Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Sending Teens to College
Now that I’m much older and just a little bit wiser, I realize that loans, while often necessary, come with a price. That price is called interest. I vowed that as my children became college-aged that I would help them pay for college defraying much of that cost. What I didn’t count on is the dramatic increase in the costs of education over the twenty years since I had been there. College, especially four-year colleges, are expensive!
So, plan B. We would pay for the first two years. Then, if they chose a four-year institution, we would pay for room and board providing it was not local. (Out-of-state is out of the question.) Scholarships would have been nice, but we didn’t go that route much to my hindsight dismay. I feel blessed beyond measure to be able to do this much for them.
The economy is not playing nice – it really changes our perspectives about pursuing a degree. Back in the day, education was the pursuit of knowledge. We don’t have that luxury today. Now, there must be a lucrative end goal for the investment to be worth it. I realized that just expecting my kids to go to college without a plan in mind wasn’t realistic. We needed to really consider all avenues. That’s what we are doing now.
My oldest has gone the four-year route. She spent one semester at home going to the community college and is now away at the university she always dreamed of. The catch – transferring may have made her four-year stay into five years. Yikes! That’s a lot of debt for her to take on, especially since her end goal is to teach.
My oldest son graduates this January. He will be at the community college in the spring fulfilling some of the general education requirements. Right now, he’s trying to decide between going to a four-year institution or taking a vocational path and earning an associate’s degree and certifications to work in the automotive industry. Based on our research to date, the latter seems like the more profitable approach.
There’s a lot to be done between now and next spring. He’ll have to make choices, she’ll have to figure out if she can afford another year, and we’ll have to determine just how we can get the two younger ones positioned to know what they want to do and have the scholarships to pave the way. Phew!
What has been your approach to post-high school with your children?