Two Important Discussions to Have with College-Bound Teens

Many teenagers and college-aged individuals look at college without realizing just how much the weight loans can carry. Most will think that mom and dad should be responsible, while others will just take out loans to get what they want. Here are two important things you and your teen need to talk about when it comes to college costs.
What Is the Real Cost of College?

Do you know the real cost of college? More importantly, do you know the long-term affects of college costs? My parents did not prepare me for college costs, and they even encouraged me to take out hefty loans. Thankfully I did not. In fact, I graduated five years ago and having zero college debt has been amazing. Of course, I went to a modest state school, had to commute an hour daily, and had to work horrible hours at Starbucks to fit it into my schedule. I hated every single second of it, but the struggle turned out amazingly for me.

I had always imagined college consisting of me going off to a different state to a big university and enjoying sorority life and school spirit activities. However, I am so grateful for the experience because it taught me to work harder. My life without student debt is also much less complicated. I wouldn’t be able to be a stay-at-home mom if I had to pay $500-600 a month in student loans.

Calculate the future cost that student loans. Nothing is going to speak to your child more than seeing themselves being on the hook for $575 a month for 10 years if they take out $50,000 in loans. A quick glimpse of that one fact may be the difference between decades of debt versus commuting and attending an in-state school.
College Is Not the Magical Key

I have talked with many parents, and so many of them are under the impression that college is this magical key to success. Yes, some professions require degrees, especially in the medical field. However, no degree will make your son or daughter successful unless they are willing to put the work in. When I graduated in 2010, I was amazed at how many young adults graduated with degrees in Chicano Studies. They were under the impression that having any degree would make them more marketable to employers. It is simply not true. There is so much more needed than just a diploma.

Please note that I am not saying, “Don’t go to college.” I am simply saying not to expect too much out of a degree. Instead, do your research and discover what is needed for your student’s desired career path. If they want to be in business management, then perhaps a pricey religious university is not the wisest financial choice for them.

My husband and I went to college together, but he had to stop when he had to pick between school and a full-time position. He chose to work and advanced his career in information technology by being the best worker he could be and learning as much as he could. He now has a position as a system administrator that pays well and also pays for him to get his degree. When he wasn’t in school, his family gave him a hard time about it. To them, a degree was the most important thing. However, it worked out better for him to build his experience in the field before getting his degree.

There are so many different career fields and degrees available, so college advice is not one size fits all. I encourage everyone, parents and students, to figure out their goals for the next year, five years, and ten years. Think about the weight and consequences of student loan debt.

Do you regret how much you paid for your degree?

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