Get Your Money Mojo On BEFORE College – You Won’t Regret It
Let’s face it. The cost of college isn’t coming down anytime soon. In fact, it’s most likely to keep going up. What can be done instead is to find ways to reduce costs and minimize the amount of money borrowed. But unfortunately, many high schoolers and their parents are ill-prepared to navigate college costs or provide guidance.
Perhaps high schools could do more to prepare students for the non-academic side of higher education.
For the past year, I’ve been traveling around the nation facilitating workshops on financial literacy for both teenagers and adults. One of my most requested topics is student loans, and I thoroughly enjoy educating high schoolers and current students on how student loans work, how to minimize balances, and how to respond to a financial crisis after graduation.
After making several presentations – about an hour and a half each – to high schoolers, I can make the following observations with some level of certainty:
- A lot of high schoolers automatically assume that their parents will foot the bill.
- Some have a negative perception of public institutions, but are unaware of the increases in attendance costs.
- Many have no real knowledge of the financial aid process.
- Many have no idea of how money works or why it’s important to follow a spending plan.
Quite frankly, this is disturbing and may well be a contributing factor to the massive amounts of debt that students incur when attending college.
How to Prepare for College
1. Attend Free Seminars on College Readiness.
At these workshops – which are typically offered free of charge – teenagers will learn how to prepare for college, what to expect when they step foot on any campus, the importance of financial aid, and how to find scholarships.
2. Attend Career Planning and College Fairs.
Career planning and college fairs will grant teens an opportunity to explore their options and start thinking about what career path they wish to pursue after college. That way, they’ll have a much narrower list of options for possible majors when it’s time to make a selection.
3. Complete a Crash Course in Money Management.
A college-bound teen can avoid many of the most common money mistakes by attending a crash course in money management.Click To Tweet
Check with the high school to see if it offers a money management elective. Some colleges also offer a breakout session during orientation.
4. Participate in Job-Shadow Days.
There’s nothing worse than completing a degree and entering the workforce, only to discover you absolutely loathe the career choice you’ve made. Avoid the need to go back to college – and take on more debt in the process – by making sure what you’ve chosen to pursue in college will facilitate the career life that you love.
5. Seek Additional Academic Support.
The faster a degree program is completed, the lower the costs. Earning some college credits while still in high school (if possible) gives you a head start – and it’s free.
6. Get a Part-time Job.
If time permits, getting a part-time job that doesn’t interfere with classwork is a great way to learn about money. An independent savings account is a quicker path to money awareness for many teenagers.