College Planning: Parent's Guide to College Fiascos

Posted by Lindie Johnson on Feb 3, 2014 4:25:00 PM

Many parents dream of their child going off to college and getting a good job when they graduate. Today it is more important than ever that children attend college and earn their degree to find a good job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment rates go down and income levels increase greatly by simply having a college education. College planning can be a stressful time for both parents and kids. Here are some solutions to common college planning challenges.

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My child doesn’t seem interested in college. The future can be a bit scary for kids just graduating high school, and the thought of the future may have them dragging their feet. But talk to them and listen to what they are saying and often times you can help them come to grips with their fears. Make sure they understand that not all colleges are the traditional 4-year liberal arts schools you often see in the movies. There are community colleges and technical schools out there that teach students specific skills for a career, from automotive mechanics to hairdressing. Talk about these schools with your child and see if they generate more interest.  

College seems so expensive, how will we ever afford it? The cost of college can seem to be out of reach. However, researching the total cost, comparing different colleges, applying for financial aid, looking for scholarships, and finding reasonable college loans can all help. The College Board Calculator can help you determine price for each college to help with college planning. Also, remember to focus on the "net price" of a college rather than the "sticker price" which can often lead to shock. 

My child can’t decide on what colleges to apply to. Helping your child pick the best college for them can seem hard. But looking at the different institutions can help them choose based on location, setting, their interested major, the size, and other factors can often narrow down the field. If you need help, make an appointment with the College Planning Center. It's free. 

The college application essay my child wrote could be better. Many parents are worried about the quality of their child’s essay. But keep in mind that your child has to get in to college on their own merit. So resist the urge to write it for them, re-write what they have written, or tell them what to write. However, feel free to help them by proofreading the essay for spelling and grammar errors.

My child didn’t get into the college of their choice. Many parents (and students too) think that if their child doesn’t get into the right school, that will be the end of things. However, studies by top economists have shown that it isn’t reliant on going to the “right school” but earning their degree that matters. Many students start out at community colleges for their core courses, then transfer to larger schools for further studies. This can be a great way to save on college - just remember to research what credits are transferable and to which schools before making this decision. 

My child’s GPA and SAT scores are low. Colleges often list their requirements for admittance. If your child’s scores don’t meet those requirements, don’t despair. Some schools don't have minimum requirements. Instead find schools that they can attend, and explain that if they can keep a high GPA at that school, they can always apply for further studies at another school with the higher GPA, if that still interests them. 

Staying calm, organized, and helpful can help your student find the right school for them. The best thing to remember is that this is their life, they are reaching adulthood and to an extent need to be in control of their lives and where they go. But never fear, they still need you. Be helpful, supportive, and proud as they take this next big step in their life.

Topics: Parents and College Planning