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July 09, 2008

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Finding a part time job that pays more than the average rate is important. My plan for my kids is to get them some sort of technical training before they head to college. Something like accounting tech, hematology(work at the local plasma bank seen as how most colleges have these), programming. Anything to get them above and ahead of the typical college student.

I'm not sure about the "paying half" idea. The cost of private vs public schools is dramatically different, and the amount your half will be depends greatly on what school they go to.

The ACT and SAT are very important, but my experience is that the leadership stuff is generally just fluff as far as schools are concerned. They'll help with external scholarships, but won't have much impact on a schools desire to have them as students.

There's always the military too. The military has plenty of support positions that are relatively safe and still qualify for the GI Bill. The new GI Bill pays substantially more money now too.
http://www.gibill2008.org/

I just graduated and made it through school debt free. My parents decided that they would pay my living expenses whether I lived at home or away. That included rent, a food stipend, car insurance, medical insurance. I was in charge of tuition (mainly so that if I failed a class, it was my own money wasted) and gas for my car. I worked part time during the school year (which is partly to blame for my B average) and worked hard in the summer to save for the next year. I went to a private school that had tuition comparable to the local public school (tuition at the time I left was around $2000 a semester).

I felt like I got a great education, worked hard and value the degree. I know this doesn't work for everyone and tuition is going up everywhere but hopefully I can try a similar situation with my future children and help them be responsible.

Everyone/every school is different and all that, but for the record I knew a few people in college who lived at home the first year, and they missed out on a lot. I remember one girl in particular - by graduation day it was clear she felt like a bit of an outsider due to living at home. She considered me one of her closest friends because she saw me more than many other people, but I didn't see her in the same way. Not because I didn't like her, but because I simply hadn't had the opportunity to get to know her as well as my other classmates.

The school I attended wasn't a commuter school and was big on "campus community", so my friend was the exception, and I think it was really hard for her. Much of the bonding happens outside school hours - late night chats in the dorms, exploring the surrounding city/town nightlife, weekend activities, performances by campus groups.

In some ways it would make more sense to live at home for the last two years rather than the first two. Give the friendships a chance to develop - once they're cemented it's worth the effort to keep up with people. Before you know them? Not so much.

Just want to make the point that living at home should probably not be a purely financial decision.

I strongly support public schools as better value. A quality public school will give you better education than a mediocre/average private school at half the cost.

AP tests are both good for saving money and preparing for school. I got a full quarter worth of credit from AP myself and thats worth thousands.

Jim

In Georgia, and I am sure in other states as well, high school students can take college courses. These courses then count as college credits and towards your degree. This helped me start as a "freshman" with most of the basic pre-reqs out of the way and in sophomore classes.

Oh, and the county school system paid the tuition while I was in high school.

Looks good for colleges too (part of the getting them to want you part).

I suggest going to a community college for the first half of college. You can save a bundle by getting all of your generals out of the way and then transferring to a four year school after that. The key is to talk to the four year school first to see what classes will transfer and which ones won't. Only take the classes that transfer.

Like I said, talk to the four year school about that. The community college might give you some different information so it's important to get it straight from the horses mouth.

I agree with the comment about taking college level classes while still in high school. I took at least 5 AP classes in high school. The problem with AP is that I had to take those 5 exams all at the same time and getting college credit depended on the score I achieved on that one test and what the college would take. I was fortunate because I did pass all of them and saved some money (20+ credit hours), but I know people that didn't. My niece is taking dual enrollment through her local cc during her senior year. She's going to get to keep those credits (as much as they transfer) and it won't all come down to one week worth of tests.

I agree about colleges wanting you. If you make yourself desirable, they will pay you to come. I didn't shell out a penny my first two years because of scholarships and grants. I lived away from home and didn't work, either. My parents couldn't afford for me to go to college, so I had to come up with the money. I worked much harder for that degree and learned to live without the extra extravagances of life.

I did 2 things:

1. I've taken a second job NOW (while my kids are still very young) to take advantage of the value of compound interest.

2. My husband and I are planning to move to his home country (where college is free) once my oldest son (from my 1st marriage, and 6 years older than the other kids) starts college. Assuming our younger kids go to college in that country (which has an excellent higher ed system), we will use the previously saved college money partially to increase our retirement fund, and partially to help them start businesses/put down payment on a first home. Everybody wins.

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