COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

Savingforcollege.com

Here's how you can help your child pick a college major
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/choosing-a-college-major-this-site-helps-you-find-the-best-fit-891

Posted: 2016-01-27

by Kathryn Flynn

When our children are little, we love asking them what they want to be "when they grow up". Preschoolers and kindergartners eagerly respond by telling us their dreams of becoming firefighters, doctors, builders and princesses. But somewhere along the way things change and many students struggle when its time to make decisions about the future. Yet thinking about a future career path is an important step in the college planning process that sometimes gets overlooked in the midst of filling out college applications and figuring out how to pay the tuition.

As parents, we need to revisit the conversation about future careers with our kids and discuss how their choice should play a role in the college planning process, as well as show them the tools available to help with their decision.

School selection

The college or university your child attends can have a huge impact on their future career. For example, if your daughter wants to pursue a career in technology, it's a good idea to explore schools with the top computer science programs. Or maybe your son has his heart set on acting. If that's the case, it might be best if he applies to a school that specializes in performing arts. Location is another thing to keep in mind if your child plans to do an internship while they are in school, a college near a big city might be a good fit.

Cost of expected degree

Your child has probably considered how much their future job will pay them, but it's also important to consider how much it will cost to get that job. Experts recommend students start thinking about a career path as early as sophomore year. This includes researching the course of education needed to land a job, as well as the expected starting salary.

When its time to start thinking about which schools they will apply to, your child can narrow her choices by focusing on schools that offer the degree needed to pursue the career they want. And, by taking the expected starting salary into consideration, they can decide if they can truly afford the degree they expect to earn. A number of careers that require a college degree fall on the lower end of the pay scale, but that doesn't mean they should be avoided.

RELATED: The biggest college planning mistake parents make

For example, if your son is thinking about becoming a social worker, make sure he understands that he'll likely only make around $30,000 his first year out of college, with a future potential of only $10,000 more, according to U.S. News and World Report. This is important to keep in mind when looking at tuition costs. Instead of applying to a private university that costs over $40,000 to attend, why not consider taking two years of community college first to ease the financial burden?

Another reason the expected starting salary is so important is that many students will have to supplement their college savings with loans. If that's the case for your child, they'll want to be sure they're comfortable with the amount they'll be required to pay back each month.

How you can help

The first step is to help your child understand the importance of choosing a major, and how the decision can impact their future career and financial stability. If they're not sure what they want to be when they grow up and are looking for additional guidance, college planning website Cappex.com offers a great tool that matches personality with careers and majors.

The free My Careers and Majors quiz takes information about the type of school your child is interested in, combined with the results of a quick personality assessment, to give them an idea about possible career matches. Students are presented with a series of personality traits and types of work and they simply select "ME or "NOT ME". Their results include a description of their personality breakdown, their major and career matches and a list of schools that offer these majors.

If your child already has a career in mind, he can type in a major and Cappex will bring him to a page that describes the course of study he can expect and lists all schools that offer it. He can then filter by annual tuition, private or public college or state. Once he sees a school he likes, he can select it to get connected with the school and learn about possible scholarship opportunities.

RELATED: 5 types of students who benefit from 529 plans

When our children are little, we love asking them what they want to be "when they grow up". Preschoolers and kindergartners eagerly respond by telling us their dreams of becoming firefighters, doctors, builders and princesses. But somewhere along the way things change and many students struggle when its time to make decisions about the future. Yet thinking about a future career path is an important step in the college planning process that sometimes gets overlooked in the midst of filling out college applications and figuring out how to pay the tuition.

As parents, we need to revisit the conversation about future careers with our kids and discuss how their choice should play a role in the college planning process, as well as show them the tools available to help with their decision.

School selection

The college or university your child attends can have a huge impact on their future career. For example, if your daughter wants to pursue a career in technology, it's a good idea to explore schools with the top computer science programs. Or maybe your son has his heart set on acting. If that's the case, it might be best if he applies to a school that specializes in performing arts. Location is another thing to keep in mind if your child plans to do an internship while they are in school, a college near a big city might be a good fit.

Cost of expected degree

Your child has probably considered how much their future job will pay them, but it's also important to consider how much it will cost to get that job. Experts recommend students start thinking about a career path as early as sophomore year. This includes researching the course of education needed to land a job, as well as the expected starting salary.

When its time to start thinking about which schools they will apply to, your child can narrow her choices by focusing on schools that offer the degree needed to pursue the career they want. And, by taking the expected starting salary into consideration, they can decide if they can truly afford the degree they expect to earn. A number of careers that require a college degree fall on the lower end of the pay scale, but that doesn't mean they should be avoided.

RELATED: The biggest college planning mistake parents make

For example, if your son is thinking about becoming a social worker, make sure he understands that he'll likely only make around $30,000 his first year out of college, with a future potential of only $10,000 more, according to U.S. News and World Report. This is important to keep in mind when looking at tuition costs. Instead of applying to a private university that costs over $40,000 to attend, why not consider taking two years of community college first to ease the financial burden?

Another reason the expected starting salary is so important is that many students will have to supplement their college savings with loans. If that's the case for your child, they'll want to be sure they're comfortable with the amount they'll be required to pay back each month.

How you can help

The first step is to help your child understand the importance of choosing a major, and how the decision can impact their future career and financial stability. If they're not sure what they want to be when they grow up and are looking for additional guidance, college planning website Cappex.com offers a great tool that matches personality with careers and majors.

The free My Careers and Majors quiz takes information about the type of school your child is interested in, combined with the results of a quick personality assessment, to give them an idea about possible career matches. Students are presented with a series of personality traits and types of work and they simply select "ME or "NOT ME". Their results include a description of their personality breakdown, their major and career matches and a list of schools that offer these majors.

If your child already has a career in mind, he can type in a major and Cappex will bring him to a page that describes the course of study he can expect and lists all schools that offer it. He can then filter by annual tuition, private or public college or state. Once he sees a school he likes, he can select it to get connected with the school and learn about possible scholarship opportunities.

RELATED: 5 types of students who benefit from 529 plans

 

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