How to decide which college you will attend?

17 Jun

If you know why you want to go to college and what you want to study, your college choice could be narrowed down in your favor. More specific goal you have, you will find the appropriate schools. For example, my cousin had a dad who became terminally ill while she was in high-school. She wanted to help sick and injured people so she picked a nursing school and became a registered nurse. Knowing what you want to be and how and what college degree helps achieving your goal is the most important. If you know what you want, Congratulations! Research which school has the specific study field and program. School website will tell you the curriculums and expertise of each faculty member.

The second step is writing down the cost of schools you have in mind. They should include:

  • Tuition – most likely the biggest cost
  • Books – surprisingly huge burden if you don’t shop around! Reading assignments from professors are usually overpriced books written by the professors. These books do not have much value in real world after you are done with school. So do not buy a new textbook!
  • Facility fee or any school fee – For example, some schools charge students separate lab fee, technology fee depending on major or type of classes apart from the tuition. These fees are academic version of overweight baggage fee of airline.
  • Room and board (or dorm cost) – usually you can save money by living off campus with lot of students and cook yourself. Dorm is expensive and noisy. If you are not required to live in a dorm, find an inexpensive place and share with your friends.
  • Transportation – Find out if you can get around from/to campus with public transportation and the cost. Some colleges provide free bus to/from, or around campus; some give students deeply discounted bus passes. Also you may want to go home during a holiday season. Know what the round trip cost to see your folks.

If you or your family has abundant wealth, or you receive enough scholarship to cover the college expenses, go to the college of your choice. But if you can’t afford it, the cost of attending college must be the top criterion.

After identifying and evaluating these two things – college curriculums and the cost, you might want to research weather, alumni, neighborhood atmosphere, crime rate, student organizations, and other amenities.

In summary,
1. Figure out what you want to be,
2. Identify how to reach the goal (which school has a program you need), and
3. Find out the total cost to achieve the goal.

Knowing what you want to be is a critical question for your future. But I understand at age 18, or even some grown-up folks, “what do I wanna be when I grow up?” is a confusing question. I didn’t’ know the answer when I was 18. In the next blog I will talk about how to pick a college if you don’t have a clear idea what you want to become or study but you want to go to college anyway.

New York College Tuition Free Program

2 May

State of NY has just started State college tuition free for NY State residents. Please go to the following link to read more, https://www.ny.gov/programs/tuition-free-degree-program-excelsior-scholarship.  Besides usual and predictable rules such as family income, academic achievement, etc., there is a big string attached on this program. A student must stay in NY for four years after gra duating from college; else you need to pay the tuition back. This sounds awfully familiar to a student loan forgiveness program – you need to work for certain public sector jobs. NY is a great place but do you really want to limit yourself where you work and live? “Free tuition” sounds great. But anytime there are some restrictions, you lose some choices. You might be Missing Out Great Opportunities (MOGO)! You are obligated to stay in NY even you see greater job offers in other places. No one knows what choices and possibilities you will come across in the future. Do you want to miss a great out-of-state or out-of-country opportunity?
Instead, I will rather find a college I can afford, study hard to receive scholarships, and work and save money for college. Besides, this is a state government program. You never know when they ax the program because of the budget problem, change of policy, or anything. NY college tuition free program is NOT free.

Student Loan Forgiveness Program

11 Apr

Student loan forgiveness works like this. If you work for a qualifying “public service” job such as a public school teacher, the balance of your student loan will be forgiven after 10 years while you make some payments. You need to fill out a certification form if your employer is one of qualified agencies. You will receive a letter of acceptance or rejection from FedLoan Servicing, the Department of Education’s student loan service contractor. About 550,000 people went through the process and received approved letters from FedLoan. But some of you on the program might get a huge surprise, unfortunately.
According to NY Times on March 30, 2017 article, Student Loan Forgiveness Article by NY Times, the Dept. of Ed said that some of approved loan forgiveness were invalid. Invalid!? You thought you are on the student loan forgiveness program. You have the approval letter. How could that be possible? I do not know because the Dept. of Ed has not explained the reason. But I am guessing two possibilities:
1. People who issued a letter were incompetent, or
2. The Dept. of Ed has changed some policy about the program without telling us publicly.
If I have a student loan debt, I will work more and make an extra payment every month so I can be debt free faster. I will not rely on a government program. This is one more reason not to borrow at the first place. You better check your status if you have been approved for the student forgiveness program.

Tutoring Services – February 15th, 2013

15 Feb

Tutoring services are popping up everywhere to help children from preschool to 12th grade. I started wondering if enrollment in one of tutoring service institutions such as Sylvan, Kumon, Huntington, and others is really effective. Parents spend money to let their children go to “school” after school.

I decided to investigate personally as a prospective tutor at one of learning centers. I won’t name it but one tutoring place I visited seemed like a quiet factory. There were many different age groups in one room. Each student took a booklet from his/her own file and sat down quietly solving problems. And s/he took the booklet to an instructor to be graded.

The concept is simple – each student progresses at own pace. It is just simple drills, tons of drills. After these repeated practice, a student can solve math or reading problems easily and quickly.

Pro

  • Quiet classroom environment
  • Practice makes sense
  • Curriculum supplement for what the regular schools don’t have much time for – drills

 

Con

  • You could do this at home simply doing homework from school
  • No creative thinking – everything is mechanical and automatic response in the end
  • Costly

My take is that if you or your child is easily distracted at home, then this kind of institution might be helpful. But you can do it for free by creating an environment you can concentrate. For example, turn off music and a cell phone in your room. Decide what you want to accomplish and time yourself. It is all about your decision and self discipline. Don’t waste money!! You can do it!

Social Media – January 26, 2013

26 Jan

What you write or upload on your Facebook or Twitter is not private. And it will stay in the cyberspace forever. If you have Facebook or Twitter account, please do not have anything I list below:

  1. Your naked or near-naked picture,
  2. Vulgar language or threatening message to someone or something, especially anti-social messages,
  3. Racist comments, and
  4. Your picture or someone else supporting underage drinking consuming drugs.

Even you might have perfect SAT score, you are risking yourself not be admitted in some colleges. Academic record is the first thing admission officers will look at but if they detect some behavior or attitude problem in you, then you will be crossed out.

I hope you will never publish anything described above because they are not right, not because you want to get in your dream college. Be accountable what you say on web or any other form or shape! (including me and other adults, too)

$10,000 College Degree in Texas – January 14, 2013

14 Jan

Last year, Texas Governor, Rick Perry announced that State of Texas offer $10,000 undergraduate college degrees. It sounds like a savior from a heaven to lighten financial burdens of prospective students. I wanted to know more. How can they do it? The average State college in nationwide costs about $8600 per year. In summary, $10,000 undergraduate college degree program combines credits from some high school classes, community colleges, and 4-year colleges. What is new then? Many students have already gone or are going through this path – finish AA degree at community college and then transfer to 4-year degree in order to save money.

My take is that State should educate students well prepared before college. Then many students will be able to graduate from college, on time.

Happy New Year!

2 Jan

Do you think that your State can manage college education?

My answer is, unfortunately No. From admission policy to budget management, I am disappointed with public 4-year colleges. Under the name of diversity, State run universities have been admitting many academically insufficient students. The result is half of students in public universities won’t graduate. I hope State will emphasize K-12 education to make students well prepared before starting college.