*POCSmom’s Insight: College Cost Perspective

Cliché: Cost it out.  
POCS Reality: You can estimate your college costs.    


It can cost more to take care of your baby than to send your eighteen year old to college.

That’s what the NACCRRA (National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies) found in a majority of U.S.states in their study Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2011 Update:

“In 36 states, the average annual cost for center-based care for an infant was higher than a year’s tuition and related fees at a four-year public college.


For example, the study (see Appendix 6) found tuition and fees at a public SUNY (State University of New York) is $5,790 but the average New York child care center for an infant costs $13,650. In addition to states, the study also included Washington D.C., where infant day care reached a whopping $18,200 compared to $7,000 in public college costs. At the opposite end is Louisiana with average costs of $5,900 and $4,727, respectively. The lower number is for college tuition and fees.

POCSmom’s Insight: Costs for caring for and educating children at any age is rising but tuition and fees do not tell the whole cost story of college cost of attendance (COA).

Room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses add to the expense. Colleges estimate their COA and invite you to calculate your estimated college costs with a Net Price Calculator. Anticipated financial aid is subtracted from the college’s COA. The difference is what you will have to pay out-of-pocket. However, your college costs may be higher than a hypothetical average student’s COA if your classes have higher priced textbooks, higher program fees, and extra required equipment. Certain costs are not factored in such as parent travel and borrowing costs. The financial aid estimates may be off, too.

That’s why POCSmom developed the POCS COA:


POCSmom’s field is not infant care expenses, but there are ways to reduce your college costs to make it more affordable for your family. It all starts with a successful college list:


*POCS: Parent Of a College Student

*POCSmom’s Insight: Judging a College Course by Its Name

Cliché: Worthy of the name.  
POCS Reality: College is costly so choose courses wisely for their content, not by their catchy or lackluster name.


How do colleges and professors increase enrollment for classes? Make them required classes, call them prerequisites, or give them a catchy name:


POCSmom’s Insight: To get the most from your college dollars, carefully choose all classes. Plan to satisfy both general graduation requirements and specific requirements for designated majors and minors. Look beyond course titles, whether they be catchy or lackluster, and gather more details such as:

  • read the course description.
  • contact the professor for a copy of the syllabus.
  • speak with students who have taken the class.

The more information you have about your college classes, the more prepared you will be to fill the semester with interesting, useful, mandatory, and optional courses. The bonus is you can set yourself up for success by learning about the professor’s expectations and planning for your work load.

Have a great college learning experience and hope you ace all of your classes!

*POCS: Parent Of a College Student

*POCSmom’s Insight: 5 Reasons Why College Is Worth It

Cliché: Live and learn.  
POCS Reality: College provides academic, extra-curricular, and career opportunities.    


College is worth it and here are 5 reasons why: 


In summary:

  1. $-Certain majors earn more.
  2. $-College degree is an education investment with a high rate of return.
  3. $-College graduates earn more even in jobs that don’t require a degree.
  4. $-College degree gives a competitive edge in the job market.
  5. $-College provides knowledge and can be affordable.

 POCSmom’s Insight: Affordable colleges are worth the money.

  • Fill your college list with schools that have the programs, activities, and location you want.
  • Compare financial aid awards from the colleges that offered admission.
  • Attend the most affordable college that has the programs, activities, and location you want with the best chance for future success.  

*POCS: Parent Of a College Student

*POCSmom’s Insight: Paying For College 2011

Cliché: College costs.  
POCS Reality:  As college costs continue to rise, students and parents should know their costs and how to pay them.     


Financial services company Sallie Mae and global market research company Ipsos teamed up to find out How America Pays for College 2011:


What they found was American families believe in the value of a college education as an investment in students’ future earning potential. Students and parents found ways to make a college degree more affordable despite high college costs and a slow economy.

Following the Money to Pay for College: Sources Shifted from 2008 to 2011 

More $ from Less $ From
Scholarships and grants Parents
Federal education loans Private education loans
**Cost saving measures Attending without considering cost

**Cost saving measures included eliminating colleges after considering cost, attending lower cost colleges including two-year community colleges, commuting and living at home, attending part-time, applying for financial aid, and filing for education tax credits.

POCSmom’s Insight: Add affordable schools in each category of your college list:

  • safety (student qualifications exceed college admission requirements)
  • target (student qualifications meet college admission requirements)
  • reach (student qualifications almost but not quite reach college admission requirements)

Decide where to attend after comparing financial aid awards, calculating your college costs, and figuring out how you will pay them. 

Here’s a chart to use to help you compare colleges offering admission along with financial aid awards:


*POCS: Parent Of a College Student


*POCSmom’s Insight: College Class of 2015

Cliché: Frame of mind.  
POCS Reality: Good luck College Class of 2015, to build your college knowledge into a better future for self, community, and country.     


College Class of 2015, how would you describe yourselves? What’s on your mind? What motivates you? What made you, you? And most importantly, what and how will you contribute to society?

Born in 1993, your world has always contained the Internet, Amazon, and electric cars.

Here are 75 examples from the Mindset List of the Class of 2015 according to Beloit College:


POCSmom’s Insight: Our past experiences influence our perceptions, and time flies. Plan to mix academics with extracurricular activities and business with pleasure to make the most of and enjoy your college years. Good luck Class of 2015 as you gain college knowledge and put it towards making our world a better place.

*POCS: Parent Of a College Student

*POCSmom’s Insight: College Campus Safety

Cliché: Safety first.  
POCS Reality: Whether at home or at college, students should be safety conscious.


As students prepare for college, it is time for THE TALK. The one where parents get to be protective and students get to be treated like children, not the adults they have become. I’m talking about the safety talk.

Unfortunately, crime can happen anywhere and college campuses are no exception. Better to be safe than sorry, so find the fun and have this talk over ice cream.

Here are 5 issues and suggestions for actions:



The destination requires walking alone in dark or quiet areas. Call for campus escort service/safety officers.
Dorm room door is often open or unlocked. Leave valuables at home or store them in a hidden “safe” (a disguised product with a hidden opening or a lock box with a metal cord that attaches to a secured object).
May need to call for help. Carry a whistle for emergencies.
Students are vulnerable to Identity Theft. Monitor bank accounts, secure personal and financial info, lock your computer, keep passwords secret and change them often.
Attending a party full of strangers and leave a beverage unattended. Unless a friend has your back and held your drink, take a fresh one.

POCSmom’s Insight: There is safety in numbers and nothing beats the watchful eye of a trusted friend.

What other scenarios can parents and students brainstorm? Include what to do and how to contact each other in case of an emergency. Review campus security policies like blue light call boxes.

Read more but don’t get freaked by the crime stats:


Check your own college’s stats at http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/ by typing in your school’s name and looking under the category Campus Security.

*POCS: Parent Of a College Student

*POCSmom’s Insight: A Successful College List: The Plan (Part 1 of 3)

Cliché: Choose wisely.  
POCS Reality: A successful college list is the foundation of the college process.     

Finding Your College PAL

Did you ever find a needle in a 4,000 straw haystack? That’s the challenge for prospective college students forming a college list from over 4,000 schools.

The goal is to form a college list with 6-8 affordable schools that have the Programs, Activities, and Location for best chance of student future success. So how do you pick your lucky seven? Answer pocsmom’s 3 category questions and you’ll be able to pick your college needles from the college haystack by finding your college PAL:


What courses are offered in your field of study? How often are they offered? How large/important is the department and can it go on if a professor or two leaves or is on sabbatical?


What extracurricular clubs, sports, and events are offered? Are they seasonal? What is the level of participation?


What is the ease/cost of student and parent visitation. What is the availability of internships in your field of study? If offered a job, would you be happy to relocate?

POCSmom’s Insight: I’ll keep sharing my DIY tips and expert insights through my blog, website, social media, and other events. Please join me!

Read more: My 5 Steps to a Successful College List by joining a FREE college prep virtual blog conference Pursuing Greatness 2011 August 22 – 27, 2011. This conference will feature experts who will provide tips and tools for future college students and their families:


POCSmom is on the radio! Listen to a half-hour show about music, stress, and college prep. Today, Tuesday August 23, 2011 at 2:00 PM and Friday August 26, 2011 at 11:30. Live streaming-WHPC Radio:


If you miss it live, it will go archive:


Stay tuned for A Successful College List-The Strategy (Part 2 of 3): College Admission Requirements, Student Qualifications, and the Affordability Factor

*POCS: Parent Of a College Student

*POCSmom’s Insight: The High Cost of Not Graduating from College

Cliché: Stay in school.  
POCS Reality: Students and states lose when students do not graduate from college.


When students drop out of college, they are not the only ones losing money. Former students may lose higher salaries potential and states may lose tax revenue. For example, “Virginia potentially lost more than $7.3 million in state income-tax revenue in one year on the diminished salaries of just one class of college dropouts” according to:


To check the numbers for your state:


POCSmom’s Insight: Students with education loans may find themselves in debt with no diploma to show for it. College may not be for everyone, but everyone who can benefit should be able to pursue their higher education dreams to a successful conclusion for the betterment of self, family, community, and our great nation. How do you put a price on the loss of a potential discovery, cure, or idea?

*POCS: Parent Of a College Student

*POCSmom’s Insight: 7 College Rankings Lists

Cliché: Rise from the ranks.  
POCS Reality: When reading college ranking lists, consider the source and method used, and separate fact from opinion. Then write your own successful college list.


The lists are coming, the lists are coming! The college ranking lists, that is. So many lists; so many different rankings.

Q: So which is the best college?

A: The affordable one that has the programs, activities, and location that provides the student the best foundation for a successful life and career.

In other words, have fun reading the lists. Consider the source and ranking method used, pull the facts from opinions, and make your own college ranking list. This will form the basis of your final college list of schools that you will apply to for admission.

For 2012, here are 7 college ranking lists. I didn’t rank the rankers so go to these sites in whatever order you choose:

25 Coolest College Labs (neatorama.com) This is a link to the link but the image of an up close and personal study of a Hawaiian volcano makes it worth the stopover (image #21 on the actual list): http://www.neatorama.com/2011/08/20/the-25-coolest-college-labs/

And this is the link to the actual list of the 25 Coolest College Labs with more images from spaceships to deep sea exploration, from collecting microbes on cave rocks to running pyrotechnics at rock concerts: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-08/you-call-college

America’s coolest (greenest) schools (Sierra Magazine) http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/201109/coolschools/all-schools.aspx

Colleges That Help Grads Get Top Salaries (SmartMoneyhttp://www.smartmoney.com/borrow/student-loans/which-colleges-help-their-grads-get-top-salaries-1312402692380/

Top Party Schools (Playboy) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/14/top-party-schools-playboy_n_849215.html#s264482&title=University_of_Colorado

Best Colleges (U.S. News & World Reports) http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/college-rankings-blog/2011/08/04/new-best-colleges-rankings-are-coming-soon

The Best 376 Colleges (The Princeton Reviewhttp://www.princetonreview.com/rankingsbest.aspx

America’s Top Colleges (Forbes) http://www.forbes.com/colleges/williams-college/

Here are some things to consider when evaluating the lists:

Critique about rankings (NACAChttp://www.nacacnet.org/AboutNACAC/Governance/Comm/Documents/USNewRankingsReport.pdf

Here is a family perspective after doing your research and culling the facts from opinions:

POCSmom’s Insight: YouTube Video POCSmom’s College List and the College Location POCSmom Factor


Do you have a list to add that you found helpful?

*POCS: Parent Of a College Student

*POCSmom’s Insight: Community Service and College

Cliché: At your service.  
POCS Reality: There are many opportunities to perform community service before, in, and after college.


FACT: You are under college stress.

FACT: There are people in worse shape than you.

FACT: You can help others and lose your stress.

BONUS: The extra benefits of community service can ricochet back to the student giver. 

Before college

When listed as an extracurricular activity on a college application, or described in a college essay, community service can show a prospective student’s worthwhile use of valuable and limited free time. It can also highlight traits college value such as abilities, dedication, and leadership.

In college

Colleges offer many opportunities for students to continue to help others through internships, class work, and independently on their own. Here’s an example:


After college

Community service projects can maximize the value of a student’s diploma and add to his resume while supplying networking contacts to get that job.

*POCS: Parent Of a College Student