Our College-Prep Resource Feature series gives parents and students an opportunity to learn about a valuable resource available to them on their college-bound journey. Once or twice a month, we choose a new resource that we have found valuable. Many of the resources we feature are free, while others cost – we always try to include some kind of discount when we share these type of resources! The information in this college prep resource feature was provided by  Lauren Gaggioli, Founder of Higher Scores Test Prep & Host of The College Checklist Podcast. Thank you, Lauren! DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase one of the products linked, I’ll receive a small commission. You will NOT be charged any additional fees if purchasing through an affiliate link. 

Resource: The College Checklist Podcast   

What’s the purpose of The College Checklist Podcast? 

The goal of The College Checklist Podcast is to share excellent, free advice about getting into college, paying for college, and succeeding in college and career from a multitude of expert sources.

What’s the story behind The College Checklist Podcast?

As a test prep tutor I found that I was working with students who had access to incredible college admissions resources. They attended excellent schools with remarkably low student to counselor ratios. Their families had hired expensive private counselors to supplement their already ample in-school guidance. Many also had older siblings who had recently and successfully gone through the college admissions process.

And, for all of those amazing resources and experiences at their disposal, I was being asked college admissions questions during ACT or SAT tutoring sessions. The fear of doing something wrong on the path to college is something that affects most college-bound families. It’s pervasive and causes so much stress – even when your family has the resources to hire expensive outside help.

When I started Higher Scores Test Prep, the goal was to make my premium test prep available at a more affordable price by going online. In addition to making quality test prep more affordable for families, I also wanted to ensure that college-bound families weren’t able to pay for access to incredible college resources would have a trusted, free resource to guide them.

Thus, The College Checklist was born!

How does it work?

If you already listen to podcasts, it’s as easy as queuing up another show in your app and pushing play.

If you’re new to podcasts, think of them as Netflix for radio. It’s on-demand audio that you can take to the gym, on the go, or listen to from your computer.

To get started, head to CollegeChecklistPodcast.com and download the episode guide. In the guide, I have all of the episodes I’ve recorded so far (nearly 100!) listed and broken down by topic so you can jump to a subject you’re most interested in. Or, if you prefer, you can head to episode 1 and listen all the way through. It’s totally up to you!

Why is listening to The College Checklist Podcast so important?

There is a lot of information about college admissions and financial aid available on the internet, but most of it is in written form. That means you have to carve out time to give it your full, undivided attention – something that’s really hard to do in our already busy lives.

With the College Checklist Podcast, it’s powerful to hear a wide array of college experts speak on the subject of college admissions in audio form because you’re getting a more well-rounded view of the process and you can take it on the go.

The podcast allows you to easily turn your gym, car, or kitchen into a classroom – for free! How amazing is that?

What’s the benefit?

I created it with the parents of college-bound students in mind; however, I’ve found a lot of in-school counselors are using it as continuing education for themselves as well as a way to supplement the guidance they give.

For counselors, instead of having to repeat themselves over and over on a given topic in a one-to-one fashion, they can share an episode in an email blast to provide a primer on the subject for all families in their school and then spend their time answering the nuanced questions about the topic.

When should someone start listening to The College Checklist Podcast?

I firmly believe that knowledge is power. Get started ASAP – even if your student is a middle school student.

So much has changed in college admissions even since I applied in 2003. It’s a dynamic process and it’s never too early to get a lay of the land.This is especially important for families who want to pay less for college. There is a lot of free money out there, but taking the long view allows you to maximize your financial opportunities.

What problem does this solve?

While you can learn the information shared on the show in different formats, listening to someone explain the various topics we cover changes the dynamic. Blog posts can be researched and written by a novice; however, you can hear someone’s expertise and sincerity in their voice. It allays fear and helps us internalize the information more which is helpful in this noisy space.

Do you have any tips or tricks to share with families on the college-bound journey?

Before you focus on the how, focus on the why.

There are a lot to-dos on the road to college, but, if students are not connected to why they’re exerting enormous effort to complete those myriad to-dos, motivation will quickly wane.

“I want to go to college” is an incomplete goal. Why do you want to go to college? To what end?

Acceptance to college marks a starting gate, not a finish line. By focusing first on the goals beyond college – fulfilling work, ideal lifestyle, and desired accomplishments – students are able to connect with why they’re going through these pains in the first place. College is a huge investment of time and money. Make sure it’s the right fit for your student before making that investment. If students aren’t leading the charge towards college, it’s time to step back and assess what the long-term goals are.

Anything else we should know about The College Checklist Podcast?

I’d recommend that you get started with one of my favorite episodes – Learn From Our College Search Mistakes (Episode 45). In this episode, my dad joins me and we talk about all the things we’ve learned that we did wrong from our favorite episodes.

It’s a good jumping off point that will eradicate myths and a great sampling of what the show has to offer to help you decide which episode to listen to next!

The College Checklist Podcast College Prep Resource