Never Pay Retail for College
An excerpt from Never Pay Retail for College by Beth Walker.
If what you thought you knew about college turned out not to be true, when would you want to know? As soon as possible? In time to do something about it?
I’m so glad you’ve found this book. In these pages, I will share with you the sobering news about higher education as it exists today.
To bring you up to speed, you should know that college is more competitive, costly, complicated, and confusing than it was when we walked those hallowed halls of academia.
Our relentless and seductive consumer culture has convinced us that college is a product, something with pretty packaging and a list of features a mile long that our kids can’t live without.
As parents, we’re desperate to get the best product we can for our children. We’re willing to go into debt and work longer before retiring so our kids can have every opportunity to succeed in this hypercompetitive, global economy.
It’s a heavy burden we carry. As a parent, I understand where you’re coming from. College is a six-figure endeavor and a large part of the way we prepare our children for success in adult life.
No pressure, right? The trouble is that the pressure is overwhelming, and that alone makes it hard to see things clearly. We think we know what we’re doing and how we should go about this.
What I’ve discovered is we’re doing it all wrong.
We need to reboot our beliefs and assumptions about college. So much has changed since we went to school. It’s time to step back and reframe this thing in a way that allows us to take control of our finances and our kids’ futures.
College is a project, not a product.
College is a multi-year project that is 10 times more expensive than the average kitchen remodel. But like a remodel, it takes planning to pull it off successfully: an investment of time, energy, and money in advance.
No one person can complete the entire project. We need a team of experts and someone who sees the big picture and pays attention to the details and the schedule to bring the project in on time and on budget.
Who’s running your six-figure project called college? You? Your student? How are decisions being made about who’s doing what, when and how? And is everybody clear on the why behind all this activity, stress and money?
Conventional wisdom tells us to accept the recommendations of magazines and school counselors—sources that are not picking up the check and don’t have skin in our game. The advice offered is generic, and the process they recommend is outdated. They aren’t bad people, but they’re focused on college for all kids, not our kid.
I’ve seen the stress that college creates. Parents wonder about paying for college, and teenagers feel anxious because everyone is asking them where they’re going and what they will study. Often, no one knows how to answer the questions they’re being asked.
We can put an end to the unanswered questions. Parents can know exactly how much they can afford to invest in launching their kids without jeopardizing retirement, and students can set foot on campus with a sense of purpose and a clearly defined game plan.
They can get a four-year degree in four years and put themselves on a path toward a satisfying and meaningful future. We can’t eliminate the stress—as parents, we will always worry—but we can transform overwhelming anxiety into healthy, motivating energy that helps you and your student take action to move toward your goals.
We can do this so much better and for a lot less money.
Provided by Beth V. Walker, author of Never Pay Retail for College and founder of Center for College Solutions. Find Beth’s book on Amazon here.
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