But First, 5 Tips (Brace yourself for my ugly comments)
1. Focus on what's good for your student and not on what's good for your ego. That you want bragging rights about where your kid is going to college can easily mean you child ends up going to the wrong college, dropping out and forfeiting any scholarships that were awarded. Headaches, heartbreak and acrimony are likely to follow.
2. Define what is a "good college"before sounding completely out of touch by using terms like "prestige," "elite," and "top tier." You may care, but American business does not. To care means you still believe that where your kid goes to college determines their future success. Sorry, but those days are long gone.
3. Answer this most fundamental question before you start planning for college: "What is the maximum out-of-pocket I am willing to spend for my kid's education?" Not what you CAN or WANT to spend, but what you are WILLING to spend. What you're willing to spend means you have a definite cut-off point where serious debt is NOT in your future.
4. If your child graduates from college with lots of debt, that's your fault. Parents are irresponsible to encourage their children to rack up lots of debt as the true price for college. If you can only afford a state school and you have a bright student, schools with lesser reputations have Honors programs to attract the "best and the brightest" for a whole lot less. This is the school where you're glad they're in it for the money. Inquire about every school's Honors program.
5. Make sure your child masters the most important language of all: ENGLISH. American business leaders are not happy with what's coming out of our colleges. The bar of expectations have been lowered: If your child can graduate in 4 years and show evidence of an internship, some work experience and be able to speak in a complete paragraph, your child is a premium prospect for employment.
4 Questions You Must Ask
What is the most frequently asked question you are asked by parents?" "How do you handle being so good-looking?" Seriously, I don't have a "most frequent question."
1. When and how should parents start talking about college?
Parents should be speaking about college as early as possible, as if it's going to be a right of passage into adulthood. It sets up the child to think that's it's a future reality that should be anticipated with good expectations (I know...not everyone should go to college). And begin the college search only AFTER the student has taken a serious personality assessment to determine an approximate career fit. My students get excited and their stress levels go south very fast.
2. What factors should you consider when choosing a college?
Cynic ALERT: Gigantic gymnasiums, seven different cafeterias, plenty of "safe places" for whining students, lots of teaching assistants who speak English as a second language, or exquisite dorm accommodations for students, and lies of little or no debt when your kid graduates.
3. How do you define the parents' role in choosing a college?
Research the colleges, makes summaries and discuss with your child what you have discovered, both strengths and weaknesses of each college.
4. Where do you suggest parents go for additional information?
Go here or read my book, Planning For College. The problem with the internet is too much information. Where are you supposed to start? Since 80% of the value of information lies in 20% of that information, how are you going to decide what represents 80% of the value of what you read? You won't, you can't, so save yourself a ton of time. Get my book or go here.
Modesty Alert: "Good-looking" is in the eyes of the beholder. Right?... _______________ Copyright 2016 Paul Lloyd Hemphill
My strategy has proven to give the student a far greater advantage in the admissions office because colleges place a premium on who you are, which is not easily recognized on a list of extracurricular activities, test scores, or application essays.
The greatest life-lesson your child will learn from working with me: Who you are will always triumph over what you know.