Jane Lynch Urges Students: Don’t Major in Debt

Written on July 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm , by

It’s never too early to start thinking about financing your kids’ educations. Even if your teens aren’t packing up their belongings to head off to college this fall, paying for school is always on the horizon. And with more and more horror stories about growing student debt and crippling loan interests, it’s imperative to make smart finance decisions.

Yesterday, actress Jane Lynch, best known for her role on Glee, along with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), unveiled a new resource to help parents and students find the best way to finance a college degree. The new National College Finance Center website,, along with a “Don’t Major in Debt” PSA were revealed. The free and unbiased website will help students and parents find the right loan and understand the terms, and help young adults manage their debt. State-specific information about available grants and scholarships will also be provided to help customize the right path to your teen’s college education.

Jane Lynch became involved with the campaign after seeing her own nieces and nephews struggle with debt during college and after graduating. Knowing her 10-year-old daughter will be looking at universities in the not too distant future made helping the organization even more important to Jane.

College debt is now the number two reason people file for bankruptcy, a statistic the National College Finance Center hopes to change soon. Whether your teen is heading to college in the next few years, or even if a university education is far off in the future, you can start educating yourself on the best way to make that degree a reality without being saddled with debt.

Bridget Mallon is an articles intern at Family Circle.

How Important Are College Rankings?

Written on September 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm , by

Today U.S. News and World Report released their 2012 college rankings. Recently retooled, they’re based on a number of factors, including the schools’ undergraduate academic reputations and student selectivity.  I’m currently a graduate student at NYU. As I read the rankings, my thoughts were, in rapid succession:

  1. Oh, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are in the top 3 slots? Who could have seen that coming? (Please note the sarcasm.)
  2. Sweet – my undergrad and graduate schools got really respectable rankings!
  3. Um…bragging rights aside, I’m not sure this means anything

The way I see it, the rankings are a good place to start your kid’s college search, but they can’t be the only – or the most important – selection criteria. Instead, use them as a jumping off point. Note what they say about academics, class size, diversity, prevalence of Greek life and school setting, but understand that no collection of statistics can really capture the college experience.  Rather than relying on a ranking, have your kid talk to a current student or a recent alum. (College admissions offices will be happy to help you out with that.) Take your teen to the campus and see what vibe she gets.

I knew I wanted to go to Tufts University, my undergrad alma mater, when I first visited and saw the pathways covered in chalk. Amidst landscaped lawns and brick buildings, the colorful chalk announced club meetings, advertised events or just displayed pictures. I figured that a school that was academically respected and yet able to not take itself too seriously was the place I wanted to be. The ice cream in the cafeteria and the five-hour train ride that stood between there and home were draws, too. To this day, I’m not sure the percentage of women vs. men on campus or my average class size, but I remember eating pizza in the library foyer at 3 a.m. during finals week with some friends. My school isn’t in the U.S News top 5 (or 20), but I could not imagine having a better experience anywhere else.

Another reason not to rely on ratings too much? Your kid’s college experience will largely be shaped by what he puts into it—and therefore, what he gets from it. If he works with inspiring professors, tries new things, makes friends and comes away having grown and changed, it may not matter whether he went to an ivy league institution or the University of What’s-It-Called. College is about finding the right fit, then making the most of it.

Readers, what do you think? Are you and your kid combing over the ratings or ignoring them all together? Do you find them useful in your college search? Share your thoughts below.

Is College Worth It?

Written on June 9, 2011 at 5:03 pm , by

A new study from the Pew Research Center finds that 57% of Americans say our higher education system fails to provide a good value for the money students and their families spend. And only 22% believe that people can afford to pay for a college education—that’s less than one in four people!

Among students who leave college with debt, about half (48%) say paying off loans made it harder to pay other bills, while 25% say educational debt has made it harder to buy a home.

We examine some of these issues—and whether college is the right choice for every student—in our story Do Kids Need College?

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