Good morning. Let’s do this! I’ve been chatting with so many of you on Instagram about college and all the things so I’m excited to get the ball rolling today. No time like the present. I’ll be sharing a few of my own thoughts and then hitting you with a big surprise near the end of the post.
So Many Thoughts
We have been talking all things college lately and starting to help our daughter navigate this time in her life. We’ve toured Vanderbilt University (just for fun) and have started a really helpful course. When I asked the question above on Instagram, hundreds of you responded. My husband and I were both emotional reading all of the responses. There’s so much on your hearts and minds. And for various reasons. It made us both realize that this is a conversation worth having. We are happy to share our thoughts, but more importantly, gather advice from those who have gone before us to really shed some light. I always say that even if you take away one solid idea, it was worth it. So let’s start talking and sharing.
One Size Does Not Fit All
This is the key factor I want to stress the most. What is fantastic for one child, may be completely wrong for another. And how about we celebrate that so that we don’t add more stress to these teen years. One size certainly does not fit all and so how do you allow each child to grow, learn and ultimately make a solid decision? Whether it be college or a myriad of other options. College certainly is not the right fit for every child.
I think this one hits home for all of us. College is expensive. Is it worth it? Can we qualify for help? How do we find out about scholarships? Is it better to start a business? These were some of the things expressed to me in Instagram.
The Comparison Game
Not interested. As our children’s friends go on to apply and make decisions we will cheer them on and celebrate, but we refuse to get caught up in the comparison game. Something that struck me most from chatting with Shannon (more on this sweet gal below) was that the there is power in finding the school that meets the needs of the child. That is where the sweet spot is. And what feels like home. Or better yet, the home away from home. Or maybe college isn’t the right choice and that concept shouldn’t be met with any sort of stigma or judgement.
There are Multiple Avenues to Success
So many of you reached out with thoughts on ideas outside of college. I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact we talk about this all the time.
- Learn a specific skill (trades) Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs put aside $1,000,000 in work ethic scholarship funds. Trade skill can be a better fit than college for some.
- Enroll in community college for two years and knock out the general ed classes while thinking things over
- Start a business with the money set aside instead of schooling
- Enlist in the Military or consider an ROTC program
- Traditional 4 year college
Listen, I am not saying any of these are the way to go with your son or daughter but it’s important to talk about more than the traditional college option. A lot has changed since we all went and I want my children to know that life is about finding what makes you happy and using your talents for good. There are so many paths to success. That path can most certainly reside outside of the box. Maybe you have a business you want to pass on to your child? Maybe there is a desire to serve in the military. Maybe learning everything you can about being an electrician is the way to go. There are so many noble professions that don’t require a four year degree. Others find those four years are needed as a buffer before the “real world.” Other more specialized fields require four years and beyond. Some have felt drawn to college their entire schooling career. The sky is the limit with opportunities and I hate for societal norms to put any undue pressure on our young people.
Get Down and Dirty and Ask the Questions
My daughter has some specific interests and I allow that to come in conversation with people I meet. Just the other day a neighbor suggested a book that might be helpful and gave us insight into her career. That is the good stuff. Learn from people around you. Maybe even take on a summer internship in a field of interest.
If my daughter wants to know about teaching, I was in that profession for 10 years. I can share a day in the life. And while much has changed, the core of what happens in the classroom has not. I can give her insight into all of that. Embrace talking with others about you admire about their jobs, their daily life and how they made it to that point. With so many people working from home these days, opportunities and career paths can look quite different.
Happy Hearts and Healthy Minds
Without question, this is most important to us. Far and above any resume builder or college test prep. While we will absolutely guide and encourage our children to do their best and serve with their God given talents, happy hearts and healthy minds ensure success in our book. Our kids are both very different people and it will be exciting to watch the next few years unfold. But it will be their path to choose. We are more than happy to research all of the options right alongside them and ultimately allow them to figure out what path feels right. I am so grateful for my four years of college as it allowed me to be surrounded by some of the best people I know. We are still dear friends to this day and I could not respect them more. If my children choose to go off to college, my hope is that they select a school that feels like home.
Pivoting is Great, Pivoting is Growth
Young people are allowed to change their minds. In fact it signifies a self awareness that should be applauded. You can’t tell me that the majority of 18 year olds know what they want to do for the foreseeable future. I was one of the unusual cases that did know. I knew from the time I was eight I would go into law. And then I went off to college and worked at the law library . . . and my mind was changed. You just never know. And the path I took lead to where I am now and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Pivoting during these years isn’t a bad thing, in fact I think it’s a sign of growth. Let’s normalize not knowing and not having all of the answers.
If your child is on the path to college, I have someone I would like you to meet.
When we moved, we didn’t know where to start when it came to find someone to talk with. My friend, Sarah, connected us with Shannon and we will forever be grateful. She’s wonderful and the moment Sarah told me about her course, Riley and I were in. There are many people who hire a counselor and that is a fantastic option. It can also be cost prohibitive for families. It comes with a very high price tag. Shannon has created an option that is not only affordable but takes the stress away from the step by step process. If you have a college bound son or daughter and need a roadmap, help editing a personal statement, and advice on not only narrowing down the choices, but how to stay on track for deadlines and tests, she’s your girl. Riley has started making her way through the online course Shannon created and it’s extremely well done, efficient, and helpful. Each module is easy to follow and extremely comprehensive.
To be perfectly honest, we are trying so hard to stay away from the race and keep the stress at bay. But by doing so, we are often scared we might close doors for our kiddos because we are unaware of what we don’t know. Does that make sense? Very grateful to have Shannon’s course to help us navigate and keep things calm and on track. If you have a tendency to micro manage your child, this may take that off of your plate and allow you to step into a more supportive role.
- Not sure what classes you should be taking now or in the next couple years
- Curious about which extracurriculars will really help you shine
- Struggling to decide which colleges to apply to
- Stuck on your college essay—hello, writer’s block!
- Up against application deadlines and starting to panic
Then the CollegeMIND is for you.
Shannon is a rockstar because she is offering the Platinum course of the CollegeMIND to you for
$997 $397! I’ve been so excited to share that with you. That’a HUGE discount for our community. It makes me so happy because I want as many people to benefit from this as possible. You can use this Link for Discount or the code: COURTNEY and checkout when you select the Platinum course.
Just an example of one helpful slide. There are timelines for the younger teens, too. So great to reference things like this all in one place.
Let’s Keep the Conversation Going
Share your thoughts. I plan to keep the conversation going. In fact, Shannon has even offered to jump on an Instagram live with us to answer questions. We also thought it would be great to interview a couple of students who just went through the college admissions process.
KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE
No matter what age, give those precious children huge hugs today. This world is heavy and confusing enough right now. The thing they need most is our love.
Ali J. says
As someone that works in higher education at a major university in Chicago, some of the most important things to consider too are cost, career and major. For example, unless your child is going to go on to become a professor in higher ed, which is very hard to do, don’t let them get a degree in say anthropology. You also have to be realistic. My graduate school that my students attend is almost $60K a year – it is for social work. While it is one of the best schools in the country, you will have some serious debt to pay off once you graduate plus whatever you had from undergrad. Most social workers aren’t going to come out of the gate making $60K, more like $35-45K from what we’ve seen. Parents also need to consider that not every child is cut out for college. Some aren’t even cut out for the military. The trades though, such as the construction, electrical, ironworkers, pipefitters, steelworkers, Teamsters, are all looking for apprentices and many have apprentice programs that pay while they are in the program. They all will also line you up with a job when you are done. We’re still going to need plumbers, construction workers, truck drivers, bus drivers, builders, etc so these are in high demand in many areas of the country.
Yes! I love to hear of other people talking trades! Especially when it’s an educator! 😀 So sad that trades are becoming a lost art .
Could’t agree more with all of this. Thank you for taking the time to share. That is why I listed college last on the list of options and included Mike Rowe’s scholarship. He is encouraging young people who want to do the types of jobs you listed. I LOVE that he is doing that. I applaud anyone going into those fields. We desperately need great people working with their hands.
Lalita Biacchi says
This is so helpful Courtney!! Thank you so much! I’ll be looking into this option!
I have a child who went through college 10 years ago, one who just got admitted to her dream school and a HS sophomore who will be starting the process very soon. I also work at a prominent university. I think your first point is so important. There is no college that is the right one for everyone. And, there’s no magic formula for success. The journey will be different for every kid. Be open minded about the options. Don’t get caught in the trap of relying just on acceptance rates to assess a school’s value. There are 1000s of colleges in the US and most of them are really good and just because they admit more than 20% of their applicants does not mean they “will take anyone” (yes, I’ve heard a parent say that). I’m so glad you focused on finding the right fit versus getting into the “right” school. College is as much about formation as it is about academics and career development. It’s a time when our kids can really test out who they are and figure out what they want out of life. Pay attention to how your kids react when you visit a school and really listen to what they think is important. Yes, we need to guide them but this is the first adult decision most of them will make. We shouldn’t deprive them of this important milestone. My oldest picked a school that we weren’t certain was the right choice. But, she was so confident in her choice so we trusted her decision. It turned out to be 100% the best school for her. She thrived academically and socially. Made the best friends in the world. And, got a great job when she graduated. Also, listen to the advice of your children’s teachers and guidance counselors. Not only do they know your child but they know where they fit into the overall school profile and may have a better handle on trends in the college admissions world. And, remember that a college denial is not a reflection of who someone is as a person. It just means there were other applicants to that school who were a better match. Finally, don’t be so focused on college that it overshadows the high school experience. Freshman and sophomores really shouldn’t be stressing about college at all. Trust me, submitting applications senior year and waiting for those decisions will be stressful enough without dragging it out over four years! So glad you’re creating a venue for this important discussion!!
Happy it’s behind me! Four children, #1 Attorney at Law, #2 Commissioned Officer, USMC, #3 Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine, #4 Systems Engineer
Great experiences with the whole process of college admissions but…oh the sleepless nights! Here is my advice…..talk less, listen more, stay organized and on top of dates!
I think this is wonderful you are starting this conversation. It is really hard to know what you as a parent are doing when it comes to helping your child (especially your first child!) through the process of deciding about colleges, and where to tour, apply etc. I have 3 daughters and the oldest is 25 and the younger are 21 year old twins. We hired a consultant for the oldest who was so very helpful in many ways (suggesting what schools to look at, helping with essays, application deadlines, etc.). My daughter got into her first choice school but it was just too costly (they offered a small one year scholarship). One of the schools she applied to (because she liked the look of it when an older friend who attended posted pics on Instagram) offered a wonderful four-year scholarship that made the cost more affordable for our family and after touring it and loving it, that is where she chose to go. It was very hard at first for all of us to let go of the idea that she wasn’t going to end up at her first choice for financial reasons, but she truly felt like she ended up at the right place and absolutely loved her four years there. Our younger daughters both wanted to stay closer to home and attend our state university, which has definitely been the right choice for them.
Roberta Garrido says
Food for thought. Please also consider trade schools as some people are not all cut out for colleges and universities but must learn a trade and become useful and productive citizens of the world.
Yes, that’s all included in the post. I couldn’t agree more. In fact 4 year college is listed last in the options I wrote about. Did you see the scholarship from Mike Rowe in the post? That is exactly what that is for. I love the idea of people working with their hands and learning trades. Love to see more people thinking this.
Thank you Courtney for this information. First time college mom here and I could use all these tips. Best wishes for your daughter.
Our oldest is in his second year of college, so it feels like we just went through this process. He chose the college route, but I love that the conversations lately have been really focused on all the options after high school. Coming from a family that owns their own construction company, we need kids to know the trades are a very good option. So thanks for emphasizing and encouraging that!
I have a few tips that others shared with me when our son decided to go to college instead of working for or construction company . Our oldest is in his last semester of his sophomore year, but he is considered a junior… so my first tip would be to encourage them to take as many college classes their schedule will allow their junior and senior years of high school. He brought a semester worth of credits with him from high school. So we will only have to pay for 3 1/3 years of college.
Our son was a three sport athlete, was in NHS and also various other leadership and business programs. But he still did not qualify for a good portion of the available scholarships because he did not participate in anything art or music related. So my second tip would be if your child has any interest in art or music, encourage them to join something (if their schedule allows ) at some point during high school (our son doesn’t have an artistic or musical bone in his body so that tip didn’t help us at all 🤣). Participation in those categories would have opened up a ton of more scholarship opportunities.
Our son applied to two small private colleges and two larger state colleges. My last tip would be to not overlook the more pricey private colleges based on cost only. The small private colleges are able to offer more merit scholarships. With my sons ACT score and GPA, the two private colleges offered him merit scholarships that brought the cost to within a few thousand of the state colleges. If your child likes a private more pricey college but the cost seems too high, sit down and talk to someone there. They might be able to offer more of a merit scholarship to bring the cost way down.
I feel like I can go on and on with this topic. Hopefully those few little tips can help someone!
My daughter is very into music and theater! She is a junior and I would be grateful for any tips you have on scholarships in that area. Thank you in advance!
So glad to see this and how mindsets are changing! I graduated high school in 2004- the only advice I got was to go to the “best” (likely private) college I could get into, major in something like pre-law, business or pre-med and “don’t worry about cost because you will get a job”. Such bad advice! My kids are young now but when they are seniors I hope to be guiding them into post graduation plans that are perfect for them and not what’s “good on paper”.
Good luck in the process 🙂
Thank you for starting this conversation! I am overwhelmed thinking about what I don’t know. It seems that our high school wants to tell the kids what the deadlines are, but without context (i.e. why do you need to take PSAT/SAT/ACT?). My son tells me he wants to go to college, but hasn’t any idea where/what/how.
My nephew is just finishing his freshman year of college, and he is miserable at his “dream” school. His younger siblings are watching this as they are preparing to go to their “dream” schools next fall (not the same as the first). It is so interesting to navigate and watch this process. oh yeah…. and stressful! 😉
Our daughter’s journey included a gap year and it was the best decision that she ever made. We had 3 requirements…1- you must first be accepted to college and request a deferral, 2- the college fund would not pay for it, 3- you must have an adult mentor whose judgement we trust to help you plan the year. I was not going to be the one to tell her that she can’t “sofa surf” in London for two weeks. Yes, that’s a thing. Our daughter’s small liberal arts college was more than happy to grant a deferral, likely realizing that they would get a more mature student in the end. She planned 3 experiences abroad which involved working for her room and board. Summer jobs provided the money she needed for travel and spending money. She worked on an organic farm in the Dorset region of England (WWOOF International), worked as a sled dog guide in Lapland north of the Arctic Circle (Hetta Huskies–found this one on her own) and volunteered at an elementary school in Ecuador ( Volunteer HQ). Was I terrified to send my 18 year old daughter around the world? Absolutely! She and her mentor carefully researched the options and I did a little of my own sleuthing by making connections with people on LinkedIn. The experiences were amazing and she learned so many life skills that would have only been possible through these experiences. How do you live with other adults and share in the responsibilities? What happens when you need medical care in Finland and how do you navigate the system? Why it’s important to register with the State Department because who knew that you would have to evacuate because of a global pandemic. Ok, so the evacuating on a State Department flight in March 2020 was a little bit like an Indiana Jones movie but all worked out. Taking a similar break before or during college is very common in other countries and I think that it should be encouraged more frequently in the US. It doesn’t have to be an expensive journey—she spent very little money for the experiences that she had. Consider the gap year!
I LOVE this gap year idea. My daughter is going to look into the organic farm in Dorset opportunity. Did you all have any others that you looked at but ultimately did not do? Would be grateful to hear. Sounds like the gap year was an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing.