College is Coming…August 29th at 6:00 p.m.

College is Coming...Are you Ready? August 29th - Fleming Island

The reality that college is coming is sinking in to many area parents. PLEASE REGISTER! Last two classes were full! We have added a class for those parents committed to giving their children the best college experience.

This is the most important hour you will spend planning for your children's future!

Start:
August 29, 2017 at 10:00 pm
End:
August 29, 2017 at 11:00 pm

When It Comes to College, Only Half of America’s High Schoolers Say They Feel Prepared, Survey Finds

the74million.org

By:  Katie Stringer  Click Here is View Full Article

Only half of U.S. students think their high schools have prepared them with the knowledge and skills they need for college, according to recent survey data.

Compiled by the nonprofit YouthTruth, the data reveal an uncertainty among high schoolers in how to become ready for college and careers.

The survey didn’t require students to explain why they felt they way they did — but anonymous comments provide some clues.

“They just want us to have high grades, and that’s what most kids are doing by cheating or studying really hard, not by actually learning something,” one student wrote. “School has taught us that having better grades is better than actually learning something, and that’s not how it should be.”

Another student wished for a bigger push toward college support services:

“I’m actually really upset that my school doesn’t do more to help their students with the scary and confusing process. They haven’t helped me in choosing a major, choosing a school, applying to that school, knowing what I need to do to get into my dream school, how to pay for my school, what I should expect from college life, or even to help me register for scholarships or other things that could help me pay for my university.”

The percentage of students who reported feeling prepared varied slightly across demographics, with 56 percent of Asian students saying they are ready, compared with 53 percent of black, 52 percent of Hispanic, 50 percent of white, and 46 percent of multiracial students. It also varied widely across schools, with the lowest score 11 percent and the highest 78 percent.

Although a majority of students — 84 percent — said they want to go to college, only 68 percent said they expect they will.

And many admitted they weren’t using college prep resources. Only about one-third of students said they use tools like admissions exam preparation or college counseling, though a majority of the students who did use the services found them helpful.

“There’s a clear message that there is a lot of work to be done,” said Jen Vorse Wilka, executive director of YouthTruth.

The surveys were taken between September 2015 and December 2016 by more than 55,000 high school students in 21 states. The students were 29 percent white, 28 percent Hispanic or Latino, 13 percent multiracial, 12.5 percent black, and 3.25 percent Asian.

The data are not nationally representative, as they are collected from schools that pay to participate in YouthTruth programs and surveys.

“It’s a reality check to let us know what our kids really think versus what we think they would say,” said Brian Shumate, superintendent of the Medford School District in Oregon.

Though the data represent the perceptions of high school students who haven’t yet attended college classes, educators said the information is valuable for checking in on how students think their education is progressing.

“We have to trust our students’ perceptions; they are our clients. They know themselves,” said John Boyd, superintendent of the Quincy School District in the state of Washington. “If they’re not feeling prepared for college, we’ve got to make them feel prepared for college.”

There certainly isn’t a shortage of programs districts can choose from for college preparation, said Quincy Assistant Superintendent Nikolas Bergman. That’s why comparing student perception data and college-going rates is helpful when sifting through these offerings. Bergman said he has noticed students reporting that they feel more prepared for college since the district adopted AVID, a program that starts in eighth grade with college-readiness skills and behaviors. (Students gave the district an average YouthTruth preparedness score of 3.47 on a scale of 1 to 5, ranking in the 41st percentile of similarly sized schools.)

“School has taught us that having better grades is better than actually learning something.”

But they’re still experimenting: The district takes students on college tours as early as sixth grade, uses teaching resources designed for high-poverty and migrant populations, and is expanding dual credit courses. “We want to do things that are making a difference,” Bergman said.

Medford students gave their district a college-preparedness ranking of 3.05, which falls in the 12th percentile of similarly sized schools. This surprised Shumate — but gave him ammunition to advocate for a career-academy model. The program is in its beginning stages: Currently, freshmen in Medford pick a subject pathway, similar to a college major, to take specialized classes that fit their interests.

“We want it to be more like the outside world,” Shumate said.

In 2011–12, 29 percent of students at four-year colleges and 41 percent of those enrolled at two-year schools had to take remedial classes, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2015, only one-third of high school seniors scored at or above proficiency in reading and math on the National Assessment of Student Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card.

A 2011 nationally representative survey conducted for College Board found slightly better perceptions for students who were surveyed one year after graduating from high school. About two-thirds of students said their high schools did a good job of preparing them for college and college-level work, while one-third said their high schools should have done more.

 

 

CAREER vs. MAJOR

                        Career vs. Major…Which Choice Comes First?

Conventional wisdom suggests the answer to this question is that the choice of major is the most important decision and consequently drives the career choice.  Parents, friends, and some school personnel mistakenly have the student focus on a major.  Consequently, the student is asked repeatedly…”What are you going to major in?”.  Rarely is the student asked, “What do you want to do when you are older?”  The student is encouraged to decide what their major is…everyone wants to know their major…and the student needs to decide the major early because they don’t want to enter college “undecided”.  This forces the student to choose a major for the sake of choosing and ultimately is the reason they change majors so frequently, hence the increase in cost due to a longer stay in college.  The choice of major will also typically direct the student’s career.  What if the student likes the major, but hates most of the most common careers associated with the degree?  It begs the question, shouldn’t the student in fact first attempt to decide what they believe they would like to do when they graduate?  But can the choice of careers also impact college selection?

The college selection process involves many different factors when deciding what school to attend.  Many families believe the decision on what school to attend is based on the competitiveness of the school for the major of choice.  This is not the start…it is really closer to the end of the process.

When determining which school to attend, students should first start with their career choice.  What is it they want to do when they graduate?  Now that could be a tough decision for a high school student.  However, it is important to begin the process of thinking about it and dialing down as close as they can to a decision.  There are many tools and tests available to help students decide what career might best suit them.  For the vast majority of students, there may be a couple of different careers on the list.  Students can ask friends and family members for contacts of those individuals in careers they believe to have an interest in or that the tests indicate would be a good fit.  Contact individuals in these fields and ask them if they will permit someone to shadow them for a day.  It is one of the best ways for a student to see if they will like that particular career.

The sequence of choice is important because far too many students pick a major they “think” they want to study and then find out four to five years later, they don’t know what they can do with it.  How many people are working in a field that has nothing to do with their major?  Maybe they could not find a job (did they check the prospects for the career prior to choosing?) or they did not like the careers associated with the major so they find a different job.  By choosing a career first, a student may find there are two careers they really like that maybe one major is the best fit for.  In this way, students open themselves up to far more opportunities when they graduate.  Upon deciding on the major, now they can pick schools that might be strong in that major if the student wants or is looking for the most competitive school for that degree.  Others may want the school closest to home that offers the chosen major, while still others may want the school where they can get the degree for the lowest cost.

We talk about the three legged stool for college selection…the HEAD, HEART, and HAND.  However, these three factors go into the selection of college after we have decided on the career.  HEAD is the logical side of the stool or making a decision on college based on major or a degree because of its competitiveness or what it provides as opportunity for employment after graduation.  HEART is the passionate side or better known as attending the same college that mom and dad did or most parent’s favorite, where the dreaded boyfriend or girlfriend is attending.  It could also be attending the school because of a football or basketball team…better known as “tailgating” to parents. Finally the last leg of the stool is HAND, or the financial side of the process.  What is the school going to cost out of pocket…cost of attendance, time it takes to graduate, etc. all play a part in the overall out of pocket estimate.

In the end, we want to stress the importance of helping your student determine as accurately as possible what they might like to do for a career.  Career assessment tests are a great way to do this and we believe worth the investment so that your student does not make any mistakes in career choice and consequently the choice of majors.  A mistake in any of these areas can cost you substantially financially.

The Truth About Scholarships

DIY COLLEGE RANKING BLOG – – BY MICHELLE KRETZSCHMAR – – VIEW FULL STORY – HERE

There are two major delusions/misconceptions about paying for college that too many parents have. The first is that by not saving for college, parents claim this will make their kids eligible for more financial aid. Why bother saving if it means they won’t get any financial aid? This falls into the delusional category. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt but I can’t help but think this has more to do with preferring to spend money now rather than saving for later. Oh, FYI, financial aid doesn’t work that way.

The second is really a misconception that I can’t fault parents for having-scholarships will pay for college. By the senior year in high school, there’s every reason for parents to believe that their bright, high achieving seniors will be able to pay for college if they just apply for enough scholarships. There are easily a dozen different websites just to search for millions of scholarships worth billions of dollars.

So what exactly is my problem with private scholarships? Honestly, I don’t have anything against free money and if you get one-more power to you. But the truth about scholarships is that they will come nowhere close to paying for college for the vast majority of people. It’s simply a matter of numbers.

Defining Private Scholarships

First, let’s be clear on what I’m referring to as a private scholarship. These are scholarships that are not awarded by the school or any government agency. These are scholarships that students apply for that are sponsored by corporations, non-profits, and community groups.

There’s this belief that if a student just applies to enough scholarships, she’ll be able to pay for college without going into debt. Here’s the perspective one high school junior, “scholarships are quite attractive in terms of funding.” And here are the regrets of a college graduate who believes that he wouldn’t be so deep in debt if only he had “viewed [scholarships] like jobs, could’ve been the highest paying jobs of my life…”

In fact, according a survey by smarterbucks.com, “If our respondents knew then what they know now about their student debt: 80% would have applied for more scholarships/grants.” Which goes to show while they obviously have learned something about debt, they haven’t learned much about scholarships or how to pay for college.

Show me the money

Let’s get back to the numbers. The National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) sponsored aPrivate Scholarship Count that was published in 2005. It found that “Approximately 7 percent of undergraduate students received private scholarships, with an average value of $1,982.”

It’s not likely the numbers have changed much since then. The College Board’s Trends in Student Aid 2016 report found lists “Private and Employer Grants” as making up 6% of all undergraduate student aid and 14% of all grant aid. This would appear to be double the number provided by the NSPA study. However, this includes employer tuition reimbursement programs which are likely to be at least half of the category.

You could take this information as an argument that students aren’t applying for enough scholarships. After all, the NSPA study states the amount of aid that went unawarded “may be approximately $100 million annually.” If only students would take the time to apply!

I’m not saying it couldn’t happen but be prepared to submit a lot of scholarship applications. Let’s start with the average cost of attendance for college. A good state school is going to be around $25,000 a year while a private school is going to set you back a minimum of $45,000. Now how much are these private scholarships offering?

What are the odds?

Forbes has a list of the “10 High Dollar Award Scholarships for College.” There’s the Buick Achiever’s Scholarship Program that offers a multi-year $25,000 scholarship-that’s singular, as in one person gets it. An additional 1,000 students will receive a one-time award of $2,000. So probably at least 1 in 1000 odds?

There’s the National Merit Scholarships where “At Auburn University hundreds of students apply for 6 elite scholarships which range from $2,500 – $7,500 per year over four years.” Room and board almost covered!

National finalists in The Siemens Math, Science and Technology Award Scholarships receive awards that range “from a low of $10,000 to a high of $100,000 for the first place winner.” Again, what are the odds?

I could go on through all 10 programs but the conclusion would still be the same, there is probably more competition for any medium to high value scholarship award than there is to get into Harvard. Any scholarship that a lot of people know about will have a lot of people applying.

Best bets for private scholarships

Your best shot at a private scholarship is to go for the local ones that come through your high school guidance counselors’ office. Not as much competition but also not as much money. It’s going to take a lot of $500 scholarships to start making a dent in just your state tuition.

Of course, there are people who do collect enough scholarships to make it the equivalent of a full-time job. But they are definitely the exception rather than the rule.

They could hurt your financial aid

Students eligible for need-based financial aid need to check with their schools for their policy on out-side scholarships. After a minimum amount, many schools will deduct the outside scholarship from any need-based financial aid awards. Ideally, the school will use the outside scholarship to reduce the loan amounts first, but that isn’t always the case. You can read about a case at Swarthmore here.

And just in case you’re wondering, students must report outside scholarships to the financial aid office. So yes, in a worst case scenario, students can work hard for outside scholarships only to find that none of it can be used to reduced their EFC. If you want to see how mess-up the system can get, read Poor Scholars Hit by Money Squeeze From Wealthy Colleges.

Where to find the biggest scholarship

My problem isn’t with private scholarships but with the suggestion that if only students applied to enough of them, they would be able to pay for college or avoid large amounts of debt. Of course there will be some students who receive enough scholarships to pay for college. And if you have time to apply for scholarships, you should. But the truth about scholarships is that most students would be better off if they used their time figuring out which schools are most likely to give them the most money before they ever even apply for admissions or scholarships.

Ad(Mission): It’s not Fair

Georgia Tech Admissions BLOG  – – May 16, 2017 – – BY: Rick Clark – For full story, CLICK HERE

I suppose I could have gone with “An Admission: It’s not fair!” What can I say, catchy titles are not my thing. Working on it. But at this time of year, “fairness” is a resounding theme.

“How can you waitlist my son? He has 30 points higher and two more APs than your average. And we know someone down the street who got in that….”

“Something is wrong with your process if my daughter who has been through as many medical issues as she has and still has a 3.8 is not getting in. Talk about not being fair….”

“And don’t get me started on financial aid… or lack thereof.”

These are actual quotes from real people. Granted, they’re being used without acknowledgment (I didn’t think asking for permission to use them would be part of the healing process). Undeniably, there is something hardwired in us that longs for right, equal, just, fair, and perfect results. And these are noble aspirations.

Kids are among the most vocal about longing for fairness. Spend the same amount of money on presents? “Well, he got more gifts.” Buy the exact same number of gifts? “That one of her’s is bigger!” “Okay, tell you what, I’m going to take all of these out to the fire pit then and you can play with this cardboard box.” Now they’re both screaming in unison, writhing on the ground and flailing, with great gnashing of teeth. It’s like a scene from Revelation followed by a simultaneous and guttural reaction: “That’s not fair!”

Well, my friends, neither is college admission. If you applied to a college that has a selective (meaning below 33% admit rate) process, or if you are a counselor, principal, parent, friend of someone who has gone through this lately, you know this to be true. Inevitably, you know someone who was denied or waitlisted that was “better” or “more qualified” or “should have gotten in.”

I try not to specifically speak for my colleagues, but I feel confident saying this for anyone that works at a highly selective college that has just denied a ton of the students you are thinking about/calling about/inquiring about: We know. It’s NOT fair. You’re not crazy. In fact, we’d be the first to concur that there are many denied students with higher SAT/ACT scores or more community service or more APs or who wrote a better essay or participated in more clubs and sports than some who were admitted.  But here is what is critical for you to understand– ultimately, the admission process for schools denying twice or three times or sometimes ten times more students than they admit– is not about fairness. It’s about mission.

Mission Drives Admission.

Selective colleges publish mid-50% ranges or averages on our freshman profiles to serve as guides, not guarantees. These are the quantifiable factors that provide an overall sense of the admitted or enrolling class. Yes, we look at test scores, rigor of curriculum, course performance, impact on a community, essays, interviews, and so on. But what drives a holistic review process and serves as a guide for admitting students is a school’s mission. Counselors in high schools talk a great deal about “fit.” Where are you going to thrive? Where are you going to create a network or be challenged? Where do you see students that will push and challenge and stretch you to grow as a person and as a learner? These questions come from the fact that they’re savvy and educated not just about our admission processes and stats, but more importantly about our distinct missions. Ultimately, choosing the right school should not just be about “can I get in?” from a statistical or quantifiable standpoint, but “do I align with their mission?” It takes more work to figure that out, but that’s your job as an applicant or prospective student.

If you look at the academic profiles of Caltech and Amherst, they are very similar. But take a look at their missions.

Amherst (abbreviated) “Amherst College educates men and women of exceptional potential from all backgrounds so that they may seek, value, and advance knowledge, engage the world around them, and lead principled lives of consequence… and is committed to learning through close colloquy and to expanding the realm of knowledge through scholarly research and artistic creation at the highest level. Its graduates link learning with leadership—in service to the College, to their communities, and to the world beyond.”

Caltech “…to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

The difference in missions is why an individual student sometimes gets in to a higher ranked or more selective school and is denied at another. The student applying to Amherst has the same profile, involvement, writing ability, scores, and grades. but is a totally different fit in their process than for Caltech. This is, at least in part, what counselors are talking about when they say “fit.” It’s fit with mission. You’ll hear schools talk about “institutional priorities.” These are simply components of the macro vision and mission of a university.

A quick look at Georgia Tech

Founded: 1885. Classes begin 1888. One major- Mechanical Engineering. All male. It was a trade school responding to the needs of 19th century and early 20th century Georgia and US South.  The focus was on training and preparation for product creation and being prepared to lead and create the next in an industrializing state, region, and nation. Were there more “qualified” or “smarter” students at the time who had aspirations of becoming ministers or lawyers or physicians? Unquestionably. And had they applied with those intentions, they likely would not have been admitted. It was not our mission to educate students for those roles.

1912: Tech establishes a “School of Commerce” which is essentially a business program. 1952: Tech begins enrolling women. 1961: Georgia Tech becomes the first school in the South to integrate classes without a court order. It’s not hard for me to envision a younger brother in 1954 who is by all counts smarter than his older brother not being admitted to Tech due to this change in mission. Supply and demand drive admit rates. If your supply shrinks due to a shift in your mission, then admission decisions also change based upon factors besides grades, scores, or performance.

The University of North Carolina system is mandated by their legislature to enroll no more than 18% of students from outside of the state. This is why the admit rate for Chapel Hill is more than three times higher for in-state students vs. non-residents.  There are valedictorians from around the country not admitted to UNC (mission here) who get into Ivy League schools. Does this sound controversial or unfair? Not if you understand that mission drives admission.  Schools end academic programs. They add majors. They create new co-curricular programs or add or terminate sports teams. Mission changes and with it admission decisions are impacted to support those goals.

At Tech, our mission is “to define the technological university of the 21st century.” Our motto is “Progress and Service.” Our commitment is to “improve the human condition.” So while we are going to provide stats and averages and profiles like all other schools, these are the conversations in admission committee that contribute to decisions. Fair? No. Perfect? No. Reality? Yes.

What does this mean for you?

If you are a senior (or a parent of a senior) who has been denied or waitlisted: You are most likely just as smart, capable, and talented as other students admitted to that school. Move past the numbers and the comparison. You’re absolutely right: it’s not fair in a comparative sense. But that school has made its decisions in light of advancing their mission. Inevitably, you’ve also been admitted to a school where, if you looked hard enough, you could find someone denied with higher scores or more APs or better grades than you. But you fit their mission. Embrace that!

If you are an underclassmen (or parent of one): Selective schools will say, “We are looking to shape a class.” Counselors will talk to you about “fit.” As you try to digest and comprehend what that really means- or where that comes from- look to the school’s mission. Use the academic ranges they provide as a guide. Check out the profiles and other historical data to see how “students like you” have done in the past. But keep in mind those graphs don’t show the qualitative elements. When you are writing or interviewing at schools, do your homework in advance by researching. The essay you write for Caltech should not be the same one you write for Amherst. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (see what I did there?), is to find a school that aligns your academic ability with your vision of the future. Data is helpful. Stats are important. But fit, ethos, campus community, and your ability to be honest with who you are and want to be– that’s the best way to approach the process.

The other day my son was inconsolable. “She got presents on my birthday, and I never get anything on hers. It’s just not fair!” Finally, I just grabbed him, held him, and kept saying, “I know, son. I know.” So listen, you may not feel any better after reading this blog. Still angry. Still frustrated. I get it. I just wanted to save you that part of any email you send schools or the first part of a phone call. You can go right into other grievances and skip the “it’s not fair” part. We know, we know.

Tips on Paying for College

New York Times – – June 22, 2016 – – By, Mark A. Stein.  For full story CLICK HERE

Students and parents navigating the college-selection process for the first time may benefit from the advice of experts familiar with college financing.

■ Students who may qualify for a highly selective college may find that less celebrated institutions are willing to offer more financial aid to attract high-quality students.

■ Don’t hesitate to apply for financial aid, even if you think your family makes too much money. You don’t know how much is available and which students might qualify.

■ You may not know how much a particular college wants you. It could be seeking more students from a particular area of the country or its orchestra might be desperate for an oboe player.

■ Remember that loans, unlike grants, do not reduce the cost of college, though loans with below-market interest rates could reduce the cost of borrowing.

■ Just because a college offers aid to a potential freshman, that doesn’t mean it will offer the same aid in subsequent years. Ask.

■ Tuition and other costs are likely to increase while a student is at college; grants generally do not. You may start with a scholarship that covers 33 percent of tuition and wind up with that same scholarship covering only 25 percent of tuition in later years.

■ Tuition and other costs are printed in brochures and posted on websites, but they are not carved in stone. Let a college know if you have other offers; try to negotiate a better deal.

■ File a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as Fafsa, every year, especially if family finances drop.

A college education will be expensive but maybe less so if students and their families are willing to play the game. “Sticker price, in almost all cases, is not what a family will pay,” said Jeff Levy, a private admissions counselor.

TEXT BOOKS – – Buy, Rent, or Borrow??

My son, Luc, starts college in about a month.  I’m always looking for ways to reduce expenses.  And, a big expense we still need to cover is books.  So, I reached out to a FB PAGE that I follow and received LOTS of great advice!!  BIG shout out to parents and admins of Paying for College 101.

There are several resources for you to use so that you can eliminate some of the cost of books.  Unless this is a book that needs to be kept, consider RENTING.  Or, at the very least, buy the book used.  And, do NOT buy books until after classes start.  Sometimes the professor will say the books are not needed OR an older version is fine.  You will be told to buy the books now, but, remember, they can have them within a day or two.  (Luc will be waiting till after the first class.)

Here are some great suggestions:

  1. AMAZON – Yes, students can rent books from AMAZON PRIME and they will come with return boxes and reminder emails.
  2. CHEGG – Also rents books.  They will extend the deadline, if needed, AMAZON will not.
  3. CAMPUSBOOKS and VOLAREBOOKS – Rents books.  Not sure about the extension, though
  4. SLUGBOOKS, BOOKSPRICE and TEXTSURF.COM – These are comparison site, like KAYAK for travel.  It will search the web for the best price.

BEWARE:  Some colleges are now “bundling” books and other items so that you HAVE to use the bookstore.  Make sure you find out if the book has been bundled before you rent/buy it online.

In all things, we should show our young adults how to be good financial stewards.  Have them do some research on the best place to get books.  Make them see the difference is cost by spending a little time vs. taking the easy way and just buying the books at the bookstore.

 

Two Extra Years in College can cost almost $300,000

USA Today – June 21, 2016 – by, Anna Helhoski, NERD WALLET – For full story – CLICK HERE

Taking an extra year or two to complete a bachelor’s degree is common these days, but that additional time could cost a student nearly $300,000, according to a new study by NerdWallet.

NerdWallet examined how much one or two “victory laps,” as extra years are sometimes jokingly called, would cost students by factoring in:

Real costs: Out-of-pocket tuition plus interest paid on student loans over a 10-year standard repayment period.

Opportunity costs: Lost entry-level income and forgone retirement savings.

Here are the results:

  • One extra year could cost students $147,026 at a public college or $155,244 at a private college in combined real and opportunity costs. Two extra years could cost students $282,691 at a public college or $298,995 at a private college in combined real and opportunity costs.
  • The average real cost to stay in school one additional year — tuition and interest on loans — would be $18,598 at public colleges and $26,815 at private colleges. Real costs to stay in school two additional years would be $37,456 at public colleges and $53,760 at private colleges.
  • Students who complete school in five years would miss out on $82,074 in retirement savings compounded over 45 years, based on directing 7.1% of their income (the average contribution rate for people under 25, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) with standard 7% annual returns. Students who graduate in six years would miss out on $150,882 in compounded savings.
  • Taking one additional year to earn a bachelor’s degree would result in $46,355 in missed income, while taking two additional years would result in $94,353 in missed income.

Among bachelor’s degree seekers who began school in 2008, only 40% graduated in four years, while 60% completed a degree in six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. To avoid accruing more debt to pay off and missing out on income and savings opportunities, experts say there are several key things you can do to stay on track and graduate in four years.

  • Define your career path early.It’s important for college applicants to settle on a potential career trajectory early on — in high school and even earlier if possible, says Lisa Suzuki, director of Counseling@NYU, an online master’s degree program for counseling and guidance, and an associate professor of applied psychology at NYU Steinhardt.

“The students who are able to finish in four years really have a clear idea of what they want to do and think beyond the four years,” she says.

Suzuki also says that increased advisement in high school can help students commit to one area of study, network within that area and think more strategically to reach professional goals.

  • Have a degree map.Know what it takes to graduate in four years and build a schedule around those courses. If you’re unsure about your major, take general education courses to build up your credits, suggests Richard D. Sluder, vice provost for student success at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
  • Aim for 15 credit hours each semester.To qualify for most financial aid, you’ll need to enroll full time, which means at least 12 credit hours each semester. But if you take only 12 credit hours, you’ll automatically be on the five-year track. To graduate in four years, you’ll need to take 15 credit hours each semester.
  • Enroll in courses on time.Some students are late to register for courses and end up missing out on prerequisites or crucial classes they need for a degree. This can delay their graduation by a semester or more, especially if certain courses are offered only once per year.
  • Look for transfer-friendly colleges. If you plan to transfer, be aware of how your new school treats transfer credits. The National Center for Education Statistics found that students who move to private for-profit and private nonprofit schools are able to transfer fewer credits than students who move to public colleges and universities.

When you’re mapping out your undergraduate career, consider how much additional years in school could cost you.