Willow Creek Financial CFO, Kelly Noonan, reviews a very helpful book on choosing the right college titled The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price. “The book is a practical, easy to read guide for selecting and paying for college. Particularly for parents, like myself, who may have too much money to qualify for financial aid, and too little to pay full tuition for private colleges.”
The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price
By Lynn O’Shaughnessy
Reviewed by Kelly Noonan, CFO Willow Creek Financial Services, Inc.
I am the mother of a high school junior, currently helping to navigate the search for the perfect college for my very academically average, yet still determined daughter. I am offering this review of The College Solution for our clients who might also be looking for help on this journey.
The book is a practical, easy to read guide for selecting and paying for college. Particularly for parents, like myself, who may have too much money to qualify for financial aid, and too little to pay full tuition for private colleges. The advice in this book does offer more hope than I thought I had. There is a strong emphasis on the issue of minimizing costs and paying the bill. I was very surprised to learn, for example, that today most schools will discount their tuition to the kids they really want.
An innovative suggestion for beginning the search is to reverse the usual criteria and start with schools that match your student’s abilities rather than those which might be a reach for her. Another helpful hint is that the key to college acceptance is communication of how the student’s unique strengths can fill a school’s gaps (i.e., academic talent, diversity, athletic or artistic abilities). A student’s ability to fill a college’s gaps not only drives acceptance, but influences a college’s financial generosity as well. This is a simple, intuitive concept that not many families recognize.
I also appreciated Chapter 16: The Knock Against U.S. News & World Report (which ranks U.S. colleges and universities in an annual issue of its magazine). The book exposes the weaknesses of such rankings, and then offers alternatives in Chapter 17: The Rankings Antidote.
At the end of each chapter is a helpful “Action Plan” which summarizes the chapter and provides concrete actions you can take. In fact, if you just went to the end of each chapter and read the “Action Plan”, you could make a very good checklist of to-do items.
After reading this book, I feel much more informed and empowered about the process, especially the financial aspects. Overall, I would recommend this book for those parents or grandparents who are helping students beginning their college search.