The Value of College Mentors

Mentoring is a term that is often used in the college arena.  “Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.”(1)  There is great value in college mentors.  But what kinds of college mentors are most beneficial to your college needs?

College Mentors: College Life

Many colleges are aware of the need for incoming freshman to be connected with an existing student for the purpose of adjusting to college life.  This mentoring relationship provides a vital support for new college students.  As the University of Texas Dallas mentoring program explains, “The mentors in the program are successful undergraduates prepared to engage freshmen in campus activities and refer them to resources that can help them achieve their academic and personal goals.”  The needs of every student is different, so by having an individual college mentor you are setting yourself up for success.

College Mentors: Academic

We sometimes think of academic college mentors as tutors.  But that limits the true value of an academic mentor.  Tutors are mentors, in that they guide the student in a specific subject.  However, an academic mentor is more wholistic in their approach.  They offer advice about class scheduling, particular professors, general study habits, etc.  While a student may need specific academic mentors, they may also need someone to help them adjust to college life.  Many colleges try to meet this need through freshman orientations and student services.  Don’t be afraid to use these services, as they may lead to greater success in your college endeavors.

College Mentors: Sports

Sports mentors have many different names.  These mentors are coaches, fitness trainers, personal trainers and other team members.  But their goals remain the same as any other college mentor.  Their purpose is to help the student athlete perform in peak effectiveness.  For the student athlete, much of their student life revolves around practice, training and athletic events.  Without the help of a sports mentor, many find themselves unable to balance their academic and sports schedule.

College Mentors: Financial

One of the most overlooked areas of college mentoring is the area of finances.  These mentors offer advice on a variety of subjects such as college budgeting, scholarship management, and debt counseling.  For many students, college is the first time they really  need to manage their own finances.  They may have very little money skills, which can lead to improper management and increased debt load.  Developing a college spending plan (a budget) and evaluating that plan from time to time can be very beneficial.  This is one of the many services that we provide families who partner with us for college planning.

As you can see, college mentors play a vital role in success during the college years.  However, many students do not know or choose not to use the resources available to them.  Make sure you connect with and utilize these services.  For more information about financial mentoring, contact our offices today.

 

 

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentorship

College Strategies for the High School Freshman

Your student has now reached the halfway mark through his/her first year of high school!  At this point, much of the nuts-and-bolts of specific college planning and financial strategies are still processing. However, you are currently in the ideal time to assess where things stand with your freshman student and his/her overall high school experience.  So here are some college strategies for the high school freshman

College Strategies for the High School Freshman: Pay Attention to the Fall Semester

The first report card of high school is a pretty big deal, and it is the initial indicator of how your student is performing at this new level.  We urge you to take the time to determine what has gone right so far, and help it to continue, as well as finding the best way to correct anything that may have gone awry or presented a challenge.  At this point it is still early, and there can certainly be an adjustment stage. Encourage your student in every way possible toward achieving academic excellence.

College Strategies for the High School Freshman: Consider the Big Picture

Yes, schoolwork is a huge part of the high school equation when it comes to college preparation.  However, do not ignore an assessment of how your student is adjusting to high school emotionally and socially, as well.  Activities are a fantastic preparation for college and for life in general, whether they are science clubs, leadership, athletics, or other interests.  There needs to be balance, certainly, but this is one area that also needs parental support.  Parents can make a huge difference in a student in discovering his/her areas of interest, and so can extracurricular activities.

If you have already saved money for college, then it’s never too early to get your financial plan together

College Strategies for the High School Freshman: Protect the money you’ve saved.

If you have money saved outside of your company’s retirement plan, talk to your College Funding Advisor about re-positioning those assets into accounts that are not exposed to the financial aid formulas.

  • This strategy was used with permission from our College Planning Network.  It is one excerpt from our monthly email that gives tips and strategies to help students and families prepare for the college years.

It’s Never Too Early to Start

“It’s never too early to start” is a statement that is often over used but underutilized in the area of financial planning for college.  We meet with hundreds of people each and every year to open a discussion regarding college financial planning.  Many people had great intentions, but few actually put a plan into action.  Which means, that when they walk into our offices with college just a short two to three years away, they have no idea how they are going to afford college.  So here is a great thought…start early!

Start College Planning Early

How early should you start thinking about your college financial plans?  We actually want you to think preschool not high school.  “It’s never too early to start” planning for your student’s college years.  In fact there are many options available that can guarantee a steady return and build a great college fund.

But perhaps your student is a bit older than preschool.  That’s okay, because we still think, “It’s never too early to start!”.  So whether your student is in grade school, middle school, or high school, start to develop and follow a financial plan for the college years.

Protect Your College Money

You’ve worked hard for your money.  Protect that money by talking to your College Funding Advisor.  As mentioned earlier, there are ways to keep your money away from the high risks and guarantee a steady rate of return.  You  may be surprised to hear that many of the college savings options carry a small amount of risk and fees.  You need to consider this when planning to protect your college investments.

Another consideration is the way the federal government and college assess individual need.  These “formulas” are somewhat confusing and they seem to change from location to location.  Here is a recent Forbes’ article that highlights the complexity within the formula.  One way to protect you money is to keep college dollars out-of-sight from the financial aid formulas.  This will take the help of a College Funding Advisor.

It’s Never Too Early to Start

Did we say this already,  it’s never to early to start saving for college…but not all savings plans are created equally.  You need to ensure that you are saving smart, and that your savings are protected.  By developing your plan early you can ensure your student enjoys the college of their dreams.