Are you overwhelmed thinking about which classes to register for? Here are 4 tips to keep in mind as you select and sign up for courses in the fall:
1. Plan for Registration Day. Registering for classes can be stressful. Some schools will require students to sign up for classes online, others will make you stand in line at the registrar's office, while others might even make you enter a lottery system to get into specific courses. Classes you want to take may already be filled up by the time you register, so make sure you plan out some alternative courses you could possibly take as a back-up plan.
2. Look Over the Course Catalog
Courses listed in the school's catalog will include core requirements (classes that all students must take to graduate), course requirements for each major, courses within departments, and electives. Courses are also offered at different levels, ranging from introductory-level courses to challenging seminars. Make sure you choose classes that you need to take in order to fulfill your major, that are challenging for you, and that interest you. If you need helping mapping out your course selection for the four years of college, don't hesitate to ask your guidance counselor for help - that's what they are there for!
3. Take Required Classes Early
Take your required courses early in college, like your freshmen and sophomore year. The specific courses that are required by each school will vary, but generally include a foreign language, or math and science course. By getting these required classes out of the way early, you will be able to spend the rest of your time taking classes for your major or that interest you.
4. Balance Your Classes
Reference the school's course catalog or ask teachers what the course load is like for classes. You want to make sure that you're taking a balance of challenging and easier classes at the same time. Some courses will require more time, reading, and work than others, and taking on too much will put a strain on you and your grades. Also, make sure that the classes you are taking don't all require the same type of work - for example some classes will require a lot of reading, others will require hands-on time in a lab and problem-solving, and others will require research and writing. Choose a variety of subjects so that you aren’t stuck doing the same thing for all your classes.
Need more advice? Ask a question on StudentAdvisor.com - students, faculty, alumni, and parents are here to support and help you!
Earning a degree costs a lot of money. Make sure the degree you are pursing is legitimate!
School accreditation is extremely important. There are many online degree scams, diploma mills, and online schools that pretend to be accredited learning establishments. If you are taking online classes or registering for a school online, you need to make sure it is accredited.
It's true - employers will judge the quality of your education by your school’s accreditation. Going to an accredited school will increase your opportunities for employment.
WHAT MAKES A SCHOOL ACCREDITED?
To be accredited, a school must be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. If the government does not recognize and support the school, then is it not a legit establishment. Don’t waste your time or money on schools that are not accredited.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY SCHOOL IS ACCREDITED?
The easiest way to see if your school, or the school you are interested in, is accredited is by going to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Search Page.
- Enter the name of the school you are interested in. Hit search.
- There may be several schools that show up in the search results. Select the school name that matches the one you are interested in.
- You will be shown the school’s accreditation information. You can also click on the name of the accrediting agency that is listed in order to find out more information on the legitimacy of that specific agency.
Remember: if your school is accredited, your degree is legit!
* Please note that all schools listed on StudentAdvisor.com are accredited schools. Use our college matchmaker and find a school today!
College costs a lot of money. Look for all different types of financial aid available for your child and your family. Start early, and use these 7 Tips to Negotiate Financial Aid:
1. SET UP YOUR CHILD FOR SUCCESS. Encourage your child to be involved in school and take on leadership roles. By preparing them for success as early as you can, they will be in good shape when it comes time to apply for scholarships. Well-rounded students with good grades and who are involved in athletics or activities usually are eligible for merit-based scholarships.
2. DON’T WAIT, START LOOKING. Don’t wait until your child is a senior to start looking at financial aid options. Guide your child to begin thinking about the scholarship process as a freshman. Research and investigate which scholarships your child is eligible for, and start a list that you can keep adding to throughout the next four years.
3. LOOK EVERYWHERE. Look everywhere for scholarships and ask your child’s guidance counselor and high school for other scholarship opportunities. Check your place of employment and place of worship. Many smaller companies or non-profits may not have the means to market their scholarships widely; overlooking them may leave precious scholarship dollars on the table. Call or contact organizations that aren’t on the internet also – they may have scholarships you are unaware of.
4. NEGOTIATING FINANCIAL AID. Stop by the financial aid office of the colleges you and your child visit or are interested in. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the process and introduce yourself and your child to the financial aid officer there so they understand your story. While financial aid officers genuinely want to help, they’re continually dealing with problems and there’s a limited amount of money. That’s why being familiar with your situation already and being able to put a face with a name may help your case, if the offer you get back doesn’t turn out as you hoped.
5. TELL YOUR COLLEGE YOU NEED HELP. If you are not satisfied with the financial aid package from your college, tell them that you need more financial help. There are no guarantees that they will be able to adjust the financial aid offer, but the worst thing you can do is NOT ask.
6. POWER OF NEGOTIATION. The purpose of financial aid is to help students pay for school – but for colleges, it is also a recruiting tool. Being able to offer really attractive scholarships and financial aid packages is an important point of differentiation from other institutions. If your child really wants to go to a school but there are some financial issues, ask the school for additional help. If they want your child, and the money is available, the school will do everything they can to make it work.
7. NOTIFY IF THINGS CHANGE. If your money situation has changed, make sure the financial aid office knows. Be as honest as possible, and don’t worry about being embarrassed if you lost your job, or have big hospital bills due to a health condition, for example. The financial aid office will try to accommodate families that are in situations like these – but they can only help if they know what is going on.
Do you have financial aid advice? Comment & share below!
Parents - if you want your child to go to college, you should start talking about it sooner rather than later. How can they know what they want if they aren’t aware of the possibilities? From the small, local community college to the largest state university, there’s an educational setting somewhere where your child can strive.
Here are 5 Steps to Start the College Conversation with your child:
1. START EARLY. As a parent, did you really enjoy your college experience? You may suggest that your child checks out your alma mater. If you were involved with your college, or attended sporting or other events with your family, your child may already be interested just by association.
2. SHOW, DON’T TELL. Is there a college close by? Talk about what goes on there. Attend a sports event or theatrical show, so your child can get a first-hand experience of what is like to be part of the college community. Barbara Cooke, the author of Parent’s Guide to College and Careers: How to Help, Not Hover says, “Show them, don’t tell them. More kids have been inspired about attending college by watching a play, attending a robotics contest, or cheering for a local college football team. Some of the best conversations can happen when you take your children to activities on a college campus.”
3. TALK BEFORE HIGH SCHOOL. The transition to high school is an exciting and tough time for kids. You should start asking your child what they want to be when they grow up, potential schools they want to go to, and what areas of school interest them. Once they enter high school they will feel more comfortable about what classes to take and more prepared to plan out their future. If possible, and when they are old enough, see if your child can get a part-time job in an area that interests them. “Everything you do starting now — in school, after school, and on the weekends — counts towards what you do after high school.” No matter which post-high school choice your child makes, the people accepting or hiring them will pay attention to what they do from ninth grade on.
4. ENLIST ALLIES. Lots of kids just won’t listen to their parents’ opinions. Make sure your child visits and meets with their high school guidance counselor, and that your child’s classes are planned out. Also, encourage your child to talk with relatives, teachers, neighbors, and their friends’ parents about where they went to college, and discuss college expectations.
5. MONEY ISSUES. How are you going to pay for your child’s education? Is there money set aside for them? Will your child have to finance their own education? Have you checked out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)? It’s helpful for your child to know about the financing of her education so they can think about whether they can study and work, go away to school, or should consider a college close by. There are many options like loans, grants, and scholarships to help your child pay for school.
Read more in StudentAdvisor's Parent's Survival Guide.
Parents - how did you start talking about college with your child? Comment & share your story below!
Special to StudentAdvisor.com
Have you always dreamed about becoming a nurse? All you need to start is your high school diploma or GED equivalent. You will need good grades in such areas like math, health science, biology, chemistry, and English to qualify you for entry into a nursing program. Being able to speak a language other than English is not a requirement, but is definitely a plus.
A very important part of preparing for nursing school is spending time at a hospital or clinic. Being around nurses, healthcare staff, and doctors will help give you a feel for the environment, and the day-to-day routine. It will also help you determine what type of nurse you want to become.
Make sure you find a mentor in the healthcare field. Your network of healthcare professionals will be able to provide advice, and possibly job opportunities for you.
WHERE COULD YOU WORK?
Healthcare jobs are currently in demand. There are many different healthcare settings that nurses are able to work in. Healthcare settings are classified as clinical or non-clinical – clinical means that you work hands-on treating patients, whereas non-clinical means more behind the scenes processing paperwork, records, or doing research.
WHERE YOU CAN DO CLINICAL WORK:
- Nursing homes
- Doctor’s offices
- Alcohol and drug rehabilitation facilities
- Outpatient clinics
- Mental health facilities
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Sports medicine clinics
TYPES OF NON-CLINICAL WORK:
- Human resources administration
- Admissions Clerk and receptionists
- Office administration
NON-CLINICAL SETTINGS WHERE YOU CAN DO CLINICAL WORK:
- Home care settings
- Athletic clubs and gyms
- Group homes and communities
Start your rewarding nursing career today! Read more in StudentAdvisor's Health Care Guide.
While in college, students should take advantage of internship opportunities. Internships have many benefits, including the possibility of a full-time employment opportunity after graduation and possibly even acquiring a higher starting salary. It is important to think of an internship as a stepping stone that could potentially become your career – so remember to take it seriously, and impress your employer!
THE TOP 5 BENEFITS OF AN INTERNSHIP
1. Internships provide students with realistic expectations of a job, and give them exposure to a potential career opportunity.
2. Internships present students with a chance to sharpen and develop their skills. Students are also able to add the relevant work experience to beef up their resumes.
3. Internships are a great opportunity for students to start building their professional network early on – with bosses, co-workers, and other business professionals in the field.
4. Internships provide an emerging sense of self and responsibility, are a good learning opportunity for anyone.
5. Internships can give a student a competitive advantage when it comes to finding a full-time job. An employer would most likely feel more confident hiring a student with work experience over a candidate without any prior experience in the field.
INTERNSHIPS GET YOU A JOB
Want proof? The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducted a 2010 Internship & Co-op Survey.
The purpose of the survey was to discover if students who took part in an internship program were more likely to receive a job offer than their peers who elected not to participate in an internship. More than 31,470 students (over 13,000 were graduating seniors) from over 400 colleges and universities nationwide took part in the study.
The study found that:
- Nearly all respondents (86.5%) have formal internships/co-op programs
- 42.3% of the seniors who had internship experience, and applied for a job, received at least one job offer
- More than one-quarter of the intern group with offers accepted them
- The median accepted salary offer for seniors with an internship was $45,301
- Only 30.7% of seniors without internship experience who applied for a job received an offer
- Less than 20% of the non-intern group accepted the offers
- The median accepted salary offer to non-intern seniors was only $34,601 (nearly 31% lower than the internship participants).
For more information on internships, check out StudentAdvisor's Internship Guide.
Comment & share your internship search or experience below!
Whether you are taking classes over the summer, or preparing to return to school in the fall, one thing all students have in common is studying. Although people learn differently, here are 6 study tips that will be helpful to anyone hitting the books:
1. SET ASIDE TIME. It's important to schedule time for when you will sit down and study. It may be helpful to get a planner where you can block off periods of time dedicated to studying or writing papers. If you work a full-time job, you will need to figure out when you will be able to focus on schoolwork. If you are an adult learner, it is extremely important to set these schedules and expectations with your friends and family. It is also better to have a series of shorter study sessions distributed over several days, than longer cram sessions. This is especially important for those students who juggle work, family, and school.
2. DON'T TRY TO LEARN IT ALL. Select a reasonable amount of material to study. Make a list of topics that are likely to be on the exam and prioritize them based on how important they are, and how much more you need to learn about them. At the beginning of your study session (when you have the most energy and are motivated), spend your time familiarizing yourself with the subjects you are less confident about.
3. SIT AT A DESK. Make sure you sit at a desk and wear casual clothing when you are studying, so you remain attentive and awake. If you try studying while lounging on the couch in your sweatpants, you are apt to lose focus, be interrupted, possibly doze off, and be less productive.
4. PUT IT IN YOUR OWN WORDS. Don't just memorize information and move on - you should be able to explain the main ideas in your own words. By putting it in a context that you understand, you will have an easier time recalling the information when it is time to take the test. Also, don't copy or plagiarize other people's work. If you are going to reference something, make sure you do so in the correct format.
5. SEEK SUPPORT. If you need help studying, check in with other students in your class to organize a study session. Hearing other people's perspectives on the material may help you absorb it better. You can also share study guides and talk through the material out loud. Verbalizing the information is the key to storing the material in your long-term memory.
6. CHEW GUM. An informal study by a Cornell University marketing professor has shown that chewing gum offers improved memory and concentration - which may improve your test-taking abilities. Also, chewing gum may help relieve some stress you have while studying, reading, writing papers, or taking tests.
What are your study tips? Comment & share below!
By Katherine Cohen, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
Parents, if you have a teenager at home, there is a good chance you are wondering where they will be heading off to college. These days, the college admission process is more competitive than ever before.
Here are the Top 10 Things Parents Need to Know About the College Admissions Process:
1. FRESHMEN NEED A FOUR-YEAR PLAN. When your child is a freshman, meet with their guidance counselor so that you call can plan out their courses for the next four years. Based on your child’s abilities, plan on selecting the most challenging courses in every subject.
2. RELATIONSHIPS WITH TEACHERS & GUIDANCE COUNSELORS MATTER. Most colleges require a letter of recommendation from a student's guidance counselor and/or teachers. Encourage your child to build a relationship early with these individuals, so they can get to know your child on a more personal level.
3. STUDENTS MUST MAKE AN IMPACT. Colleges are not looking for "jacks of all trades." Students who are committed to a handful of activities, or who are specialists within a particular field, have an advantage over students involved in a bunch of activities but who show no leadership or dedication. If your child's high school doesn't offer extracurricular activities that interest them, help them research other programs within the community that they can become involved in.
4. SUMMERS BEFORE COLLEGE SHOULD BE SPENT WISELY. It's important for your child to spend their summers thinking about college and their future by pursing their talents and interests. Your teen could take college-level classes, participate in multi-week programs in an area of interest, join a community service organization, or get an internship or summer job, for example. Check with your teen’s guidance counselor to see if the high school has any partnerships or recommendations for summer opportunities.
5. THERE IS MORE THAN ONE STANDARDIZED TEST OPTION. Many colleges accept either the ACT or SAT. Your teen should meet with their guidance counselor to review the format and content of the exams and select which one plays into their academic strengths. They should also take practice exams, and sign up to take the tests more than once. The more exposed and comfortable your child is with the tests, the better their chances are of doing well on them.
6. CREATE A BALANCED LIST OF COLLEGES. Work with your child and their guidance counselor to identify colleges that are a "good fit" for them academically, socially, and financially. Don’t choose a school based solely on its reputation and prestige. Be sure to include colleges that are academic reach, target, and safety schools. Incorporate a mix of private schools, as well as more affordable schools like state schools and public universities.
7. STUDENTS MUST BE EXPERTS ON THE COLLEGES THEY APPLY TO. Admissions officers and interviewers seek candidates who are good matches for their college. Applicants who know details about a college’s academic and social culture are usually reviewed favorably. For example, students should know the names of specific courses and professors with whom they want to study. To aid in this, your teen can ask the guidance counselor to put him or her in touch with a former graduate from the high school who is now attending the college your student is considering.
8. CAMPUS VISITS CAN BE VERY TELLING. Visit colleges that your child is seriously considering. A campus visit gives your teen the opportunity to learn more about the college, while connecting with current students and getting a better feel for the school’s atmosphere. Visit as a family, with other students from your child’s high school, or arrange an overnight for your child with a current college freshman. Be sure your child attends both the official information session and the campus tour, as this demonstrates your child’s interest in the college and is the best way to make the most of the visit.
9. TUITION ISN’T THEY ONLY EXPENSE TO CONSIDER. While many families budget for college tuition and other costs of attending college, they often forget to budget for applying to college. Even before the first application is submitted, you can expect to spend a lot on standardized test fees, standardized test preparation, independent counselors, books, visiting college campuses and application fees.
10. “WE” ARE NOT APPLYING TO COLLEGE. Remember that your child is applying to college, not you. Take yourself out of it as much as possible, other than being your child's cheerleader and encouraging your teen every step of the way. Take a step back and be sure to listen to your child’s thoughts with an open mind as he or she researches colleges. Don’t fill out the applications or write the essays for your child, because your child needs to have their own voice shine through.
For more tips on juggling college finances, please check out StudentAdvisor's Parent's Survival Guide.
Parents - do you have advice on how to handle the college admissions or financial aid process? Comment & share below!
Katherine Cohen is CEO and Founder of IvyWise and ApplyWise.com, and author of "The Truth About Getting In" and "Rock Hard Apps".
If you are earning a criminal justice degree, chances are you are passionate about the potential careers you can pursue. Criminal justice salaries will vary depending on the level of your education, experience, your geographic location, and what type of work you do.
Here are some Popular Careers for Criminal Justice Majors*:
1. Detective: $89,354
2. Criminal Investigator: $86,012
3. FBI Agent: $79,648
4. Police Officer: $74,464
5. Secret Service Agent: $68,288
6. Police Detective: $64,518
7. Private Investigator: $62,400
8. Substance Abuse Counselor: $59,850
9. Insurance and Fraud Investigator: $56,449
10. Legal Secretary: $54,000
*Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2009-2010 Edition
Popular Criminal Justice Careers for Bachelor's Degrees*
As with most jobs, the more education and experience you have, the more money you have the potential of making. By earning a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice you will prepare yourself for some of these popular career paths:
- Police or Sheriff's Patrol Officer: $35,328 - $59,688
- Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist: $31,546 - $46,996
- Paralegal/Legal Assistant: $33,327 - $53,120
- First-Line Supervisor/Manager of Police and Detectives: $50,852 - $86,829
- Loss Prevention Manager: $34,948 - $50,203
- Security Manager: $39,369 - $61,562
- Security Officer: $23,908 - $38,365
- Correctional Officer/Jailer: $28,496 - $43,877
- Detective or Criminal Investigator: $41,456 - $80,388
For more information on criminal justice degrees and careers, check out StudentAdvisor's Guide: Criminal Justice Careers.
Do you have a criminal justice career? What's the best part of your job?
By Laura LaPerriere, Resident Career Expert from GetTheJob.com, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
Struggling to write the perfect resume? According to the experts, only one resume out of 200 will lead to a job offer - so how are you going to make sure your resume gets noticed? Even if your skills are top notch, today's job market is keenly competitive.
Your resume must include basic information, but the perfect resume also includes a summary statement. Your resume should also reference skills and accomplishments, either under a separate heading or as part of your employment history.
Make sure to follow these 5 Tips for Writing the Perfect Resume:
1. MAKE IT LOOK GREAT. Your resume should be clean, simple, and easy to read. Make important information stand out. If information won't fit on 1 or 2 pages, rewrite it so it's more concise. Never use a font smaller than 11 points, and text blocks should be six lines max.
2. DON'T WRITE MORE THAN YOU HAVE TO. Employers are only interested in your employment history if it is related to and qualifies you for the position they are trying to fill. If a past work experience doesn’t match what you're applying to now, don’t describe it in exhaustive detail.
3. QUANTIFY YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Think in terms of cause and effect; you did something, and got "X" result. For example:
- "Supervised office staff of three,” (cause)
- "Increased office productivity by 30%, and reduced error rate by 40%" (effect)
4. HIGHLIGHTS SKILLS THAT APPLY TO THE JOB. If you have both marketing and HR experience, but are applying for a strictly marketing job, it is more important to elaborate about your marketing experience. Don't omit your HR experience on your resume, but rather limit the space on the resume you describe it. Make sure to explain your relevant marketing experience and highlight your past marketing accomplishments.
5. MOVE YOUR OBJECTIVE TO THE COVER LETTER. Don't take up space on your resume for your employment objective, and include it as your personal mission statement on your cover letter instead. On your resume you should write a brief summary statement, where you can provide the reader with an understanding of you and what you bring to the table.
For more career advice and helpful tips, visit GetTheJob.com's Blog.
Have some resume tips? Comment & share them below!
By A.F. Hutchinson, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
In today's economy, it is a great time to become a nurse. Over 40 percent of our country’s current nurses are in their fifties - which means that they will be retiring soon. Their nursing jobs will need to be filled by a new, younger crowd. At the same time, our population continues to get older and requires more medical care. An aging workforce plus an aging population means that there is a serious nursing shortage. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by 2020, the health care field may need up to one million nurses.
What a perfect opportunity for you to earn your nursing degree! Now more than ever, there are a wide variety of places where nurses can work. Also, nursing salaries are increasing - but your earning potential as a nurse will depend on how much training you have and where you work.
Registered Nurses (RN)
To become a Registered Nurse, you need a nursing degree or a diploma from a hospital-based nursing program.
- An Associate of Science degree takes 2-3 years to complete
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) takes 4 years of study
- A hospital-based diploma program takes about 3 years, where available
Nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree have better earning power than those with just a diploma or Associate's Degree. The more experience you have in the nursing field, the better your chances for promotions and higher pay.
Registered Nurses typically earn $50,000 - $70,000 a year. In 2005, the average salary for an RN was $57,785.
Where Nurses Are Working
Healthcare settings are classified as either clinical, like working in a hospital, or non-clinical, like working in the administrative department within a hospital. Here are where nurses are working:
- 12% Hospitals
- 16% Employment Services
- 17% Nursing Care Facilities
- 22% Home & Health Care Services
- 33% Doctors Offices
Find out more about nursing and health care in StudentAdvisor's Guide: Health Care Trends 2010.
Are you a nurse? Comment & share what the best part of your job is!
By Kelly Trong, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
Who has the greatest rate of job satisfaction among untenured assistant professors at research universities? According to a survey done by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE), faculty members in the physical sciences have the greatest rate of job satisfaction.
Researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education surveyed 9,512 pre-tenure faculty members on their satisfaction (in more than 100 aspects of their work lives). The assistant professors were from 63 public and private universities around the country.
Some factors surveyed included:
- tenure clarity and expectations
- compensation and benefits
- balancing work and life
- the nature of their teaching and research
- job climate and culture
- overall satisfaction
The physical sciences ranked among the top three academic disciplines in approximately half the survey aspects, and among the bottom three in only six.
The humanities followed the physical sciences in terms of high satisfaction in the most aspects, while education and the visual and performing arts ranked lowest in satisfaction in the greatest number of areas. The study also found that women expressed less job satisfaction than their male colleagues.
Job Satisfaction by Disciplinary Area
1. Physical sciences
3. Agriculture/natural resources/environmental science
5. Social sciences
6. Medical schools and health professions
7. Biological sciences
8. Engineering/computer science/math/statistics
10. Other professions: journalism, law, architecture, etc.
*11. Visual and performing arts
*11. Health and human ecology
(*Tied for last place)
Read the rest of the article on the Chronicle of Higher Education website, Physical Science Professors Have Greatest Job Satisfaction.
Comment & share what you think about this survey!
One of the most important decisions when picking a college is whether or not you can afford it. StudentAdvisor is here to help you calculate your financial aid need.
The estimate of a family’s ability to contribute to their child’s college expenses is called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The lower the EFC means the less money a family has to contribute to their child’s education.
The EFC is the federal government’s formula that calculates what you and/or your family can contribute to paying for a year in school. The amount of federal financial aid you can get is based on a pre-set federal formula that factors in your income, employment benefits, assets, household size, number of dependent children, and number of family members in college, and is based on information the student provides on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
A school’s Cost of Attendance (COA) is an approximate amount of money that your school estimates it will cost you to attend for one year. The COA usually includes tuition, fees, books and supplies, room and board if you’re going to live on campus, transportation if you’re not, and other personal or living expenses while in school.
A student’s financial aid is usually determined by subtracting the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) from the Cost of Attendance (COA). The difference between the EFC and the COA is called “Unmet Need.”
$30,000 COA (School's Cost of Attendance)
- $10,000 EFC (Expected Family Contribution)
= $20,000 Unmet Need
If your Unmet Need is more than 0, then you have financial need. The smaller the difference between your EFC and your COA, the less you will have to rely on financial aid. Your EFC is reported in your Student Aid Report (SAR).
How Your Financial Aid is Determined
The amount of financial aid you qualify for is based on your Unmet Need. However, the amount of financial aid you actually will receive depends on the amount of need-based financial aid that is available to you and your school – beginning with federal financial aid.
The final amount of financial aid can vary from school to school, since each school will have a different Cost of Attendance, as well as different policies for accessing and awarding financial aid. Some schools may fully cover the Unmet Need of students, other schools may offer federal financial aid but will not offer school grants, and other schools may not meet the Unmet Need of any students.
Were you able to get all the money you needed? Comment & share your financial aid experiences below!
Earning a degree in criminal justice could be the first step to an exciting new career as a police officer or forensic scientist. A criminal justice degree provides a well-rounded education that can include the study of law enforcement practices, police science, forensics, and corrections, among other topics.
Here are 10 Reasons to Earn a Criminal Justice Degree:
1. Criminal justice is currently one of the fastest growing career fields in the United States. Employment of law enforcement officers is expected to grow up to 22 percent each year for the next decade!*
2. There is high competition for criminal justice jobs, so having a college degree will help better your chances of landing a job in this field.
3. By 2016, it has been estimated that there will be about 724,000 job openings for police officers.* By earning your criminal justice degree, you will be prepared and able to take advantage of these exciting career opportunities.
4. College is a perfect setting to make connections and meet other professionals in your field of study. The people you meet in college become part of your social network, and can possibly lead to career opportunities in the future.
5. Earning a college degree is a valuable investment for your future, regardless of what field you study.
6. Having a college degree can also significantly increase your earnings. According to a 2006 U.S. Census Bureau report, adults age 25 and older holding a bachelor's degree and working full-time earned an average 62% more than those with just a high school diploma.
7. Most colleges offer career counseling and placement, which can help you find the perfect criminal justice job after graduation.
8. Having a college degree gives you the most career options. Even if you decide later on that criminal justice is not the best career path for you, having a college degree will qualify you to find work in other fields.
9. By earning a college degree, you will see more opportunities for promotion within the criminal justice field.
10. Criminal justice programs are interesting and challenging. They help prepare you for a career that is involved in the community, helping people, and enforcing justice.
Do you have a criminal justice degree or career? Comment & share why you love it below!
For more information, check out StudentAdvisor's Criminal Justice Careers Guide.
*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2009-2010 Edition
By Dr. Dawn Chandler, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
Finding an internship can sometimes be a time-consuming and challenging process. Internships are a great way to gain real work experience, and develop a network of professional contacts.
Check out these tips for finding an internship:
1. Get to Know Your Professors. Be proactive and establish a friendly relationship with your professors. Take advantage of their office hours. Introduce yourself, mention a sentiment about the class and what you are looking for or interested in.
2. Use Your College's Resources, like career services and online job boards. Be aware that there are plenty of other internship resources out there as well.
3. Utilize Your Social Network. Tap into your immediate social network, and take it from there. For instance: if your classmate's mother works in the finance industry and you are interested in working in finance, ask if you could set up an informational interview with her. Make sure to ask about her day-to-day responsibilities, and what some of the challenges are. As always, be sure to follow-up and send a nice thank you note or email. Mention something like, “By the way, if an internship opens up, please let me know…” Talking to people you already know who are in the industry you may be interested in, is a great way for students to gain info about prospective career opportunities.
4. Work Hard to Find an Internship. Just like you work hard to maintain your grades and succeed in school, you will need to work hard to find an internship. Don't rely on your school to provide possible internships - you have to put in additional effort as well.
5. Create a LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn is the most professional social networking site, and can be used to find jobs, be recruited, or network with other professionals.
6. Be Proactive and Professional. Dress in appropriate business attire, and bring resumes and coverletters to interviews. Visit 8-10 target companies, and submit your resume to hiring managers and/or other relevant people there. Ask to speak to people directly - that way they can put a face to your resume.
7. Create a Professional Email. While nicknames or other aliases may have been cool in high school, recruiters may not take you seriously. Create a simple email address with your name in it. When corresponding via email, make sure to follow up within 24-48 hours - but the sooner, the better.
8. Search. Use your local chamber of commerce to search for available internships. Or, use a search engine like Google to do research on companies you would like to intern at.
9. Check Out College Resources and Placement Statistics. Contact the career services offices at your college, or the college you are interested in attending, and see what support they can offer you to find internships. They may have career fairs, company visits, etc. Also, ask to see placement figures for both internships and post graduation employment.
10. Control Your Facebook Privacy Settings. Make sure your Facebook profile is professional. Remove any inappropriate photos, videos, wall posts, comments, etc. Make sure they are also removed from your friends' pages as well. Recruiters may try to find you, or your friends, on Facebook to see what you're really like. It is always good to become a fan or "like" the target companies on Facebook to stay up to date with their status updates, posts, events, and news. It will also show that you have researched them and done your homework.
For more information on internships, check out StudentAdvisor's Guide to Internships.
Dr. Dawn Chandler is the Professor of Management at the Orfalea College of Business at California Polytechnic State University.
By Tracy R. Stewart, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
As online education, online learning and the online student continue to expand nationally—growing in both popularity and reputational acclaim – it will naturally become a viable learning option for more college goers. With so many online educational options available, every prospective online student should decide what they want from an online education and then research the many quality online programs that will satisfy those needs. The following tips may help you determine if an online educational option is right for you and, if so, how to go about selecting the right online program.
1. Decide what you what from an online education
Today, it’s hard to find a university that does not tout online course delivery. From large state-funded institutions to small private colleges, it seems everyone offers some form of online delivered courses. In 2008, the Sloan Survey of Online Learning found that 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide enrolled 3.94 million students in at least one online course in fall 2007. This enrollment trend grew nearly 12 percent from the previous year. In spite of this growing interest in online education, it’s important to recognize the wide range of universities promoting online learning. Some colleges merely offer occasional online courses, while others offer complete online programs that never require a campus visit. For the typical adult learner interested in online education, it’s important to find a program that provides 100 percent online delivery.
The other critical factor in online education is timing. Most online programs today are delivered asynchronously—meaning there are no set class times. This does not mean that there are no due dates or test dates, rather, it means that courses do not have set meeting times when students are required to log-in or “attend” a virtual class. For working adults or busy students, this aspect of online learning is most appealing because it allows students the flexibility to complete course requirements around a specific schedule within any given week.
2. Accreditation, Accreditation, Accreditation
When selecting an online college, it is all about “accreditation, accreditation, accreditation.” Make sure the online college you select is accredited through one of the six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Specifically, these are the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA), Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA), Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU).
Transferability is another reason to play close attention to a college’s accreditation. Many students today attend several institutions before obtaining a degree. Being able to transfer coursework from college to college is critical, both from a financial perspective and for the purpose of graduating on time. Credits earned at schools not accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies are typically not transferrable to other institutions.
3. Understand your learning style
Online education is not for everyone. Understanding how you learn can greatly assist you in determining if online education is for you. Although a bit simplistic, one way to determine if online education is right for you is to understand how you best learn. Learning styles can be roughly categorized into the areas of listening, seeing or experiencing. Although most individuals actively engage all three styles during the learning process, that is not to say that individuals do not lean more toward at least one of these learning styles. If you learn best through reading material, then an online program that relies heavily on online written material may be ideally suited for you. However, if you learn best through experiences or listening, then you may want to enroll in an online program that relies heavily on virtual chat, interactive group projects, and web-based video lectures. You need to be able to work independently, be self-motivated and self-disciplined, manage your time wisely, and communicate effectively in writing. Understanding your learning style and seeking an online program that is fashioned accordingly, will greatly increase your chances of success in college.
4. Technology Skills
An online student needs technology skills to succeed in an online program. You must be familiar with the following at a minimum: sending and receiving emails, opening or sending an email attachment, searching the Internet, using Microsoft Word, and downloading files. You need a reliable computer and Internet connection. You will have quizzes and tests to complete, papers to write and submit, discussions to participate in – on your own schedule, all with submission deadlines.
5. Test Drive an Online Course
Most people would never buy a car without first test-driving it. Similarly, prospective online students should examine the various online formats available to today’s online students. Colleges on the cutting edge of online learning are using many innovative and powerful online course platforms such as Web CT and Blackboard and are transforming the online environment to become more interactive and engaging. Many schools can provide you access to a sample online course that will give you a glimpse of learning in the virtual space.
6. Remember, it’s still college:
Ask anyone who has attended a regionally accredited online university and they will tell you online education is not easy. Potential students should never chose online education based on erroneous perception that it will somehow be “easier” than more traditional education settings. On the contrary, online education can be more challenging because it requires a level of self-directed learning that is not always required in traditional classroom learning environments. Students who chose online education must be highly motivated and develop strong organizational and time management skills to be successful. Online learning requires students to take ownership of their own learning.
Online education is here to stay. Although it should not be viewed as a replacement for traditional, classroom learning, it is a viable learning option depending on a person’s interests, learning styles, and lifestyle. Finding an online college that meets your needs will be the first and most significant step that will ensure a successful college experience.
Ms. Tracy R. Stewart is the Vice President of Information Technology & Executive Director of Undergraduate Studies at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.
The best way to fill out the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is early and online. If you apply online, your application will likely be processed faster and be more accurate since it's being filled out on the FAFSA website. Making mistakes on your FAFSA could delay the processing of your application, and possibly make you lose out on available financial aid.
Avoid these common mistakes:
- Listing the incorrect Social Security Number or driver’s license number. Double-check to make sure you have entered the digits and letters in the correct order.
- Using decimal points or commons in numeric fields. Don’t use them, and instead always round to the nearest dollar amount.
- Forgetting to list your college. You need the Federal School Code for the college you plan on attending and list it, along with any other schools you’ve applied to.
- Leaving blank fields. Enter a ‘0′ or ‘not applicable’ instead of leaving a blank field, since too many blanks may cause miscalculations and/or an application rejection.
- Listing Adjusted Gross Income as equal to total income. These are not the same figures, and in most cases the AGI is larger than the total income.
- Entering the wrong federal income tax paid amount. You need to obtain your federal income tax paid amount from your income tax return forms - NOT your W-2 form(s).
- Listing marital status incorrectly. They want to know what your marital status is on the day you sign the FAFSA, so only say yes if you are currently married.
- Listing parent marital status incorrectly. They want to know your custodial parents' marital status, and if they remarried, you’ll need the stepparent’s information too.
- Leaving the question about drug-related offenses blank. If you are unsure of something, find out before submitting the FAFSA rather than leaving it blank. A conviction doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from getting aid.
- Forgetting to sign and date. If you’re filling the FAFSA electronically, make sure to obtain your PIN from www.pin.ed.gov. Your PIN acts as your electronic signature and will be assigned to you only. If you’re filling out the paper FAFSA, be sure to sign it.
Don't miss out on financial aid from the federal government simply because you filled out the FAFSA incorrectly, or made one of the above mistakes. Double-check your application and more importantly - don't miss the deadline!
Read More: EducationGrant.com: Common FAFSA Mistakes
Picture the Harlem Globetrotters in their boisterous locker room before a game. They’re a fun-loving group: The music blares, jokes are flying, laughter everywhere. The team is getting jazzed to perform in front of thousands of fans they can already hear cheering in the stands.
And showman SpecialK Daley is in a corner, taking an exam for Ashford University. He’s got 15 minutes to finish.
“All of this is going on, it's very loud in the locker room, and I'm in front of my laptop focusing and concentrating and I couldn't go anywhere else,” he said. “So I'm doing a test and one of my teammates came up to me and said, ‘what're you doing?’ I said ‘I'm working on a test that I've got to turn in before we start the game."
At the time, his teammate could believe his focus – and Daley received a 90 on that online school test. In May he was one of 2,818 graduates from Ashford, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. He earned a 3.6 GPA and graduated with distinction on the Dean’s list.
“You know even a half time of games sometimes I'd have to run in there and do things real quick,” he said. “But what I would try to do is, any free time I had I would try to get ahead. That was my thing, just trying to get ahead in my schoolwork, so then I wouldn't have to be running from behind.”
BUT HE RECEIVED NO SPECIAL treatment as a world-traveling performer. In fact, his online classmates and professors didn’t know his background. Some of his teammates, he said, at first didn’t understand why he even needed to finish the degree he had started years ago. After all, he already was a star.
“Well I'm going to be honest, he said. “A couple of my teammates didn't think I would be able to do it, which helped me because when somebody doubts me, that motivates me.
“A lot of people were impressed because a lot of people felt like I didn't need to because I'm in a great position with the Globetrotters, but I don't see it like that. The average person is not going to get anywhere near the challenges that I had to go through to be able to get this Bachelor's.”
Daley, 33, has two older brothers and his mother died when he was three years old. His father moved the family from Panama to California in 1989 in the hopes of more opportunities for his three children. In Panama, he shot basketballs through a bike rim as a basketball hoop.
“That's one thing that was different in Los Angeles,” he said. “All the parks had a basketball court. In Panama we didn't have courts all over the place.”
He became a star athlete at Artesia High School in Lakewood , Calif., and Azusa Pacific University before starting his professional career overseas.
“Back then it was really that I was just going to school because I had to for basketball, and that was my mentality then,” he said. “When I left I told my dad, you know, ‘I promise I will go back’ and I made myself that promise too, that I will go back.”
SIX YEARS AGO HE WAS SPOTTED playing in an NBA summer league by a Globetrotter scout. He tried out and made the cut from hundreds of contenders. He became a U.S. citizen in 2007.
Then about 18 months ago, he decided it was the right time to complete his degree. So why Ashford?
“ I got online and I just looked at a whole bunch of schools and Ashford was the best for me,” he said. “You know I never had to go on campus at all and that was very, very important for me because I wouldn't be able to as much as I travel. “
A couple of people at Ashford may have known he was a Globetrotter, he said, but no one made mention of it. “I didn't want special privileges,” he said. “I wanted to go in as a regular student. I consider myself a regular student. You know, I just wanted to go in there and take care of what I had to take care of.
“I knew it would make me feel better, a better sense of accomplishment if I did it my own, and especially if I did it under the circumstances that I did it,” he said. “I sure will talk about it in the field.”
He particularly wants people to know that online learning takes discipline.
“Well, it wasn't easy. You know, online classes I really thought it was going to be a lot easier than what it was, but it was, I would say it was challenging,” he said. “There were plenty of late at nights. Sometimes we would get to the hotel rooms, maybe 1 o'clock. Then maybe we would have an early game the next morning, so we would probably have to leave at 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning to travel to somewhere else. But in there you know, everybody gets to the hotel and they go to sleep. But I'm up until maybe 4 o'clock and then 6 o'clock I'm supposed to be up again to go with the group.”
He hopes others are inspired to consider furthering their education.
“If that's something that they really want to do, don't spend time thinking about it, just get it done. There's no negative things that could come out of it, there's just positive things so as soon as you get that thought in your mind, before that thought leaves your mind, just go ahead and get it done. You will find a way of doing it if you really want to do it.”
Paying for college can be a daunting task for many students and their families. In addition to the typical confusion over all the available options for paying for college, there is the aftermath of the financial market meltdown, tightened credit and recent federal government changes to student loan structures. At the same time, two primary sources of education funding have diminished over the last few years -- savings and home equity. Altogether, these factors have had a profound effect on families' ability to pay for college.
"The stress of how to pay for a college education leaves many students and families feeling overwhelmed and frustrated," said Kevin Walker, co-founder and CEO of SimpleTuition.com. "It can be a challenge figuring out all the options that are available."
SimpleTuition offers seven steps that students and families should take in paying for college:
1. Calculate The Cost Of Attendance – Most of this information can be found in financial aid letters and on college websites. Make sure to include "other" expenses beyond tuition and room and board: books, computer, travel, etc.
2. Use Free Money First – This refers to scholarships and grants, which do not have to be repaid.
3. Take Advantage of Federal Work-Study – These part-time jobs are usually on campus and, in addition to helping to chip away at your college bill, can provide valuable work experience.
4. Contribute As Much Cash As You Can – This reduces the need for borrowing and can come from various sources: parent's jobs, student's summer jobs, family savings, and helpful relatives.
5. Exhaust Subsidized Federal Loans – These need-based loans include Perkins and subsidized Stafford loans. These have low, fixed interest rates and interest does not accrue while in school.
6. Maximize Unsubsidized Stafford Loans – Unsubsidized loans also have a fixed interest rate, though interest does accrue while the student is in school.
7. Seek Gap Financing – If there is an outstanding balance, there are federal PLUS loans and private student loans. PLUS loans are taken out by parents, who are responsible for repayment. Private loans are in the student's name, but usually include a credit-worthy co-signer. Note that private student loans are not federally regulated and terms can vary between lenders, so it's important to compare your options to find the right loan for you.
Students - what are some ways you and your families manage college costs? Comment & share below!
For more financial aid advice, check out StudentAdvisor's Student Loan Help Guide.
By Helen Nunn, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
The U.S. Department of Education provides approximately $100 billion a year in government student aid for college. Two-thirds of students receive at least some financial aid today, so it’s important to know where to look.
1. Identify the colleges which best meet your academic, extracurricular and geographic criteria. Investigate schools which represent a range of costs but do not let higher costs keep you from seeking admission.
2. Understand the difference between scholarships and need-based financial aid. Merit-based scholarship aid may be awarded to students with exceptional abilities in academic, music or other areas. Need-based aid is available to students whose families need help in meeting college costs. Most schools, but not all, offer both types.
3. Find out what types of aid are available at the schools you like best, which aid application forms are required, and the deadline for each school. College and university catalogs, financial aid brochures and Web sites, and admissions and financial aid staff are your best resources for this kind of information.
4. Don't rule out private colleges because they may seem to cost more. The chance that your financial need will be met is actually greater at a private college or university because many state-supported schools cannot offer as many financial aid options.
5. Apply for the types of aid that best fit YOU. Everyone's situation is different and everyone's financial aid experience is too. Don't exclude yourself from the process because your neighbor didn't qualify for scholarships or other forms of financial aid.
6. Consider the final cost to you rather than the listed price of the school. Understand how much of your expense can be met through financial aid programs. At many schools, the majority of students pay less than the listed price thanks to financial aid.
7. Compare the aid packages, or the combination of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study awards, that you receive from different schools. Be sure that in each case you understand your family's bottom line cost for the year, the amount of loans and the amount granted through student employment.
8. Notify the Office of Financial Aid if there is a change in your family's financial status in 2010. A financial aid package can be adjusted, even after the academic year begins, but the office can only consider special circumstances if they have the new information. Keep the lines of communication open.
9. Investigate other kinds of long-term, low-interest loans and monthly payment plans. There are a number of opportunities for parents to borrow or to spread their payments out over the course of the year or over as many as 10 years. Be sure to check out federal loans with tax-deductible interest.
10. Select the college that offers you the best long-term value for the price and where your educational needs will best be met. Work and save as much as you can to achieve your goal.
Have some financial aid tips or advice? Comment & share below!
Ms. Helen Nunn is the Director of Financial Aid at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA.
After working for about 10 years in business, I’m now finishing my tenth year in higher education, teaching business. This vantage point gives me a somewhat unique perspective on what it takes to perform well in business school. I’ve collected the insights from my experience in the following “10 Tips for Succeeding in Business School and Beyond.”
1. Make academics your top priority: Some students seem to live by the mantra “study only when convenient.” Such students inevitably struggle as rec sports, movie nights, and any number of other diversions eat up most of their best time and energy. A strong business school education is not something that can be positioned as an add-on. Academics must be the main entrée; other involvements are side dishes.
2. Develop strong work habits.: Like it or not, some people are blessed with more intellectual capacity than others. Strong work habits, however, are the great equalizer. Just like an athlete can overcome a lack of physical size or speed through high energy and aggressive play, students can leverage their intellectual gifts by working harder and more diligently.
3. Do things excellently.: Life is full of mediocrity—people doing just enough to satisfy the minimum requirements. As a result, it’s remarkable when someone does something really well. Even if the task itself is not that significant in the overall scheme of things, it’s impressive to see it done excellently, for instance, a very well-written homework assignment, or an extremely thorough set of meeting minutes. More importantly, those favorable impressions tend to stick with people, like professors and supervisors, who often remember the excellent work when thinking of people to recommend for scholarships, promotions, etc.
4. Build your network:. The old adage “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is misleading in that the business world does reward expertise and competence, and penalize a lack thereof. Still, there’s much to be said about building and maintaining strong business relationships. All things equal, people prefer to do business with others they know, like, and trust. Consequently, business students should take advantage of the opportunity to start building their own network while surrounded by dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of future businesspeople. There’s no telling what mutual benefits these relationships might produce in years to come, as well as during business school.
5. Stay on-top of current events: Successful businesses are aware of what’s happening in the world around them, socially, politically, economically, etc. Furthermore, they make strategic and tactical decisions based on those influences. Business students should develop the same habit of staying informed, not just because they’ll need that discipline later in life, but also because a firm grasp of key issues and players will enhance and expedite their understanding of business concepts.
6. Embrace technology.: It’s no secret that technological advances continue to occur at a blistering pace. Given that few disciplines are impacted more by these advances than business, it’s important that business students keep pace with such changes. Doing so means more than using PS3 or having a Facebook account. Business students should be familiar with technological tools and trends related to business strategy and productivity, for instance, Linked-In, interactive marketing, and cloud computing.
7. Gain experience: Like much of academia, business school learning often takes place in the classroom, be it a traditional bricks-and-mortar classroom or a virtual one. Business students should look to supplement classroom pedagogy through experiential learning opportunities. Internships are one great source of applied learning. Also, some professors integrate experiential learning within their classes; for instance, through a service-learning course project students might develop marketing plans for local nonprofit organizations. Not only do such opportunities bring business concepts to life, these experiences also look good on resumes to prospective employers.
8. Take care of yourself physically: Sometimes it’s tempting to believe that maintenance of the “physical realm” (i.e., care for one’s body) is independent from performance in the professional realm. Of course, the reality is that you can’t accomplish much in business or business school if you’re not healthy and well. Furthermore, many people find that a strong body feeds a strong mind. So, good eating, exercise, and sleep habits will enhance your academic and professional performance.
9. Act ethically: This recommendation may seem cliché, but when one considers how the moral lapses of a few people in business have affected so many, it’s clear that the value of ethical conduct cannot be overestimated. What’s important to emphasize here is that a predisposition to behave morally is something that develops over time. Don’t expect, for instance, a CEO who couldn’t resist the temptation to take answers from a classmate’s exam, to resist the urge to borrow a competitor’s proprietary technology. Ethical behavior must be practiced in business school if it’s going to be exercised in the business world.
10. Serve others: In many ways moral action represents not doing the wrong thing. Increasingly, businesses are challenging themselves to go beyond ethical behavior to undertake community-building activities that are not expected of them. This type of behavior is often called corporate social responsibility (CSR). Business students should prepare themselves to take part in this growing economic trend by seeking opportunities to serve others, either through their personal contacts or through a wide array of society-minded organizations. Although the promise of service here is for long-term, career-related benefits, the most gratifying rewards will likely come from the more immediate satisfaction of helping others.
A good business school education is a challenging one. Based on my experience in business and academia, the preceding Ten Tips will help students meet that challenge and get the most out of their business school experience while also preparing them to excel in their business careers.
Dr. David Hagenbuch holds a B.S. in marketing from Messiah College, an M.B.A. from Temple University, and a D.B.A. from Anderson University. Before teaching, he worked in business for nearly ten years, first as a corporate sales analyst for a national Christian radio network and then as a partner in his family’s specialty advertising agency where he managed daily operations, handled several major accounts, and performed graphic design. Dr. Hagenbuch is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Messiah College in Grantham, PA.
By Karen L. Coburn and Madge Treeger, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
"Hi Mom; I'm back!" These four simple words can signal a major disruption in your household's familiar rhythms if your adult child is returning to live at home. Although it may seem like the best solution when your child is undergoing a major transition or has experienced a setback, living under the same roof can pose tremendous challenges for "housemates" of both generations.
Parents, bent on helping their kids become successful adults, can quickly fall into the trap of becoming a hovering "helicopter parent." And the kids? They're happy to have dinner magically appear on the table but bristle when you ask, "What time will you be home?" They are torn between the comforts of home and a desire to strike out on their own. The result: conflict.
Nonetheless, with some thoughtful planning, adult children and parents can enter a whole new phase of relating to each other, free of past roles.
Why do they come back?
Sociologists remind us that 75 to 100 years ago, an adult child living at home was acceptable and often an economic necessity. That changed in the 1950s, when it became the norm for young adults to leave the nest by their early twenties. However, current statistics show growing numbers of young adults living at home with their parents.
In contrast to young people of the '70s, who often rebelled and didn't trust people over thirty, today's twenty-somethings are closely connected to their families. What once seemed out of sync is becoming the norm for this "boomerang generation."
There are multiple reasons for this phenomenon:
- Women and men are marrying later.
- Housing costs have risen far faster than salaries.
- Students leave college with large amounts of debt.
- The job market is uncertain in many fields.
- The divorce rate is high, as is the rate of failed relationships in general.
- Some kids have medical and emotional problems that they can't handle on their own.
- We allow our children to defer adulthood; many become ADULTescents or KIDults who are caught in between.
Adult child -- is this an oxymoron? Not really. He or she is an adult but will always be your child. And you will always be the parent. Whatever the reason your son or daughter returns home, keep in mind that a parent's job is always to support and encourage a child on the journey towards self reliance.
You can do it!
To do this successfully, you will have to move beyond the way you related to your child when he or she was a teenager. Below are some guidelines that can help you find your way.
- Acknowledge that you are all entering a new stage of your relationship. Make a commitment to ongoing communication and mutual respect. It may be helpful to put some basic commitments in writing or to set regular times each week to talk. Agree to discuss conflicts as they arise, and to resolve them before they start to fester.
- Set boundaries and define responsibilities. Discuss which spaces are family spaces and which are private. If you decide that your son's room is off limits for you, then you shouldn't clean it, complain about the way it looks, or even enter it without being asked. However, the kitchen - or living room or shared bathroom--may be an entirely different story. It is reasonable to ask your child to help out with cleaning and chores for shared areas as well as tasks like laundry, dishes, and caring for younger children and/or pets. Set clear expectations. Don't fall into the trap of cleaning up after him or doing chores he promised to do and then feeling resentful later. And if do you find your normally clean house sinking into squalor? Remember those weekly talks. Have him make a plan that you can live with. If he can't, it's time for him to live on his own.
- Set expectations about behavior. Forget the "Where are you going? And with whom?" questions that came tripping off your tongue during your child's high school years. Instead, work out a mutual agreement about comings and goings. Do you expect her to come home for dinner unless she tells you otherwise? Can she expect you to be there unless you tell her? What about guests? Music? Use of the car? Spending the night someplace else without calling? Is your house smoke free? Drug free? What about socializing--including sleeping arrangements for romantic partners? You won't think of everything at first, but you'll be setting the stage for a reasonable way to deal with potential conflicts before they blow up.
- Clarify financial arrangements. Spell out money-related issues right up front. Will your child pay rent? If so, what is a reasonable amount? Some parents collect rent and promise to return it when the child finds a job and moves out. Who will shop for groceries and pay for food? Utilities? Phone bill? If you are footing all the bills, agree on a few projects your child can take on as work-in-kind. It doesn't all have to be drudgery. If she's artistically talented, maybe she can hang those pictures you've had sitting in the corner - or choose paint colors for a room you've been wanting to redecorate. If he likes to cook, perhaps he can prepare large batches of soup and other foods to freeze and eat on busy nights.
- Agree on a time limit. If you think this a temporary arrangement, make sure your child thinks so, too. Set a time limit and remind her that you expect her to become self-supporting. If your child is unemployed, work out an understanding about the efforts she will make to find a job and how much of her paycheck she will put aside for future expenses.
The real keys are to make a commitment to the relationship with the goal of helping your child move on -- and out -- and to keep your sense of humor. If you can do this successfully, then you may actually find yourself enjoying your new -- and hopefully temporary -- parenting phase.
Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger are co-authors of Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years. Coburn is Assistant Vice Chancellor for Students at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and co-author of three books. Madge Lawrence Treeger, a psychotherapist in private practice in St. Louis, gives workshops and has appeared on national TV and radio to speak about the transition from high school to college and the ongoing relationship between parents and students throughout the college years.