THE OPEN HAVERSACK: University costs


If you want your children to go to university, start saving as soon as they are born.
Entering a university is a very important and interesting experience in the life of students. It is an experience that will change their lifestyles and their future forever.
University education is the buzz phrase on the lips of many parents from the time their children are in nursery school. Many parents believe that having a university education is the only way for a better life, especially for those children who are from low-income families. Some parents who have not been privileged to have such an education, drill in the minds of their children the value of having a university education.
In light of the economic downturn, it is important that parents start saving for their children’s university education from the time they are born.
Worries about how to pay university fees used to be an issue for those parents who opted to send their children to universities outside of the local campuses.
However, this is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Free university education is slowly becoming a distant memory. Many families will now have to face the “music” of funding educational cost. This has left many low-income parents uncertain about the destiny of the education of their children, since many are finding it difficult to meet the basic day to day functions – food, shelter, clothing – and many do not qualify for loans.
Parents need to be proactive in their thinking and plan accordingly. There are, however, some guidelines, that can assist parents with this dilemma:
• Unless you want your child to graduate with thousands of dollars in debt alongside their degree, as parents you should start saving from the time the child is born.
• Start searching for institutions that offer loans at reasonable rates. In some cases it only takes two sureties and a permanent job to qualify.
• Help your child understand that time is money and it should not be wasted. University is an adult institution and they need to be responsible for their own learning.
• Be the coach, not rescuer. When you see the poor grades or when there is confusion about what to major in, you can play the role of coach, not rescuer. Encourage your child to take charge of his/her university experience and talk to the faculty advisor, seek out a tutor, or make an appointment to speak to the Dean. Learn about the services that are provided at the university.
Coping with university life can be a quite a mind-boggling event for the average student and a serious stress factor for parents. Students entering the campus should see life as multifarious. They should not only pursue academic excellence, but also explore their potentials and talents while developing a positive philosophy of life. University costs money, and money is limited, so don’t waste it.
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, a National Development Scholar and former president of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc.


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