After high school, everyone should pursue their education. Following one’s goal of achieving a higher education is a critical next step in every person’s life. New and brighter lights are now being focused on the multiple ways individuals can obtain financial stability, wellness, and personal growth. Yes, a Bachelor’s Degree (or higher) is required in many workplaces, however, there are now other vital ways, programs available to advance one’s education and credentials. The pandemic, a shift in demographics, and the “great resignation” warrants a look at community colleges, skilled professionals and trades, at 13th year of exploration and other specialized programs. All were open before, but now are equal to a traditional college path.
THAT’S MY DREAM SCHOOL
What is it about the school that makes it so dreamy? Is it the academics or social environment that makes the heartbeat fonder? Can it be how they promise to meet personal needs, taking care of health & wellness, or the offerings of extra-curricular? Maybe its their hands on commitment to helping guide a student to timely completion and graduation or placement in the workforce? Ultimately are they with you to extend the financial support to make the school affordable?
Falling in love with a dream school is more than looks, and what everyone else is doing. It’s a financial and personal investment, It requires time, evaluation and casting a wide net to find the right education, for the right reason, at the right school, for the right investment.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH ENROLLMENT
Answers lie with the pandemic, lack of access to campus and faculty, and other underlining socio-economic factors. Enrollment at colleges across Massachusetts, New England, and the US is down. Community College is even worse.
However, over the past month, I have seen a steady increase in the number of schools opening their doors to alive and energized campuses. College and universities are welcoming new students and families to learn about their services and programs. The recruitment season for the next incoming class of first-year students (2023-2024) is underway. Are you in the game? Curate your college list, sign up for a tour and and get to know your higher education options.
BE A WISE BUYER
Three things to know – we’ll there more but lets start here:
College Costs – understanding how costs are calculated, the difference between a sticker and net tuition price, and how the many layers of tuition assistance (scholarships, grants, need-based financial aid, and self-help) money are determined and awarded. Do you know your family’s financial threshold. What if you need to be prequalified, how much could you afford to spend over four years?
Cast a Wide Net – Yes, there are those dream schools that everyone is chasing, but there are hundreds schools that should not be the ones that got away.
Relationships – the pandemic has changed the relationship game between colleges and students. Texting, virtual 1-1 meetings, chat, and emails are now in play. They are critical for a student to use to introduce and showcase their accomplishments and interest. Classic in-person, local visits to high schools will gradually return, but new methods of connecting driven by the student must now be part of the plan.
I HEARD AT THE FLOWER COUNTER
Myths, misunderstand statements and tall tales are some of the most significant causes of anxiety and stress.
I’m a parent of a sophomore in high school. Is it too early to start thinking about paying for college?
Never – learning now about college costs, financing strategies, and how the right school can impact the equation is critical. Knowing this as part of early college planning is outstanding.
My middle school student is interested in technology. Are there options at the high school level?
YES – High school students can pursue an interest in technology at many technical-vocational schools and through the STEM Program.
My high school senior didn’t apply yet!
Most college and university deadlines are February. Public colleges and universities are a little later – June 1. For students interested in a Fall start but not ready, enrolling in community college is an outstanding option. Slow the pace, focus on readiness, save some money, and transfer to the four-year campus to finish after obtaining an Associate’s Degree.
Our income is too high; we won’t qualify for financial aid, so why apply?
Yes, income is decisive in calculating need-based aid, far more than investments. Still, without the aid application, FAFSA, being on file, there is no basis to have a conversation. Applying for aid is the door to learning more. A discussion with the school to identify a family’s unique circumstances students’ interest in maybe learning the right school for the right reason will be the best investment.
College is too expensive; I’ll never get my degree.
Not True – yes, it may take a different path than others, but utilizing all of the resources, is achievable. Your loved ones are there to help!! Learn the paths, draw up a plan, tap into resources, and press forward.
Click here to read more myths, misunderstand statements and tall tales
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CALMING THE WATERS – Are you feeling a sense of college paralysis? Anxious? As a parent of four, having spent a career working with families college and university administrators, I understand the complexity of planning for life after high school. If you need clarity and insights to your questions, tools to manage your work, or individual one-to-one assistance, reach out. Feel free to reach me by text or telephone at 617-240-7350 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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