college advice

I don’t do this very often, but I’m feeling a rant coming on. A good old fashioned stomp-my-feet-hold-my-breath-shake-my-fists kind of rant. And I’ll tell you now, it has nothing to do with writing or publishing. It’s about colleges and their overinflated, insanely expensive tuition bills. Seriously, I just need to spew. Feel free to run now, ‘cuz it’s only gonna get ugly from here on out.

I really don’t know how kids are supposed to get a college education these days without selling their souls. Or their parents going to the poorhouse. IT’S CRAZY!! And frustrating!

Okay, I know I should have been putting money into college funds for my children, but I was a little more concerned about feeding and clothing them. Ya know, actually paying my bills as I went along. It’s not like we didn’t have anything, but I sure as heck wasn’t the first to buy the newest gaming station or crazy toy. And can you say used cars? Thank goodness we live in a state where duct tape is considered an acceptable automobile accessory. Seriously. It’s not like we went without, but I never had a surplus. Ever. I became very good at financial juggling.

And now my third child is in college and things are getting crazy. Between the tanking economy and enough stupid people in my generation who didn’t pay back their student loans (oh, you know who you are) there’s nothing left in the pot for interest deferred loans for my children and their friends. It’s an INSANE system where everyone looses except the financial institutions.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect professors to teach for free or college administrators to work for pittance (like the rest of us), but I’m just not sure why 15,000 kids need to pay $112 for a recreation fee and $45 dollars for an activity fee when probably no more than a third of them take advantage of the facilities “supported” by those funds. And please don’t even get me started on the $917 unified fee … whatever the heck that is!

And this is the bill from a state college where my child pays to live … because his field of study isn’t available at the campus within driving distance. It’s not like I’m asking for the moon here. Just a reasonably priced education for my child.

A lot of the problem is our income. We don’t make enough to pay the bill outright, but we make too much for my children to get financial aid. It hardly seems fair. And now you can’t even have your child be independent from you. (We tried that and STILL they wanted us to pay for her school.)

I love my children with all my heart. I want them to go on to college so they can get good jobs and support themselves. But this system is starting kids on the road to a debt load that will take them years to recover from. I don’t know what the answer is. I just know that this whole thing is discouraging. For me and my kids. I don’t know how other people do it.

All I can say is whoever thought money couldn’t buy you happiness never had three kids in college.

So tomorrow Little Boy Blue heads out to college. I am REALLY happy and excited for him. I absolutely loved college. I still have friends from both colleges I attended and that was alot of  too many to mention more than a couple of years ago. Anyway, we’ve been packing up his clothes and reorganizing his room and since this is the third I didn’t think it would bother me too much. But I’m finding I’m getting more than a little sentimental about him going off. So this week I’m offering up a little advice I found on the internet for incoming college freshmen by Dr. Randall S. Hansen. Of course I had to add my own advice along with the experts. Hope you enjoy …

1. Go to all Orientations (And don’t forget the ones at the fraternities require you bring your own cup. Just saying …)

2. Get Organized (You’ll find there are a lot of social obligations. You know the important things, football games, pickup basketball, pizza at the den … make sure you have them all clearly marked in your day planner … wouldn’t want to miss out on that college experience.) 

3. Go to Class (Okay, this is a serious one. I understand the engineering department is filled with some cute grad student teaching assistants.)

4. Seek a Balance (Studying hard means you can play hard without any guilt … the last part is key.)

5. Make friends with your roommate and others in your Residence Hall (Everyone needs a wingman and since you’ll be living in a co-ed dorm the second part is especially important.)

6. Know your course requirements and Due Dates (Your play time is much more fun when all those pesky assignments are finished.)

7. Strive to do your Best (Everything takes a little time. No one is good at “pong” the first night playing … a little practice perfects the wrist technique.)

8. Take advantage of resources on Campus (Students who work in the library know where the Cliff Notes are filed and upper classmen can tell you which professors to avoid. Really, I’m just saying …)

9. Don’t feel pressured to make a hasty decision about Majors or Careers (Look at me. I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up! Do I look stressed about it?)

10. Make connections with other students in your Classes (Study groups are great places to meet new people and find out where the best “socials” are being held.)

11. Don’t procrastinate–Prioritize your Social Life (Refer back to numbers 1, 2, 4, and 6)

12. Stay Healthy and Eat Right (This means walking to frat row instead of taking the car. Keep in mind that a loaded pizza has carbs, protein and veggies which really is much more balanced than nachos slathered in cheese.)

13. Kisses heal Booboos. Hugs soothe Anxiety. And words of love and encouragement are only a Phone Call Away. (And remember … the distance to the moon and back is a reeeeeeally big amount.)