Learn Our Top Insider Secrets For Getting Into Your Dream School

My last several articles have been all about the lovely families and students that we have the pleasure of working with side by side during their college planning journey. I would strongly suggest checking those out to learn more about what our professionals here at College Planning Experts offer to our clients. You can read those, here, on our blog.

This week, I wanted to highlight a different kind of special guest. A little bit ago, I was able to sit down with a local college counselor who has been in practice for nearly 20 years. Her name is Lynda McGee. She has worked as a college counselor in a local magnet school in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

If you would like to watch the full 60 minutes with Lynda, you can click here.  Otherwise, you are welcome to read the rest of this article to learn from Lynda’s expertise.

Before we begin, I want to make note of a few things. As a parent, you may find yourself saying: “I am the kind of parent that wants to provide the best for my child.” Out of all the things that parents say when they come into my office, this is the most common thing I hear, which is wonderful. And as a parent myself, I understand.

However, when it comes to applying for college, parents often do the worst things for their child throughout the whole process.

This is why people like myself with College Planning Experts exist. We are professionals who have years of experience getting kids into dream schools without breaking the bank of Mom and Dad.  

Consulting with your High School college counselor if your school has one like Lynda is a great idea. However, consulting with a licensed admissions counselor, which you will be able to find at College Planning Experts is one of the best things parents can do for their child.

It is important to know that 98% of high school counselors are general counselors. They have over 500 students to handle.

This means that although they may have general information about the college application process, they don’t have the kind of behind the scenes knowledge a licensed admissions counselor does.

The gap of expert knowledge between a general college counselor and a licensed admissions counselor, like those you find at College Planning Experts, will make the difference between your child attending his dream school for an affordable price or not.

We help families with everything from career planning, finding the right fit college for your child specifically, and helping build a solid financial aid plan to fit your specific needs.

We spoke with Lynda to discuss just how limiting a general High School counselor’s advice can be due to the hundreds of students they must work with and how working with a licensed college expert at a company offers families a way more individualized and successful experience.

Let’s break down our discussion of first, how to find a trustworthy company to work with and two important expert facts that almost no general counselors know about:

Find A Trustworthy And Experienced Company

First thing is first, you have to find a reliable college counselor. Lynda and I both agree that there are countless scammers out there that basically, as Lynda puts it; ‘come into town, set up shop, take your money and then leave’. They claim to be college consultants, offering similar services like those of College Planning Experts. However, I’d like to share with you exactly how to avoid being scammed and how to make sure you are investing in companies that will invest back in you and your college-bound child.  


  • The first move you need to make is going onto the Better Business Bureau website. Look for how long they have been in business. Is it a substantial amount of time. At least a 5-10 years is a good indicator that this company is well-established.


  • Next, if they have any reviews, read through them to get a better idea of what past clients experienced with the company.


  • Make sure they have an active business license


  • Finally, it might be the most important, make sure they have a brick and mortar office and a full, licensed staff. If they have a secure physical location with a full staff, they are more likely to be a credible business that you can trust.  

Look Out For Your Own Well-Being

The key thing to remember is that college is a business. They have their own priorities and goals. You cannot assume that the college you are applying to is keeping your best interest in mind when they award you with a financial aid package.

You have to ask for what you need, but so many parents do not know what they need exactly and if they do, they may not know how to ask for it, who to ask, etc.

I always say to the families that we work with: “You can go online and get any information. But it’s about knowing how to apply that information to your specific situation. That is where I can help you.”

The biggest mistake parents make is accepting the first offer made by the college.

Here comes a huge insider secret: Almost all colleges have what we call, an appeal process offered on their website. Basically, you can fill out a form requesting to change your financial aid package to better suit your needs.

Most parents are not aware that you can negotiate your financial aid. It is not a set deal. This is the kind of insider information college counselors can make you aware of to create a smoother application process.     

Know The Stuff Behind The Stuff

Finally, college experts know the stuff behind the stuff. We are trained and experienced in how the college application process operates behind the scenes. We know what the colleges are looking for and their strategies when marketing themselves to families.

For example, we know that colleges try to sit high in online rankings so that they look desirable and high in demand. However, they are looking for specific types of students. To be accepted into some of these highly ranked colleges, you have to make an effort to be noticed by them. That takes campus visits, interviews, and phone calls. Just an application will not get you anywhere.

One of the biggest secrets I am sharing today is probably the most important deciding factor in your financial aid package.

There is something that we call a Base Year. Your Base Year is the year right before you go to college. So, if you have a child graduating High School in 2019, your family’s 2017 income taxes count. They look at the prior-prior year for financial aid and those year’s finances are what the government and colleges will be basing your award on.

Lynda jokingly tells her students, “The one time in your life that you want to be as poor as possible is the year before you go to college”.

Why is this so important? Well, if you can figure out what amount colleges believe you can afford early on in your child’s High School career, you can strategize and prepare for your base year to better your chances of getting more money from your financial aid package.

This is what our professionals at College Planning Experts are passionate about working on with families. We can help you figure out what you will be expected to afford and we can work with you on a financial aid plan to ensure your child has the best chances of getting into their dream school.  

Call College Planning Experts today to speak directly with one of our experts.

Our Number: (818) 201-4847

Ask them any of these questions to start learning the facts, figures and professional guidance that you need to get your child into their dream school without breaking the bank.


  • I would like to schedule a time to discuss my child’s college planning process with one of your experts. When is your next available session?


  • I am calling to schedule a college planning analysis. How do I set up a meeting with one of your experts?


If you would like to get in contact with us for any more information you can reach us at any of these links:


Our Website:  https://collegeplanningexperts.com/

Our Phone:   (818) 201-4847

My Email: [email protected]

Written By Brian Safdari

Founder and President Of CollegePlanningExperts.com

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