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Avoid the siren call of college prestige
The Gig Economy
Has your junior started writing college essays yet?
My child must go to college X
You mean you don't just get to stay?

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College Talk Blog

Avoid the siren call of college prestige

"Should we choose the well-known, prestigious college above all others?" is a frequent question from parents of high school juniors and seniors. Parents wonder if their soon-to-be college student will have better employment options at graduation if their college diploma has a highly-recognized, high profile college name on it. They also wonder if spending $60,000 per year will yield more success than spending $20,000 per year. The answer is no in most circumstances.

While the reputation of a college is important, what a student does while in college is even more important in terms of future career success and earnings.

The Gig Economy

What are you hoping to prepare your pre-college student for? Hopefully professional skills that are adaptable in a fast-paced, changing world. Current pre-college students can't count on one professional position or even a series of professional jobs to support themselves. They need to be able to roll with the new gig-economy.

The gig economy is one of adaptability, planning and awareness of what skills the student has that could be valuable to others. Students often have jobs but they increasingly also often have alternate gigs going on at the same time.

Has your junior started writing college essays yet?

It may seem early to think about college essays but now is the time to write them. Spring break is a great time to think about content. Writing a little each week can break this large task into small pieces.

Is your junior clueless about where to start? A personal statement of about 500 words is a great place to start. The personal statement is about personal history. Students can demonstrate who they are and how they got that way through a life event or a series of related activities. The essay should be a conversation that introduces them to the reader.

My child must go to college X

I sometimes hear parents say that their child must gain admission to a specific college. While it is good to have target colleges, no one can guarantee that any student wil be accepted at any specific college. When you add to this equation that the student may not have the general admission requirements for a specific school, the next suggestion from the parent is often that since they have given money to that college, the student will have an edge in admission decisions.

NEW FLASH-there is also no guarantee that writing a check to a college gives a student any sort of admission advantage.

You mean you don't just get to stay?

Financial aid and loans have finite undergraduate participation timelines. Encourage students to complete their program on time to avoid the situation of still having courses left to take but no longer having financial aid eligibility. Generally, students must complete a program within 150% of the length of the program. So a 4 year degree should be completed within six years.