CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) There are some big mistakes made by both parents & students before applying to college and Paul Hemphill, College Planning Expert and Author of “How to Win The College Game” gave us tips.
What’s the biggest mistake both parents and students make before college?
Can you say the word, “Procrastination?” We like to put off what we don’t want to face or what we know we should do, but won’t because we simply don’t know where to start.
Plus, we think we have all kinds of time to get to it, and suddenly, the moment has arrived to start “this college thing.” But where to start is what makes people puts things off.
Couldn’t a student start with their guidance counselor at their high school?
Sadly guidance counselors are required to get a Masters degree in counseling, which has everything to do with mental health counseling, not with college planning. The great under-the-radar scandal in this country is that to get this masters degree, guidance counselors are not required to take a single course in college planning. As a result, your student ends up getting little or no guidance at all. Your well-meaning plumber could do just as good a job as a typical guidance counselor.
What about the money issue? What’s the big mistake there?
You’d be amazed at the amount of families I talk to who haven’t put aside a dime. The
big mistake is that they go into their retirement accounts to pay for college. I tell my clients that your retirement is more important than your kid’s education. Parents are in the last half of their lives, but the kids are in the first half and have plenty of time to pay back any loans for college. You can get a loan for college, but you can’t get a loan to fund your retirement. So if you’re going to burden anyone, make sure the money obligations are on your child, not on you.
When it comes to choosing a college, what’s the big mistake students make?
It’s falling in love with a college, especially the first one they step foot on. A teenager is
easily influenced by the appearances of a campus, especially by the multi-million dollar
sports complex where you can, for example, at Ohio State, kaiak indoors. Colleges do not try to appeal your your intellect to get you to apply, but instead appeal to the lower common denominators of interest such as creature comforts, suites for living quarters, or at High Point University ice cream trucks constantly drive around campus dispensing free ice cream.
When it comes to sources of information, what mistakes are parents making?
They are making the same mistakes I made before I sent my first-born off to college,
meaning that I overspent at least $50,000 with my 2 sons. I relied on US News and World Report College Edition – that was a mistake; asking financial planners what they suggest – they know virtually nothing about how colleges work; listening to my biggest competitors who charge absolutely nothing for their advice – your barber or hairdresser who hear from their customers nothing but half-truths and here-say and pass on the like it was scripture; and of course, contacting your local high school guidance counselor is also a mistake.