Higher education plays a crucial and important role in every community, but planning for and understanding college doesn’t just begin before entering an institution on Day One: Planning for college is a lifelong commitment and benefit that can begin at any age and for all families.
Northern Illinois University’s Holmes Student Center will be the site of “ISAC, Your Family, and Education: Start the conversation about college today,” scheduled from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 16.
Families who attend the event will realize that college is possible while discovering free resources from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), the local ISACorps and the federal government.
During the two-hour program, parents will learn about the process that their students will go through as they prepare for and enter college as well as where to turn if they have questions or need assistance. They will also hear from other parents who have gone through the process about challenges they faced in that journey.
All students, regardless of age, will participate in activities designed to spark their creative and artistic abilities and get them thinking about their future aspirations.
“After buying a home, paying for children’s college education is one of the biggest expenses many families incur,” says Rebecca Babel, director of NIU’s Student Financial Aid Office. “Picking a college and major that are a good fit to the student’s interest, learning style, academic preparation and career goals and the family’s ability to pay is central to maximizing the investment in and opportunity of a college experience. Early exploration helps in finding that fit.”
Three workshops will be offered:
- A performance showing children the importance of going to college for a better future. Students will help create the performance as well as partake in a number of activities to engage their own personal interests. (Recommended for elementary school students)
- An artistic expression exercise through which students will work on identifying who they are and what they want to be by creating personal narratives and developing dialogues centered on the uncertainties and struggles of preparing for college. (Two sessions; one recommended for middle school students and another for high school students)
- A discussion with parents about key milestones on the path to higher education, including an overview of the financial aid process and easy, yet critical, steps to take while children are still young.
“Early planning can enhance a student’s likelihood of being admitted to their top choices and receiving scholarships. Understanding college costs and financial aid options will help families be prepared to say ‘yes’ when the letter of acceptance arrives,” Babel says. “NIU is excited that ISAC’s initiative to engage students and parents in thinking about college at a very early stage is coming to our campus.”
Illinois has set a goal to increase the proportion of adults in Illinois with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. People who obtain education beyond high school see significant impacts on their potential career prospects and future salaries, but also change levels of poverty, life expectancy, crime and obesity rates in their communities.
This event is one of many held across the state to inform families of the many services available to help plan, prepare and pay for college for students at all age ranges. Registration is encouraged and walk-ins welcomed. Please contact Kristin Cannon at Kristin.Cannon@isac.illinois.gov to register more than six students.