Where to Start?

where to start Jan 28, 2024

If you are new to the college application and merit scholarship "game", being on social media or searching the internet can be more than confusing. 🤦‍♀️ The truth is, a lot of "information" is just wrong. At the very least it's outdated and useless.

Where to start depends a little on what grade level your kids are in, and what your family’s goals are. I have families on my email list whose oldest kids are age 8, whose kids are high school freshmen, and those who are seniors and up. But here’s the overall how to get started if merit scholarships are the goal.

(1) Decide how much you as the parent will/won’t or can/can’t contribute financially for college. Include what you are willing to cosign for.

Have that conversation with your teen as early as high school freshman year, so they understand fully that the responsibility of getting the grades and test scores for college acceptance and scholarships is up to them.

(2) There are thousands of colleges and universities in the U.S. and all provide an education that will yield a decent job. For the vast majority, it’s not “you get what you pay for”. It’s “you get what you cosign for.” Most people can’t name every college in their state. You are

Likely missing a lot of gems that offer merit scholarships.


Choose colleges that offer merit scholarships. Not all do. Narrow the pool with big criteria starting with location and climate. Look at both public and private schools.

(3) Google Net price calculator for each college (fill it in. Screenshot it. And put the info in a spreadsheet for reference) and

(4) Google common data set for each college. Learn to read it for what % of kids get merit scholarships who don’t qualify for need-based aid, and what’s the average scholarship.

When “chasing merit” understand that colleges with low acceptance rates have no incentive to offer a lot of scholarships. They are already getting kids to apply who have high GPAs and test scores. They are More Likely to offer need-based discounts (and some call those “scholarships”. Read carefully.

The highest dollar amount in one bucket comes from the college your kid chooses to attend. Choose that college list wisely.

(5) Private scholarships are secondary. But once you know if the colleges on your kid's list “stack scholarships” and “without limits” they can start applying to Private scholarships at any age or grade level. With 1.8 million private scholarships awarded every year, finding them is easy. Winning them takes strategy.


When you're ready to start Cracking the Code to College, let's get on a call to see if I have a program that is a good fit for your family. 


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