The Wall Street Journal ran an article about a year ago and they addressed the issue of financing college. They have run many articles since, but this one was so impressive because they included professionals outside the realm of education or higher education who addressed areas of concern beyond their own “known career” of investment services. In five perspectives of advice to parents from five financial advisors, the first recommendation was, “Encourage your child to select a career first, and then a school.” One of the advisors interviewed, Greg Gilbert, a financial advisor based in Atlanta, went on to make a statement so similar to what I have blogged about several times over the last couple of years when I encouraged students to seek out internships and volunteer opportunities. He said, “The key is not just saying ‘Oh, I want to do this,’ but instead, really actively vetting out the [career] idea to see if it’s the right choice.”
Funding a college degree is an enormous commitment. It can become bigger than expected if it is not managed effectively. Investing in a career professional may mean spending a little up-front, but it will be a fraction compared to the extended tuition payments made when a four year bachelor degree becomes a 6 year bachelor degree as a result of a student trying to “find himself” in the process. Even students who believe they know the direction they want to take can be blindsided when the courses or internships turn out to be vastly different than they expected.
The business of running colleges and universities is big business. Part of that business is your tuition dollars. You can choose to make it a four year plan or an extended plan. So, before you choose that college, make sure you have a career plan and that the college you choose will provide the biggest bang for your buck! Your action “up front” can reduce extended costs and perhaps your own student loan debt.