The Hales expressed their disappointment they never thought to ask some of the questions listed in my book when they applied to college and when their children were applying to colleges.
Based on what I heard from them, I will answer a few of those questions. Other questions and answers appear, as I mentioned, in the post published June 26.
Pre-registration and Registration Processes
Sydney was almost a senior in college before she finally felt comfortable navigating the pre-registration and registration processes. As a result, she often did not get the classes she needed and wanted.
Sydney urges readers of my book to never follow one’s boyfriend/girlfriend or best friend to a particular school. She also urges college students to get involved as early as possible in the life of the school and to think twice about living off-campus as that can be a very isolating experience.
Takeaway: I think Sydney’s advice is valuable. The experiences you have outside the classroom will affect your entire college life.
Once you’ve been accepted to college, the next big decision is college housing.
Where you decide to live can either help you succeed in the first semester of your college career, or it can contribute to you wanting to transfer to another school.
There are many options for you to consider if you decide to live on campus, including:
Single-sex residence halls – no members of the opposite sex
Substance-free residence halls – no alcohol or drugs are permitted
Honors housing – Some colleges and universities house their honors students together
Special-interest residence halls – certain majors may be grouped together. Some schools assign international students to the same residence halls, but I don’t recommend this. I think it would be better for an international student to have the experience of living with an American student.
Most colleges and universities have single rooms, double rooms and suite-like configuration of rooms where several students live in a group setting.
Don’t count on getting a single room. Few schools can offer that option. Doubles and suites are more common. Find out if your school will let you “negotiate” who you want to live with and be certain to find out what you can do if your housing situation becomes intolerable. What options do you have?
If for some reason, your financial situation changes, and you need to commute from home to campus, know how to petition to be released from your housing contract.
I can’t stress enough the importance of a good housing situation. There are so many changes and new experiences in the first semester. You need to be able to come back to a comfortable space that you can call “home.”
Based on the information on your FAFSA, an Expected Family Calculation (EFC), will be computed and based on that your eligibility for federal aid, most state aid programs, institutional aid and aid from private sources or organizations.
Families will be asked to complete the FAFSA with the following information:
Taxed and untaxed income
Specific assets (social security income and home equity are not considered assets)
Number of children in the family and the number in college
Families can file the FAFSA online. It takes approximately three to four weeks for your FAFSA to be processed. You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) after that time indicating what your family is expected to contribute to your college expenses.
The New College Guide How to Get In, Get Out, and Get a Job recommends:
Find out before you file a FAFSA if you can afford all of the schools on your list by meeting with financial aid counselors before you file any application.
Don’t try to game the system. It never works. Financial aid counselors have heard it all before.
File the FAFSA as early as possible, even before you file your income taxes. You can go back and amend your FAFSA after your taxes are filed. You can also have your tax returns automatically and electronically transferred into your FAFSA.
If you really believe the EFC does not accurately reflect your family’s contribution, you should appeal your case to the financial aid director.
Most families worry about the cost of college, student and parent debt and getting a good job after graduation.
But have you ever considered the costs of not going to college?The Pew Research Center, published a report in October, 2013, comparing 2,000 Millennials, (adults aged 25 to 32), with college degrees and those with high school diplomas.This is what the research found:
College graduates will earn about $17,500 more a year than adults with just a high school diploma.
Millennials with a high school diploma can expect to earn 62% of what a typical college graduate earns.
College graduates are less likely to be unemployed – 3.8% vs.12.2%.
90% of college graduates say their college degree has already paid off.
22% of high school graduates are living in poverty, compared with 6% of college graduates.
College graduates were asked what they would have done differently in college.Here is what they shared with the researchers:
Would have gained more employment experience while in school.
Would have started looking for a job sooner than or picked a different major.
Would have studied harder.
Whenever you feel discouraged or feel that college is not worth the investment of time and money, review these statistics.