Your Student Is Going to College! What Do You Do Now?

Your student has been accepted to college.  Check.

Final decision made. Check.

Deposit paid. Check

Chances are that both you and your student have been consumed with the college application, admission and decision process for the past several months or years – maybe even longer.  Now that the decision and deposit are done, what do you do next?

A new kind of work begins now for your student – saying “no, thank you” to other colleges, placement tests, roommate/housing surveys, registering for classes, checking in with other incoming freshmen on Facebook, and probably filling out endless forms of one kind or another.

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The College Decision – Taking Action – Making the Leap

As the May 1 National Reply By deadline approaches, high school seniors all around the country wrestle with making that final decision.  It feels overwhelming.  It feels so final.  It feels so very important. And it is.

Some parents pressure students – thinking that they know best or just wanting to help their student make that decision.  Some parents stand back and let the student wrestle with the decision on their own.  Some parents guide and ask questions to help the student think through options.  No matter what your parenting style, if your student hasn’t yet made a final decision, this is a very stressful time.

Research suggests that in most families in this country, parents will be involved in helping students make this final decision – and students welcome some parental input.  We’ve suggested in earlier posts some approaches to help your student face this decision dilemma and some things to do once the decision is made.  We’d like to suggest here that you not only support your student in making this decision, but also that you encourage them to take the leap and make that final decision.

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How Your Student Can Get College Credit Without Taking a Course

Your college student may already have a strong base of knowledge before he even sets foot on his college campus.  It is possible that he can get college credit for his knowledge by taking a CLEP exam.  The College Level Examination Program, administered by the College Board (the SAT organization) offers students the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of college level material and to earn college credit for information learned through independent study, on-the-job training or internships.

CLEP exams cover such areas as American Government, US History, Psychology, Sociology, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Literature, Composition, Biology, Business, Math, or World Languages.  There are 33 exams which cover material taught in courses a student would be likely to take in the first two years of college.  Each test covers one course and is worth anywhere from 3 to 12 credits.  Exams are 90 minutes long, are taken on a computer in a lab, cost $80 plus a small administration fee, and students receive their results immediately.

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Does Your College Student Need Textbooks?

The question of whether or not your student needs textbooks in college is not as simple as it seems.  The simple answer is “Yes, of course.”  The more complex answer may be, “It depends.”

The cost of college textbooks is high. No one would argue that. The cost of producing most textbooks is high, most textbooks are required so students do not have choices, and the costs are passed along to the students.  One study conducted by the College Board has estimated that most students should expect to pay approximately $1200 annually on textbooks.  Many students, and their parents, have not calculated the cost of textbooks into their college costs.  So students are taken by surprise, and may feel that this is an additional, and therefore optional cost.

Because of the high cost of textbooks, many students are opting out of buying books.  The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) found that approximately 30% of seniors and 25% of First Year students said that they did not purchase books. The Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), in a non-scientific survey of 1,905 students at 13 colleges found that 70% of students said they opted out of books for at least one course.  However, 78% of those students believed that they would not do as well in that course without the book.

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