Topic from April 2004

This month, the Advising Forum presents the sixteenth in a series of advising case studies.

Case study #16: You receive the following e-mail from a local parent about a student who is not enrolled at your institution:

My daughter goes to Pricey University and is majoring in liberal arts. They are taking all of our money and letting her borrow the rest. She already owes $20,000 in student loans and will need to borrow another $25,000 just to graduate. Plus she's not going to have any marketable job skills when she's done. I feel my husband and I are at fault for letting her go to this school. The rich kids don't care about their education because their parents pay for it and will give them a job when they graduate. The poor kids get financial aid, but the rest of us don't get any and have to go into debt, and for what? $45,000 in student loans to repay and no job skills! I want her to transfer to another school that won't cost as much, but she likes it where she's at. I've tried talking to the advisers at her school, but I think they just want to keep her there to help pay their salaries. And now I find out they want her to go to grad school--more debt! I'm a sales clerk in the mall and I work with people who have liberal arts degrees and they're no farther ahead than me, plus they owe big bucks for their student loans. I think this is all just a huge scam. What advice can you give me? Help!

How would you respond?

Your Responses
Obviously, this is a family that should have used a community college to get a start on their daughter's education. What to do now? I know it seems like a lot of money but the family needs to stay focused on their daughter finishing school. Twenty years from now the money she borrowed for college may not even add up to one years salary. Get the parents to see the big picture and explore the job opportunities that Liberal Arts students gravitate to. There is also the possibility that she may take a few electives at a community college during the summer to transfer to Pricey U.

-Steven Stolar, Cumberland County College, April 6


We have used an article on our website to deal with some of the issues identified in your case study. It was adapted with permission of Bell Atlantic Information Systems. Hope it is helpful.

Choosing and Using Your Wichita State Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) Major

-Bob Rozzelle, Wichita State University, April 6


Obviously there are several issues.

  1. Depending on how much time this student has left, she can begin doing co-ops or internships to offset her cost and gain work experience.
  2. What kind of grades is she getting? If sub-par, then as parents set limits.
  3. Finally, you are not required to pay for graduate school. Let the daughter shoulder that responsibility.
-Louis Marius, Jr., Middlesex County College, April 15


From a general advising stance, the adviser could give ideas for resume builders and focus on the marketable skills concern. The student still has plenty of time to build up her skill set in order to get a good job when she graduates. This would kind of touch on the mother's main complaint ... the cost of her daughter's education and the possibility of not finding a job to pay off the loans.

-Criselda Marquez, Purdue University, April 16

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