It’s Friday.  This week, we found a solution to the worlds problems and we defined love.

No we didn’t but at least we talked about it- agreed or disagreed- but we opened a dialogue.

But today- I pose the following question:  Why is Daughter getting more mail than anyone else in the house?

Ahhhhh- because she’s a Junior in High School.  And marketing season has begun.  There are approximately 4000 institutes of higher learning in America.  I think my daughter has received a brochure or email from 1/2 of them.  But have no fear…it’s only October…I’m sure the other 2000 will come through eventually.

Now- I know there are people who are going to say “Wow- that’s early.”  But to be fair, we began college shopping this past summer.  Again, people are shaking their heads and saying, “Wow, that’s early.”  But hear me out- if you see a school that you like that seems out of reach, you can still make a push in Junior Year- colleges want to see an upward trajectory.  You still have a shot at that school- but if you wait till Senior year- you may not.

But…there’s a lot to think about when choosing a college. This is my one and only daughter, and we’re just starting the process, but I’m going to share what we’ve learned so far .

  1. Cost- Have you seen the cost of college?  Seriously- there is no way a kid is going to come out of school with a salary that comes close to what some of these schools are charging per year.  So you need to decide how much you want to spend, and how much debt you want to incur.  Maybe you need college,(personally- I’m not so sure you actually need it- but that’s a whole other blog) but how much do you want to owe?  FYI- each college has a net cost calculator to give you an idea as to what the school expects you to pay.  And you have to look at colleges that are willing to give you merit aid- if you choose a college where the average student has a lower average, this school may be willing to entice you with grants and such.
  2. Location- this is more important to some than others.  My daughter wants a school that is Urban, or in a town center.  She has grown up using mass transit- she would not feel comfortable in a rural environment.  But others would not do well in a city, so you have to find what is comfortable for you.  And…how far away is the school from where you live?  Do you want to be across country?  Do you want to be an hour away?  Do you want to take a flight home or drive or bus or train?  My daughter really doesn’t want to be west of Chicago, but her best friend is set on California….all depends…..
  3. Size- how many undergraduates do you want?  My daughter is looking at between 5000 and 10000 undergraduates.  She feels this is a good number for her.  The schools in this range tend to have somewhat lower teacher:student ratios.  That is important to her.  Some students may want less, others more.  Figure out what size is right for you.
  4. Field of study- Do you have an inkling what you would like to study?  My daughter wants humanities, so a tech or heavy science school is not in the cards for her.  If you don’t know what you want, you are probably better off at a somewhat larger school where it is easy to sample many different things, and you don’t need to reapply to different schools within the school.  Be prepared- say you decide after Freshman year that you want to be an engineer, you may have to add a year to college- a major like that has a lot of requirements and course sometimes have to be taken sequentially.
  5. Greek system.  How important are frats and sororities?  My kid- she’s actually looking at schools that offer no Greek life, or where less than 20% of students are involved.  It’s not her thing.  But it could be someone else’s.  Everyone is different.
  6. Sports.  Do you want a school where everyone is at the football game on the weekend?  Do you want to be involved in March Madness?  Do you want to be immersed in a culture where sports is important?  My daughter is leaning towards sports lite schools, but that’s not a deal breaker.
  7. Academic intensity- do you want a school where the kids are really competitive towards grades?  All colleges are academic, but some are more academic than others.  Be honest with yourself- which environment is better?
  8. Party school- let’s face it- some kids want an active social life.  Some schools are better at this than others.  We went on a tour of a small New England Liberal Arts school- one student said “How is Tuesday night different than Friday night?”  The tour guide looked at the student and said- there really is no difference.  The student asking knew right away that this was not the ideal choice for them.
  9. Extra curricular- Are you passionate about something and want to pursue it at college, but not as a course of study?  Maybe you love pottery for fun, and want a pottery club at school…..you can find a college with a club that shares your interest.
  10. Ranking- how is the college ranked in the various books and articles.  Is being at a ranked school important?  Do you want to attend a school where the name is recognizable?  These schools are REALLY hard to get into- many of them have an acceptance rate of less than 15% (and that’s being generous).  Kids applying to these schools have been thinking about it since Freshman year- they are prepared.  And even if they are prepared, most of them are not going to get accepted.  That’s the reality.

And at the end of the day- you must remember- going to college does not guarantee success.  The joke at Harvard is that Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Matt Damon never graduated, yet they are by pretty much any standard considered successful.  You will only get out of life as much as you put into it.

Sure, college might open some doors, but if you enter a room, you still need to work and plan and do things.  No one hands you money just because you went to college.  No one hands you anything.  A diploma is not necessarily a golden ticket.

Unfortunately, I will be talking about college a lot.  I can’t help it- this whole year is college centric and sometimes I’m going to need to vent in a public forum.  I need to give myself a reality check every once in awhile.

Peace and love

 

32 thoughts on “College…….

  1. When I was looking at schools, there were some high end schools that were looking right back. Ultimately, I decided on the in-state university system. It had everything I wanted, including internationally known artists in the fine arts department and an amazing library. I decided that education is what you make of it, so while some of my classmates went off to fancy schools on the coasts, I stayed here, and I never regretted it.

    Scholarships were a lifeline. I had a couple of big ones and several little ones, and they paid for most of my tuition. Something that a few of my friends have done is to get their basic courses out of the way at community colleges where it’s a lot cheaper, and then tackle the degree field courses at the University. I know one young woman who did that, and will be graduating this December with no student debt.

    I had to laugh at the ‘not going west of Chicago’. I mean, if she went to school in, say, Colorado, she might never want to leave!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You made a logical sound choice, based on what you wanted/needed and the ,oat effective way to achieve that goal. My only hope that 50% of kids think about it like you did! Alas, my daughter is not a fan of the SUNY system….too large, most located in small, northern parts of the state i.e. Too much snow). She did like the umass schools, but that doesn’t save me Much money….but……She also wants those highly selective schools….which could be the death of me…..

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      1. Yikes! I see the appeal of schools like that, but at the same time I don’t see the appeal.

        Also, why us she worried about snow if she’s not responsible for shoveling or driving…?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. From her older friends, the kids at snow bound schools tend to drink more. Just her observation. Oh….the schools she’s looking at…..I’m stressed thinking about it…..I keep telling her to hold onto the letters where they offer her money….

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  2. As someone who has been through what you are facing – twice; you have a good handle on things, and some great advice. My youngest son is graduating this year from college, and is now applying to medical schools. We were lucky in that we found a great school 30 minutes away, and he eased our financial burden with scholarships. This is a great time, not only for your daughter, but for you as a parent. I hope the college search is fantastic for you. Take care.

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  3. My daughter has started senior year and is still getting mail from schools. We have narrowed it down to 8 schools and she is starting the application process. The end is in sight. Soon we transition to waiting to hear the results of the applications.

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  4. We haven’t started looking yet as my son is only a sophomore, but he started getting stuff in 8th grade (we think it was because he was in robotics), not a lot, but it still floored us they were starting to recruit that young. Even though we aren’t looking, he has such a solid head on his shoulders, he is pretty sure he already knows where he wants to go and his reasons are so crazy practical (cost, field of study, and close to home – he actually really wants to stay close to home). Our district really pushes kids from an early age to be thinking about their plans for college and the classes they will need to take to appeal to those colleges. I’m torn with that heavy push, but I’m glad my kids don’t feel too much pressure because of it.

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    1. Yeah….my daughter started getting stuff as a freshman, but wait till junior year….the push is insane. In NYC, kids apply to public high schools, and my kid chose one that is considered a college prep school, so the amount of college info we’ve had is crazy!! Plus, she plays tennis, so the upper classmen have been telling tales of woe for years. My daughter likes what I refer to as fancy pants schools….her father and I tend toward the slacker side, so this amuses us greatly. Except the sticker shock, which doesn’t amuse us at all…..plus, the acceptance rates…..I will be extremely glad when this is over

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  5. My niece just went through all of the above before she landed in the program of her dreams at a state school with a PhD program in what she wants to study. If she goes through the whole program she’ll be paying off her student loans forever, but that doesn’t seem to faze her. I don’t know if that’s because she’s been brainwashed into thinking she must go to college and earn all the degrees OR if she’s a brainiac who’ll enjoy the sense of accomplishment at the end. I wish her, and all kids, well– but like you said, being smart + successful and having a college degree [or two] are not necessarily the same thing.

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    1. Honestly….I think the whole everyone must go to college thing is a joke. Some kids, like your niece or my daughter….they clearly want to go and that’s great. But so many kids use it at a place holder…to find themselves. I don’t know….I think they could find themselves without going into debt. It’s a slippery slope that we’ve built….

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      1. I agree. Back when I went to college it wasn’t a given like it is today. I wanted to go; I loved the learning. But if you don’t like academic life then why bother with the charade? The thing is, if you change your mind about academics, then you can always go to college when you’re older and clearer about why you’re there.

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      2. Exactly!! There’s no time limit on when you can or should go! Why are we rushing kids into this very expensive decision! And what’s wrong with fields that are not college related!? What’s wrong with being a mechanic or a plumber or a chef! You can always learn about anything you want…the internet does have some good points!! College doesn’t always make you smarter….just poorer…..

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  6. Having done this with both of my children, 2 distinctly different experiences. I told my children to do what they love with their life otherwise it becomes just a way to pay the bills. Neither of my children chose high paying careers but they love doing what they do and that is the point I wanted them to learn. Colleges that are well known and respected for a certain major are great if that is what you want to study but realize that that major may be harder to get into, helps to go in undecided and then choose. This is a marathon, not a sprint pace yourselves and enjoy.

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  7. So many stories of college prep with my own three. I’m thankful that’s all behind me. Scholarships were life savers and two of the three are even debt free having paid off the loans they did have to take out. Switching majors part way through keeps the oldest one still in repayment for a few more years though 🙁

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  8. The pressure on these kids is tremendous. Though my son’s high school preached that not every kid was destined for college, he was the only person in his school who opted for a post graduate year of high school instead of college. It was the best thing he ever did. He entered college a year later but more mature and ready to handle himself. And he handled the college application process himself – a tremendous relief. I love your list of considerations. Another is the school’s alumni network and career placement department. I know lots of kids who graduate and are pretty much on their own in their job searches while other schools pride themselves on career placement. Just a thought.

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    1. Ohhh…that’s a great point and I can’t believe I forgot it, because that is definitely something to consider, and is actually why my daughter is focusing on certain colleges!! I’m probably going to write about how the everyone should go to college thing is a sham, and that going right after high school isn’t always right either, because I think the whole thought process is ridiculous.

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      1. Absolutely. They have programs where kids can work in inner cities. They’ve got lots of programs abroad too, but many are as expensive as a year in college. When my son (and we) decided he wasn’t ready for college, I told my husband that I couldn’t have him hanging around all day. He was going to do something, and he ultimately did a PG year. I’m convinced it helped him get into his first choice college.

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