College Planning Experts

Celebrity College Major

Do you think all celebrities who go to college major in drama?

You’d be wrong…

I stumbled upon this article in the Huffington Post and had to share it. Enjoy!

Free College Planning Workshop Tonight!


As a reminder, tonight we’ll be co-hosting a College Knowledge Night with C2 Education in Agoura Hills. We’ll be going over all things related to college admissions, testing, financial aid, and more.

College Knowledge Night
March 18th from 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Agoura Hills/ Calabasas Community Center
Co-Hosted by C2!

You’ll learn insider tips for college admissions tests, how many hours of volunteering you need to get accepted, the biggest mistakes families make on financial aid forms, secret strategies to get more scholarships and grants, and much more!

Don’t miss out!

Inspirational Quotes to keep Motivated


“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin
“Education is learning what you didn’t even now you didn’t know.” Daniel J. Boorstein
“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” C.S. Lewis
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas A. Edison
“Once you agree upon the price you and your family must pay for success, it enables you to ignore the minor hurts, the opponent’s pressure, and the temporary failures.” Vince Lombardi
“When we make college more affordable, we make the American dream more achievable.” William J. Clinton
“When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world.” Elon Musk

College Planning Experts are Rockstars!


College Planning Experts had such a great time last week at Craig Duswalt’s Rockstar Marketing Bootcamp!

I had the pleasure of speaking to the crowd about the importance of passion in entrepreneurship. If your sole motivation is money, you won’t be successful. You have to have a deep-founded desire to do what you love.

I founded College Planning Experts in 2004 after my personally frustrating college experience. I wanted to help students (and parents) avoid the mistakes I made in applying to college and in applying for financial aid. Now, after 11 years, College Planning Experts has grown into a successful business, and I couldn’t be prouder. We are able to work as a team, doing what we love. We help make a difference in so many families’ lives, and I am happy to say we have raised over $100,000 in charitable contributions.

I am starting this week on a college planning high. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store!

New Event You Won’t Want to Miss!

Want to have one-on-one interactions with college admissions representatives? Come to our event on the 26th!

Picking the right list of colleges is important. You want to know that the schools to which you apply are going to be a great fit and are going to provide you with a world class education. This is why College Planning Experts has teamed up with three universities to provide you with an interactive seminar!

On March 26th from 6-7:30 P.M., admissions representatives from Pepperdine, Purdue, and Ohio State will be serving as a panel of admissions experts to answer all of your questions. If you want to know what it’s like to go to school in the Midwest, what it’s like to attend a Christian school, what it’s like to live in snow… you must come! You’ll also get face time with people from these schools. That is so important! This event is open to both freshman and transfer students.


College Admissions Panel

March 26, 2015

6:00 P.M.- 7:30 P.M.

Porter Ranch Library (11371 Tampa Ave, Northridge, CA 91326)

Guest Speakers from: Ohio State, Purdue, and Pepperdine




Get real answers, from real experts, from different types of schools. This event will be awesome!

Act fast! Space is limited and a reservation is required to attend.

We hope to see you there!

Would you want to know why you were rejected?

Earlier this year it was announced that college applicants could review their admissions profile via the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This came to light when a group of students from Stanford reached out to the school for the information. It went viral, and soon there were templates for students from other schools to do the same.


Now it seems schools are trying to prevent applicants from applying for their records. Stanford writes, “The path to Stanford is not easy and the admission process is rigorous and critical. So please ask yourself: What benefit do I seek from reviewing these additional admissions records?… Will my life be better for having reviewed them?”


So I ask you, would you or would you not want to know why you were rejected?


If you were to read things like Joel Stein, the former Time columnist, did in 1992, he found comments on his admissions file that included, “He could drive you crazy,” “Not appropriate” and “Hormonal overdrive.”


How would you take rejection?


I for one think it is a worthwhile endeavor to understand why you were rejected. Receiving this type of feedback could help us grow. A college application and interview are a stepping stone from college. If you don’t get in, but you never learn WHY you didn’t get in, then what? If you take the time to be educated, how could that help you prepare for a job application and interview later in life? We all have ticks and we all give off body language. We might not realize who we’re acting or what we’re saying affects our audience in different ways. Plus, if not to just grow personally, imagine how you could use that information to help other students?


If you’re interested in learning more about college admissions, and strategic enrollment management, call us (661)295-9946. We can help get you college application and college interview ready, so maybe you don’t have to even worry about the rejections.

How will America’s College Promise affect you?

During his State of the Union address, President Obama called for the government to guarantee free community college for its citizens. His proposal, America’s College Promise, is far from being a done deal, but it leaves us to question how this could affect future college students.


Currently, the average time it takes a student to get through community college and transfer is 3 years. In the state of California, where education budget cuts have cost us faculty and course offerings, students are particularly struggling to get the classes they need to transfer. Did you know you cannot transfer to a Cal State or U.C. school unless you are at junior standing?


If you need to be at junior standing, you have to take 60 semester credits to be able to transfer, and classes like Math 101, History 101, English 101, etc. are not readily available for all who are interested in transfer. Everyone is trying to take the same classes. If you can’t get into History 101, then what happens to History 102? It gets delayed. Then the student starts working with all of the free time, and what happens? A taste for money could kill the desire for education.


College Planning Experts works regularly with families who are debating saving money by having their children attend community college first, and we caution you. Attending community college may be a financial saver, but it could also be a time waster and could add more tuition to your college bills.


So now, what happens if community college becomes free?


Many think this is a great thing because families will only have to worry about affording the final two years of a Bachelor’s degree. They see a savings that wasn’t there before. But I ask you this: if it takes 3 years to get through California community colleges to transfer while the education is not free, what will happen to the time it takes to transfer after it becomes free? If it then takes 4 years to get through those 60 semester units, does the student stick with it to transfer for another 2 years of school?


If you’re considering community college for your student and you don’t know how a 4 year college will fit into your plans, call us (661)295-9946. We’d love to educate you and help make that plan for you. There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in this country, and we guarantee there is a fit and an affordable plan.

Does your race affect your chance of getting in?


I recently read an article in the Los Angeles Times about the landscape of college admissions with regard to race. The article opens to tell a story of a college prep company in the San Gabriel Valley that shows parents graphs summarizing the need for Asian American students to do better on their tests. The company says Asian American students “are penalized by 50 points [on the SAT] — in other words, they had to do that much better [than other races] to win admission.” The presentation was meant to show parents what they’re up against in trying to get their students admitted to top colleges.

I can wholeheartedly say that this is absolutely wrong. In fact, in response to this article a former admissions officer from UC Berkeley writes, “the University of California system does not advantage or disadvantage certain applicants based on their race. Such practices across all college systems are unconstitutional.” There have been many Supreme Court cases which draw upon race in higher education, and the bottom line is this: colleges cannot assign points or fulfill quotes for race.

I understand that college admissions can be stressful, but with that said, does race matter in higher education? Absolutely. Is it vital in the process?

Let’s look at it like this:

  • Sarah is a senior.
  • She attends a large public school (2,400 students) in a middle-income area.
  • Sarah’s G.P.A. is a 3.82 (unweighted)
  • She scored a 1250 on her SAT (600 Reading and 650 Math); the average for her school is a 1180.
  • She is taking 3 AP classes her senior year; her school offers 6 AP courses for its students.
  • Her activities include:
    • 9-11 grade: Soccer
    • 10-12 grade: ASB
    • 11-12 grade: Debate Team
    • 12 grade: Internship at local Law Office.
  • Sarah is Hispanic.
  • Sarah’s parents did not attend college.
  • Major: History


  • John is a senior
  • He attends a small private school (1,200 students) in an upper, middle-income area.
  • John’s G.P.A. is a 3.97 (unweighted)
  • He scored a 1310 on his SAT (650 Reading and a 660 Math); the average for his school is 1260.
  • He took one AP class his junior year; his school offers 16 AP courses for its students.
  • His activities include:
    • 9 grade: Football
    • 9 grade: Robotics
    • 10 grade: Baseball & ASB
    • 11 grade: Tennis & Track & Mentor to junior high track students
  • John is White.
  • John’s father attended college; his mother did not.
  • Major: History


If you were an admissions officer at UC Berkeley, who would you admit?

Sarah has a lower G.P.A. and a lower S.A.T. score than John. Sarah is taking more challenging coursework than John. John is involved in a ton of activities. Sarah is involved in a lot of activities too, and she is more consistent. Sarah is a first generation Hispanic student, and John is not first generation and is White. Sarah and John are both scoring higher than their school’s average on the S.A.T.

The point I am trying to make is this: there is no one sized fits all formula to guarantee admission anywhere.

If you are leaning towards admitting Sarah, was it because she is Hispanic? Did you give her an added boost on her SAT scores because of it as the L.A. Times article suggests?

Let me guess… no, and no.

College admissions officers have to look at a variety of details for every applicant who makes it to a holistic review. It is a tough job. If a student is scoring higher than her classmates on the S.A.T., shows commitment to activities that are in line with her major, has a solid G.P.A., is first generation, and is an ethnic minority… that is WHO she is. It tells a story, and it helps an admission officer put her credentials in perspective. It allows a college to see what a perspective student would bring to that campus.

If you are worried about college admissions or stressed about how to position your children to get accepted, you’re not alone. There are ways you can strategically plan, and we can help! But what we want you to leave with today is that there isn’t a checklist of things you have to get in. Every college offers a unique experience, and what’s more important is fit.

Call us if you want to chat about this or if you want help getting college ready (661) 295-9946.
We’d love to go over best fit schools, and bets VALUE schools. Because hey… who wants to pay full price for college?

What is a good financial aid award?

We’re reaching that time of year when your senior should be hearing back about where he/she got in to college. But that’s not the only thing on which you should be getting news. Financial aid award letters are beginning to go out, and you want to be prepared. Schools will want to lure you to attend their find institutions, but I think it is important that you understand how to interpret a good award from a bad award. It may seem shocking, but these award letters aren’t straight forward. I recommend you follow these steps:

1.) Know your EFC

Make sure you are aware of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) when comparing awards. Without this figure it is difficult to determine the good awards from the bad awards. Your EFC will be the same dollar amount for each school, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s all that you will have to pay out of pocket at each school.

For example, let’s suppose a family’s EFC is $10,000, and the school’s COA is $50,000. In a perfect world the student would get $40,000 in financial assistance to bridge this gap, but that doesn’t necessarily happen. Let’s say the student only received a $10,000 merit award and $20,000 in the form of a federal loan. The $10,000 in free money and $20,000 loan wouldn’t cover the family’s demonstrated need of $40,000. The family would then have to pay their $10,000 AND come up with an additional $10,000 (Private loan? Retirement withdrawal?). Without knowing your EFC, you won’t understand that this is a poor award.

If the school does not include your EFC on the award letter, contact them ASAP.

2.) Understand your out of pocket cost

Award letters should tell you the schools’ Cost off Attendance (COA). COA includes tuition, room/board, books, food, travel, and anything else you’ll have to pay for while at school. The school’s COA, minus any awarded grants and scholarships, will generate a net cost for you. When you are comparing award letters from different schools it is important they all are transcribed into the same language, so consider: COA – scholarships and grants = out of pocket cost.

3.) Know the Lingo

Some schools’ award letters don’t clearly articulate loans from grants and scholarships. For example, an award letter might have a line item titled “a Stafford” rather than “a Stafford Loan.” Schools strategically do this to make the school appear less expensive. If you don’t understand a line item, call the school.

4.) Ask questions

If the financial aid award remains confusing, call the school’s financial aid office and keep asking questions until you understand. You’re about to invest a lot of money in a college education, so you don’t want to act to hastily.


Now, if you’re still confused… call College Planning Experts at (661)295-9946. We’d love to serve you through this process.

7 Things to Consider When Hiring a College Planner

We always get questioned on whether or not we’re a scam. People assume that getting a big discount on college is too good to be true, and anything too good to be true must be a shady business. I’m here to explain to you that this is not the case. In fact, Forbes would agree with me. There are many strategies to get money for college, and if you’re hiring a college planning firm to help… it’s a good decision. They’re the professionals, and they can efficiently provide you with resources to beat the cost of college. You just have to be careful.

There is a lot of misconception in the college planning industry. There are lots of companies out there, and it is true that some of them have less than stellar reputations. So how do you decipher the good from the bad?

7 Ways to Pick the Right, Independent College Planner/ College Counselor

  • Experience: How long has the firm/counselor been in business? If you are working with a college planning firm that is new or does not have an established track record, be wary. There are college planning firms out there that pop up out of nowhere, take a bunch of enrollments, and leave mid-way through their clients’ processes. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you’ve lost out on money and not received a solid, full service. If a firm has been around a while and is still here… awesome. That counselor or firm obviously has satisfied customers. If they didn’t then, I doubt they would be able to stay in business. People talk and people continue doing business with people they like.
  • Credentials: What are the credentials of the staff? If you’re working with a college planning firm, know where they tie into the education scene. We recommend using college counselors who have Masters degrees or certifications in counseling. If you’re looking at college planning firms where the story is “I got my kids into college, and I can help you!” be careful. Where is the training and the up-to-date professional development? How do you know what they’re saying is accurate?
  • Knowledge: Does the college planning firm or counselor that you are considering have a Blog? Do they have a Facebook page? Check those out! The good, knowledgeable individuals will have insightful things to say. If you aren’t able to check out their research and expertise before committing, it might be a concern.
  • Testimonials: Have you heard good things? This is where it gets tricky. There are so many online review sites, and Yelp takes a ton of heat for their algorithms (I know they filter out our clients’ good reviews…). We recommend viewing more than one site. Check out a few different review forums (Google, Better Business Bureau, Trustlink, etc.) to get an understanding. Also consider who is giving testimonials. Is it just parents? Are students saying good things too? Are there school administrators giving reviews too?
  • Software: What client software do they use? We live in a tech world, and college stats and assessments are largely available online. The beauty about the internet is they are updated constantly. Books aren’t updated as easily. If your college planning firm or counselor offers some sort of software/ online login, it shows true professionalism. This firm clearly spends money wisely to ensure their info is up-to-date and that they are giving good service to their students.
  • Service: What services does your perspective college planners cover? If your college planner charges a few thousand dollars only for college admission, that might be a worry. If they charge you just to find scholarships, that could be a concern. What are you getting for your investment exactly? You want to know what they’ll provide for you and your child, what topics they’ll cover, what results they expect, etc. This will also help you compare one firm to another, apples to apples. Just what are you getting for your investment?
  • Awards: What kind of accolades does this counselor or firm have available to share? A good college planning firm works closely with the community. If there are write ups in the newspapers in your area, if there are awards in the walls of your planner’s office, if there are certificates of recognition around… all a good thing. Know who is recognizing the work of your potential counselor or planner.

These 7 gems are our advised considerations. Know that there is good college help out there, and you shouldn’t pay more than you need to for college. We support hiring someone to help, but hire someone on whom you’ve researched. By using these questions as a guideline, you can help yourself to a good one.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call (661)295-9946!

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