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Tom Talks College

Author: Tom Kleese (Owner of OnCampus College Planning)

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I’m Tom Kleese, founder of OnCampus College Planning, and my job is to help your family take positive steps on the journey to an incredible college experience.
20 Episodes
Just back from my Pacific Northwest Expedition, I have 8 takeaways: time-tested, Tom-tested pro tips for better campus visits and college exploration. Your backup may be a better fit than your top choice.A sunny day on campus is just one sunny day. Comparisons = connections Listen to what they’re saying. Get off campus. Every campus visit is about being a college student. Spend some time now where you’ll spend a lot of time later. Visit early. Visit often.&n...
It's been a minute since you've heard from me, and even longer since I've visited any new campuses. Time to kill two birds with one stone on a three-day, eleven college tour of Washington and Oregon. View my itinerary and campus visit wish list in the accompanying blog.
Here's the skinny: Why and how much essays matterEssay myths, misconceptions and harmful half-truthsThe real reasons colleges make you write essaysTwo primary types of essays Two quick tips for every writer
When a Mom asks for your help, you better deliver. Here's something parents can share with stressed, panicky students pondering seriously scary college and life decisions.  
Part 3 of our College + Money series digs into a tool you can find on (almost) any college website called a Net Price Calculator. The best versions help you estimate merit and need-based aid, and I'll show you how to spot the good, the bad, and the potentially game-changing ones. As with parts 1 and 2, you can access key information on our blog and get an added bonus of "why my fictitious third son is going to Vanderbilt on a sweet deal".
Merit aid is the best tool you have to reduce the cost of college, and it expands options you didn't know existed. It's also one of the least understood pieces of the college admissions process, so here's a quick introduction into what it is, where to find it, and how to lower costs by turning in your homework. This is part 2 of a 3-part series on College + Money and just like episode 16 "College Costs Simplified", you'll find a condensed version with all links and graphics on our blog.&...
The cost of college can be not only overwhelming, but confusing if you're looking at incomplete data or misunderstanding key components. In this episode you'll learn how to simplify costs and use a valuable 15/35/45 tool for better comparisons. Here's a condensed version in blog form with easy to follow numbers and clear graphics. Links to the three universities referenced in the second half of this episode are included for your convenience. AlabamaMichiganGonzaga
Hey, sophomores! You're now halfway between the day you began high school and the time when you'll apply to college. (Really?) Let's do some math. You'll apply after junior year - that's six semesters - and you're now done with three. (Whoa.) To hear what matters most to colleges and learn three things you can do now to prepare. 
Here are four quick stories about three students and one family all doing amazing things. 
Kickstart the college conversation in one hour with an easy to follow, proven plan that's low risk, high fun, and includes a meal on a college campus. Everybody wins! For you note-takers out there, here are the four required components: Share a part of your story.Ease into some low risk questions. Take a walk and talk about what you see. Share a meal on campus. And stick around until the end for a chance to win some college gear.
Four-year curriculum plans are a simple but powerful tool found on every college website. They're a road map of required and elective courses, and can be used not just to explore majors but make apples-to-apples comparison between colleges. Learn how to find this valuable resource and then put it to good use. Email me at for notes with easy to follow examples and tips. 
Just back from 31 campus visits in 9 states over 11 days and covering 3300 miles, here are 3 big takeaways to help your family when it's time to visit campuses (HINT: Visit early and visit often!), and to find the right colleges.
I'm heading out to visit 33 colleges in 9 states in 11 days. Here's why I'm doing this and how it will help your family. Here's the list...Oberlin, Case Western, RIT, Rochester, Syracuse, Cornell, Hartwick, SUNY Oneonta, RPI, Middlebury, Vermont, Dartmouth, BC, BU, Berklee College of Music, Northeastern, Wentworth, Worcester Polytechnic, Trinity, Wesleyan, Fordham, Rutgers, Naval Academy, Johns Hopkins, Goucher, Swarthmore, Villanova, Lehigh, Lafayette, Penn State, Duquesne, Pitt and Carnegie...
Here are four good reasons you may choose to invest time, effort and resources into raising your ACT score, and why "the ACT doesn't count anymore" myth is false.
Learn how to have an empowering conversation with your teen about the costs of college using "models of shared responsibility" that are easy to understand and help families move forward in their search for better University of You options.
Episode 6 - FAFSA in 5

Episode 6 - FAFSA in 5


Here's a brief overview of the FAFSA with some helpful tips and a few words of encouragement for hesitant first-timers from a college planner who is also a parent (and also doesn't like to fill out the FAFSA...but he does). Download our FAFSA in a Nutshell PDF for quick reference when you begin the process.
With one month remaining before most Early Application deadlines, Tom helps seniors take small steps in the college application process while also carving out critical time to pause, adjust and be courageous as they build their University of You college list. 
What exactly is a 'safety school' and why is it so important for your college list? How should I categorize my list of college options? We're tackling these questions and more in this week's episode of the OnCampus Podcast as we explore the best ways to build a solid college list.
Our first 'real' episode of the OnCampus College Planning Podcast is out now! In this episode, Tom takes a deep dive into how to turn the college search process, which many people dread, fear and avoid, into a fun (yes, FUN) student-parent journey.
Sometimes a "no" from a college means more than you might think, and it's not just about looking for other options -- although scanning the horizon a bit more is always good practice. Students also get to say "no", but the best time to do so is NOT right now. If you or your student just heard "no", or if you live in fear of that happening one day, give this a listen. 
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