Is a college degree important in achieving success, happiness and financial security? Certainly, the vast majority of high school students and their parents believe it is. Starting their freshman year in high school, students are taking classes necessary to fulfill college requirements. Also, many of their extra-curricular activities are planned with college requirements in mind. Parents may spend hundreds or thousands of dollars preparing students to take college entrance tests, ACT or SAT. Parents monitor their child’s progress daily and are quick to intervene when they feel the need to discuss an area of concern with a school official.
As a student enters their junior year or even before, the college search process becomes important to them and their parents. They utilize college websites, visit colleges, attend college fairs, talk to their high school counselor, and have discussions with friends and extended family. The choices can be overwhelming. As they find colleges they wish to attend, they hope their high school record lines up with the college requirements. If they fall short with grades, classes or test scores, the pressure is on to do what they can to improve their chances. Ideally, students will have considered various college options to insure there will be a college they can attend.
In many cases, emotion can play a significant part in the search process. Students and parents feel a particular college is the best fit for the student’s happiness and success. There may be other colleges with similar characteristics but emotion and desire override the similarities. When students find they are accepted to the school of their choice they get excited and overlook the cost factor. They may also want to major in a career area that they believe they will enjoy without regard to the job potential.
The concern with minimizing the cost factor and job potential is the burden of high student loan debt, that ultimately may become the parents’ responsibility. Recent articles in the Des Moines Register point out the severe financial consequences that have become apparent to many families. Recently, on Iowawatch.org and in the Des Moines Register, an article’s headline was ‘Filling federal student aid gap can put parents’ finances at risk.’ And, in a recent Sunday Opinion section, was an editorial titled ‘Recession’s fallout puts parents on the hook.’ The subtitle was ‘We need to find ways so students end up borrowing less for college.’
Colleges need students and may not feel the need to warn you about excessive loan packages. Also, the selection of a major requires awareness of the employment opportunities. My experience is that many colleges are reluctant to discourage a student on their choice of major even if the job statistics on the major may not be good. The student should take initiative to use resources through the internet or College Career Center to be confident they have made the right decision.
Please allow me to assist you in the college selection process. My many years of experience in financial aid, scholarships, tuition rates and keeping up with career employment opportunities makes me uniquely qualified to provide a personal approach in helping your student find the best possible fit.