“Ashley, there is one thing in your life that you can gain that not a soul on this planet can ever take away from you. Do you know what that is? Your education.”
These were the words that my dad fired back at me when I was the ripe age of seventeen. I was applying to different universities around the Arizona area with an accompanying 17-year-old attitude upon dropping each application off at the post office.
I had battled he and my mom about going to college, and begged them to allow me to take a year off from school, like many of my friends were doing.
My father was adamant that I attended university straight out of high school, and seeing he and my mom financially supported me, I was still technically “under their roof” and waiting on my green card, therefore, unable to work, I really didn’t have much of a choice.
I was accepted to Arizona State University, which I was happy about because it was close to my friends and home. I chose some random major, and off I went to ASU (what many called the “Party School”) at 18 years of age.
I bombed my freshman year of college by flunking Religions of the World (go figure) and worked the remaining three years to pull my GPA up. My parents weren’t overly thrilled with my 2.4 GPA after my first semester at ASU, and I spent the remaining three and a half years busting my ass. I attended Fall semester, Winter Session, Spring Semester, and Summer Session the majority of my 4 years in school. I did not go to one frat party, I did not join one sorority; I worked, and I worked really hard.
Within four years, I graduated from Arizona State University with a much more desirable GPA, and I had a Interdisciplinary degree in Communication and Family & Human Development.
At the time, I was proud. I was proud that I made it through and managed to actually graduate in four years. After absorbing the accomplishment I had made, I was grateful. I was grateful to my parents for pushing me to go. Many of my friends were still trying to figure out what they wanted to do, and I was one of a few that had actually graduated and held a degree; albeit, not a degree in rocket science, but still, I had a Bachelor’s degree. Mostly, I was grateful to my parents, especially my dad’s “You’re absolutely going to college- no ifs, ands, or buts” approach. I guarantee I wouldn’t have done it had he not provided me with the much needed kick in the ass.
It was in college that I learned I had a knack for writing, as that was about 90% of the reason I made it through college in 4 years. If you’re dedicated, and have the ability to write, I quickly learned that you could actually do a decent job as the majority of college is writing a ton of LONG ASS PAPERS.
Upon graduation, I then decided to go on and apply for my masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. It was then that a business opportunity presented itself and I decided to go in another direction. However, as my dad had said to me at the age of 17, my Bachelor’s degree was something that no one could/can ever take away from me. Here I am nearly 15 years later and that same sentiment holds true. I write this to you today as a business owner whose degree doesn’t hold a whole lot of purpose relative to what she does in her line of work, but as I’ve aged in life, I’ve realized that college wasn’t necessarily just for my education. It taught me dedication. It taught me about following through with something, it taught me about falling down and getting back up on the horse. It instilled tenacity, and the idea that the world doesn’t cater to you, you have to be the one to go out there and get it.
So, here I am now as a mother of an 8-year-old girl; one who has about ten more years until she starts applying to colleges.
Something that I didn’t give a lot of thought to back in the day was the financial end of my education. My parents paid for my education as I was still on an E-2 visa during my time at ASU. I didn’t have the opportunity to be paid legally for a job as I wasn’t an American citizen, so my parents had to cover my tuition if I was going to head off to college. I remembering having to visit the book store each semester and use my parents credit card to pay for the astronomical cost of books, and deliver checks to the Main Office for my 12-15 college credits each semester.
Yesterday, I was at Target and strolling down the baby aisles looking for a gift for my soon-to-be niece when I casually started talking to another lady. I said to her: “Oh my gosh, these tiny baby clothes make me want to have another one so badly!” She jokingly replied back to be careful how many children I should add to my family; she explained that she has four and is currently paying roughly $28,000/year for IN STATE tuition for ONE of her kids.
28K/YEAR??? THAT.IS.INSANE. I knew prices had gone up, but holy crap is that a lot of money for one year of school, especially IN STATE.
I was recently reached out to by a man named Richard Preston who has written a step-by step guide for parents explaining how to prepare financially for your child/ren’s education. Mr. Preston has a long-time history as a financial consultant who specializes in consulting with parents to help them achieve the greatest financial aid award possible for their children. He has taken his years of expertise and knowledge and put it all into one book. His book, A Parent’s Guide to Paying for College, can help a family save up to $100,000 on a four year education. And, to top it off, the book is only $6.99.
Being contacted by Richard made me start thinking about Barb Marley. Sure, she has a couple accounts that her grandparents have set up for her that they add money to as she ages, but Justin and I only have a small account that we’ve set up for her that we minimally pay into each year, and at this rate, there is absolutely no way we’d have enough to cover a 4 year degree to a university, or circus training…which could also be likely. This became even more clear after I sat and chatted with that lady at Target yesterday who told me about her paying 28K/year for her son’s tuition to a local San Diego school.
I can’t say that I would ever push Barb to go to a 4-year college in the same fashion that I did (and I mainly say that because my husband disagrees with my thinking that she really SHOULD go to university), however, I know that as her parents, it would be a gift to have something ready for her at the age of 18 to use for whatever education/training she may need- whether that’s a university to become a ‘vegetarian’, circus training school, clown school, or opening her own “Become a ‘Barb Marley’ School.”
I have no doubt that Barb will grow up to be something great, and go on to do wonderful things in her life, and it is my job to ensures that she is set up to take those steps when the time comes.
There are a lot of unexpected’s that we as parents cannot prepare for, however, preparing for your child’s education is not one of them. It’s never too early to start planning your finances to best leverage the financial aid system, and it’s never too late to reap the rewards of the tactics Mr. Preston outlines in this book.
The book is actually pretty simple to follow and has an easy-to-comprehend outline ranging from simple misconceptions, college forms, different government grant and loan programs, what to look for during campus visits, strategies and solutions for investment that help, and those that do not, as well as a breakdown of college tuitions from all over the United States.
So, whether Barb Marley decides to attend Harvard Law, or Cirque du Soleil, Justin and I now have a somewhat better handle as to how to get started paving her road to success and happiness in whichever way she sees fit.
I highly suggest checking out the e-book. What’s $6.99 when you could save up to 100K on your child’s education? Or, as my husband pointed out, even if you saved even ten thousand bucks—what’s $6.99?
As my dad so wisely said: “It is something you can gain that not a soul on this planet can ever take away from you.”
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