As a college professor, I’ve worked in higher education for over a decade and there’s no doubt that the sticker price for college continues to rise. Nowadays the thought of acquiring a post-secondary degree seems financially daunting. Author Anthony ONeal, in his book, Debt Degree Degree, offers hope to parents and students that college is not only attainable, but affordable.
Here are some key takeaways I garnered from ONeal’s wisdom. Her introduces the book with a life lesson taught to him by his dad, specifically that “proper, prior planning prevents poor performance.” To start, ONeal states that parents must have a real dialogue with their student on the long-term impact of student loans, and the very low likelihood of debt forgiveness. Talks should continue with a reality check that a student’s college of their dreams will just have to remain there…in their dreams. Basically, why go and spend thousands of dollars at a costly institution for a degree, when you can go elsewhere and earn the same degree for thousands of dollars less at a public institution, or through a community college?
ONeal also advised that students should try and pay for a car in cash and avoid credit cards. Some ways to fund college should involve applying for scholarships, grants and engaging in work study programs, as these conduits help alleviate the need for taking on student loans. ONeal also offered tips for parents and stated that planning for college should start in the early middle school years of their student, as the early academic years are an opportunity for transcript building via taking AP courses, and students getting to know their school counselors, in addition to involvement in dual credit offerings and preparing well for national entrance exams like the ACT and SAT.
Another one of his college prep words of wisdom include having a parent make their student list all the extracurricular activities their student most enjoys and narrowing the list, along with having their student volunteer in community service opportunities to build a network and engage in service learning. Throughout the book, ONeal offered a plethora of advice as one enters high school. I don’t want to spoil this good read for you.
Since 2003 ONeal has been an advocate of financial literacy in young people and his rise to fame was a result of his personal experiences of having fallen on hard times, when at one time he was completely broke and homeless. Now he is a regular contributor to the nationally acclaimed financial help program, The Dave Ramsey Show. Ramsey also provided the foreword to ONeal’s book stating that “unlike a lot of books, Debt-Free Degree doesn’t just tell you what to do. It gives you a clear path to help your child earn a four-year degree with no debt. And unlike a lot of students, your child will have confidence heading into the real world because they’ve chosen to connect a common sense plan to their passion.”
Whether you are in middle school, high school, already in college, or a parent, I highly recommend you read Debt-Free Degree. It’s practical, informative and can save you or your student thousands of dollars in emotional headache of trying to finance an expensive college education. Let’s try to be Team No Student Debt! Go read this book!
By Dr. Chisom Unegbu