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The Role of Education Planning as College Tuition Continues to Rise

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A great deal of media attention has been paid to improvements in the overall economy in recent years, particularly since the Great Recession that started in 2008. In some economic sectors, people have enjoyed some observable benefits. One area in which people in the United States still face ever increasing challenges is in regard to college tuition. The cost of attending college continues to increase with each passing year. In addition, those embarking on seeking a college education oftentimes are saddled with significant amounts of student loan debt. Education planning is becoming all the more important as college tuition costs continue to increase.

What is Education Planning?

Education planning is a process that assists a students and their families in navigating the decision making minefield associated with preparing and then pursuing a higher education. Rather than take a wait and see approach to pursuing a college education, significant research and analysis of educational opportunities, sincere professional objectives, and personal considerations is undertaken well before the first day of school as a collegian.

Education planning is far more comprehensive and intensive than an occasional meeting with a guidance counselor and sitting for an interest inventory test, common strategies employed for years as a means of "preparing for college." In addition to being a comprehensive process, education planning is also an ongoing one. Unlike prior college prep modalities that ended when freshman year commenced, education planning in this day and age is not just preparatory but continues through a course of undergraduate and graduate study.

The Necessity of College

During the past couple of generations, in many communities across the United States, attending college was almost presumed. A college education had functionally become something of an intertwined connection to high school. Time and again, young people just went on to college without any thought about whether that type of education actually made sense or was necessary considering a particular young person's career and personal objectives.

A major element of education planning in the era of high and ever-increasing tuition is a frank consideration of whether a college education is necessary or the truly proper path for a particular individual to pursue. A focus of education planning in this day and age is a candid, thoughtful look at non-college alternatives to career preparation that make more sense and will bring a person into the job market sooner rather than later.

Starting College as an Undeclared Major May be a Thing of the Past

Although there exist no firm statistics in this regard, a considerable number of students began their college careers as so-called undeclared majors 20 to 30 years ago. In other words, these young women and men enrolled in college and would spend a year or two wandering around the academic universe in search of a course of study that seemed to make the most sense for them.

In some instances, beginning college without having made a firm decision, or with no decision, about an intended major resulted in a student having to play a bit of catchup when a major finally was selected. This many times resulted in a student spending an additional year as an undergraduate. Indeed, by the beginning of the 21st century there was some fairly frequent discussion among college administrators and educators that the traditional 4-year course of undergraduate studies was giving was to a more commonplace 5-year one.

In this day and age, because of the rising cost of tuition, an undergraduate typically no longer has the luxury of spending a year, let alone two, wandering the academic wilderness. By engaging in serious education planning, a prospective college student is able to hone and focus his or her academic and professional interests to a point that he or she knows what major will be pursued before the first day of school freshman year.

Professional Education Planning Consultants

As mentioned previously, education planning today is far more complex than chatting with a career or guidance counselor. As a consequence, in recent times professional education planning consultants have become more commonplace. These professionals work closely with students and their families in making preliminary decisions about whether college is the proper course and what specifically to study when freshman year commences. In addition, a professional education planning consultant advises regarding the prospect of a graduate degree once an undergraduate course of study is completed.

A family with a student about midway through high school will want to seriously consider beginning a concerted effort at thoughtful, comprehensive education planning. This effort needs to be undertaken in partnership with the young person in college. In addition, a family may want to look at exploring other supportive resources, including a seasoned professional who can provide helpful assistance with education planning.

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