During senior year of high school my Dad pushed for a decision on what I would go to college for. I had ABSOLUTELY no idea. Knowing I liked to tinker with electronics, he said “Here are 2 options; electronics and computer programming.” I said, “Well, let’s go with, um, ahhh, hmmm…Computer Programming.” The options presented were at what is now called Northern Maine Community College.
We are taking a similar approach with our kids. That is, having them start at a local / community college and we “foot the bill.” There are numerous benefits, including:
- It being much easier to “pay as you go” (loan free)
- There are no (additional) expenses for room and board (although these boys are eating a whole lot more!)
- When an early mistake is made (i.e., a class must be retaken) it isn’t too painful/costly
- Provides an opportunity to try things out (college as well as the field of study) to get their feet wet and determine if this is truly the direction they want to go, making a change in direction less painful/costly
- Credits from community college can be transferred to 4-year colleges saving 10’s of thousands of dollars!!!
- Bottom-line: Provides a foundational college education with no loans hanging over their head
Once they have achieved an Associates Degree, and possibly a Certificate or two, a decision can be made regarding the continuation of that education. This is where they begin “footing the bill.” I’m willing to co-sign for loans, but they take ownership of this next level of investment in their education — if they choose to continue. This includes continuing to maintain a job to cover their living expenses and to begin making payments on their newly acquired school loans (while still in school). This approach is working well so far; 3 in process, 1 to go 🙂
While I may have “only” achieved my Associates Degree I took advantage of EVERY training opportunity provided by employers and have consistently invested (out-of-pocket) in continuous education — in many forms. The result: Achieving “only” an Associates Degree hasn’t held me back in the least.
Make no mistake, I believe that a solid education is crucial! My experience is that it isn’t “so much” the degree achieved or the college attended, but what you do with that degree and how you continue your education — FOREVER!
A few pointers related to college-related books, as they are EXPENSIVE! Once your student has their list of classes they can find out what books are needed for each – from their teacher. NOT the school bookstore. Go to Amazon.com to acquire these vs. the school bookstore and you will save a great deal! Then, monitor the use of the books after classes have begun. There have been numerous cases for our kids when the teacher indicates “This is recommended reference material, but we really aren’t going to use it.” When you observe this, send it back to Amazon for a refund!
Economists report that a college education adds many thousands of dollars to a man’s lifetime income – which he then spends sending his son to college. ~ Bill Vaughn
Please feel free to reply with strategies you’ve found effective for helping your kid(s) through the process of acquiring a college education, without you taking on debt to do so. And, please feel free to forward this along to anyone you feel may benefit.