Start the Clock – High School Juniors!
Pivotal time of the year, definitely!
Parents, mom’s of high school juniors, if not already, the college planning experience should be started! College admissions and financial aid is a complex and competitive process. Here are five considerations to add to the “going to college” experience.
Know Your Affordability
Equal to finding one’s educational path after high school is understanding college cost. How will one pay the college bill? Getting in is essential, but having a plan to pay is critical.
The average annual cost of tuition and fees for private four-year college in 2017-2018 (College Board) was $34,740 while $9,970 for a state resident at a public college. But, add in room and board, transportation and personal expenses and the true annual cost of attending is closer to $52,000 (private) and $25,00 (public).
A college search must start with understanding college costs and a realistic idea as to how educational cost will be paid. How much has the family saved to cover college cost? How will we handle one student, not to mention multiple students in college? What is the expectation for scholarships and financial aid and will we be eligible? How much will we be expected to pay? These questions along with others need to be asked and addressed early college planning conversations. Understanding cost and how to make an affordable college choice is critical to the overall college experience.
Understand Your Student
There are many factors that go into searching for and selecting a student’s educational path after high school. Should a student follow a traditional four-year institutional path, maybe community college first or even go to work and feel out the real world.
The junior year is a pivotal time to evaluate a student’s readiness and interest to continue their education after high school. Today, the pressure associated with going to college and incurring debt, just because everyone goes, should no long be the accepted norm. Yes, education after high school is important for gaining financial and social stability, however, there are multiple paths to follow. Education is a lifelong pursuit and the choice of a path that meets a student’s academic and personal talents (and interest) needs to be championed and supported by educators, business leaders and society!
Understanding your junior (scrambling senior) is difficult enough. Guiding one through the education-work conversation can be numbing. However, parents today need to stop the train and have an open, no judgmental conversations. Junior year for sure, but even earlier is better. Works with one’s hands, driven by design, creative writer, can fix anything, loves science are just a few of the discovery questions that might reveal a path to follow. Liberal arts, economics, electrical apprentice or even an entry level banker while attending courses part-time. Grades, rank, testing, sports and leadership fill in the gaps regarding questioning interest. As parents (Dad of four) we want our students to be successful, however, success after high school can be defined as attending college, entering a trade or a combination of earning and learning. Once we understand our student, we explore the educational paths open to pursue after high school.
Learn the Financial Side
Set on going to college. Fantastic. Remember, we already asked you to consider how will you pay and what is your affordability limit. However, understanding how scholarships, grants and need-based financial aid works is another essential part of a student and family finding an affordable choice. All three are vital to helping pay the bill, but each have their own criteria, eligibility and spoiler alert, many not be available to everyone. Financial aid, specifically need-based aid, plays a key role in helping students and families meet college cost. Parents of current sophomore and juniors need to spend quality time learning how financial aid is determined, what is a families what financial information reporting “base year” and the impact of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Equal to where a student wants to attend is how will the bill get paid. Learning the financial side will shed a great deal of information to answer the question.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Plan
The junior year is the pivotal point when students and family begin to the process of determine a high school student’s educational path after graduation. Will it be traditional, four-year degree program, attending community college or starting working first?
Consider Mom’s College Planning Checklist. Designed for Mom (sorry Dad), to help map out the steps necessary to finding, selecting and determining an affordable educational path for their student after high school. The plan should include month to month tasks, deadlines, touring campuses, test taking and completing financial aid forms. A comprehensive plan can be obtained when working with Get College Going, however, Mom’s Plan, will keep everyone on track and harmony in the household.
Watch the Clock
Time can be your enemy or your savior. The typical college planning – enrollment timeline starts in December of a junior’s high school year and can run on average for 18 months. Now, 18 months sounds like a long time, however, academic, social, athletic/dance/performing arts, and other activities can make the time disappear in the blink of an eye. The power of planning is critical to finding an affordable educational path after high school.
Ask for Help
We are only scratching the surface with the advice provide in this piece. College planning can be a complex and sometimes overwhelming period in a student and family’s life. Ask for help. Students stay connected to your parents. Plus, collectively, ask friends, extended family members, the high school guidance department. And, if you need to, ask for independent professional assistance. Learn, Explore & Question!
You approach a fork in the road. You are pressed to make a decision. Do I turn left, right or go straight? Will my GPS guide me?
College Right After High School?
Many high school students, parents and young adults find themselves in a similar situation when it comes to decisions on what path to follow after high school. Thankfully, there are different choices for an individual to reach their goals and aspiration. Finding the fork in the road is key!!
However, over time society has not shinned the brightest light on all options. But why? Attending college right out of high school has historically been the path that students are all encouraged to follow. A path that is appropriate for 75% of a graduating class. For students interested in pursuing their education but not ready for the traditional path, alternatives are available and should be strongly considered.
Today, is it critical to expose young minds, as early as Middle School to the different types of roles, jobs and professions that as a nation and society we need (will be needed) to remain competitive and financially strong. Roles that many times take different educational paths after high school, but each are valuable to the student and their future. Paths launched through a high school experience designed around a college prep, vocational/technical education and/or a blended combination. A students academic, personal and financial background as well as aspirations and goals are key factors to determining the path.
Which Path is Yours?
High School to College – the traditional route to a 4-year public or private college. Focused on an outcome that provides a gateway to graduate school and/or a professional career in any number of industries. Students who follow this path are typically enrolled in a college prep program (or combination) with a GPA equal to a B- or better and following mandatory state equivalent academic courses for acceptance in a state college. Students take college prep, Honors and AP course. Individuals seek acceptance 4-year public and private colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Canada or internationally.
Associates to Bachelors – students who struggle academically in high school but have the aspirations to complete a Bachelor Degree program can turn to the successful A2B program option. Students begin at the Community College level developing their college readiness (academic and personal) full-time (working part-time), complete their 2-year Associates Degree transferring to complete the remaining 2 years at a 4 Year college and/or university. Many states, including Massachusetts sponsor “transfer’ programs that offer tuition incentives. The A2B Program is a very important option for all students including those seeking a financially affordable option. (example: Mass Transfer)
Earn and Learn – individuals who wish to enter the workforce but continue their educational path attend college can also find options. Options including Community College, Continuing Education/Professional Studies Program in a wide area of disciplines and focuses. Students generally work full-time and school part-time. Individuals come from work forces in financial, health care, retail, hotel management fields. Many states offer programs to assist individuals pursue this option including incentives to commit the this post high school options (example: Commonwealth Commitment)
Gap Year – time between high school and college when students with aspirations for college but are not ready to enroll, take a break to evaluate their next steps. Many individuals need this time to mature, evaluate and plot academic and career options. Individuals during this one-year span will pursue volunteer services, enroll in non-academic courses, internships and/or work. This is not a period that this author endorses as a “travel the world” option.
Technical and trade – property owners know the critical importance of a professionally trained technical and/or trade individuals. But today plumbers, electricians and contractors are joined by organizations looking for individuals with skills in technology, cyber security, healthcare, aviation & auto mechanics, wellness, manufacturing and 3-D designing. Individuals can enter these professions directly from vocational technical high school, trade unions and/or trade and technical colleges.
Military Service – a role that calls for a special type of man or women who is willing to place their county and its citizens before their own Individuals who are called to this role are high school and/or college graduate with academic and personal character positioning them to meet the enlistment eligibility criteria of the specific brand of service. Individuals select from a wide range of Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) that include communications, administrative, technology, engineering, infantry, equipment and others. Once one completes their service commitment they are able to take their training and leadership skills in pursuit of an educational and/or workplace path.
Supporting Options and Choices
Parents and extended support groups, you have the greatest responsibility to be remain the advocate for your student(s). Educating young minds on the options after high school needs to be introduced as early as middle school and re-enforced throughout high school. High school seniors and those who have left high school undecided (17-25 years of old), must be encouraged to their specific education path. Parents and extended support groups need to be vigilant and aware of biases willing to placing barriers in front of students. Supporting different paths to achieve desired outcomes should be the goal for all students and parents.
Civic, business and educational leaders must focus on providing guidance and direction that supports different paths to education and careers. Championing all paths through greater education and exposure at an early age can plant great foundations for individuals and overcome the opportunity gap to help young adults gain financial stability and personal happiness.
Students heading off to college in September should remember to review their Summer Checklist to make sure everything is in order. Oh, you do not have one, well consider the following item. New Freshman…yours have an extra star at the end.
The last thing any college students wants to happen is that you arrive on campus on move-in day and you can not get your swipe card or key to the castle (dorm)!! And this goes for returning upper-class students.
- Send in dorm deposit -should have been in a month ago!!
- Finalize your strategy to pay the net tuition cost (the balance) – due August 1st
- Register and/or RSVP for orientation (request alternative date if needed) *
- Search for a roommate on the college’s portal and/or at orientation; if you want to play the wild card you can always default to – One will be Assigned *
- Research dorm services and resources such as the magical Refrig-Micowave
- Activate your Student Email & ID *
- Submit your final High School or Community College Transcript *
- Complete outstanding forms (Meal Plan Selection, Campus Security Policy)
- Request, Sign and Submit a Student Health Waiver (if the student is covered under his/her parent’s healthcare plan
- Review the restrictions of sharing information set forth by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and if everything is cool, seek out and execute a FERPA Waiver (allows parents to view student records even though a student turns 18 years of age) – come on..who is paying the bill!!.
- Health/Immunization Records *
- Documentation supporting the crediting of earned AP/IB credits *
- Take Placement Tests (if required) *
- Register for courses while attending orientation *
- Research Extra-curricular – learn how to get involved*
- Pack (don’t buy a lot of none personal items until you talk to your roommate(s)…dorms are small*
Finally, the last item on the list is the most critical. Have the conversation about college drinking. It happens, it’s reality and it is extremely important that 17-24 years old’s understand the consequences. Understand that over 1800 students each year DIE from excessive drinking not to mention the other negative outcomes. Parents & extended family members, don’t be naive – have the conversation and be supportive…….closing your eye could make your student number 1801!!
So, the clock is ticking and even thought the summer heat is raging the month of August will be gone in a flash. Plan now for a smooth move-in day and don’t forget to pencil in Parent’s Weekend.
Acceptance letters are rolling in and merit awards are popping up. Congratulations to the high school graduating Class of 2016. Your college experience awaits. But how do I say “yes” to a college and will it be the one for me?
Yes, this is a big stage in one’s life and some thought must go into picking the environment that will provide for continued academic and personal growth. So here are a few questions to consider under what I refer to as the “will the college” ……?
- Push me to think as an individual, challenge the growth of my learning capacity & help me be stronger academically?
- Provide a setting that will respect my personal space but also allow me to explore my interest, desires and beliefs?
- Be far enough away from home but close enough to give me the emotional support (if needed) from my family and friends? [planes, trains and automobiles to get home}
- Offer me career focused direction and guidance from the day I step on campus or is it typically held to those who are almost done?
- Can I adjust to some of the little things; three to a room, shared bathrooms, noisy neighbors & walking in the rain?
- Do you get the vibe that if I have individual needs the support system is there in the faculty and administration to help me; tutoring, advising, advocacy for social issues?
- Set the pace of my academic programming (availability of course) allow me to graduate in four years?
- Make my enrollment affordable?
- Is my tuition, fees, room and board guaranteed to only increase by x over four years?
- Is the financial aid I received today good for four years? or is some of the aid “front loaded” and will be it be lost in my later years?
- What will be the net cost to attend in three – four years and will I be able to afford it?
- Are scholarships I received from private external provider’s renewable or good for one year?
If the answers to these and other questions have been reviewed and a choice has risen to the top, congratulations. If the list is now narrowed to one or two, then continue the process. Revisit the campus, speak with faculty, dine with students and ask your questions.
A choice awaits…. Congratulation >the Class of 2020.
College and Universities are still looking for you. Undecided on your current choices, applying late, concerned about distance from home ..not to worry. Check out your options…Colleges and universities local to home and across the country are still enrolling students for September of 2016. Your choice is waiting to hear from you.
Check out the list of institutions looking for you.
Have questions…call us today at 617-240-7350