Life 101: Beyond High School with Joanne Barnard

Part 9 of 10 featured the first Thursday of each month

“You don’t get what you want; you get what you ask for.”
- Susan Morem, Tip #37., 101 Tips for Graduates

It is decision time for high school seniors. Most colleges expect a decision from you by May 1 as to whether you will accept their financial aid

package.  At the very least you need an answer to the ... “what are you doing after high school?” question.  Making any decision is tricky and this one may seem overwhelming. However, with a little reflection, an understanding of what you want, and a deep breath, any decision can be made with confidence and courage.

Review the process that brought you here. Back in the fall when you began your quest for life “beyond high school”, there were qualities you uncovered. From discovering who you are (September 3: Getting to Know You) to searching for what you want (October 1: The Search).  You have come a long way since then, now is a good time to review these, and ask yourself which option will most likely get you what you want.

Examine the significance of each option, and the effect each will have on your life - go beyond just the first year. Survey your parents and other adults who are happy with their current life, and ask them how their first year out of high school affected their current situation. A conversation with someone about their life choices can be rewarding.

A student who hasn’t changed his/her mind is rarer than one who has. Keep this in mind when reviewing your options. If you are someone who needs flexibility, a more pliant path may be your best choice. For example, choosing a small, focused school can be limiting if you later decide on a different career path.

You have made decisions in the past, some that were good, and perhaps some not so good. Your process of making decisions in the past, and your reaction to the outcome of those selections is a pretty good indicator of how you will perform in the future. 

If your process has worked out for you, trust it. If not, seek guidance on what you might change, so you can truly embrace a decision.

Once you make the choice, document the dates for housing deposits, and other college related deadlines. Also remember to notify the other institution(s) you will not be attending. Most importantly, the one making the decision - you - must ultimately accept its outcome. Each choice you make is a step towards your future. It is crucial that you accept that your life is the culmination of your choices. This gives you the power to adjust. Otherwise you are bound by the illusion of having things done to you.

Take charge - understand what you want, have the courage to ask for what you want, and acknowledge your power over your future.
Oh, and don’t forget to breathe.

Happy Deciding
Next Life 101: May 5

FREE WEBINAR: It’s Time! Comparing Financial Aid Award Letters and Making the Best Decision for You.  At choose “Educator Resource Center” from the “Get Started” drop-down menu. On the left side click on “Events & webinars”


Life 101 Parent’s Tips

Below are some tips for how parents can help their high school senior make their post-secondary decision.
• Check out Webinars at
• Ask your child how each option will meet what they want from their post secondary education.
• Ask your child “what if” questions to help them reflect on their options.
• Share with your senior the process you use for making decisions.
• Share with your senior how you adjusted in a situation where a decision took you somewhere you didn’t intend to go.
• Ask yourself what financial ramifications each option will have on you. Example: If you sell stock to fund the family contribution, this may increase income and therefore diminish aid in subsequent years.
• Refrain from co-signing a student loan.

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