The New Graduate’s Guide to the Best E-Book Resources for Money Management

The New Graduate’s Guide to the Best E-Book Resources for Money Management

Nothing beats the rewarding experience of getting that degree after years of hard work. However, the uncertainty of what comes after can also be nerve-wracking. As fresh graduates step into the world of adulthood, it’s important to have the best resources to navigate life, and one way to do that is by managing finances wisely.

Money management isn’t always a walk in the park, especially for fresh graduates. In the U.S., 51% of college graduates during the 2021-2022 period finished their studies with an average of $29,4000 in student loan debt, according to a CNN report. Saving up can be difficult when you start your 20s dealing with debt, but luckily, several resources like e-books can help you familiarize yourself with the nitty-gritty of finances and saving. If you’re looking for tips for getting on top of your finances, here’s a fresh graduate’s guide to the best e-book resources for money management.

Why E-Books, and Where Can You Find Them? 

According to a National Institutes of Health study, students tend to prefer e-books because they’re accessible, convenient and can be downloaded and carried around. A Computers and Education study also mentioned that the interactive features of e-books, such as annotation functions, can enhance the reading experience.

While e-books are available on a variety of platforms, fresh grads on a budget will want to focus on just one to save both time and money. You can find a wide range of resources in Everand’s finance and money management category, such as Jesse Mecham’s “You Need a Budget” and Benjamin Graham’s “The Intelligent Investor” if you want to be financially wise. 

These e-books are accessible through a reasonably-priced monthly subscription that’s often less than the cost of one physical book. Convenient and affordable options like these can make it easier to practice proper money management.

You can also find resources on OverDrive, where you can browse through your local library’s e-book catalog to learn the best insights on how to make the best money-saving decisions. Having easy access to helpful financial information can help kickstart a fresh graduate’s journey to managing and saving money in the long run. That said, here are some of the best e-books that can help college graduates learn about effective financial management strategies.

E-Books on Money Management for Fresh Graduates

Let’s take a look at a list of the best e-books on money management for anyone just graduating.

“The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke” by Suze Orman 

In our previous article on “Financial Planning Tips,” we mentioned Suze Orman’s classic work “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke” as a key source that can help you invest in financial education. 

This New York Times bestselling title mentions some of the harshest financial realities that young people may encounter. It provides a realistic financial guide for how to properly manage money, deal with debts, and save for the future. It’s a perfect read for fresh college graduates looking to prepare for future financial challenges as they build their careers or future from scratch. 

“Why Didn’t They Teach Me This In School?” by Cary Siegel 

If you’re looking for an e-book that has more than enough information on managing money, then Cary Siegel’s “Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?” has you covered. The e-book contains 99 useful financial principles and advice that can help fresh college graduates improve their financial decisions so they can be debt-free and save enough money for the future. 

As the title suggests, these money management tips are not typically taught in schools yet remain relevant in navigating the first few years of adulthood, so it might be best to give it a try. After all, it wasn’t recommended by Forbes, LifeHacker, and eBay as one of the best graduation gifts for college students for nothing.

“The Simple Path to Wealth” by J.L. Collins

Investing for the future need not be complicated, and that’s exactly what J.L. Collins’ “The Simple Path to Wealth” tries to say. More than an e-book, it can serve as a bible that provides simple yet crucial advice to achieve financial success based on Collins’ experiences. 

These tips include saving 50% of your income, staying away from debt, and investing in index funds. The e-book also stays true to its title since it’s short and easy to read, but packed with loads of advice that fresh graduates can follow as they begin building their journey toward financial independence.

“Broke Millennial Takes on Investing” by Erin Lowry

Young people’s financial literacy rates are below 50% worldwide, according to a World Economic Forum report. This highlights the need for improved financial information, and Erin Lowry’s “Broke Millennial Takes” might do the trick. 

The e-book provides basic yet hands-on details on investing, including some terminologies that might confuse fresh graduates who are looking to invest or save up money. It teaches young adults how to buy and sell stocks, when’s the best time to invest, and tips on managing student loan debt. This is a great read to help young adults get started on the basic steps of investing.

“Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

Reading Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin’s work, “Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence” can still provide fresh graduates with useful insights despite being first published more than two decades ago. 

The classic work mentions helpful tips to manage your money properly, such as creating and following strict financial habits. The nine tips outlined in the e-book can guide fresh college grads to achieving financial independence in the long run by learning how to avoid debts and not getting too carried away with overspending whenever pay slips come in. 

“I Will Teach You to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” is a good read for young adults looking to pay off their student loan debts and learn the fundamentals of investing. Sethi provides real-world critical advice so readers can become successful in banking, budgeting, investing, and saving. 

The e-book has strategies on how to invest properly without paying a financial advisor, as well as tips on buying a house and other big purchases that fresh college grads may be thinking of in the future. This is perfect for fresh graduates who are in their wealth accumulation phase and want to be wise in their financial decisions so they can enjoy financial freedom.

The real world can be overwhelming for fresh graduates, especially with looming financial responsibilities on the horizon. Reading these e-books can help young adults make responsible financial decisions to help them manage and save enough money for the future.

Top 5 Financial Planning Tips for Recent Graduates

Top 5 Financial Planning Tips for Recent Graduates

If your child has just graduated from college or the date is approaching, you (and they) are likely excited and nervous about what comes after. As I’ve advised hundreds of families on preparing for college, I can also give you a few tips for after they get their AA or BA — tip number one is to take a deep breath. 

Both of you can absolutely do this.

Here are some college graduate finance tips to deal with debt, uncertainty, and the world of personal finance. The sooner they start planning their finances, the sooner they’ll be planning trips, new car specs, and, hopefully, decor for their own home.

1. Invest in Financial Education

You know dealing with your finances takes a lot of skill, and you want to help your kid deal with the anxieties of starting out. Here are some financial education resources to take advantage of:

  • Books: Start with Suze Orman’s classic, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke or Cary Sieagal’s Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By. 
  • Online courses: Direct them towards online courses on personal finance through platforms like Coursera or Khan Academy
  • Finance blogs and podcasts: Point them to reputable financial blogs and listen to podcasts that focus on budgeting, saving, investing, and other financial topics.
  • Workshops and seminars: If you find a link to financial literacy workshops and seminars offered by community organizations, schools, or local banks, share it with your kid. (If you think they’re interested, of course.)

2. Educate Them on Managing Student Loan Debt 

CollegeMoneyTips has all the resources for handling student loan debts for parents and graduates, so check out articles on home equity loans and other financial tools such as refinances.

The rest is up to your child. Make sure they understand the terms of their loans, including interest rates, repayment plans, and grace periods. Here are some basic tips:

  • Consider consolidating or refinancing loans for a lower interest rate.
  • Make extra payments when possible to reduce the principal balance faster.
  • Check out income-driven repayment plans with Federal Student Aid.

3. Build Good Credit

If your child has student loans, there is one more reason to pay them on time: building good credit. A good credit score can help them secure a loan, rent an apartment, or get a job. According to Experian, the average American has a score of 715, but anything over 670 is considered good. For starters, they can even have a fair credit score. 

Besides paying student loans on time, teach them about other ways to build a solid credit score:

  • Getting a secured credit card, using it for small purchases, and paying off the balance in full each month (you can help them with this).
  • Paying utilities and other bills on time (and using automated payments in their banking app to do this)
  • Encouraging them to monitor their credit report, check for errors, and make sure their credit history is accurate.

4. Build an Emergency Fund

I understand the economy isn’t really helping young adults leave money aside each month, but that does not mean they should give up on saving altogether. If your child doesn’t use change rounding apps or automated transfers to save, there’s a simple starting point.

With time, they should be able to save for at least three months of living expenses, which is considered a minimum emergency fund. It’s a lifesaver in case of unexpected medical expenses, repairs or additional certification opportunities. 

5. Prepare the Ground for Future Homeownership

I know, they’ve just started and may be in debt, so even broaching the topic of homeownership with them may feel like you’re getting ahead of yourself. Still, preparing for it ahead of time isn’t such a bad idea. Stats show the youngest generations have particularly poor financial literacy skills, so try to motivate your child with a clear goal. 

Here is what you can talk to them about:

  • Student loans: Student loans impact people’s borrowing power significantly, but they do not stop them from purchasing a home. They do affect eligibility, though: debt impacts everyone’s debt-to-income ratio, which is a key requirement. While the ideal DTI is 36%, some lenders allow DTIs of up to 50%. 
  • Researching mortgages: With low-to-moderate income, they can go with government loans such as FHA loans. If they’ve been in the military, VA loans can help them get a home without a down payment. For homes that are a bit more expensive or young adults who have been gifted down payments, a conventional mortgage (that is, a regular loan not insured by the government) may be a better choice as it may have lower interest rates.
  • Co-signers: If your child has a steady job and a regular income, and they’re set on buying a home sooner, you or another family member can help them qualify by being their co-signer.
  • Assistance programs: As a first-time homebuyer, they have the right to plenty of federal- and state-funded down payment assistance programs.

Finally, if you want to get them a highly useful gift, you can always schedule a talk with a certified financial advisor — they will help them reach their goals, whether it’s paying off student loans, buying a home, building savings or even investing (time is the magic ingredient that makes investments grow!).

And last but not least, congratulations to you and your child for making it through college.

Construction Careers: 5 Steps to Building a Career in Construction

Construction Careers: 5 Steps to Building a Career in Construction

Construction careers can be a viable option for new graduates. Whether you’re looking into a residential or commercial market, the population continues to expand, and new businesses continue to open, giving this type of career the potential for a secure future. Knowing the ins and outs of construction businesses can also be beneficial for a variety of related careers or help you to start your own business. 

1. Consider the Different Trades and Choose Your Interest

Within the construction industry, there are many different trade opportunities. Specialized skills are in demand and essential for helping all the different elements of residential or commercial buildings come together. Trades to consider under the construction umbrella include drywall, electrician, insulation, roofing, carpenter, heavy equipment operator, plumber, HVAC tech, mason, glazier, painter and many others. If you’re just starting out, you may initially find work as a general construction laborer or as a laborer in a specific trade area. 

General programs at community colleges or tech colleges may have programs related to a specific industry or trade. Trade-based programs like construction could help recent grads to build financial stability. 

2. Obtain an Apprenticeship to Hone Your Skills

You may already have certain talents or skills that will help you be successful in a specific construction trade area. However, gaining an apprenticeship is where you’ll really dive into the specifics of a trade and learn all the ins and outs. There are different standards for various trades, and work is inspected in order to ensure it meets codes and requirements. Specific businesses may also have different processes and methods for the way they approach their trade. Some may specialize in doing things a certain way or having a specific quality control process, for example. You may work with a hiring agency, individual businesses, or local trade schools to find an apprenticeship. 

3. Continue to Grow Your Skills at a Reliable Company 

Once you’ve apprenticed, you’ll have a solid set of skills under your belt. You may find regular work with the same company you apprenticed with or make connections among other trades and quickly find a steady job that helps set you up for financial success. Finding a solid company can be important in order to have an employer that values your skills. Since construction trades can sometimes have busier and slower seasons, it’s also important to know what to expect in terms of pay. Know whether you’ll be paid hourly, per job, or with a salary. Hourly and per-job rates can fluctuate depending on how busy the season is, but overtime may be available in busy times which can help strengthen your income. As you grow your skills, you may also be able to get work with additional responsibilities or move up in the company. 

4. Take Additional Courses or Learn About Intersections of Tech and Construction Trades

As you gain your knowledge and skills, take additional specialized coursework or learn how tech can be used in more traditional construction trades and how it can provide more value and opportunities. If you’re interested in sustainable building practices, a career involving solar photovoltaic panels might be a good option. If you have strong organizational skills as well as good construction knowledge, working as a construction project manager may be in the cards. There are also college degrees, such as engineering or construction management, that are related to the construction industry and could be worth considering. 

5. Consider Starting Your Own Construction Business

While working for a good construction company and doing specialized trade work can provide excellent opportunities and financial stability, for some, the option of starting their own business becomes the ultimate goal. A construction business will take knowledge, networking, and skill, but can offer a massive number of benefits and new challenges. Contractor’s licenses are typically necessary to operate your own construction business, and there are varying categories depending on the type of construction you’ll be doing. Know that there are differences when it comes to licensure in different states. North Carolina contractor license requirements, for example, require people to be at least 18 years of age, complete the exam for the specific licensure type, and meet the minimum financial requirement based on the limitation of the license. In SC, people must pass the appropriate exams and have at least two years of work experience for the requested certification. Learning the requirements for your area can help you know what to expect. 

Construction Careers Can Help You Have a Successful Future

For recent graduates who are interested in building, renovating, or trades, a career in construction could be a smart solution. Growing in skills and learning the ins and outs of specific trades can help you get the financial stability you need and grow a career you love. 

For college juniors, checking into how a trade like construction could help build financial stability as well. 

Navigating the Path to Homeownership: A Guide for Recent Graduates

Navigating the Path to Homeownership: A Guide for Recent Graduates

Graduating from college is an exciting stage of life. You have a new adventure ahead as you consider your professional aspirations and what the rest of your life may look like. Maybe you have some serious plans with a significant other as well. 

As you consider how the rest of your life will play out, one thing to consider is where you will live. Whether you are open to any city with a job or have a specific state you have fallen in love with, you will need a place to call home. For many recent graduates, the dream of owning a home may become a reality in the near future. 

However, getting ready to own a home is not as simple as it sounds. Homeownership comes with a lot of responsibility, and when you are younger, this might be more responsibility than you want. That does not mean it is too early to start planning for the future. Here are some tips to consider if you want to go for buying a house as a new grad one day. 

Start Building Credit

Welcome to the age of credit scores. As an adult, you will find that your credit score has a significant impact on your life. A credit score is used to assess how reliable you are as a borrower, specifically in terms of paying back debts. Debts that affect your credit score include student loans, car loans, credit cards, and home loans. The higher your credit score, the easier it will be to qualify for financing options when you enter the market for a house. The sooner you start building your credit, the better. Make sure you keep up with all debt payments. Always pay the full amount owed rather than just the minimum. Keep your credit balance utilization rates low, and consider becoming an authorized user on a credit card owned by someone who is financially responsible, like a parent. These steps will help you build a strong credit history and demonstrate your financial responsibility to potential lenders. 

Find Strong Economies

Choosing the right place to buy a home is key to successful homeownership. As a recent graduate, you are probably on the hunt for a solid career if you don’t have a position lined up already. While homeownership could be a few years off, it is never too early to consider how local economies affect the housing market. For example, should you look for jobs in the tech sector in Charlotte, North Carolina, since the growing economy is great for young professionals? Is it better to shoot for a state with a low cost of living but strong economic metrics, like Texas or Michigan? Are FHA loans in Idaho easier to buy a house with because of an ideal job market? When you think about eventually buying a home, look for areas with positive economic outlooks.

Save for a Down Payment

One of the biggest obstacles to homeownership is the down payment. When you buy a house, most lenders will require a certain percentage of the home’s price to be paid upfront. For a conventional mortgage, the recommended amount is 20%. While other financing options will allow much smaller percentages, there are also closing costs to consider. If you have not already started saving money in college, building up a significant down payment can take a while. Start budgeting for the upfront costs of homeownership early so you can make smart financial decisions today. 

Take on More Responsibility

Owning a home sounds like a dream to many college graduates. The space is yours to do what you want, and there is more privacy from neighbors, which you may have seriously lacked in college. However, homeownership comes with a lot more responsibility. There is no landlord or RA to help handle maintenance issues. If repairs or upgrades are needed, those burdens fall on your shoulders. Some homebuyers may not be ready to take on all the tasks associated with caring for a home. You may not even have the time to do all these chores, what with a new career beginning or taking online courses to save money for the future. Make sure you are prepared for the hard work required to care for a house before you think about buying one. 

Is a Home Part of Your Dream?

Not every recent college graduate is interested in buying a home. Often, young professionals crave the flexibility of renting or having roommates to save money and keep their career options open. However, someday, you may desire the investment opportunity and privacy of your own home. Planning for that eventuality now is the best way to prepare for it. Think about how you can build your credit score, save for a down payment, and put yourself in the best position to become a successful homeowner in the future. 

When to Start Visiting Colleges: A Detailed Guide for Parents

When to Start Visiting Colleges: A Detailed Guide for Parents

Here’s one of the most important questions you can ask: When to start visiting colleges? 

You may have no earthly idea when you should start. Should you get a jump start freshman year in high school? Is that crazy? Too early? Or should you wait till junior year? Is that too late?

I think junior year is the best time to visit campuses, but I also like to see visits throughout high school, not just trying to cram it all in junior year! I spent 12 years in college admission and I also trained our admission tour guides, so I saw many families zip in and out during the spring.

Let’s walk through the timing of college visits, its importance, the ideal time of year to go on a college visit and a whole host of other things to consider.

Importance of College Visits

You know college visits are important, but what might be trickier is what you’re looking for. In my opinion, you’re looking for two important things: 

  • Campus atmosphere: How does your student feel when he or she is on campus? Comfortable? Stressed? Challenged? While it sounds nebulous, a “feeling” can help guide your child to the right choice for them. The campus atmosphere, understanding campus life, and getting a feel for the friendliness of people counts for a lot in making a final decision.
  • Information about the campus: Aside from “feelings,” you’ll also scope out facts about the campus itself: student-to-faculty ratio, required courses, programs and majors (like considering the pros and cons of being a financial advisor by investing smart or becoming a teacher due to your love of kindergarteners), research opportunities, housing, dining, safety, facilities, costs, location, admission requirements and more.

When should you start visiting colleges? The time of year you visit and the timing of your visit can affect those two things. 

Ideal Year in School to Start Visiting Colleges

Let’s go through the pros and cons of visiting colleges throughout high school. There are pros and cons to visiting colleges throughout each year of high school, and it’s important to recognize the benefits of visiting colleges freshman through senior year! 

Learn more: Once you understand when to start college visits, learn how to set up a college visit.

Freshman and Sophomore Years

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of visiting colleges in the early stages of high school for your student. 

  • Pros: You can help your child get early exposure to college and can start envisioning what the process will look like. 
  • Cons: Your child might change their interests and goals over the next three years, so any interest in the initial colleges and universities might fade away. Your child may also not be mature enough to understand the benefits of visiting colleges at an early age, but that depends on the individual. It’s a good idea to consider whether your child can handle college visits this early in high school.

Junior Year

Junior year is the optimal time to visit colleges if you’re asking, “College visits when to start?” because students have more defined interests and goals. However, there are some pros and cons:

  • Pros: Juniors typically have defined goals and interests at this point in high school and can usually articulate some ideas of what they might want in a college and also what they might enjoy doing for a career. Visiting during junior year also gives them plenty of time to visit colleges, because they can do it over the summer and during senior year as well.
  • Cons: Juniors are usually busy this year in high school, so it might be a challenge to find a time to visit. They might also have a limited perspective on majors at this point (or change their minds often!). Some students may also feel early pressure to make decisions about where they want to attend college, which is unnecessary at this stage.

Senior Year

Senior year offers final opportunities to visit before applying to colleges. You can usually take advantage of specific events for accepted students, which can also help with finalizing decisions if necessary.

  • Pros: The largest benefit of visiting colleges during senior year is that your child is the closest they’ll ever be to knowing their major interests. That makes visits worth the wait, because they’ll be more zoned in and clued into what they want. 
  • Cons: The major downside is that there is so much going on during senior year, between college applications, homework, senior year activities, athletics — the list goes on. Squeezing in college visits may seem next to impossible.

Ideal Time of Year to Visit Colleges

Some families overlook time of year when trying to figure out when is a good time to start visiting colleges. If they have an open day in January, they say, “Let’s go!” But trust me, visiting a college during a snowstorm will color your student’s experience forever. I remember a student from Florida visiting when the temps were in the negative digits on our campus — he never came back. (But then again, it gave him an idea of what it would look like to live on campus during the winter months, so we weren’t hiding anything from him!)

At any rate, it’s still a good idea to look at the weather for a few specific reasons. 

Learn more: Are college tours free?

Spring and Summer Visits

Spring and summer visits invite warmer weather and more flexible schedules, but the downside is that there are fewer students on campus, so you miss out on typical academic year activities, such as more robust classes or events on campus. So, the pros and cons:

  • Pros: Warmer, flexible
  • Cons: Fewer events and students

Fall Visits

There’s nothing better than crunching through the leaves on a crisp, blue-sky day in October — especially on a gorgeous college campus.

College campuses bustle with students in the fall and offer a realistic view of academic and social life. The downside is that it’s a busy application season and it can be tougher to balance school and other commitments when you visit then. Here are the pros and cons in a nutshell:

  • Pros: Lively campus, realistic view of academic and social life
  • Cons: Busy season; might get more personalized experience in the summer

Winter Visits

Things slow down during the winter months on campuses, but you’re also risking the potential for running into bad weather and experiencing limited outdoor activities, such as football games. Do you like to ice skate through your college visit? (Ha!)

  • Pros: Quieter; can see what the campus is really like during a potentially chilly time
  • Cons: Potential for bad weather

Ideal Day of the Week to Visit Colleges

Fridays and Mondays are the most popular days to visit campuses, for good reason — they butt up to the weekend. Fridays are the all-around most popular day to visit campuses because you might tap into a day off of school here and there. When I worked in admission, Fridays in the fall were crazy. The admission counselors and tour guides hopped from one student meeting to the next, hardly able to stop for lunch! 

If you can visit during the middle of the week, you might benefit from more personalized attention on an individual campus visit, more so than you would on a Friday!

Ideal Time of Day to Visit Colleges

What’s the best time of day to visit college campuses? During a lazy afternoon or a busy morning? 

Let’s take a look, but first of all, it’s important to understand that many visits last longer than just an hour or an hour and a half. Many might span the full morning and part of the afternoon, depending on what you choose to do while on campus. If you’re doing a tour, meeting with the admission office and financial aid office and eating lunch on campus, your student’s visit will span the morning and early afternoon. 

However, if you have just a few things planned, let’s look at which is the most beneficial.

Morning Visits

If you arrive bright and early, you have the benefit of attending morning classes and observing the campus energy in the morning. Many colleges and universities tend to slow down in the afternoon as students finish up their classes for the day, so you can see how the campus “wakes up.” 

  • Pros: Launch right into the hustle and bustle; can observe campus energy
  • Cons: Can be a busy time to visit campus

Afternoon Visits

Slower and more leisurely afternoons on some campuses might be exactly what the doctor ordered, particularly if your child is more nervous about the college search. If they need to be eased into the college search process, you may want to take advantage of meeting faculty and students and exploring extracurricular activities in a calmer setting. It seems like afternoons on campus are the juxtaposition of crazy mornings.

  • Pros: Often seem calmer
  • Cons: Things may be wrapping up for the day
Evening Visits 

One of the most important things to note about evening visits is that colleges don’t schedule visits in the evening. However, you can spend the night on campus, and you can schedule that with an admission office. 

  • Pros: Can experience the dorm life and social activities
  • Cons: Cannot book traditional college visits (unless you arrange to spend the night with someone on campus to check out the residence halls and student life

Learn more: How long are college tours?

Factors Influencing When to Visit Colleges

You’ve probably noticed that there are a few teensy problems with trying to fit college visits in, and that almost always has to do with your already jam-packed schedule — yours and your child’s. 

Let’s take a look at some of the factors standing in your way. 

Academic Schedule

Your child’s school likely gives them a few excused absences for college visits (the standard is usually three days) but they likely can’t just pick up and leave whenever they want. Therefore, it’s important to consider the optimal time to go during the school year. Consider utilizing school holidays for visits, unless, of course, the college has that time off as well. 

Time visits around exams and project deadlines, in-season sports and other types of challenges that might get in your way.

College Calendars

What do colleges and universities have on the docket? Align visits with college open house events and visit when students are on campus for a realistic experience. Visiting when students are on winter break can lead to a lackluster experience, because college campuses look so… dead… during winter breaks. 

Personal Factors

Is your child actually ready to visit campuses? A student questioning his ability to turn in every single assignment on time might not be mentally ready to consider colleges. Or a student worried about what it might look like to live off campus might not be emotionally prepared to consider college yet. 

Again, the family schedule also plays a role. If you’re super busy with work or only have two personal days off during an academic year, you may really have to plan on how to make college visits work. 

How to Plan When to Go for the Ideal College Visit Experience

Whether you’re concerned about organizing your college experience around your activities, the high school calendar or even the weather, you can do a lot to ensure you maximize your experience. Here’s how. 

Step 1: Decide your optimal year.

Will you visit early or late? Spring of junior year or summer before senior year? The best advice is to visit when your child has a clear idea of their interests and potential major. Here’s a great plan, in a few steps: 

  1. Spring semester junior year is the optimal time to visit because students typically have a clearer idea of their interests and future plans. 
  2. Students can use the summer before senior year to do additional visits to narrow down choices before applications. 
  3. Students can do a final visit senior year before application deadlines.
  4. Seniors can also attend admitted student days to make a final decision about which college to attend. 

Is it okay to wait until senior year to visit colleges? 

In short, yes. If your child has no clue about their major or what they’d like to do in the future, opting for fall or the summer before senior year visits may make sense. However, it’s important to consider when applications are due, so this process is likely ideal for schools with rolling admissions only. It might not make sense to attempt waiting till senior year to apply to schools with early applications, like MIT.

Step 2: Decide your visit period.

Decide the best times of year and specific dates when colleges are in session. Try to work around fall and spring breaks because you won’t get a full experience of the college campus when students aren’t there. Also, try to avoid midterms and finals. You may not know when those will occur, but a quick call to the admission office can give you an idea. 

Next, look at your child’s school calendar for potential visit dates. Check into school holidays and weekends. Don’t forget to check the weather!

Finally, look at your family schedule. Where are soccer games and volleyball games interfering with the general schedule? What can you miss? Where can you absolutely not take work off?

Step 3: Decide the time of day that works best.

Naturally, the time of day you plan to visit depends a lot on your travel logistics. If you get to a college late at night, the most logical step is to schedule your visit for the next morning. If you must drive two hours to get there, your best bet might be to arrive at 10 a.m. to give yourself time to drive. 

Whatever the case, add flexibility to your schedule and always consider the possibility that you may visit a campus again!

When is the Best Time to Start Visiting Colleges?

When is the right time to start visiting colleges? It’s a time that aligns with your schedule, your child’s year in school and even aligns to the time of day that works best. It’s important to carefully plan, and try to do it early. 

Need help creating a visit schedule? College Money Tips can help you do that! Email [email protected] for assistance scheduling a comprehensive visit schedule for your student and family. 


Still have FAQs about when to start doing college visits? Let’s tackle ’em.

What age should you start doing college tours?

I love this question because it’s such an important question when considering when to start making college visits. So many families feel in the dark. They don’t want to feel left behind and they also don’t want to start early. You can start doing college tours at any age, but the ideal timeline is to get started during junior year.

Is sophomore year too early to visit colleges?

Absolutely not. If you have a child who is gung-ho about college visits, start them! It’s fun to take advantage of the excitement with younger students, but remember that it’s possible that they might forget the details of individual colleges by the time they’re seniors.

How early is too early to look at colleges?

I remember working with students in junior high on group visits, and I thought that was too early when considering when to start doing college visits. They honestly didn’t grasp the finer details of what college was about, such as having a “minor” and how classes worked. However, if you have a junior high student and a high schooler and they’re interested, by all means, allow them to tag along on your older child’s visits!

How to Prepare for and Save Money on College Student Health Care

How to Prepare for and Save Money on College Student Health Care

A college education is essential to career development and lifelong learning, but there’s no denying that it can be a costly investment, especially with tuition, fees and accommodation becoming increasingly expensive every year. 

Our previous post guides parents through ways to reduce college costs, such as taking advantage of dual-enrollment programs to give kids a headstart in transitioning to college while also saving money on tuition for a few courses or even an entire semester.

However, beyond tuition and boarding costs, one of the essential college expenses to prepare for is health care. How do you. handle college student health care?

Financial services company Bankrate estimates that medical care costs can reach up to $2,500 per year, with the costs being higher if your child needs prescription medication or medical services not covered by the campus health centers. Since health and wellness significantly influence academic performance, below are ways to prepare for and meet your kids’ health care needs in college while still saving money for other essential expenses like technology and emergency funds.

Your Options for Health Care Coverage

What exactly are your options for health care coverage?

  1. Parent health insurance: Your child can remain on your health insurance plans until they turn 26, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. This option provides coverage for a wide range of medical services and is often convenient for students.
  2. University health plans: Many universities and colleges offer their own health insurance plans specifically designed for students. These plans typically cover services provided at the university health center and may include options for both on-campus and off-campus care.
  3. Government programs: Undergraduate students with low incomes may qualify for government-sponsored health insurance programs like Medicaid. Eligibility requirements vary by state, so check with your state’s Medicaid office to see if your child will qualify.
  4. Private health insurance: You can also purchase private health insurance plans if your child doesn’t qualify for coverage under parent insurance or through their university. Private plans offer flexibility in choosing providers and coverage options but may be more expensive.
  5. Health insurance marketplaces (ACA): Through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, undergraduate students can explore and purchase subsidized health insurance plans based on their income level. You may want to look into this if your child doesn’t have access to other coverage options.
  6. Student health centers: Most campuses have on-campus health centers that provide basic medical services to students at low or no cost. While these centers may not replace comprehensive insurance coverage, they offer convenient access to care for minor illnesses and injuries.
  7. COBRA coverage: Undergraduate students who recently lost coverage under a parent’s health insurance plan may be eligible for COBRA continuation coverage, which allows them to continue the same coverage for a limited time period. However, COBRA can be expensive as the individual is responsible for the entire premium.

Get an idea of all your options and compare costs and coverages so you know which works best for your child. Understand enrollment deadlines and other factors so you don’t lose out on any one type of coverage, including university coverage.

Review Your Child’s Current Health Insurance Coverage

Young adults stay under their parents’ insurance plans until age 26, but it may not be the most ideal if your child moves to college out of state and can’t stay covered by the plan’s network of care providers. 

Ensure you understand the details of their coverage so you can compare it with campus health plans, which can cost an annual average of $2,924 for public universities and $3,874 for private schools. 

These school-sponsored plans can be more affordable than getting health insurance through the marketplace and help you save money by lumping the price of on-campus care with tuition and fees. 

Consider Additional Coverage

If you choose to stick to your child’s current plan, then at least consider additional coverage, such as vision insurance, which costs an average of $95. Considering college students are at risk of eye conditions like computer vision syndrome and myopia due to increased screen time and online learning, vision insurance can help reduce out-of-pocket expenses for routine eye exams and corrective eyewear. Fortunately, many optical retailers, including the budget-friendly Eyebuydirect, accept vision insurance even when you order glasses online for new or updated prescriptions. While the platform already provides stylish and affordable frames starting at $6, the cost savings from insurance can help your child afford additional protective features like blue light filters while still staying on budget.

Look into Online Health Services

Health-related expenses can also rack up easily if your kids attend school outside of your home state, whether it’s due to kids traveling for routine care or their insurance coverage being geographically limited. Fortunately, online health services are a viable option for saving time and money while still getting them the quality care that they deserve.

In the same vein, considering money transfer apps can significantly streamline students’ financial management, essential for managing tight budgets and ensuring timely payments for various services, including health care.

Given that more than 60% of college students meet the diagnostic criteria for at least one mental health problem, virtual health providers like TimelyCare can make mental health services more accessible to college students. The platform partners with over 300 institutions worldwide and provides up to nine free scheduled sessions of counseling and therapy every year.

In addition to these money-saving tips, instill healthy habits and choices into your kids’ daily lifestyles, such as eating well and sleeping on time. Continue to check in as they settle into college life, and you’ll find that the transition will be smooth and stress-free. Continue reading College Money Tips for more helpful resources.

Debt-Free College Dream: How One Family Earned Thousands of Dollars in Scholarships and Transformed Their Kids’ Futures

Debt-Free College Dream: How One Family Earned Thousands of Dollars in Scholarships and Transformed Their Kids’ Futures

Are you worried your child will graduate with crippling student loan debt? 

Meet the family who cracked the code to debt-free college education and transformed their kids’ futures forever! With determination and strategic planning, they embarked on a dedicated scholarship hunt. From meticulous essay-crafting sessions to scouring for scholarship opportunities, they left no stone unturned. 

And the results were staggering.🎓💰

LaWanda Hanes mentors first-time single moms in Waxahatchee, Texas, and at her church. 

“Nobody can afford college, but everyone can go,” LaWanda often says.

It’s one of her favorite phrases, and she repeats it often with the single moms she mentors, many of whom believe they can’t make college happen for themselves. 

She, of course, mentors her own kids as well. Hanes and her husband, Thomas, vowed that their two children, Jasmine and Tre, wouldn’t face the same student loan burdens that they encountered after their own graduations. 

“We decided our kids would not borrow for school,” LaWanda said emphatically. 

No ifs, ands or buts.

The dream is coming true. 

LaWanda and Thomas’ daughter, Jasmine, graduated with no debt. Jasmine went to college at University of North Texas for interior design and graduated in two and a half years. She went into the university with an associate’s degree through a dual-degree program. 

Their son, Tre, is on his way to graduating debt-free with an engineering degree through the University of Oklahoma’s merit program. He’s currently in his third year of college.

The Hanses on vacation in Italy: They're debt-free, and their kids have debt-free degrees!

The Spark for a Debt-Free Degree

The Haneses’ desire for their children to achieve a debt-free education grew out due to their own student loans.

“Our journey with our kids started with our journey to get out of debt ourselves. We have five degrees. [Thomas] has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree and I have a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees,” LaWanda said. “Fast forward 10 years, and we are 30 years old, with two young kids and $110,000 in student loan debt.” 

They started with less debt, with about $75,000 to $78,000 to their names out of college. Some twists and turns required them to take deferment and unemployment, and they found themselves $110,000 in debt in no time, with both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. (The interest that built on itself didn’t help, either.)

The Payoff Day: The Very Best Christmas Present

LaWanda said her kids sacrificed just as much as she and her husband did. LaWanda said Tre and Jasmine had grown up understanding that there wasn’t a lot of money available to purchase “extra” things at the store. “They understood how hard it was for us to get out from under these student loans,” LaWanda said.

After one Christmas with few gifts, LaWanda said she and Thomas took their kids to the bank and gave each child $500. Both kids turned the money over to a loan officer. 

The whole family felt like screaming with happiness. They were finally out from under their student loan debt burden.

Immediately after, LaWanda and Thomas took them to dinner at Red Robin, where everything the kids had asked for Christmas sat under the table. The excitement bubbled over so much that they actually did need to scream. 

Their waitress heard the commotion and said, “I just want to know what’s going on here. It sounds like something amazing.” When she heard their story, the waitress almost jumped up and down alongside them — their excitement was infectious.

The Panic Moment

Early in high school, however, Jasmine worried that she wouldn’t be able to pay for college.

Turns out, Jasmine thought it was a money problem.

A worried LaWanda reassured her, but was firm. She told her daughter, “You have to go to college or have a skill set.” She added that the family had a 529 but said that the savings wouldn’t take care of everything. She informed Jasmine that the less they would have to pay out of pocket, the better.

The Haneses enjoying Italy

Two Debt-Free Degrees: How They Did It

“We started junior year. Nobody told us we should start looking for scholarships earlier,” LaWanda said. If she knew she needed to look earlier, she would have. 

Jasmine and LaWanda had a system — they met every Sunday about the scholarship plan for the week. LaWanda paid her kids $5 for every scholarship application they completed, but they had to write the essay. LaWanda agreed to put the packages together for them. 

Jasmine put about 60 to 70 scholarships on her list, and Tre had about 30. 

Jasmine had an interest in the hobby space, danced, sang and competed in softball. She was also a cheerleader. She looked into scholarships in all those areas, as well as local sorority and fraternity chapters, local banks, mom’s clubs and the chamber of commerce. 

At a certain point, Jasmine had a system down so that all she had to do was tweak her essays to fit the scholarship. They had a color coding method on a spreadsheet — green was for anything not submitted, yellow indicated scholarships “in process” and red indicated “in danger of missing the deadline” or “denied.”

“Both of them got merit scholarships. People were just throwing things at us. Jasmine’s story was she got so much money in scholarships that the school ws sending us checks back!” LaWanda even said that the pastor of their church called Jasmine the “rich kid.” 

“A lot of wins were local wins. We didn’t get a lot of national scholarship.We kept things more local and at church, people would send us stuff and just want to help us,” said LaWanda. She added that they both received $10,000 to $12,000 every year from churches in Dallas-Fort Worth and Oklahoma., which helped make up the bulk of their awards.

Their son’s path to engineering scholarships wasn’t quite as easy, but with perseverance and a little help from diversity and inclusion programs, he secured the funds needed to take care of college.

By the time it was all said and done, Jasmine went to college for free.

Financial Discipline for a Lifetime

But it wasn’t just about scholarships. LaWanda and Thomas instilled financial discipline from a young age, teaching their kids the value of budgeting and saving. Jasmine now has a paid-for car (in cash!) and the freedom to pursue her passions without the shackles of student loans.

From prioritizing scholarship applications to leveraging local resources, the Haneses prove that it’s possible to graduate without student debt.

Now that she’s out of school, Jasmine has noticed how her peers have begun paying back their student loans and struggle to make ends meet. 

“She thanks us all the time that we helped her go to college without student loans,” LaWanda said.

So, if you’re ready to say hello to a debt-free future, join the debt-free revolution today! Get the exact steps in the College Money Tips debt-free degree checklist so your child can avoid loans. 🌟

3 Degrees to Pursue to Achieve Financial Stability

3 Degrees to Pursue to Achieve Financial Stability

Everyone in this world wants to become financially stable—the sooner, the better. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for becoming financially stable. Even Google can’t help everyone become rich fast. 

Spending less than you earn and saving as much money as possible might help to a certain extent. But in a world where the cost of living keeps increasing, saving more money than you spend may seem impossible. 

The right degree, however, can offer a pathway to stability and prosperity within a reasonable number of years after graduating. Here, we’ll discuss three degrees — an MBA, nursing and computer science degrees — that can pave your way to financial stability. 

Whether you’re a parent looking to change your educational situation or want to pass on some advice to your high schooler, let’s dive in! 

Key Takeaway

An MBA, nursing and computer science degree all offer financial stability through increased earning potential, job security, career advancement opportunities, access to benefits, networking and personal development. These degrees can equip you with the skills and credentials needed to thrive in today’s competitive job market.

What is Financial Stability?

What does it mean when we talk about “financial stability,” exactly? Sounds like one of those terms a stuffy old bank manager would talk to you about, doesn’t it?

The financial stability meaning refers to having control over your financial situation and can handle unexpected events or emergencies when they come up, meaning you don’t experience significant hardship or disruption to your standard of living. 

Financial stability means you may be able to:

  • Navigate financial challenges like job loss or medical emergencies.
  • Avoid excessive debt burdens that lead to an inability to meet financial obligations.
  • Cover essential expenses with emergency savings.
  • Stay afloat with consistent financial support.
  • Create and stick to a budget.
  • Make informed investment decisions and plan for retirement.

How a Degree Can Help You Achieve Financial Stability

Choosing the right degree can help you achieve financial stability, and that’s obvious, right? After all, the more education you have under your belt, the more you’ll earn.

However, a degree can help you achieve more financial stability in other ways, including: 

  • Higher earning potential: It’s not just about how much you’ll make out of the gate. Individuals with higher levels of education tend to earn more over their lifetimes compared to those with lower levels of education. You’re also facing far higher career advancement job opportunities. 
  • Job security: You’re less likely to face unemployment or underemployment with the right degree, especially during economic downturns.
  • Access to benefits and perks: Some employers offer additional benefits and perks — retirement plans, health insurance, tuition reimbursement and bonuses. These “extras” can bolster your financial well-being.
  • Networking opportunities: You can network! Being part of a network of peers, professors and professional alumni from your college or university helps tremendously, and is one of the fringe benefits of financial stability. In a way, you’ll always have someone who can “catch” you if you fall. If you lose a job, why not just dip into your network?
  • Entrepreneurship: If you want to start your own business or pursue entrepreneurship, a degree can help you get there. You may be able to multiply your success and financial stability as an entrepreneur. 

Does a degree guarantee financial stability?

No. Plus, it’s important to consider factors like the cost of education, student loan debt (taking on tons of need-based student aid can affect you negatively) and job market trends when making decisions. However, pursuing the right degree for your situation, needs and personality will give you a better chance of success than never pursuing it at all.

Degrees to Consider for Financial Stability

The three degrees are likely ones you’ve already heard of. Why not consider a Master of Business Administration, nursing or computer science? Let’s take a look at each, as well as the potential salary you might earn in each field.

Degree 1: Master of Business Administration

Many executives believe that attending business school has contributed to their career success. Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) will contribute to yours. 

An MBA serves as a gateway to management roles and business leadership positions, which pay higher salaries than non-management jobs. Poets and Quants discloses that the average salary for MBA graduates in 2022, as reported by 17 business schools, was $147,648.

If you want to work in a management or business-related field, consider enrolling in an MBA program. This degree will equip you with a deep understanding of business principles and management practices. You will study a wide range of subjects in depth, including marketing, operations, finance and strategic management. 

MBA graduates possess strong leadership and decision-making skills, which make them valuable assets in both entrepreneurial and corporate settings. Many business schools even offer online MBA programs, which makes them suitable for working individuals. Opt for them if you cannot afford to enroll in a traditional in-class program. 

Degree: 1 Master of Business administration diploma image.

Degree 2: Nursing

Health care is the fastest-growing industry. It is predicted to create about 45% of all the projected job gains between 2022 and 2032. 

Health care workers — surgeons, physicians and registered nurses — are always in demand. However, of all health care workers, registered nurses (RNs) are in the most demand. That is because the U.S. will experience a shortage of RNs in the upcoming years. Why not pursue a degree in nursing and fill the positions of new or retiring nurses?

A career in nursing is not only fulfilling, but also offers financial stability. With a nursing degree, you can earn between $62,253 and $140,275. 

As a nursing student, you will be exposed to a diverse range of subjects, from the principles of nursing practice, patient care, and communication skills to responding to urgent situations. You can pursue your career as an RN in a variety of settings—clinics, hospitals, schools, and community settings. 

There are several paths to becoming a registered nurse. Some earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), whereas others opt for an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Nowadays, many universities are offering an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN). These programs are designed for people with bachelor’s degrees in another discipline. 

If you plan to switch your nursing career, go for the ABSN program. Quite a few nursing schools offer online accelerated nursing programs. Consider enrolling yourself in an online program if you’re a working individual. One significant benefit of online ABSN is flexibility. You can learn at your own pace and schedule without attending the traditional classroom every day. 

Finding the right program, however, can be daunting. As per Online ABSN Programs, accreditation, student support and clinical placement assistance are three criteria that you must consider to narrow your options. Go for an online ABSN program only when a university is CCNE-accredited, offers advisors or counselors and assists with placements. 

Image of the nursing symbol representing nurses.

Degree 3: Computer Science

The demand for computer science is high in today’s digital world. If you are tech-savvy, you must definitely pursue a degree in computer science. This degree will equip you with a strong foundation in programming, algorithms, and problem-solving skills. Your knowledge will prepare you for diverse roles. 

A degree in computer science opens doors to an array of career opportunities in fields like cybersecurity, data analysis, software engineering and artificial intelligence. These fields, as the world embraces everything digital, are booming and will continue to in the future. 

For example, the median pay for a cybersecurity analyst is $112,000 per year. Their average additional cash compensation is $13,097. The average base salary of a data scientist, on the other hand, is $103,500 per year. 

Image of a computer with the listing of computer science as the third degree.

Choose the Right Degree for You

The degree you pursue will have a significant impact on your financial stability as well as long-term success. So, should you go for one of these if you know in your heart that they’re not right for you? 

No. If you can’t stand the sight of blood or bodily fluids, you shouldn’t choose nursing just because you’ll earn a decent salary. Think through your talents, skills and natural tendencies so you can choose your options wisely. 

Whether you’re interested in business, healthcare or technology, there are plenty of degree options that can lead to financial stability and a rewarding career. Considering your passion, interests and long-term goals will help you choose a degree that aligns with your passions as well as position you for financial success. 


Let’s look at a few frequently asked questions you may still wonder about with regard to pursuing financial stability. 

What should you do to reach financial stability?

There are endless possibilities for reaching financial stability, including creating a budget, building an emergency fund, paying off high-interest debt, investing in your retirement, diversifying income sources, maintaining insurance coverage, educating yourself on personal finance (including reading books!), setting financial goals and seeking professional advice when needed. Finally, the most important one of all: Practice disciplined spending and live within your means.

Do you need a college degree to be financially stable?

You can attain financial stability in various ways — college isn’t your only option. You can also pursue vocational training, skilled trades, entrepreneurship and other routes to achieve stability. Higher education can enhance opportunities, but it’s not the sole determinant of financial success.

What degree makes the most money?

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field degrees typically bring home the most bacon, particularly in engineering, computer science and certain branches of medicine. Specific disciplines such as petroleum engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering and medical specialties like orthopedics or anesthesiology often command higher salaries due to high demand and specialized skills. However, other factors come into the mix, including experience, location, industry and individual career trajectory.

How to Start a Dog Walking Business to Pay for College

How to Start a Dog Walking Business to Pay for College

Parents, have you ever considered how you’ll pay for college? What’s a great way to get in shape and grow a side hustle? Why not consider a dog walking business?

Starting a dog walking business isn’t just about earning an income. You can tap into so many other benefits — schedule flexibility, offering practical solutions for dog owners and a pathway to take care of a portion of your child’s college education. Plus, who can resist those puppy licks and love?

Here’s how to start a dog walking business to pay for college, and if you want to start small, how to start a dog walking business in your neighborhood. 

Key Takeaway

There are approximately 29,000 dog walking enterprises in the U.S. Starting a dog walking business can be a lucrative way to pay for your child’s college education. Arm yourself with a love for canines, some treats, dog training knowledge, credentials to start a successful business.

Why Start a Dog Walking Business to Pay for College?

Starting a dog walking business to pay for college has so many benefits, including the opportunity for supplemental income, flexibility, low overhead costs and long-term financial planning:

  • Supplemental income: The most obvious benefit of starting a dog walking business is that it offers a reliable source of income to contribute toward your child’s college fund. It can help alleviate the burden of college tuition and expenses.
  • Flexibility: Luckily, you don’t have to commit to a nine-to-five job with a dog walking job. You can walk dogs whenever it works for you! (Well, obviously within the confines of your clients’ schedules — the people, not the dogs.) Ultimately, you can balance your responsibilities as a dog walker with your existing commitments.
  • Can work on the business with your child: Why not take your child along? Your college-bound child can learn more about building their own business in college. This comes with dozens of lessons, including entrepreneurship, financial management, customer service and the value of hard work. Plus, you can get in some quality bonding time. Who doesn’t love connecting with their high schooler and at the same time, teaching them about responsibility and work ethic? Your child can even learn how to start a dog walking business as a teenager.
  • Low overhead costs: Luckily, you don’t need much in the way of capital to start a dog walking business. You likely don’t even need to purchase leashes, because the dog owners will likely have those for you. You may just need basic supplies like waste bags and great tennis shoes for walking. There’s no need for a physical storefront or expensive equipment.
  • Long-term financial planning: Starting a dog walking business now means you’ll fund your child’s college education and set a foundation for long-term financial stability. You can keep growing your business even after your child graduates from college!

The amount of money you can earn is limitless, so consider setting a goal and going to town (literally!) with a dog in tow!

How to Start a Dog Walking Business to Pay for College

So, how do you get a dog walking business going? Is it as simple as grabbing a couple of leashes and hitting the pavement? Let’s take a look at some steps you can take.

Step 1: Understand the market.

Before diving in, it’s essential to understand the dog walking market in your area. Research the demand for dog walking services, what competitors are charging and any additional services they offer. Remember, your service isn’t just about walking dogs; it’s about offering peace of mind to pet owners who are unable to provide their pets with daily exercise due to work or other commitments.

Step 2: Craft a flexible business plan and build credentials.

A clear plan serves as the foundation of your dog walking business. Consider the following:

  • Services offered: Besides walking, you might offer pet sitting, feeding or even basic grooming.
  • Pricing structure: Determine how you’ll charge (per walk, per day, per week) and whether you’ll offer packages or subscriptions.
  • Branding: Create a memorable name and logo that resonate with your target market.

Clients may also want you to demonstrate your credentials, such as your ability to do pet first aid/CPR, which you can get through the American Red Cross or Pet Professional Guild; basic dog training knowledge, insurance, bonding and membership in professional organizations. 

In addition, do your best to build client testimonials that can help establish trust and bring new customers to your business.

Step 3: Streamline operations with technology.

Leverage technology to manage your schedule, client communications, and payments. Platforms like ThriveNeighbor can be particularly useful, offering tools designed to streamline the administrative side of your business. This allows you to focus more on your studies and less on paperwork, all while providing a professional service to your clients.

Step 4: Market your services.

Utilize resources, social media and word of mouth to promote your dog walking business. Tailor your marketing efforts to highlight the benefits for busy college students, professionals and local residents. Emphasize the flexibility of your services, the health benefits for their pets and the peace of mind your reliability offers. Create flyers and business cards to leave in local pet stores or vet offices. Remember, your marketing should highlight the benefits of your services. 

Step 5: Deliver exceptional service.

Excelling in the dog walking business requires more than just showing up. Build strong relationships with your clients (both human and canine) by being reliable, professional and genuinely caring. Incorporate personal touches, such as sending updates during walks or remembering individual preferences to set your service apart.

Step 6: Manage your finances wisely.

Keep meticulous records of your income and expenses. Use financial management tools or software to track your earnings and budget effectively. Your goal is to make money while minimizing debt, so financial prudence is key. Consider setting aside a portion of your earnings for business growth or unexpected expenses.

Step 7: Balance business with everyday life.

The flexibility of a dog walking business is its greatest advantage. Schedule walks around your regular nine-to-five job and other commitments, ensuring you’re never compromising the rest of your schedule. Use the business as an opportunity to enhance your time management skills, balancing client commitments with academic deadlines and opportunities for rest and relaxation.

Step 8: Embrace the benefits beyond income.

Apart from the financial rewards, your dog walking business offers numerous benefits. It’s a chance to engage with your community, build a network, and develop entrepreneurial skills. Furthermore, the physical activity and time spent with pets can be a great stress reliever, offering a welcome break from the pressures of everyday life.

Step 9: Leverage online resources.

Tap into online resources to grow your business, such as running continual Facebook ads or promoting your business to a list. These resources can provide valuable insights, tools and networking opportunities to help grow your business and reach more customers.

Step 10: Seek feedback and adjust.

Ask for feedback regularly and be open to making adjustments. Whether it’s changing your routes, offering additional services or adjusting your pricing, being responsive to your clients’ needs will help your business thrive.

How Much Can You Make with a Dog Walking Business?

The cost of dog walking services can vary depending on various factors:

  • Location
  • Walk duration
  • Number of dogs
  • Additional services offered
  • Reputation of the dog walking business

The average hourly pay in California is $16.99 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter. Pay ranges between $14.23 to $19.47 in California, though you might make more, such as up to $25 or $35 per hour.

Some dog walkers may offer discounts for regular or multiple walks per week, while others may charge extra for additional services such as feeding, administering medication or longer walks.

Dog walking rates may be higher in urban areas with higher living costs compared to rural areas. Research local dog walking businesses and compare prices to find one that fits your budget and meets your needs.

How much can you make with a dog walking business? The average is $16.99 an hour.

How Effectively Can a Dog Walking Business Help Pay for College?

So, can it really help pay for college? It entirely depends on the number of clients you have and what you charge. For example, let’s say you walk three dogs for an hour each day, and you charge $25 per dog. 

3 x $35 = $75 per day 

If you walk them for seven days (three dogs, each day of the week), that’s $525, and if you do that for four weeks, you earn $2,100 per month. (That might be on the higher end of what you might be able to charge, depending on your area.) 

Throw in some extras, like grooming or giving pets medication, and you could earn even more! This one small business could easily help pay for your child’s college tuition, but again, it depends on the number of consistent clients you have and the amount they’re willing to pay.

Consider a Dog Walking Business to Pay for Your Child’s College Education

If you love dogs, this type of business may make a lot of sense for you! If you like animals in general, you could consider expanding your business — though it’s not likely that you’ll get a lot of traction from a cat-walking business! However, there is a great need for pet sitting when families go away on vacation or on holidays. 

Ultimately, consider how you might want to create a side hustle that revolves around pets and helps you craft a lifestyle that helps pay for college and gives your child countless opportunities.


Is it hard to start a dog walking business?

Anyone can start a dog walking business because no formal qualifications are needed, though you do need to know a bit about handling dogs and dog training. You may also need to know some formal skills, such as pet CPR. Also, you may need a firm understanding of how to market your business to your area.

How do I start being a dog walker?

Start advertising your services everywhere — in coffee shops, in restaurants, in other businesses. Start running Facebook ads to dog owners in your area to make them aware of your services, and get one or two clients to give you a positive testimonial. Consider setting up a Facebook page and website to advertise your services as well.

Where do dog walkers make the most money?

As you might expect, dog walkers make the most money in large cities, so if you live in a large metropolitan area, you’ll have a lot of benefits in the form of potential clientele. Dog walkers make the most money in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York.

What Does an Admissions Counselor Do? Demystifying the Role

What Does an Admissions Counselor Do? Demystifying the Role

It’s a Tuesday at 6 p.m. 

You head into the school gymnasium, where you see tables and tables of smiling admission counselors. You’re there with your teen, who looks overwhelmed. 

You know she’s thinking it too: “Where do we start? What should we ask? Do these admission counselors just tell people about the school they work for? Do admissions representatives make decisions? What the heck does that admission counselor do all day?”

If you wonder about any of these things, read on.

Key Takeaway

A college admissions counselor is your child’s resource, providing school information, aiding in visit scheduling, assisting with applications, explaining financial aid, and equipping you to make a college decision. They guide you through the college search journey, offering invaluable support along the way.

What is an Admissions Counselor?

An admissions counselor works in colleges, universities or other postsecondary schools. Their primary responsibility is to assist prospective students with the admissions process. 

Admissions counselors play a pivotal role in recruiting and enrolling students by providing information about academic programs, application procedures, financial aid options, campus life and other relevant aspects of the institution. They also typically offer the following:

  • Relationships: If your child applies to a “reach” school, an admission counselor might have some sway with an admission committee. You want someone to go to bat for your child when you might need a little extra push, and a relationship with your admission counselor might be able to do that. 
  • Advice: College and university admission counselors (unlike a school counselor) can’t set your child’s high school class schedule. Still, we can tell you what our institution might view more favorably if you aren’t sure which class (or classes) your student should take in high school. 
  • Honesty: We’ll also be honest with you if you’re not the caliber of student who would succeed at the college or university we work for, which can save you a lot of time. We might not do general college application counseling, but we can tell you precisely what you need to apply to our institution.
If your child starts at a community college or didn’t make the right college choice coming out of high school (which is okay!), they will work with a transfer admission counselor when considering starting at a new school. 

A transfer admission counselor is a specialized type of admissions counselor specifically focusing on assisting students transferring from one college or university to another. These counselors work with students transitioning from a two-year community college, another four-year institution, or any other educational setting to a new academic environment.

The primary responsibilities of transfer admission counselors are similar to those of traditional admissions counselors but with a focus on transfer students’ unique needs and concerns. 

Some of their key responsibilities include:

  1. Assessment of transfer credits: Transfer admission counselors evaluate transfer students’ transcripts to determine which credits will be accepted by the new institution and how they will apply toward the student’s degree program.
  2. Providing information and guidance: They offer guidance to transfer students regarding the application process, deadlines, required documentation and any specific requirements for transfer applicants.
  3. Assistance with academic planning: Transfer admission counselors help students understand how their previous coursework aligns with the requirements of the new institution and assist them in planning their academic trajectory to ensure a smooth transition.
  4. Address concerns and questions: They address any concerns or questions transfer students may have about the transfer process, academic programs, campus life, housing and financial aid.
  5. Transfer credit policies: They inform students about the institution’s transfer credit policies, including any limitations on the number of credits that can be transferred and the criteria for accepting transfer credits.
  6. Facilitating connections: Transfer admission counselors often serve as a point of contact between transfer students and various departments, such as academic advisors, financial aid offices and faculty members.

The transfer admission process and timeline are different at every college. Talk with the transfer counselor at your child’s potential new college to learn about the transfer timeline. If your child comes from a different four-year institution, talk to the transfer counselor to see what steps they need to take to go through the transfer admission process. 

The documents needed as a transfer student may differ from those that first-year students need, which is why talking to a transfer admission counselor is key! Scholarships available for transfer students are often different from those offered to first-year students, so you can speak with a transfer counselor about that, too! 

Understanding the Responsibilities of Admissions Counselors

So, let’s dive in to understand exactly what admissions counselors do. 

Interviewing Prospective Students

When prospective students come to campus, an admissions counselor will typically be on hand to meet with them. Each part of the country is divided into territories, meaning that each student gets “placed” with an admissions counselor. When your child comes to campus, you’ll sit down with an admissions counselor to discuss all the opportunities, admission requirements, campus life and more. 

Many admission counselors are campus-based, so you’ll see them when you visit campus. Others are regionally based, meaning they live where they are recruiting students. 

Admission counselors like working with people, plain and simple. The relationships we can build with students (and families) we work with make our jobs fun and rewarding. 

Sometimes, high schools encourage (or require) prospective students to have an interview as part of their application or for scholarships. 

Admission counselors who do this have an idea of what they are looking for out of this interview, and your child may receive the information they need to review ahead of time, such as if something on an application stands out (either good or bad). 

I’ve said it before and will repeat it: Use the relationship you can forge with an admission counselor. 

Evaluating Recruitment Techniques and Data

Counselors follow the directives of the college or university to recruit their next class, and we ask questions like: 

  • What was missing in our last class? 
  • Did we enroll too many students into a certain program (if the college admits by program) or not enough students from a specific geographic area? 
  • All these factors determine who the college will admit to the next year’s class (and maybe more pronounced at selective schools). 

Your child needs to let us know what you bring to the table that we don’t already have.

Making Admission Decisions

Different schools use different methods to determine admission decisions. Sometimes, it’s strictly a numbers game: if your student meets certain criteria, you’re in! Other schools view students holistically, which means they look not only at grades (and possibly test scores) but also at essays or personal statements, letters of recommendation, etc. 

Admission counselors are real people reading your application. We have emotions and experiences that we come in with, and a good essay or letter of recommendation can make a difference when reading an application! 

Don’t think the admission counselor is looking for a reason to deny your child; they’re looking for reasons to admit your child. Does your child’s application have grammatical errors or inconsistencies? 

Does your child have a GPA rigor on the transcript that the college is looking for? These are the things that stand out to admission representatives. Admission counselors who read applications read many (and sometimes don’t have time to pore over them), so you want to ensure that your child stands out for good reasons, not bad ones. 

Recruiting Students

Those of us in the admission counseling role work with prospective students and want to find students who will “find their fit” at the college or university we work for. It doesn’t serve anyone to admit students who won’t be successful and ultimately leave for whatever reason. 

Building a relationship with a student can show us more than simply reading an application, and it can be helpful for a student to see what life might be like at that college! 

Do you need a bit of hand-holding and can’t get someone on the phone to answer a question? That might indicate what being a student there is like, and it might not be what you need to be successful.

How Admissions Counselors Work with Students During the Year 

Different seasons in the year bring various responsibilities for admission counselors each year. If the school you’re looking at works on rolling admissions (reviewing applications as they come in) the timelines might be slightly different, but for the most part, the role of an admission counselor is seasonal.


During the spring, admission counselors ensure that high school seniors have all the tools they need to make a college decision. Talking through financial aid awards, ensuring their housing forms are in, setting up campus visits, and working admitted student events occur now. 

Most colleges have a May 1 decision date, so everything works up to that. 

In addition, we college admission counselors are switching to working with current juniors, traveling to high schools and spring college fairs to get information for the next class so that they can start figuring out their campus visits and narrowing down the list of colleges they are considering.


Summer is the most restful time in a college admissions counselor’s year. We will help tie up loose ends with the incoming class and maybe help with summer orientation and registration, but we’re also looking back at our incoming class to see if there are any trends and what could (or should) be changed process-wise for the coming year. 


Ready, set, GO! Fall is go time! 

High school visits, fairs and pushing applications from interested students are highest on the list of priorities. Many of us will spend more days on the road than in our offices during the fall. We get out and talk to your child and their school counselor to get as much information as possible about you — my favorite part of my job. 

Colleges and universities on rolling admissions will also release decisions after an application is reviewed, so your admission counselor will be reaching out to let you know what your next steps are after receiving your decision! 

Pro tip: Is writing not one of your strengths, or have you struggled, and your GPA isn’t the best? Talk to the admission counselor to see what elements are the most important in an application. 


Winter is review and scholarship time. For admission counselors who review applications, we will spend much of our time in the winter reading applications and working with students to go through their next steps. 

Some schools hold scholarship events in the winter months so that you can have a complete financial aid award (and understand it) before deciding where your child will land the following fall. 

How Admissions Counselors Work with High Schoolers

Your interactions with admission counselors will change throughout your child’s high school career as much as the schools they consider may change. What they want as a high school freshman will differ from what they prefer as a senior! 

Here’s a rough overview of what you can expect from an admission counselor throughout high school.

Freshmen and Sophomores in High School

As students are likely just starting to think about “what comes after high school” as freshmen and sophomores, they will probably have limited contact with an admission counselor. 

If you want to get out and visit colleges, do it! The more exposure you get, the less confusing this process will be later. 

You should expect follow-up from an admission counselor, but most communication will come from you, not the admission counselor.

Juniors in High School

Juniors receive more communication from colleges and their admission counselors. We want juniors to think more seriously about “what comes next.” 

You can expect admission counselors to encourage you to visit colleges, and you’ll find that many schools offer visit days specifically for juniors. 

Seniors in High School

As your child approaches their senior year in high school, you’re likely navigating the maze of college applications and decisions together. It’s a pivotal time, and I want to assure you that admission counselors are here to support both you and your senior throughout this process.

First and foremost, admission counselors are your partners in ensuring your child’s smooth transition to college. They serve as invaluable resources in providing information about various colleges, universities and programs. From admission requirements to application deadlines, they help demystify the college landscape.

Whether it’s discussing campus culture, program offerings or extracurricular opportunities, admission counselors help your senior find the best fit.

Moreover, admission counselors provide hands-on assistance with the application process itself. From deciphering application requirements to crafting compelling essays, they offer invaluable support every step of the way. They help your child put their best foot forward in presenting themselves to colleges and universities.

Financial considerations are also part of the equation, and admission counselors are well-versed in navigating the complexities of financial aid and scholarships. They provide guidance on available options and assist your family in exploring avenues to make college more affordable.

As standardized testing often plays a role in college admissions, admission counselors offer resources and strategies to help your child excel on exams like the SAT and ACT. They ensure your child feels confident and prepared when test day arrives.

Throughout the entire process, admission counselors serve as advocates for your child. They offer unwavering support, address any concerns or questions, and help your child overcome obstacles along the way.

As your child transitions from high school to college, admission counselors continue to offer assistance. They provide information on orientation programs, housing options and academic advising services, ensuring a smooth transition into college life.

Building Relationships with Admissions Counselors

Please use admission counselors as the resource that we are. We don’t visit high schools and college fairs just to hand out brochures. We want to know more about your child. The more we know, the better we can help guide them through this process. 

If you don’t need anything, that’s okay! If you do, it’s good to know you can always contact your admission counselor for help.

Do Admissions Counselors Make Decisions Regarding Admission?

Sometimes, yes! This is why your child should develop that relationship with admission counselors, especially if they’re looking at a school that might just be out of your child’s target academic range. 

If we have any pull with the admission process, we will certainly go to bat for your child (if we know them). 

The Role of Admissions Counselors Beyond Acceptance

In my position, I don’t stop reaching out once your child has been admitted. I’ll ensure that you stay on top of scholarship and financial aid deadlines, complete those next steps on time, and then help you ensure you have exactly what you need to make your college decision. 

The bulk of an admission counselor’s role involves working with prospective students, but it isn’t like a door is closed and students on campus never head into the admission office again. Developing a relationship with your admission counselor can lead to a job in the admission office when you enroll at a college or help you find your footing once you get to campus. 

Navigating Special Circumstances

The college admission process can be confusing, especially for first-generation college students. I’m here to help navigate you through the process and help whenever I can. 

The same goes for students needing accommodations to help level the playing field. Working with your admission counselor can be to your student’s advantage, as we can connect you to current students who were in similar circumstances not long before you. Plus, we’re generally more helpful than a Google search.

Tips for Parents in Supporting Their High School Students

I often say that the college search journey is like a road trip where students are the drivers. 

Are you (as the parent) sitting in the back reading, only looking up occasionally, or are you giving turn-by-turn directions (and occasionally grabbing the wheel in fear)? 

Most parents I work with are somewhere in the middle. Whatever your road trip style, you should feel like you can also build a relationship with your admission counselor. Reach out when you have questions because, in the end, we both want what’s best for your family. Think of us as your GPS. You can get turn-by-turn instructions interrupting the music from the minute you leave your block, or you can just use us when things are less familiar.

Common Misconceptions About Admissions Counselors

We admission counselors don’t usually have the final say about whether a student attends our college or university. 

We enjoy working with families and know that not every student we work with will choose to attend our school … and that’s okay! Our main objective is to develop a relationship with the students we work with so that even if your child doesn’t choose our school, you’ll have an experience that you’ll want to tell your friends and family about when it becomes their turn to go through the admissions process. 

More than an Application Collector

From the first meeting at a college fair or high school visit to greeting you on move-in day, we, as college admission counselors, are your guide and advocate. We’re there for you when you have questions, including parent questions! 

My teenagers tell me I’m good at asking “mom questions,” and I get that what parents want to know is often quite different from what students think to ask. Asking questions can only help you and your student come to a college decision that is right for you… and you don’t have to stop asking questions just because your student has paid their enrollment deposit. 

If this has brought up more questions for you or if you’ve had a good experience with a college admission counselor, please share that in the comments section. So many people don’t know how to utilize a college admission counselor, so please let us know how you worked with yours! 

Choosing a college or university to apply to should be a fun process! If you can take advantage of attending a college fair (or several), you should! This is a great time to meet with admission representatives and ask questions. What questions should you ask admissions counselors at college fairs? Here’s our list. 

Don’t treat an admission counselor as a stranger. We want to help you through this process! It’s not about selling you a college or university (although yes, that’s part of it), but it’s about selling you the right college or university for your child

Written by Jen DiSessa, senior assistant director of admission at Central College. I worked with Jen professionally during my time there. She’s amazing!

Contact College Money Tips at [email protected] if you have questions about the college search process and achieving a debt-free degree.

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