Lisa Fischer

Tips for College Bound Students and Their Parents

  1. Think about the most affordable schools first. They hand out diplomas like the expensive ones do. Vo-tech schools give you the first two years at a very affordable price. And the state school that is closest to you is likely the most affordable. Dave Ramsey of Financial Peace University tells high school students, "don't make your future hostage to college loans." He goes on to say, "don't go to a caviar school if you have a tuna fish budget." If you get into Stanford, are you studying something that will pay off that college debt? If not, consider another school.
  2. Only break your neck on the ACT test if you happen to have your sights set on schools that reward for high scores. By high scores, colleges are impressed with 32 and above. Some of the less competitive state schools might throw you a bone for a 28.
  3. So that means if you're considering a state school, they often require a 21. That's acceptable for admission. Parents and their children fret above improving those scores and it creates unnecessary stress. And expense.
  4. If you are looking at a school that rewards for high scores, you can get help with both online resources and even your local library.
  5. One more ACT bit of wisdom: that's how I realized my engineering student had a learning disability (processing disorder). He had 32s in the math and science subjects yet a 19 in reading. Big red flag. Had him tested by a Ph. D. and sure enough, he did and got more time on the test and ended up with a composite of 31.
  6. Ok, I swear last bullet point on the ACT, another learning disability red flag is the kid who makes under a 20 yet has a high grade point average. That incongruence could signal a processing disorder. That diagnosis allows for more time on college testing and classroom work. Find someone who can do the testing and ask about ADD/ADHD evaluation. That way your insurance might cover some of the testing under your mental health policy with your health insurance.
  7. Who should go to college? Not everyone. We have a skills gap in this country. Mike Rowe, from the Travel Channel's "Dirty Jobs," says that we need people to learn a trade to fill the jobs that have "HELP WANTED" signs out front. To paraphrase him, he says, why send kids to a college to get saddled with debt to be educated in a career that doesn't exist anymore? He also advocates high school graduates to take a gap year. Not a gap year where a kid goes to Europe on the parents' dime. He said kids would benefit from learning about an industry where that student might have interest. He said it's a lot of pressure asking "a 17-year-old to declare a major and take out money" to go to college. He said, "It's just a terrible thing to have your coffee served to you by a double major in poli sci and medieval French." Which leads me to my next rant.
  8. Really, really talk to your students about their intended major. The liberal arts degrees typically need post-graduate work to get a job. And remember, we are sending kids to college to get a J O B. Not just to party and learn a new language. Those are not hirable attributes.
  9. And finally, consider having your child take an aptitude test. My children took the AIMS test in Dallas. It's pricey but it so saved us from our kids wasting time in college finding themselves by taking under-water basket-weaving or other courses and paths that are a total waste of time.