Higher Education
Gail Boenning

I’ve been living this for several years with a sophomore in college and a HS junior like yours. It’s such a balancing act, between cost, choice of majors (since the vast majority of them change their minds at least once), love of major vs. eventual income, grad school requirements for said major, distance from home, where their friends are going, what else the location has to offer…

My eldest is continuing to debate what she loves (marine bio, which requires a master’s at minimum to make very little money and still might not let her do what she wants — i.e., sharks as opposed to algae) vs. something she just likes but maybe pays enough to let her scuba dive regularly. Do you hedge your bets with a broader bio degree and then decide? Can you minor in journalism or photography with an eye toward the National Geographic-type career? It’s tough! Jury is still out in her case, although she makes regular lists of pros and cons.

I advocate strongly for a state school, as Anna says — generally the best price tag for what you get (varies, but I imagine WI is still very good), not too far away, and typically with lots of majors for when they do a 180. Save the more expensive schools for the master’s or doctorate when they will hopefully get funding anyway. Another good option is a community college for a year or two, especially if money is tight or the kid isn’t 100% ready to be on their own; many have programs with 4-year colleges to ease the transition and nobody cares where a kid started — only where they graduated.

Good luck with it all! We’re starting to dive in with kid #2 and will be right there with you.