Preparing high school juniors (and parents) for cost of college

As an Academic Advisor at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, I’m always meeting new students and interviewing them about their reasons for attending college and what concerns they may have.

It has surprised me over the years to hear that so many young adults are worrying about the cost of education and the stigma of student debt.

Of course, like most people, I am not a fan of debt of any kind!

But I do think sometimes we hear some horrific stories (sometimes a bit overblown in the media perhaps) about the high cost of education.

Too often we hear about these college graduates coming out of school with tens of thousands of dollars, even sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, worth of debt.

There is no doubt that college can be expensive these days. There is tuition, fees, books and supplies, not to mention the investment of time.

The cost of living on campus and having a meal plan can double the actual cost of tuition at some schools. For commuting students, there is the cost of having a reliable vehicle, insurance, gas and maintenance.

No doubt, college is expensive. But I try to remind my students that at the end of the college journey, it is not about the piece of paper, and it’s not even about how much money you spent or the prestige of the college necessarily.

It’s about having the skills, knowledge, training, and connections that you build over the years that you invest. I am a true believer that if you invest in yourself (and put in the time and commitment to be successful in your major), that this investment will pay you back ten-fold in the end.

After more than a decade of being a career counselor at FM, I know now that there are many pathways to success and further education can include on-the-job or technical training, or trade schools and apprenticeships, as much as “traditional” college.

I have had the privilege of being the Early Admission Student Advisor for most of my years here and I have met so many outstanding students along the way.

I have met students that I had such confidence in, I knew wherever they attended college after FM, they would be successful in life.

I knew that the debt they were concerned about at these 4-year universities, was one day going to be repaid and that they were going to see it as a truly worthwhile investment in their lives and their future.

Early Admission at FM is a special program for qualified high school seniors who have the recommendation of their high school guidance counselor to be a part of this program.

It gives seniors the opportunity to attend college early, either full-time or part-time, completing high school graduation requirements at FM, or just taking some college credited courses to explore a major more in depth.

I would always recommend that students explore a major by taking a class in it first, before committing to a program at a more expensive university. To lower overall education debt, consider attending a community college first, lessening the load at a more expensive college while giving a student the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of being a college student.

It is less expensive to “test” a major at a community college before committing to a larger university after high school graduation.

I work with students closely to help them choose the right courses to transfer, and to help them decide which path to pursue next.

For more information on FM’s Early Admission Program, visit or call Admissions at (518) 736-3622, Ext. 8301 or Ext. 8163.

This article was written by Christie Davis, FM’s Early Admission Liaison and Academic Advisor at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

By Kerry Minor

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