DD thinks college funds will just appear!

shaknzmomApril 19, 2008

DD is a high school junior and a very good student....90th out of 620 kids in her grade. Has never had to work for her grades, so she could be closer to the top if she actually tried.

I'm trying to get her to look at/apply for scholarships. It starts an argument every time. She goes online and does the contest type scholarships (the ones where you just fill in the blanks...no essays or effort) but that's all she'll do. She'll dink around on the websites but rarely actually does anything worthwhile. When the arguing starts she gets mad and says "I'll get into college!" I can't get her to realize that's it not about getting in...it's about trying to pay for it once you are in!

We have nothing to contribute due to unexpected events. She thinks we should just be able to pay for it and she'll pay us back. We barely have money to pay our monthly bills! Now that she kind of understands that we don't have the money to loan her, she wants US to get parent loans that she'll pay back upon graduation. Great...if she is unable to get a job we'd be stuck with the bills...and that would result in us losing our home. She's thinking she can graduate with $80k in debt! Can't happen.

HOW do you get kids to understand that money doesn't just fall from the sky when they're ready for college? She's a book smart girl, but a little lacking in every day common sense.

I'm so frustrated. DH and I didn't have the chance to go to college...and she swears she wants to go...but I don't know how to get her there. We've visited a few colleges that she loved. I was hoping that would be what she needed to get serious. She only wants to work part-time this summer so she still has time to 'hang out'. Sigh....

She's a good kid... I feel like I'LL be a failure if she doesn't get to attend the 4 year college she wants to go to. She refuses to go to community college. I can't let her learn the hard way to where she ends up not going because SHE wasn't willing to MAKE it happen. People say that if she isn't willing to do the work now, she won't be willing to do it in college either. I think that if I push her now and get her to LEARN HOW to do the work, that in college she'll be more willing.

I'm going insane....can anyone give me ideas/prompts to help her get a clue?

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Your are the parent so you set the deal. Work, go to school part time, community college or nothing. You cannot push a person this age. Not being familiar with scholarships requirements will she listen to a school counselor? I forced my DD to attend college and she just dropped out without telling me. Now she is really sorry, but did end up with a good trade--courtesy of US Air force.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 8:58PM
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If you have a low income, she may well qualify for grants or financial aid from the school or government at low interest rates that do not accrue until after graduation. Granted, she needs to pick a school which will not saddle her with $80K in debt. If this means the local university versus the private dream school, so be it. It is not your responsibility to lose your home or ruin yourselves to pay for her college. She needs to find a job to pay for it (work study comes to mind) plus a summer job. Make it clear at every interval that you cannot and will not go into debt for her education. She refuse to go to community college? She doesn't seem to have much choice if she cannot pay for it.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 4:26PM
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My neighbor girl was valedictorian. She wrote the essays, but, her mother did all the applications and typed the essays onto forms, etc. This was before online applications. That way, daughter kept up her grades using her time for activities at school, job, and studies. Mom did a great job and she won many scholarships.

That said, she can always live at home, work part time, and go to the community (junior) or local university, if you are so lucky to have either.

She does sound naive if she cannot understand the importance of your concerns. Perhaps she would be better attending college while living at home while she develops street smarts and has parents tuning in to her daily routine.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 7:18PM
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You don't have to do anything for your daughter. You'll fail her if you do!

She needs to take responsibility for her education and its cost. If she doesn't, then she doesn't go. It's that simple. She will realize soon enough that a high school diploma gets you a great managerial position at a fast food place. And she'll most likely decide to go to school on her own, WITH motivation.

I dropped out of college my first year. My mom told me she would pay for school if I went right after high school, but I didn't want to go. I went anyway, but didn't last long- I was OVER school. So I dropped out for about 5 years. Then I went back- on my own dime- part time while working full time. Got my BS with NO debt; took 12 years, but I did it. Then I went to veterinary school, and since that is full time (actually about 18-22 hours/semester) I had no time to work. I had to take out loans, $86000 total. That's OK, because I am now a veterinarian and can easily pay back my debt.

Sometimes people need to find their own motivation. Not everyone is cut out for 18 years of school in a row- I sure wasn't, and was also an easy A student. I did a lot of living in those years I dropped out of school, learned a lot (the street sense you wish your daughter had isn't taught in college either), became a better person, and really found my calling in life. I doubt that I would have become a vet if I just had my education handed to me; it takes a lot of motivation and determination to do anything worthwhile. Just give her time to find her motivation, and she'll be fine.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 5:27PM
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I guess I feel a little bit different from some of the other posters. She's only a junior. She really doesn't need to find a school yet, although I know that others will tell you differently. It may be different for the harder to get in schools like Yale and such but really she doesn't need to decide now. If you want her in community college, they usually have room up to just before she'd start school. If it is a state sponsered 4 year run of the mill college, then there is still time to do that also. They don't even begin accepting applications around here before October. As for scholarships, she has time for this too. What my DD did was during the summer of her senior year, she put together the essay to get into college and redesigned the essay for scholarships. That way when she found out about a scholarship she wanted to try for, it wasn't difficult to do because she basically had the essay done already. She ended up getting quite a few scholarships. Now that she is in college, she still gets at least one additional scholarship per year (so far) and she'll be a junior next year.

As for paying for college, I don't think kids really truly think about it until their mid-senior year. She will get loans at the very least and sometime during her senior year, it will hit her that she will need to start making money. Don't worry - if she finds something she wants to do, she'll find a way.

If you want to get a heads up in the scholarship area, you could go to your school website to see what scholarships are out there for this year. That will give your daughter an idea of what she is looking for. Also, my DD's HS guidance counselor wasn't very good about communicating with the kids about scholarships and so I went on nearby school websites and looked up what was available there. Some scholarships are only available locally but many others are not. We found a couple that way.

Finally, I don't believe any parent should go into debt for their kids college education. In my case, I don't help out paying for college but I help out in other ways. I pay her car insurance, her cell phone bill and her medical bills. I can afford that but if I couldn't, there's no way I'd go into debt for this.

Finally, enjoy your DD this final year. It goes by very fast, even faster than their first year of life. Don't worry, she sounds like a very normal kid.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 8:54PM
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There is so much more pressure for kids to know what they want to do in life long before they graduate from high school. Partly because their desired careers help determine where they go to school. It used to be that state schools were ready to accept most any student that had decent grades. That is not the case now. I just heard on TV that here in Florida, some high school seniors that attended IB (International Bacculerate schools) were not accepted by any of the state schools. Certainly their grades and SAT scores were very high. It comes down to the fact that many schools want "well rounded students", meaning they will want freshman that have varied interests as well as high grades and SAT scores. For USF, there were 26,000 applicants for 4,500 openings. State funding cutbacks have made it so schools are having to freeze the number of freshman. Even transfer students as juniors are not guaranteed a place after receiving an AA from Community College here. Here in Florida, we have what is called the Bright Futures Scholarship for seniors who gradute with certain requirements. Once they earn it, they have to keep it with a designated GPA in college. It pays tution and books for 4 years. Sounds easy, huh. Well many do not keep it because of the GPA. Anyway, you have to get in to use it anyway!

Private schools are sometimes easier to get into but are more expensive of course. There are lots of scholarships or grants that are not that hard to get. We have several right here my town, as well as one local State school and a junior college. They are smaller, and I believe better for kids who are not as self motivated. The classes are smaller and more time for professors to give one on one. At UF where my son went, many of his classes had hundreds of students in the lecture hall or he had to watch the lecture on TV. Some of his grades were based only on a midterm and final. Very different from when his dad and I attended there in the 70's.

My point is - your daughter needs to decide why she wants to go to college and then she needs to accept the responsiblity to research what the schools have to offer her. She can't assume she will get in where she wants and she needs to realize the cost to go to school. Even great students and great kids aren't always mature enough to understand that college isn't just something to do because everyone else is going. Its tough to get in and tough to stay in. If you can afford it, I would tell her I would help her with Junior College or Community College but if she wants to go to a 4 year school, she will have to do the leg work by finding out what scholarships she can get and what work programs she will be willing to do.

As for not doing anything this year, the junior year is when she should be checking this stuff out. When my son applied at UF, he got his acceptance letter in Nov. of his senior year.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 8:48PM
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My son is entering his senior year in H.S. this fall. He seems to understand finances won't magically appear. He's in the top 10% of his class and I expect he will obtain some academic scholarships. In any case, he will have some skin invested in his education. Mom and Dad will help out financially and provide guidance where needed, but we won't flip the entire bill.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 1:39PM
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A great place to look for college information is the College Confidential forums. There is a wealth of information on almost every topic you could ask for when it comes to college admissions. They have one section on financial aid. Not too long ago there was a thread started by a student who didn't think that $80,000 worth of debt was a big deal. Lots of people informed him otherwise. There are many parents who post on the site.

College is getting harder to get into than in years past. There are more students attending than in past years, and it seems that there are more international students applying for admissions. While a few years ago it was fine to apply to 3 or 4 schools, it is not uncommon for students to apply to more than 10.

The first thing you and your husband need to sit down with her and discuss (calmly) what, if anything, you can help her pay for. It will help to go to the FAFSA estimator to see what your estimated contributions will be. (EFC) There are many parents who can't or won't pay for their child's college. Getting an estimate of your EFC will be a good place to start.

Next your daughter needs to decide on what she might be interested in studying. It doesn't help to fall in love with a school that doesn't have what you want to major in. You might invest in one of the big college guides -- the ones that are bigger than a phone book, that lists all of the 4 year colleges. Then, your daughter can also start to think about whether she wants a large or small school, one in an urban, suburban, small town or rural area. Are big time college sports important? There are even some all girl schools still left -- is that an option? How far does she want to go from home, or how far do you want her to go?

This summer is a good time to get a list together. The general thought is 2 or 3 reaches, 2 or 3 matches, and 2 or 3 safeties including at least one financial safety.

If finances are going to be a large issue, then she might want to look at lower tier schools where she would be at the top of the application pool. She could be in line for some merit scholarships at a lower tier school. She is in the top 15%. That is very good, but it probably won't get her merit money at the top tier schools. If she hasn't signed up for the SAT, have her do that. The ACT is also a good substitute. The book the 10 Real SAT's is a good prep book. She needs to take the practice tests under test conditions -- quiet and timed. There is a SAT web site that has a practice question everyday.

I understand the frustrations of the financial aspects of college. My youngest daughter was accepted to some top tier schools, but with no money. However, she had a choice of 3 schools with full tuition scholarships. She went to one, had a great time, and is now working for a large financial corporation in New York. She is looking to work on her Master's degree part time with the company paying for most of it. She feels so blessed that she has no undergraduate debt. We paid for her room, board and misc. She paid for spending money and books. Oh, she had an internship at the school senior year that covered her room and board and some spending money. We paid less than $650 a semester for her during her senior year.

Good luck with this year. It is a busy, exciting time. I hope that your daughter can see the light about financing college. Oh, and if you take out parent loans for your daughter, she probably won't pay you back for them. You have to assume that she won't, so if you can't afford to pay them back, don't sign or co-sign for them. Remember, educational loans can not be charged off in a bankruptcy. Oh, and college loans are getting harder to come by. Again, good luck.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 3:10AM
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