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Posted on Aug 13, 2012 - 06:00 AM | College Prep | Comments (0)

This is the fourth in a series of articles examining the impact the high cost of college and the student loan crisis are having on families. RSC Your College Prep Expert is dedicated to making college affordable to all families. See how we do it here.
 
 
Matt was a student with big ambitions. When he joined the RSC program as a freshman in high school, he was asked, “What do you want to do for a living?” and he immediately said, “Build a rocket and fly it to the moon!”
 
He was then asked, “What do you want to do more: fly it or build it?”
 
Matt paused, thought it over, then said, “Build it.”
 
His counselor then instructed him to use our 4-Year Planner to outline a complete selection of math and science courses that would lead to the right Advanced Placement classes. Matt also used the program to research good engineering schools and develop a program to make his dream of building a rocket come true.
 
Building a 4-Year Plan… And Beyond
 
Matt learned that colleges want you to want them. They want students interested in taking courses in which they specialize; courses in which they are renowned. What he quickly learned through the RSC program is that engineering schools often give better financial aid to engineering students.
 
  • Their alumni often contribute to scholarship programs that benefit their majors, i.e., engineering grads give to engineering students
  • Colleges often have extra money set aside to fund specialized grant and scholarship programs. An engineering school want the best engineering students on their campus
 
Once Matt realized the advantages in going to a school willing to financially reward him, building his 4-year plan was enjoyable. He realized he didn’t want to limit his options – like his horizons, he wanted to expand them.
 
Unfortunately, too many students limit their options while still picking their high-school classes.
 
  • 10% of high-school freshman don’t take a single math class. They’ve already eliminated many good colleges from their list and they don’t even know it.
  • 18% of 9th graders don’t take a science class.
  • 29% of 9th graders can’t identify a single occupation. It’s tough to construct a career path if you can’t name careers.
 
Matt lined up his math and science classes so that he would take the classes that would help him in engineering, including physics to make that rocket fly. He also used RSC’s career database to research different types of engineering and what each required of him academically.
 
Determining Your Career
 
High schools don’t necessarily make it easy for students to determine a career early. According to the Department of Defense, only 15% of high schools offer personality tests to help students shape their future plans. Not only do personality tests reveal a student’s interests, likes and dislikes, but workplace assessments and skills tests can show them their talents and strengths. Although personality tests are a rarity in high-school programs (despite a DoD push to put them in more schools), they are a standard part of the RSC program and Matt took full advantage of them.
 
They determined that he liked engineering and that math was a good subject for him, but it also revealed that he should consider computer science. His career research also indicated that if he wanted to be a rocket scientist and work for NASA, he should consider graduate school.
 
Knowing his career interests and strength, Matt continued along his path, building a resume to impress the colleges that could help him with his professional goals and get him into grad school.
 
Financial Aid: The Key to Graduating and Graduate School
 
Matt’s dream of getting into college came true, but there was still the problem of paying for it. He was facing at least six years of college before getting his master’s degree. The bill would be well over $100,000.
 
  • 65% of college freshmen plan to go to graduate school. Only 24% actually do, and the biggest reason they don’t? Cost. They’re so deep in debt from their bachelor’s degree they don’t think they can afford a master’s.
 
Matt and his family turned to RSC’s Paperwork Services to ensure they got every penny they deserved. RSC’s staff filled out his FAFSA and other need-based forms, and reviewed every college financial aid offer he received. That, combined with Matt’s four-year college plan, landed him great financial aid.
 
Today, Matt is in grad school pursuing a degree in computer science. Soon, we hope he’ll be working for NASA Mission Control. He hasn’t been that rocket yet, but we have faith he will.
 
Next Week: The Problem With Traditional High School Guidance Counseling – Limited Resources, Limited Time.
 
 
 
Part Three: The Impact of Student Loans and High Tuition on Families Today
 
 

 
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