Complete College America's white paper The Four Year Myth proposes its solution to the problem of college students taking 5, or 6, or more years to complete an undergraduate degree. CCA calls it "Guided Pathways to Success" (pp. 14-19).
Their's is an impressive solution to a problem that must be solved; and the sooner the better. However, CCA's solution is systemic. It requires system-wide changes in states, universities and colleges.
That will be nice . . . when it happens. In the meantime, you've got a kid in high school. What can be done for your student?
It would take a book to detail everything Succeed Where It Counts does (and such a book is in the publisher's hands, right now). But even through a book, it is an impossible challenge to address every variable. Your student is a unique human being. Your student deserves a tailored fit. Your financial future also benefits.
In outline form, here's what SWIC addresses with each family:
- AFFORDABILITY: what is a realistic budget, annually, for you to pay for college? Components include ways to reduce spending, student employment, and dollars currently being transferred away unknowingly and unnecessarily that can be recouped.
- INDIVIDUAL ASSESSMENT: we use the Birkman Career Assessment to help every student begin to visualize what a career might look like.
- CAREER COURSE-SETTING: we use Candid Career, job-shadowing and other opportunities to help a student capture a clear and accurate picture of what a particular career involves on a day-to-day basis.
- ACADEMIC RIGOR: we encourage students to evaluate their own ability to do college level work, and to compete in rigorous, academic environments. Their high school transcripts are a key indicator.
- COLLEGE SELECTION: we lead students through a process of narrowing down, from many dozens to a manageable group of a dozen or so colleges, for finer scrutiny.
- CAMPUS VISITS: are essential, time consuming and costly ( parents' PTO, travel, overnight lodging, food). That process begins online, and on the telephone to minimize costs.
- FINANCIAL AID: (free+self-help+loans) we work with parents and develop their plan. It sets parameters for what may be possible for scholarships and grants-in-aid ("free" money) from the colleges; for students' employment during college (self-help); and for the Direct Student Loan program. We discourage borrowing by either student or parents beyond the Direct Student Loan limits.
- CONSUMER PURCHASE: (value + price) at the end of it all, the decision is a family choice and a personal choice. The least expensive is not always the best, and the best is not always the most expensive. College is a consumer purchase. That means price and value are factors to weigh when making the decision.
Two more today and next week and that will wrap up my synopsis of Complete College America's white paper The Four Year Myth.
- What CCA concluded from the research
- How SWIC addresses CCA's solution
They did uncover corollary cost contributors which are, primarily, students taking longer than the presumed amount of time specifically, 4 years to complete an undergraduate degree.
- Students, overall, take unnecessary, non-degree-related classes. One reason is the schools themselves offer classes that have pop-culture, emotional or intellectual appeal, and are substituted for a degree-necessary class because students want a break from the academic rigor of their majors.
- Students transfer from one college to another. CCA's White Paper states that 60% of bachelor's degree recipients transferred colleges and, thereby, lost credits toward graduation.
- Students need a class that is either full or otherwise unavailable. That may leave them short of credit hours sufficient for scholarship and grant requirements. Therefore, students take classes they do not need simply to generate a credit-hour load for financial aid purposes.
Next blog will specify how SWIC strategically addresses the issue.
That image is from Complete College America's white paper, "The Four Year Myth."
Colleges report graduation rates as so many percent of a first year cohort completing a course of study within six years. Add $140,000 to what you think (and even financially plan for) are your out-of-pocket costs. Now what's the cost of a college education look like?
And, realistically, the numbers cited do not account for inflation (currently +/- 6% annually at colleges nationwide). Nor do those numbers show the opportunity costs of $140,000 over a working lifetime.
In that same white paper Complete College America exhorts colleges to reform their systems so that students do not wander in the limbo of "discovering themselves."
My blunt advice is, "Get a job or join the military. Discover yourself. Then go to college." Sorry. I said it is blunt.
There are other pathways. Those take time, effort and, in most cases, a little bit of money. Well worth all of that!
Look at these graduation-rate numbers:
15.9% - ON TIME
5.0% - ON TIME
19% - ON TIME
(FLAGSHIP/VERY HIGH RESEARCH)
36% - ON TIME
That disturbing reality is the report of Complete College America, as of 2015. I included their Community College statistic for a very important reason. Many parents adopt a position that their student will attend community college and, thereby, reduce the expense of education. That is demonstrably not true, unless the reasons for all of those statistics are addressed -- specifically, intentionally and intelligently.
- Specifically: statistics apply to everyone in general, and to no one in particular. When I meet with students my perceptions are often significantly different from the descriptions offered by their moms and dads. No surprise, on the one hand; but, on the other hand, the differences I perceive translate into many tens of thousands of dollars in college expenses. It is not some kid going to college. It is YOUR kid!
Intentionally: an affordable college education for your student will not happen by accident. Sadly, this anecdote is true:
- A mom emailed me: "Please tell me how we can get money from FAFSA for our $24,000 college costs." This student was a high school senior. It was March of her senior year, and FAFSA has no money either to lend or to give.
- My heart breaks, but that family simply waited too long and made too many assumptions about financial aid and affordability.
- Affordability -- people ask me when is a good time to start. I say, "When you come home from the doctor with the news you are pregnant." Since most of us are not that well organized, nevertheless, as soon as the thought occurs to you, do not procrastinate. Contact me immediately. Affordability is possible and the more time you give yourself the better off you will be.
Intelligently: Affordability also involves the process of college selection. Factors that must be included are
- Academic/admissions threshold
- Graduation rates
- Retention rates
- Flagship programs
- Financial aid history.
- The Best Way to Pay for College
- What Every Parent and Student Needs to Know About FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- How Much is a College Education Going to Cost You, Really?
- Navigating the Pathways of College Admissions and Financial Aid in 2021
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- Apply for Fall, Get Spring Semester. Why do colleges send "Spring Semester Acceptance" letters?
- Why do colleges "Wait List" some students and what to do if you're on the wait list
- Is There a Scholarship Awarded With Your Letter of Acceptance?
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