Sunday, February 1 is not just the date of Super Bowl XXXVIII.

It is also the date on which we at College Parents of America plan to re-launch our Web site, in order to provide you a more robust Web experience and to better fulfill our promise of providing you an effective mix of advocacy, information resources and access to discounted products and services.

We considered a Super Bowl ad to promote the re-launch, but decided it was just not the right environment for our message, not to mention that it was slightly more than our budget would allow.
Through my column, I hope you understand me well enough by now to know that I am just kidding about the Super Bowl ad. But I also hope you understand me well enough to know that I am very serious about building an organization of substance that can provide a “return on investment” to your family that is far beyond the retail price of membership.

You are surfing our Web site right now, of course, because you are reading my column. We hope that you find the current information on our site to be of value, and the links from our site to be of use. Our goal, however, is to be a one-stop shop for you and your family when it comes to the process of helping your son or daughter to prepare for, apply to, pay for and thrive in the college of his or her choice.

We realize that we are not there yet. Beginning on February 1 and in the coming months, we plan to serve you with a host of new features on our site, including:

  • An “Ask the Experts” area, in which six or more leading authorities in the higher education field will be available to answer your questions on a 72-hour turnaround basis;
  • An organizing principle that we are calling a “Decade of Decisions,” through which we plan to demonstrate to you and your parent peers that there is a ten-year period in your child’s academic career, from 7 th -grade through college, when key, life-changing decisions are made that can affect his or her ability to get into the college of choice, to succeed academically and socially at that school, and to then utilize the college experience as a springboard for the graduate-school or work experience that makes the most sense as a next step. The “Decade of Decisions” will consist of editorial resources that you can tap into at any time, as well as information that can be “pushed” to you at the appropriate moments along your child’s ten-year-long journey;
  • A list of parent-friendly universities from across the United States with hot links, wherever possible, to the parent sections of their Web sites. These are schools that we have identified as having active parent programs which aim to serve parents as a constituency of the university, not simply as a source for tuition and additional funding requests; and
  • A larger and ever-growing group of partner companies who are interested in providing you with valuable discounts on products and services in spending categories that are of special interest to you as a current or future college parent.

And, as they say in those late-night commercials, that’s not all. We also plan to expand our already-vigorous lobbying efforts with the start of this new session of Congress, and we expect that higher education issues will be high on the agenda of both major political parties. We will keep you closely informed of our efforts in the political arena, both through this column and through special updates in the “Advocacy” tab of our site, as appropriate.

Please keep us closely informed of your reaction to our efforts on your behalf, and your suggestions on what else we can or should be doing for you. And if the halftime entertainment during this year’s Super Bowl doesn’t suit your taste, or if the game itself is a rout, turn off the tube and check out our re-launched Web site. We hope you will like it and, most importantly, we hope you will find it of value.

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