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The Small Print


We had a slight setback this past week with History Buff’s schooling. Due to the small print regarding his dual enrollment eligibility, we were notified one day before summer classes started that his funding would be pulled. Eeek!

I certainly hadn’t budgeted a couple extra thousand for this semester AND next. Ugh! Thankfully, the college helped us find a work around, alternative funding and gave us some grace as far as financial due dates.

Downsides to the New Plan

But there are some downsides…

  • He will be locked into a the program I chose for him (meaning he can’t take classes outside of those that apply to this particular diploma.)
  • And while that wouldn’t be terrible in and of itself, because this is such a small class, many of the classes, pre-requisites for others, are only offered certain semesters.

We got him settled into summer classes. But it will take almost 2 years to finish this diploma track based on when classes are offered. And he is anxious to get on with his life…so we are looking for alternative ideas and tracks down the road.

I think the biggest frustration for him is that he doesn’t know what he wants to do. And since his funds for continued education are limited and we are trying to get him through debt free, we kind of need to find his direction so we don’t just flush money down the road as he finishes high school and picks a direction.

The Cost of this Semester

This semester ended up costing me $460 for tuition and $150 for books. And I imagine the fall semester will be about the same. I took the money out of my car savings, that was going to be my credit card pay off fund. It was really nice to have it on hand when needed without touching my EF.

But…how have parents of grown children helped them find their direction as far as studies or specialty training goes? We have spoke ad nauseam…but he’s not any more clear on his direction. Any pointers on this from experienced parents would be great!


  • Reply MomtoBoys |

    We let him take several introductory classes across three fields he was interested in at the local community college. The counselor worked with him to make sure all these classes would count towards a requirement in any of the programs, so no wasted time.

    This set him back a year, but we all think it was worth it. And, he has an extra year to mature up more, plus boost up his savings from living at home.

    We never do summer school, since that is always more expensive here. Instead, our kids have all worked internships in their fields to boost their resumes and learn more about their subjects. The colleges can help him find those opportunities.

    It’s hard when your young, because you have no idea what all is out there to pick for a career.

  • Reply Canan Onat |

    I am not a parent but, I have been a HS kid who did not know her direction at the time. How many high schoolers know that anyway?
    The deal was once I was in a diploma program, I was required to finish it no matter what. Not only that, I was expected to finish on time. That meant being locked into my subject for four years. Afterwards, my parents would let me do anything else that my heart desired provided that I would pay for it. Looking back, it was fair and square. I understand people changing their profession over the years but, you need to get one thing done and well done. Once you have that degree that you can use to earn money, you can seek other professions and be able to pay for them.

  • Reply Jess |

    You should be able to get the money back at tax time in the form of a credit (American Opportunity Tax Credit) which reimburses the first $2k of eligible expenses at 100% and a portion of the next $2k. Up to $1k of the credit is refundable.

  • Reply Kiki |

    First of all, I applaud you for the goal of debt-free. Also, I imagine that these courses he is taking at first are general requirements for most degrees. The fact that he may have to take these a bit slower is not terrible. This offers an opportunity to do well in the classes and work a job around the school schedule. What is his focus of study?

    My husband and I put four children through college. One child had no student debt, and the other three only had a TOTAL of $5,000 in student loans, which they paid off within a year of graduation. It would take too long to explain this feat, but it was a combination of scholarships, their jobs, and the bank of Mom and Dad. Their focus in high school was to do well, and it paid off. They also did graduate degrees on their own dime.

    What we found was that the degrees they had from excellent four-year universities opened doors for them for jobs. They worked in those companies, but really didn’t decide on a life career until they finished their graduate degrees. I think that is normal. It takes a while sometimes to hit your stride and make decisions. Having no debt to speak of really makes the difference, though, and offers so much more freedom. I guess what I am saying is that I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the career angle. Just be sure that the basic courses he is taking now are applicable to any degree. That is why community college for 2 years is a good choice for many people.

  • Reply Ann |

    Aww…that’s a hard question,Hope, how to get someone to find their “passion”. I have 4 adult children. Two knew from their early teens what they wanted to do, and two didn’t.
    If there isn’t something that he is in love with, then the direction I would give him is to find something that he can live with. Face it, most of us modify or totally change our careers as time goes by. So if he can find something he likes enough, that will be fine. As he grows and changes he can switch careers, go back to school, whatever.

  • Reply Mary |

    In my opinion, the deal is no plan, no school. The plan must be to acquire a degree or training in a reasonable and in-demand industry. Until they have that plan, encourage them to try out many different industries via jobs, volunteering, and shadowing. Kids often don’t know what they want to do until they’ve worked a variety of jobs. Talk to them about what they like and don’t like about what they’re doing at work now, and what they like to do next. I know you live in a rural area, but it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. For example, a kid who works part time at the grocery store might like the customer service side but dislike physical labor. You might suggest they look more into business, sales, etc. If he likes fixing the self checkout, check out tech, engineering, etc. You get the idea. Encourage experiences!

  • Reply Angie |

    I’m 35 and still don’t know my direction. I think it’s best to just pick a degree that has decent job prospects and finish it. He can work in that job while feeling out other opportunities and interests. This idea of “finding your passion” is just a wishy washy dream world. In reality, you’re constantly changing throughout your life. Your passion and interests will change over time.

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    My biggest rule was that you need to be working( and or in school) while searching for your “passion.” I tend to agree with Angie, in reality many of us find jobs and pursue our interests outside of the work sector. By all means he should try to find aspects of work that he enjoys but ultimately there is a reason they call it a job and not fun per se. Most jobs and careers have mundane aspects that you just deal with. Has he spoken to a guidance counselor or someone at the college who might help him and give him a budget in some general direction like teaching(I’m assuming since his nickname is history buff that he enjoys history.)

  • Reply OneFamily |

    My daughter did dual enrollment in high school, but since she was planning on transferring to a 4 year college,after, most all her classes were just general courses required for any degree. She was able to take a few electives, which she took in what she planned to major in, but she needed to have all those general courses taken in order to get into the university as a junior. That’s a bummer his funding was pulled and you had to figure out how to pay for it. We were lucky – the program our state offered for dual enrollment was just a small quarterly fee plus books.

  • Reply Lisa |

    We told our boys from kindergarten up about funding higher education. One went military. #2 did dual enrollment for a trade skill, which was half price tuition until summer after graduation. #2 got a job in the trade, and his employer will pay tuition after a set time. He works nights, though, so not sure when he can go back to school. Maybe History Buff can find an employer who will pay tuition. Municipalities and state govs often do.

  • Reply Ellen |

    Maybe I am reading this wrong, but he’s trying for his high school diploma? Why not just go for his GED? It’s faster than going to get his diploma. Jobs that require it don’t really care if you have a diploma or GED. Plus who wants to be in their 20’s just finishing high school? 2 years is a bit much IMO. Once you have a college degree or are trained in a trade, they don’t look at what type of high school papers you have.

    As far as what he wants to do, what are his passions? What is he good at? So many people look at the money aspect of things and then absolutely hate what it is they chose as a career. If he focuses on something he truly likes, then it’ll be easier to get through schooling and further down the road.

  • Reply Carrie |

    At colleges (community and universities) they offer Career Counseling. I would have him go through Career Counseling and see what it comes up with. Have him evaluate the results to see if he is interested in any of the suggestions.

  • Reply Reece |

    Sounds like there is some confusion about the dual enrollment issue. Can you remind us what that means and how that works? Does that mean he is enrolled to finish high school and then do college level courses at the same time? Are you still partially homeschooling him and then he takes a few courses at the high school? Is it a correct assumption that he will finish high school for part of the 2 year commitment and then continue on with the community college for the remainder of the 2 years? Thanks!

    • Reply Laura |

      I’m confused about this too. Is he enrolled in high school at age 20? Is the 2 years to a diploma we are talking about a high school diploma? If so I agree with the poster above, get a GED and be done with it.

      Getting through debt free is a good goal and you should steer him to make good financial decisions, but if you’ve still got student loans of your own to pay off I don’t think you can afford to pay for his college.

      • Reply Hope |

        He will graduate from high school in December. (For new people, he dropped out and moved out just after his 18th birthday) and returned home last fall just before his 20th birthday.

  • Reply Drmaddog |

    The others make some good points. At 20 is he still in high school? Each state has there max age at which they are required to provide free education as you can see in the following link. https://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/07/04/10704.pdf

    So even if he is enrolled now, will he still be allowed over the next two years to get a diploma? Or is that what happened, did they pull his funding because he’s reached the max in your state?

    And I agree with Laura. You have your own debt and not enough retirement. Don’t pay for this. If he doesn’t know what he wants to do yet he can work and pay his own way a couple of classes at a time to get the basics out of the way.

  • Reply Megan |

    I think one thing to consider is that he might not find his passion/plan/track in life right now. Talking about options is great. Wanting to find your path is great. But that doesn’t make it happen on a timeline that is most convenient for you/him. I would consider what path is the most flexible? What leaves as many avenues open as possible or just is the mostly broadly applicable? Could he work for a while and then come back to school? What would it look like to choose based on stability or whatever his particular most pressing concern is? I hope those are the conversations you are having.

  • Reply Anonymess |

    Is he utterly baffled, or trying to decide among several interests? If it’s the latter, I highly recommend interning and/or volunteering in those areas or related ones to get a sense of what those careers are like. For example, I know a young animal lover who wanted to be a vet: volunteering at a shelter let her see that, much as she loves animals, working with animals in distress was not for her

So, what do you think ?