Top 9 Questions Parents Are Asking Me About LAUNCH!

launch

You can “Look Inside” the book on Amazon.com by clicking here: bit.ly/burlowski.  

(Tell your friends.)

There’s been an overwhelming, excited response to LAUNCH since it released on January 4th, 2017. Parent response to this book has already exceeded anything I ever thought possible. Whenever there’s a lot of excitement there are also a lot of questions, so here are the top 9 questions parents are asking me — along with my answers.

1. “Our son is only in middle school. Surely we don’t need to be thinking about college yet!”

Let me be blunt here. If you wait until your son’s in 11th grade to start thinking about college, 75% of the best ideas for getting him through college debt-free will be gone.

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5 Reasons “T-Shaped” is Better Than Well-Rounded

well-rounded

From the time students are in middle school, they’re told the big lie. That colleges and grad schools are looking for students who are “well-rounded.”

“Don’t commit too deeply to any one thing,” well-meaning parents and college counselors tell students. “Instead, do a lot of different things. Do as many as you can! Cram your schedule full to bursting! Exhaust yourself! Colleges and grad schools will like how ‘well-rounded’ you are.”

Here are 5 reasons why the “well-rounded” myth makes no sense.

1. Millions of students fall into the “well-rounded” category. It’s nothing special.

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Urgent Financial Aid Info For Parents

Includes a Warning for Anyone Who's Filled Out a FAFSA Form Since 2011

Will your child will be headed to college (or technical school) in the fall of 2017? If so, I have important financial aid information for you.

financial aid

1. If you haven’t done so already, it’s important that you fill out the FAFSA financial aid form right now.

You can make $200,000 and still qualify for help paying for college, but you need to apply now.

2. An important tool that the government provides to help you fill out the FAFSA form is currently off-line.

For the past five years, the federal government has provided a nifty tool designed to help parents fill out the FAFSA form faster and more accurately. It’s called the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT for short). This tool allows those filling out the FAFSA form to click once and have all necessary financial information transferred from their tax returns to the appropriate spot on the FAFSA form — automatically.

Unfortunately, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool has been pulled off-line and will be unavailable for use until (we are told) October 1, 2017.

If you find an article online that says that the DRT will be back “in a couple of weeks,” that is outdated information. The current word is that it’ll be back on October 1, 2017.

3. This means that if you haven’t yet completed the FAFSA for your child who’ll be in college in the fall of 2017, you’ll have to enter your tax info in manually.

It’ll be a little more tedious, but please do it. Doing so now could save your child thousands of dollars in future college costs.

4. You’ll need your 2015 tax information in front of you when you do this. Here’s how to find that information:

A. You may have a printed copy of this tax information in your own personal files.

B. You may be able to get this information from the tax professional who filed your 2015 taxes for you, or from the tax software you used to prepare your 2015 taxes yourself.

C. You can view and download a summary of your 2015 tax form (properly called “a transcript”) at www.irs.gov/transcript. Just click on “Get Transcript Online.”

D. You can have the 2015 tax information you need mailed to you. Request it by going to www.irs.gov/transcript and clicking on “Get Transcript by Mail.”

D. You can also request that your 2015 tax information be mailed to you by calling the IRS during business hours at 1-800-908-9946.

5. Understand why the IRS Data Retrieval Tool was taken off-line.

According to NerdWallet and the New York Times, “The IRS…decided to temporarily suspend the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) as a precautionary step following concerns that information from the tool could potentially be misused by identity thieves.”

6. If you have a child who is currently 19-24 years of age, and you filled out a FAFSA form for him or her in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016, you need to know this:

According to what the Department of Education and the IRS are telling us, there is a small chance that you may be the victim of tax-related identity theft.

According to the IRS:

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7 Ways to Have the Worst College Visit EVER

Getting ready for a 10th grader’s first college visit? Make sure your family doesn’t make these 7 college visit mistakes.

college visit

1. Pick a college at random, and just go.

Give no thought whatsoever to whether this college will actually prepare your child for a job he’ll excel at some day, and don’t consider at all whether your family can afford it. Just pick a random college and go.

The truth is… it’s wiser to carefully research college options ahead of time, and visit only the ones you and your child know are good fits as far as real world career preparation and affordability. Remember, your daughter may fall madly in love with the first college she visits. You want to be sure it’s a good option.

2. Visit only state universities, because you think they’re cheaper.

The truth is… many students take six years to earn a four-year degree at a state university. Read here how those two extra years in college can end up costing students $300,000 in extra tuition, interest, lost full-time income, and stunted retirement savings. Ask a parent who owns my book how to determine which private colleges might be far better bargain options.

3. Don’t tell the admissions office you’re coming. 

Just wing it. What can the admissions office do to help you anyway? They’ll just give you an unwanted sales pitch, right?

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My Best, Funniest Parenting Tip

For Parents of Kids Ages 8-18

In this short post, I’m going to share my best, funniest parenting tip.

This one makes me laugh just thinking about it.

funniest parenting

What do you do when your normally good kid turns sassy or disrespectful, or makes a deliberate choice that’s against family rules?

My mom used to make me sit on a hard chair facing an empty corner of our dining room for 20 minutes, and it was excruciating.

I use a different strategy for my kids. 

I make them watch TED Talks.

“Honey, would you please put your phone on the kitchen counter for awhile? Feel free to take it back after you’ve watched 30 minutes of TED Talks. Pick any subject you like! If you can’t get it done today, that’s OK. Any time this week will be A-OK with me.”

The results can be hilarious.

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Two Extra Years in College Could Cost Your Kid $300,000

Here are 7 Proven Ways To Get Through College FAST

When you imagine your daughter’s future, you probably don’t envision her spending extra years in college.

Yet, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 40% of college students earn their bachelor’s degrees in four years. And only 60% of college students receive a degree in six years!

Yikes!

extra years in college

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17 College Majors That Put Kids On the Path to Underemployment

Forbes recently published a list of 17 college majors that carry high underemployment rates.

Grads in these degree fields find it hard to get the jobs they went to school for. They tend to make less money than they should be making, and a lot of them live with this discouraging realization: “I might have just wasted all that time and money I spent on college; I’m not even using the degree I worked so hard for.”

Help your kid stay off of the path to underemployment.

college major

17 College Majors That Tend to Lead to Underemployment:

  1. Physical Education Teaching: 57% grads are underemployed
  2. Human Services: 56% grads are underemployed
  3. Illustration: 55% grads are underemployed
  4. Criminal Justice: 53% grads are underemployed
  5. Project Management: 53% grads are underemployed
  6. Radio/Television & Film Production: 53% grads are underemployed
  7. Studio Art: 52% grads are underemployed
  8. Healthcare Administration: 52% grads are underemployed
  9. Education: 52% grads are underemployed
  10. Human Development & Family Studies: 52% grads are underemployed
  11. Creative Writing: 51% grads are underemployed
  12. Animal Science: 51% grads are underemployed
  13. Exercise Science: 51% grads are underemployed
  14. Heath Sciences: 51% grads are underemployed
  15. Paralegal Studies: 51% grads are underemployed
  16. Theater: 51% grads are underemployed
  17. Art History: 51% grads are underemployed

(This information is based on PayScale data collected from 962,956 workers between 3/21/2014 and 3/21/2016.)

But wait–there’s good news in this Forbes report too!

In every one of these college major fields, some of the graduates are working. A good number of them (in some cases almost 50%!) are employed in their career fields, fulfilling their potential, making money they’re happy with.

What sets the fully-employed grads apart from the underemployed ones?

One thing I know for sure–the grads who completed extensive job shadowing and multiple paid internships in their career fields are doing far better than those who failed to complete these important steps during college.

You can see two extremely helpful posts I’ve written about internships here and here.

If your kid loves a field with low employability, have him or her try this:

Take the advice of Gwen Burrow from Find Your Calling, who tells students: “Ask yourself–do you really need two or four years of full study in subjects like studio art, creative writing, or theater? Is that something you could do with just a few classes, plus practice on your own time?”

Your child could also consider combining the less desirable major with a potentially more lucrative minor. Combine a “health care administration” major with an accounting minor, for instance, or an “illustration” major with a marketing, advertising, or art education credential.

I’m not sure I’d advise your kid to pursue a college major in Studio Art, Theater, or Art History…

Those fields are notoriously difficult when it comes to finding full-time jobs after college.

But I can tell you this. Being strategic about job shadowing and interning can make the difference between depressing, low-paying, motivation-sapping underemployment and a truly fulfilling long-term career that makes perfect sense.

(Many thanks to Gwen Burrow from Find Your Calling for the help she gave me writing this article.)

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“Can I Take a Full Load of College Classes in High School and Still Have a Full ‘High School Experience’?”

Yes.

A 10th grader contacted me recently and asked me this great question about taking college classes in high school.

“Jeannie, I know that you strongly recommend dual enrollment college classes in high school for kids who want to get through college debt-free. I want to do dual enrollment full time in 11th and 12th grades so that I’ll have two years of college done by the time I graduate from high school. But my parents are trying to steer me toward doing dual enrollment only just part time. They’re worried that if I take a full load of dual enrollment college classes in high school, I’ll miss out on ‘the full high school experience.’ What do you think?”

My answer is below. college classes in high school

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Must-Listen 9-Minute Dave Ramsey Rant Against Student Loan Debt

Caution, Though; Dave's Wrong About Two Things!

I love Dave Ramsey’s video rant about student loan debt, which you can watch at the link I’ve provided below.

(Listen for my favorite Dave line in this rant: “I missed where the lady got helped.”)

If you’ve got 9 minutes to listen to this while getting ready for work in the morning or while cooking dinner, please do!

As you listen, though, be aware that Dave Ramsey is wrong about two things:

1. Dave Ramsey’s wrong when he says that your in-state college or university is automatically your bargain choice.

microphone

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Can’t Save For College? It’s OK, Mommy. Try This

I’m excited to be guest posting on the blog of Mommy blogger Julie Hoag this week. Julie blogs about motherhood, family, and faith with a focus on moms raising kids ages birth-13. When Julie asked me what her moms need to know about setting kids up to graduate college debt-free, I immediately thought of today’s subject. Read on and I’ll give you an idea that works for any family with any age kids, but it works better the earlier you start it.

Be sure to stop by and visit Julie Hoag on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram, and on her website, JulieHoagWriter.com.

Here’s the guest post I wrote for Julie.

save for college

What happens in the minute after a toddler first builds a block tower, and then knocks it over?

Her mom starts thinking about college.

Will this one be an engineer? A construction manager? A real estate developer?

How will we pay for the education necessary to get there, especially when our current budget doesn’t allow us to save for college at all?

One brilliant answer is to start very early on with just one non-saving strategy.

In my work as an academic strategist, author, and speaker, one of the first debt-free college strategies I share with parents is the free college savings program at UPromise.com.

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Beyond the Internship

5 Strategies For Getting Hired Right Out of College

Today I’m featuring a guest post by internship & career success blogger Sharise Kent. Sharise spent 5 years managing a national internship program where she placed over 400 interns with some of the biggest media companies in the world. Her blog helps college students understand the value of internships and the importance of designing a career during the early years of college. Her book, The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams is available here.

I invited Sharise to speak to my followers today because her advice is invaluable for parents who want their kids to get actual jobs after college.

internship

Many parents are dismayed when they find out that colleges don’t actually teach students how to get jobs. 

Students who don’t realize this early can find themselves with knots in their stomachs during senior year when their parents cheerfully ask, “How’s the job search going?”

These well-meaning parents likely have no idea—their soon-to-be college graduate doesn’t even know where to start looking.

What can students do?

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