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Knowing how to choose college options


Rebecca
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Well, I am really confused. :(

 

This is my first post on this board... 

I have gradually worked up my courage to begin reading and checking here more regularly...

and now I am reaching out for help.

 

My oldest is a rising senior.

 

I am trying to figure out how to generate a realistic list of college choices for my son.

He is interested in majoring in History and I would like to keep options open for English literature and Creative Writing/Compostion studies.

 

We have nothing for college and are not homeowners- so I need to match him with the best choices for merit/need based financial provision. We are a family of eleven- with nine children- close in age. 17-4.

We are also conservative christians and our son is as well- but we are not against a secular school as long as it has the program courses he is interested in.

 

I went on the college data website- but I still feel pretty confused about everything. What does it mean when a school percentage states meets 73% of financial need?

 

Originally, I made our list based on program but what does it matter if he cannot attend due to financial inability?

 

My son currently has a 3.9 GPA, we are hoping for 1300 or so after this latest (June) SAT, and he was just elected SPL of his Scout Troop, and he should rank Eagle by January 2018.  He will be carrying a very rigorous academic load his senior year.

 

Any help appreciated,

Thank you!

Rebecca

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You need to run net price calculators that are found on individual college websites and input your financial information.  I disagree that just b/c you have 9 kids and don't own a home that your EFC might be $0.  That makes a lot of assumptions. (and stereotypes that I personally find offensive.)  It might be true, but it really depends on your income and other financial information.

 

Have you created a college budget?  Do you know what you can afford for tuition, room, board, and books?  Do you have any local schools that might be options for commuting? The vast majority of college students live at home and commute.   

 

Unfortunately, with a 1300 his options are going to be more limited than if he had scores closer to 1500.  You should be able to find options, but it will take searching.

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We always said we weren't going to pay for our kids to go to college, since I think you take it more seriously if you're footing the bill.

So,we didn't save for college. We adopted a medically fragile child after our bio kids, then adopted 2 more. I could not work because of medical care for kiddo. No money saved for college.

 

Turns out, colleges don't care- they expect parents to help pay for college,regardless of if they saved for it or not. The kids can't just take it all out in loans. (Ds is only looking at state schools yet still, that's pricey too, just less)

We had budgeted zero for college costs, um, mistake.

 

My kid is bright, but not perfect SAT score kinda stats. No big merit aid is gonna come his way.

We're hoping to scrounge it up by using a payment plan plus some money from grandma in a 529 plan.

(I'm likely going back to teaching part time, my littles will go to public school)

 

He could live at home & walk to our CC or local state U. Sadly, they don't have good depts for his major, so he's looking at needing cash for room & board away from home. He has knocked out some classes doing DE at the CC, we paid full price for those, but came up with the cash one class at a time (by selling off unused curriculum, household items, kids clothing, etc)

 

I would look into your state school options. Good luck!

Edited by Hilltopmom
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You need to run net price calculators that are found on individual college websites and input your financial information.  I disagree that just b/c you have 9 kids and don't own a home that your EFC might be $0.  That makes a lot of assumptions. (and stereotypes that I personally find offensive.)  It might be true, but it really depends on your income and other financial information.

 

Have you created a college budget?  Do you know what you can afford for tuition, room, board, and books?  Do you have any local schools that might be options for commuting? The vast majority of college students live at home and commute.   

 

Unfortunately, with a 1300 his options are going to be more limited than if he had scores closer to 1500.  You should be able to find options, but it will take searching.

 

 

:iagree:

 

The schools where your EFC might be $0 are the same schools where getting in is very difficult and a huge gamble.

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Has he taken the PSAT?  How did he do on that?  Liberty University gives a full ride for National Merit finalists?  If he was close to the cut-off, maybe he could prep more?

 

Unfortunately, most Christian schools are also pretty bad for aid.  I knew a kid who go the full ride park scholarship to NC State.  What he really wanted was to go to Liberty.  He had no parental income (both parents jobless druggies with a slew of problems) and Liberty was full ticket for him so he chose State.

 

What state are you in?  Is there a local uni within driving distance?

Edited by Attolia
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I think there are several factors to consider and pray about. 

 

First, I would look at what careers he will consider and what average starting salaries are in those fields. That will give you an idea of how much to invest in the education. Also, where is he willing to live when he gets out? If it's only to come back home, are there jobs in that field now?

 

For example, dd is becoming a nurse. With a shortage of nurses coming, we believe dd won't have any trouble finding a job because she's willing to live in a lot of places. She doesn't have any student loans yet, but will need to take out a little bit these last two years. We aren't concerned about having a bit of debt because of the field. 

 

Does your state have funding you can only use in-state? Do you want those funds to help pay for school? Dd is at a Christian college out of state and can't use any of our state funds. 

 

How far away from home are you willing to have ds live if he lives on campus? What expenses will be involved with him being away from home? Does he have a car, will he fly home, etc.?

 

Take the ACT as well as the SAT. Some people do better on it.  This is a series of

that helped dd. She also realized that in that section, she could do better if she read the questions first, and went to the material provided looking for the answers. 

 

I would make a list of state schools and private schools you would consider. I'd visit the top 3 of each and make an appointment to talk to financial aid while there. I'd do it this summer. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by mom31257
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When do you get scores?  Which state are you in?  What sort of preferences does he have for schools?  (Large/small, rural/urban, etc)  Is your EFC affordable?  (Run a calculator.)

 

Those are all key data that has to be known before too many suggestions can be made.  If you have your estimated EFC and a list of schools you think would work, run net price calculators for those schools and see how much "distance" there is between what they want and what you can afford.

 

He will almost certainly get "basic" student loans of his own (federal loans).  Are you ok with that?

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Thank you all so very much.

 

So, first- we are in Maryland. We moved here in 2013 when my son was in 8th grade.

 

Our ultimate safety is our local community college- for which he will qualify for their Honors program and they have agreements all over including Messiah- which is one of his potential choices. 

 

We have worked really hard on SAT prep and I paid for PrepScholar for him... but we could not afford a tutor or a class. So, that is where it's at. :( He took it in December and on June 3. He did take the PSAT but his scores were not National Merit and Maryland is crazy competitive (in my opinion) on those numbers and so he was not a contender. 

 

I just reallly need to know reality. If reality is our community college- so be it and that is where we will focus. 

 

Hillsdale is actually one of his top choices and when I ran their financial calculator- it looked like it would be doable for us...but it is very selective. 

 

It is possible that he will have his Eagle Rank before January. He plans to have his project complete for August.

 

So, my son does plan on graduate school, and Lord willing- a PhD. We were told to choose graduate school based on teaching assistant-ship...

 

We are okay with about 5,000 a year in loans for our son depending on where he attends school.

 

We will not qualify for any loans due to financial issues.

(I think)

 

 

Regarding career path: it has been very challenging. This child is a gifted writer and reader. He is solid in Math and Science. A career in liberal arts/humanities driven field absolutely suits him. Yet, there is not the assurance of high salary like other paths provide. :(  Any feedback from seasoned parents is appreciated. He, himself, feels strongly led toward a History degree with a mind toward getting a PhD and teaching/writing/research.

 

Thank you so much again. I am reading everyone's words.

 

 

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Is the EFC always the same or does that vary by college?

 

Also, the percentage figure I was referring to- was on the College Data website.

 

It has you select a percentage for merit aid and for need aid.

 

So, for example, you can choose 100% for need - and I think that means the college meets 100% of students' financial need. But the question is: I don't really understand what that means... as someone wrote above- you can need 100% assistance by the calculators but they will still work out something where you are actually paying 10,000 dollars...

 

Thank you again.

 

I

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Finally, sorry for the multiple, multiple posts...

 

Program is what really matters most to us- rather than small, large, in state, out of state, etc.

In creating a tentative list, we looked at the program and the professors and the indivicual courses. However, I am very aware that it is all moot if we cannot make it happen financially. He knows this, too.

 

Combining program with financial accessibility is so challenging for me right now.

 

My son is very interested in Ancient Britain/Ancient British History. 

We want a program with a wide variety and choices.

 

I wanted to make sure the school had a solid creative writing program or component so that he could take classes and develop that area as well. Hillsdale does not appear to have this option which was disappointing. 

 

My son desires rigor and a very strong program.

 

We want a program with classical roots rather than modern/gender initative focus. This is simply because this will be more in concert with the direction that seems ahead for our son. And also about fit... matching him with a program that fits who he is...

 

 

Edited by Rebecca
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You son will be eligible for $5500 in federal loans.  If he qualifies, he might be eligible for a Pell grant.  If parents are denied federal parent plus loans due to bad credit, "As a result of the PLUS denial, the student may be eligible for an additional $4,000 or $5,000 Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan."

 

If he were my child, I would not allow him to take on a lot of debt for UG, especially if he wants to pursue grad school.  I would have him start at home, attend the CC, and then transfer, but I would make sure he is very on top of transfer agreements and required courses.

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Is the EFC always the same or does that vary by college?

 

Also, the percentage figure I was referring to- was on the College Data website.

 

It has you select a percentage for merit aid and for need aid.

 

So, for example, you can choose 100% for need - and I think that means the college meets 100% of students' financial need. But the question is: I don't really understand what that means... as someone wrote above- you can need 100% assistance by the calculators but they will still work out something where you are actually paying 10,000 dollars...

 

Thank you again.

 

I

In my limited experience, the amount of aid one receives can vary by thousands of dollars from college to college.  Both of my kids are at colleges that meet 100% need, but the amounts we are paying at the two schools are very different. 

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My reply disappeared-

 

Yes, we absolutely do not want him saddled with large UG debt.

He knows this and we are all in 100% agreement.

 

 

8, it sounds like you really think community college is the only feasible option based on his SAT scores? 

 

Thank you!

-Rebecca

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Is the EFC always the same or does that vary by college?

 

Your EFC is the same except at CSS Profile schools - they calculate their own.

 

What you'll be expected to pay at colleges will vary a ton though.  Middle son's costs varied by 33K per year.  We ditched that (high) option!

 

Run NPCs at Messiah and anywhere else you are considering and see if they seem do-able or if you need to pick yourself up off the floor...

 

Also look at Wooster.  I'm thinking they have a program that seems to match what you are looking for, but not sure if my memory is correct.  They are not a Christian school FWIW.

 

Until you have scores it's going to be tough to know how merit aid can fit in or how likely he is to get into decent need based schools.  You have to know what "desirability" bar he passes.

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Is the EFC always the same or does that vary by college?

 

Also, the percentage figure I was referring to- was on the College Data website.

 

It has you select a percentage for merit aid and for need aid.

 

So, for example, you can choose 100% for need - and I think that means the college meets 100% of students' financial need. But the question is: I don't really understand what that means... as someone wrote above- you can need 100% assistance by the calculators but they will still work out something where you are actually paying 10,000 dollars...

 

Thank you again.

 

I

 

EFC is what the FAFSA generates.  It is a rather meaningless number for individual colleges, though.  It is what the federal gov't uses to determine Pell grant and FSEOG eligibility and subsidized loan eligibility. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships (Read to understand what he might be eligible for) The maximum subsidized loan amt is $3500.  Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you'll see a chart: 

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidize

 

BUT the EFC $$ amt is NOT what you will be expected to pay individual colleges.  Each school has their own way of calculating parent and student contribution.  Unfortunately, with a 1300 he is not competitive for schools where they tend to meet 100% of demonstrated need with a very high amt of institutional aid.  Public schools tend to be less generous and cost is typically total cost minus the federal grants. He might qualify for some smaller scholarships  or even larger ones, but it just really depends on the school.  The lower the school ranking, the more likely he will be competitive for scholarship $$.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I would encourage - no, implore - you and your son to take a long hard look at job prospects for Ph.D.s in the liberal arts. Without a hint of exaggeration, permanent poverty and job insecurity is by far the most likely outcome for anyone who isn't Ivy undergrad and Ivy Ph.D. That was my field before I saw the writing on the wall and dropped out of grad school and I have seen almost all my friends from that time reduced to running around in their cars trying to piece together an income with multiple part time teaching jobs that each pay about $5,000 a year and give you none of the privileges traditionally associated with the profession such as office space and help with professional development such as travel funds for conferences, or even in some cases access to certain databases, interlibrary loan privileges, etc. that are only for full-time faculty. Many Ph.D.'s I know depend on government assistance. Out of the many people I knew (top 20 program in my discipline, where everyone had full rides and living stipends, and many friends from undergrad who did Ph.D.s in other programs), I can count the number who beat these odds on one hand. This path also makes you unattractive to employers in other fields once you decide to bail out, I have learned the hard way. I would never encourage my child to major in history, English, etc., unless it were accompanied by a high school teaching qualification and a serious understanding that that was what they were probably going to end up doing. Law school used to be the traditional fall back for humanities people but in the past few years there's been a bubble where they accredited too many law schools and graduated too many lawyers so now new lawyers from non-elite backgrounds have very, very little income potential. If one were rich and able to totally subsidize the child's education that might be one thing, but I wouldn't borrow a penny for humanities.

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My reply disappeared-

 

Yes, we absolutely do not want him saddled with large UG debt.

He knows this and we are all in 100% agreement.

 

 

8, it sounds like you really think community college is the only feasible option based on his SAT scores? 

 

Thank you!

-Rebecca

 

It really depends on your budget. Our local directional university only offers $3500 for a 1300.  Tuition alone is $7500.  If you add room and board (another $7500) and $1200+ for books, $300 in fees, it comes to around $20,000.  Subtract  maximum ~$6000 Pell, $3500 scholarship, maximum $4000 FSEOG ( and I am guessing largest amts for Pell and FSEOG, but FSEOG $$ is limited and not guaranteed like Pell) and that is $6500 balance.  He could cover that in federal loans.

 

But, honestly, our local directional isn't that much better than the local CC and I would encourage my kids to attend the CC and transfer (bc this university would easily accept all transfer credit) than spend the extra $$ for the university.

 

I have no idea if any instate MD schools are as cheap as our local school.

 

I DO think it is possible, but you are going to have to spend time doing the research on scholarships at every school you can think of.  I am just being honest that I do not think he is competitive for the powerhouse meets need schools.  They are very generous, but equally very competitive and a rSAT1300 falls into the 24-27 ACT range.   I would recommend going through the list here http://www.thecollegesolution.com/schools-that-meet-100-of-financial-need-2/ and compare his stats to the various schools CDS (common data set).  If his stats are in the upper quartile, then he should definitely apply.  If his stats are in the lower quartile, then admission is unlikely.  If he falls in the middle, he might stand a chance.

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I would encourage - no, implore - you and your son to take a long hard look at job prospects for Ph.D.s in the liberal arts. Without a hint of exaggeration, permanent poverty and job insecurity is by far the most likely outcome for anyone who isn't Ivy undergrad and Ivy Ph.D. That was my field before I saw the writing on the wall and dropped out of grad school and I have seen almost all my friends from that time reduced to running around in their cars trying to piece together an income with multiple part time teaching jobs that each pay about $5,000 a year and give you none of the privileges traditionally associated with the profession such as office space and help with professional development such as travel funds for conferences, or even in some cases access to certain databases, interlibrary loan privileges, etc. that are only for full-time faculty. Many Ph.D.'s I know depend on government assistance. Out of the many people I knew (top 20 program in my discipline, where everyone had full rides and living stipends, and many friends from undergrad who did Ph.D.s in other programs), I can count the number who beat these odds on one hand. This path also makes you unattractive to employers in other fields once you decide to bail out, I have learned the hard way. I would never encourage my child to major in history, English, etc., unless it were accompanied by a high school teaching qualification and a serious understanding that that was what they were probably going to end up doing. Law school used to be the traditional fall back for humanities people but in the past few years there's been a bubble where they accredited too many law schools and graduated too many lawyers so now new lawyers from non-elite backgrounds have very, very little income potential. If one were rich and able to totally subsidize the child's education that might be one thing, but I wouldn't borrow a penny for humanities.

 

Winterbaby,

 

This is the message I have gotten from other people. This is my fear.

 

What would you encourage?

 

I have an English degree with minors in writing and education from a Top 50 school.  

 

My son is JUST like me in terms of strengths, skill set, etc. In fact, he surpasses me.

 

Thank you,

Rebecca

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Winterbaby,

 

This is the message I have gotten from other people. This is my fear.

 

What would you encourage?

 

I have an English degree with minors in writing and education from a Top 50 school.  

 

My son is JUST like me in terms of strengths, skill set, etc. In fact, he surpasses me.

 

Thank you,

Rebecca

 

What sort of job is he hoping for?  Or even remotely thinking of?  Can he shadow someone doing that and ask them about their education and path to get there?  This is required of all our ps juniors - and can be super helpful for them.  They find contacts (networking or cold calls/e-mails).  Most adults want to help as long as the student is mature and truly interested.  He might even find out about related options, etc.

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He is thinking of teaching at the college level! Which is why he has his sights toward a Ph.D.

He would also like to be a novelist; however, realizes how difficult that path is and so is looking to build a career in a field as well. Perhaps I should say, he is a novelist/writer, however, we are not considering that as an option for a self-supporting lifestyle at this time.

 

We have carefully studied the paths of the Professors in his major of interest (History) in order to get an understanding for the appropriate path/education.

 

I do not have anyone he can shadow at this time. I will think about that. 

 

 

 

 

 

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He is thinking of teaching at the college level! Which is why he has his sights toward a Ph.D.

He would also like to be a novelist; however, realizes how difficult that path is and so is looking to build a career in a field as well. Perhaps I should say, he is a novelist/writer, however, we are not considering that as an option for a self-supporting lifestyle at this time.

 

We have carefully studied the paths of the Professors in his major of interest (History) in order to get an understanding for the appropriate path/education.

 

I do not have anyone he can shadow at this time. I will think about that.

I have a friend who earned his PhD in history about 25-26 years ago. He is a tenured professor/Dean at a regional university with many first gen college students in a state he never wanted to live in. It was his first and only teaching post. When he applied all those many years ago, he was one of approximately 120 applicants for the job. Yes, that long ago. I'm sorry that is likely discouraging to you, but your Ds needs to have eyes wide open. With on-line courses and the replacement of tenure-track positions with plenty of well-qualified adjuncts, I fear that the course of professional academia is forever changed.

 

I can't say what to suggest as an alternative. Does your nearby CC offer any types of testing for career paths - personality, interest, aptitude? Perhaps that could help him think about other options. With that said, I am not a fan of choosing a career based on potential earning capacity if it is not a good fit. As someone else said, I think a secondary teaching certificate would be a good credential to have if he continues on this path.

 

Hugs. I know it's hard. Writing and the passionate study of history can always be enjoyed on the side.

Edited by Hoggirl
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My ds loves history.

We are a family of historical re enactors, living history stuff. Many weekends every summer.

 

All the other people involved love history but very few of us do it for a paid job (Like a handful out of hundreds, & they work at living history sites for basically minimum wage, or a museum)

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My ds loves history.

We are a family of historical re enactors, living history stuff. Many weekends every summer.

 

All the other people involved love history but very few of us do it for a paid job (Like a handful out of hundreds, & they work at living history sites for basically minimum wage, or a museum)

 

What kind of career is your son interested in?

 

As a clarification- it is not just about a love for history- as much as it is about my son's gift and ability with interpretation of texts and scholarship.

 

We are not a family of history buffs. We do not re-enact or participate in any other things like that. We read. We read copiously. And write.

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Winterbaby,

 

This is the message I have gotten from other people. This is my fear.

 

What would you encourage?

 

I have an English degree with minors in writing and education from a Top 50 school.  

 

My son is JUST like me in terms of strengths, skill set, etc. In fact, he surpasses me.

 

Thank you,

Rebecca

 

Based on a learning from my own mistakes perspective, what I would encourage above all would be to increase familiarity with the world of work beyond academics, to actually work for pay as early and as much as possible, and to open his mind to what else he could actually live with on his own terms, rather than picking a fall back option based on income potential or "practicality" because someone else said he had to while his own head remained in the books. Because that won't work. It wouldn't have worked for me. I laughed off suggestions that I now really wish I hadn't. Although adults being real with him is a key aspect of it, it ultimately needs to come from him. He needs to know the value of a dollar, he needs to know what adult budgets look like and just how much it will hurt to pay those loans on what an adjunct makes or on what he will likely be making if he belatedly decides to join the non-academic job market without the relevant background everyone else will have been building up in the meanwhile. He needs to know that most professional academic writing is never read by anyone - not even by other academics - and that many of the great contemporary historians whom educated people read for pleasure are not professors. He needs to know that it's not necessary to work in higher education in order to have a rich intellectual life. He needs to know that if he does get a job in higher education, it will not give him more time for other kinds of reading and writing than any other job would, and possibly less. He should up his computing skills as far as possible, going so far as to learn to program if he finds he is so inclined. It could make the difference over other candidates for jobs in his areas of interest, and will make him more attractive for jobs in the general world of business.

 

Two concrete alternatives beyond high school teaching are journalism and becoming a librarian/archivist. I don't know a lot about those fields but from what I hear they are both tough markets with limited income potential, but not as tough as trying to become a professor. If he wants to write he should probably focus on actually writing and getting published rather than going to school for it - of course, he can always take the courses alongside whatever else he's doing. If he is the type who loves books and academic pursuits, and if he's anything like I was, he may have trouble seeing what lies beyond studies on the path of life. To kids like that the idea that you could make a career of studying, and of study-like activities with lots of reading and writing, is enchanting. But these days it's largely a false promise.

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He is thinking of teaching at the college level! Which is why he has his sights toward a Ph.D.

He would also like to be a novelist; however, realizes how difficult that path is and so is looking to build a career in a field as well. Perhaps I should say, he is a novelist/writer, however, we are not considering that as an option for a self-supporting lifestyle at this time.

 

We have carefully studied the paths of the Professors in his major of interest (History) in order to get an understanding for the appropriate path/education.

 

I do not have anyone he can shadow at this time. I will think about that. 

 

You can have him contact some professors at a nearby college and see what they say.  Look for profs involved in research.  In that field, I would think networking could be an asset.  (In most fields it's an asset, but even moreso in competitive fields.)

 

My neighbor is an English Prof at a nearby 4 year college.  She got her start teaching high school.  I know other profs at nearby colleges who also got their start at our high school, both cc and 4 year colleges.  That route might be relatively common?  At least for our semi-rural area it seems to be.  I'm pretty sure these profs all worked on their PhDs while teaching in high school.

 

Still... it's very worth it to talk (or e-mail "chat" with folks currently in the field to get their thoughts).

 

It's definitely a competitive field, so a Plan B is a must IMO.

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What kind of career is your son interested in?

 

As a clarification- it is not just about a love for history- as much as it is about my son's gift and ability with interpretation of texts and scholarship.

 

We are not a family of history buffs. We do not re-enact or participate in any other things like that. We read. We read copiously. And write.

Gotcha. I was just pointing out that there are ways to continue his love of history as a hobby rather than a career. We do have guys in our units who are rather scholarly, doing lots of research on the specifics of unit histories, little known battles, etc. They tend to write books that focus on individual forts, locations, or time periods, & give lots of presentations at historical societies & events.

But that's not their day job.

 

My kid decided he's into computer science for a career but will stick with history as a summer hobby.

Another older kid from our unit went to undergrad for history & education, taught a couple of years, & is now getting a museum studies degree & interning at the Smithsonian.

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When a college meets 73% of need, that doesn't mean that you can just multiply your need by 73% and see your likely package. Run the net price calculator.

Colleges often just have a "maximum need-based grant" and that is why so many students don't have full need met.

 

Example:

Cost of college - 50,000 (a nice round number)

Maximum school grant - 15,000 (college has a limited need-based aid budget)

 

Student 1: EFC = 20,000

Need = 50,000 - 20,000 = 30,000

Total financial aid (federal grants/loans plus max school grant) = 20,000

Unmet need = 10,000

Percent of need met = 66%

 

Student 2: EFC = 10,000

Need = 40,000

Financial aid = 25,000 (say kid 1 just got loans and this kid gets a Pell or state grant too)

Unmet need = 15,000

Percent of need met = 37% (5K more aid, lower percentage of need met)

 

This is why net price calculators are so important. The percentages can be misleading. A greater percentage of need met could mean generous aid or it could mean a wealthier applicant pool. (Most likely both.)

 

One thing you can do is look at which schools are generous with low and middle income kids in general on College Scorecard or Debt by Degrees. If a school is lousy to everybody, then there's a high likelihood they will be lousy for you, too.

 

Here's Kenyon, a school that's pretty good for low income kids: https://projects.propublica.org/colleges/schools/kenyon-college

 

 

Here's Juniata, where no matter how broke you are the price never gets below 16K, there is a limit to how much aid they will ever give https://projects.propublica.org/colleges/schools/juniata-college

 

Some schools have an "unadvertised minimum price" that's even higher than that. 25K for a student making 30K is crazy, but they've hit the limit to what the school is willing or able to give low income kids.

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College Scorecard walk through

 

Collegescorecard.ed.gov

 

1. Search on name, enter Kenyon. Hit return.

2. On results pages, click on Kenyon College

3. Click on Costs

 

You should get the same income vs price data as in Debt by Degrees link for Kenyon above

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If you need aid, you pretty much apply to colleges blind. The trick is to pick out some good academic fit colleges as well as some financial safeties and then NOT GET YOUR HOPES UP.

 

We found that private colleges were just as affordable as public colleges because the privates had more aid to offer. We had savings, though, and weren't averse to loans. There is a long thread on how to pay for college when you have no money, and another where many people say how they are managing to pay for college. Both would probably be helpful. Maybe someone can link them for you. (I have to run or I would try. )

 

Nan

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I was just thinking this:

 

What if my son majored in History and just kept all his options open... seeking internships, keeping alert and aware toward career paths, talking with professors and career services... and that step could segue into a more viable career path? Is this a feasible option?

 

Thank you for the collegescorecard walk through!

 

Nan in Mass- this is exactly how we have felt and I was suddenly terrified I was/am doing everything wrong. 

 

I will try to find those links.

 

Thank you!

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What kind of career is your son interested in?

 

As a clarification- it is not just about a love for history- as much as it is about my son's gift and ability with interpretation of texts and scholarship.

 

We are not a family of history buffs. We do not re-enact or participate in any other things like that. We read. We read copiously. And write.

 

I would try to think as far outside of the box as possible.  Technical writing of some kind?  And, I hesitate to even bring it up, but law, if he happens to be a naturally logical thinker.

 

The interesting thing about reading and writing for a living is that it can apply to a wide variety of content areas/fields of work.

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I was just thinking this:

 

What if my son majored in History and just kept all his options open... seeking internships, keeping alert and aware toward career paths, talking with professors and career services... and that step could segue into a more viable career path? Is this a feasible option?

 

I believe so.  It may also help to keep open-minded on choice of major, switching the history to a minor, etc. if he happens to develop an interest in some other field where the skills he enjoys might still be put to excellent use.

 

When you are choosing colleges, it is important to explore the quality of the career services center.

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I would encourage - no, implore - you and your son to take a long hard look at job prospects for Ph.D.s in the liberal arts. Without a hint of exaggeration, permanent poverty and job insecurity is by far the most likely outcome for anyone who isn't Ivy undergrad and Ivy Ph.D. That was my field before I saw the writing on the wall and dropped out of grad school and I have seen almost all my friends from that time reduced to running around in their cars trying to piece together an income with multiple part time teaching jobs that each pay about $5,000 a year and give you none of the privileges traditionally associated with the profession such as office space and help with professional development such as travel funds for conferences, or even in some cases access to certain databases, interlibrary loan privileges, etc. that are only for full-time faculty. Many Ph.D.'s I know depend on government assistance. Out of the many people I knew (top 20 program in my discipline, where everyone had full rides and living stipends, and many friends from undergrad who did Ph.D.s in other programs), I can count the number who beat these odds on one hand. This path also makes you unattractive to employers in other fields once you decide to bail out, I have learned the hard way. I would never encourage my child to major in history, English, etc., unless it were accompanied by a high school teaching qualification and a serious understanding that that was what they were probably going to end up doing. Law school used to be the traditional fall back for humanities people but in the past few years there's been a bubble where they accredited too many law schools and graduated too many lawyers so now new lawyers from non-elite backgrounds have very, very little income potential. If one were rich and able to totally subsidize the child's education that might be one thing, but I wouldn't borrow a penny for humanities.

I agree with everything here except the Ivy undergrad part. Many LACs, especially the top ones, are known for sending grads to top graduate programs. And many of those grads want to go back and teach at LACs. At the LAC I attended and the two my husband taught at, Ivy or other top PhDs were common among the faculty, but Ivy undergrads were not.

 

Besides affordability, you need to see if and where grads from the history departments at the schools are sending their students for PhDs. It might be worth taking a look at the "Colleges that Change Lives" schools, although most of them might be more liberal than your son would prefer, given the colleges you've mentioned so far.

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I agree with everything here except the Ivy undergrad part. Many LACs, especially the top ones, are known for sending grads to top graduate programs. And many of those grads want to go back and teach at LACs. At the LAC I attended and the two my husband taught at, Ivy or other top PhDs were common among the faculty, but Ivy undergrads were not.

 

Besides affordability, you need to see if and where grads from the history departments at the schools are sending their students for PhDs. It might be worth taking a look at the "Colleges that Change Lives" schools, although most of them might be more liberal than your son would prefer, given the colleges you've mentioned so far.

 

Yeah that was a bit of exaggeration on my part. I was speaking loosely, recalling how one of the things that caused me to drop out of grad school was being consistently treated like I was the scum of the earth because I went to a non-elite undergrad - like literally insulted to my face about it all the freaking time - but I don't know to what extent that's reflected in the actual job market. But I think it's fair to say that there's some level, though not Ivy, below which undergrad reputation can be a problem.

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Hillsdale is a Colleges That Change Lives school and it is his top choice right now.

McDaniel is another one and is local to us- but is not a top pick for several reasons.

 

Thank you!

 

I am glad for the clarification about Ivy League undergrad- because that highly alarmed me! And also was not the impression I had- as I did think it was far more common for the grad and PhD programs to be the more elite schools.

 

 

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Agreeing with 8FillTheHeart about test scores and what that translates into for scholarship money.

 

A very very rough generalization is that a score of 1300-1400 on the SAT (28-30 on the ACT) will possibly land your DS a partial tuition scholarship at a second tier or small school where DS's test score puts him in the top 25% of scores of incoming freshmen. To be competitive for full tuition, or to stand a chance at some merit aid at a top tier, selective/competitive schools, your DS will need a score of 1500-1600 on the SAT (34-36 on the ACT).

 

For when you're using College Data or College Board: Big Future college statistics to see where test scores would rank your student percentage-wise (which translates into possible scholarships), here's a conversion chart for you, since some of the schools list "composite ACT" scores and no composite new SAT scores:

 

1280-1300 on new SAT = 27 on ACT

1310-1340 on new SAT = 28 on ACT

1350-1380 on new SAT = 29 on ACT

1390-1410 on new SAT = 30 on ACT

1420-1440 on new SAT = 31 on ACT

1450-1480 on new SAT = 32 on ACT

1490-1510 on new SAT = 33 on ACT

1520-1550 on new SAT = 34 on ACT

1560-1590 on new SAT = 35 on ACT

1600 on new SAT = 36 on ACT

 

 

winterbaby has provided you with some outstanding insights from her own experience, and things to consider about the career choice and availability of jobs.

 

 

We are okay with about 5,000 a year in loans for our son depending on where he attends school.

We will not qualify for any loans due to financial issues. (I think)

 

Accruing $5,000 in debt a year will leave your DS with $20,000 in debt by the time he earns a Bachelor's degree. Then a Master's and a Ph.D. could be at another $5,000 to $25,000 EACH-- because there is very little scholarship money out there for the higher degrees, and while graduate assistance positions are a possibility, they do not cover entire costs. And, what if DS does NOT land a TA position? So DS could be looking at $30,000 to $70,000 in debt by the time he has all of his credentials for teaching at a college.

 

And then, DS will be lucky if he can find a college teaching position other than being an adjunct. Increasingly, colleges have slashed the number of tenured professorship positions (or are no longer renewing the positions as professors retire), and all that is left is work as part-time adjunct faculty -- working with no benefits at a drastically reduced salary. The national average for adjuncts is $35,000, but in many places, it is as low as $25,000. Neither figure is not enough to live on, much less to start paying back $70,000 in debt. (See this article for a start, but research for others as well.)

 

That kind of debt without a correspondingly high salary for paying it off is a very heavy burden to carry. College debt is beginning to profoundly affect our country's social dynamics and life choices: marriage sometimes is not an option (because a future spouse becomes responsible for the debt of the other spouse). And because limited finances have to be used to pay down debt, that impacts personal choices -- the financial ability to have/raise children, or to buy a home, or to make investments or purchases (which help the overall economy), or to build up a retirement account for your own old age...

 

In contrast, if your DS goes into a different field with more solid job prospects, and only needs a Bachelor's degree, then $20,000 of debt is doable. The rule of thumb is that TOTAL college debt should not be more than 1 year  of the salary you can earn as a first-year worker with that Bachelor degree.

 

Or, perhaps I misunderstood and you meant that you, the parents, would be okay with $5,000/year in loans for your DS... If so, how will this play out for when there are 2 children in college? Or would this offer be for just this DS and there would be other plans for the younger DC? ... ??

 

 

...I am trying to figure out how to generate a realistic list of college choices for my son... He is interested in majoring in History and I would like to keep options open for English literature and Creative Writing/Compostion studies...

 

...My son is very interested in Ancient Britain/Ancient British History.  We want a program with a wide variety and choices. I wanted to make sure the school had a solid creative writing program or component so that he could take classes and develop that area as well...

 

My son desires rigor and a very strong program. We want a program with classical roots... focus...

 

As a clarification- it is not just about a love for history- as much as it is about my son's gift and ability with interpretation of texts and scholarship.

 

We are not a family of history buffs. We do not re-enact or participate in any other things like that. We read. We read copiously. And write.

 

I'd like to help you think outside of the box a bit:

 

You mention that DS is also strong with STEM subjects, in addition to strengths and skills in academics/scholarship, writing, and interpreting texts. These abilities could be further used and developed through a degree in Medical or Scientific Research and/or Technical Writing in a STEM field. There are a LOT more job possibilities and a higher job demand in those areas, and they would allow DS to exercise his natural gifts of scholarship/academic and writing. Even his strength of interpretation of texts could be applied through interpretation of STEM research and data, and connecting with, and writing about, STEM research and academic writings.

 

And since you mention that DS is not a history buff (recreating history), but rather, enjoys the History and Literature through reading and writing, then those activities (reading and writing) are very easy to continue to pursue on his own. That would allow him to continue to study Ancient British History and Literature, to pursue creative writing, and to read and write copiously in these areas of interest *outside* of college or a career job. And these particular pursuits can easily be honed outside of a formal degree program -- read academic articles and documents online, or even take a seminar or course of specific interest, on his own time. And it's always possible that pursuing those interests on his own time as hobbies could lead to a secondary career job. :)

 

 

...This child is a gifted writer and reader. He is solid in Math and Science. A career in liberal arts/humanities driven field absolutely suits him. Yet, there is not the assurance of high salary like other paths provide.  :(  Any feedback from seasoned parents is appreciated. He, himself, feels strongly led toward a History degree with a mind toward getting a PhD and teaching/writing/research...

 

I was just thinking this:

 

What if my son majored in History and just kept all his options open... seeking internships, keeping alert and aware toward career paths, talking with professors and career services... and that step could segue into a more viable career path? Is this a feasible option?

 

JMO:

I think your DS will have FAR more career options open to him if he goes for a Bachelor's degree with a major in a STEM area, and a minor in Technical Writing. Or double major with the STEM area and English that leans toward writing/teaching. Examples of growth-industry occupations:

Technical Writer

Biomedical Engineer

- high school teacher (in History, Literature, Writing)

 

The occupation of Historian is declining. The odds of landing a tenured college professor job of teaching history or literature is greatly reduced by the heavy use of low-paid adjuncts (who also have Master's and Ph.D. degrees). The job outlook for occupations that would use similar skills such as editor, writer, or librarian is either almost flat (slow or no growth), or the demand for these jobs is actually declining (so fewer and fewer jobs out there).

 

So it's a very risky roll of the dice to go into debt for college education for a degree that is in a low-growth/no-growth field. And even if you can somehow pull off the multiple degrees required for DS's occupation of choice without debt, there is still the terrible hurdle of being hired. :(

 

 

As my DH was just saying recently, the way the economy and college costs have gone in the past 10-12 years, you really have to shoot for a college degree that provide a livable wage and keep you from falling out of the ever-shrinking middle class and into poverty/low-income. It's no joke how many well-educated people we know who have Master's degrees and are struggling to pay off student loans. Esp. those who are teaching at colleges -- they live very frugally and still can barely make ends meet. None of them own homes; none have health care; some can't afford to get married or ask a significant other to take on their debt through marriage; and the married ones can't afford to have kids. :(

Edited by Lori D.
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If he could combine his love for analyzing lit and history with studying a critical language, he could pursue work as a govt analyst. It is one of the fields that keeps coming up for my literaure, language loving dd. They recruit foreign language lit majors With cultural history background bc they can pick up on nuances that others miss.

 

Another area that she has found she likes is econ. She is an incredibly strong math student but has just tolerated math. But this yr my language and lit lover really found econ fascinating. The idea of economic development combined with culture and language studies has captured her interest enough that that is what she currently thinks she wants to pursue.

 

Lots of paths outside of academia if he broadens his focus without leaving it completely behind.

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On the subject of loans for grad school, the general rule of thumb is don't do it - free rides are actually far more common for grad school than for college, so if you can't get one that's a clear signal that you're really not competing on the necessary level.

 

I know first hand that for many kids with these inclinations it can feel like a part of their identity and like there's nothing else they could do. It's important to help them mature beyond that perspective - I really wish someone had done so for me. It's also easy for kids with limited experience of what's out there to underestimate the competition and think they will be the one to beat the odds. I was very smart, top scores and everything - but so was everyone else at the level where I realized I could no longer compete, and there I was in my mid 20s having invested all my time and tens of thousands in loans in something that was never going to make me any money. Money isn't everything but it's too easy for a kid who's been taken care of all their life to discount. Community college may be a good bet if it delays the point of taking these irrevocable loans to an age of a bit more maturity, especially if combined with the experience of paid work.

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Thank you so much everyone! DH and I have a plan as to how to guide and steer our son. Please continue to share if any other thoughts or advice comes to mind. I am going to be spending time on this board!!

 

As a little aside- it is so hard not to want to justify everything in response to different posts. I know that you all do not know me whatsoever and are just giving your best perspective from your understanding.

 

So, thank you! 

 

-Rebecca

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Just thought I'd pop in to your thread to tell you about someone I know with a humanities PhD who is making a good living as an indexer of scholarly books (in various fields).  There are nuances to scholarly indexing that software cannot yet capture, and it takes a real live human being to produce that kind of index--it's very specialised work and it pays well (at least here). Someone else I know is working for an academic press. Various people I know with humanities PhDs are professional editors, speechwriters, translators, and so on. There are jobs beyond the college classroom if that doesn't ultimately work out--really there are. It likely does pay to think ahead and stay a little bit flexible--it never hurts to have a Plan B!--but it would be sad to give up on a dream when that may well not be necessary.

 

Good luck to him!

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Just an added thought... if he's wanting to be a Prof at a Christian college, it can help to come from a Christian college.  If in doubt (since all colleges aren't the same) track down where Profs at desirable Christian colleges did their undergrad (or even grad school).

 

If he wants to be a Prof at a secular college, I strongly suspect going to a conservative Christian college could hurt his chances.  There does seem to be a pretty strong polarization effect out there in places.

 

It's worth checking into anyway.  I'm more unsure about history than I am with the sciences.

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If he could combine his love for analyzing lit and history with studying a critical language, he could pursue work as a govt analyst. It is one of the fields that keeps coming up for my literature, language loving dd. They recruit foreign language lit majors With cultural history background bc they can pick up on nuances that others miss.

 

:iagree: This is along the lines of what I was going to suggest. Certain government agencies look for very literate, well-read types who also know (or are willing to learn) languages. I don't know what the job prospects will look like in 5+ years, but something to add to the list.

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Editing and publishing job prospects are declining, not increasing.  Some of that is due to the significant decrease in print publishing with the huge increase in online publishing, and some of it is being outsourced and automated more and more.  

 

A good place to look at job prospects is the website for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

All of these things are so hard to know.  I mean, we still need history teachers and editors and librarians, it's just that you've got to be at the top of your field and have a lot of luck, like being in the right place at the right time, to secure employment.  And if you lose your job, it's going to be harder to find a new one.

 

 

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My DD's SAT is a bit higher, but not too far off. Her interests are different from your DS's but also specific and with plans for graduate school.

 

What I have done so far is search for schools that offer her field of interest as well as see how those interests could be met at our closest public colleges. With that preliminary list of schools, I ran the net price calculators on each of the schools' websites with our tax return and bank statements in hand for the best chance for reliable results.

 

Among the results that fit for our very low budget, I further limited schools by faith opportunities, in our case, as Catholics, Mass availability and active faith based groups.

 

I also limited by geography in most cases, because why add the expense of travel (and medical insurance since our plan is local) if price and opportunities were similar? More distant schools are on the list only for good reason.

 

DD can add or subtract to the list but she understands our financial limits.

 

Our local publics are the most affordable but not too far off from the net price calculator results of some less selective private colleges.

 

Commuting would be a burden if she attended our local publics, so I have considered having her live in campus the first year and work hard at trying to get an RA position for future years and then re-evaluate commuting.

 

One really important thing I learned is that going to CC will probably not help much because D would lose the scholarship opportunities as an incoming freshman. Our local public unis offer very decent merit scholarships for her stats but only to incoming freshman, cancelling out the financial benefit of CC.

Edited by Tiramisu
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What if my son majored in History and just kept all his options open... seeking internships, keeping alert and aware toward career paths, talking with professors and career services... and that step could segue into a more viable career path? Is this a feasible option?

 

 

 

Even more feasible if he has a double major or a strong combination of minors. It's usually very doable to get a minor at the very least, you just have to keep it in mind as you go along. 

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