Teen worries about the cost of college

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Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I attend a private high school. The price tag on that leaves my parents in a tight financial spot. My parents know my tendency to worry, so they try to hide any financial troubles and sugarcoat my world. I appreciate their intentions. However, I would rather they not hide reality from me. I know my current tuition leaves my family with just enough money to get by. My father tries to support our family by working more than 70 hours a week. My mother assures me that we have enough money for college, yet the money set aside is only enough for about one term of the good school I want to go to. I'm not that smart, something my parents haven't realized, so I am not optimistic that I'll get a "miracle" scholarship. I don't want to compromise where I will go for college (if I even get accepted), but I would sooner do that than leave my parents in financial ruin. What do I do?

-- Worried Student

DEAR WORRIED: The obvious solution for you is to seek your college education at the school that will give you the most value. Speak to your college counselor about this and explore all of your options.

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State colleges often charge a fraction of what private colleges cost, and the best value of all is community college, where you can get an associates degree and then transfer to a four-year school.

I once interviewed the dean of admissions at an Ivy League school, who told me that the school looks for students who have excelled at community college. Like you, these students are typically hardworking, motivated and mature.

You owe your parents your very best efforts. If you can translate your anxiety over this into positive action by finding an affordable school, then everybody wins.


DEAR AMY: I'm responding to the letter from "Confused Mom," the Jewish mother who was confused about her sister-in-law, who keeps sending Mass cards to her family. As a practicing Catholic, I can tell you that Mass cards are generally sent as a way to honor someone who has died. I would recommend a little tolerance. My sister (who was of the Baha'i faith) recently passed away and my mother and many of her friends sent Mass cards, which were lovingly accepted. We all pray to the same God and are always asking each other for prayers, regardless of our faith.

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-- Weighing In

DEAR WEIGHING IN: Sending a Mass card to a young boy celebrating a birthday is outside the norm, but yes -- tolerance is called for.

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