Financial Aid Office Worker–Right in our Home!



Going to College and
Paying for it
Online Video and Workbook

If I told you that one of our new mentors is a gal that served in the college admissions and  financial aid for over 10 years, and she is personally helping us navigate the next 4 years would you be jealous?  As many of you know, I feel very blessed by the mentors that the Lord has placed in our lives at just the right moment for the boys and I on this crazy journey. I’d like to introduce you to one that I met online a few weeks ago, Denise Ames.
Denise is just a regular hardworking mom who has helped thousands of people through this crazy process.  Her goal – is to help other families start early and strong as they tackle the steps to go to college and pay for it.  She started a company called College Common Sense .
I confess that looking into the process for the boys feels very overwhelming. My husband and I  went to college on military and scholarships. I didn’t start on the scholarships until my Senior Year. By then, many had been taken, many did not have enough time to fill out and go through the channels.  I received a few local merit/essay/volunteer based scholarships. I didn’t even know to look into grants until later.
This time, we have Denise. She has made 6 videos on DVD or online, with the workbooks to help you go through the process. It is still a bit overwhelming, so much information – but information I wish my 15 year old self would have had access to. I was overwhelmed as a kid visiting the college admissions hall for sure.  With these videos, that specialist comes to you.  She breaks them down into these categories: 
  • The Big Picture
  • How Financial Aid Works
  • All About the Free Money
  • The System that Works
  • You in the Process, and
  • Put it all Together
I watched all of the videos and read through the workbooks.  Although there is information for how to look for scholarships at very young ages, (think 6th grade), most of the information is for 10th – 12th grade. Especially those last two years. 
Most of the information is about knowing what is out there, preparing a plan, and then being disciplined enough to work on your plan a little bit each month. Watching the deadlines and getting those applications turned in.
Much of the videos confirmed the direction we have taken. Although Nate, my 9th grader, didn’t want to watch all of the videos, he over heard them as I watched. I’d capture his attention as she talked about the volunteer work, keeping track of people for recommendations and the notebook / binder to keep the information in.
We got to put some of the information to work this week as Nathan applied for his first job.  He’s looking for summer work.  A potential employer called and asked him to apply. They gave him a job application and we got creative with his work experience and references using the volunteer work he has done in the community.  He felt overwhelmed gathering all of the names, dates, addresses and phone numbers.  When finished, we made a copy and started his binder that we learned about in the video. He said he was surprised that so many people would quickly respond with a smile in their voice agreeing to give him a solid recommendation and letter if needed.  I could see that he had a taste of what it will be like when we go to apply for scholarships and grants as well.
One thing we really enjoyed, is the free newsletters from the site. Diane gives us a few topics to discuss with the boys to get them thinking about the big question of what they want to do – what direction they will take – and their goals. I’d suggest that you at least take the time to click over to the site, watch the videos that are there, and sign up for the newsletters.  I think you’ll be encouraged to purchase a year membership to the videos and workbooks a well. 
There are a lot of pro’s to her product – SO MUCH information!
The con, strangely enough, is the same – SO MUCH information. It was a bit overwhelming to digest in such a short amount of time (about 5 weeks) for the boy. It might be more youth friendly if the videos were cut in thirds. I am glad that she gives a year to view the videos on line, and you can cut the into more digestible chunks on your own. The workbooks are very simple to read and follow and help tremendously with this as well.
We will keep trucking on this college bound adventure. We still do not have specifics here, so for the 9th grade, we’re just doing all that we have time for, know how to, aspire to do – and then narrowing down options as the interests get focused. Glad to have this tool as a resource for our journey for sure! 


  • PhotobucketDVD $50 + $5 Shipping & Handling
  • $25.00 for 12 month log-in access
  • Any parent or Guardian with a 6th – 12th Grade Student.
  • Any student, probably best for 9th-12th Grade
  • Every 11-12th grade Student.



    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.

    About +Angie Wright

    The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
    This entry was posted in College Prep, Reviews, Schoolhouse Crew, Some Schooling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    1 Response to Financial Aid Office Worker–Right in our Home!

    1. dianaspage says:

      Thanks for your review. I got a similar reaction from my son when he watched a video from the monthly homework. He made it clear that, at 13, he is still a kid. And while he is willing to think about being headed toward college, he’s not yet ready to work on it.

      I am glad I’ve got some time.

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