As part of the goal of Simply Sweet Home, I like to give out information not just on recipes and housekeeping but on other topics that are relevant to families. Several years ago I was starting college. Neither my parents nor my brother went to college, so it was a new thing for my family. And even though we had other relatives to get advice from, for the most part we were just feeling our way through it and really had no clue about what was going on. And if I had known what I know now, I would have done things differently and had a much better/different college experience. (Not that my experience was bad, but you know what I mean.)
So I decided to do this series on college issues, mainly to help those who have no experience themselves with college. Whether you’re sending kids to college, or you, yourself, are going to college, there’s a lot of stuff to know in terms of planning to get started and handling things once you get there, which can help to save you money and help you in your overall college experience and career.
My husband suggested that to begin, I should focus on the importance of planning. Planning is a key that cannot be stressed enough. Other than choosing a spouse and a career, choosing a college is one of the most important things you can do in your life, and after starting at the college, ultimately the major you choose and the courses (and teachers) you choose will impact you in one way or another. And for this reason you should really think on this a while before making any decisions. (more on that in a later post)
But also, a lack of planning means that you will spend more money in the long run. Whether you’re deciding where to go, registering for classes, looking at financial aid options, deciding where to live while in school, or even purchasing text books, a lack of planning will cost you.
Even if your kids are young, it is never to early to start thinking about college. When I was younger, my dad looked in to doing a pre-paid college program, but my mom didn’t want to do it, and this cost us. Aside from financial planning, it is a good idea to start planning and preparing kids for college by making sure that they enroll in high school courses which will help them in their college career. Even if you’re child is going to a community college or a college without strict admissions requirements, taking courses like advanced math & science and honors English & history, will help them when they get to college and have to take these difficult courses.
Also, starting in the 9th grade, your child should go and visit the guidance counselor every semester so that they can be sure and stay on track, in terms of researching colleges, preparing to register for the courses in high school that will best help them later on, registering for ACT and other college placement exams, and sending off college admissions forms and scholarship forms. It’s also not a bad idea to get the phone number of the guidance counselor and talk to them yourself, or schedule a meeting with them each semester to make sure that you’re doing everything to get your child ready. The guidance counselor is there to help you…it’s their job! (and they should also be more than happy to help, because when they are up for a raise or looking for another job in the future, they take credit for all the scholarships and etc. that they “help” people to get.)
You should also carefully plan your class schedules. Usually colleges post a tentative schedule for the next few semesters for planning purposes. If future schedules are not posted then you can speak with professors to find out when certain classes will be offered. This is very important because some classes are offered every semester, while others are only offered once a year (or less than that). It’s very important to know when classes will be offered in the future to make sure that you don’t miss out on a class, which would cost you more time and money in the long run. Schedule planning is especially important if you plan to transfer to another college.
Planning can save you a lot of time and money and it will keep you from backing yourself into a corner and being trapped in a college or a program that you aren’t happy with. And if do decide to change colleges or majors it will be much easier for you to come up with a new plan for yourself