One of the most difficult parts of the college admission process is creating a solid college list.
A well-crafted list should contain colleges and universities that don’t prompt a family to overpay for a bachelor’s degree and that increase a child’s chances of getting a good job when graduating.
Not blowing this aspect of the college process can be extremely difficult, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Choosing the wrong school, often for dubious reasons, such as for bragging rights or emotional pressure from teenagers, can costs tens of thousands of additional dollars.
I am delighted today to share a simple and free tool that can help families make smarter and less expensive decisions.
Unveiled in September by Educate to Career, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families make smart college decisions. This program provides practical and fiscally responsible answers to 17 of the most common college questions that high school students ask, including:
- How do I plan for college?
- How do I choose a college?
- What is the best way to apply for college?
- What is the best major for me?
- Can I transfer from a two-year college to a four-year college?
- How do I pay for college?
- How much should I pay for college?
- Should I borrow for college?
- How do I apply for a scholarship?
- What SAT score do I need to get into a specific college?
- What GPA score do I need to get into a specific college?
- Should I go to a private or public college?
- What jobs do college graduates get?
- What are the salaries of college graduates?
- How do I find a job?
- How do I find an internship? And,
- When do I have to begin repaying student loans?
Educate to Career obtained these questions via Google, which financially supports what the nonprofit is doing and gave ETC access to data not publicly available, said Paul Hill, the president and founder of Job Search Intelligence. JSI is a leading data vendor for colleges, employers, and research and advocacy nonprofits. It also provides the data for ETC.
“We deal with a lot of parents, who are pretty candid that they don’t know what the hell to do,” Hill said. “We hear all the time that they feel pressured to do the most expensive thing they can do because they are always told that it’s the right thing to do.”
The tool, Hill added, can take pressure off parents to go along with the most expensive choices.
To ensure it resonates with the target audience, ETC had high schoolers review the tool to ensure that the language used is actually relatable to teenagers. Here’s an example:
“The answers aren’t just pat ones you see on other website. They are backed up by a stunning amount of data that Educate to Career gets from Job Search Intelligence, which is a data base in Los Angeles.
Job Search Intelligence, for instance, has data on jobs new grads get and their beginning salary. That’s why they can definitely answer the question about college grad salaries this way:
“STEM salaries are two to three times higher than salaries from ‘soft’ majors. Most graduates from soft majors are employed in jobs that require a high school diploma. Sorry to bum you out but it’s true.”
You should understand that the ETC tool is definitely biased toward spending less money and selecting state schools. For instance, here is what ETC said about how much you should pay for college:
“There are only about 25 nationally recognized schools in the U.S. and cumulatively, they represent 3% of the population enrolled in college. Another 20% is enrolled in expensive private colleges that do not have any brand cache. Seventy-seven percent of the college population made a wise decision and enrolled in state colleges.”
Lynn O’Shaughnessy, a nationally recognized college expert, offers an online course—Savvy College Planning—exclusively for financial advisors. Click here to get Lynn’s guide, Finding the Most Generous Colleges.