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Storygirl

How being full pay affects thinking about college

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DD17 is a junior, and we are doing a lot of thinking about college. I talk a lot with DH and with DD, but I thought it would also help to share ideas, thoughts, questions, and worries with others.

DH makes a nice income, and we will not qualify for need-based financial aid (I have run a few cost calculators, and they confirm what I had already assumed). We have to operate on the assumption that DD17 will receive no merit aid, because she is a very poor test taker.

 

I will put more personal details in a follow up post. I'd like to leave the OP general, because I don't necessarily need this thread to be all about me. I'd like others to share, if they are in similar circumstances.

I feel I need some support as we are navigating these decisions. I'm having trouble working through the idea of putting limits on DD17's choices, based on finances, when we actually do have the ability to pay. There is tension there for me, mentally and emotionally. We need to be wise with our resources, because we have three other children to educate and retirement to prepare for, but this will impact DD's choices. Because she will not get financial or merit aid, she can only achieve what DH and I are willing to fund (more about her potential for achievement in the next post).

 

 

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Here are some specifics about our situation.

DD's PSAT scores were in the 900s, and we are predicting an ACT score around 20. She has a 3.8 GPA, but she attends a very small private Christian school. It is preparing her academically for college, using standard secular textbooks, but I would say her classes are regular college prep general ed classes and are not rigorous or advanced, and she has to work very hard for her grades.

I would expect her to succeed at college, despite the test scores, because she a dedicated hard worker. Despite the GPA, I consider her to be an average student, in ability. She has the sweetest personality and is a fabulous person, but she is not a deep thinker or driven intellectually.

DD17 does not have a clear idea about what she might like to study in college or what career to pursue. We are trying to help her consider these things, but I'm not sure she actually thinks much about it when we are not discussing it with her. Her mind is on her current life as a high schooler, and she is finding it hard to look ahead.

DH and both highly value education. He graduated from an Ivy, and I have a master's degree. I think DD17 would love and thrive personally living and learning at a traditional four-year university. She is very social and would love living with friends in the dorms and being involved on campus. If she showed academic drive, or a strong desire to grow personally and gain knowledge and cultural understanding, or wanted to study a certain major or aim for a certain career, or even exhibited excitement about figuring out the unknown future, I would be supportive of encouraging her goals and/or dreams. But she is not like that. She thinks she would like to go to college, but has no real reasons that she can name for doing so. Her attitude and thoughts are passive. I think it just seems like the next thing to do after high school, to her.

 DH and I are both feeling that is not a wise financial decision to pay a tremendous amount of money for the university experience for her. I think community college probably the right first step for her. But I am having hard time putting limits on her educational options, knowing how important my college experience was for me. It makes me sad. It's complicated by knowing that we COULD afford to pay for her to go to a four-year college, from DH's income plus some savings in a 529 account. But we also have three other children to educate and our retirement to save for, and it seems unwise. On the one hand, I think the traditional college path would help her mature and think through what she wants for herself personally and career-wise. On the other hand, I think it's a poor financial choice to pay for that, when she is completely undecided about what she would like to study. Going to school undecided as a freshman is common! But I'm not sure it is a good choice, financially.

I'm hoping there are others who share and/or understand this kind of quandary.

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The only thing that DD has mentioned as a possible career goal is physical therapist. That requires a doctorate, so three additional years after the bachelor's degree. And the programs are competitive for admission. I think this is an unlikely goal to achieve. And we especially think that paying for 7 years of college for her is unwise.

Argh. I hate feeling like I am putting limits on her, but I am trying to be realistic.

I am suggesting a two-year PTA degree for her. Specifically, we would suggest she do one year of community college for gen ed classes first, then do a PTA program. I think it is perfect for her, but she is passive. Yes, it sounds okay to her. But she's not sure. She shows no ownership of this idea, though I think it is perfect for her.

She is always very blah when we talk about college choices and does not contribute to the conversation, though she listens to what I have to say. I am tired to talking about it with her, because the dynamic ends up being like a lecture. I can't draw her out to say anything much, other than "okay" to acknowledge my statements. It's frustrating. If you ask her, she will say that she wants to go to college, but she does not research anything for herself. She says her friends are not talking among themselves about college yet. It seems to me that she is showing that she is not ready to figure these things out, even though she will be graduating in 15 months.

 

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Has she done any career shadowing/ exploration? Any vo tech programs near you she could visit to check out different career prep? Take some career aptitide/ interest surveys, etc. Volunteer somewhere?

She doesn’t need to pick a career or major now but it would be useful to look at careers, interests, etc.

 

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I don’t have the exact same story, but it’s close.  And after years and years of thinking these things over, we’re starting at a Community College for my oldest.  (He’s a junior in high school this year.)

He has no clue what he wants to do.  He takes no action/thought about college.  Like you said: when we talk about it, it turns into a lecture from me with him saying almost nothing in return except for “ok” or “I don’t know”.  College is just something that he knows he has to do after high school, like brushing his teeth at the end of the day.  Add to that that he’s very introverted so the social scene on a campus is going to cause him stress...and the CC seemed like a good idea.  Oh, and we can’t pay for all of it, so it makes me feel a little sick to think of saddling him with extra debt for the first two years when he really isn’t even excited about college at all.

I was against this idea (CC) at first, because of the stigma of going to CC rather than straight to a 4 year college.  But...he has no clue what he wants.  He hates the idea of leaving home (very much hates the idea).  He would make minimal use of the social side of college.  He’s be saddled with debt.

My husband works at a CC about 45 minutes from here, so my son will probably start there even though the local one is much closer, so he can get even more of savings.  Since my dh works at the college, ds can get a discount to attend.  

It took me years to come to terms with this choice—I made my peace with it only this school year. I’ve continued to educate him and prep him for the SAT as if he’s going straight to a 4-year, just in case something changes in the next 15 months and it makes sense for him to go to a 4-year.

Note:  I have a friend who sent her very anxious (official dx and it’s very clear that she has a lot of anxiety) daughter straight to a 4 year college, living on campus (though they live about 5 minutes from the college) because she felt that it would be better for her daughter to toss her into the deep end of the pool. So, there are those who will probably say that it’s better to nudge the bird out of the nest even if they are hesitant and uninterested at first.  My response is simply my own story with my own son, so take it with a grain of salt.  But I do understand a lot of your thought process, except for the part about being able to afford a 4-year for my son.  I can’t do that part of it.

Edited by Garga
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7 minutes ago, Hilltopmom said:

Has she done any career shadowing/ exploration? Any vo tech programs near you she could visit to check out different career prep? Take some career aptitide/ interest surveys, etc. Volunteer somewhere?

She doesn’t need to pick a career or major now but it would be useful to look at careers, interests, etc.

 

Until this year, she was a pre-professional ballet dancer. So she was at the dance studio for 20+ hours per week on top of school and did not have time for extras. For a long time, I thought that she would take the path of going right into a dance career instead of college (her teachers told her she had potential to pursue this), but she quit ballet this fall. Honestly, she showed the same......apathy? maybe though that's not exactly the right word .... about dance. She had all of the gifts needed for dance, but she didn't have the drive.

She does not want to teach dance. She wants a job that is not desk-bound, and she likes physical activity and working with people (she is one of those cheerful people who works at Chick-fil-a). And she actually enjoyed physical therapy when she had to have it for an injury. Those are the things that suggest PTA would be a nice choice for her.

She is a Christian and loves volunteering and missions. She has had numerous opportunities through school and church for those opportunities.

I would say that I agree that a 17 year old does not have to know what they want for a career or major, because they are still young and their ideas will develop and change. BUT, and this is the big BUT that we are wrestling with.... we can't pay $20-60,000 per year (depending on school) while she figures it out. So there is pressure. If she needs time to figure that out, I think we will need to tell her she has to go to community college as a first step or take time off to work before going to college.

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I suggest that she apply "Undeclared" and not specify a Major.  I *strongly* suggest that you fill out the FAFSA on the 1st of October when it is available on the FAFSA web site for the school year she will be a Freshman in.  You are quite probably correct that she will not qualify for Need based aid, but I have seen a number of articles that say a large percentage of those families who do not file the FAFSA would in fact have qualified for Need based aid.  Regarding paying Full Freight.  Discounts are widely granted. I forget the typical discount percentage, but it is very substantial.  Good luck to  your DD!

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Garga, is your son in agreement about community college?

And what if he were not? What if he wanted to go away, but you put limits on his choices?

That question is not just for you by the way. It's a kind of philosophical question we are facing.

DD will be limited by her test scores for admission and by our willingness or non-wilingness to pay. I hate that she is limited in her choices, but I hate even more that we as parents may impose limits on her education. I'm wrestling with that, because it doesn't seem RIGHT to me, even though it is REALISTIC.

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I think young people in their early 20s can be having a lot of good experiences and a nice friend group without being enrolled in college and living in the dorms.  

We lived very near a technical college in our previous town, and there was an apartment complex right next to it, that seemed to have a group of young people who hung out together and things like that, even though they weren't living in the dorm of a 4-year school.  The park we went to was right across the street from this apartment complex, and I also took one of my kids to practice bike riding in the technical college parking lot on weekends..... so that is how I have my impression.

Anyway -- I think some of the experiences of "freshman living in the dorms of a 4-year school" can still be had in other ways.  I think there are things closer to this and farther from this, but I don't think that it is exclusive to a dorm experience.  

For the community college, even at a commuter school, or maybe there are choices of which community college, it may have a lot of commuter students, but then there may be a nearby apartment complex that informally has a lot of students who hang out and do a lot of student things, or have a student kind of lifestyle.  

I took summer school at a community college one summer, and in my two classes, most of the students were commuter students, but there were about 5 students who did live in the same apartment complex and do things like eat lunch together, hang out in the library, etc, and things like that.  I thought they were having a student kind of lifestyle even though it was a community college.  And then, many students were total commuters, too, but it wasn't like there were no options for students who were looking for a group to hang out with as students.  

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Do you think there is a reason she does so well in school but does not test well, something that can be tested for? Where do other students from her school attend, and what does the guidance counselor suggest for a student like her?

ACT scores come with an assessment of whether the student is college-ready in different areas. I think it is somewhere in the low-mid 20s scores for reading and math. With the composite score you mention, will she be able to be placed in college level math and English in a four year school? Students who begin needing remedial classes have poor graduation rates. If you have dual enrollment in your state, can you see what classes they would place her in based on ACT or accuplacer testing? That may give you a better sense of whether she would succeed in a four year school. 

Have you visited any schools yet? I think that, while it is common for high school students with high achieving peers to be invested in the college search process by now, it is not so unusual for juniors to not be that vocal yet and for things to not seem that real to them yet. Visiting helps, I think, even if it’s not a school you’ll definitely apply to.

I agree about good young adult experiences outside of the four-year school away from home. There are some things in the dorm away from home experience that I actually think would be best avoided and do not promote maturity. There are positives and negatives to everything, but I will not be guiding my own kids based on wanting that experience for them. 

I think a lot of parents are in the situation of not being comfortable paying what some schools require us to pay. Even with high scores and being solidly prepared for a school, there are lots of situations of schools that would be nice to attend, but money absolutely plays a role.

 

Edited by Penelope
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There are things about a stereotypical "freshman living in the dorms" experience I think I want for my kids, but I think we do have more options than just that exact thing.  

Where I live right now, many young people do "2 and 2" programs where they start at a community college and then have guaranteed admissions to a 4-year school, into a certain major (if they have completed certain requirements at the community college."  

I only know grandparents of young people doing this, from church, but from talking to them it honestly sounds like their grandkids are doing all the kinds of "young adult" things I would want, with having a group to hang out with, caring about school, thinking about the future, independence, etc.  

Even though it may look like -- living at home, or living in an apartment.  

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If you are anticipating a 20 on the ACT, for one example I believe I read upthread awhile ago, that's certainly on the low side for selective universities, but I believe it is about the national average?. The average at the service academies is about 25, which also seems very low for selective universities.  Some schools don't even look at those scores now.  The schools you want her to apply to use a  "holistic" approach. Which is to refer back to a post I read on WTM a few months ago, the opposite of what the UC schools do, where the test scores and GPA and class standing are what they look at and Admissions is done, or, can be done, by a computer.    I read that here on WTM and I assume that is true and if it is true, it is IMO quite sad.

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I’d use this time she has now then to require some career exploration 🙂

Especially if it’s not being done at her school.

Thete are online career interest surveys, I know this has been brought up before, but don’t have the links.

Good luck!

sorry giant emojis still

Edited by Hilltopmom
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I just want to throw out there that sticker price is not always sticker price even if you are full pay. Some of the non-competitive private colleges bring their prices down significantly by giving almost everyone a scholarship. I know this. There is a private school about 90 minutes from me that I know kids that got a $20,000 scholarship off the top with an 18 ACT. Basically because no one is paying sticker price at that school. It's a pretty campus and a nice little school but the market would not bear them actually charging the $50,000 sticker price.

I have a local four year Christian school that is pretty affordable (relatively speaking of course). It's a nice medium sized school with an attractive campus. My dc have done de there and had a good experience and some really great instructors. It is a great place for average students. It is not too rigorous or competitive but my kids have learned alot in their classes there and enjoyed their time. 

My ds was recruited to play baseball at a Division 3 school (which means no sports scholarships). It is a small conservative Christian school with a good reputation locally. The coach told my ds not to pay attention to the posted sticker price. He told ds that not a single student on campus pays that. So being full pay there would not be the sticker price. Good grief.

Now- I am not saying that your dd could go cheap. I'm just saying she could go below sticker price even at full pay with that ACT score. I understand the value you are placing on the 4 year college experience and feeling your dd would enjoy that. I, for one, believe that is worth something. My boys have gone to universities even though we have free cc in our state. So I understand that it is not entirely about the bottom line. You and your dh will have to decide what dollar value you put on that and then determine if a four year school can happen on that budget. 

It is maddening that schools are not more transparent. Sure, competitive schools can charge their entire sticker price and fill their class with full pay students. There are many nice schools for average students that list $40,000/yr tuition but don't actually charge anyone that. 

Edited by teachermom2834
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17 minutes ago, Lanny said:

If you are anticipating a 20 on the ACT, for one example I believe I read upthread awhile ago, that's certainly on the low side for selective universities, but I believe it is about the national average?. The average at the service academies is about 25, which also seems very low for selective universities.  Some schools don't even look at those scores now.  The schools you want her to apply to use a  "holistic" approach. Which is to refer back to a post I read on WTM a few months ago, the opposite of what the UC schools do, where the test scores and GPA and class standing are what they look at and Admissions is done, or, can be done, by a computer.    I read that here on WTM and I assume that is true and if it is true, it is IMO quite sad.

 

For sure a score on a time-crunched test like the ACT isn’t everything.

The average for all US high school seniors is 21. Some states require all students to take the ACT, even those who don’t wish to or plan to go to college. I don’t know if there is any data on the average ACT of freshmen entering four year universities, or of college graduation rates of those with different scores. Probably individual schools have that sort of data. 

There is something else I wonder if anyone can comment on. For a student who just doesn’t do well on these tests but is otherwise solid academically, it is quite possible they would be able to get into a better school via transfer than as a freshman. With good grades from a strong community college, do colleges even care what the ACT or SAT score was? Probably much less. And sometimes admissions rates for transfers are higher. 

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31 minutes ago, Penelope said:

Do you think there is a reason she does so well in school but does not test well, something that can be tested for? Where do other students from her school attend, and what does the guidance counselor suggest for a student like her?

ACT scores come with an assessment of whether the student is college-ready in different areas. I think it is somewhere in the low-mid 20s scores for reading and math. With the composite score you mention, will she be able to be placed in college level math and English in a four year school? Students who begin needing remedial classes have poor graduation rates. If you have dual enrollment in your state, can you see what classes they would place her in based on ACT or accuplacer testing? That may give you a better sense of whether she would succeed in a four year school. 

Have you visited any schools yet? I think that, while it is common for high school students with high achieving peers to be invested in the college search process by now, it is not so unusual for juniors to not be that vocal yet and for things to not seem that real to them yet. Visiting helps, I think, even if it’s not a school you’ll definitely apply to.

 

About the discrepancy between testing and grades -- This is true for her work at school, as well. She generally does better on projects and homework than on the tests. One of her teachers thought it was test anxiety; DD does not report feeling anxious about testing. She was homeschooled through 8th grade, and as her teacher, I saw her as being weak in math and writing and lacking the critical thinking and logic skills needed for higher level thinking. I used to wonder about learning disabilities, but my other three have all been tested for LDs, and after being through so many psych and IEP meetings for my other kids, I am confident that she would not test low enough to have disability. I think she is probably very average IQ.

I think her success in school is likely very related to community. She asks friends for help when she is stuck on a math problem or other assignment. She spends a lot of time with the math teacher, getting extra help during study halls (this is offered to all students, and DD takes initiative to get help often). She is energized by being around other students, and she is doing better in brick and mortar school than she was in homeschooling when she was not around peers. These are some of the things that I worry will not be present for her in community college that are easier to find at a traditional college.

We do have dual enrollment here, and that's another thing we are facing the deadline for. Of course, she would like to do it, because many/most of her classmates do. But we feel that the classes offered at the high school level are appropriate for her. And she is on the border for qualifying. She would not qualify for college level math classes through dual enrollment. She is right on the bubble for English. Her practice test was one point under; I don't have hope that her real score would be better, because she came home from the test last Friday with a 101 fever. To do dual enrollment, she would have to get an exception by having her guidance counselor write a letter of recommendation, which I am sure she would do. We've told DD that we don't think she should try for dual enrollment, though we haven't made final decision.

She is in algebra 2 this year. There is a possibility that with another year of math, she could raise her math score a little on an ACT retake next year, but its not going to change dramatically.

Her test scores definitely show her on the brink for college readiness. Her performance in class, I think, shows that she can be successful in college if she can get admitted. But I do worry. And I think it's not realistic for her to choose a science heavy field (she likes her science classes at high school; mostly, I think, because she loves the teacher.)

We had a college visit planned for a couple of weeks ago and had to cancel it, due to weather. I've been wanting to take her on some visits, but, again, she is showing no initiative to research schools or pick any to visit, and it would be all my doing that would make it happen.

Edited to add: We don't have her actual ACT scores yet, but I am predicting, based on practice tests. If we decided to do dual enrollment, she would need to go to the community college to take the Accuplacer, because the ACT scores won't be back before that deadline.

 

 

Edited by Storygirl

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8 minutes ago, Penelope said:

 

For sure a score on a time-crunched test like the ACT isn’t everything.

The average for all US high school seniors is 21. Some states require all students to take the ACT, even those who don’t wish to or plan to go to college. I don’t know if there is any data on the average ACT of freshmen entering four year universities, or of college graduation rates of those with different scores. Probably individual schools have that sort of data. 

There is something else I wonder if anyone can comment on. For a student who just doesn’t do well on these tests but is otherwise solid academically, it is quite possible they would be able to get into a better school via transfer than as a freshman. With good grades from a strong community college, do colleges even care what the ACT or SAT score was? Probably much less. And sometimes admissions rates for transfers are higher. 

I have thought about the CC transfer thing. Our local CC has automatic transfer agreements with several local universities, including the LAC that I attended, and I imagine that they go more by the success in college classes than by the test scores. I also imagine that the "automatic transfer" agreement has certain stipulations and is not guaranteed if the student does not do well at CC (even though they promote it as a guaranteed path).

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3 hours ago, Storygirl said:

...I'm hoping there are others who share and/or understand this kind of quandary.


I come from the perspective that college is NOT for all students, or that it is not necessarily the best thing to go straight to college without some sort of plan or clear vision of *why* college is needed. Esp. for an average student who has to work hard at school AND who doesn't know what they want to do -- you're asking them to work even harder at something that is already hard for them, without a *reason* for it. That's a recipe for a high likelihood of burn-out and/or drop-out within the first 3 semesters of college.

My suggestion is to either:

- Take a gap year to have time to work, volunteer, travel -- get a little life experience first to see what's out there, and how college might be needed to help her get to her future. Some students just need more time after high school to explore and figure it out. And then when they find what they want to do, they then have a *reason* for whatever disciplined training or education it will take to get there.

- Or, plan on attending the local community college (CC) after high school graduation -- that allows her to:
   * work towards a possible future college degree
   * knock out gen. ed. credits at a much cheaper rate while she's figuring out what she wants to do
   * discover if there is an Associate degree program that would be a good fit for her
   • experience college success at a more gentle rate
   • possibly earn a high GPA at the CC, which can lead to possible scholarships at the CC, or transfer scholarships to a university

Either way, I'd be sure to encourage getting involved in volunteering and young adult social groups so she can still develop the social aspect that is important to her.


Our experience:

DS#2 (now 25yo) has mild LDs (still is weak/struggles a bit with with Math and Writing), and he tests average . He hated "school" all the way through, and was not at all a candidate for going to the university. But he also had no idea of what he wanted to do, so we encouraged going to the CC to at least knock out some gen. ed. credits in case a Bachelor degree would be needed to get him where he wanted to go, and to have a plan to be doing something. He decided on working towards a 3-year Associate degree in Interpretation for the Deaf, and did well at it, but after 2 years, he realized it was not what he wanted to do as a career.

So we encouraged him to stop, finish out one last semester to knock out the rest of the gen. ed. credits, and then he left school and worked for a year. At that point, he knew he didn't want to work his way up into management, and certainly didn't want to stay at entry level, so he decided on a completely fresh approach: he volunteered with AmeriCorps for 9 months in a trail conservation group. He found his passion! 

From there, he springboard into wildland firefighting, and has done 2 seasons, about to start his third season. To improve his chances at landing a higher position, he is about to -- wait for it -- go back to school! Voluntarily! Because he sees a reason for it! He is heading out next week for a 3-week 8-hour/day intensive EMT course. He has been studying the textbook every day for the past 2 months in prep.

He also is looking ahead and knowing this job has a "limited lifespan" due to how hard it is on the body, so he's already thinking ahead to what options are there, and what will it take to get to them. Some of them are things that would require a degree, and if that is needed, then at that time, he'll have the $$ from the educational savings account that we set up for him.


BEST of luck as DD and your family talk and research and decide what is the best course of action after high school. Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

Edited by Lori D.
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In evaluating cost of college or anything else, I think it is worthwhile to take finances into consideration.  You should be a good steward of what you have.

If you are full-pay and can afford any college, then I wouldn't fault you for picking an expensive college IF you think that is the best choice for your student. However, if I felt that a school with a $10,000 tuition was equal to a school with a $40,000 tuition, I wouldn't pay for the more expensive school. 

I think there are many factors that play into what makes a school "better" for your child and therefore makes me willing to pay more. It may have to do with factors unrelated to education, but it that  is what makes it a better fit for your child, then I'd consider paying for it.

In the case of my son, I've told him we MUST take finances into consideration. within a certain cost, I've told him that he can pick amongst any and not necessarily the cheapest. Above my line of cost, I've told him he can make a case why that school is better and why we should pay more for it. I'd certainly be willing to pay more if I felt it was the better choice.

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This is just me, I didn't attend a LAC but I did attend a state flagship university.  

Literally about 50% of my freshman dorm did not complete freshman year.  I loved my dorm, but it did not have a good retention rate at all.  Probably -- other dorms had better retention rates.  I lived in the largest dorm on campus, and some of the other dorms were specialized in some way that probably did increase retention. 

Anyway -- I think that it took making good choices, seeking out a good group of people etc, at my college.  It wasn't like you would automatically land in a good group just by living in my dorm.  

I just looked, and my school's 5-year graduation rate, for students entering in 2013, was 60.1%.  

For students I knew, most of the lack of retention happened during freshman year.  Many students decided to move back home to attend community college or a more-local university (instead of the flagship).  They just didn't think it was all it was cracked up to be, or else, they were struggling academically.  

So anyway -- that is my context.  

Edit:  So to me, I think it's possible to seek out a good group anywhere that there IS a good group.  If I visited and saw that there were study groups, students together in the cafeteria, in the student center, in the library, etc, I would find that very promising.  

But I think the situation for where I went to college, is similar for schools we would expect my kids to attend (we expect them to attend a large state flagship with a graduation rate that I am seeing as 67%), where they would need to make good choices and find a good group.  I don't think just living in a freshman dorm where an estimated 30% of students will not graduate, is providing very good odds.  

So -- that is just context for me.  

Edited by Lecka
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5 hours ago, Storygirl said:

Garga, is your son in agreement about community college?

And what if he were not? What if he wanted to go away, but you put limits on his choices?

That question is not just for you by the way. It's a kind of philosophical question we are facing.

DD will be limited by her test scores for admission and by our willingness or non-wilingness to pay. I hate that she is limited in her choices, but I hate even more that we as parents may impose limits on her education. I'm wrestling with that, because it doesn't seem RIGHT to me, even though it is REALISTIC.


This is screaming "gap year" to me. Pick a Christian gap year program that will involve 6-12 months (extra time to mature) of overseas travel (get life experiences) as part of a group (socializing) and work/volunteering ("adulting" reality) perhaps esp. in a medical or p.t. field (the one area she's expressed interest in).

Since you have some $$ for college, what about using a bit of it ($4000-$8000) for investment purposes in a gap year that helps DD mature, explore, and get more of an idea of what it is to be a responsible adult and what's out there as far as careers? -- And some gap year programs do have scholarships or have the student *work* to pay for part or all of the gap year program, so it might not even have to be that big of a $$ investment out of *your* pocket. Just a thought!

Starting to research/explore gap year programs along with doing career exploration with her for the rest of this year and into next year will give her something exciting to look forward to and be a "carrot" to help her finish high school with excellence (as, obviously, to be able to go, she has to be studying hard and doing her best in school 😉 ).

Here are a few Christian gap year program providers:
Go Abroad
College Transition Initiative
Go Overseas: Religious Gap Year Programs

BEST of luck as you wrestle through what is best for THIS child after high school. Warmest regards, Lori D.


ETA: PS
Also, I'd *strongly* encourage getting DD out NOW looking for a part time job for this summer (usually all the summer jobs are taken up by April) -- have her network with friends who may be working, as that is the way most people get those first jobs -- introduced to the manager by a friend who already works there.

There's nothing like a job that helps a student both grow up in maturity, as well as to appreciate the value of money. Esp. when coupled with the teen now needing to pay for their non-essential expenses and car insurance (or whatever items you and DH and DD agree on) out of their own earnings, and might make the money part of your conversations about college be very fruitful. Pitch the job as her contribution towards the gap year adventure.

Edited by Lori D.
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2 hours ago, Storygirl said:

Garga, is your son in agreement about community college?

And what if he were not? What if he wanted to go away, but you put limits on his choices?

That question is not just for you by the way. It's a kind of philosophical question we are facing.

DD will be limited by her test scores for admission and by our willingness or non-wilingness to pay. I hate that she is limited in her choices, but I hate even more that we as parents may impose limits on her education. I'm wrestling with that, because it doesn't seem RIGHT to me, even though it is REALISTIC.

 

Is your daughter not in agreement?  My son happens to be very much in agreement with CC as he is introverted and hates the idea of living in a dorm, but your daughter would be the opposite.  She would probably adore living on campus, unless she has strong ties to you and wants to be home with you.

I personally would not feel bad putting limits on his choices, but that's been my (and his) whole life.  So, I might not be the best to answer this, and I know you are asking this of everyone and not just me.  I live in a small house because we didn't want to spend all our money on a bigger one.  Most of my friends have bigger houses (I can't think of anyone with a smaller one).  We buy used cars, we shop as cheaply as possible (Aldi, Walmart) etc, etc,.  I'm used to living within limits, so it doesn't seem odd to me to limit a college based on money.

If you can actually absolutely afford more and your daughter is determined to attend a certain college, then I'm not sure why you wouldn't do that (it sounds like you can do that.)  It sounds like the problem isn't that she is hankering after an amazing college that is super expensive.  It sounds like the problem is that she isn't interested in any college.  The problem isn't curtailing her desire to go to an expensive college, but the problem is getting her interested in any college at all. And while you wait for her to be interested, you're considering saving money at the CC until she knows where she wants to go.  That doesn't sound mean or selfish to me.  It sounds logical and appropriate.  But everyone comes at money from different angles, so what works for me and sounds logical to me, might not work in your family.

Edited by Garga
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1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

I have thought about the CC transfer thing. Our local CC has automatic transfer agreements with several local universities, including the LAC that I attended, and I imagine that they go more by the success in college classes than by the test scores. I also imagine that the "automatic transfer" agreement has certain stipulations and is not guaranteed if the student does not do well at CC (even though they promote it as a guaranteed path).


Classes below a "B" or a "C" (depends on the school policies and the particular classes) just don't transfer, which means the student would need to re-take at the CC to bring up the grade to "transfer-ability". "D" and "F" grades don't count as passing even for a CC, and would need to be retaken just to "count" towards any CC Associate degree or transfer articulation agreement.

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2 hours ago, Penelope said:

 

For sure a score on a time-crunched test like the ACT isn’t everything.

The average for all US high school seniors is 21. Some states require all students to take the ACT, even those who don’t wish to or plan to go to college. I don’t know if there is any data on the average ACT of freshmen entering four year universities, or of college graduation rates of those with different scores. Probably individual schools have that sort of data. 

There is something else I wonder if anyone can comment on. For a student who just doesn’t do well on these tests but is otherwise solid academically, it is quite possible they would be able to get into a better school via transfer than as a freshman. With good grades from a strong community college, do colleges even care what the ACT or SAT score was? Probably much less. And sometimes admissions rates for transfers are higher. 

 

Some (many) universities take a Holistic approach in the Admissions process. They know that an applicant may have had a bad day when they took the SAT or ACT and (hopefully) they look at the GPA and other information about the student.

If a student is "solid academically" I believe in many universities, including many that are very selective, they have a good chance of getting in as Freshmen.

The individual (averages) SAT and ACT scores of entering Freshmen are available for individual universities on CollegeData.com and on other web sites.  Those numbers are probably correct.   There is a range and some of the applicants who are accepted are below the "normal" range of scores.  

 

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I haven't read through all the responses, so this may have been mentioned, but do you have any state directional colleges? That would be my suggestion, a step above cc in the sense that she can live on campus and get the full "college experience" but still very reasonably priced with a broad offering of majors. This is what I am considering for my ds. He knows what he wants to do (civil engineering, which is not offered at any cc's) but he's not very academically motivated. He does okay (around a B- average) but could do better. I know how difficult engineering is, and I'm not sure I want to chance a lot of money on tuition if it doesn't work out. So we are thinking maybe he starts there and we see how he does. If he does well, great. He can stay and complete his degree or transfer if he wishes. But it's a lower risk option for us.

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I understand that we can see what scores are for individual universities. What I wondered out loud about is whether score is at all predictive of who does well in college and actually finishes. I understand from larger studies that SAT is not the best predictor. What I wonder is if there is any meaning in the “college readiness” scores designated by the ACT and whether colleges place any stock in that in class placement. The ACT says they have extensive data to validate these benchmarks. If a student gets in but has to take remedial math or English due to placement, or has to retake freshman courses due to underpreparedness, the chances are much lower that he will graduate. It is just something to consider in whether to begin with a four year school for a less-motivated student. 

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Okay, I’m going to be the harsh one.  

First - it’s YOUR money, and you can spend it as you see fit. No guilt, no obligations.  Give her a budget of what you’re willing to spend.  Just because you *can* do something doesn’t mean that is the right/best thing to do. 

Secondly, no way, no how, would I spend private college costs (even if they were discounted) for a seemingly reluctant, average student who is just going to college because she thinks that is the next step. 

Thirdly (gently), maybe it’s time to back down for just a bit?  Not push the college talk so much?  She really needs to own the decision herself.   There is no doubt she is clear on what you want for her, but she needs to figure out what she wants for herself.  Does SHE want the four-year experience?  Why does she want that? Does she have a bunch of wealthy friends who are all going to private school for college?  She isn’t entitled to it even if you can technically afford it.  She has to show she is worthy of that by being mature and taking some initiative. Let her know you are always available to talk to her about college stuff, but for right now you are going to give her some space.  I would also give her the caveat that dragging her feet will limit her choices.  She needs to make something happen for herself.  If you choose for her, and it doesn’t work out, she will blame you.

Just my $0.02. YMMV - a lot!  As always, advice is worth what you pay for it. 

 

Edited by Hoggirl
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You know, only you know your financial situation.  If you can afford the 4-year university experience for all of your children, and you think your dd would thrive at a 4 year university, and she is not opposed to it and even plans on it, then I think you should start visiting colleges.  Education has value.  University education has value.  Most 18 year olds don't know what they want to do.  Many of them figure out at least what subject they like and are good at at college.  If it is financially feasible, proceed with college visits and plan on sending her.  Education has value.

Start visiting colleges.  Now is the time.  Yes, it may be up to you to help build excitement.  That's okay.  That's what a lot of us do. 

And do SAT prep to raise those scores.  Math scores go up by a lot if you've had more math.  My dd didn't take her SAT until senior year because I wanted her to have the most math possible.  

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7 hours ago, Storygirl said:

DD will be limited by her test scores for admission and by our willingness or non-wilingness to pay. I hate that she is limited in her choices, but I hate even more that we as parents may impose limits on her education. I'm wrestling with that, because it doesn't seem RIGHT to me, even though it is REALISTIC.


But you really aren't the one who is limiting her educational choices. If this was a really driven, motivated student who knew what she wanted to major in, had a dream school picked out that was a great fit and was perfect for her major, that you could afford to pay for, but you insisted she had to start at the CC anyway, then you'd be limiting her educational choices. As it is, you are simply making a reasonable judgment about the value of different options given her current academic stats and lack of interest in the process. And really, the vast majority of college students are limited in their choices in some way: academic stats, parental finances, major requirements, etc. My own college choices were limited to schools offering a full ride, because I had zero parental help, so I was undermatched academically but still managed to thrive. My son turned down an Ivy for a full tuition scholarship at a state flagship. Unless you are multimillionaires with fully funded retirement plans and $300K in a 529 plan for each of your kids, the reality is that funds are limited, and you need to use those funds in a way that is reasonable and prudent. That is the right thing to do.

My DD sounds similar to yours (except less hardworking, lol): average intelligence, not academically inclined, no idea what she wants to do, and no particular interest in college. We are probably going to try one or two DE courses next year and see how it goes. She will almost certainly start at CC, and if she decides she wants a 4 yr degree, she can transfer to an in-state public. I would love for her to have the full "college experience," because that experience was life-changing for me, but she is not me, and it really makes no sense to send her off to a college to have fun and half-ass her courses when she really has no idea what direction she wants to go.

If I were you, and your daughter is amenable, I would strongly consider a gap year. Since she's really interested in missions and volunteer work, let her do something like that to grow up a little more, get used to being away from home, and start thinking about what kind of careers might appeal to her. Then the three of you can sit down and talk about what her options are for continuing her education. ETA: Being able to retake the SAT/ACT at the end of senior year may raise her scores quite a bit, plus having a meaningful gap year experience can make her more interesting to colleges, so those things in themselves may both increase her college choices and reduce her costs, if she is offered scholarships.

Edited by Corraleno
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We are a full pay family.  I have a senior right now.  He's got ivy stats and is generally motivated although could use some social maturity, some organization skills (it is coming - he's very successful dual enrolling), and some street smarts.  

Anyway, my kid is dual enrolling at a large urban public community college that is something like 60% pell grant recipients and 60% minority.  And yes, it has low graduation rates.  I don't think it's necessarily fair to compare public grad rates with private grad rates where they are handpicking kids that have much more parental support.  That said, there are magic stories out of there every semester of high risk young people completing their programs and transferring to a HUGE range of program including competitive private colleges.  CC's have services and safety nets for struggling and high risk students that a regular school does not have.  I actually do not think taking a year to step back and take some CC classes and maybe work is limiting your child at all.  My kid has gotten much more personal attention at the CC than he would dual enrolling at a 4 year public and he's a 99% ACT kid.  The class quality has been very good.  

Honestly, I would still consider getting her tested for LD's.  Does she run out of time on the tests?  She may just have low processing speed or something like that and possibly qualify for longer testing times.   It would definitely give me pause to spend 60K on a kid that potentially didn't have the skills or motivation to succeed out of the gate. 

And all that said, next year my kid can attend our flagship university's honors program with merit for like 21K (including room and board).  I have another kid coming up to college.  He is motivated and has applied to some fantasy schools that MAY throw merit money his way.  But that is the price range we are now looking at.  We have some give for this kid who is motivated and poised to succeed for the right program.  I absolutely think it's a parents job to weigh financial options carefully which include being responsible stewards of their own future and retirement funds and offering the same set of financial options/constraints to all kids that may be college bound.   I also think it's good to have some financial padding for a major change that might require another year, possible help for launching, a health related hiccup, etc.  

Many/most students have some constraints laid upon them when it comes to college selection.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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I do agree with filing CSS/FAFSA regardless when applying to colleges.  My kid was awarded 2 scholarships at 2 different schools only because we filled out that paperwork.  We would have never had known that had we not filled it out.  

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7 hours ago, Storygirl said:

I think her success in school is likely very related to community. She asks friends for help when she is stuck on a math problem or other assignment. She spends a lot of time with the math teacher, getting extra help during study halls (this is offered to all students, and DD takes initiative to get help often). She is energized by being around other students, and she is doing better in brick and mortar school than she was in homeschooling when she was not around peers. These are some of the things that I worry will not be present for her in community college that are easier to find at a traditional college.

 

I would encourage you to investigate your local CC before deciding that community won't be present there. In my experience, with two VERY different children (one who is energized by being around others though she also needs some alone time, and one who has to be pushed into social situations), the time at CC is what they make it. If your dd is currently the type of person who can find community and get help when she needs it, then as long as your CC has things like willing instructors, a helpful tutoring center, and some active clubs, she can have a great time there.

Our CC has an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship group and my dd absolutely loves it and is very involved with them. They've done retreats (combined with groups from 4-year schools too), have a weekly fellowship/worship time, weekly activity days (they played ultimate frisbee all fall until it just got too cold, do board games in the cafeteria etc...) Her time with them is every bit as rich as the time I spent in a Christian group at a 4-year school when I went--I'm so thankful this group is there for her and that she can be there for others too. 

Being at home has advantages too--time for kids to scaffold gently to the college experience plus freedom to explore various classes (it's cheap to try things out, cheap to change majors etc... Adding a year because of a major change at the CC level is not the big-huge-hairy-deal that adding a year at a 4-year school would be.) You could think of sending a student to a 4-year school as limiting too, because there isn't that freedom to scaffold gently or to explore--there's all kinds of pressure to get done in 4 years that you don't have with a CC. Being at the CC allows my dd to continue her relationships at our church and be involved in our community here with various volunteer activity that she wouldn't be able to do if she went away to school (she'd be starting all over with relationships, wouldn't be here to do some of the things that are meaningful to her now etc...) 

I think you really have to look at the decision not so much as "limiting" but "different." Just like homeschool vs. public school necessarily means that you have limitations on some things but freedom in others. 

Not every kid knows what they want at 16 or 17--and the future can be scary. I'd say if she's ambivalent, then talk to her about doing either a gap year or going to the CC. If she says, "I really wanted to start at a 4-year school," then let her know what that should look like (ie, showing interest, drive, having a couple of ideas about majors even if she hasn't nailed one down yet etc...) You might find, though, that she might be relieved about going locally. 

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7 hours ago, Lori D. said:


This is screaming "gap year" to me. Pick a Christian gap year program that will involve 6-12 months (extra time to mature) of overseas travel (get life experiences) as part of a group (socializing) and work/volunteering ("adulting" reality) perhaps esp. in a medical or p.t. field (the one area she's expressed interest in).

Since you have some $$ for college, what about using a bit of it ($4000-$8000) for investment purposes in a gap year that helps DD mature, explore, and get more of an idea of what it is to be a responsible adult and what's out there as far as careers? -- And some gap year programs do have scholarships or have the student *work* to pay for part or all of the gap year program, so it might not even have to be that big of a $$ investment out of *your* pocket. Just a thought!

Starting to research/explore gap year programs along with doing career exploration with her for the rest of this year and into next year will give her something exciting to look forward to and be a "carrot" to help her finish high school with excellence (as, obviously, to be able to go, she has to be studying hard and doing her best in school 😉 ).

Here are a few Christian gap year program providers:
Go Abroad
College Transition Initiative
Go Overseas: Religious Gap Year Programs

BEST of luck as you wrestle through what is best for THIS child after high school. Warmest regards, Lori D.


ETA: PS
Also, I'd *strongly* encourage getting DD out NOW looking for a part time job for this summer (usually all the summer jobs are taken up by April) -- have her network with friends who may be working, as that is the way most people get those first jobs -- introduced to the manager by a friend who already works there.

There's nothing like a job that helps a student both grow up in maturity, as well as to appreciate the value of money. Esp. when coupled with the teen now needing to pay for their non-essential expenses and car insurance (or whatever items you and DH and DD agree on) out of their own earnings, and might make the money part of your conversations about college be very fruitful. Pitch the job as her contribution towards the gap year adventure.

I think she would love the Christian mission gap year idea. Thank you for the links -- we'll look into them. Our church has had some young adults do six month mission trips, as well, so we can talk to the missions coordinator about connections and ideas they have, if DD decides she is interested.

She does have a job now at Chick-fil-A. She started there last summer and does a shift on Saturdays during the school year. We are having her pay for a portion of the missions trip that she is going on with our church this coming summer, not because we cannot afford to pay it for her, but because we want her to have some skin in the game and be willing to make a real sacrifice to go instead of it just being an experience provided for her by us. (She could do fundraising, but we will not allow her to ask others to pay for her, when we could do so ourselves).

I agree with the benefits of having a job. She definitely still needs guidance about what is worth spending her money on and how to budget, etc. She likes seeing her bank account grow, but she also likes to spend more for clothing, etc.,  than I will spend on myself. 😨  Growth in this area is still needed, for sure!!

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7 hours ago, Garga said:

 

Is your daughter not in agreement?  My son happens to be very much in agreement with CC as he is introverted and hates the idea of living in a dorm, but your daughter would be the opposite.  She would probably adore living on campus, unless she has strong ties to you and wants to be home with you.

I personally would not feel bad putting limits on his choices, but that's been my (and his) whole life.  So, I might not be the best to answer this, and I know you are asking this of everyone and not just me.  I live in a small house because we didn't want to spend all our money on a bigger one.  Most of my friends have bigger houses (I can't think of anyone with a smaller one).  We buy used cars, we shop as cheaply as possible (Aldi, Walmart) etc, etc,.  I'm used to living within limits, so it doesn't seem odd to me to limit a college based on money.

If you can actually absolutely afford more and your daughter is determined to attend a certain college, then I'm not sure why you wouldn't do that (it sounds like you can do that.)  It sounds like the problem isn't that she is hankering after an amazing college that is super expensive.  It sounds like the problem is that she isn't interested in any college.  The problem isn't curtailing her desire to go to an expensive college, but the problem is getting her interested in any college at all. And while you wait for her to be interested, you're considering saving money at the CC until she knows where she wants to go.  That doesn't sound mean or selfish to me.  It sounds logical and appropriate.  But everyone comes at money from different angles, so what works for me and sounds logical to me, might not work in your family.

I'm not sure whether she agrees with community college as a first step or not. Because she doesn't give any feedback when I present ideas to her. But I kind of worry that she needs a strong community and personal connections to other students, and my impression is that would be harder to find at community college.

I think if she goes to classes and comes home to study and maybe does some volunteering and also works, that it would be a good and realistic plan! But I also think she might wither instead of grow personally, if that makes sense. Whereas I think she would love living in a dorm and immersing herself in the entire college experience.

Yes, the problem is not that she has a college that she wants to go to, and that we can't or don't want to pay for it. She seems to want to go to college in general, but we are having a hard time getting her to think about any specifics.

And we aren't sure it makes financial sense for us to make a significant financial investment in something that she is not showing an investment in for herself.

But it's not like she is an uninterested or underperforming student, either. Her teachers at school would definitely consider her college bound, and I think once she got to college, she would do well. There are student who don't apply themselves in college classes, and she would not be like that.

So, sure, we could send her off to a four-year school as an undecided major and hope that she works out a plan along the way. I think she would graduate and not flame out. But I also question spending huge amounts of money on her figuring life out, when she could do that for a much smaller cost in other ways.

Thanks for responding to my question!!

 

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Both of my DDs during the Spring semester of their Junior year were ambivalent about college. They both knew that 4-year college was their next step but they had no idea what they wanted and definitely had no idea what they would major in. Both of them were dual enrolled and would receive their AA prior to completing high school. Over spring break of their Junior year, we visited a few colleges so that they could start to get the feel for different types of colleges. They got summer jobs and did pre-college program. 

By fall, they each had a better idea of what they wanted in a college and had participated in developing their college list. By Spring semester of their senior, the amount of growth each experienced was exponential. Each has or will enter college undecided but by choice. They want the opportunity to explore their options prior to selecting a major. 

All CCs are different but our CC definitely would not provide our students with the opportunity to grow in independence that a go away 4-year school will grant them.

That said, dual enrollment has been terrific for my DC. None of them placed directly into college level English but they learned so much from learning to write on a college level in remedial English while also learning how to function in a college setting. I highly recommend that if she even barely qualifies for dual enrollment to go ahead an take a class or two.

There is no reason decide now. Apply to a variety of schools 4-year and CC. Investigate gap years. Have her get a summer. This next year will be a year of great growth for your DD particularly if give her the opportunity to try and explore her many options. In 12 months, she and you will be better prepared to make decisions.

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40 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

I think she would love the Christian mission gap year idea. Thank you for the links -- we'll look into them. Our church has had some young adults do six month mission trips, as well, so we can talk to the missions coordinator about connections and ideas they have, if DD decides she is interested.

She does have a job now at Chick-fil-A. She started there last summer and does a shift on Saturdays during the school year. We are having her pay for a portion of the missions trip that she is going on with our church this coming summer, not because we cannot afford to pay it for her, but because we want her to have some skin in the game and be willing to make a real sacrifice to go instead of it just being an experience provided for her by us. (She could do fundraising, but we will not allow her to ask others to pay for her, when we could do so ourselves).

I agree with the benefits of having a job. She definitely still needs guidance about what is worth spending her money on and how to budget, etc. She likes seeing her bank account grow, but she also likes to spend more for clothing, etc.,  than I will spend on myself. 😨  Growth in this area is still needed, for sure!!


Wonderful! (:D

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6 hours ago, whitestavern said:

I haven't read through all the responses, so this may have been mentioned, but do you have any state directional colleges? That would be my suggestion, a step above cc in the sense that she can live on campus and get the full "college experience" but still very reasonably priced with a broad offering of majors. This is what I am considering for my ds. He knows what he wants to do (civil engineering, which is not offered at any cc's) but he's not very academically motivated. He does okay (around a B- average) but could do better. I know how difficult engineering is, and I'm not sure I want to chance a lot of money on tuition if it doesn't work out. So we are thinking maybe he starts there and we see how he does. If he does well, great. He can stay and complete his degree or transfer if he wishes. But it's a lower risk option for us.

We don't have directional colleges, but we do have quite a number of state universities other than the flagship, and they are a lower cost than private schools. Our state has a huge number of colleges of all types.

Part of what prompted me to post this thread today was the conversation I had with her last night, where I talked about how she is going to have to consider colleges according to her test scores and the cost. Some of the state colleges would be appropriate to look at. I can suggest things like this to her, and then.... nothing. She doesn't respond much and never follows through with doing research. I did require her to research some colleges last summer during her break from school. She acted like it was just an assignment and did not show any excitement about any of it. Then this fall, a teacher at school had them research colleges as part of their financial literacy unit. She sighed about having to do more of it and did not even mention any schools that she looked into.

I'll point her towards ideas to consider. But it's always my idea, and she never seems to actually think about it.

I don't know. Maybe I just need to set it aside and not hope for her to think about it yet. Maybe she will get to a point of interest during her senior year? That just seems too late to start thinking about college, but I can't do all of the thinking for her. I mean, I COULD, but it doesn't indicate college readiness to me if I spearhead everything.

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Thank you so much! Each post has offered lot for me to think about, and I'll read through them all again.

Feel free to chime in if you have more thoughts!

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Maybe there is more pressure to research things now that we have the Internet, because it’s easy, and we can.

I may not be remembering well, but when I was in high school, a lot of kids picked from one or two state u’s, and they were done. Some kids applied to just one college that they knew they would be accepted to. And it was only just coming on the radar in junior year. Or at least that is how it seemed. If guidance counselors aren’t pushing it and peers aren’t into it, that might still be pretty typical. ? 

It sounds like some research has been required and done, and it is hard to research in more depth when you don’t know for sure what you want to do. 

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My son is in his freshman year of college and doing well. Academics are not super easy for him, but like your daughter, he is a hard worker and will reach out for help, and this serves him well. He also thrives on relationships and community and he is starting to really get that at college.

He didn’t research any colleges.  It’s not that he didn’t want to go,  I think the whole process was just kind of overwhelming for him and, while he did want to go to college, he was also very anxious about all the changes that would come along with it.  So, I did the research, dragged him to schools, signed him up for a college application essay class, told him which ones seemed like they would be a good fit for him, and then told him it was his decision where he went. 😉

And I’m so glad I did all that because he is growing and maturing and becoming more independent while at school.

Maybe your dd does need another gap year, or should start out at the cc.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  I just wouldn’t base that decision upon her not enjoying researching colleges.  Also, she may get more interested if you take her to visit a few.  It may help her decide what she does and doesn’t like.

Edited by Mom0012
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42 minutes ago, Penelope said:

Maybe there is more pressure to research things now that we have the Internet, because it’s easy, and we can.

I may not be remembering well, but when I was in high school, a lot of kids picked from one or two state u’s, and they were done. Some kids applied to just one college that they knew they would be accepted to. And it was only just coming on the radar in junior year. Or at least that is how it seemed. If guidance counselors aren’t pushing it and peers aren’t into it, that might still be pretty typical. ? 

It sounds like some research has been required and done, and it is hard to research in more depth when you don’t know for sure what you want to do. 

 

Certainly some kids did what you described, but I graduated from high school in 1992. I researched colleges by going to the large library in the town that was 20 minutes away from mine. I made a presentation to my parents with a list of all the schools I wanted to attend. My top choice was Cornell. When I showed my parents (in my sophomore year of high school) what it was going to cost, they about fell out of their seats. It was then that they relayed to me that, despite the fact that we had a Porsche and a Jag in the garage, as well as several rental properties, they had not saved any money for my college education. I was flabbergasted, as I had always been a gifted child, did well in school, knew that we would not qualify for aid, and also knew that there would be nothing that I could do without their help.

So, I went back to the library and started researching ways that I could pay for college without my parents' help (even though they had money). I eventually applied to 10 colleges and paid for it by joining the military and emancipating myself (for financial aid purposes) from my parents. My point is: these are the things that kids do when they really want something. It doesn't take the internet. It doesn't take a parent to spoon-feed you the information. If you really want something, you go after it. Period.

There was a book I read when I was a single girl. It was called, "He's Just Not That Into You." You know all those excuses we like to make for why a guy doesn't do X, Y, or Z for us. Guess what? He's just not that into you! Life changing! 

OP, your DD is just not that into this idea. At least, not yet. She may be eventually. She may never be. But, I would back off. Let her figure it out. Let her come to you for help. Let her show you what she wants, what is important to her in her life. And, don't even think about writing a check for 60k/year for something that your kid doesn't even know that she wants. Just don't. She's not invested in any of this. She is showing you this by her actions. Believe her. 

Edited by SeaConquest
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Our younger daughter sounds similar to yours. She didn't do independent college research, and talking about college choices was stressful to her. She listened while I floated ideas and thoughts but didn't participate. You know your daughter best and how she is processing the upcoming changes. I knew our daughter was stressed about the transition out of high school (loved her high school years and our homeschooling group!), plus a death in the family. She didn't feel ready to leave home but isn't interested in the majors offered at the one college in our city, which made her feel pressured. I think her reaction to the stress was to freeze up and avoid thinking about the future. So, in her case, she needed a little help. I set up college visits at three colleges, and two of the visits were pretty miserable. At the third college, she came out of visiting choir class just glowing. It was the first college we all could envision her attending.

She is a freshman at that Christian college this year. She is very diligent, asking questions, using the math help center, doing all extra credit, redoing any work that can be redone. She has blossomed academically. She rocked her speech class last fall and was asked to TA. She gets praise from instructors and the writing center (class-required visits) on her Comp 1 and now Comp 2 writing assignments. First semester she earned a 3.9 and has all As so far this semester. So, I agree with you that diligence can go a long way toward success, and test scores do not always tell the whole story!

As for majors: our daughter's first two loves were vocal music and playing soccer—neither of which she wants to make a career out of. She also loves art, so she declared as a graphic design major, and the department head had her take a course her first semester to help her determine her interest level. She really enjoyed that course, and plans to keep the major and add an art minor (as well as continue singing in two college choirs that she loves).

She loves the opportunities for spiritual growth (chapel, outreach, etc.) and has had outstanding Christian professors. For her, leaving the safety of home is helping her develop and stretch, and although I would have loved to have her live at home longer (because, like your daughter, she is a sweetheart), I felt pretty confident she needed to be away to gain confidence and independence.

We also know many homeschooling families who go the community-college-first route, and their students are thriving—a couple who went that route just were accepted into nursing programs. We also have friends whose daughter was undecided (former ballet dancer) and the parents encouraged her to get a PTA. She loved it so much that she has continued and is working on her doctorate. (There does seem to be a lot of rigorous science classes even for the PTA.) Edited to add: We have another former ballet dancer friend who got her PTA and is making a very good wage at the age of 21.

I hope you all find just the right path. I know firsthand how stressful the process can be!

Edited by iamonlyone
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Just thought about another avenue: We have another friend who went to Bethany Global University https://bethanygu.edu/. Students earn their degree and spend 16 months in overseas mission work. I don't know what degree our friend earned, but she combined it with midwifery training in the Philippines. She returned to the States to do 10 home births here so she is licensed in the United States (after she passed the written exam). She is currently a practicing midwife in the US, and she hopes to work internationally again.

The college doesn't charge students tuition per se, but they do fund raise. It's still very affordable.

Looks like there are some links to free online courses about discerning God's plan for your life: https://bethanygu.edu/programs/enrichment/

Edited by iamonlyone
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Some people just aren’t driven.  

Similar to your dd, ds was very good at bball (even won some awards) and could have been great, but just wasn’t driven to be.  He just liked playing basketball and being with friends.  He is a great kid and has some great qualities, but he’s just not super intense.  

He studied hard for the SAT and did well, and that really helped him in the application process, and we’re extremely happy with the results.  But I did the research and told him to fill this out, write this essay, etc.  He is not worried about it at all and seems confident he’ll be fine wherever he ends up.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I’ll just say I think you’re thinking clearly and you're right to consider your dd’s drive and personality when choosing schools.  We’re also full pay and not considering anything that costs more than our in state publics.  He did get some scholarships, so that will factor heavily into our decision.

I will say I don’t think a gap year would be good for my kid.  I don’t think he’d do anything spectacular, and he might actually get stuck.  I think it’s better for him to move on to that next thing.

He’s doing some DE for senior year, and it’s been good for him.  I think 2 years of CC plus transferring might have been fine for him academically, but honestly I am ready for him to move on and spread his wings a little.  He’s our oldest of 7, and I have noticed that some oldest children just aren’t as driven as the younger ones.  My next one in line is already researching careers and schools.

When I was a senior in hs, a math teacher came up to me and said, “If I help you get a scholarship to UTD, will you go there?”  He told me to fill out the app and write a letter, and give it to him.  He did everything else, and that’s how I got into college, and I really thrived there.  So it is definitely possible for kids to do well even when they haven’t done the research.  I often think about kids who could do well at college if they just had someone to drag them there.

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I'll admit that I did almost all the research and planning for dd (a freshman in college now) and am doing it for my son as well. Neither were self motivated to do the research but their expectation was that they would go to college. My kids are busy with school, activities, jobs. I like doing the research so I did. I scheduled the tours and traveled with them (great, great quality time) Maybe that was enabling? Idk. But I'm not sorry I did it. I was not a hovering kind of parent in any other area of their lives, but I felt I had the time and desire so why not. DD has admitted that while she wasn't super motivated academically in high school, she sure is now. She's doing really well and spends a lot of time planning and researching different majors (still not sure what she wants to do) and meeting with her advisor. She is loving just taking classes that interest her and building strong relationships with her professors, is involved in a lot of groups on campus. Dh and I are totally hands off. I have a lot of parents come to me and pick my brain on how to start/go through the process - it's daunting even to them! So I can see where maybe a busy teenager who doesn't really know what they want is clueless or apathetic about beginning the college search process.

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22 hours ago, Storygirl said:

On the other hand, I think it's a poor financial choice to pay for that, when she is completely undecided about what she would like to study. Going to school undecided as a freshman is common! But I'm not sure it is a good choice, financially.

Gently, does she know that you think that?  It looks to me like you've decided that since she has no other goals than to do the next thing, that you won't pay for 4-year university.  It's your money.  But does she know that unless she shows some enthusiasm and picks a direction, that she won't go?  Have you told her and is she okay with that?

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23 hours ago, Garga said:

I

I was against this idea (CC) at first, because of the stigma of going to CC rather than straight to a 4 year college.  

 

I used to feel this way, too, until about a year ago, when we attended a required session for dual enrollment at the community college.  It made me consider several things I hadn't thought of before.  Now my son has almost a year of community college under his belt via dual enrollment, and I'm so impressed with the education he's received that I am almost shocked!  I went to UNC-Chapel Hill, and I fully believe that the education  my student has received thus far at the community college is better than what I received at the prestigious flagship school.  What he is doing/has done in his English classes is well beyond what I ever did in an English class, and I am very impressed with what he is doing in his other classes, too.  These are no slouch classes.  They are all considered college transfer classes and they live up to that expectation.  What is so great about the community college is the smaller class size.  He took the basic biology course in a class of 40 with an enthusiastic Ph.D who has published a textbook.   There are only 20 students in each lab, and the teacher supervises the lab herself - the labs are not run by grad students who really don't have a great interest in teaching beginners.  Maybe the teachers at our local CC are so good because we are in an area with several major universities, and sometimes the university professors teach at the CC for extra money.  I don't know.  But one thing I'll say is that I'm impressed with the CC well beyond my expectations, and the help and personal attention given my son is like something I would expect at a small, private college.  He is going to complete a year of an associates in science via dual-enrollment, and then we will pay for the second year -- it's a very modest tuition of $75 a credit hour.  So he will have two years of college, at least, without accruing any debt.  If he completes the associates with a "B"  or better average, he is practically guaranteed admittance to one of the state universities.  So we'll be looking at funding 2 years of college rather than 4, which will help a lot.  

Edited by Serenade
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There seem to be the two separate issues here, with the threshold one being whether you think a 4 year college education is the best route and if your child is able to succeed in one. If you do, I suppose I will be harsh too: I am trying hard to think of a better use of $, if one has it, than education for one’s children. I mean, honest question, what is it for? 

Edited by madteaparty
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My second ds was the least motivated of my students and although he had a higher ACT than we are discussing with the OP, it was not the result of hard work on test prep or a stellar high school education. It was not pleasant pulling teeth and dragging him through high school. But he did want to go to college and was not interested in or naturally inclined toward a trade. 

We continued to encourage him toward college. He is in his second semester of freshman year now and doing well. He is not a straight A student and won’t be. But he is doing well and making steady progress and pursuing job opportunities that will help him towards a career. 

He might have been a candidate for a gap year or cc but honestly it just felt in our gut like the best thing for this kid was just to keep going. He is taking summer classes this year and I think that is right for him. He just needs to keep going. He had done de and I think he would have felt stuck to stay in cc for a year or two. 

So, there is no right answer here. We all have to know our kids and go with our gut even if someone on the outside would think it foolish to spend money on college.

Requiring a student to be extremely driven, know what they want to do exactly, and be charging full steam ahead is too high a bar to decide who will benefit from a college education or even the experience of leaving home. Sometimes those things point to someone not ready but that is too high of a bar to determine college isn’t worthwhile.

Now, finances are important and only you can decide what you are willing or able to spend. 

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3 hours ago, whitestavern said:

I'll admit that I did almost all the research and planning for dd (a freshman in college now) and am doing it for my son as well. Neither were self motivated to do the research but their expectation was that they would go to college. My kids are busy with school, activities, jobs. I like doing the research so I did. I scheduled the tours and traveled with them (great, great quality time) Maybe that was enabling? Idk. But I'm not sorry I did it. I was not a hovering kind of parent in any other area of their lives, but I felt I had the time and desire so why not. DD has admitted that while she wasn't super motivated academically in high school, she sure is now. She's doing really well and spends a lot of time planning and researching different majors (still not sure what she wants to do) and meeting with her advisor. She is loving just taking classes that interest her and building strong relationships with her professors, is involved in a lot of groups on campus. Dh and I are totally hands off. I have a lot of parents come to me and pick my brain on how to start/go through the process - it's daunting even to them! So I can see where maybe a busy teenager who doesn't really know what they want is clueless or apathetic about beginning the college search process.

This is our story, almost exactly.  We determined what we would be willing to pay and helped them find the schools that would best fit what we saw as their strengths, even if initially they didn't think they wanted to study what we thought they were best suited for.  One started at the local CC and then transferred to a university and has chosen to pursue a field that is a perfect fit.  The other one went directly to the 4-year university and is loving learning more than any of us ever dreamed possible, although dc talks often about switching majors and hasn't yet decided which one it will be.  

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