Aside from being a financial planner and coach, I’m a mom, among other things (wife, housekeeper, cook, chauffeur, etc). In fact I have 2 kids, one of whom is currently a senior in high school. So moms, when I say I feel you pain about planning for college, believe me, I-feel-your-pain. Now I know every kid is different, so I don’t know if my journey will be helpful to you or not, but I’ll share it anyway.
You’re probably thinking that, since I’m a College Financial Coach, I’ve got it all together. I know where my kid is going to school, how much it’s going to cost, how I’m going to pay for all four years, etc. Well…..I’ve got my plan - that’s true, but my son? He’s all over the place, so who knows how things will really play out.
Since he was two years old taking apart small electronics on his bedroom floor to see what was inside, we’ve been pretty sure he was going to be an engineer. Easy peasy - there are plenty of great engineering schools right here in our own state. But, at some point he decided the only criteria he had for choosing a college was that it not be in our state.
Then, high school comes along and with it - water polo. He fell in love. Of course, he had to fall in love with a sport that is not that prevalent, at least on the east coast. So, that put me in a position of having a beautiful plan to get him through a great college with no student loans to being in the position of going back to the drawing board.
I, like you, want my child to be happy and have the greatest college experience ever in hopes that it will be the key to launching him into an amazing career. I’m also frugal. And pragmatic.
I had a realization this morning about this juxtaposition between the ideal college experience of your heart’s desire and going to the affordable but still pretty good choice. One - who’s to say that the affordable choice isn’t actually going to be better in reality than the ideal choice would have been? My son chose a special high school program to attend and he didn’t end up loving that in the long run. How much more then, when the difference in cost may be hundreds of thousands of dollars, does it stand to reason that he should stick to the “good” option just in case the “awesome” option ends up being a bit of a let down. Two - no matter which he chooses, he’ll never know if he made the right decision or not. Most kids are pretty adaptable. No matter where he goes to college, I feel certain that he’ll make friends and have a great time just like he has done in high school.
I think the moral of the story here is, you know...the best laid plans and all that.
But also, there are probably lots of good options for college out there for your kid from an experience point of view, so if you want to feel the least financial pain from a college choice, you need to be flexible and willing to compromise. In the long run, whichever school you or your kid chooses will probably be just fine from an education and experience point of view.
So, adults are usually pretty good at compromise, but what about our kids…. Perfect subject for another blog!