11th Grade, heading to college -- What should I be doing? Part 4

Are you coming back for part 4, or are you reading this Blog first?

If you are reading this one first, scroll down to find the first 3 of this series.

Keep moving. You don't have as much time as you may be thinking. Between now August 2020, when applications open for the Class of 2021, you have a lot to think about and decide. Financial aid is also tied to your good work now.

paying for college, heading to college, high school juniors

Here are the topics, and in reverse order.
5. Where are you going to apply?
4. Have I visited every college I am applying to?
3. What are my academic qualifications?
2. What will I major in?
1. What do I see as my future career?

At any college, ask anyone in admissions and they will tell you, "Don't come here if you haven't visited first."

That may seem to be an odd statement for someone whose job it is to enroll students in their college. However, hard experience and many tears inform the wisdom of the advice. Remember, college is the place you will live and work nine months per year, for four years. You'd better love the place!

Campus visits are not complicated, but they are important. First of all, do you, the student, feel at home when you set foot on campus? That is a matter of taste and preference. Some people like modern; some traditional; some open spaces and some an urban jungle. Your tastes, what makes you happy is key.

Second, is the school too far from home for weekends; or too close for comfort? Again, it's your judgment that matters.

Third, is the school too big, too small, or (as Goldilocks found with baby bear's bed) just right.

Fourth, what do students do for fun? When they are not in class? On weekends? Find out and think about how those things line up with your ideas of fun.

Finally, it's a good idea to go to the building where you will be taking most of the classes of your proposed Major. Meet the professors who will be teaching you. Check out the classrooms where you will spend many hours over four years. Watcha think?



It's okay to visit every campus under serious consideration once. It's better to visit your top three twice; and your top two three times. You're about to spend A LOT of money, and invest forty-eight months of your life on a college campus. Be sure.

 

Posted in College Planning, College Planning Strategies. Tagged as college planning company, college planning lake norman, college planning strategies, heading to college, high school juniors, paying for college, preparing for college.

11th Grade, heading to college -- What should I be doing? Part 3

Are you coming back for part 3, or are you reading this Blog first?

If you are reading this one first, scroll down to find Blog 1 and Blog 2 of this series.

Keep moving. You don't have as much time as you may be thinking. Between now August 2020, when applications open for the Class of 2021, you have a lot to think about and decide. Financial aid is also tied to your good work now.

paying for college, high school juniors, preparing for college

Here are the topics, and in reverse order.
5. Where are you going to apply?
4. Have I visited every college I am applying to?
3. What are my academic qualifications?
2. What will I major in?
1. What do I see as my future career?

Do you play sports? Video games? Anything competitive?      

There is a competitive aspect to college. Not every student in every class will earn an A. Not everyone will earn a C. The difference between a C and an A is determined, in part, by how well the entire class is assimilating the subject matter.

Really good teachers (the kind we all want) feel out the academic ability of the class and adjust their teaching.

  • Is the class getting it, and catching on? Accelerate the curriculum.
  • Is the class giving you that deer-in-the-headlights look? Slow down. Take more time to explain each concept.
  • Tests and grades are based on what has been presented.

I was a soccer referee for many years. I worked just about the entire spread of players' abilities from recreation matches for children, to college and professional players. The child who is the
star of the recreation program team might well sit the bench, or even not make a premier level, youth team. There are college athletes who, although good, will not make the cut in a professional team tryout.


Applying the analogy to colleges, there is a difference between the academic rigor of a school like the University of California at Berkley and California State University at Chico. A student who will find his comfort level at one may not feel pushed enough at the other. Turn it around, and a good fit at one may well struggle to keep up at the other.

Look at a college's most recently published, First Year Cohort. What are the SAT/ACT score ranges? What is the average GPA of the incoming class; average Class Rank?

Another tactic is call the university you are considering. Ask about academic rigor. Tell them you are determining where to apply based, in part, on that criteria. They will pick up the conversation from there.

Come back next week for answers to questions 4 and 5 above.
 

Posted in College Planning, College Planning Strategies. Tagged as college planning lake norman, college planning strategies, heading to college, high school juniors, how to pay for college, paying for college, preparing for college.

College Costs -- Options for paying

$24,000 every year that's what one, state-supported university publishes as the cost to attend for residents.  Out-of-state students add another $27,000 to make it $51,000 every year.
 
How do you manage to pay for that?  Heard of the 529 Plan?  It takes its name from the section of the IRS Code that stipulates its requirements and advantages.  Not a bad plan, in that you deposit money from your take-home-pay (yes after you've had your taxes withheld) into an account that, from then on, will grow without tax obligations IF . . .
 
That is a big IF. 

  • If you do not need it for something else urgent and expensive.
  • If those education costs line up with the approved list of expenses.
  • If your children attend college and spend all of the 529 account.
  • If your plan does well in the stock market.
  • If, when you need the money, the market isn't having a major correction.
  • If you do not mind paying a hefty penalty plus the tax owed if an if happens.
 
Let's just say, for the sake of conversation, you dodge all of that.  There is still the small matter of once you spend the money for approved college expenses, that's it.  All gone.  Account balance zero.
 
You managed to save $100,000 for each child.  Each child now has a college diploma and is looking for work, getting married, sprouting your grandchildren, trying to buy a house and all of those hundreds of thousands of dollars you had scrimped and sacrificed to save poof! -- are gone.
 
What if, instead of filling up that college savings tank full of money, and then draining it dry, you could have collateralized those funds?
 
What if your children, who earned the diploma, helped pay that all back as part of their future retirement?
 
In other words, what if your hundreds of thousands of dollars could have kept compounding interest while you used them as collateral to pay the expenses of a college education?

Posted in College Planning, College Planning Strategies, Wealth Creation Strategies. Tagged as 529 Plan, college planning strategies, paying for college.

Money for College -- Dangers Lurk

Beware of Loan Programs with Fine Print

A recent email arriving in my inbox was from a major credit card company offering money for college expenses. Forgive me for stating the obvious but, be careful!. http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/28/pf/parents-student-loans/index.html That link recounts just one of the snares awaiting families who fail to exercise the utmost caution when dealing with the very emotional issue of sending a child to college.We offer a helpful (dare I say vital?) & objective perspective. We are good at "finding money." Call us. Read more

Posted in College Planning. Tagged as college planning, college planning strategies, money for college.

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