Weather the college storm

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By Kirsten Laskey

Education consultant Whitney Laughlin describes colleges today as a perfect storm, which is not a good thing. With universities such as the University of California raising its tuition 32 percent, it is more important than ever to make a wise college selection. Laughlin can show students how to make the best decision.

She will host a free educational workshop from 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fuller Lodge. During the workshop, Laughlin will cover topics such as how  much colleges expect students to pay, how to get a private college education at the cost of a public institution, how does financial aid really work and how to get into and afford a desired school.

 Despite the difficulties of getting into school – there is less financial aid than ever before – Laughlin said the benefits of going to college are still strong. If high school graduates go immediately into the job market, the competition will be high.

“It’s a perfect time to be in school,” Laughlin said.

She noted a college graduate makes two times as much money as a high school graduate.

“It’s the best investment you can make,” Laughlin said.

She also encourages students and their parents to attend her workshop because other resources, such as a high school counselor, can get worn thin.

With the student/counselor ratio at 600 to one in the U.S., counselors are overworked and overwhelmed, Laughlin said.

Laughlin’s services can be invaluable. She brings 30 years of experience in college, university and graduate school admission counseling as well as in career and financial aid counseling.

Her work has included serving as Director of College and University Counseling at Albuquerque Academy, Native American Prep School and Verde Valley School.

Laughlin has also worked at the Harvard College Admission Office and in 2003, in partnership with the American Indian Graduate Center, she founded the Graduate Horizons, a pre-graduate school summer program for Native American college students.

She can offer her experience to students and parents.

“I want everybody to go to the right school and be happy in the process,” Laughlin said.

She added she wants to make sure no one breaks the bank in order to obtain a college degree.

Los Alamos resident Robert Repass said he received an education on the college selection process when his son, William, was looking at colleges.

He said he and his wife both went to large universities and therefore they weren’t even thinking about a whole other range of schools.

Additionally, college seemed much similar when he attended and to go through the process now with his son was a little overwhelming. Working with Laughlin was a big help, Repass said.

He explained that Laughlin determined William’s interests and was able to identify what type of school would be best for William.

It was money well spent for Laughlin’s services because Repass said his son not only got into the school that was his first choice, but received $20,000 yearly scholarship for all four years.

“A lot of people probably have a good idea where they want their kids to go or where their kids want to go,” Repass said, “but if you are not sure … it might be a good idea to engage Whitney’s services.”