decisions.
- The marketing material on those websites creates information silos, which furthers the naïveté of the college bound.
The 2012 Annual College Decision Impact Survey, published by Maquire Associates and Fastweb shows, students are using Social Media to research the schools they are interested in applying to. Unfortunately, that’s not a very scientific (or productive) way to learn about a school.
Note: The CollegeSearchGamePlan member website provides integrated strategies and tools using our research on academics, admissions, and financing college so that family’s can make informed decisions to find quality affordable colleges.
Now what constitutes a hit for parents?
- If your student is in high school (sophomore or above), then you are up for bat with one player on base (your student), and you are the last batter in the ninth. And you are down by one run!
- If you are super rich, you can have a home run. If your student qualifies for a scholarship (not as easy as everyone seems to believe), you might be able to scramble home. You stand a chance for a winner.
- If neither of these applies, you are about to have an attack of nerves and threat to your financial well being. In other words, you are likely to strike out!
- All because you have not understood the game, the rules of the game, and nor have you practiced the required discipline to achieve the right results.
Here is a summary:
Stage 1: Begin saving for college as soon as possible (well ahead of high school)
Stage 2: Support and help manage your student’s college search activities (before the Junior year)
Stage 3: Understand and manage the affordability of college at the family level
A recommendation: Seek advice from a financial professional as soon as possible to begin a college financial plan.
Also visit the College Search Game Plan program.
You might not be or have a college bound kid, but you would be a good player if you passed on this message to someone who does.
Help yourself, your student, family, friends or clients involved in the difficult college planning to seize control of this process.