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.




Financial Game Plan for College

Do you have a financial game plan for college?  This is a question we ask frequently when we sit down to talk with families about their college needs.  Many will tell us that they have some money set aside in savings, but they admit that is is not enough to cover all the cost associated with a 4 year college experience.  It does not seem to matter if one is of average income or above average income, most do not have a financial plan in place.  So, if you are like most, and have not started the process, here are a few thoughts to consider as you begin to develop your financial game plan for college.

Consider your options!

Let’s start here at the most basic thought for developing your financial game plan for college.  What kind of college experience will work best for your unique circumstance?  Are you looking for a 4 year on campus college experience?  Or are you thinking about going to a community college for the first two year, then transferring?  Are you willing to commute to the college of your choice?  As you can see, you can not even start planning without having at least a conversation about what college options most interest the individual student.  It is usual that some of the preliminary plans may change over the course of time, but it is better to start the preparation, than to wait until the finalize plans visualize.

Once you have laid out a few options, put some numbers to your dreams.  List the options and begin to calculate the costs.  You will need to find as much information as you can about that option.  Don’t forget about travel expense if the college is not close.  Once you know the cost for the options you have chosen, you are ready to move to the next step, funding.

Save for College!

529 College Savings Plans are not the only option when it comes to making a college funding game plan.  However, there is a tremendous amount of money spent in advertising this product.  In fact,  we have attended many “college planning nights” where the only option mentioned was a 529 College Savings Account.  Don’t misunderstand, saving accounts are great venues to raising funds for college.  In fact, that’s where everyone starts.  They are just not the only vehicle one can use to create a good financial game plan for college.

Restructure for Success!

There are many restructuring options to help one achieve the goals of their financial game plan for college.  However, it is not a good idea to begin restructuring without the proper guidance of a college financial planner.  This planner need to look at your finances holistically, keeping in mind not just your college goals, but also your long term goals, including retirement.

Get help making your financial game plan for college!

Get your financial game plan in place. Make sure you are not at risk of having unnecessary calculations count against you in the financial aid process. Talk with our funding advisor for ideas on how to develop a financial plan.