TUNE IN: DON’T DROP OUT

We’ve all heard about students getting through college, not finding jobs and facing mounds of debt.
Was the education worth it?
But what happens to students who start college, don’t finish, and still have lots of debt?
Ben Casselman, writing for The Wall Street Journal, says these dropouts’ job prospects are a whole lot worse than those for kids who finish college.
Casselman’s article presumes the student’s decision to drop out was his. But, in fact, many parents are pulling their kids out of school for financial reasons.
It brings to mind the financial services ad on TV, in which the father, worried about losing his job, feels pressure to pull his daughter out of school for a semester or two. He knows his daughter is enjoying her college experience. Then, dad gets word that his daughter has made the dean’s list. He then decides to work with his financial adviser to figure out a way to keep her in school.
Let’s take a look at this situation. First, if a student is already in school, and doing well, even though debt is being accumulated, would there be a great difference between paying off a $10,000 debt with reduced job prospects, and paying off a $40,000 debt, with better job prospects?
As a parent, did you and your child talk long and hard BEFORE the student went to school, about how his or her education would be paid for? Did you and your child discuss what would happen if dad, mom or both lost jobs? Would they drain their retirement account(s) –probably not a wise decision –to pay for their child’s education?
Would the student assume ALL the debt for his education, or does the student expect help from his or her parents to cover that? A student may get his or her first lesson in responsibility if he or she KNOWS he or she owns that debt. He or she may think twice about what they study in school, how hard they will work at school, whether they will get a part-time job while in school and what other sacrifices he or she will make.
NOT ALL COLLEGE DEGREES ARE CREATED EQUAL
If a student wants to major in, say, the liberal arts – students are urged to follow their passion – is there a discussion among student, parents, high school or college counselors and other trusted adults about realistic career options? If the realistic career options are few, and the student still wants to study, say, music or drama, is there a discussion about what the student will do to earn a living after college, while he or she pursues his or her passion?
There are oodles of options for any of these situations. First, discuss the student’s hobbies, to see whether there are possibilities of earning money with them. For example, is the student gifted in music, but also likes to tinker with cars? Perhaps the hobby will help the student make a living, until the student’s passion becomes monetized.
Second, there are many ways to make money regardless of education. To check out one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Having a financial Plan B early in one’s career may give a student time freedom, and financial freedom to pursue his or her passion sooner rather than later, and also pay for his or her liberal arts education. This may also be a great option for the student who has already dropped out, and is saddled with debt. It may not matter how dismal that former student’s job prospects are, if the former student sees the program and diligently works it.
Most importantly, it’s paramount to make decisions on how to deal with all eventualities BEFORE the student starts college. If the student, for some reason, doesn’t do well in school and has to leave, plan early for what will happen next. Parents, meanwhile, have to decide how their child’s education would be paid for – regardless of what happens to their job(s).
The moral: plan early. Don’t force a situation no one wants, without some backup plan. Not all college educations are created equal. Passions don’t always produce incomes. It’s always better to plan your life, and make your income work around it, as opposed to planning your income, and working your life in around it. Sometimes, though, you plan your income and eventually gain your financial freedom.
Plan for surprises. They are sure to come.
Peter

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