Parents and students are experiencing college costs that are straining nearly every family budget. In order to cover those costs, families are being forced to make the very tough choices and huge sacrifices that will affect them for the next twenty or thirty years. And yet, year after year, most colleges continue to raise tuition by five, six or even seven percent. With parents receiving low or no pay increases in this bad economy, those tuition increases don’t seem right.
If the truth be known, the goals of college parents can be quite different from the goals of colleges and their leaders. Because that difference can be large, it is starting to become a problem for some parents and their college-age children. So, let’s get it out in the open. What exactly do parents want and expect from colleges today? Parents want colleges to:
Minimize Tuition, Room and Meal Costs – Parents want colleges to do everything possible to keep their costs down. Since many families have two and three children, it is becoming the norm for them to spend huge sums of money to put their children through college. Now that the cost of a college education has grown to between $100,000 and $200,000 for each child, can anybody blame parents for being concerned about costs?
Maximize Scholarship and Grant Money – When students receive scholarship and grant money, the need for college loans and family sacrifices is reduced. Parents want colleges to provide more grant and scholarship money to students. They believe that it’s time for colleges to work harder and get more creative, in order to help students with their college expenses.
Parents do not consider college loans to be financial aid. They see loans as huge, nearly life-long, financial burdens disguised as financial aid. That’s why parents ask, “Why is it that colleges often have three, four or even six people working in the financial aid office helping with parent and student loans, but not even one person is dedicated to uncovering and obtaining money that doesn’t have to be paid back?”
In the current economy, even student loan money has become harder to find. That’s why there is no better time for colleges to greatly expand their efforts to identify more sources of student aid money in the form of grants and scholarships. There is no reason why colleges can’t assemble a list of the sources that current and former students have previously uncovered and then expand that list through their own efforts. It’s time!
Help Students Discover Their Direction – Parents want their children’s hopes and dreams to come true. However, while some students are already clear about their direction in life, many are still trying to find a path to follow. Since few students can afford to stay in college for five or six years while they explore the possibilities, colleges must help them.
Although undecided students may not know exactly what they want, an effective counselor can help to narrow the field of choice. That’s because students do know the things they’ve liked and disliked in the past. They also know where they’ve been the most successful and least successful. Students know if they like science and math or prefer english and history. They know if they are shy and reserved or fun loving and outgoing. They know if they are good at sports or prefer intellectual pursuits. They know if they prefer to lead or a follow. They know if they have exceptional communication skills or not. The best counselors can help sift through the clutter a bring clarity to confusion. For many students, great counselors seem to perform miracles.
Importantly, counselors also know that few answers reveal themselves to students who are standing still. Only when undecided students are moving, experiencing, learning and growing can they discover their unique path to future success. Therefore, early on, counselors must help the undecided students to get out there and begin to participate in campus, work and community activities. When students become involved, they give themselves the opportunity to discover the things that motivate them, the things that uncover previously unknown interests, possibilities and capabilities.
Parents want colleges to take more interest in their undecided children. Students like this need help in figuring things out. Only competent, caring and dedicated counselors can do that well. However, when undecided students turn into decided students, they can perform at the highest levels. Colleges need to help with that transition.
Provide An Outstanding Education – Parents want their children to receive the highest quality education possible. That requires exceptional instructors. When college instructors make their classes interesting, students rarely hesitate to participate, challenge a statement or ask a question. Learning becomes fun. Instructors like this not only heighten the interest of their students, they inspire them. Parents know that the quality of an instructor’s classroom performance can directly affect the performance of students.