Review Crew: College Common Sense

I’ll readily admit I haven’t thought much about college.  Sure, I have a feeling it’s in our future but I haven’t done much to prepare.  It seems so far away………..but it’s never too early to start thinking about paying for it!  Yikes!

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College Common Sense was created by a Financial Aid Consultant with 10 years of experience in order to help parents and students understand the college admission process, apply for financial aid, and find grants and scholarships.

The information is geared toward students in elementary to high school to encourage them to become independent and responsible in applying for financial aid and understanding each step of the process.  The program takes a student through a step-by-step process to understand the cost of attending college and then find financial aid to defray those costs. 

What is included?
Going to College and Paying for It Online Video Workbook is a series of videos with accompanying workbook.  The workbook is a collection of PDF files that correspond to the videos and walk you through the process of understanding and applying for financial aid.

The videos and printable workbook are $25.00 for one year of access.  Or you can purchase the DVD’s and workbook for $50.00 + $5.00 shipping.

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There are six videos and each is about 20 minutes in length.

Video 1 – The Big Picture
Video 2 – How Financial Aid Works
Video 3 – All About the Free Money
Video 4 – The System that Works
Video 5 – You in the Process
Video 6 – Pull It All Together

The site also offers a free newsletter of weekly lessons to help the student prepare to apply for financial aid and explore college options.  The lessons are broken down by age group: elementary, middle school, freshman-junior, and senior.

How did we use this product?
I had planned to watch some of the videos with Curly in order to get her excited about the future college experience.  She wasn’t very interested and was overwhelmed by the information.  So, I made Ladybug and Punkin my video watching buddies.  They snuggled up with me while we watched.

 
I watched each of the videos and read through the accompanying workbook information.  Much of the activities in the workbooks are geared for older students, so we didn’t do many of the activities (such as preparing for a college visit or filling out the FAFSA).

Instead, I used the information I learned to discuss with my husband and to start thinking about the college expenses in our future.  I also began talking with Curly about college.  We had some great discussions about what college is, what it is like, what degrees are, how you choose a major, how you choose a college, and the ever exciting question of what she wanted to be when she grew up.

The program encourages you to make a binder to keep the workbook information.  For younger students, you are directed to create an All About Me notebook for them to write down anything about themselves.  I decided that this was the best step for Curly at this point.  She started working on her notebook:

9:46 AM – a teacher
 
10:13 AM – a baker

10:34 AM – a writer

10:53 AM – an artist

Clearly, we have a lot of thinking to do about her future plans and I have a feeling that she’ll explore many many options before college time.  We’ll keep her notebook and I’ll try to remember to have monthly discussions with her about what she aspires to do someday.  I’m also going to make an effort to discuss college more frequently and explore her options.  I want her to be familiar with the process.

I filed away the rest of the program information to keep for future reference.

What didn’t we like?
The videos are clips of the creator talking about the process or power point slides with information.  I can’t say they are super exciting.  They are very straight forward with lots and lots of information.  They might be a little on the boring side for some students and they can be overwhelming with the amount of information included.  I had to watch some of the videos multiple times before I felt like I had a good handle on the information being presented.

While the program is marketed toward kids of all ages, I found the program less useful for us as parents of early elementary kids.  Right now, we’re learning to read and write and add.  The college experience is in the distant future.  It’s a good idea for us as parents to keep college in the back of our minds and be familiar with the admissions process, but that process could change in many ways by the time we are ready for our children to start applying.  There are also fewer activities for younger kids to do to prepare.

One of the activities in the program was to search for scholarships.  While it is true that there are scholarships even for very young children, they are extremely hard to find.  I spent quite some time reading through the available options and never found a scholarship that applied to our children.  The majority of available scholarships were for middle school aged children and above.

What did we like?
The program contains a wealth of information about the college financial aid process.  I learned so, so much!  The information is presented in a very straightforward way and it is explained well in the accompanying workbook.  The financial aid process is broken down into steps and the workbook gives you assignments in order to apply for aid.  It makes the process understandable and doable.

I liked how the program was meant to include older students, educating them about the process and teaching them to be responsible for understanding and applying for aid.  I think it’s important for students at this age to be independent and take the responsibility for their education.

What did we think overall?
I think the information contained within the program is extremely valuable.  I think parents of older middle school aged children should start educating themselves about the process and once a child is in highschool I think he or she should also become familiar with the information.  I don’t think our family is quite ready for this information as there is no “next step” for us other than to wait until our children are a little older.  But if you and your highschooler are looking at college in the near future, I recommend working through the program to help you grasp financial aid and make college more affordable.  I know that I’ll be so appreciative of this resource as my children are ready to explore college options.

See what the other Crew Bloggers had to say about College Common Sense!

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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