By Syl Peterkin
Where to Begin
Higher Education is a maze with changes made every year, due to the myriad of rules and policies that leave parents with a headache. With thousands of colleges available to choose from, 4,000 just in the United States alone, where does someone start? First off, find out what your child wants to do! It is simply a waste of your time and money to have them attend a college without a set goal. Only 57% of students graduate in 6 years for a variety of reasons — including changing majors! After they discover their goal be sure to apply to the school that has the program they want. A simple call to a college admissions office to request an application can solve this problem for you. After applying to different schools, you need to draw a map of how you will finance college. If you’re child is not a star athlete and you’re not uber-rich parents, you will most likely require financing. So apply for financial aid at www.fafsa.ed.gov (you will need a copy of each parents income taxes to complete this). Be sure to list all the schools that your child will be applying to in the application. After you apply for financial aid, you’re going to be given a number called EFC (Expected Financial Contribution). This is what the federal government feels that a parent should contribute for college. If you’re state offers financial aid to its residents, be sure and apply for it!
Once They Are In!
Now that they’ve made it in to a few schools, be sure to compare financial aid packages! Some schools will offer different amounts of money depending on how bad they want you child in the school! Talk to the financial aid officer and negotiate the packages that been offered! Take the better deal for yourself and for your child! A school that offers a $20,000 scholarship on $22,000 thousand dollars of tuition (with a $2,000 dollar loan) may not be a better deal compared to a school that costs $4,000 (with a $1,000 loan). Consider the costs!
Once they’ve registered for classes you’ll need to know what books to purchase. The worst thing to do is to buy a new book from the book store. The book store is convenient and the higher price reflects it! Consider renting a textbook from sites like Chegg.com or see if the school’s library has copies of the text books! College books can easily cost you $500 a semester for something they may barely use. College can be a lot of fun, but remember that you’re paying for this fun! Instill in your child that they read and follow what is written on the syllabus! Get them a paper planner (a digital planner can be stolen or erased easily) to have them write down the test schedule for their classes and when assignments are due. If they made it out of high school they’ll realize that college isn’t considerably different academically. If they do the work, act responsibly, attend class and study, they will be fine.
Syl Peterkin is the founder of Zoom Thru College, LLC (www.zoomthrucollege.com). A company dedicated to students completing college quicker and a lower cost!