One year ago, Anika Madden and I started planning to launch our podcast and five months ago, Anika and I launched the “Your College-Bound Kid” podcast. It has been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. People often ask, why did you do it? Well, from one perspective, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It is a 12-hour a week commitment and instead of getting paid, we pay for a producer, an RSS service, two podcast software companies, an image editor, a web developer, and a marketer.

When I started School Match 4U, my private college coaching company, I wanted us to help everyone, irrespective of whether they could pay. Back in 2011 I worked with an associate to find a sliding scale for families of lower means so they could afford quality college coaching. We just couldn’t come up with a method of determining a fair price for families of lower means that was truly a reflection of what they could pay. We also have bills and we couldn’t find a sliding scale metric that would be fair to us.

The podcast is exhilarating because everything we share is free. There is just great ecstasy in knowing that we are bridging the knowledge gap and the opportunity gap and we are not charging one penny for the information. All you need is a website or a cell phone. As the Bible says, it really is more blessed to give than to receive.

Recently, we spent a lot of time improving our website so that you as a student, counselor, or parent can micro target, to the second, where the information that answers your questions can be found.

Below you will find a link that you can put in your address bar and get answers to your questions. You see the exact second where each discussion can be found.

Episode 23

In the News (2:40): We review an article from the Huffington Post by Ann Brenoff that talks about the sneaky ways that colleges try to sell students health insurance.

This week’s book discussion (10:40) of Chapter 23 of 171 Answers to the Most-Asked College Admissions Questions : Mark shares tools that help your child determine what schools are strong in their intended major.

This week’s question (18:55): A listener asks for advice to help her with families who are experiencing high levels of stress around college applications and admissions.

Mark’s interview continues with college expert Brandi Smith (30:45): She shares tips on how to work more effectively with your high school counselor.

Episode 22

In the News (2:30): We talk about how student discipline infractions impact college admission decisions.

This week’s book discussion (15:00) of Chapter 22 of 171 Answers: Mark shares a tool that will help you to evaluate what the return on your investment will be for each college on your list.

This week’s question (21:00): A listener asks if having several teacher recommendations will increase a student’s chance of college acceptance.

Mark’s interview with college admission officer and school counselor Brandi Smith (28:50): Brandi shares many inside tips to help students work more effectively with their school/college counselor.

Episode 21

In the News (2:10): We talk about a breaking announcement made by the University of Chicago and their transition to being a test-optional institution.

This week’s book discussion (17:28) of Chapter 21 of 171 Answers: We discuss how to self-assess how much you can afford to pay for college before you begin your college visits.

This week’s question (21:50): Merit money and the writing section of the SAT.

Mark’s interview with Ron Smith of Howard University (31:26): Ron Smith is interviewed about Howard’s Bison STEM Scholars program.

Episode 20

In the News (2:02): We discuss an article that views letters of recommendation as an unfair part of the college admissions process.

This week’s book discussion (12:20) of Chapter 20 of 171 Answers: We revisit the subject of campus visits.

This week’s question (22:02): Alexandra, from New York, asks when her son should start the college process.

Mark’s interview with Margarita Martinez of Martinez Editing (31:18): Ms. Martinez shares why it’s critical for kids to develop their writing skills.

Episode 19

In the News (1:48): We’ll discuss how schools are manipulating US News & World Report’s college rankings.

This week’s book discussion (11:15) of Chapter 19 of 171 Answers: We look at how you can and should use reviews from current college students and alumni of the colleges you are interested in to learn more about the culture and environment of each college

This week’s question (19:22): Hilary, from Philadelphia, asks about several kids she knows who want to take a gap year. If they apply and are accepted to a college, and they delay their admission for a year, will they lose their financial aid offers?

Mark’s interview with Carol Conchar of George Washington University (25:37): They talk about the admissions process for theater majors

Episode 18

In the News (1:59): We discuss an article that reviews studies that show students at test-optional schools are achieving academic success. The April 27, 2018, article is entitled, “Making the Case for Test-Optional.”

This week’s book discussion (12:03) of Chapter 18 of 171 Answers: We look at a new and creative way for students to find colleges.

This week’s question (21:01): Ms. Thomas, in Raleigh, North Carolina, wants to know the purpose of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Mark’s interview with Deb Shaver, Dean of Admissions at Smith College (26:11): Mark and Deb discuss the value of women’s colleges.

Episode 17

In the News (3:02): 14 Summer Activities to boost your kid’s college application.

This week’s book discussion (9:53) of Chapter 17 of 171 Answers: We discuss how to do research on the school’s website to determine whether a college should remain on your college list.

This week’s question (18:09): Janean, in Powder Springs, Georgia, asks whether her son should take the SAT or the ACT with writing.

Mark’s interview with Lauren Stenson, (25:12): A recent high school graduate, Lauren speaks directly to students and parents by sharing what she did well and what she did wrong in the college process.

Episode 16

In the News (1:51): We discuss an article that outlines 6 ways that your kid should be working with his or her college counselor.

This week’s book discussion (9:55) of Chapter 16 of 171 Answers: We discuss multiple factors that influence how much a student is going to like a particular college.

This week’s question (18:38): We cover bonus content from our last few episodes. Mark explains what a “challenge school” is. Mark shares another advantage to the college of admitting students in the spring.

Mark’s interviews with Cassandra Stark of Collegegreenlight.com (26:47): Cassandra shares a wonderful overview of how Collegegreenlight.com helps underrepresented and under-resourced students in the college process.

Episode 15

In the News (2:00): We discuss an article that talks about a creative strategy that some college applicants are using to increase their chances of acceptance.

This week’s book discussion (11:23) of Chapter 15 of 171 Answers: We discuss how you can know if a school is affordable before you add it to your college list.

This week’s question (20:38): A mom wants to know if she should not bother to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if she is not going to qualify for any financial aid.

Mark’s interview (part 2) with Howard Rittenhouse (27:31): An Academy Admissions Partner for the Coast Guard Academy, Howard discusses how attending the academy can allow your kid to go to college for free, get paid to go, and graduate with a guaranteed quality job.

Episode 14

In the News (2:15): We review an article found in US News & World Report that talks about the growing trend among colleges and universities offering second-semester admissions to applicants.

In this week’s book discussion (11:00) of Chapter 14 of 171 Answers: We discuss why it is important to have financial match schools at various levels of selectivity on your college list.

This week’s question (18:11): Nicky, in Alexandria, Virginia, wants to know what advice Mark has to help her manage or reduce her $140,000 in Parent PLUS loans.

Mark’s special interview with Howard Rittenhouse (31:41): An Academy Admissions Partner for the Coast Guard Academy, Howard shares how attending the Academy can allow your kid to go to college for free, get paid to go, and graduate with a guaranteed job.

Episode 13

In the News (1:44): We have a robust discussion about Brennan Barnard’s (college counselor and prolific writer) article, “Why so Many College Students Decide to Transfer,” that appeared in the Washington Post on January 17, 2017.

This week’s book discussion (15:50) of Chapter 13 of 171 Answers: We discuss the range, or types of schools, that should be on your kid’s college list.

This week’s question (33:15): A college counselor in suburban Atlanta wants to know why Mark seems very cynical about the Parent PLUS loans.

Episode 12

In the News (2:01): We discuss an article that provides a compelling case for the need of colleges to overhaul how they evaluate student merit.

This week’s book discussion (16:47) of Chapter 12 of 171 Answers: We discuss how many colleges a student should apply to.

This week’s question (30:00): Bonus content that builds on discussions that we had in our last five episodes. We discuss living on campus; trying to motivate a kid who is reluctant to start the college process; getting off the waitlist; and helping a student to relieve stress in the college process.

Episode 11

In the News (2:23): We discuss the issues and concerns around high school grades getting higher and higher.

This week’s book discussion (13:58) of Chapter 11 of 171 Answers: We discuss the two primary ways that colleges evaluate your kid’s application.

This week’s question (29:33): A dad wants to know how to relieve stress during the college process for kids and parents.

Episode 10

In the News (2:07): We review the pros and cons of borrowing from your 401k retirement plan to pay your kid’s college tuition.

This week’s book discussion (10:28) of Chapter 10 of 171 Answers: We have a necessary conversation about parents who try to re-live their own lives through their kids in the college process.

This week’s question (17:41): Angela asks for specific tips about what she can do to increase her child’s chances of getting off a waitlist.

Episode 9

In the News (1:50): Student advocacy groups are pushing to eliminate a question on the FAFSA application that is causing students each year to lose access to federal funding because of a drug- related conviction and that disproportionately affects students of color.

In this week’s book discussion (8:52) of Chapter 9 of 171 Answers: Mark brings a forward-thinking perspective by highlighting the projection of employment experts.

This week’s question (17:39): A college counselor from Danville, Virginia seeks Mark’s advice about what she should be telling her students is the maximum amount of undergraduate college debt a student should acquire.

Mark’s first interview with Stephanie Espy (26:29): Stephanie is a leading test prep and STEM expert, an author, speaker, and an entrepreneur.

Episode 8

In the News (1:45): A university’s controversial move caused hundreds of students to get their offers revoked—targeting those that were most vulnerable in their applications.

This week’s book discussion (14:47) of Chapter 8 of 171 Answers: We discuss how students can you use shadow days and internships to confirm areas of interest.

This week’s question (21:04): Dawn, in Ohio, wants to know what she can do to help her daughter to understand that she needs to get started with the college process now.

Episode 7

In the News (1:34): Students should know the pros and cons of living both on and off campus.

This week’s book discussion (14:21) of Chapter 7 of 171 Answers: We discuss how the internet can help students to understand what they are going to need to do to achieve their career objectives.

This week’s question (24:33): Vivienne, in College Park, GA, wants to know if merit- and need-based aid will be possible for a friend of hers who lives in New York and makes $100,000 a year.