What If College Is Not the Right Fit for You?

Episode #29. Each student has a different track in the post-high school journey. Recently, a parent wrote to us asking for advice for her daughter in college, who isn’t sure she is on the right path. In this episode, host Jonathan Hughes speaks with Jan Combs of Bright Horizons College Coach to address this situation and others that may come up for students deciding what to do after high school. Also in this episode, Julie Shields-Rutyna, MEFA’s Director of College Planning, joins Jonathan to talk about the Federal Student Loan Repayment pause. Finally, in the MEFA Mailbag, Julie answers a question about how and when to apply for their private student loan. If you enjoy the MEFA Podcast, please leave us a review.


Jonathan Hughes: [00:00:00] All right. Hi everyone. And welcome to the MEFA podcast. My name is Jonathan Hughes and

Julie Shields-Rutyna: I'm Julie Shields-Rutyna

Jonathan Hughes: And we have such a great show for you today. One of our favorite people, Jane Combs from Bright Horizons College Coach is here. And, let me tell you, I'm gonna tell you the story of how this episode transpired. So we got an email as we sometimes do from a mom who had a daughter in college who quite frankly, was not sure that she wanted to be in college anymore, or at the very least, she wasn't sure that she wanted to continue on with her current path. And she wanted to know what Jan's perspective would be.

So I forwarded this email over to Jan and she responded to us. With such a great response. It was really wonderful guidance. It was insightful. It was comprehensive. It was so good that we published it as a blog on our website. And [00:01:00] so we'll link to that blog in the show notes, but we also thought it would be great to have her on the podcast.

So stick around and listen to that conversation with Jan to learn about what options are available, if you or someone, you know, might be in this situation where they're not quite sure that they want to continue on in their current path in college. But first as always, we have something else to discuss something from the world of federal student loans.

And what is that, Julie?

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Yes. Well, you may have heard that the federal student loan repayment pause has been extended. So what does that mean? Well, you may remember that back in the early days of the pandemic, the previous Congress and administration passed a relief package known as the cares act. And one of the provisions of the cares act was that federal direct student loans went into an immediate forbearance, meaning that no payments were due.

And what's more than that. The interest rate was set to zero. This was termed the federal student loan [00:02:00] repayment pause.

Jonathan Hughes: I do remember that. Yeah. Remember I, in fact, I had my loan payments automatically deducted from my checking account every month and it just stopped, when that pause began. So I didn't have to do anything at

Julie Shields-Rutyna: that was nice.

Jonathan Hughes: yes, it was nice.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Yeah. And this pause has actually then been extended five times and these loans were scheduled to reenter repayment in May, but on April 11th, it was announced that the pause would be extended again through August 31st. And that the loans would then enter repayment in September.

Jonathan Hughes: So pause extended before we continue about what that means. Why don't we just go over? Which loans are paused.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: So these are federal loans only. So no private loans like a MEFA loan, are, are part of this. And in fact, not even every Federal loan is eligible, but most federally held education loans. So this [00:03:00] means that federal direct student loans and parent plus loans that were originated through the direct loan program.

Again, most of them, but if you have questions about which loans are eligible, there's a great resource on student aid.gov that lists all the eligible and ineligible loan programs. And we'll put that link in the show notes. So now chances are, since this has been going on for a few years, you know, which of your loans are eligible by now, but if you're unsure check out that resource, the same features of the pause have been extended too. No payments due interest rates set to zero, but there are some changes.

Jonathan Hughes: Okay, so, so what might those be?

Julie Shields-Rutyna: So there's something that's going to be a fresh start for delinquent and defaulted loans.

Jonathan Hughes: Okay. Well, let's talk about what that means, but can we just explain delinquency and default? What's the difference between the two of those?

Julie Shields-Rutyna: sure. Well, when a borrower is in repayment and they miss a [00:04:00] payment that's due, the loan is said to be delinquent. And so if it's 30 days after your payment was due and you haven't paid it, you're considered 30 days delinquent. If enough payments are missed and the loan falls very far behind, it may be put in default. So for these federal student loans, that time period is 270 days delinquent this has all sorts of consequences. It will negatively affect a borrower's credit. The entire balance of the loan will become due at once you can't qualify for new federal loans, uh, there may be legal proceedings, all sorts of things may happen if you have a loan in default. So you really don't wanna get to that point.

Jonathan Hughes: Okay, so what's being done for these borrowers then.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: So these loans in default will be moved out of default. And the loans with delinquencies will have those delinquencies removed. The loans will reflect a current status. If you had a loan in this status that was eligible to be paused, and then it paused, it will now be [00:05:00] removed from default or have the delinquencies wiped out.

Jonathan Hughes: Wow. That is I, that is very generous.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: I know. Right. It's, it's remarkable. So there's also one other change that has to do with public service loan forgiveness, and that's its own topic. And we have an upcoming show on that. So I won't go into too much detail, but just to say that. In order to qualify for your eligible Federal loans to be forgiven.

One of the requirements is that you needed to make 120 monthly payments while you were employed with a qualified employer. And the changes that the payments that would've been due during the pause, but weren't will now be counted toward the 120 months of payments, as long as you met those other requirements toward your loan forgiveness.

Jonathan Hughes: So even if you weren't making those payments because you were. Pause status it, they will act as if you have made those [00:06:00] payments.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Exactly.

Jonathan Hughes: Getting back to the pause in general. Now this is the sixth extension of this pause, as you said earlier. So more of the same, these folks will be contacted when it's time to make payments. Right. So why are we talking about this now? Well,

Julie Shields-Rutyna: yes, as it stands now, today they are due to go back into repayment in September, but here's why we're talking about it for some folks probably. It may have been quite a long time since they've had the time to think about making these monthly payments. And over the course of two plus years, things change people, move, people, get jobs, people lose jobs.

So despite the way it may have seemed at various points over the two past two years, life did go on. And mostly it went on without people having to think about the repayment of these loans. So I think it's just good to remind people that they still have loans. And that, first of all, they just want to be thinking about the resumption of payment.

So start figuring that into your [00:07:00] budget. If you can call your loan servicer, that's helpful to just ask questions about the monthly payment and you know, how you can make those payments. If you had it set up for automatic withdrawal from a bank. Find out, you know, what date that will come out of your bank account, things like that.

And also it's a good idea to contact your servicer, to see if they have your correct address and contact information. Especially if you moved since you were in repayment last, and I guess one more thing is if you get a letter from your servicer, an email, read it, uh, you may have a new service. That happens sometimes.

And so you don't, you just wanna make sure you keep up to date on your correspondences and you don't wanna miss anything that has to do with, uh, return to repayment on your loans.

Jonathan Hughes: Okay. So now I mentioned before, while I was on auto pay, when the pause began, my payments just stopped being deducted. Right? So what if you were on auto. With your servicer once [00:08:00] the pause ends, will those payments just resume automatically again, being deducted from your, your bank account?

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Well, we're just advising that is another good reason to call your servicer. If you were on autopay and your payments were being automatically withdrawn every month from your bank account, you wanna contact your servicer to see if those payments will begin to be automatically, automatically withdrawn once the pause ends. We don't know, it's my understanding that most services will not just begin deducting your payments. Again, you may have to contact them and renew your automatic payment withdrawal so that if that's how you wanna resume your payment, maybe contact your service or soon to get that straightened out.

Jonathan Hughes: Okay. Now, one thing I wanna ask about, cuz we've just been sort of assuming that people aren't making payments during this pause, but you can still make payments.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Yes. And, and just because no payments have been required doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't make payments, so [00:09:00] each person will make decisions about their own finances, but remember also that these loans have a zero interest rate so anything you pay against these loans right now during the pause all goes against the principle. None of it goes to interest because there is no interest. So it can be a good time to pay down your balance.

Jonathan Hughes: Yeah. I was lucky enough to be able to do that myself. So, after 20 years of repayment, it just so happened that my last few payments were during the pause so, it actually may have accelerated things a little bit for me in, in paying them off, but by a little bit, maybe a month or two, but, just happened to coincide. So, alright, Julie, just to wrap up, what are some resources that folks can turn to if they have questions about this?

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Yes. Well, definitely as I mentioned contact your servicer. That’s probably the best thing people can do. And if you don't know who your servicer is, go to studentaid.gov and most questions can be answered on studentaid.gov about your loans. And you can also [00:10:00] listen to our podcast episode on resuming federal loan repayment, featuring student loan expert, Betsy Mayotte we'll link to that in the show notes.

Jonathan Hughes: All right. Thanks Julie. So now we head to the MEFA mail bag. These are questions that have come into us from customers over the past two weeks and are answered by our college guidance experts. Now, remember if you have questions, you can please reach out to us at collegeplanning@mefa.org, or you can call it 1-800-449-MEFA or you can reach us on social media on Facebook @MEFAMA and Twitter at, @MEFATweets and Instagram at, @MEFA_MA.

So today's question comes to us from Alexandra and we're stick with loans here. So this is a good timely question for June and it's sort of representative of where many parents are right now. She writes. I'm considering an undergraduate loan for our daughter. We have not received our first bill for fall tuition, and she will not register for classes until mid-July.

Is it suggested that [00:11:00] we apply for a loan now or wait until we have the exact financial information? i.e. the Actual bill, which may incorporate some AP credits, et cetera, basically. How long does it take to obtain a denial or an acceptance? After applying for a loan. So two questions there.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Yeah, that's great. Well, I'm gonna answer the second one first. It's a, it's a relatively short process. Once you apply, as long as you pay attention, send in all of the documentation you need follow up. It can, it, you can receive an answer pretty quickly, you know, within. A day or two usually. And then just stay on top of it in case there's anything else you need to follow up with.

So given that, you don't have to apply now. You can wait until you receive your actual bill and then you really can see, this is my bill and, you know, the exact amount you need to borrow to make sure that bill is paid. [00:12:00] That seems to be what most people do. However, I have talked to a few, parents recently who have their bill.

They, they have a pretty good idea of what they're going to need to borrow. Maybe they used MEFA's college cost calculator on our website and they have a rough idea. And for them they can apply now. but you wanna just have a pretty good idea of the correct amount to borrow. So you're not having to make all kinds of changes later.

All right. So remember if you have any questions you can call us up at 1-800-449-MEFA or email us at collegeplanningatmefa.org. We have a bench of college guidance experts. Waiting to answer your question. Now let's go to my interview with Bright Horizons College Coach’s, Jan Combs.

Our guest today on the MEFA podcast is Jan Combs, a senior manager at bright horizons college coach Jan's significant experience in financial aid. Having served as an assistant director at Boston university and is the director of financial aid at Harvard [00:13:00] graduate school of education. We know her at MEFA because she was a long serving ambassador for MEFA where she facilitated educational programs on admissions and financial aid at Massachusetts high schools.

So it's great to see you Jan and welcome to the MEFA podcast. Thank you

Jan Combs: so much for having me today, Jonathan. Great to see you. It has been a while we

Jonathan Hughes: were just talking about this. We received an email at MEFA collegeplanning@mefa.org. looking for you personally, looking for Jan. And so from someone stating that their daughter was currently a student in college. And honestly, wasn't sure that it was the right path for her anymore. And she really wanted some guidance on where she could turn to help figure out if this was the right path for her, or if it wasn't where she could go. I forwarded that email to you when you wrote back to this person and it was such a great, thoughtful comprehensive reply that it became a blog post. That I also had a sense from this [00:14:00] email that this, this mom may speak for a lot of moms or a lot of students who are in this situation. And they're not quite sure. If they are where they should be, what might someone in that position do?

Jan Combs: Sure. And, and I, I love how you kind of frame that, that, you know, this is not uncommon, right.

That there's a lot of people that go off to a four year school, and then all of a sudden they're just confused is this the right path for me? and so it's definitely not uncommon. So I, I always wanna remind people of that. And I also wanna remind people. First and foremost know that there are so many options that are available to students.

It's not just four year colleges and that may very well be the perfect path for many., but certainly not for all. So I always want people to know that there are lots of different paths that are available to students, whether it's community college, vocational, technical schools, job shadowing, working, internships, career exploration, things of that nature.

So what I would encourage someone who's a [00:15:00] current. College student at a four year school is first off don't bail. Okay. Don't bail, step back, reflect a little bit. Think about what's important to you, your interest. Use the resources at your current college, talk with your advisor, visit your career services office, talk to faculty.

You know, a lot of them are faculty, but they're also working at companies they're out in the world. They're either in industry, whatever it is. So use the resources at your current college first, to decide, is it just the major you're. Might not be right. Maybe a major change is all that you need, but if that's not the case, then just know that there are many different opportunities available to you through those avenues that I mentioned just a moment ago.

Jonathan Hughes: Now, if, if I can pull back even a little bit further, if. Say somebody before they get to college is not sure, if they wanna go to college or if they want to, or what they wanna do with their, [00:16:00] with their life, essentially.

Jan Combs: Mm-hmm

Jonathan Hughes: what would you recommend that those students do?

Jan Combs: Yeah, for current high school kids certainly use your school counselor as a resource. They can provide you with an interest inventory perhaps that you can do at school, most high schools have access to that. You can get a sense of how your values and skills and interests align with different career areas and career clusters. And. Explore jobs within that area. So again, use the resources that you have available to you, whether or not you're a high school student or a college student, if you're in high school, your school counseling office is a terrific resource. They have tools that you can use, and speak with teachers, you know, speak with teachers that are, that you have, and use them as a great resource as.

Jonathan Hughes: If you are counseling, a student who, is thinking about leaving college and pursuing that career path, uh, can you talk about the benefits of a community college to someone who's [00:17:00] looking to do that?

Jan Combs: Sure, sure. And I wish we had hours, but we don't

Jonathan Hughes: oh, we, we can take as long as you want to

Jan Combs: But there are so many benefits of the community college system. And I can't say enough about the community college system in Massachusetts, specifically. That's where I live. That's where you live. That's what I know. But it's terrific. And there's an abundance of offerings at the Massachusetts community college system within the community college system, certainly they have a number of combined degree programs where a student can earn their associate degree. So that's a two year degree, the associate degree in a particular area, whether it's associates of arts or sciences or mathematics or engineering, whatever it is.

They have an associate degree offering at all of the community colleges in a variety of different career areas, and then many of them also have a career training component to them as well, which I think really speaks to your question directly. [00:18:00] So let me give you a few examples, so for example, at MA at community college, which is probably the closest college to me geographically, a student can go there and study H V a C, which is a hard trade, right? Heating ventilation air conditioning. So they can study H V a C, but also earn an associate degree in, in science. And it's called applied science in building systems, energy management specifically. So that's a combined program. Where a student can earn an associate degree in science and also study for a particular trade.

And then that helps them kind of launch that career in H V a C when they graduate, and that's just one example is 15 community colleges in Massachusetts, around the entire state you know, like Cape Cod Community has a neat associate program, that they combine with dental hygiene. right. So the student can leave and be a dental hygienist when they leave. [00:19:00] bunker hill has one that prepares students for laboratory sciences, Mount Wachusett Community College has many, many different programs, that prepares students for vet tech, auto technology, pharmacy science, respiratory care, for example. So these are all programs that allow them to earn an associate degree, as well as study a particular trade or career path.

And when they graduate, they're ready to pursue that career. In addition, community colleges also have certificate programs, which typically are shorter in length. That really are preparing the student for a particular career, and again, some of those were, like for example, a good example would be like networking, a computer networking, for example, certificate program.

So [00:20:00] shorter in length. But allows them to then pursue that particular career. So I guess my point is there's so many options at the different community colleges in our state that really there's a program for everyone.

Jonathan Hughes: So the idea to go back to your, the first example, I have a question about the the, you know, the HVAC degree with also a degree in applied sciences is the thought then that, you know, you you're ready to start your career in HVAC, but then that degree in applied sciences will, will help you to further that career, you know, down the road.

Jan Combs: Yeah, it could very well. I mean, depending on the company that you go into, perhaps they have management positions that require a degree. So then that particular individual has that degree. For example the key is if someone is interested in that particular trade and I only used H V A C as an example but there's many different trades and career areas at that applies to, but it trains them for that particular work. [00:21:00] and then they have that degree as well.

So it's, it's great for an individual who really wants to get some sort of college degree, but also train for a very specific career area.

Jonathan Hughes: Right now we're gonna talk about cost a little bit too because I know specifically for students who have already started college who may be, have taken out some loans, what role would cost play in the decision to leave college, to go to a different type of program or to transfer colleges, to, to a community college, to go to a different type of program.

Jan Combs: Yeah. So there's definitely not one answer to that question. I have to be clear about that in general, when we think about the cost of a two year community college, for example, earning that associate degree, in Massachusetts, and I'm getting this stat from the College Board® website in Massachusetts, the average yearly tuition is right around 3,440 per year for [00:22:00] Massachusetts community college. And if they do the two year degree program, so that's just under $7,000 for the community college. Obviously the sticker price for public four year institutions in our state is much higher closer to, you know, nine to 10,000, for example so that's that sticker price is going to be higher, but the actual cost for a particular student may vary depending on, did they get financial aid? Did they get a merit scholarship? Obviously the net price is the most important figure, right? but in general, yes, community colleges, the sticker price is much less than the four year publics of four year publics. From a cost perspective. If someone was already at a four year institution, I'm always going to encourage them to speak with the advisor at the college they're transferring to, to see, well, all these courses I've already paid for how many can transfer towards this degree program that I'm thinking about, you know, at this associate degree level, or can any of these transfer [00:23:00] towards this certificate program?

That I'm looking to undertake as well so cost will vary. But in general, yes, community colleges are less expensive as are the vocational technical schools that have postgrad programs. Those tend to be much lower cost as well than for example, a private career training school.

Jonathan Hughes: I'm glad you brought up the regional technical high schools, because that is a resource that you mentioned in your blog that I wasn't thinking about. So, I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about what they can offer.

Jan Combs: Well a lot. actually, so so just so people kind of understand what a, a vocational technical school is, is essentially there are many in Massachusetts and these are public high schools. Where students that where high school students will attend and they will earn both their high school diploma [00:24:00] credentials and they also learn a particular trade or career area. For example, maybe it's culinary, maybe it's cosmetology. Maybe it's one of the hard trades. Maybe it's a technical trade. Whatever it is. And then the majority of these public high schools. You know, educate high school students and see them off.

They typically also have postgraduate programs. So for high school grads and adults that wanna go back and learn a different trade or career area, again, like I use the word trade as kind of an all encompassing term, for career paths. And so oftentimes these vocational tactical programs will have post-grad pro programs.

And they're typically at night when the schools are, are empty from their high school students and they will offer a number of different programs. So my local program has. Plumbing electrical H V a C. They also have a number of medical programs as [00:25:00] well. And so different vocational technical programs around the state will offer programs that they feel that there's a need for oftentimes they're meeting community needs, employer needs workforce development needs, for example, in their area.

So there are gosh, dozens of technical high schools in our state, there's a neat map online, one of the Massachusetts websites called pathway mapping and that has a list of the different vocational technical programs that are available both to high school students. and then the student can dig deeper and research the ones that are in their area to see what post grad programs that they offer. Whether they're looking for a hard trade or one of the medical programs or cosmetology culinary, any of those types of programs.

Jonathan Hughes: That sounds like a good resource. We'll find it and put a link, to that map in the show notes. But that's, that's great. I didn't realize that, there was [00:26:00] sort of close coordination sometimes between employers and the, the vocational training school. So that there's almost a pipeline from getting that training right into, to a job.

Jan Combs: Yeah, I think the schools are really good at defining needs in their community. Mm. So, and then they'll meet those needs by developing new programs. So they, they are a great resource for programming, from a cost perspective, they're fairly reasonable.

Provide the student with the skills that they need to begin that their career of choice. So it's a pretty neat option for definitely a good for, for many students, depending on what their career goals are.

Jonathan Hughes: Can you talk about a gap year? What's a gap year and you know, what are some of the benefits of taking a gap year and what are some of the risks of, of taking a gap year?

Jan Combs: Sure. So when we talk about gap years, kind of traditionally a gap year, [00:27:00] Is related to high school students. So it's your senior in high school who may take a gap year? It's the year after high school ends, before they begin formal higher education. So it's usually a year long break from formal education and we, we use the term gap year.

It's usually for high school. Seniors that are gonna take a gap year. However, of course, kids that are already in college may wanna take a break. So seeing kind of concepts there I think high school students that tend to take, a gap year it's because they want to travel. They want to have an internship or a job shadowing experience. So they can really truly define what their career path might be. I've seen high school students take it for religious reasons. They're going to do some sort of service work, volunteer volunteerism. Those are really popular reasons to take a gap here. I think if you're currently in college oftentimes they'll take a break. For similar reasons they maybe [00:28:00] want to reset and figure out what their path is. If they don't feel like they're in the right program, they might want a job shadow, take a break do some internships or things of that nature. So certainly a lot of really good reasons in some cases, to take a break or a gap year, depending on whether you're a high school student or already in college Certainly I think for a high school student, sometimes they just need that extra year to, to gain a little bit of maturity, perhaps responsibility or they just have this burning desire to travel or, maybe do a, you know, teaching a volunteer teaching or whatever it is.

They have a burning desire to do something. And that's a very positive thing. And certainly it's positive for college students that need to take a break if they need to. And step back and decide, you know, on their path. So there's a lot of positives, I think as far as [00:29:00] things to consider, cause I never like to use the word negative.

I prefer to say things to consider, you know, Is the student going to lose momentum? That's always a concern, you know, they're ready to go. Friends are ready to go. Are they gonna lose momentum? Some will some won't. So I think that's a consideration. I also think that when, when we are thinking about gaps, I think that students, regardless of the age of the student or why they're taking the break, I think they need to treat it as a job. Right. So taking that break or taking that gap year, isn't meant that you're sleeping till noon. And then you're playing your video game. Like that's not the purpose of the break, right. Regardless. So treat it as a job. Are you going to get an internship? Paid or unpaid, doesn't matter if it's gonna lead you to the right direction, but what, what are you doing?

What's the purpose? [00:30:00] What are you going to gain from that? What are you going to learn from that? Making the break or gap year, very purposeful, and treating it as it's it's your job. So to fill your days in an appropriate way, that's gonna get you kind of to your next step.

Jonathan Hughes: Can you talk about gap year programs like specific gap year association? Like things like that. And I'm, I'm unclear as to what those organizations. Do they sort of match students up with job shadowing opportunities or, or things like that.

Jan Combs: So there's a good amount of them out there. And I, I believe we did put a link in the blog, so folks can look at that website. There's definitely some established.

Gap year programs that might relate to traveling, outward bound programs that might relate to travel and adventure finding yourself those types of things. So those are well-established programs for students that want a very specific [00:31:00] experience during that gap year. So that's certainly something to look into.

I do always like to remind people though that you don't have to go through a paid organization to have a wonderful gap year. You can make your gap year yourself, right? It could be getting an internship or job shadowing that could be your gap year, right. Its working in a field that you think you're interested in.

So it doesn't have to be through a paid experience, but certainly if the student is open to that, there are many out there that will do travel and outward bound, or even match students with teaching opportunities or volunteer opportunities, for example. So, check the link out in the blog. That would be my suggestion for families. If your student is in high school, I would say school counselors as oftentimes often have some good resources as well, related to those types of kind of paid group opportunities. If the student is looking to pursue [00:32:00] that,

Jonathan Hughes: There is one thing that there is one resource that you mentioned in the blog, that I wanted to ask you about really quickly to see if you could talk about that. I don't think we've mentioned too much and that is, the career placement. Agents or career one stop agencies.

Jan Combs: Yeah, absolutely. Another great resource available right in Massachusetts, the career one stop offices are all around mass. They also have some great online resources as well, interest inventories, resume builders, different, kind of career counseling resources.

So that's a, another. Opportunity for people, whether it's in person or online. So again, mass has several career OneStop offices. If someone is listening to this, that's not in mass. Just know that the federal government also has OneStop offices as well. So every state can access these types of resources.

The other cool resource, if I have [00:33:00] time to mention it just cause I love it so much is Bureau of Labor Statistics. And I think we mentioned that in the blog. It, so specifically within the bureau of labor statistics website, there's the occupational outlook handbook, which is a phenomenal resource.

So if someone's. Thinks they might be interested in a particular career. For example, they can go there and they can research the career. They can look at the average earnings. They can look at the educational requirements. They can look at the projected job growth, which is important. Right. You wanna know, is it growing by 1% or is it growing by 17%, right important information. And you can look at a description of what the daily job is, you know, physical requirements and it gives a nice overview of basical. Every single occupation or career path that's out there, so that's great for a student. Who's just kind of thinking about [00:34:00] gee, what direction should I go in? I think I wanna do this, but I'm not sure. So between career one stop and the bureau of labor statistics, and then it's slash O H H O O H. Those are great online research tools to help people really define. We'll get an idea as to what career pathway they might be interested in.

Jonathan Hughes: Great and MEFA pathway probably wouldn't forgive me if I didn't mention that if you are, if you are a high school student and you're unsure of these things, you can go log onto me for pathway and, and there are links to career assessments and, and interest assessments. And you know uh, tools and quizzes that you can take to help you figure that out.

Jan Combs: Absolutely.

Jonathan Hughes: So

Jan Combs: MEFA Pathway is terrific and very easy to navigate. So that's definitely a wonderful tool that I, I too recommend Jonathan.

Jonathan Hughes: Oh, good, good. I'm glad to hear it. I wonder if you could tell me from your personal experience, you know, as a college administrator, as a high school counselor, [00:35:00] What would you recommend someone who is, let's say in high school or in college and, and not sure what they want, is there something from your personal experience that, that you would share a piece of advice with that person?

Jan Combs: Yeah. So I'm always going to remind people that. There's so many options with regard to both higher education, as well as career planning and that it's extremely personal and there's definitely no one size fits all kind of answer.

So I want people to know that, I think everyone, regardless of what your age is, take the time to reflect right. Job shadow. Interview people in fields that you find interesting talk with career services, offices, whether it's, you know, in college or, or someone in your high school do an interest inventory, talk to faculty or teachers [00:36:00] spend the time to do the research and most importantly to reflect, right and to think about. Think about your values, the type of lifestyle you wanna have, and this will help you also drive your decisions. Cuz some people might be interested in five different career avenues and that's normal. Right. But think about your interests, your values, your lifestyle, and let that kind of drive you towards one direction.

The other thing I'll mention, and this is much more personal, but just, you know, as a parent of three. And my oldest is outta college and is a nurse. My next in line went to college, but did not care for it and ended up doing a technical training path and now is working in the trades happily. So from a parent's perspective, just, just remember that, you know, not all kids are the same and you may have three kids like I do, and, and three [00:37:00] different paths within your family. So I think that you really have to look at the individual and let them decide, you know, based on those interests and values and desires, which direction to go. And there's not ever one path is this many.

Jonathan Hughes: Thank you so much. What a pleasure it was to talk to you and to see you after so long.

Jan Combs: Thank you for having me today. This is definitely a topic I'm very interested in, so I was happy to share.

Jonathan Hughes: Yeah, it was great. Thank you so, so much. All right, well that about wraps it up for us today. Once again, thanks to Jan comas for sharing her time and her expertise with us and folks, if you'd like to show today and you wanna hear more from MEFA on all topics related to planning, saving, and paying for college and career readiness, please subscribe to us on apple podcast, Stitcher iHeartRadio.

Wherever you get your shows from, and whether you're a new or a regular listener, please remember to rate and review us so we can keep doing what we're doing in getting this good stuff to people like you. So, Julie, thank you so much. [00:38:00]

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Thank you, John.

Jonathan Hughes: Thank you to our producers, Shaun Connolly, our editor Lauren Patten.

And once again, my name is Jonathan Hughes. This has been the MEFA podcast.

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