Top 9 Questions Parents Are Asking Me About LAUNCH!

launch

Purchase LAUNCH (or just look at its 100% 5-star reviews on Amazon.com) here.

 

There’s been an overwhelming, excited response to LAUNCH since it released on January 4th, 2017. Parent response to this book has already exceeded anything I ever thought possible. Whenever there’s a lot of excitement there are also a lot of questions, so here are the top 9 questions parents are asking me — along with my answers.

1. “Our son is only in middle school. Surely we don’t need to be thinking about college yet!”

Let me be blunt here. If you wait until your son’s in 11th grade to start thinking about college, 75% of the best ideas for getting him through college debt-free will be gone.

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9 Reasons to Talk your Kid OUT of Applying to the Ivy League

Today I’m re-running an article I previously wrote on the subject of Ivy League admission. The reason? Harvard University has made a surprising, disheartening decision that significantly impacts its students’ ability to save money on the education it provides. You’ll read about the Harvard decision–and what you can do about it– in the red text below.

Parents, you feel a lot of pressure to get your kids into a “good” college after high school. An “Ivy League” university would be ideal! But is all the work and stress really worth it?

Probably not, honestly.

William Deresiewicz, former Yale professor and author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and The Way to a Meaningful Life has a fascinating take on this question.

In his controversial New Republic article, Deresiewicz tells parents that Ivy League schools are overrated — that they’d be better off sending their kids elsewhere.

Here are the top 9 most jolting things I got out of Deresiewicz’s article:

Ivy League

1. The intense competition to get into an elite school can hobble a child for life.

“These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood,” Deresiewicz writes. “But the reality is very different . . . . Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.”

2. Constant focus on elite, Ivy League education can result in soul-crushing levels of insecurity, anxiety, and fear for students.

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Which Colleges Are Still Taking Applications?

5 Cautions For You If Your Child is Headed to College in 1-3 Months

Ben and his parents sat up late at their dining room table, combing through all of Ben’s college financial aid numbers one more time. Ben’s dad ran his fingers nervously through his hair. The problem? It was already summer, and every college that had accepted Ben for the coming fall was requiring him to commit to loads of student loan debt in order to attend. “Is it too late to just try to go to a different college?” Ben asked. “I don’t know,” Ben’s dad said. “Are there any other colleges still taking applications?”

Kaylie had a similar but different problem. Kaylie and her family hadn’t planned ahead, so Kaylie didn’t have any college acceptances to choose from. “Do you think it’s too late for me to try to go to college this coming fall?” Kaylie asked her parents. “I don’t know,” her mom replied. “Are there any colleges still taking applications?”

Colleges are still taking applications

The answer is yes; some colleges are still taking applications.

Here’s a great list of colleges still taking applications, provided for us by the good folks at CollegeSimply.com.

Be careful though.

If your child is applying to college this summer in hopes of attending college classes this fall, watch out for these 5 things:

1. Stay far away from “for profit” colleges and universities.

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More Cheerful Chores * Fewer Screens * More Fun

5 Ways Parents Can Have a More Fun, More Relaxing Summer

I post this article on the use of screens during summer every June, right when school’s out and parents need it most. Here’s to a fun, relaxing summer for your whole family!

screens

Carol kicked off her work shoes and put them away in the front hall closet. “Hi, kids; I’m home!” She called out.

It’d been an extremely long work day for Carol, and the commute home had been long and sweaty due to heavy road construction and her car air conditioning being out. All she wanted to do was get her shoes off and collapse.

When she walked into the kitchen, though, she gasped.

The kitchen looked as though someone had dirtied every dish and pan and countertop, and then run out in a panic.

In the distance she could hear machine gun fire.

The machine gun fire was coming from the TV in her family room, where her teens lounged on leather furniture, still in the t-shirts and sweatpants they’d slept in the night before. One stared, unmoving, at a movie on TV, one sat engrossed in Netflix on an iPad with headphones; the oldest was hunting and shooting camouflage-clad villains in a warehouse on a computer screen in the corner.

“Have you guys been in here like this the entire day??” She asked.

Many parents today worry about kids’ screen use during summer vacation.

But what’s a parent to do? It takes too much energy to constantly suggest: “Why don’t you go outside for a while?” Parents already tired from work don’t want to start battles with teens who might become sullen, snarly, and disrespectful when asked to disconnect.

How can parents get teens to do more chores, spend less time on screens, and have more of the kind of summer fun that satisfies most deeply?

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Whoa! Slow Down on Applying for Scholarships!

I recently read an article by a well-meaning man pushing kids to apply for more college scholarships.

“Give up all your free time!” he said. “Come home every day and put in an hour or two applying for scholarships!”

This sounds good in theory, but in reality–no kid on earth is going to do that.

My advice to students is very different.

scholarships

“Make a workable, strategic plan,” I tell students. “Apply for only ten (10) scholarships each year, starting in 8th grade and continuing all the way through grad school.”

Why do I limit scholarship applications in this way?

1. Ten scholarships in 12 months is doable. A kid thinks, “I can knock out 10 scholarships in June and be done for 11 months.” The feeling of being done is a great feeling.

2. The feeling of never being done, of never having done enough–of trying to move a mountain with a teaspoon–is energy draining and exhausting. It makes kids want to avoid applying for scholarships altogether.

3. Many kids will realize, all on their own, that filling out scholarship applications is not that difficult. Once the 10th one has been filed, many students will keep going–applying for even more.  If they don’t though, that’s OK. They can be done.

4. Kids quickly do the math. “If I apply for 10 scholarships every year starting in 8th grade and going all the way through grad school, that could be 80 scholarship applications in total. A huge accomplishment! And really, not that difficult.

(Do you think there are no scholarships for 8th graders? Just google “scholarships for 8th graders.” The money younger students win will be held for them until they need it.)

5. If your child is already in high school or already in college and just now thinking about applying for scholarships, that’s OK. As long as a student has some college or grad school left, it’s never too late to start applying for 10 scholarships a year.

For further help, read these posts I’ve written on finding and applying for scholarships. There’s a ton of good information here:

Looking for Scholarships? Here are 1.5 Million of Them

Top 10 Ways to Help Your Kid Rake In More College Scholarships

Hilarious Idea Makes Kids Eager to Apply For Scholarships

Parents, be sure you know every way possible to keep college costs down without getting scholarships.

Getting scholarships is a relatively small part of the picture when it comes to getting kids through college debt-free. There are many, many other strategies that parents can use that can end up being easier and more effective — even if they can’t save up a penny.

Learn about all the debt-free college strategies that have nothing to do with scholarships in this book:

You can “Look Inside” the book on Amazon for free by going to:

bit.ly/burlowski

(Tell your friends.)

(You can see the “Top 9 Questions Parents Are Asking Me About LAUNCH,” here.)

Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1-3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.

And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it – especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.

Do you have friends who are parenting kids ages 12 – 24? SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn right now.

What about you? What are your favorite places to look for college scholarships? Comment below or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.

Who is Jeannie Burlowski?

Jeannie is a full time author, academic strategist, and speaker. Her writing and speaking help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. She also helps students apply to medical school at her website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.

Best Grad Gift Ever! A Book by Meg Jay

Perfect for Both High School and College Graduates

If you’re looking for a high school or college graduation gift, here’s the one I most want students to receive.

It’s the book The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay.

definingdecade

Sure, a lot of 20 somethings read this book after graduating from college. But I say: Why wait? If your kid’s a high school senior, order this book right now and give your son or daughter a huge head start on building a happy, fulfilled life.

Believe me — this book can be a game changer for any student in their late teens or 20’s.

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Why Your Kid Shouldn’t Take a Car to College

One of the best money-saving ideas I suggest for college students is, “Don’t take a car to college.”

Most college campuses provide easy access to safe public transportation, and when a student really needs a car she can always call Uber. (Anyone, anywhere, can use this promo code to get $20 off of their first Uber ride: jeannieb105ue.)

Worried about your daughter’s safety on campus?

She may be safer walking with a campus security escort than trying to locate her car in a dark parking lot.

Students who don’t take cars to college save big.

They save thousands on gas, oil, parking fees, insurance, and auto maintenance over four years, plus they greatly decrease their potential for being in auto accidents or getting career-crippling D.U.I.s.

But what do students without cars do when they need to shop?

Nobody wants to lug four large Target bags back to the dorm room on the bus.

Fortunately, students can order almost everything they need on Amazon.com, and get their purchases shipped to them for free in two days using Amazon Prime Student. The best news? College students pay only half what I do for Amazon Prime. Plus they get a 6-month free trial when they sign up. Join Prime Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students now, or read on.

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What Should Students Eat Before Testing?

If you’re about to take the SAT or the ACT, or a final for a class, or the LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, or GRE exam–and you just want fast advice on what to eat before testing, zoom to the bolded type below, now.

It was my happiest phone call of the day. “Guess what!?!” said the excited voice on the other end of the line. “I did it! I got my scores back–and I got a 514 on the MCAT! The 91st percentile! Better than 91% of the population! I am ecstatic!”

“Whoo hoo!” I almost shouted. “I knew you could do it! I’m not surprised one bit!”

This happy phone call was a far cry from the call this same girl and I had had the previous April, when she’d contacted me in tears to ask for my professional help with her med school application. On that day she’d told me in a quavering voice that even though she’d done the best, most thorough MCAT prep she could and had scored high on multiple practice tests, she’d pretty much bombed the actual MCAT exam. “Now I’ll have to pay a ton of money to take another MCAT class,” she said, trying not to cry. “It’ll take me months to prep for the MCAT all over again. My med school application won’t be in until late–”

“Hold on,” I said.

“What did you eat before testing?”

eat before testing

“Eat?” she’d said, bewildered.

“Yes,” I said. “What did you eat that day? Do you remember?”

“Well,” she said, “I don’t usually eat breakfast–but I think I had a plain bagel, and some orange juice. Why?”

Over the next 30 minutes I explained to her how what she ate and what she didn’t eat before testing likely affected her testing experience. I suggested that she sign up to take the MCAT again, as soon as possible, with only minimal additional prep, and simply eat better on the morning of the test and during the breaks. The result? The overjoyed phone call you read about above.

What to eat before testing

In the 23 years I’ve been doing med school admissions consulting at GetIntoMedSchool.com, I’ve had this same discussion with hundreds of pre-med students.

Here’s the nutrition advice that has proven to be a game-changer for every one of them.

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“Push Your Kid into Electrical Engineering!” (Really?)

Recently, I was contacted by a freelance writer hoping to guest post on my blog. Her article was essentially a long list of reasons why electrical engineering is a great career for students to consider.

electrical engineering

The writer provided several great reasons for students to consider electrical engineering, including these:

  • Electrical engineering can be an excellent part of an interdisciplinary career that also includes chemical, civil, petroleum, mechanical, software, or biomedical engineering.
  • Electrical engineering can be applied to work that involves signal processing, control systems, robotics, microelectronics, and more.
  • Electrical engineering pays well, and career prospects in electrical engineering are good. (Just take a look at this excellent information page that the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides on the subject of electrical engineering.)

I refused to publish the article, and here’s why.

My reply to this writer said:

“Ella, it’s clear that you have worked very hard on this article about electrical engineering, but I’m sorry; I cannot accept it for use on my blog.

In everything I write, I stand against pushing kids to certain career goals unless three specific psychometric assessments indicate that the child would be naturally good at that career as far as personality, interest, and strength bent. I go into detail on exactly how parents can access these assessments and figure all this out in chapter 13 of my book.

I can’t publish anything encouraging students toward one certain career. What if the parent reading the article has a child who is a born artist, and that child will be miserable and a failure as an electrical engineer? Thank you for your effort here. I hope you can get it published somewhere else.”

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In Just 5 Minutes — Change Your Future Grandchildren’s Lives

grandchildren

Last year, I climbed a mountain in Zion National Park.

My husband, the avid hiker, gave me a set of hiking poles and these instructions: “When you start to feel exhausted,” he said, “just concentrate on your next step. Where’s the next, best place to put your foot? Carefully put your foot there, and before you know it you’ll be at the top.”

Many of us get through parenting in this exact same way.

Exhausted, we survive day-to-day by focusing on the bare minimum required next step in our parenting journey. Just getting through until bedtime, or until Saturday’s soccer game, or until the next school break. We limit our thinking to the immediate, the urgent, and the short-term—because that feels productive. It feels like we’re getting somewhere.

In truth, taking just 5 minutes to look at the long view can be exhilarating.

When I was climbing that mountain in Zion, the moments that took my breath away happened when I stopped, lifted my head, and looked out over miles of sheer cliffs and valleys, all the way to the misty distant horizon.

Taking 5 minutes to look toward the parenting horizon can be both exhilarating and transformative.

For 5 minutes right now, think, “What could we as a family do this year, that could impact our descendants 100 years from now?”

Is there something you could do now related to education, to money and debt, or to moral and spiritual development, that could pay off for generations to come?

Our culture is currently plagued and limited by a short-term thinking mindset. You don’t have to be.

Ari Wallach, in this powerful TED Talk, urges us all to transform our children’s and grandchildren’s futures by breaking free of the 3-5 year “short-termism” that, he says, “permeates every nook and cranny of our cultural reality.” Wallach calls us all to practice “longpath” thinking that asks this important question: “To what end?”

What is the purpose in what we’re doing? Where are we going with this?

How will these decisions we’re making today impact our family 100 years from now?

What could we do this year that could pay off in huge ways…for generations?

Carefully consider these words, which I consider to be the most important in Wallach’s TED Talk: 

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5 Reasons “T-Shaped” is Better Than Well-Rounded

well-rounded

From the time students are in middle school, they’re told the big lie. That colleges and grad schools are looking for students who are “well-rounded.”

“Don’t commit too deeply to any one thing,” well-meaning parents and college counselors tell students. “Instead, do a lot of different things. Do as many as you can! Cram your schedule full to bursting! Exhaust yourself! Colleges and grad schools will like how ‘well-rounded’ you are.”

Here are 5 reasons why the “well-rounded” myth makes no sense.

1. Millions of students fall into the “well-rounded” category. It’s nothing special.

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