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Archive for November, 2008

Want To Make God Laugh?

Tell him your plans!natalie

As an executive, planning was a big part of my job. When it came to my career, I always had a long term plan. As a parent, I planned all the time, and for the last 5 years, I have helped our daughter Natalie with her career plan.

As a three-time Chief Marketing Officer, I can recognize talent a mile away. When Natalie was in eighth grade she won first prize at a prestigious science fair. The judges were all top scientists from nearby Lawrence Livermore Laboratories and UC Berkeley. Clearly they were impressed with her potential as a future scientist.

I knew otherwise. Science wasn’t Natalie’s strong suit, but she packaged up her project and presented it with such professional marketing flare that she blew away the other contestants.

Naturally, when she decided that she really didn’t like sports medicine after one month at Pepperdine, I decided it was time to steer her toward my chosen profession – marketing. It wasn’t that hard to do. Natalie loved writing, research, public speaking, and she had a great eye for visual appeal.

En route to graduating Magna Cum Laude in PR and Marketing from Pepperdine last year, Natalie also worked four different marketing internships. Every firm she worked for loved her and her work. Everyone offered her a job after graduation and one of them – the Olympic Hockey Star Jim Craig – actually offered her a job representing his motivational speaking business on the west coast during her senior year.

A few months before graduation, Natalie landed a great job offer. It was based in San Diego, the city she had selected to live in. She had interned with the company and loved the people. In particular, it was a Christian based firm and their largest client was Wild Alaskan Seafood – Natalie’s favorite meal.

Sounds like a Career Secret Sauce success story right?

Wrong.

Although Natalie loved the company and the product, she wanted to do more to help people and serve God. Last Friday she parted ways with her marketing dream job (in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression) to pursue a life in Christian Ministry.

Although we worry about her economic future, we couldn’t be more proud of her. She is currently applying to graduate schools and looking for an internship in Women’s Ministry.

Boy, God must be laughing his head off now!

If you’re interested in learning more about Natalie and her work, check out www.nataliehorne.com or her blog at http://phenomenal.wordpress.com.

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As we discussed in Strategy One for Surviving the Middle Class College Education Crisis, before you select a college and a career, calculate the return on investment mathematically.

This means that taking out a fat loan to attend a prestigious private school and earn a degree in primary education would probably turn out to be a very bad investment. You may truly enjoy teaching young minds, but you’ll be giving up a huge portion of a very modest paycheck to service that college loan for decades. Consider a high-quality state university or living at home instead.

On the other hand, if you are intent on starting your own business or becoming a CEO by the age of 30, you will enhance your odds of success by attending one the top business schools in the country. Sure, Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton are about as expensive a degree as you can get, but they are where many great entrepreneurs come from. The lessons you learn, associations you make and network you build more than justify the incremental financial investment you have to make.acquiring-college-debt

Runaway Student Borrowing

Sometimes it seems like everyone thinks that they must go to college or else become losers for life. The reality is that the world is full of extremely successful professionals and entrepreneurs who never set foot on a college campus.

That said, the pressure to attend college is undeniable. Every September millions of young people enter college with borrowed money and without a clear idea of what they hope to learn.

They believe that the simple act of attending college with both “show them the light” and assure them of a job once they graduate. Neither of these assumptions is true. Yet, the pace of borrowing continues to spiral out of sight; over $80 billion and growing through 2005.

What is true is that the loans will have to be paid back and many of them will never lead to a job that earns enough in incremental pay to justify the loan.

In the world of lending, this is known as “getting upside down.” If you’re a prospective student or parent or one, make sure this never happens to you. Save money for college, work and pay as you go, or simply go to a lower cost college.

Do not ruin your financial future by getting upside down on the first major loan of your life.

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One of the best options for tuition cost relief in this economy is the state college or university. Unfortunately, these institutions rely on tax income to help offset their expenses and as the economy shrinks, so does the contribution from the state house.

Here are three stories from newspapers across the country highlighting this frightening trend.

Virginia Hikes Prepaid Tuition 10.3%

Like many states, Virginia offers a program that allows parents to start putting away money when their child is born to guarantee them an education in the state’s university system when they graduate high school. This prepaid amount is modestly adjusted (upward) on an annual basis, but this year, it jumped a whopping 10.3%.

An article in Wednesday’s RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH highlighted this drastic action: “Those forces-a stock market that has hammered investments and tuition increases at state colleges and universities that have outpaced expectations-have prompted the Virginia College Savings Plan to raise prices for pre-paid contracts to bolster the program’s diminished reserve fund.”

The article also noted a dyer forecast from the State Auditor of Public Accounts Walter J. Kucharski, citing:  “If the market doesn’t recover . . . you’re going to end up pricing your long-term contracts so nobody can afford to buy them,” he said.

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Arizona State Tuition Jumps 11% to 14%asu_small

Today’s Arizona Republic reported huge fee increases in the state’s top schools.

“That is a substantial number, without a doubt,” Rich Stanley, ASU’s senior vice president and senior university planner, said of the proposed 11 percent increase. “The historic level of tuition at the institution hasn’t been high enough to allow us to do the things we need to do to provide the best education for students in Arizona.”

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Iowa Target’s Nonresident Students

Hoping to give the locals a break, administrators in the Iowa state college program have targeted out of state stuiowadents for their tuition hike reported the Des Moines Register last week.

“The University of Iowa, by comparison, plans to raise out-of-state tuition by 7.6 percent, a higher rate than the proposed 4.2 percent in-state tuition increase for undergraduates attending all three public schools.”

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I fear these actions from three diverse regions of the country are just the tip of the iceberg; all the more reason to treat college as a real investment.

Next week we’ll get back to number two of my seven survival strategies for coping with the Middle Class College Education Crisis.

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Our first “survival strategy for coping with the Middle Class College Education Crisis is to change the way you think about college. It’s not just the next step in life; it’s one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make.

This may not sound that revolutionary; unless you’re a member of the idle rich, a college education is obviously an investment in the future.

But thinking about college like a real investment means that the money that gets returned over time exceeds the initial payout.

That’s true, but very few people actually do the math.

The math is quite simply. You look at the full cost of the college degree for each of the various schools you’re considering. That great state university near home may only cost you $60,000 if you live at home and commute. Want to school like the rich and famous? Try Pepperdine in Malibu. Tuition, room and board for four years will weigh in more like $250,000.

Calculating the life time value of the degree you obtain is lot tougher. You have to assume the kind of job you’ll get, where you’ll live, and what people with your degree get paid in that particular location. Regardless, an elementary school teacher in the hills of Pennsylvania will have much lower life time earnings than a software designer in Santa Clara, California.

Some degrees cost more than others and some careers pay better than others, before you take the first big step — do the math!

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