Hi everyone! My name is Wendy Nelson. I am a wife and mother of 3 girls. I am an IT manager by trade with a background in business analysis and project management, so my natural tendencies are to analyze and organize everything! This proved to be very helpful during the college search process.
We are done with the college search process at my house! My three girls had 3 very different college search processes, but all were quite successful:
- Daughter #1 – Received a half-tuition scholarship to a highly ranked regional university with a terrific Honors College. Went on to receive a full tuition scholarship to get her Master’s degree and a graduate assistant stipend to cover her living expenses. She also benefited from private scholarships awarded Senior year of high school and during college (all local scholarships).
- Daughter #2 – Chose our very highly ranked state flagship university. While she did not receive any of the scarce merit aid available through this school, she took a full credit load every semester plus some extra summer and winter term classes to be able to graduate in three years. She also benefited from private scholarships awarded Senior year of high school and during college (all local scholarships). She was able to start her career a year earlier than most of her peers and saved us a whole year of tuition, room and board.
- Daughter #3 – Received a full-ride athletic scholarship to play Division 1 volleyball.
I started My Kid’s College Choice in 2012, realizing that I could help other parents embarking on the college search process by sharing all of my lessons learned.
My main focus is helping other families “caught in the middle”, meaning they make too much money to qualify for significant (if any) need-based aid, but don’t have the means to pay sticker price for college.
My Core Beliefs About the College Search Process
- I believe that the college search process can be very overwhelming for both parents and students! There is so much information out there and so many different opinions. It’s hard to know where to turn for advice, what sources to trust, what blogs to follow. My methodology is to break everything down to an easy to follow process and provide data and tools in easy-to-use formats.
- I believe that a debt-free college education is possible for most students. It may take some sacrifices on the part of your family finances and your student’s expectations, but it is possible.
- I believe that you need to assess overall “value” against pure cost of a school. In some cases, the lowest cost option may not provide the best overall value for your student.
- I believe in some cases it may be a better option to incur a small amount of debt to send your student to a school that will set them up for long-term success. Just make sure that debt is manageable, that you have a plan to pay it off quickly and it doesn’t become a burden for you or your student.
- I believe that it’s important to be transparent with your kids about what you can afford to contribute towards college and what you expect them to contribute.
- I believe that parents should take the lead in identifying affordable college options before their student falls in love with a school they can’t afford. This is not dictating to your student where they can apply, but instead providing a realistic pool of colleges for them to explore further and build their college list from. This is the belief that the Upside Down College Search started from.
- I believe that outside of a low sticker price to start with, merit scholarships offered directly by colleges are the #1 way for college search families “caught in the middle” to afford college and that the best scholarships will probably come from a school you and your student have never considered. That’s why I created the Full Scholarship List spreadsheet and the Merit Scholarship List website to help you find the colleges that will offer your student the best merit scholarships.
Helping families through the college search process brings me so much satisfaction. I have been doing this for over six years now and I love hearing the success stories from families at the end of each college application season!
If you have specific questions or success stories to share, please contact me.