Why Go To College?
This table* successfully documents the difference a degree makes.
Education Level Weekly Median Pay
Less than high school degree $392
High school graduate (no college) $535
Associate degree/some college $636
College graduate (B.A. only) $871
College degree (master’s/doctoral) $1, 109
Median Annual Pay
*Statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor, 2007
Knowing “What to Do When” Is the Key!
Below is a checklist to guide you through the college admissions
and financing process. It addresses key issues and provides links
to practical websites that support the key issues and tasks
Three to Four Years Out From High School Graduation
College prep track—research local college/university
The number-one mistake made by prospective college students
and their parents is failure to do the necessary footwork long
before enrollment in college is pursued. Save yourself a ton of
time and worry—call a local college and ask the admissions office
what they require. Let them know that you are planning to enroll
in the future, and ask them for a list of enrollment requirements.
Take the PSAT or ACT ( www.collegeboard.com/www.act.org).
Yes, yes, yes! I said colleges are moving away from these types of
tests, but these tests provide much more than scores: they are one
more tool you can use for course selection and they get you and
your students noticed by colleges. Colleges look at your highest
scores, so I recommend that you take it at least two times.
Although scores matter, colleges have come a long way in evaluating their importance. Standardized tests are still the best way to
get noticed by colleges of all types. You will just have to trust me;
I have been doing this for fifteen years.
Join a club.
Get involved in local community sports, bands, music programs, etc.
Two Years Out From High School Graduation
First, look to see if you completed the tasks listed above!
Set up a family meeting, and discuss your academic interests,
some of the colleges you are considering, and how you are planning to finance your college education.
Check out the following site: www.mycollegeoptions.org.
Begin researching available scholarships.
Attend regional college fairs.
Call any local high school counselor; he or she will know the
dates and locations of scheduled local college fairs.
Start considering a college major.
For help, check out www.acinet.org/.
Consider dual enrollment programs at a local junior college
or college (a great way to ensure college prep track and get
noticed in the admissions office of any college).
One Year Out From High School Graduation
First, look to see if you completed tasks for two to four years out
from high school graduation (listed above)!
Submit applications for scholarships you have researched.
Keep in mind that what you have to do to submit one scholarship
is basically what you will need to do for all of them. The first one
is hard; the rest are very easy.
Collect Federal Financial Aid forms.
They are due on the first day of January of your graduation year.
Please do not make the mistake of not submitting these forms. (A
thorough explanation of these forms is way too complicated to
include in this short article, but many good things come from
these forms, not just financing.) See www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Visit and apply to at least three colleges.
Among colleges, there is a vast difference in pricing, courses of
study offered, and financial assistance. The best way to see who
offers what is to apply.
Research college financing programs.
Do not look only at financial aid and scholarships; look at additional creative options. Internships, family pitch-in systems, meal
plan reductions, part-time jobs, and a shortened time in college
are all tremendous cost savers. See www.mycollegeoptions.org.
Terry Wilfong is the President of College Options Foundation. He
has held positions ranging from Director to Associate Director of
Admissions at three universities and has published thirteen books and
CD programs about the college admissions and financing process.
The homeschool movement
isn’t just popular with parents; it is incredibly popular with colleges too.