What do you want to be when you grow up?
This is the question many adults ask young people of all ages. Simply asking this question and related questions like it help student to start thinking about and planning for college and the future. In my family, this question was asked by my parents, my grand parents and almost anyone who walked into our house. We grew up knowing we would attend college. When my family went on vacations, we would at least drive through colleges. And, because both my parents graduated from U.C. Berkeley, we would especially tune in during football season and the “Big Game” against Stanford.
College Education Equals More Money
In my family, there was never a question about attending college. In my own research and experiences, I know that it is better to have a college education than not. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, those with a college education earn almost double what a high school graduate earns. Look at the chart below to see the earning power of different types of college graduates.
Now, as an Independent College Admissions Counselor, I know that getting into college involves planning and that planning can never start too early. College going families always talk about college. In addition, parents can do simple things to help their children think and plan for college by talking about college, visiting college websites, and visiting colleges as a family.
In my family, we would talk about our goals, but would not necessarily write down our goals. I now know it is helpful to encourage everyone to write down their goals. This is another way to make a commitment and learn how to identify the action needed to achieve it. These goals can be simple goals like making a new friend or playing on a sports team or writing in a journal. Or they can be more challenging goals like saving a certain amount of money each year or learning a musical instrument. Successful people write down their goals and have a system for reviewing their goals. Finally, celebrating when goals have been achieved is important as well.
Doing well in school was another expectation in my family. This, of course, helped with getting admitted to a college. It is important to note that today, the average GPA for students to be admitted to college is a 3.0 or B average for the courses needed to apply to college. Setting those expectations and study skills early such as a school study routine and a quiet study area are two ways to help meet those expectations. If needed, find tutors who can help your child to be successful in difficult subjects. Everyone needs a little help from time to time.
Listen to your child talk about the things he/she likes. Most children indicate a preference at an early age. One student I have worked with talked about how his parents put him in many different sports before he found that he most enjoyed football. Help your child learn about what he or she likes to do by talking about it or encouraging reading about a variety of careers. In my family, each of us charted our own path and ultimately became successful in our own ways. We are now passing that on to our own children.
Finally, it is never too early to start saving money for college. Teach your children the importance of saving money over time and how that money can be used to invest in college in in their future. This can be accomplished by setting up a savings account for your child and visiting your local bank to listen to different ways to save money for college. Here are some ways to save for college.
Top Tips to Help Your Child Plan for College:
- Talk about college
- Visit colleges
- Write down goals
- Encourage good grades
- Identify interests
- Start saving for college now