Surviving the campaign for college admissions: the final step

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(2) Local Scholarships: When I was a principal, I was amazed at how many outside organizations made money available to deserving students, often with very specific criteria, such as “most improved” or “future health care worker.” True, these are not always big bucks-- but every little bit helps. For example, one of the major surprises for parents is the book bill. Any idea what a new text costs these days? Smaller scholarships can be used to cover these expenses.

(3) Loans: There are numerous sources from which you can borrow, including the college itself, government, private sources, and banks. Many parents have used home equity loans. All of these need to be investigated carefully, both in terms of the percentages and payback conditions. On rare occasions, there is “loan forgiveness” whereby there the student doesn’t have to repay the loan if he or she enters a certain profession.

(4) Work Study Programs: Many students hold jobs on campus. The school employs students in a variety of positions, ranging from offices to the cafeterias. A number work as a “RA’s,” resident advisors, who serve as dorm counselors. I favor work-study programs for three reasons: First, the students remain on campus, which is a giant plus; second, the college usually allows the students to schedule hours around their classes; third, the school regulates the number of hours worked so that students don’t lose sight of why they’re on campus.

(5) Summer Jobs: Most students work during the summer break-- which can be as long as three and a half months. Three caveats here. To begin with, the student has to find a job; it’s not that easy these days during the economic downturn. Start searching early. Also, students must keep their grades up so they don’t have to go to summer school. I’ve seen some very disappointed students who had to turn down jobs at the last minute when they had to retake courses they failed. Finally, by taking paying jobs, students may have to forgo valuable non-paying internships that can give them a foot in the world of work when they graduate. I constantly push internships with my class: “Make a positive impression and you may be told to return after graduation.”

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