The new College Scorecard website https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/, breaks down earnings for college graduates by school. The parameters are that the students included are those who received federal student loans and the time accessed is ten years after enrollment (so between six and four years after graduation depending on how long the student spent in college). One can sort by the percentage earned above the earnings of a high school graduate, the average annual cost (after aid is received), graduation rate (after six years), name and size of the school. This is invaluable because it reveals that some of the most expensive schools do not result in more earnings for graduates and some less expensive schools do. This is examined in a recent NY Times article, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/14/upshot/gaps-in-alumni-earnings-stand-out-in-release-of-college-data.html. The website is easy to understand and use. I urge every student and parent to examine it.
The National College Advising Corps members do the work of a college counselor but inside the classroom and at no cost to students. Thanks to a $10 million dollar grant from the Belk Endowment, advisors have been placed in rural North Carolina high schools to help with everything from filling out the FAFSA to scholarship opportunities! Students that otherwise would not go to college are now attending.
Were you attending UNC Chapel Hill to major in biology? No longer possible. What happens if you are a rising senior with a math major at Appalachian State or UNC Greensboro? Your major is now discontinued. What exactly does that mean if you are already in the program? The UNC Board of Governors took this action on Friday. We will follow this and let students and parents know what to do if it affects them.
Parents need to know what to do before the worst happens. I am writing this as the parent of a college freshman and high school sophomore and an Independent Educational Consultant. We send our children to college with every thought that the hardest part of parenting is over. The possibility of losing a child in college is unthinkable. Here are some recommendations because we need some action to take. We are reminded of the father of Anna Marie Smith who, once he realized she had left her laptop at home, raced to the campus only to be too late. No parent should have to go through that.
If your college student seems to not be doing well, a parent needs to have daily communication by telephone, not text, with that student. Parents need the telephone numbers of students’ dorm and suite mates and the Resident Advisor.
Colleges are severely limited by FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and cannot contact a parent when their child seeks mental health services. If a student who is not doing well cannot be contacted, act immediately by going to them to ensure that they are getting services from the student health center. Another option is to remove them from school until they can be stabilized with help from mental health professionals and possibly medication.
Parents can and should plan ahead by helping their student choose the right college. Independent Educational Consultants that specialize in helping students with any type of special circumstance should be chosen. Parents can help keep their precious children alive.
So you've decided to change careers around age 50. You are nervous but excited. What is the scariest thing you could do? Invest your retirement money? Nope. Change your look to be more professional? Nope. The scariest thing I have done is to take a class called "Using the Internet for College Counseling".
I had never used facebook or twitter. The only podcasts I had heard of were from NPR but I'd never listened to one. I had certainly never dreamed of making my own podcast or writing this blog every week.
The class has opened my eyes to so many possibilites with social media. I now tweet and retweet and check twitter daily. I enjoy facebook and especially the photos on it. I have made a website and a podcast.
This brave new world is today's world. My teenage children have never known another. It is rewarding and interesting. It is time to join. Even if you are scared, jump in, the water is fine.
You are a student athlete who got a scholarship offer to play your sport in college. Congratulations. Do you know exactly what you've signed up for? What if you get hurt? What if you can't keep your grades up? What happens to your scholarship money?
Student athletes have the dual responsibility of school work and sports. A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board recently ruled that the amount of time spent by college athletes (in his ruling football players at schools with large programs) makes them into workers not just students. The amount of time spent by scholarship athletes practicing and competing can equal 40 hours per week or more.
If you think it will be easy to find the time to do your best on the field and in the classroom, think again.
So what is the answer? Read the fine print of your scholarship offer. Take the offer to a trusted professional person to explain it to you and your parents. Do this before you accept it. It will be worth it to understand what your life in college will be like and what could go wrong.
Do you need to pay for SAT/ACT preparation? That depends on you. If you can learn from an online website then the answer is no. There are dozens of free test prep sites with actual full length practice test that can be timed or not and score your answers. You can even get explanantions for each answer - for free.
What about videos? Do you need to listen and not just read the explanations? Also free. What if you want to download a test and print it? Also free.
I could not find one difference between online paid site services and free ones. If you need in person help then hire a tutor one on one or go to a class. If you can learn online then do it for free and save hundreds or thousands of dollars!
You may be thinking - I can get all of the loans and grants I need for college. Yes, you can but should you? The answer is No. American students have an average student loan amount of $29,400. Do you want to owe that much when you graduate from college? What can you do to avoid this? Money that is a grant not a loan does not need to be repaid! Work-study money is payment for services. Beware of all of loans!
What can I do to get the right money? There are so many websites that say they can help you find the money for college. Can they? I found one that I recommend you check out. It is a full service website called financialaidtoolkit.ed.gov. It can help you with every step of the process from understanding the FAFSA, loans and grants to filling out the forms to interpreting the aid offer once you get it.
One thing to keep in mind is that a higher priced school doesn't necessarily cost more. Some expensive colleges have more grant (not loan) money to give. You must carefully evaluate your offers of financial aid to get to the bottom of what you get as a grant and what would have to be repaid. This decision will affect the rest of your life! Be careful and get help if you need it.
If you are considering a college should you visit one of the multiple virtual sites? Are the tours realistic or even interesting?
Well the answer is yes, yes and yes. If you have never been to a campus then the video walking tours on sites such as the college websites themselves or youvisit.com will show you the landmarks of the campus with a detailed commentary. This can help you eliminate colleges that you find unappealing from looks alone. Once you have selected several of interest then you can try different parts of a website like collegeclickTV.com to compare statistics of colleges and view videos.
Videos made by students can be viewed on every subject especially on youtube.com. If you want to know what the inside of a dorm looks like then youtube.com will have a video to show you. Keep in mind that this site is not edited and contains students' subjective opinions so it might be wise to view several videos on controversial subjects before coming to the truth.
Once you have narrowed your college preferences down you really need to visit the schools in person. The reason is that it is vital that you feel at home and that you can see yourself spending the next four years of your life at the school. Visit while school is in session and see if you get the feeling
How do you start a college search? First ask yourself do you know what major or type or environment you want? If not, don't despair. I recommend a self-accessment quiz like the ones in College Match by Steven Antonoff. You can learn a lot about yourself which will help you narrow your college search.
Once you have some parameters you can search using them. Factors like size of school, cost and financial aid availability, location and academic offerings vary widely. If you know yourself then the questions will be easier to answer.
How do you know if search sites are reputable? Well, there are the big ones that are backed by companies: CollegeBoard, PrincetonReview, Kiplinger, U.S. News and government sites like the National Center for Education Statistics that you could start with then move on to smaller sites and blogs.
There is also no substitute for college visits although virtual visits through the college websites may help you narrow your search. You can even view dorm rooms virtually today.
Good luck. The right school is out there and you will feel at home once you find it.
The author is Rachel Hunt a lawyer turned college counseling consultant. She is the mother of one college sophomore and one high school junior.