So for the past few weeks we have written about Planning for College, Saving for College, and Talking to Your Child About College. This week I wanted to take a slightly approach. Today’s message is directed right at you, high school students, and what you can do to prepare for college.
First, understand that college needs to be a part of a plan and that plan requires work and decision making prior to execution. This does not mean it is all work though. Most high schools will allow juniors and seniors to have days off to go visit college campuses. Talk with your parents and do some research to figure out what schools you (not your friends) are interested in and then make a plan to take advantage of those days off of school to go visit the campuses.
Second, adapt and let your plan grow. As you talk to your parents and advisors don’t feel stuck to your first decisions. This plan is something that will change and evolve with the information and knowledge you gain through the planning process. However, the planning process needs to have a solid foundation before you leave high school and head to college. Making changes and decisions at the last minute will only throw you off your path and will likely have many undesired consequences.
When I was 18 and had just graduated high school (in itself a miracle), my best friend and I went on a road trip for the summer. As summer was coming to an end, it was clear I had no idea what was next but I did know I wanted to go to college. I ended up at an out of state school where I was paying $10,000 per semester. Now, I didn’t have money saved up nor did I have any clue how I was going to pay for school. I remember going to the registrar multiple times and the answer was either sign here or call this number. Something told me while doing this that I was responsible for the money but in reality it was just easier to just keep signing and postponing. Never seeing the final numbers or the building pile of debt, I just kept signing and making the phone calls. I, like many others, left that school with no degree and a mountain of debt. I started to receive calls on for payments on that debt shortly after I left school. This could have all been avoided. I DID NOT HAVE A PLAN. Had I made a plan and knew where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, and how I was going to pay for it, I would’ve save myself a lot of stress, debt, and time.
Third, listen and talk to others. As young adults you will have many people who tell you to do one thing or another. After a lifetime of having to do things everyone says might make you want to completely disregard any good advice you get. I understand the desire to claim independence and to make an adult decision because that is exactly how I felt. What I do wish I did was talk to people who have the experience and knowledge of the process I was looking for. Ask for advice and information. Ask all the advisors and mentors you have access to to give you some good life advise. Show them your plans and ask them for help filling in any holes that you are unsure of or missing. The Bible says that in the multitude of council there is wisdom. I pray that you seek this wisdom and are able to sift through all the advice you receive. There are always people willing to talk but is up to you and your close partners helping you plan ( hopefully your parents ) to understand what advice fits into your plan.
My dad used to say “Sun, do you know why I call you sun? Because one day you will be bright. “
This wasn’t to knock me down or say I wasn’t bright now, but he was letting me know that there was still so much ahead of me to learn. We are all at different stages in all of our journeys (whether that be with Christ, our children, or even our finances). So we must continue to seek guidance in all areas not just when we are young, and in turn we must also provide council to those around us that allow us to be part of their journeys.
This wraps up the college series. I hope all readers have been able to gain something from this.
Charles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at www.CAMFinancialCoach.comwhere you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.