Financial security, or the promise of lifetime employment, is often a reason for choosing to attend college. However, recent income and employment trends may give college-bound students pause to further contemplate their expectations of job security with a college degree. 44% of today’s college graduates are underemployed, meaning they don’t need a college degree for their current jobs, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In addition, since college graduates median income has remained relatively flat from 1965 to today, meaning that the exact middle of all full time employed college graduates of each of the last five generation has not changed substantially, yet college tuition since 1978 (see the second chart) has grown by 1140 percent, is the expected return on a college degree worthy of the costs?
Thinking though the most valuable academic major in which to earn a college degree may be a wise move.
Chart 1 Source: Pew Research Center, February 2014
Chart 2 Source: dshort.com
“Will my kid get in?” is a concern often rattling around Senior parents’ minds at this time of year, causing a fair share of insomnia. Worries spike each time these same parents listen to other parents excitedly share good news about their kid’s acceptance, while polite smiling to hide the anxious wonderings about why their Senior has not yet received any response from the same college. Once the conversation ends, unnerved parents feverishly try to hold insistent thoughts about rejection at bay. The idea that their children will suffer the disappointment of a denial letter can be miserable for parents, who will stand witness from the sidelines, feeling powerless to shield their children from life’s adversities. In addition, the concerns that their children will have harder paths toward future prosperity, having not gotten into the “right” college, can be equally distressing for parents. Many parents often begin questioning if there was some other magic extracurricular activity that would’ve made their kid unique and therefore accepted. All these concerns are typical.
Antidotes can help keep perspective, like “When a one door closes, another one opens.” In addition, remembering that every kid who went to a said “right” college doesn’t graduate from that same college, some kids graduate from off-brand name colleges and are wildly successful, as well as those individuals who don’t graduate from any college yet still prosper – can mitigate fears. Alternately, taking a moment to reflect on the resiliency of their child throughout his/her lifetime can help reassure parents that their kid will grow from whatever responses college admissions officers return. Lastly, parents who trust their own experiences having endured rejection will know that life’s ups and downs build character in the long run, even though not fun in the short run. Parents who first work with their own anxieties can then empathize and support their children, no matter the outcome.
Scholarships are not mysterious. Winning them takes work – which is only a continuation of the efforts to be eligible to compete for scholarships in the first place. read more…
Elementary school has recess for a reason – pent up little kid energy can get in the way of focusing on the academic task at hand. Adults and teens are no different; we just have to be more deliberate about making “recess” in our lives. If The President and Vice President can do it, there’s no excuses.
From Our Clients:
- Aaaaccck! How do we pay for college? Parents often tell themselves, “First things first. Applications, THEN we’ll think about how to pay for college.” Totally an expected reaction, when considering the six figure totals for a college education these days. However, the planning to pay for college can take place long before applying (and may help prevent sleepless nights later). Teaching kids the value and purpose of money can be a starting point from the time they’re young to prepare for the expense of college. Then, trying to convince teenagers to apply for thousands of dollars in scholarships in the spring of their senior years may be a less difficult discussion.
- FAFSA, EFC, COA: the alphabet soup of financial aid can be a learning curve in itself, before even considering how to pay for college. FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and generally required to apply for financial aid at any college across the country. EFC is the Expected Family Contribution and the dollar amount calculated after a family completes the FAFSA, which colleges use to determine any need-based financial aid. And, COA stands for Cost of Attendance, which is the estimated average cost for the school year at a particular college campus, including tuition, housing, books, transportation and average personal expenses.
- Got Tutoring?: The second semester can be a chance for students to adjust their studying efforts, in order to earn grades that reflect their intellectual abilities and knowledge. When there’s a lack of academic progress, naturally parents want to help their kids, and start suggesting tutoring as a solution. Not so fast. First, find out if the problem is a lack of conceptual knowledge. Subject matter tutoring may not address the learning issue, which instead may be a miscommunication between teacher and student or a lack of understanding by the student of how to demonstrate her/his knowledge on a test. Ask kids more questions about what’s going on with the class, to apply the most appropriate solution.
From the News:
- This 4-Year Old Makes Paper Dresses With Her Mom – And They Keep Getting More Amazing, Huffington Post February 26, 2014 (Sometimes, our lives are shaped not by what our parents do for us, but do to not interfere with our emerging selves.)
- What if Google Ran the College Application Process? Washington Post February 20, 2014 (Thoughts on the lack of transparency in the college admissions decision making process)
- How to Get a Job at Google, The New York Times February 22, 2014 (What skills matter to employers?)
“I just looked at it [the original Star Trek series] as science fiction, ’cause that wasn’t going to happen, really, but Ronald saw it as science possibility.”
- Carl McNair, about his brother, Astronaut Ronald McNair, who died aboard The Challenger in 1986
While we all face difficulties in our lives, some continue to move forward regardless of expectations and norms. Listen to the following podcast from National Public Radio’s StoryCorps, as Carl McNair talks about his brother, Astronaut Ronald McNair, and his life growing up as an African American boy in segregated South Carolina in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Photo Credit: News.discovery.com
Student loans can help fund college expenses, yet create a future financial burden for students when in repayment. Currently, the total of student loans 90 days or more delinquent is at a record high of $124.3 billion – an increase of more than $3 Billion since last quarter. Possible reason for the delinquency can include the growing underemployment rates for new college grads, increasing college costs, a mismatched major choice with emerging career prospects and a less-than-complete search for colleges.
Also, see Zero Hedge
Although, generally cast in moral terms, academic cheating can be explained by examining practicality and circumstance, rather than attributing to simply a character weakness. Understanding when people cheat can help show the complexity of why people cheat.
In 2012, 125 Harvard undergraduates were investigated for sharing answers on a take home final exam, and approximately 70 students were mandated to temporarily withdraw from the university, after being found guilty of cheating. None of them were expelled. As quoted in the January 2014 Atlantic Monthly:
The take-home final exam for Harvard University’s 2012 Introduction to Congress course was open-book, open-note, and open-Internet. The only source students weren’t allowed to consult was other people.
Say, “S-A-T” or “A-C-T” to a high school junior, and watch their whole demeanor change. The idea that a test score that will be considered as part of a future college application can provoke a racing pulse and perspiration. A typical conversation with Juniors about the SAT and ACT goes something like this:
Presented for those of you wondering why new college grads are having a difficult time finding employment:
— Real Time Economics (@WSJecon) February 7, 2014
From Our Clients:
- SAT and ACT Prep: Each day, I talk with at least one parent concerned that their kid is not doing enough preparation for the SAT or ACT, who asks for advice how to motivate their kid to practice SAT and ACT questions. For most teens, the intention to prepare for the SAT and ACT is high. And, the actual work is not beyond the intelligence of the teenager. Why teens don’t practice more can be attributed to the fears of being condemned to a lifetime of destitution, if they don’t score highly, thus not be accepted to college. Assurances to the contrary may not be enough to quell fears totally; SAT and ACT preparation gives parents another opportunity to practice patience, as their teens are further maturing and developing the ability to act in the face of fear.
- The “Right” Extra-curricular Activities: The short answer is: there is no right extra-curricular activity to be admitted to college. College admissions officers are seeking greeter understanding of the person behind the application, to make the most informed decision possible. Since what, where and how a student chooses to commit their spare time tells about the student’s motivations and interests, do what you want – that’s the “right” extracurricular for you.
- Summer is No Vacation: The idea that students need to be occupied and scheduled in organized activities 365 days a year in order to be accepted to college is a myth. read more…
183,272 is the number of single applications the University of California (UC) received for Fall 2014 admissions. The record numbers will make admissions decisions again unpredictable for applicants this year. read more…
About the author: Samantha’s son enrolled at the Naval Academy in Fall 2012, after considering colleges, like University of California Los Angeles and Boston University. She highlights the support of the Navy Academy parent groups in the local area to bring families together, building a connection with their sons’ and daughters’ experiences at the Academy from across the country.
For parents who are preparing their children for college, I’d like to share some of my experiences as a Sacramento mother with a son currently attending the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. My son, Kai, is slated to graduate in 2016 with an aerospace engineering degree. read more…
Just in the last month, more recently graduated or soon-to-be-graduated college students have re-connected with Creative Marbles for post-college advising. Degrees (almost) in hand, “Now what?” is the question, as these grads move back home with mom and dad.
The current sentiment as published in today’s Wall Street Journal gives insight into the world our college grads are inheriting:
Imagine someone wants to give away money to help pay for college, and publicly extends their offer to many people. The only step needed to get the money is to ask for it. Asking for the money happens as a written request – usually consisting of some forms requesting basic personal contact information and a short autobiography in a few paragraphs. Then, the person giving away the money can best determine who will receive the money. Basically, this describes the scholarship process. Now, no one logically turns down an offer of money, especially from someone willingly giving it away. Yet, every year many students do reject scholarship money by simply not applying. read more…
From the News:
- Some Parents, Educators are Rethinking the Role of AP, Baltimore Sun January 18, 2014
- Who Cheats and Why, The Atlantic Monthly January/February 2014
- More on Net Costs, Higher Ed Data Stories January 13, 2014
From our Clients:
- SAT, ACT or Both? The format of each test is different, and students can respond with higher test scores on one over the other. Since college admissions offices will only consider the highest test scores that most help a student be competitive for admissions, then taking both tests won’t hurt a student’s chances for a college acceptance.
- What’s a little snow? For us Californians, snow seems like an adventure or like water to a cat. As the prolonged dearth of rain continues here, a little weather seems enticing too, even if just to break up the monotony. Of course, to our readers anywhere else – especially in the Midwest and East Coast, I may sound looney. But, I digress. Snow and weather are important criteria when thinking about colleges, especially for those of us with NO life experience, other than the occasional ski day, of living in snow. And, I can say that with confidence, as the snow was one draw to enroll at Harvard, but the snow in Ann Arbor was enough to stay away from the University of Michigan. And, one winter was more than enough to prove I’m definitely a weather-spoiled California Girl.
- FAFSA, Financial Aid and the CSS/Profile: Fill out the forms to apply for financial aid, despite the uncertainties of thoughts that “We make too much money to qualify for financial aid.” The CSS/Profile and the FAFSA are the only ways a family can know if there’s any need-based financial aid available to help with college expenses. Each college has its own financial aid policy, so assistance can vary. For families conscious about the price of college, applying for financial aid can give as much information possible, to make the most informed decision possible.
“It’s not enough what I did in the past — there is also the future.” Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, commented when asked continuing her work as a pioneering neurologist at 100 years old. I was struck by her matter-of-fact attitude, that a life’s work doesn’t have a “done” point. The tendency to rest on our laurels can be tempting for anyone–yet, Dr. Levi-Montalcini didn’t seem to be influenced by such a human affectation. While its easy to see individuals like Dr. Levi-Montalcini, and place her on a pedestal of extraordinary human beings, who are the ordinary people we see around us everyday, who do more than we think possible? Our parents? Teachers? Priests? Friends? An aunt who battled breast cancer? A celebrity? When we stop for even a moment, we can see the people around us who continue moving forward no matter what. They are the “heroes” we can become, or maybe already are becoming, in our own ways.
From Our Clients:
- More Common App Problems: January 1 is one of the common college application due dates for popular and highly selective colleges, like Stanford, Harvard, Rice, Brown, Notre Dame, Claremont McKenna, Northwestern – just to name a few. In the midnight hours starting on the East Coast and moving West, the Common Application website, slowed considerably and created several technical glitches, preventing many students (frustratingly so) from submitting on the 1st. While many of the colleges extended their deadlines, DON’T WAIT UNTIL LITERALLY THE 11TH HOUR TO SUBMIT APPLICATIONS ON JANUARY 15TH – which can be another popular day amongst colleges for application deadlines.
- Financial Aid, FAFSA and CSS/Profile: Now that the college applications have (or shortly will be) submitted, ’tis the season for applying for financial aid. Know the deadlines for submitting all the required forms. The due dates can vary between colleges, and missing one deadline can mean forfeiting a year or more of financial assistance from the university. read more…