Which College Is Right for Your Child?

by Robert Hernandez
(San Jose, California)

Harvard University

Harvard University

We live in California where we are fortunate to have some very good college choices. My wife and I both attended different University of California campuses and we both received an excellent education. Together we raised 4 children, and we assumed they would follow in our footsteps and attend a University of California, or one of the California State Universities. Over time we realized that each of our children were different, and required a different solution.

Our oldest, our only daughter, had her heart set on attending a private east coast school, and she had the grades and test scores to make it possible. We did the usual college tour, including some excellent west coast schools of our choice, including our alma maters of course, and some east coast schools. She received offers from several schools including an excellent financial aid package from Harvard, which she accepted. She is currently attending graduate school at UCLA.

Our second child, a son, attended a local community college for a semester before he dropped out. He decided to go into a trade, and is currently a journeyman electrician. He is thinking of getting his general contractor license and running his own construction company someday.

Our third child, also a son, showed no interest in college, in spite of our strong encouragement to get a good education. He chose to enter the Air Force after completing high school, and hopes to make a career in the military. Through the Air Force he has received free training and education.

Our youngest child, another son, was a solid student, but he didn’t have the grades for a good financial aid package from the University of California. He decided to attend a local community college for 3 years, before he transferred to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he completed his engineering degree.

Part of growing up is learning to be financially responsible, which is also part of our story. All of our children learned the value of hard work, through summer jobs and on-campus jobs (work study program). They also knew they would have to take on some college loans, which meant choosing a career that would pay well enough to pay back the loans. We also helped them be financially responsible by establishing credit with student VISA cards and small, secured loans. While they each chose a different path, they are all on solid ground.

My advice for other parents is to always love and support your children in their dreams, and don’t assume that only one college is right for them, or even college at all. We are proud of all of our children, and each is successful is his or her own unique way.

Thank you for the chance to share our college experience from a parent’s perspective, and if we win, we plan to use this money to help pay toward some student loans.

Thank you Robert for sharing your personal story, Which College Is Right for Your Child? So many parents want to force one "right" choice upon their child. It is refreshing to hear how each of your kids chose a different path and made you proud.

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