Making Decisions Based On Goals
Whether you are working on a post secondary education choice, finances, or personal achievements, making decisions is easy if you have a basic framework - a set of goals. Goals give you the framework for making choices and they help fend off impulse. Choosing to make your own lunch instead of eating out will save money. Having something in mind to save for, like a car, may provide the discipline needed to actually make that lunch.
At the start of this series you discovered who you are (September 6: Getting to Know You), and explored what you want (October 4: The Search). Review these and talk with your parents, your teachers, or your boss; a conversation with someone about their goals and how they have, or plan to achieve them can be rewarding.
Using what you discovered, list all the criteria you expect from your post secondary education, and then write a sentence that narrows down when and what you want.
With your goal in hand, compare the options before you. Examine the consequence of each option, and the effect each will have on your life - go beyond just the first year. This includes options that are chosen based on finances. Consider the ramifications of financing this “investment” with loans or ravaging your parent’s retirement/savings. Play some ‘what if’ scenarios. Suppose you lose a portion of your gift aid. You may have to take out a loan to make up the difference. If you take on more debt, you may have to change your career path so you can pay off that loan. If you change your career path, you may need to change schools to pursue a different major.
Ask yourself which option will most likely assist in achieving your goal. If the best option isn’t in front of you, consider waiting a year, going to a community college for an associate’s degree then transferring, or changing your degree/career choice.
Beyond The Decision
Most importantly, the one making the decision - you - must ultimately accept its outcome.
Tip number 37 in Susan Morem book “101 Tips for Graduates,” states, “You don’t get what you want; you get what you ask for.” Each choice you make is a step towards something. It is crucial that you accept that your life is the culmination of your choices. This gives you the power to adjust. Otherwise you are bound by the illusion of having things done to you.
Take charge - write a goal, review your options with your goal in mind, have the courage
to ask for what you want, and acknowledge your power over your future. Oh, and don’t forget to breathe.
Next Life 101: May 2
Free Webinar: It’s Time! Comparing Financial Aid Award Letters and Making the Best Decision for You. Go to collegeboardtraining.webex.com, scroll down to April 9, click on register. Make sure you have the correct time zone.
April Parent’s Tips
Below are some tips for how parents can help their high school senior make their post-secondary decision.
Ask your child how each option will meet what they want from their post secondary education.
Ask your child “what if” questions to help them reflect on their options.
Share with your senior the process you use for making decisions.
Share with your senior how you adjusted in a situation where a decision took you somewhere you didn’t intend to go.
Remember the airplane oxygen mask rule when deciding to take on debt for your child’s education - your financial security comes first. Only then can you aid in your child’s further education.
Ask yourself what financial ramifications each option will have on you. Example: If you sell stock to fund the family contribution, this may increase income and therefore diminish aid in subsequent years.
Stop dwelling on what could have been, i.e. “If only I had saved more money.” Address what you have available now. Discuss with your child how each option will impact you financially. They need to know.
Refrain from co-signing a student loan.