$34,728 dollar college mistake in just 8 days.

May 15, 2008

Cave Creek, AZ - With so many college and university choices it is crucial to do research before your student heads off to school.


re-search, (noun) ree-surch: diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc.:


The average student spends 4 to 6 years earning a degree. And the number one problem with students who don’t ...research schools is buyers’ remorse.


As a college-planning consultant I talk to hundreds of families every year about the ins and outs of college.


One thing I strongly believe is to research before you buy. If you are going to spend $20,000 to $50,000 dollars every year until your student graduates, your student better know darn well sure that he/she wants to attend that particular school.


I have one family in mind. We’ll call the student Juanita (her name was changed to protect the guilty.)


This family hired us for our advice and insight. Juanita wanted to attend a prestigious private college in the Los Angels California area. It is a fine school with many fabulous opportunities.


Juanita and her parents decided to tour the campus, which I strongly recommend. However they did not follow my advice and tour the school while it was in session. They toured it during one of the college semester breaks and to top it off on a weekend, (because that was convenient for the parents and student).


They went on a tour hosted by the school (you should do this too) who showed them all the great things the school had, beautiful grounds, nice buildings, close to the beach, everything.


Juanita fell in love with the school. She applied, was accepted and packed her bags and was off to a new adventure.


I wish that were the end of the story. But sadly it is only the beginning.


First a couple things about Juanita’s family; they are an upper middle class Hispanic Catholic family. Really a great family.


The school Juanita was about ready to head off to was a predominantly a Caucasian Christian University. Juanita felt very uncomfortable from the very first day of college. She felt that everyone was looking down upon her because of her religious and ethnic background.


After a scant 8 days and a down payment sizeable to a new car she called her parents with tears in her eyes and a quiver in her lips, begging and pleading for them to come and pick her up and take her home because she felt very very uncomfortable at that specific school.


Unless you have deep pockets like Mr. Bill Gates, my advice is to thoroughly check out the college you are going to attend before signing on the line or sending in any money. 


Here is where you should start.


1.        Go to the schools website. Look at more than just the front page. If they don’t have a website you should probably ask yourself why

2.        Schedule a date and time to physically tour the campus during regular college school times and school days. While you are there ask yourself “Do these kids look like they could be my friends? Do I feel comfortable around these students, faculty and staff?”

3.        Take a campus tour by one of the school staff members

4.        Talk to the students there, ask them what they like and dislike about the school

5.        Take 5 or more minutes to walk around by yourself

6.        Sit in on one of the classes because you will be spending a lot of time in class

7.        Check out the bulletin boards to see what events are going on. Would you be happy attending any of these events?

8.        Trust your impressions; if you hate it don’t go, there are plenty of other schools to choose from


So do you think Juanita’s family listened to my advice the second time? Noooooo.


The exact same thing happened again. She went to another school “sight unseen” hated this school as well and cried all the way home. (She lasted a little bit longer at this one. But not much.)


Well I am happy to say Juanita finally found a school she was happy at and will be graduating. But it cost her family a lot of extra heartache, headaches and too much money. Not to mention the time wasted school hopping.


You may be saying but the cost to tour these schools is expensive, travel, lodging, and food can add up. Yes it can. Please tell me which math equation works best. Spend $500 to $1,000 to look at a few schools or spend $34,728 only to hate it and come home 8 days later?


Research and tour your schools before you waste time and money on something your kid will hate and possibly resent. Your student will be spending four or more years at the college. They need to really like it.

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