College Prep

College preparation information for both students and parents!

College prep means just that! College preparation! It is more than a type of curriculum or type of high school! College preparation is more than getting a good score on a college entrance test. College preparation is more than saving and locating money for college.

Almost half (46%) that begin college, fail to earn a degree in six years or less. All too often, we see those with degrees working in jobs that don’t even require a degree. Even if the student ends up in the studied career field, many have enormous debt that places pressure on young families. College preparation includes learning how to avoid these problems.

College preparation should actually begin long before high school to maximize potential, opportunities, and financial investment. It takes a lot of work for both parents and students. As the old saying goes, “Pay now or pay much more later!” is a great place to start. In our few pages, you will find good information and tools for both parents and student. The most important information will be how to avoid disasters! Read the remainder of this introduction page, then review the pages on our top menu.

Often a teenager will choose or desire a higher education option for the wrong reason. There are some teens that are as wise as an adult, but many choose higher education options for teen reasons. There are several factors that can influence teenager goal setting. They may be making the decision based on a friend or relationship. They may be trying to please a parent. They may want to be far away from their hometown. They might want to be close to their hometown. They may be impractical based on their academic ability. They may lack the confidence to choose a program that is really desired. They may desire a program that has very limited job opportunities.

Often a parent will choose or desire a higher education option for the student for the wrong reason. Some parents push the student into a career choice instead of guiding. Some parents want to live out their life in their child’s future. Some parents want the student to follow in the parent’s exact footsteps. Some parents guide the student into a career choice without enough research of risks and drawbacks. Some parents may discourage certain options for fear of financial cost. Every person is different! The student may not have the same abilities or interests as the parents. Parents need to remember the student’s viewpoint. For some, this is very hard!

College prep begins with parent work, then a joint parent-student effort, then mainly the student. For a number of reasons, the topic of higher education needs researched long before the student is even in high school! It is not just for financial reasons! Parents and student should discuss higher education before high school. The student needs to know what the parents think before decisions are forming and concreting in the student’s mind. If this discussion does not start until the last two years of high school, it is almost a given there will be attitude problems or disappointment. This is extremely challenging when the student wants to attend a particular school or pursue a particular program the parents believe will be a bad choice.  Parents need to develop an open channel of communication for the topic before high school or at least by the first part of high school to reduce the risk of  problems.

Higher education has increased in cost! If the household income is higher, the burden of school will usually fall on the family, unless the student meets independent qualifications and is not claimed as a dependent. Lower income families and independent students are usually in a situation where the financial burden will fall on the student through student loans. In either case, if the right school or program is not selected, the investment may not give a good return on the money and student work. That can be a disaster!

Both parents and student need to be realistic about the expected long term outcome of each education option. What jobs are expected to be in demand? What careers pay what? What is the likelihood of advancement opportunities? What majors only lock a student into one specific job opportunity? What if the student has a passion for a field that has very few opportunities? For unusual programs, risks need to be understood. What will happen if the student can’t get one of those limited jobs? What majors offer multiple career options? Another financial challenge can also arise. Students will be in a location where there is the possibility they will develop a romantic relationship with another student. Many parents like the idea of their child being where they might have a better chance of finding a higher educated spouse. However, this could mean future double student loan repayment for many college couples. Debt is the number one reason for divorce.

Other factors need evaluated. What are the student’s academic strengths or skills? What are the student’s weaknesses? What environment would be best for the student, both during school and in their future career? Many people think a doctor would be a great profession. Is that the kind of stress and hours you would want in school and for a career? What if relocation is required? Is the career a city-only job or does it also have small town diversity?

Knowing a large percentage of students that begin college will not finish, many families are now choosing financially safer education options. For example, if a student enrolls in a university and doesn’t complete a bachelor degree, the student will only walk away with student debt and/or a huge cost to the family. Unfortunately, this happens more than most people like. Instead, a student can first complete an associate degree at a lower cost local junior college, then transfer to a university the third year. If the student doesn’t finish four years, at least an associate degree will have been earned. Always check in advance to see if the junior college credits will transfer to likely university choices. In areas without junior colleges, there are often lower cost state universities nearby. They often offer blended or a mix of online and campus-based courses. By taking a couple online courses each semester, the smaller number of campus-based courses can be scheduled for the same days, so there is only a two or three day commute each week.

Many people are now choosing technical institutes for their career training. Technical institutes offer a higher level of job-specific training than colleges. Technical institute students do not have as many general courses and begin learning job skills the first year. On the other hand, many college programs structure job-specific training the fourth year of the bachelor degree or even after that. Technical institute graduates have a high rate of employment in their career field. Technical institutes structure many programs into a tiered certificate track so students walk away with something at one year, two years, four years and more. At universities, the student only walks away with debt if he doesn’t finish his bachelor degree.  The same research required for college preparation is required for technical institutes.  What jobs are expected to be in demand? What careers pay what? What is the likelihood of advancement opportunities? Will the training lock a student into only one specific job opportunity? For unusual or very specific training, risks need to be understood. What will happen if the student can’t get one of those limited jobs? Which programs offer multiple career options? What will the work environment be like?

By now, you may be overwhelmed! If you will take just a little bit of time to read our handful of pages, you will be prepared more than most parents. You will receive financial tips and options for any situation.  You will receive academic advice for test preparation and repairing weaknesses. You will have access to important tools and resource suggestions. As a parent, you will be better prepared to protect your child’s future! As a student, you will get helpful tips and be reminded of important points. Please bookmark us! We will be one of your best one-stop resources during your college preparation journey! We are currently uploading our resource info, so check back regularly!