Do you have to go into debt to attend college? Many people say you do. A quick glance at the finances of most recent college graduates would further prove their point: Debt is normal, even unavoidable, in today’s college culture. But is this entirely true?
If you do college the “normal” way – attend four years, right out of high school, without a strategic plan – debt may very well be inevitable. But with a plan, a lot of work, and some patience, it IS possible to greatly reduce how many loans a student takes out. Better yet, some students graduate completely debt-free!
How to Avoid Excessive Debt
If you’ve been receiving these emails since 9th grade, you know how much I encourage an early plan for post-high school education. The academics, tests, scholarship applications, and jobs your student participates in throughout high school can all contribute to a debt-free education:
- Academics: A high GPA results in more scholarship dollars.
- Tests: the PSAT (10th grade) can result in National Merit scholarships, and standardized tests scores in general are a big factor in academic aid.
- Scholarships: Applying for scholarships during the summer (see last month’s email) is a great way to fund higher education.
- Jobs: Working before and during college is the best way to gain practical experience, network with people of influence, and save money for extra expenses in your college journey.
Other ways to reduce or prevent debt are dual enrolling (saves money and time), CLEP testing (same effects as dual enrollment), and work study (working for the college as you study).
For some students, even these methods aren’t enough to prevent excessive debt. In these cases, I suggest studying online or at a local college part time while paying your way through full time work (this is how I achieved my A.A. degree, before I went on to my B.S.). You can combine all these methods into a strategic plan and with work and patience, you CAN graduate debt free.
Is education an investment?
The big question for many of us is whether college is actually worth the money invested. Is it really necessary to succeed? Not always. Some students find more fulfillment in attending trade schools and starting their own studios, salons, or businesses. Many go the entrepreneurial route. College is not necessary unless it specifically equips a person for the calling God has placed on their heart.
That said, higher education IS an investment; but it can be a good or bad investment. A good investment provides a substantial return. A bad investment leaves you “in the red” –the case for many college graduates today. To determine if your student’s current plans are a good investment, consider these tips:
- Explore the starting salary of jobs in your intended major; does your major provide a good return on investment (ROI)?
- If the starting salary would be difficult with the amount of loans you’d incur, what courses can you dual enroll, CLEP, or study online to reduce costs?
- Are you working? If not, how can you earn money to pay for books and extra college costs?
- Have you applied for scholarships? If not, start this week!
For more helpful info on college debt, read this article.
Questions? Email email@example.com.
The fall term is only a few weeks away, and your junior is already nervous. Between standardized tests, dual credit classes, and his normal homeschool workload, this year is shaping up to be a lot of work! Well, here’s some great news to alleviate those nerves: incorporating study skills into your homeschool routine will help your student not only retain all the information he’s learning, but increase his chances of high test scores and a great GPA. Here are some study skills to start working on this month:
This is where every homeschool mom laughs and says: “Listening? MY kids?!” Active listening doesn’t come naturally– especially to many teens. Yet to succeed in college and career, active listening must be learned and practiced.
Active listening requires engaging with the speaker, usually a lecturer, by looking for the main ideas and concepts expressed. Students who take notes (discussed in the next point) will find listening much easier to accomplish, because they know for what they are listening. Active listening also requires feedback. Teach your student to get comfortable with asking questions and approaching authority figures – like future professors – to get answers if he doesn’t understand a topic.
Notetaking is a skill which, once learned, is not soon forgotten. It is useful for all of life! There are many different methods of notetaking, but the most recommended method for college students is the Cornell Method, briefly described in this article: http://www.princeton.edu/mcgraw/library/for-students/great-notes/ .
Notetaking is an excellent way to increase the retention rate for material. Since retention rates for lectures can be as low as 5% of the material discussed, taking good notes – and reviewing them – guarantees the student actually learns from what is presented.
This article from Pepperdine University describes additional ways to improve retention: http://www.pepperdine.edu/disabilityservices/students/tips/memstrat.htm.
The third component to effective study is review. Students should review their notes and materials within 24 hours of consuming it. This allows the facts to assimilate in their minds and make connections with the pictures, phrases, and concepts they’ll need to recall for exams.
Study skills make a great practice for a homeschool summer. They don’t take a lot of work to implement and can easily be integrated into a light summer curriculum.
Let us know your favorite study skill resources by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.