Campus Pathway’s College Advisory Practice
Long-term guidance in finding and paying for the best colleges
Campus Pathway guides families through the approaching college years, as our children look to launch their careers and begin their life journey. Campus Pathway is comprised of professionals that know the college game from direct experience with dozens of families. These professionals steer the family through the entire process while seeking to ease the stress of college admissions, with the objective of fulfilling the dreams of college attainment, and softening the impact of college expenses.
In contrast to the common reactionary and frequently random process of finding colleges experienced by most families today, the Campus Pathway program offers a strategic approach to the college selection process. Busy parents can sit back and supervise a well-designed strategy for selecting and paying for great colleges, ensuring that their children execute the tactics necessary to fulfill the family dream. Students can focus on execution of a well-crafted plan rather than trying to creatively devise a scheme of complexity not ever seen before. The goal of this plan is to achieve an outcome that fulfills the family’s college goals and sets the foundation for a high quality of life for their children.
2 Simple but Powerful Family Objectives
In working with a large number of diverse families, 2 simple objectives emerged as important to the parents of college-bound kids:
- Choosing the right college to ensure the successful completion of college as evidenced by graduation and a diploma
- Minimizing the out-of-pocket expenses to preserve or even grow the family’s wealth during the college years
The college selection process is critical to the achievement of both of these objectives. A poor match can lead to student apathy or academic failure, costing the family in lost credits, wasted fees and missed opportunities. Consequently, Campus Pathway places a great deal of energy and effort to the selection of the right colleges by the students. A sound financial plan complements this meticulous process to strengthen the family’s financial position.
2 Parallel Tracks to Assist Families
Campus Pathway guides families down 2 distinct tracks in preparing for the looming college years:
- Matching the children to the very best colleges that fit their personality, academic profile, social characteristics and career aspirations
- Minimize the cost of the portion of college expenses for which the family must pay out of their life savings
These initiatives are intertwined into a cohesive strategy designed to help achieve the best college experience for the family. Rather than settle on local colleges that are popular with the uninformed, parents can now feel satisfaction and pride in knowing they reached higher than imagined before working with professionals who know the world of post-secondary education. And by reaching higher, they have shown their children what can be achieved with the proper planning, research, knowledge, understanding and execution.
The Campus Pathway team utilizes a well-defined process to move the family down the 2 tracks simultaneously. What follows is a description of that process and some of the timelines families can expect for their high school juniors and seniors.
The Campus Pathway Process
The introductory meeting is designed to answer all the questions the parents have about the Campus Pathway process of working with families. This meeting is most often with just the parents, though the children are welcome, especially when the student is a rising senior and it’s the summer or fall of that year. This meeting is typically held in the Campus Pathway office at the address on the right hand side of this page.
The items for completion at this meeting include:
- Review the family goals
- Definition of the college selection process
- Description of the financial aid process
- Overview of college loans and the philosophy of student accountability
- Outline of the process the family can expect moving forward
- Signing of the Campus Pathway service contract and payment
- Schedule the next meeting
Initial Financial Meeting
The initial financial meeting with the parents outlines the program and sets the expectations for the coming months. Since this is a long-term relationship, the details of the financial review process is discussed and a broad framework for achieving family objectives is portrayed. This meeting includes the 2 parents and Jeffrey Morrison.
The content of the family meeting includes:
- Overview of how Campus Pathway works
- Review of the decision parameters for selecting colleges
- A look at graduation rates
- The importance of standardized testing (ACT/SAT)
- Discussion of the college application process
- Discussion of the family’s current financial strategy for paying for college
- Collection of required information
- Review the student’s assessment test
- Quick discussion of the 1-to-1 My Career Profile (MCP) training with the student
- Schedule the next meeting
After the family meeting, the student will be armed with the tools necessary to research, evaluate and select colleges that are a good match in fulfilling the family’s objectives.
College Search and Selection
This process is led by Bethany Black, and is largely done via email, the telephone and sometimes instant messaging. Bethany guides the student through the methodology Campus Pathway uses to identify the colleges that match the criteria specified by the student. The online application, My Career Profile (MCP), is used to create the lists and is the primary tool for the student’s research of the schools. Other resources are identified for the student’s use in the process.
Some of the issues covered during this part of the program include:
- Why is the student going to college?
- Goals of the college experience
- Academic aspirations
- Career objectives
- Research and selection of a major
- How to narrow the list steadily down to those designated for application
The College Application Process
As the college selection list is narrowed and the application season approaches, Campus Pathway guides the family through the timelines and deadlines, activities and projects, requirements and deliverables.
Since each school has its own application requirements and process, Campus Pathway provides tools that the student can use to stay on top of the activities for all of the schools. These tools include documents and spreadsheets that can be shared with anxious parents wishing to stay on top of the activities to ensure their completion.
Today’s college applications require additional supporting documents that supplement the written application. Most colleges require the following components:
- Student resume
- Letters of recommendations
While these documents must be written by the student, Campus Pathway has considerable experience in the creation and use of these supporting elements. We point the student to the resources available to write them with creativity, substance and impact. We often critique the documents prior to their use by the student, ensuring that the output represents the very best effort possible.
Analyzing the Financial Alternatives
In parallel with the college selection process, Campus Pathway works with the parents to understand the financial condition for paying for the portion of college that is the responsibility of the family. This process is headed by Jeffrey Morrison.
This analysis begins with collecting the pertinent information that makes up the family’s financial profile. A standard set of forms is used to collect the information, and an Excel workbook is the tool to assemble and work with the data. The information is then used to form alternative action plans for paying for college expenses.
Formulating a Financial Strategy
With the family’s financial condition fully understood, a strategy is formed to minimize the family’s out-of-pocket expenses and pay for that which is required in the best way possible. The strategy focuses on the following elements for cost containment:
- Need-based financial aid
- Merit-based financial aid
- Tax strategies
- Cash flow analysis
The financial strategy is established over a series of 4 to 5 meetings with the parents to fully understand the family’s financial condition and objectives, to carefully review the alternatives available and to make sound, sensible decisions.
Periodic Review of the Plan’s Execution
It is not enough to create a plan and walk away. Plans must be reviewed as performance results emerge. Since this relationship with Campus Pathway is a long-term one, plans may have to be modified for changing circumstances over time. Consequently, the parents are contacted every quarter to check in on the performance relative to the plan and to discuss its congruence to the family’s goals.
Financial Aid Planning and Application Processing Each Year
The student’s “base year” for financial aid applications is the calendar year that spans their late junior and early senior years of high school. That is the year when the financial decisions are critical to achieving the maximum aid possible in our system. Decisions are required on asset repositioning to achieve the best possible financial strategies. At the end of that calendar year, usually in January of the students’ senior year, Campus Pathway files the necessary financial aid forms for the family.
The same financial aid forms must be filed each year after the student’s base year. Campus Pathway is there with the family to provide counsel on financial decisions that keep the family in position to get as much financial aid as possible. And while the planning is the key benefit to the family, Campus Pathway professionals will also file the necessary forms for the financial aid process each year that the child is in college seeking their undergraduate degree.
Ongoing Financial Advisory Services to Improve Retirement Prospects
Since the college investment that families make in their children’s future comes when the parents are in their mid-to-late 40s and the size of the investment is so large, ongoing planning is necessary to strengthen retirement prospects. Too often, college expenses are paid with funds that the parents need to achieve ordinary retirement goals. Campus Pathway stands with the parents through the college years and beyond to assist in the planning and preparation for achieving the family’s critical retirement goals.
Extending the Relationship to Assist the Student after Graduation
Developing good financial discipline during and right after college is the key to achieving a high quality of life. Since many families will have turned to student loans to pay for the current college expenses, restructuring those loans and setting up the financial discipline to handle them properly is very important. With the type of relationship Campus Pathway strives for in working with the families, the student can count on continuous professional services for as long as they wish. This helps ensure that when they are ready to address their own financial objectives, they will have the knowledge, experience, and professional expertise to seek even better results for themselves.