Is Cheating the SAT Easier With Today’s Technology?


SATThere has been scandal after scandal of students cheating in recent years. And believe it or not, they are doing it on standardized tests for college. Why do students do it? Is it easy? What do they have to lose? Is cheating the SAT easier with today’s technology?

Peter Wayner, in “SAT Sneak Attack” addresses these questions and more. In his short ebook he uncovers how a group of elite students use tools that are allowed by the College Board, and by repurposing them, get close to that elusive perfect score. It’s not a “how-to” cheat book but it looks at how easy it is to cheat and what motivates students to cheat on the SAT. You might be very surprised as a parent to read some of those techniques.

They take advantage of the proctors and their lack of interest during the tests. And, using the fact that the tests allow the use of calculators during the test, they reprogram calculators. In his book, Wayner notes:

One web site distributes the “SAT Operating System” that solves SAT problems and the little counter on the web site says that 2901 copies have been downloaded at this writing. That’s just a lower bound because it’s one of dozens that are offering the tool. Once the files are downloaded, kids can pass them around or load them on the machines of their friends. It’s fair to say that there many thousands of copies of just this free version.

While you’re not supposed to use your calculator during the verbal sections of the SAT, the proctors often don’t notice. If they happen to be patrolling, some students say the trick is to write the verbal questions down on their scratch paper and then return to them during the math section that comes later.

Wayner offers some suggestions on how to fix the problem as well. It’s an easy read and it will shed some light on how easy it is to hack the SAT.

You can get the book here:

Preparing For a Career in Finance


career in financeAs a parent, you obviously want your children to achieve success in their education and careers. It is often easy to guide your children when they follow your example, but when they show aptitude in subjects and topics in which you are unfamiliar, then it can be difficult to know how to help.

This guide provides you with practical advice to ensure your son or daughter will be fully prepared to enter the competitive and rewarding world of finance.

Why should you help?

Some parents take the attitude that once their children reach higher education it is time to stand back and allow them to find their own paths. However, many young adults in school have little idea about how the working world operates, and while colleges and universities provide some career advice, it usually comes from scholars who have spent most of their working lives in academia.

By taking an active role in preparing your children for their careers, you will greatly increase the chances of them landing a role that will offer excellent prospects for the future.

How you can help

There are many ways to prepare your children for a career in finance, such as understanding more about their education and interests and how this may fit opportunities. Start by talking about what their main interests are in finance. The financial industry requires more than just accountants and investment managers. Firms require business development managers, client service executives, data analysts, human resource managers, IT systems support, and marketing officers.

After gathering details from your children, begin researching the career paths that will allow them to reach their goals. To achieve the best positions in finance, they will need to obtain financial certificates and further qualifications. Students who begin studying for these qualifications as soon as they graduate will give an excellent impression to prospective employers.

The best way to determine which courses are required is to review job listings and read the qualifications. Many websites will list the latest opportunities, and the qualifications and experience required for each role.

Many roles ask for candidates to have knowledge and practical experience with specific computer packages; many of these can be studied online and courses can provide a good foundation in using them.

Although your child will not beat out somebody with several years of experience, in the recruitment process, they may well come across as the best of all graduates, if they can demonstrate they are familiar with the computer systems used.

Teach interview skills

Interview skills are possibly the most important part of landing a good career. How a person performs in 30 minutes in a room with two total strangers can determine his or her entire career.

What many students do not appreciate is that an interview is an opportunity to sell themselves; this is where you can help. Encourage your children to list all of their most positive aspects, their best skills, and their educational strengths and get them to talk candidly about these.

People who can casually talk about their best aspects come across as being confident, articulate, and professional. An interview is not the time to highlight to an employer all the things that you do not know; it is a time to sell yourself as an asset they cannot afford to lose to a competitor.

What companies are the best?

This is one of the most common questions asked by parents. Many people assume the best companies must be the huge financial organizations that are in the news every week. Although J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America Corp, and Citigroup are the largest in America, they do not necessarily offer the best career prospects; competition within the banking industry is extremely tough and they all take on hundreds of graduates each year.

It is often better to look to the smaller investment companies that provide a more bespoke and personal approach. In a smaller company, it is often easier to impress and rise through the ranks to board level, which is ultimately most people’s ambition.

Some excellent local opportunities that are an ideal match for your child may be available, so research the local area. Small regional offices can often be a great place to start a rewarding career in finance.

Supporting your children during this time is a challenge, but with a little information and some research, you can help guide them and hopefully they will land the career they have been dreaming of, or at least, the one they would have been dreaming of, had they known what opportunities were out there.

Wednesday’s Parent: The Dreaded Group Projects


group projectsThese adages speak to the potential groups have to be more productive, creative, and motivated than individuals on their own. Ask students and they are going to say, “I hate group projects”. Teachers love them, students dread them.

5 Reasons Why Students Dread Group Projects

  • There’s always a slacker in the group that hides behind the good students
  • There’s usually one grade for the whole project
  • Teachers usually assign the groups and it’s hard working with people you don’t know
  • Coordinating time to work on the project is difficult
  • Agreeing on ideas and content always causes conflict

5 Reasons Why Teachers Assign Group Projects

  • Break complex tasks into parts and steps
  • Plan and manage time
  • Refine understanding through discussion and explanation
  • Tackle more complex problems than they could on their own
  • Develop new approaches to resolving differences.

While the potential learning benefits of group work are significant, group projects are no guarantee that these goals will be achieved. In fact, group projects can – and often do – backfire badly when they are not designed, supervised, and assessed in a way that promotes meaningful teamwork and deep collaboration.

No matter how much a student detests the group project, they will get them in college. Learning to handle them now, will alleviate a ton of heartache later down the road.

To do this, read Wendy’s post: 7 Ways to Get the Best Out of Group Projects


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Wendy and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Wendy and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from parentscountdowntocollegecoach to and vice versa.

Mom-Approved Tips: Planning for an Informed College Choice


college choiceBuilding off of the fabulous and informative articles about the economics of choosing a college featured earlier this month (Payscale’s 2015 College Salary Report and Mom Approved Tips: How to Choose a College), I want to share with you a simple system to help you make this huge decision and an informed college choice.

1. Schedule Time in Your Calendar to Implement the System

The first step in any system is scheduling time to implement it. Set aside an hour this week to start working through the following steps. This can be done as a family or by the student. The key to not getting overwhelmed by the process is taking it one little step at a time. Break down each task into small, easy to accomplish tasks, and you’ll be done before you know it.

2. Start with a Large List and Narrow it Down

You are much better off with a long list than a short list of colleges. Remember when you are deciding which college to attend it will have been three-six months since you were applying. A lot can change in that amount of time, so you want to make sure you have enough options to make the best decision. I recommend students have a final list of 8-10 schools. If applying to that many schools is a financial burden for you and your family, remember you can always request application fee waivers. You can do this my writing the college directly or check out the College Board or NACAC for more information on the standard application fee waiver requests.

To get down to those 8-10 schools, start with a much larger list. Put any school on the list that even piques your interest. Spend time browsing the net and talking to friends, family, teachers, and counselors. Don’t limit yourself. Just write everything down right now. You want to make a large list and then focus on narrowing it down by asking yourself the following questions.

3. What do you want to do after you graduate?

Do you have a particular career or major in mind? Spend your time researching the best undergrad programs. See which schools your dream companies recruit from. Are there intern or co-op programs? You can use the Payscale Best Schools by Majors list shared last week to help you. You can also look at rankings for different majors.

Maybe you are unsure about what you want to do after you graduate. That’s OK! You just might want to steer clear of very specific programs. For example, if you’re on the fence about engineering, you don’t want to have a list of exclusively engineering schools.

Look at your list and cross off any schools that don’t offer the major(s) you’re interested in. Put the schools with the best programs at the top of the list. Be sure to take a look at the companies that recruit from and attend the career fairs of the colleges on your list. Not many students or their parents do this, but it is probably one of the biggest factors for how easy or difficult your future job search will be.

4. What are the economics of your choice?

I specifically don’t want you to think about what your “budget” is or how much the college costs. You need to look at the whole picture. What sort of financial aid and scholarship packages do the schools offer? What are your parents able and willing to contribute? Use Katie’s advice to broach the subject. What is your potential starting salary? What are your potential lifetime earnings? WRITE IT ALL DOWN. Use this wizard to figure out how much student loan debt is reasonable for you. Use the Payscale information to get median salaries for different careers.

For example, if your dream job is teaching middle school, your salary will likely be in the $30,000-$60,000 range during your lifetime. So you need to consider if spending $200,000 on your education will be too big of burden. If so, cross those hefty price tag schools off your list.

On the other hand, if your dream job is a petroleum engineer for a big oil company, I would consider spending more money on a school with a strong program that has relationships with all the big companies over a school that’s cheaper but doesn’t have any oil companies going to their career fairs. Put the schools with the applicable company connections at the top of your list.

5. Where do you want to live and study?

Location, location, location. It can be a big factor in your enjoyment of college, the expense, and the ease of your future job search. It’s definitely easier to get a job in the city or area where you go to school. If you know you want to work in a particular city or region, check out the schools there. You’ll be able to build your network while in school, making the job search process a breeze.

Maybe you know you want to go to school in the South, Midwest, or Coasts. Keep in mind there are additional expenses if you go to school far from home (flights home, storage between semesters, etc.). Cross off any schools on your list in regions or cities you know you don’t want to spend four years of your life. Move schools in your ideal regions/cities to the top of your list.

6. Will I like spending the next four years there?

Are you big city or small town? Do you need to be close to family or want to break out on your own? Is Greek life important? How did you feel when you visited the school?

Do you have any friends or family who went to a school and loved it? If they have similar likes and dislikes to you, their opinion is very valuable. Ask them why exactly they like the school. Are their reasons important to you?

I had a mother ask me this very question. Her daughter visited a school and wasn’t crazy about it. This year her friend is going there and loves it, which is making her reconsider the school. Typically we’re friends with people who are similar to us and have similar likes and dislikes. I think your friend’s experience is actually more pertinent than a visit, especially if it was a visit you took during the summer. It’s hard to get a feel for a school by going on a campus tour when most of the students are gone. Ask your friend why she loves it. Even better, visit your friend at school if you can. You might even be able to catch a class or two with her. Use this information to cross off the schools where you know you won’t enjoy your time. Make sure the top 10 schools on your list are places you’d like spending the next four years.

Action Steps:

  1. Start your list today!
  2. Research schools based on majors/careers.
  3. Use this wizard  to figure out how much student loan debt is reasonable for you. Use Payscale  to get median salaries for different careers.
  4. Talk to people! Your friends, family, and mentors can all help you to decide on your final list. Just remember to ask questions to find out why they like the schools they like.
  5. Narrow down your list to the top 8-10 schools.
  6. Comment or email me with any questions. If you are looking for resources to help you craft the best application to get you into those 8-10 schools, get my four-step Base Brainstorming Workbook and 7-page GPA Boot Camp for FREE!


Jessica YeagerToday’s guest post is from Jessica Yeager, a grad of Harvard and MIT, and a tutor and college coach for high-achieving students and their parents at Impress the Ivies. You can get her Base Brainstorming Workbook & GPA Boot Camp for free.

Scholarship Friday: FIRE Scholarship


FIRE scholarship

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) hosts an annual FIRE scholarship essay contest for high school juniors and seniors.

The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity.

FIRE’s core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.

Also check out FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech on Campus and explore to learn more before you begin the scholarship essay process.

Who Can Enter

High school juniors and seniors for the 2014–2015 school year who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to participate.

Essay prompt

Why is free speech important at our nation’s colleges and universities? Using examples from both videos, discuss how censorship of student speech is incompatible with higher education

Word Length

Students must submit an essay between 800 and 1,000 words on the provided topic below.


FIRE must receive all entries by January 1, 2015. Winners will be announced January 31, 2015.


One $10,000 first prize, one $5,000 second prize, and three $1,000 runner-up prizes will be awarded for the best essays.

Four $500 winners will be chosen from the remaining entrants in a drawing.


Enter here:

Payscale’s 2015 College Salary Report


salary reportWith college costs rising, along with student debt, it’s more important than ever for parents and students to look carefully at college ROI (return on investment) when creating the college list. Payscale recognizes the importance of choosing a college major that will be a good return on investment and has released their 2015 College Salary Report.

Following are just a few of the categories covered in the data:

Majors That Pay You Back (Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees)

When somebody tells you they are headed to a college or university, whether it’s for an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, MBA or PhD, the first question out of everybody’s mouth is “Where are you going to school?” In reality though, the choice of major can have a much bigger impact on your future earnings than the school you attend. PayScale ranks the top college majors by salary to help you figure out how much you can earn after graduation.

Most Recommended Majors (by alumni)

What makes graduates recommend their major to students trying to pick a major today? One look at this list of most recommended majors shows us that the majors that people rave about are the ones that allow them to easily find a job in their intended field. It’s not necessarily how much money a person makes, but the likelihood that they can find work doing what they want to do.

Best schools for particular majors (by earning potential)

Choosing a college and deciding to get a degree are big decisions, so do your homework and choose the degree and school that will set you up for the career of your dreams. PayScale’s 2015 College Salary Report ranks undergraduate and 2-year colleges by the highest earning graduates.

Common jobs for particular majors

Choosing a college and deciding to get a degree are big decisions, so do your homework and choose the degree and school that will set you up for the career of your dreams. PayScale’s 2015 College Salary Report ranks undergraduate and 2-year colleges by the highest earning graduates.

College Comparison Tool (compare up to 5 colleges side by side)

Trying to decide which college or university to attend? PayScale has alumni salary data about more than 1,000 schools. Select up to five schools and see how they compare based on earning potential and more.

Most Meaningful Majors

When it comes to choosing a career and picking a college major that will help you achieve your goals, money isn’t everything. Job meaning counts for a lot too. That’s why PayScale asks everybody who takes our survey if they feel like their job makes the world a better place. This list ranks 207 college majors by the percentage of graduates in each major who answer that question with a resounding “yes.”

Here’s an article published in Money Magazine, “Choosing a College Major by Age 16 Pays Off”, proposing that students should think about choosing a major early to avoid spending more for the college education than necessary.

A college choices isn’t all about the money, but it should certainly factor into such a large financial investment. Parents and students should do their homework, just as they would if purchasing any other big ticket item.

Wednesday’s Parent: Turning a Hobby Into a Resume Rave


hobbySay what? A hobby can be a plus on your college application? You bet! What do hobbies communicate? Passion. What are college admissions officers looking for? Passion.

Hobbies and Extracurriculars

Hobbies can be a valuable component of the extracurricular record. If your teen already has a hobby, help them find clubs or organizations related to that hobby. Hobbies can also be used as a non-teenager activity. These activities are viewed by admissions counselors as unique and can often differentiate your teen from other applicants. If your teen is interested in writing for instance, blogging might prove beneficial. Many admissions counselors are looking for those unique qualities that set your teen apart from the thousands of applicants in the pool. If your teen raises homing pigeons, for example, a counselor might find this fascinating and vote yes on an application that is sitting in the maybe pile. There are all kinds of hobbies that can lead to college majors and future careers. (i.e. forensic science, gaming, history buff). Whatever hobby your teen has chosen, find a way to incorporate it into the high school resume and utilize it as one of the many components of the extracurriculars.

Hobbies and the College Essay

Experts recommend that students take every available opportunity on an application to fill in details about who they are and how they spend their time. Talk about your Etsy shop, rock band, or videography for example, if they highlight your individuality, personality and passion.

You can use the essay to talk about why you chose this hobby and why this makes you passionate – and then definitely include why the university that you want to go to will help you get to where you want to go in the future.

Explaining your hobbies in your college application can also help officials recognize valuable traits that aren’t revealed in a high school transcript. For example, admissions officials say entrepreneurship in high school shows that you’re a leader who takes action – a characteristic that colleges value.

Paul Hemphill, College Planning Expert, relates a story about one of his students who spent the weekends tending to the graves of Civil War soldiers. He parlayed that into an amazing essay about respect, honor and commitment. As you can imagine, this unusual hobby made the student stand out in the college application process.

Hobbies and Scholarships

And here’s a bonus: turn your hobbies into college cash! Scholarship Experts points out that many hobbies are showcased by organizations that award scholarships to those who pursue that hobby: amateur radio, poetry, art, knitting, and video for example. And don’t forget about the Bass Fishing Scholarship offered by several colleges.

Read Wendy’s Post: Hobbies Can Lead to College Prep


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Wendy and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Wendy and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from parentscountdowntocollegecoach to and vice versa.

A College Prep App Recap


college prep appHow would you like to find every app your student will need for college prep all in one location? Well, you’re in luck. On today’s App Tuesday I’m listing all my previous app posts with links to send you directly to the post. Whether you’re looking for essay apps, test prep apps, study apps or apps for organization, you’ve come to the right place–a college prep app recap!

Apps to Help Students Act During Critical Situations

Here are some apps to help students act during critical situations to go along with the conversations you should have with your soon-to-be college students. These apps won’t solve the problem, but they can help save a life.

8 Writing and Research Apps

What high school student doesn’t need to know how to properly annotate a reference source, find a synonym for simple words to spice up their essays, or do some research for term papers? These 8 Writing and Research Apps, should help with these tasks.

Apps for Learning Disabled Students

When you have a learning disabled student there is a whole other level of study, learning and social education. These apps provide parents of the learning disabled some tools to make their job easier and help keep their student on the path toward higher education.

8 History Apps for College-Bound Teens

Whether you need to reference an article of the Constitution, find out what happened today 100 years ago, or look up some famous speeches, here are some apps that have got you covered.

10 Math Apps for Students

Does math homework make you quake in your shoes? It did me. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the widespread availability of apps that today’s high school students have. Here are 10 math apps you can download to help with those ever-present math questions.

10 Budgeting Apps for College-Bound Teens

A good budgeting app can help college students keep track of their finances and help them find areas where they can cut back. Most budgeting apps can cover the basics—this article will provide you with five budgeting apps that stand out from the crowd and explain how they can help keep a college student’s budget in order. Here are 10 budgeting apps for your college-bound teens.

10 Study Apps for Students

Instead of study apps, let’s call these “10 apps to help you get merit-aid scholarships”. Improving your GPA is the best way to qualify for merit aid, and the best way to improve your GPA is to study. Here are 10 study apps that should help your student win merit-aid scholarships:

6 Safety Apps for Students

A pay phone or flagging down a police officer used to be our only defense against dangerous criminals and psychotic shooters like the gunman on the University of Texas campus years ago. But today, students are armed with a valuable weapon: their smartphone with safety apps—giving them instant access to authorities, parents and other students. Here are six safety apps you should arm your students with during high school and college.

8 Vocabulary Apps

Test time is upon us and it’s the perfect time to bone up on vocabulary for the standardized tests. And since your teens are never without their smartphones, here are seven vocabulary apps they will always have available to work on their vocabulary.

7 Essay Apps for College Prep

One of the most dreaded tasks of the college prep process is writing the essay. Students have problems with essay prompts, being creative, and using proper grammar. As luck would have it, however, there are even essay apps to help with this task.

7 College Savings Apps

aving for college is difficult, especially in today’s world. Add the rising college costs to the mix and your family finds it hard to save enough money to pay for college. It can be done, but it requires a commitment and the tools to make it happen. First, there’s the question of “How much do you need to save for college?” It might be shocking for some parents, but knowing what you need can help you plan. These 7 college savings apps that can help you plan for the future.

10 Textbook Apps

Any college kid or soon-to-be college kid needs an arsenal of textbook apps to help them shop for the best bargains, find the free ebooks and textbooks, and sell and trade when the semester ends. These apps should fit the ticket. But don’t wait until the fall of freshman year to download them. There’s no time like the present to create a folder and start adding these 10 textbook apps to your mobile devices.

6 Test Prep Apps

Some of these test prep apps are free, others are free to test, and some are paid apps. Knowing how important test prep is, use them to help prep for standardized tests.

Apps for College Visits

Imagine being able to be guided on a tour with your smartphone. Or being able to plan college visits before you go on them. Or being able to organize all your visits to search and find the schools by uploading photos to serve as a reminder of your visit. These apps for college visits can enhance your campus visits.

5 Free Apps for College-Prep Organization

College-bound students have so many tasks to complete and remember during the college-prep process. Luckily, there are apps for college-prep organization. This is great news because teens live and die with their smartphones. Having these tools at their disposal should help.

7 College Search Apps for Parents and Students

While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, these college search apps should help you and your student start and organize their college search.

Mom-Approved Tips: How to Choose a College


Today I’ve opted to post an article written by a young woman who has worked as a financial aid officer and wants to spread the word about financial literacy and money management skills for college-bound teens. She has witnessed parents and students make some unwise decisions about college. She offers some excellent advice on how to choose a college.


Choosing which college to attend is a family decision.  Rather, it should be a family decision.  Especially if the family (i.e. parents!) will commit to covering the college expenses.

What the Experts Say

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a college.  Some experts suggest  considering the national college rankings.   Others recommend choosing a college by the potential debt it might incur.  The College Board’s Big Future suggests a number of factors to consider when choosing a college, including size and location.  Some experts recommend visiting the college, speaking to students, alumni and faculty. Others recommend getting to know the resources available at the college and speaking to the admissions officers.  There are TONS of things to consider when choosing a college!

Almost all of the advice out there suggest that the decision should be based on information gathered by researching – and there’s not much of an emphasis on getting input from the family.

choose a collegeTaking a Different Approach

During my time as a financial aid counselor I helped many families learn about the college costs – AFTER the student had already enrolled in the college.  At that point, the student is already invested in the school and so is the family.

Also at this point many of the families (both parents and students) had regrets about their decisions and felt that it was too late to change course – it was the middle of the semester after all.  They had regrets about not evaluating their ability and willingness to pay for the college costs BEFORE having made the decision to attend.  Ability to pay is important – but even if a family has the ability to pay, doesn’t necessarily mean they have the willingness to pay.  Are they willing to pay $65,000/year for a private college?  Are they willing to take on the debt?

In many cases, by the time families came to me to explore their options about how to finance the college costs, they learned that they had very few options to make it work:

  • Borrowing Federal Parent PLUS Loans
  • Taking out home equity loans
  • Using credit cards
  • Dipping into their retirement accounts

The families were able to move forward with these decisions, but they had many hesitations about doing so.  Taking out a home equity loan, for example, was a common option that families chose.  But they were very uncomfortable with the decision.  The result?  Families ended up compromising their financial goals.

I recall some families would come up with other creative options like selling their cars or getting a second job.  I especially remember speaking to a father who admitted that he “sold the family gold” (I had no idea this was common practice!) to pay for his son’s education!

These families didn’t realize what they were getting into. Parents wanted to accommodate their student’s decisions, but I could tell that they were uncomfortable with the limited options.

This is why I strongly believe that choosing a college is a family decision. Because, like it or not, this decision affects the entire family – especially if there’s an expensive private college on your student’s radar.  It’s best to stay involved in this part of the process; and to make this decision together and compromise if necessary.

Does this make you feel uncomfortable?

It’s weird, right?  You’re probably thinking that choosing a college should be the student’s choice, not yours.  You don’t want them to feel guilty about wanting to choose an expensive college over a more affordable one that would make your life easier.  And you definitely don’t want to stand in the way of your child’s dream college.  It might even feel like you’re overstepping your boundaries by wanting to be involved in the final decision-making process.

This is normal.  In fact, it’s so normal that we forget that this is even a thing!  It’s called individualism and it places more value on the individual rather than the collective.  Merriam-Webster defines it as, “the belief that the needs of each person are more important than the needs of the whole society or group.”  Individualism is so deeply ingrained in our culture, that we don’t even question it.  Today, I want you to be critical of this deeply ingrained mindset.

Think about the differences between Eastern and Western philosophies.  In Western cultures, we place more value on the self, on our individual talents and accomplishments.  Eastern cultures place more value on collectivism which emphasizes the importance of groups, like the family, community, state, or country.

I believe that there is value in both Eastern and Western perspectives – and it’s important to balance between individualism and collectivism.

Individualism is a philosophy that we live by everyday and we don’t even notice it.  I want you to notice it today.  And when the time comes, I want you to notice it as it relates to choosing which college to attend.

How to Have the Conversation

I’d like to offer just ONE tip for you to work towards making this family decision: Next time you’re discussing college plans, you can say something like, “You can go to any college you want, but there may need to be some compromises.  We’re a team and we’re going to have to work together to make this decision work.”  Bottom line: the best thing to do is be direct, honest, and offer your support.


Katie's HeadshotAs a financial aid counselor, Katie has witnessed the lack of financial literacy among college students. That’s why she’s a big believer in learning money management skills early in life. Sign up for her newsletter where she shares tips about how to prepare your teen to make smart financial decisions:

Infographic: How College Rankings Work


College rankings are important to millions of incoming students a year, yet few actually know how the rankings are compiled. To give viewers a more clear look at what’s involved with compiling college rankings at the top rankings organizations, the editors at College Choice have created this graphic to explain methodologies.


How College Rankings Work