Or this mother at least!
My daughter is currently attending the University of New Haven. She graduated high school in May of 2016 and began her college journey that September. I try not to over talk about her or her decisions; however, when it comes to college, I believe we all can learn from her journey. So if you will indulge me, I would like to share a few things she has done that I believe everyone should do when it comes to life after high school.
1. Research your passion – We all dream of something as a little person – we want to be a teacher, firefighter, garbage man – so many options for a young mind. However, when we turn 16, it starts to get real. We reach that part of our lives where we not only need to dream, but we need to take action. Let me be clear about something – college isn’t for everyone. If you choose to not go to college, you are no less important than anyone else. The important thing is to find your passion – that thing that you will enjoy doing day in and day out. And understand – this may change along the way. You are only 16 and have many years ahead of you, but you have to start somewhere.
My daughter’s high school required that every student do one day of job shadowing in order to graduate. However, my daughter had a few careers she was considering and so she did three job shadowing days. In doing so, she eliminated two career choices right away and ascertained that she wanted to go into the criminal justice field. You may find, by the way, that your passion doesn’t require a college education. Don’t spend the money on college if it is not needed. Use college as a place to get the required education, if needed, for your field. Many careers require only a high school diploma or trade school experience. Know what you need and go about getting that – college or no college.
2. The best for the least – In today’s job market, where you get your education isn’t as important as the experience you receive in the process. There are a few schools that are still held in high esteem, but most employers are looking for what you know, not where you learned it. This is why in most cases, the least expensive way to pay for college is by attending a community college for 2 years and then transferring to a four-year college if needed. Just like when you are shopping, you want to get the best education possible for the least amount of money. This requires a plan of action.
After researching many schools, my daughter really wanted to attend the University of New Haven. They are one of the top criminal justice schools and have organizations such as banks, the FBI, and more recruiting directly from them. However, UNH is a private institution. This has its pros and cons – it cost a lot, but has great potential for large school scholarships. My daughter had always tried to maintain a high GPA in high school because she knew it could benefit her financially when college time rolled around. And it did just that. She was able to get a scholarship directly with the school for half of her tuition. She then applied for other scholarships and received them, ended up in the honors program after her first year, which afforded her more scholarships and ended up paying less to go to private college than she would have going to an in state university. She also took AP exams which gave her credit for classes she needed, took summer classes at the community college online, and is now graduating a year early, saving her over $26,000.
Again, I don’t say this to brag. I share this because she is an awesome example of how to get the best for the least. She had a dream and she went after it with everything she had. She even surprised me and I raised her. She did things I never would have done when I was in college. She is proof that it is not about just signing up for a college, getting student loans and hoping it works out.
3. The words we all want to hear – We helped her pay for most of her college, but in the end she took out small loans for her part that she already has a plan to be paid back within a year of graduation. That was for the first two years – however, this year, she moved off campus which saved a bunch of money. In June, we received the tuition bill for the fall semester. We paid our part as always. And then she told me she wanted to cash flow her senior year. 2 weeks ago she paid $4,000 in cash and is working to pay cash for her last semester. No more student loans!
Of course, that is music to my ears given my profession – teaching people to pay cash for everything. But what made me even more proud as a mom was what she said – “Mom, it was hard to let go of the cash, but it felt so good.” She was able to feel the pain of having a loan, even though it is small, and the freedom of paying cash. Guess what – she won’t borrow money anymore.
As a parent, we have to find a balance between doing everything for our kids and holding their hand as they learn this thing called adulthood. It was hard for me when she took out the loans, but I knew she would learn what I had learned. Luckily, she had 3 less zeros on her’s. And before one dollar is due, she has a plan to pay them off as quickly as possible – she is not just wishing or hoping, she is putting action behind it.
Thank you for allowing me to share my daughter’s journey with you. I am very proud of her as I know you are of yours. Teach them, let them learn, and always keep the conversation going.
Check out “The Adulting Survival Kit: The Ultimate Personal Finance Toolkit” in Debbi’s store. It is what every young adult needs to start this journey called life. Shop Now