Every year as we approach May, a lot of students are eagerly anticipating graduation. High school students are looking ahead to college. College students are wrestling with the challenges of moving into the workforce. Surprisingly, a large number of college students at 4-year schools will not be graduating on time … if at all.
Among traditionally aged bachelor’s degree students, the U.S. Department of Education reports that 63% of females and 57% of males take six years to finish their degree. Yes, six years. The bright future these students expected has been clouded over by delays, disappointment and debt. Their earning potential is lower, and they are left with a lot of debt from their uncompleted education.
As parents, we must help our children prepare for college in a way that ensures they will graduate on time. So, how do we do that?
In Never Pay Retail for College, I talk about 3 critical components of the college project plan: self-awareness, mindset, and transition (Chapters 4, 5 and 12, respectively). Here is the CliffsNotes version of each:
- Gain Self-Awareness – Increase our students’ awareness of their thoughts, attitudes, emotions, beliefs, interests, and purpose. This helps them understand their skills, interests, and values. And that leads to choosing a major and career that is a better fit.
- Get the Right Mindset – College is part of the journey, not the end goal. And there will be plenty of challenges for our student in college. We need to help our students develop the grit and determination to get through those challenges and graduate.
- Transition Successfully – The transition to college is huge for our students. While they likely turned 18 while living at home, they become more independent in college. They are responsible for their financial life and other life choices. As parents, we don’t even know what choices they are making unless they choose to share. You need to be sure they are ready to make the transition.
Because I tend to view all things college through a financial lens, many parents are surprised by my emphasis on the non-financial components of planning for college. However, there is nothing more important than the student’s self-awareness and mindset for ensuring they do graduate in four years. And if a college degree takes more than four years, that has a big impact on the cost of college.