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Patrice Badami

About Me

Patrice Badami has a Masters in Elementary Education and Special Education. She has advocated for families of special needs children as well as for her own children with special needs.


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Acorn to Tree Family Podcast

Podcast with Kelly MacLean – How to Provide Support and Guidance for Young Adults as They Begin the College Selection Process

Kelly MacLean is the president and founder of Kelly MacLean Achievement Center. Her unique background as a former College Admission Representative as well as a High School Varsity Soccer Coach provided the basis for the company. Kelly repeatedly witnessed high school students making mistakes in their college search: often resulting in missed scholarships, lack of acceptance at their choice schools, or ultimately switching schools/majors. Kelly realized how overwhelming the process is and how costly mistakes can be. Kelly felt there had to be a better way to help students with their unique path and formed College Recruiting Specialists which was rebranded in 2019 at the Kelly MacLean Achievement Center. 

Full Episode Transcript:

Patrice Badami  0:03

Hi, this is Patrice Badami with Acorn to Tree family Podcast. Today I have a guest Kelly McLean and she’s the president and founder of Kelly McLean Achievement Center. Her unique background as a former college admissions representative, as well as a high school varsity soccer coach provided the basis for her company. Kelly repeatedly witnessed high school students making mistakes in their college search, often resulting in Miss scholarships, lack of acceptance to their choice schools or ultimately switching schools or majors. Kelly realized how overwhelming the process is and how costly mistakes can happen. Kelly felt that there that there had to be a better way. To help students and their unique path and to form she formed the college recruiting specialists with her, which was rebranded in 2019 as the Kelly McLean Achievement Center. Kelly McLean Achievement Center focuses on providing information and resources special specific to each student. The goal is to reduce college expenses while finding the best college fit through strategic preparation including major selection and career planning, college selections, subject specific tutoring, AC T and LSAT test prep, high school course selection, study habits, time management, fa FSA prep, admission deadlines, admission essays, scholarships, applications and deadlines. Speaking with and negotiating with coaches, and Li signing day coverage and continuing to work with the students through their freshman year in college to ensure their success in college. I said a lot of things. But honestly, this is all of the items that you actually covered on your website, which is Kelly, hyphen, And all of these items are part and parcel to the whole process. Each step has to be strategically gone through and applied, you have to make sure that you’re very careful. And then you’ll be able to be on your way to the College of your dreams. So here’s Kelly, to give you a little more information.


Kelly MacLean 2:18

Thank you so much, Patrice. I really appreciate being here. And, you know, again, being able to pass this information along to families, because I do know how overwhelming it is. I often get families who say, Gosh, when we applied to college, we hand wrote an application stuck it in an envelope, mailed it off, and we got it. And things have changed substantially, especially since COVID.


Patrice Badami  2:43

Yeah, yeah, I was just gonna say that. Another thing is, is that a lot of people need to understand the other thing I wanted to ask you about Islam. Online learning is another option that people need to really, you know, keep that in mind. I previously had a guest where he talked about college, he represented that the timeline is not the same as in the years past where, for example, every Sunday night at 1159, you have to hand in assignments, it’s flexible, and it’s more realistic. So the deadlines and whatnot are flexible, which is more meaningful for people nowadays, because not everyone can attend in person, brick and mortar facilities. So when should families begin considering the college journey?


Kelly MacLean 3:29

So I tell families the fastest best easiest entry point two, considering the college experience for their child is when they’re on vacation, and the student is in middle school. So if they’re able to drive through college campuses, just start to envision what does it look like? They’re all so different. So that by the time a student is a sophomore in high school, they can at least start to articulate. You know, I didn’t really like that Super City campus. I liked this other campus much better. I don’t want this in my campus, I, you know, the more they’re able to express where they would feel most at home, most relaxed, most able to tackle the challenges ahead of them, the better the better off they’re likely to be. And if we wait until junior year, for them to start making every decision that they need to make you know what type of school let’s go see everything what type of major applications essays, scholarships, that becomes overwhelming. And I think sometimes people feel like, oh, gosh, they’re just kids let them because they don’t have to think about it. But who doesn’t feel better when they’re able to take in information and little bite sized pieces and there’s no rush. So let’s do that for the kids. Let’s let them take in you know sightseeing Colleges, information about colleges let their natural curiosity at that age, kind of expose them to more so that it doesn’t feel like a an overwhelming panic situation junior year of high school.


Patrice Badami 5:13

Yeah, I have to say I relate to what you’re saying, I have two kids who are older and one is younger than I, it makes sense to do it way ahead. And even if you do virtual visits on the computer, that’s at least something. It’s less daunting. But yeah, I did the old school drive up to upstate New York, and we hit like six colleges in the span of like four days. And this is funny, just because of what you just said, we went to one college and she wouldn’t get out of the car. She said, I don’t like this one. I was like, why don’t we? We just drove three hours in one direction. And you don’t want to even Okay, so that’s it. That’s right, let’s go. So we left. So you need to really understand the dynamics, if you’re a person who wants to commute? Are you a person who wants to stay long commute, you got to keep all this stuff in mind. And I think it’s a great idea to start in on a vacation, just go to college in the area. So they can start to compare the dynamics of, you know, a school where they would be a commuter, or they would stay there a city, maybe a school in the city, or maybe not. So yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think that’s a great idea. What’s the best way for students to understand the career paths available to them?


Kelly MacLean 6:31

Which is perfect for them? Yeah, that’s a real challenge. Because our economy, our society has changed so much. But our education system hasn’t. Kids are still taking Math, English science and history. Unfortunately, the old school of thought was along the lines of oh, well, you’re good in math, be an engineer, you’re good in science, maybe be a doctor, that type of thinking about what you’re good at. But what we’ve seen, especially since COVID, I mean, dramatically, people are not as interested in pursuing a career that they’re good at, necessarily. They’re, they want to pursue a career that is going to engage them, that is going to spark their interest that is going to fulfill them and make them feel as though they’re contributing something they’re passionate about. But we don’t ask kids, what they’re passionate about. We don’t even try to help kids start to think along those lines, until they’re getting ready for college. And they express the fact that they really don’t know what they’d like to do. Or once they’re in college following a path. That was kind of the fallback. Because all I’m good at this, yeah, I’ll just do this. And once they’re into it, they’re like, I don’t like this. I don’t think I can spend week after week, day after day doing this. And I know for myself, I feel like when I went to college, my friends went to college, there were you know, two dozen majors, you kind of, okay, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna start out in a crappy job, I’m gonna work my way up. And that was how I was going to be. today. It’s different. Some colleges have as many as 600 majors. They are average for a four year degree is not for years. And families. Yes. And yes. And when families are considering, you know, how do we save money on college? You know, we talk about scholarships, things like that. But the best way to save money on college is to go in with a plan. That is a really well thought out plan. And not just, oh, everyone, I used to like Legos. And I’m good at math. Everyone’s told me to be an engineer, I’ll just do that. I feel like if your child’s talking about engineering, ask them how many different disciplines they can name. Because if they were talking about sports, in their sports person, let’s say they can tell you all lots of information. If they’re making a decision, that’s going to impact their career for the rest of their life. That’s the job but the career path, they should be able to tell you a lot of different facets about it. And if they can’t, it’s really not that well thought out. So helping them by changing the questioning, asking about, you know, what would they like to do throughout the day? Who do they want to help? What world situations would they like to see change? What would keep them interested for eight hours a day? And like, Okay, what does that look like as far as how can you make money off of it? What is their career path? And then you know, resources like the backslash o h is an excellent resource. That’s the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It gives great information. Statistically, job growth projections, median income Um, the education required for different careers as well as the duties tasks that professionals in their career typically do. It is a generalization, not everyone does everything that’s listed on there, and, and so forth. Another great resource is O net on line. And that’s Oh, net And that’s another great resource, again, giving a lot of information. Because it’s so funny, we’ll start discussing careers with students, because we have a proprietary process that we go through with students. And what we find is, I mean, they haven’t heard of half of these careers. So how would they have even known that to look into those majors if they didn’t even know the career existed? And so I think we need to do a much better job of educating students on the future opportunities, so that they can pick the right path to get.


Patrice Badami  10:55

Yeah, I was gonna say, well, while you were speaking, I was thinking of something else that would be helpful. So in order to move on and consider different types of, you know, majors concerning different career paths, what’s what’s adult, it’s actually good for two reasons. It’s important to have extracurriculars that are of significant interest, while they’re in junior high up to high school, even grammar school, right elementary school. For example, if they’re interested in drawing, get them in drawing classes, something that piques their interest, because later on that drawing could lead to graphic design. So if you know what I mean, and for example, I was thinking, just as you were speaking as thinking, in the back of your minds, you have to think about the monetization, how you could take your your passion and do that, maybe someone’s really good in math, but they’re an excellent crochet, or well, maybe they could somehow, you know, do something with that they can open a store, they could do something online. So you have to start with what they’re interested in. And it’ll also help in the college selection process itself. By having significant extracurriculars such as robotics, or, you know, like I said, that painting or graphic design, get your kids doing things, it’s going to help them it’ll actually help them do better in school. Also, it’ll stimulate their brain, it’ll validate that with their interests, and it’ll also beef up their resume for college and their applications. So yeah, that makes a lot of sense, I think.


Kelly MacLean 12:26

Yeah. 100% Yeah. Right. Um, so


Patrice Badami  12:29

I was gonna say, What about how can families reduce their college expenses.


Kelly MacLean 12:34

So again, I think if you can ensure that your child is on a four year path to college, because they are really committed, that’s number one. And I think that one is often dismissed, parents assume it’s only going to be four years and are often shocked, and no one’s going to stop paying that fifth year, because you’re so close to the finish line, you know, everyone feels a must. But other ways, I find that often, students don’t realize how important grades are. The number one factor in scholarships are your grades your past performance. And too often students think, Oh, well, my junior and senior year, I’ll improve my grades. You colleges are making your acceptance decision with just your freshman, sophomore, junior year, and in the state of California, the California state schools only look at front, excuse me sophomore in junior year. So you really have to have solid grades. And, you know, with great inflation across the board and a lot of schools, it becomes that much more competitive. So when you’re looking at schools, if you’re looking at what their middle 50% range is for students grades, the higher you are, the more likely you are to gain scholarship money. So for instance, if their average class has a GPA of 3.6, and your child has a GPA of 4.1, they’re likely to get scholarship money. If the average GPA is a 4.4, and your child has a 4.4, they’re getting nothing. They’re average. So and that’s difficult, because if your child has a 4.4, they’re in the top of their high school class. They’re they’ve excelled, they’ve worked really hard. And you as a parent feel like oh my gosh, my kid should be getting something. But they’re competing with 10s of 1000s of kids from across the country who have similar stats. And so it’s no longer being rewarded by the very selective schools.


Patrice Badami  14:42

Right, and, again, we just mentioned is if they have that, but they also do other extracurriculars that reinforce what their interest is, then that’ll also help make that decision a little bit easier, perhaps for the different colleges, if they if they’re doing their interests. Did in robotics and they took, they had an internship at the local robotics, whatever it is at this company that does robotics. So internships and these extracurriculars in addition to the, the grade grade point average, will make you stand out and look like, you know, you want to stand out as an individual who’s accomplished and who’s serious, because that’s what they want in the colleges. Um, yeah, okay. So yeah, so try to make sure that your kids are very, that they’re focused on what they’re doing. And that’s validated by the extracurriculars they choose that reinforce the desire to learn about that topic.


Kelly MacLean 15:38

There’s also scholarships when they’re participating in extracurriculars that involve service, so volunteer, right, right. And that’s really important. And I feel that oftentimes, that’s an area where, oh, gosh, we don’t have time for it. Because we’ve got these other commitments, sports is a huge commitment for a lot of students. But there’s always time, you know, volunteer work does not have to be every week, at the same time, it can be a sporadic type of volunteering, where maybe you’re just doing a project right now, before the holidays, let’s say, for a food drive for a Christmas meal for you know, something along those lines, it’s still impactful, and students should really look to take advantage of all of those opportunities, where they can make an impact. It also helps when it comes time to writing their college application essays if they did have something that’s unique. Not your typical, everybody did it. Everybody participated in Key Club. But if you have some really unique volunteer activity or initiative that you took to impact others, that’s huge in college applications and scholarships.


Patrice Badami  16:47

That’s another another thing that you can look for is scouting. My daughter’s a brand that she’s a daisy rather. So we’ve had Cub Scouts, and we’ve gone all the way up to high school. While you’re in the process of getting badges, you’re doing service projects, it’s part of the fabric of scouting. So that’s another thing to consider. And that’s only once I’ll actually have a meeting tomorrow night, I’m just saying that’s a very important thing to have. It’s not that big of a commitment, because it’s literally like once a month, and they do special activities also maybe once a month. So that’s something to consider thinking about scouting that might also be helpful to you, in your pursuit. What can I do if my student is struggling with their major selection and wants to switch majors or transfer?


Kelly MacLean 17:36

So one of the things that we prioritize for students is setting up shadows. I, you know, it’s so funny because students have a very, very narrow lens of things because their whole experience has been in high school. So for instance, when we talk about, say, materials engineer, and in the description, it says they write reports, students are like, Oh, I hate writing reports. I don’t, this isn’t the kind of engineering I want to do. And when we explained to them, let’s imagine you came up with a better material for the golf club you’re making, and it has the right kind of flax and stability and whatever else a golf club needs. So you can hit the ball further, and you determine this material is really going to make a key difference. Could you write a report to tell the rest of the department why this material is better? And what how it’s going to improve this golf club? Oh, yeah, sure, I could do that. That’s the type of report they write. But they wouldn’t know that because to them report means English paper. Yeah. And I was. Yeah, I understand that. Right. So you know, a student getting the exposure, being able to speak with someone in the career having well crafted questions for that person. So that they can turn it into a conversation and really find out more. That makes a huge difference. I had a student recently, he was kind of going back and forth. Like should I he was an athlete, he had experienced physical therapy, and maybe physical therapy, kind of also drawn to physician assistant, not sure what direction I’d like to go. We did shadows and both came back and he said, I really think Physician Assistant, can I get another shadow and physician assistant I’d like to confirm. And so we did, we set up another shadow and he did confirm it. But ironically, the reason he steered away from physical therapy was because when he actually spoke with physical therapists, he realized that they’re not as actively involved. In most cases. It’s the patient doing all the work, right. And the PT is taking notes that need to be put into reports, and there’s a lot of additional paperwork. And so he said, Gosh, I didn’t expect that. And that wasn’t what I wanted to do. So it was eye opening for him and a great opportunity to not go down the wrong path.


Patrice Badami  20:06

Right, right. Um, yeah, I was just gonna say because at one time, I was going to be an occupational therapist, and I was assisting the occupational therapist, and he was typing most of the time. So yeah, I remember that. Right. So yeah, that’s good. Do you have that exposure that shadowing and sometimes as you know, there might be internships, the internships, kids are always thinking, they’re always going to be non paid, sometimes they’re paid. So that’s something to consider. So instead of maybe taking a job at the mall, if you do your research, you might be able to find a paid internship where you’ll be learning, beefing up your resume, and you’ll be be able to learn about something that you might consider for the future. And I think that that’s something to definitely look into, because they did that for my son, they found a an internship that was paid. Okay, what are the up and coming careers that people should know about?


Kelly MacLean 21:06 

So many different things, so many different areas. An area that’s really growing quickly, which is shocking to a lot of people is the area of public relations, when you consider public relations is in so many different facets. That is an area where you can go to work for the American Heart Association, so that you’re convincing people to give their dollars there, instead of to another charity. So it can have a very meaningful purpose. Or you could be working for an athlete, an influencer major chain, like Target, and so forth. So a lot of opportunities. There’s a lot of opportunities, obviously, in healthcare, as technology grows, technology within healthcare, cybersecurity, intelligence, a lot of different areas, you know, across a wide range of interest, so a lot of opportunities for students to really dive deeper and explore what they’d like to do.


Patrice Badami  22:14

Yeah, I was just gonna say, just from my personal Oh, you have 10 minutes. And then there we go. All right. So what I was going to quickly say to you is, when it comes to these jobs that are up and coming, be sure one really smart thing to do is go on to some of these jobs search. For example, indeed, go on, you’ll see they want Adobe Creative Suite they want, they all do dream weaver, take a look at the technology that they’re requiring for the future, almost every graphic design, they want Adobe Creative Suite Canva is another good start, try Canva as a they have, there’s a free version, and you can start learning what graphic design is. But check out some of the jobs out there and see what they’re asking for. And realize that nowadays, as an as a beginning, a brand new person working for the company or even an intern, there’s a tremendous amount of requirements that they want you to fulfill. There’s a lot of responsibilities a lot more honestly, than when I remember an editorial assistant when I did publishing years ago, very different from now. Now they there’s a lot of hats you’d have to wear. So really take a look at that. Um, what else I was going to say is, let’s see. How can we help children discover their passion and set them up for success in the current economy? I think we kind of touched on that actually. We talked about you know, have them really tap into what they’re interested in, seek out internships and or jobs that might promote what they’re interested in, give them exposure to it. Job shadowing job coaching is another thing. We talked about extracurricular activities and how they’re important, and how there are what about sports? Scholarships, what’s your take on that?


Kelly MacLean 24:03

So sports scholarships. So division one football and basketball are fully funded, meaning your child can get a full ride with a division one football or basketball scholarship. Outside of that they are not getting a full ride. They may combine academic and athletic to come closer to maybe full tuition. But the reality is, is only 7% of college athletes are scholarship athletes, and 70% of high school students participate in sports. So you can see there’s not a lot of opportunity to eat. If you’re going to prioritize. Do I pay for tutoring or do I pay for agility training, pay for tutoring? It’s going to definitely benefit in multiple ways, grades, scholarships, and obviously future academic opportunities.


Patrice Badami 24:56

Right. Um, so we already I’m just taking We’ll look at what we have here. The other thing is, so we talked about with college applications at an all time high, how they can stand out, we discuss that extracurricular, make sure your grades are in place, choose classes that make sense towards your major, or your interest or your desire. And then, you know, service to the community. We discussed also about how the colleges are more competitive, how you want to stand out, even with the sports, shoe sports that you’re passionate about, and continue on that path JV up, move all the way up to varsity and show your path, as you, you know, are interested in the sports. We talked about that. Now, here’s one last question I wanted to ask you. And that is, can families negotiate their financial financial aid offer?


Kelly MacLean 21:47

100%? Yes, absolutely. They can’t. Does that mean they’ll necessarily be successful? Well, it depends on a lot of things. So a couple things that parents can make sure that they’re on top of, you know, when you’re filing your taxes, as you’re getting close to your child, entering college, applying to college, you know, seek out a tax advisor, because your income, your gross income, or excuse me, your adjusted gross income is really going to determine a lot. Also, money that’s held in retirement accounts, does not count against you. But if you have that same money in the stock market, but not designated as a retirement account, that counts against you, because it’s liquid cash, you could pull out and write a check to that college versus a retirement account. There’s a penalty, that’s your retirement money. So if you can take advantage of putting more into retirement, and less just in savings, that’s, that gives you an advantage. But sometimes circumstances come up, you know, during COVID People lost their job that wasn’t reflected on their prior years taxes. So contacting the school discussing that discussing, you know, we had excessive medical bills, we had this come up, there’s been you know, a status change and one of our jobs, things like that definitely are negotiable. Occasionally, you can also say well, we have this offer, we my child would like this school, that is not as effective as if you have some substantiating proof of income, you know, changes.


Patrice Badami 27:29

Right. Okay, well, listen, let’s I want everyone to take a look at Kelly hyphen To find Kelly McLean and find her Kelly McLean Achievement Center you’ll be able to read a lot more about different things that she’s she knows about and that she could advise you on. Be sure to check out and join the free private Facebook group for parents. HTTPS backslash groups backslash College made easy. Kelly is a certified trainer for John Maxwell leadership programs AC t test prep provider for several local school districts featuring expert contributor for stack magazine and as well as a member of the Oh AC AC, Ohio Association of college admission counselors wise, which is women in sports and events NCAA compliance forum, North Onstad Chamber of Commerce and more. Read up on her on her website, Kelly dot hyphen And I’m so glad you were here today. Thank you so much for being a guest.


Kelly MacLean 28:36

Thank you so much Patrice. And yes, parents if you’re going to Facebook College made easy by Kelly McLean. You can find it as a free group we post up every week to allow you more information.


Patrice Badami  28:47

Okay, great. Once again, this is Patrice Badami, with Acorn to Tree Family podcast. So happy to provide you with some more information today and keep listening. Thanks a lot.

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