First Lady Michelle Obama touches the Hokie Stone before walking onto the field at Lane Stadium to give the Virginia Tech commencement address in Blacksburg, Va., May 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Time to Select a College

The countdown is on…

On Wednesday, May 1st, Reach Higher will celebrate its 5th annual College Signing Day (also known as “Better Make Room”) with former First Lady, Michelle Obama and the University of California (UCLA).

May 1st is the deadline by which many high school seniors tell colleges where they plan to attend in the fall. The Reach Higher Initiative, which Mrs. Obama launched in 2014, invites educators and communities to join in a host of celebrations in support of all students who commit to continue their education after high school. Whether it be at a community college, a four-year college, a certificate program, or through the military, any continuing education is encouraged.

More than 2,250 events in all 50 states were celebrated last year through these initiatives and this year promises to be even bigger. Choosing a college is a momentous decision that should not be taken lightly. It is a major step towards achieving future goals and success. What we’d hate to see, is for the cost to get in the way.

Many states have prepaid college accounts that parents, grandparents or guardians can take advantage of from a young age. These virtually guarantee a spot in a state school at little or no cost to the student. If you’re ready to sign, though, you’ll want to be applying for scholarships and financial aid.

Another option is to start off at a a community college and transfer to a 4-year college as a Junior. Many states guarantee admission if the first two years were completed successfully at an approved community college. Of course, you’ll have to see what options are available where you live. Going out of state will almost always cost more.

But the fact is, you won’t ever know how much a college is really going to cost until you receive your financial aid packages. Even then, some financial aid offices have room to negotiate. Why is continued education so important? Let’s let Mrs. Obama tell you in her own words:

“In college, I studied subjects I was passionate about. I met all kinds of different people and I got the education I needed to pursue a career as a lawyer, a nonprofit leader, a hospital executive and yes, eventually, as First Lady of the United States. I know that your college degrees will do the same for all of you, setting you up to lead the life of your dreams and succeed in whatever you wish to do.”