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by
Helen Smith

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August 9, 2011 - 6:50 am

I am reading a very helpful book about choosing colleges entitled Making College Pay: Strategies for Choosing Wisely, Doing Well & Maximizing Your Return. The great thing about this book is that it looks at college in a rational business manner and tries to help the reader take the emotion out of choosing a college. Most colleges, the authors (two savvy sisters involved in business and academia) say send the brightest students and others glossy brochures making it look like college is one big party. Maybe it is but it’s an expensive one that might leave you with a hangover.

The book focuses on the real cost to families, rather than just the student and how a family may not get a good return (or any at all) on their investment. “Separating Fact from Fiction” is a good chapter warning the reader about the real facts of attending college such as:

Only 57 percent of students who enroll full time at a four-year college actually graduate within six years.

More than one-quarter of students who start college drop out before the second year.

The book shows with side by side comparisons how many of the classes at the “elite schools” are not much different than those at the university no one has ever heard of. There is a chapter on “comparison shopping” that helps a student narrow down his or her choices and focus on three basic goals:

1 ) Finding a college that appeals to your interests, fits your aptitude and improves your marketability; 2) Choosing a school that fits your family’s financial resources and minimizes cost; and 3) making sure that you increase the odds that you finish and get the degree.

Overall, this is a great book for parents and students looking to get through college without going broke.

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.

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