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ETC College to Career Planning System

A college to career planning system - designed to get you through college, into a real career, while minimizing your financial burden. Logical and sequential in methodology: a step by step planner - from high school, to college, to career.

If you’re a parent, your own ‘college planning’ was relatively straightforward. In the 80’s, average tuitions were $2,000 and the labor markets were a lot more forgiving back then. Today, just one years’ tuition is about the same as your entire 4 year degree, the paperwork and application process is almost overwhelming, and you’re wondering if AI will have taken your kids’ job when they graduate. All valid concerns.

The uncertainties and issues that we’ll help you resolve:

  1. College must lead to a good job. College planning isn’t just about getting into a good school. Rational college planning doesn’t require writing a big check or borrowing ridiculous amounts of money. In today’s world, college planning means graduating with a degree that leads to a real career.
  2. College has become shockingly expensive. The notion that the most expensive school is the best school, is pure nonsense. Our programs will help you to select the ‘most right’ college – which means that it will be a fit for your kids’ aptitude and be affordable. Note that as we are a data vendor to student lenders – we can to the cost/benefit analysis better than anyone.
  3. Tuitions, FAFSA, applications, admissions paperwork – the burden is onerous. And then you wonder when you should begin planning for college. The latter half of 11th grade is the right time to actively begin the process. We have an excellent checklist in Module 9 that has dates to help you manage the key components of the process.

Note that most of the ETC programs which are referenced in this Guide are free. Some of the programs are fee based, though you can review the User Guides and FAQ’s to gain that valuable information at no charge. You can have full access to all of our premium data for $25 for a one month subscription, or $50 for a three month subscription.

Key Concepts:

  1. Your entire focus should be oriented toward preparing yourself for a job. College offers other benefits, such as the opportunity to mature and enriching oneself, but those can’t take precedent over career preparation.
  2. Your career preparation requires an investment on your part. You’re going to allocate time, energy and a lot of money to your time in college. Our expertise is in developing career tracks that are practical and affordable.
  3. Embrace the ideology that college is your pathway to a successful career. A lot of things will happen over the next 5 or 6 years, and some of them you might even enjoy. But this is work – and we want to make sure that this works for you!

Key Concepts:
  1. The sooner you begin working, the better. The sooner you land a job that’s in your field of study, the better. Your first job after graduation will be far from your dream job. However, you can put yourself on a clear pathway towards that dream job if you initiate a trajectory that is based on early employment that relates to your academic major. Internships are incredibly crucial to a successful career. Aspiring lawyers will intern for a couple of summers prior to graduation. Doctors spend at least one year interning on their path to becoming a physician. Most programmers at the largest companies in Silicon Valley started as interns. Establish an early work history and find an internship in your field while in college.
  2. Our research has enabled us to create educational pathways to every job. We know how young people get jobs because we’ve analyzed the educational paths that led to jobs for millions of young people. We also license recruiting data to thousands of employers who are looking to hire college grads. We know the drill from all sides of the table.
  3. Get your hands dirty! Summer jobs, part-time jobs, internships, volunteer work – it’s all of value. You’ll find out what you like, and don’t like, along with the responsibilities of working, while bolstering your resume. Employers love to see resumes of people who’ve proven they can work. Conversely, they delete resumes’ that look like the applicant was so focused on being a perfect student that they neglected to get any work experience.

Key Concepts:
  1. An employer hires a skill set, not the label on the diploma. They are far more interested in what you know and what you can do, than where you studied.
  2. For 40 years, the job market has consistently trended away from soft skills and repetitive task occupations, and has trended towards technical skills. STEM and healthcare are the growth areas of employment, both in terms of job creation and wage growth.
  3. We're going to help you identify majors that are applicable to your skills, and interesting to you. We’ll show you the jobs that are derived from every major, and how to cost effectively earn a degree in your chosen major.

Key Concepts:
  1. You can’t bend reality – the labor market values technical skills over soft skills. However, there are combinations of skills that are valued by employers. We'll show you some of these combinations and what you can do to improve your marketability to the job market.
  2. Manage your college costs (tuition and fees) very carefully. Don’t make any silly (and expensive mistakes) like going out of state or studying at a private college.
  3. The good news is… there can be exceptions. There are many cases where people from soft majors have built successful careers for themselves. An entrepreneurial venture that leverages a passion for art, design, so forth can be lucrative and rewarding.

Key Concepts:
  1. Visualize getting through college and then into a job as though it were to be a really long road trip in a car. Not across the country, but around the world. Yes, with a few oceans to cross, and you’ve got a deadline. You’re going to need specific points along the way that will serve as markers, with a timeline. If you’re starting in Portland, you’re going to need to be in Denver by a set date. Get the idea?
  2. Start with a single, big picture goal, for example: Graduate in 5 years with a marketing degree. Good stuff. Now you’ve got to backfill the important steps that will lead up to that marketing degree in 5 years. There will of course be some factors that will influence this goal, such as: Avoid student loans, land an internship in my 3rd year, get all A’s in my major studies, so forth. From there, you’re going to build out a complete list of goals, along with how you plan to achieve your goals.
  3. Documentation of your goals - the best way to do this is a put your goals (which will also be specific milestones) in a spreadsheet or document and link all of them to specific dates in your calendar.

Key Concepts:
  1. There are so many opportunities to make mistakes in choosing a college and getting through college, that we felt obliged to create a Module just to shed light on this fact. There are millions of people who made decisions they thought were practical and people in higher ed told them they were practical, when in fact, they were racking up debts that they’ll be paying off for 30 years or more. We want you to succeed to the fullest extent possible. We want you to get a great job and make good money and NOT be spending it on student loans. Be careful and don’t screw up!
  2. From here forward, any mistakes will be very costly. When you were in HS, if you duffed a couple of tests or missed an important paper, you still got through on time. In college, a few mistakes can lead to dropping a couple of classes. That can lead to requiring another half year (or longer) to graduate. That extra time may cost you $10,000 in tuitions, PLUS $35,000 in lost earnings because you were still in school, rather than earning money!!
  3. It’s easier to spend money than it is to earn it. Remember this for the rest of your life - It’s easier to spend money than it is to earn it. For the next 5 to 6 years, people all over the college will tell you, ‘This is an investment in your future’. We agree. That doesn’t mean that you should spend money foolishly. Be fiscally prudent and if you have to borrow any money, treat it as if you’ll have to pay it back some time, plus interest; because you will.

Key Concepts:
  1. For most students, the preparation and taking of the SAT and/or ACT is vastly overemphasized. Gasp! The entire apparatus that surrounds the testing regime and the accompanying stratification of colleges based on test scores is simply not justified for the vast majority of college bound students. It’s a lot of hype that distracts most students from what they should really be focused on which is getting a good degree from an affordable college. Chasing (and paying dearly $$) for an artificial goal is one of the key reasons why 44 million grads are paying on $1.6 trillion in student loans.
  2. Our recommendation is to take one or possibly both of the tests, but don’t compromise your real school work for test prep. Here’s why, if you do manage to bump yourself up into a range where you would not have normally qualified, and you barely get into a ‘reach school’, you’ll be near the bottom of your class. 90%+ of the students that fail or drop out had tested into the bottom quarter of their class. Proceed with caution.
  3. Plan on taking the SAT or ACT in the spring of your junior year or at latest, in the fall of your senior year.

Key Concepts:
  1. This is another part of the process where you’re going to need to be a researcher and a thinker. The research will be easy as we recommend you use the College Admissions Probability Program to generate a preliminary list of prospective colleges. Then you’re going to review the list, and think – a lot.
  2. We also want you to review the FAQ and User Guide as it is packed with incredibly valuable information regarding the pricing models colleges use to extract the maximum amount of tuition possible from their students. You’re thinking… ‘Do colleges have variable pricing models where family A may pay more or less than family B or family C?’ Yes, they do, and we are sharing the pricing model insights with you. Additionally, the program will provide you with a series of values that may save you tens of $ thousands and improve your kid’s probability of being accepted and even graduating.
  3. The Expected Family Contribution (tuition), admission probability, and graduation probability will be personalized values that represent your child’s academic profile and your family finances. Study the results - take your time and contemplate the values. The process of eliminating some colleges from your prospective list is going to become quite obvious. You’re going to be left with a list of colleges where the tuition looks reasonable, the admission probability high, and the likelihood of your child graduating will be high as well. This program is going to save you a lot of time, uncertainty, headaches, and money.

Key Concepts:
  1. Gathering, preparing and submitting all of the documentation that is required to get into college is a tedious and time intensive process. It is also an unforgiving process in that mistakes can be very costly. We strongly recommend that you begin this process while in the middle of 11th grade. That will give you time to prepare for tests, as well as gather all of the necessary documents.
  2. Use our Checklist, which is a tidy little program that allows you to select all of the colleges you’re thinking about, and then enter them into the checklist. You can then download it in PDF, print it, and it’s yours. It will prove to be an invaluable resource for helping you to understand what you need, guiding the process, and keeping you on top of deadlines, fees and other relevant information.
  3. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Many colleges won’t even accept your application without having your FAFSA information. You’re going to need information from your tax return and possibly from your financial advisor. Start this early so that you’ve got the necessary documentation on time. Here’s your starting point for the FAFSA.

Key Concepts:
  1. The Small Business Administration and every bank on the planet requires borrowers to submit a practical business plan before they’ll make a loan to you. Paradoxically, an 18 year old can borrow $30,000 to study 15th century French history. We developed the College Business Plan to prevent young people from making disastrous financial mistakes.
  2. In running the program, you will enter information relating to your intended job, the college you’ll apply to, and various other information. You’re also going to have to factor in some additional considerations, such as whether you’ll live at home or not. If you’re going to live at home, will you need a car? The program will generate a business plan, with an income statement. It will include your salary from your first job when you graduate and your living expenses and other costs. You’ll see if your intended college plan makes financial sense.
  3. It’s important to note here that the less this all makes sense to you, the more you need it! And you should plan on running tons of analyses with this program. It’s literally like practicing making yourself financially literate for college. You can modify your scenarios until you’ve got a plan that makes great financial sense, and this plan will be your financial guidance resource throughout college. This is priceless intelligence – start building your College Business Plan.

Key Concepts:
  1. This is decision time, and when making a very important decision, it is imperative that you review all of your options in an ‘apples to apples’ manner. If there is any uncertainty regarding costs, revisit the College Business Plan and make sure you’re analyses are comprehensive, ie: include institutional grants and other obvious stuff like if college A allows you to live at home and college B requires that you pay for housing, your planning worksheet must reflect all of that.
  2. When you’ve got complete information to enable you to make a fair comparison, then you’re ready to make you’re decision. We’re not going to advise you to simply choose the school with the lowest total costs, or by some other factor. We will suggest that you keep your wits about you and don’t do anything foolish.
  3. Here’s a thought to consider that might help you in finalizing your decision – which school would enable you to land an internship or straight job offer while in college? Basically, which school is going to be most likely to transition you successfully into the job market? It might not sound like a big deal now but think about when you’ll be graduating – do any of these colleges reside in a dynamic market where lots of young people are working and thriving? It’s always a good idea to jump into those kinds of situations.

Key Concepts:
  1. How would you explain to a fish that it lives in water? We feel that way when trying to explain to young students how debt can irreparably harm their lives. The challenge exists in that you can’t go to college for 5 years to study finance, and THEN decide whether or not it makes sense to borrow money for college.
  2. We can tell you that people who graduate from college with no student debt will typically have an investment account within 2 years of graduation, and they’ll be a homeowner by age 30. Those who graduate with debt generally don’t have an investment account until they’re in their 30’s and they won’t buy a home until they’re in their 40’s. If you can get through college without borrowing money, your financial situation will be vastly better for the rest of your life. There are inexpensive routes through college – exploit all of them first, before borrowing a penny. We’ve talked about starting at 2 year colleges and using the public college system within your state. There’s a reason those systems exist – to give students access to affordable higher education.
  3. Many people within the education system will advise you to ‘Borrow and go’. We’re advising you to ‘Don’t borrow, but go’. Millions of college graduates will never buy a home. Millions won’t be able to start a family. Millions of grads will not have a retirement plan when they retire. 5% of the new social security recipients last year were still paying off student loans. It’s because they are paying off student loans for 20, 30 or even 40 years. They didn’t have someone advising them to be extremely careful with debt. They had people telling them ‘borrow and go’.

Much of the narrative that shapes college planning is derived from 30 years ago. College costs were about $2,000 annually and the labor markets were much more forgiving at that time. Here is a brief, though incomplete listing of bad advice that you should avoid like the plague.

Pathways to a train wreck:
  1. A person with a college degree will earn $1 million more over their career than a high school graduate. That actually was true in 1990. The reality today is that comp sci, healthcare and engineering grads are on track to earn about $2.5 million more over their careers than most high school grads. However, 60% of college grads with soft degrees are employed in the same service sector and retail jobs as high school grads.
  2. 'Go and you'll figure out what you want to do after you take some classes.' Ummm, no. The 5 year graduation rate for students who listed their major as 'undeclared' at the time of enrollment is about 35%. If you don't know what you want to study, go to a 2 year college AND get a job. That will help you to 'figure it out'.
  3. The dangers of anecdotes: A well meaning friend says, 'I know someone who got a degree in art history who is the president of a major company and is earning $300,000 per year'. That might be true. However, we have data on hundreds of thousands of art history grads who cumulatively owe $ billions in student debt and have low paying jobs. Don't let cute little stories cloud your judgement - stick with facts and data.