Sunday, April 24, 2016

NOTE TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND GRADUATES .... The Choice of Whether and/or Where to Attend College, Including Advance Preparation and Realistic Plans for a Timely Graduation ... Pick Your Path Wisely and Proceed Accordingly

Going to college is a good idea for those who are (1) adequately prepared to do the academic work and (2) seriously intending to graduate in a timely manner.

Otherwise it may prove to be both (1) a costly misadventure and (2) a big waste of valuable time.

The scary stat most high school seniors overlook as they pick a college says this:

"One of the biggest issues for college students — and their bill-footing parents — is whether they will really graduate in four years. . . .

The average for U.S. college students is 40%. Add in those who need five or six years, and that only gets the average up to 60%.

What do those additional years of college cost? Tuition may not be that much, as most students who stay beyond four years don’t need many more credits to graduate. But the College Board calculates that living expenses for college students on average are about $17,000 for nine months. . . .

Then add in student loans. Some 60% of all college students borrow to help cover the cost of education. . . .

Read: 47% of high school grads aren’t prepared for college

It might be surprising, but a lot of undergraduates, maybe the majority, way overestimate their abilities and take courses that are too hard for them. . . .

This is the place you want to spend your time and money to boost the odds of a good return on your education. Remember, the worst outcome is dropping out of school laden with debt.

The second-worst outcome is taking a very long time to graduate. Even if students don’t get derailed by college life and tough courses, they can be delayed by not being able to get into courses to complete requirements for their majors.

This is a risk that can be assessed pretty easily just by looking at those requirements. The more there are and the more of them that involve prerequisites (this has to be taken before that), the more difficult it is to complete the major.

The final effect of expensive college years is how they can affect career and life choices after. That is especially so when there is more debt. One of the things we know from empirical evidence is that people in debt choose different career paths — and they’re not necessarily the career paths that they would have chosen otherwise. . . .

College debt also affects life choices. The most obvious of these is the possibility of going to graduate school, which can be next to impossible for individuals who already have a lot of debt. Student debt also delays marriage and home purchases.

Student loans are expensive: The cheapest, federal “subsidized” loans charge 3.4%, but the borrowing limit is $3,500 in the first year (it then rises, reaching $5,500 a year for juniors and seniors). “Unsubsidized” federal loans charge 6.8%, and the new federal loans that parents can take out for their undergraduate children charge a whopping 7.9% along with an initial fee of 4.2% of the total value of the loan. That more than doubles the total cost of the loan over a 10-year period.

Read: Parents borrowing to send kids to college skyrocketed over the last two decades

A college education these days is a big investment, one that can cripple a student and family financially if they aren’t careful. The biggest risk factor in that investment is also one that can be managed if we are careful, and that is making sure the student graduates and does so on time."

Summing Up

For those adequately prepared and wanting to go to college, by all means they should do just that. 

A college education can be both a financially rewarding and life enriching experience.

But for those not prepared to do the work, they should think long and hard before proceeding.

Piling on onerous debt and dropping out are also life changing events, albeit generally of a most negative nature.

Thus, graduating in a timely manner with a marketable degree and graduating debt free is the absolute best way.

So here's my take and advice to high school attendees and graduates alike --- choose wisely and proceed accordingly.

You'll be glad you did, and you'll be better off for having done so.

Thanks. Bob.

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