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College Rumors Busted

These college rumors get busted by our experts--find out what's true and what's just made up.

Laure Jeanne Hammond

March 09, 2009

College Rumors Busted

If your roommate dies, you’ll get a 4.0. You know you’ve heard that rumor—and wondered if maybe, just maybe, it’s true. What about other college rumors? Our experts debunk these myths and give you the real scoop.

Rumor: I can’t afford college.
Busted: With scholarships and grants, few students pay the entire advertised sticker price of college. And with a little thought and planning, you’ll be able to save costs. Maybe you can start at a two-year school and transfer later. Maybe you pick a college near home and commute for a semester or two to save on room and board. Maybe you can forgo having a car and rely on public transportation, cabs and making friends who have cars to get to the airport and mall.

College students pay for college in all kinds of ways: agreements with Mom and Dad, part-time jobs or paying co-ops and internships, working on campus or getting student loans.

Apply to where you want to go, then make your final decision once your financial aid package comes through. Then sit down with your parents to determine how much student loan debt you’d have to take on with each option, and how much that means you’ll have to pay back. Be frugal in your choice—don’t take on thousands of dollars in debt if the only reason you pick a school is because your girlfriend is going there, too. Plane tickets are a lot cheaper than more student loan debt than you can handle.

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Rumor: Two-year schools aren’t for me.
Busted: Community colleges are affordable ways to prepare for a job or to build up your college credit and GPA before transferring to a four-year school. Use a community college correctly, and you can take many of your general education requirements (think history, foreign language, science and English) at a two-year school for a fraction of a four-year school’s tuition price.

After two years, you can enter the workforce with your certification or associate’s degree, or transfer to a four-year school to finish a bachelor’s.

In fact, starting at a two-year school may even help you out.

“We actually find that students who begin with us perform better at the upper-level school to which they transfer than most of the students who began their freshmen year at the four-year university,” says Fred Peters, director of marketing and public information at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. “Our university contacts tell us they’re seeing the same results; that’s why they welcome our transferring sophomores.”

Rumor: The only way to be successful is to attend a prestigious college.
Busted: Think of all the successful people in your life. Think of all the adults who have jobs that give them meaning, who contribute to their families and communities, and who make enough money to live comfortably.

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Now name the percentage of them went to Ivy League schools.

Thought so. ‘Nuff said.

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