How To Approach College Admissions After the Scandal

My Ideal College shares how to approach college admissions after the scandal.

It’s been a week since the college admissions scandal first made the news. When I first heard about it, I didn’t want to believe it. I thought something can’t be right. I couldn’t imagine actresses like Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin would bribe and cheat to get their kids into college.

Then I heard about the recordings and what was documented from them.  I realized this was true. Was I shocked this happened? No, but typically parents would give a large donation to a college to ensure their child’s admittance to a specific college. While technically it’s legal, it’s still not ethically right to do. But as I have learned college is a business, and they need to make money.

Now more in-depth investigations start, lawsuits abound, and parents and high school kids are left wondering what do we do now. Most likely there will be some changes made to the college admissions process.

Parents, I know some of you have your heart set on your child going to your alma mater or another school because of its name. But guess what? It’s not about what you want, it’s what’s best for your child.

One of my favorite articles to come out of this scandal is from NPR, “Does it Matter Where You Go to College?” In the article, they site Gallup research that found college selectivity did not correlate at all with later satisfaction in work or fulfillment in life. As NPR reported in 2014, “Those percentages did not vary based on whether the grads went to a fancy name-brand school or a regional state college, one of the top 100 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings or one of the bottom 100.”

Forcing your child into a path that is not their own will only lead to anxiety, frustration, dropping out, and possibly debt. College is stressful enough without the pressure from their parents. You can check out my article about college stress here.

In my interview last fall with a Linda Dennis, a college application specialist, she shared that kids who declare a major in the application process and show they have already taken steps towards that career can have an advantage. It shows they are serious about that career. In light of the scandal, I think this will play a more significant role in the college admissions process. Colleges will be paying closer attention to why the child wants to attend their school. It’s transitioning to more than just the overall reputation of the school but how the specific major will help them towards a career.

Some kids determine from an early age what their career path will be and they go for it. Most kids have no idea what they want to do. You may be thinking, how can a teenager determine what career they want, since their interests change so much at this time? This is not true. In each of us, there are inherent traits and interests that are well formed by high school age. It may seem the child’s interests change because they can only identify those interests through their experiences. A good career assessment can help identify those traits that kids may not necessarily be aware they have or able to process those traits into actual jobs.

What are your thoughts on the college admissions scandal? How has it changed your thinking about your child’s future? Tell us in the comments below.

How to Encourage Your Child’s Heart Without College Debt

A mom posted this question in a Facebook group. “How do you encourage your kids to follow their heart but not into debt?!”

It’s a tough question. On one side, we want to be encouraging and tell our kids to live their dreams. On the other hand, we also envision them being able to afford a house, raise a family, and retire at a decent age. I know I would have a hard time seeing my child struggle in making a living.  

Here are some of the many comments the mom received from her Facebook post:

“It’s impossible.”

“I tell my kids, I don’t care what they do, but they have to be able to support themselves.”

“Passion doesn’t pay the bills.”

“Be very clear about the debt – not only will it impact his/her ability to buy a home in the future, but it also impacts his/her ability to retire. Ask if it’s worth working another five or more years when they are in their 60’s. Because the money they’ll be spending to pay back debt in their 20s and 30s would be money, they could have put towards retirement.”

“Debt isn’t evil. Debt with a plan is the only way some of our kids will get a college degree.”

A parent recently shared with me that she wished someone had coached her before her kids went to college. The parent ended up derailing their own retirement dreams to help out their child in college debt. The child lived at home for years to help offset the debt.

Here is how you can help your child balance their career dream and the financial impact it may have:

  1. Research, research, research the career. Too many kids think they want a particular job then a year or two after college they realize they hate it and don’t want it as a career
  2. Have them find out the annual salaries for the career they want. ONET Online is an excellent resource for this.
  3. Understand the projected growth for the career. Will there be more or fewer jobs in the future? Where are these jobs located?
  4. Determine where they can get the education and figure out the costs – room, board, meal plans, books, etc.

Once your child completes these steps they can then better determine if they still want to pursue their dream career.  Maybe they are willing to incur the debt and will set a clear plan of how they will pay it off.  One parent on Facebook suggested that kids Listen to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover or Chris Hogan’s Everyday Millionaire.

This is why it’s essential to help your child determine their career choices in sophomore and junior years of high school. You need the time to create a clear financial plan to get them to their ideal college. I suggest you work with a college financial planner that can help you with economic aspects like merit aid and scholarships.

What are your thoughts or ideas on this topic? Tell us in the comments below.

Contact me if you want to make sure your child is making the right career choice. I utilize a career assessment that matches a person’s interest directly to specific jobs. The jobs have been thoroughly researched on what it takes to be successful and what could derail success. Email me at

My Child’s Journey – The How and Why of His Career Results

The past few weeks, I have been sharing my child’s journey to find his ideal college. I started with what his dad and I thought would be jobs he might find enjoyable and fulfilling. I also listened carefully to his ideas. Next, I had him take the Harrison Assessment. He is 16 and this is his first time taking an assessment like this.  Certainly, he is still growing and changing, but the results were consistent enough to process and produce a valid report.  

The difference between what careers we thought would be a good fit and the assessment results.

The image here shows what careers we thought might fit him before the assessment and then what the assessment told us. Wow, what a difference, right? Something with computers and music seem to be the closest match. However, I don’t think Donnie or I would have considered, on our own, these potential careers for him.         

Let’s look deeper at why the assessment picked these careers for Donnie and why the others would not have been a good fit. In my last blog, I mentioned that research shows if your job contains at least 75% of what you naturally like to do, you will be THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE SUCCESSFUL in that job or career. That is what this career assessment, Harrison Assessments, measures – career enjoyment and behavioral preferences based on enjoyment.

Teacher and Chef were rated at below 20% enjoyment. One of the main reasons is because while Donnie is good with kids and likes cooking, he has no desire to be around kids or food for 40 plus hours a week. Being around kids and food are essential factors to being successful in those roles.

Something with computers is a very broad career interest. There are many careers in sales, quality assurance, testing, fixing, etc. Donnie mentioned he would be interested in majoring in computer science and doing the same type of work his dad does, which is a Computer Support Specialist. Donnie scored an overall enjoyment score of 67.2%, while being a Sound Equipment Technician had an overall enjoyment score of 81.1%. Both require an enjoyment of computers, but what makes the difference in scores? It’s the additional traits that are essential to being successful in the role.

Many career assessments are just interest based. This means they only focus on what the person likes to do. They only ask questions like, “check the activities that describe what you like to do.” That is just one piece of the puzzle in deciding the best job for your child. The other very important piece is traits needed for that career. Traits are comprised of personality, attitude, motivation, work values, team vs. autonomous work, communication, authority expectations, and interpersonal skills.

What are some of the essential traits for a Computer Support Specialist and a Sound Equipment Technician?

As you can see in the image, the essential traits for each role are fairly different. The only overlaps are Analytical and Takes Initiative. How do we know these are essential traits for these roles? Because the key criteria for each role is based on research Harrison has done over the past 30 years on what leads to success in hundreds of different jobs.  Each role has been researched by high, mid, and low performers in those roles.

Now that we have pinpointed some careers for Donnie, the next step is to research the outlook for this career, salary, and where he would find this type of work. Would he have to move somewhere he doesn’t want to live? All of these are deciding factors in choosing a career.

Would you like to find out which careers would give your child the most enjoyment?  Contact us to learn more at