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Going to College Without Going Into Debt

Air Date 02/26/2016

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Prof. Alex Chediak offers parents and their young adult children practical advice from his book Beating the College Debt Trap: Getting a Degree Without Going Broke.

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Episode Transcript



Dr. Alex Chediak: I've found that students, who are working for some of their tuition value it more, work harder, come to class more often, study more. So, I think I would definitely not have a kid paying for all of it, even if you have the resources to pay for all of it, your child's better off learning to have some skin in the game, learning to value what they're getting. I tell my students the first day of class how much they're paying per lecture and they don't skip class as a result.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: College professor Dr. Alex Chediak has some wisdom as we open our program today. He'll be sharing more on "Focus on the Family" with your host, Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, this is one of the key issues for any parent that has a junior high student, a high school student, probably even an elementary school student. If you have children and you anticipate college is in their future, guess what? You gotta start thinkin' about how to pay for that now and we're gonna talk about that today with a professor, Dr. Alex Chediak, who has written a wonderful book, Beating the College Debt Trap, and I know people are living in that right now and I think a lot of us are gonna benefit from the information that Alex will provide.


John: Yeah, he's a professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University in Riverside, California, and he and his wife, Marni, have three kids—Karis, Jonathan and Abigail. And then Jim, we have somebody else who's joined us here.

Jim: We do, Lisa Anderson, who heads up "Boundless" here at Focus on the Family and she is coming from that perspective of, kind of that 20-something single group who, here at Focus, are having to pay for college, as well. Maybe they don't have parents helping them or maybe they do, but they're the ones bearing the brunt of it. So, Lisa, it's great to have you here.

Lisa Anderson: Great to be here. I think I'm also gonna use this opportunity to reflect on any regrets I have about my own college experience, so I'm gonna pull out the tissues and go from there.

Jim: That's it. Let's start with that. How much debt did you come out with?

Lisa: I feel like it wasn't too bad and honestly, I can't even remember the actual number, but I was pretty proactive in looking at my own schooling and paying for it. And my, I'll be honest, my parents stepped in, helped out big time. I think my mom worked almost solely to help with my college stuff. But [I] definitely had some kind of a government loan on the back end. I remember the paperwork for it.

Jim: Hey, Alex, again, welcome to "Focus."

Alex Chediak: Thanks for having me, Jim.

Jim: Good to have you back. When you look at that, that's kind of a common story, what Lisa just expressed there.

Alex: It is; it is. I mean, lots of students I know, the most common answer is, I have no idea how much I'm gonna pay. It's graduation day. I still don't know. Six months later, I got a bill in the mail, and all of a sudden, now I'll know and—

Jim: Right.

Alex: --it'll be panic.

Jim: Well, let's talk about that. When you look at the landscape today, you hear horrific stories where kids, and when I say "kids," I'm talkin' to 20-something college graduates coming out with a four-year degree, has 50, 60, sometimes over $100,000 of debt and they received a French Literature degree. What do you do?

Alex: Right, I mean, you gotta start workin' hard. You gotta start getting on an income- based repayment plan at that point. But just to back up one second if I could. Those numbers are actually the exception, and we hear 'em on the news, but 90 percent of those that borrow, borrow less than 50,000.

Jim: Borrow less than 50.

Alex: Yeah.

Jim: But even at that, that's still a big number.

Alex: It's still a big chunk, right. And what I talk about in Beating the College Debt Trap is keeping that number less than half of your full-time income when you graduate. So, full time, the first job you're gonna get. Maybe it's gonna be 40,000, $50,000, keeping that debt load less than half of that.

Jim: So, that's a good rule of thumb, although you really don't know what job you're going to get, so—

Alex: You don't.

Jim: --you're guesstimating.

Alex: You're guesstimating. There's some websites you can look at to look at different fields and to get some sense of, okay, in this field, I you know, probably be in this kind of range, or you know, engineering versus English teachers are very different obviously, finance, engineering, medical degree's gonna be very, very high-paying and other ones are not gonna be as high paying.

Jim: There was another stat I wanted to mention, and get you to comment on it. Seven out of 10 high school graduates go to college, but only 44 percent of them actually finish. Is that right?

Alex: Well, about 44 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds have a degree. So, most of the country does not have a degree. It's about 50 percent that graduate in six years.

Jim: So, about half of those who start college won't finish.

Alex: We don't track it. We track 'em at six years. Beyond that, they don't track the data very well. So, if they finish, we don't know when.

Jim: But they're finishing way down the line.

Alex: Way down the line.

Jim: Right, so I mean, the point of that is, sometimes people start. They accumulate debt their freshman year, their sophomore year, and again, they might have 15, $20,000 worth of debt—

Alex: Right.

Jim: --and they don't even get the degree.

Alex: In fact, the highest default rate right now is for dropouts with small amounts of loans. If I got 10, 15,000 in two years like you're talkin' about and I'm gonna drop out and find out they have no earning power, so I can't even make the payment of $200 a month. I'm gonna default on that. So, the default rate among dropouts is really high, even though the default, the amount of debt they have isn't as high as that the graduates have.

Jim: Yeah, in your book, Beating the College Debt Trap, you talk about the triple jeopardy. What is that?

Alex: So, college is more expensive than ever, but it's also more necessary than ever, in the sense that to get a job without a high school diploma is virtually impossible. The, what they call "the wage premium" or the extra money you can make with a college degree, versus not having a college degree, is very high. So, in a sense, college is very important economically. I must go to college. I must get a degree. But then college has gone up by twice the rate of inflation, so college is very expensive.

And then your parents haven't had good saving success. The average income in this country's gone down by, I think about 6 ½ percent in the last seven years. We saw that last week in the census data for 2014. Median household income in this country, down 6.5 percent in 2007 to 2014. That's five years after the so-called "recovery," right? But see, we're still not recovering. So the families don't have the money to spend on it, so what do you do? You borrow a ton of money--that's the triple jeopardy.

Lisa: So, Alex, what's interesting is I know from my own scenario though in finishing high school and being a pretty successful student, I went into college just assuming that, well, no biggie, because I'm smart, and I'm fun, and I can get a great job.

John: Which you are; you're all of that. (Laughter)

Lisa: I am all of that.

Jim: What does fun pay now?

Alex: You lucked out. (Laughter)

Lisa: Fun needs to pay more than it does, let me just say it that way now. (Laughter) No, and so, I was just like, I had these expectations of earning power directly out of college and no joke, when I finished and I had the cursed liberal arts degree that everyone makes fun of, my parents actually gave me a T-shirt that said, "I have a liberal arts degree. Do you want fries with that?" (Laughter) So, that was my encouragement from them.

But it took me forever to find a job, you know. And so, the triple jeopardy, I think, came into play, because all of a sudden, I'm stuck with assumptions that I couldn't meet. I mean, what would you say to the person who has those kind of assumptions of what are the realistic expectations for a college graduate at this point?

Alex: I think while you're getting that liberal arts degree, do what you can to get "hard skills" out of class. By hard skills, what do I mean? The kinds of things that an entry-level manager's gonna say, "Yeah, if you can help our company out with that skill," maybe it's photography. Maybe it's web design. Maybe it's communications, journalism, some practical work experiences along the way that say, I'm not just a student. I'm someone who knows how to work and how to help your company be successful. Developing professionalism, developing a reputation for showing up on time for work, doin' a good job, helping your employer with what they need help with, that's gonna help you stand out.

And then maybe you do have to temp. Maybe you do have to go to the company and you're underemployed. You're overqualified for that first job, but in that larger company, you're able to do well for yourself by showing up on time, doing good work and as people know you and see what you can do, then you move into better jobs that are more in line with your training.

Jim: Alex, let's get to the other question, which is, is college worth it any longer?

Alex: That's a great question. I think college is worth it at the right price for the right student. What matters is what the student's intellectual and mental capacities are and how they can benefit from college. Some students would be better off in an associates program, a two-year degree, out working quickly. Some kids work better with their hands than with their mind. They don't want to be in a chair for four years.

And I think sometimes the high schools push everyone to the four-year colleges, because in a sense, they rate themselves by, hey, we sent 90 percent of our students to college, not realizing that some of those students they sent to college would've been better off as mechanics, as electricians, construction workers, which are still fields that you can make a good living in and require less education, less time. I know people who are doing those things now that have a four-year degree, didn't do a good job in college. They weren't really cut out for a four-year college.

Jim: How do you evaluate? I mean, you're the college professor. How do you evaluate as a parent whether your 15-, 16-, 17-year-old has it?

Alex: I think you can look at tests, ACT and SAT scores and high school grades. I hate to say it, but if your student is in the bottom half of the high school graduating class at a typical high school, statistically their chances of graduating in four years are not very good.

Jim: You can improve that by going to a two-year.

Alex: Yeah, going to a two-year, proving yourself there at a low cost level, a community college where it doesn't cost very much, show you have that discipline, show you have that ability.

Jim: Get the grades.

Alex: Get the grades, and then transfer those in, you're gonna be much more mature at a time that you're taking on $15,000 a year for college.

Jim: So, for the parent that does have that child who's under the halfway percentile, what should they be doing? How should they talk to their young person about their future?

Alex: I think we can talk to them about what kind of field do you see yourself doing? What are your skills? Where are your gifts? Where are your passions? What can you do well? And then tryin' to go there. Maybe it is technological. Maybe it is computers, or cars. Well, then what can we do to get you more experiences fixing those computers, fixing those cars, that you can earn a living doing that? Maybe even while you're getting' that four-year degree, you're making $25 an hour as a computer technician. Think how much more powerful that is than working a job at McDonald's or Wendy's, right?

So, it's developing skills that you can differentiate yourself in the market. I think that's what's crucial, and the two-year programs are really undervalued, because economists say, there's lots of jobs in the two-year disciplines. Not enough people are going into them. And the skill trades, they're retiring faster than they're coming in. You know, if you want to find a good electrician or mechanic, they're usually over 55-years-old, because that's the median age of a skilled laborer.

Jim: Wow.

Alex: Whereas, the young ones coming in, there are not enough coming in. So, if you do it well, and you can work hard and you're willing to go get apprenticed under somebody else, that can do quite well for you.

Lisa: So, how do you, Alex, shape your kids towards more realistic expectations? You know, for them, I mean, every high school student is gonna either say, "Well, I want to be a doctor," or a lawyer or I want to be an actor (Chuckling). I mean, you know, that's just not gonna necessarily be as lucrative. How can you set realistic goals without crushing their spirit?

Alex: Yeah, well, I think from that in engineering for example, I teach my engineering students, helping them realize that if you want to be successful, you're gonna have to be very disciplined. You're gonna have to have some skills and abilities naturally in math and science. If you don't have those skills and abilities, it'll be apparent relatively quickly and then what we need to do is help you find a major where you are gonna be successful in.

I think sometimes what happens now is, people who are going for the money. You have people that are saying, "I'm gonna be an engineer." I'm gonna be a doctor' I'm gonna be a lawyer and they really don't have the skill set to make that happen and it's like tellin' them, okay, you know what? It's okay that you're not gonna make as much money as this other person. Making money isn't what makes you happy. Can you u earn a decent living if you work hard and you're good at what you do? Yeah, just about anything you're gonna be able to earn enough if you work hard enough, if you work smart enough, if you make those connections, if you get that work experience now, while you're still young, learning to stand out, learning to find those summer jobs that'll really helps you differentiate yourself.

And I have a freshman right now I'm thinkin' of, and he's constantly thinking about, you know, he's on LinkedIn. He's already starting e-mails, asking, "Hey, can you recommend me for this and this and this?" He's already thinkin' about developing his sort of on-line portfolio. And I think we need to encourage them to think more like that, because that's how you're gonna be able to stand out from other people.

And then talk about what are the average starting salaries in these different fields, so you have an expectation of, okay, if I borrow $80,000 to study French Literature, that's not gonna work out very well.

Jim: I notice you use that term, "big fish in a small pond" in your book. That's familiar to me, because we taped a program with Malcolm Gladwell—

Alex: Oh, good.

Jim: --on David and Goliath and in there, he used a couple of examples of college education to prove a very valid point that I think you're alluding to as well, that sometimes it's better to be a strong student at a medium-sized or medium-grade college, rather than trying to be the best in the best college. And you may end up falling out of your own desired discipline. The example that he used in the book was a young lady that went to Brown University for biochemistry. And she was a genius at her high school and had great scores, but when she ended up at Brown, she was kind of in the middle of the pack, 'cause that's where all the smart people went for biochemistry. Talk about that concept.

Alex: Yeah, I think it's absolutely correct. I mean, I went to college at a school, where it was my second choice. I didn't get into my top choice college. In high school, I spent the first three years getting B's, not really working as hard as I could've; where at the last year, I started applying myself, until it was too late to impress the colleges.

So, I went to a school that was relatively easy to get into, and if I had gotten into my first-choice school, it would not have gone well for me. I probably would've been that statistic that you were talkin' about. When you're one of the better students at a school, that confidence boost that gives you is just tremendous. You get more resources, too.

You get the faculty paying attention to you more. You get all the kind of, "Let me help you get a summer job" thing. Let me know if I can write a recommendation letter for you, that kind of thing. And you get more scholarship money, because that college knows that you're gonna be one of their better students, they're gonna help you financially.

So, rather than going into this huge debt to go to a prestigious school, you could spend less money to go to a school that maybe on paper isn't as prestigious, but what matters more is the person, not the pedigree. It's what you do with your education that's gonna make a difference, not what school you go to.

Lisa: So Alex, to that point, I have a twist on kind of the prestige conversation and that is, playing the faith card. I mean, there are a lot of parents listening who, their No. 1 priority is to get their kid into a Christian private school. They don't want them to abandon their faith, so they think if they go to a Christian college, that's gonna make a difference or they just want that kind of education. But that equals money and private education could be big debt potentially. What would you say are the considerations for private Christian education? Should it be prioritized if it's a felt, you know, desire or something for parents? And what kind of caveat should be considered?

Alex: Well, I think start saving early if that's a priority for you as a mom or dad. The earlier you can start saving the better. Some are very generous. In other words, you see the list price in the website and you can freak out, but the reality is, the discount, the average discount rates are usually pretty good. So, once you apply, and you can get your scholarships or grants, some states are more generous than others.

In California, if you're a good student in high school, you can get $12,000 a year to whatever college you go to, Christian or non-Christian. That cuts way down that tuition cost. So, it's going in there planning. Saving as much money as you can, your kid doing as well as they can in school, because if you stand out, schools give more scholarship money to the students that are among the better incoming students.

So, if you have a top SAT score for that particular college, that college is going to dole out more scholarship money to you. And most scholarships are given by colleges, not by private groups. So, private scholarships exist. People chase 'em, but the average student doesn't get that much. The best way to get money is to be a great student in high school, do well in SAT or ACT and then get a college to give you a large scholarship, which many Christian schools will do to their top students. The same applies for good athletes, or good musicians.

There are ways to get into Christian schools without paying a fortune. That being said, if goin' to a Christian school would mean $20,000 in debt. That's probably not something to do. Maybe you can go to community college for two years. Live at home. Save that money, and then do two years of Christian college and spend quite a lot less than you would've otherwise. You still get the best of both worlds, so to speak. But if you get to assess the cost, not just for one year, but for the whole four or five years, whatever it's gonna take, assess all that at the front end, if you can.

John: Are you saying that it's not worth pursuing those small independent scholarships that exist? There's so many of them out there.

Alex: Yeah, so many of them out there. I think if you have a good chance of getting one of two of them, go after them. But there was one that I went after in college. The professor told me about it. There was only about 100 students in the country that could've applied for it. Only about 15 did and I got it.

John: So, good odds on that one.

Alex: Good odds on that one. Right, but there are some that it's just like a shot in the dark, and you could spend a ton of time on it, and the data says that the average student doesn't get that much. So, I think the time you spend chasing them sometimes is more than the time you could've spent doing better on your SATs. So, taking an SAT prep class, making your SAT score go up, or ACT score go up, that could stand out more for the colleges. Most scholarship money is given by the colleges themselves. It's called institutional scholarships.

Jim: Alex, in your book, you talk about the different funding mechanisms. That can be like such a morass of information. Parents get lost, 'cause we don't do that at all. I mean, if you have two kids, you're gonna do it twice in your life, maybe. Maybe only one. Maybe only once, because only one kid'll go to college. So, you have to become a financial aid expert--figure out how to file all this paperwork and there's certainly experts at the campuses that help you. But talk about the different options that are there. In your book you talk about avoiding private loans like the plague, I think is how you said it. Talk about why, and then what are some other alternatives.

Alex: The private loans have variable interest rates, typically. They require cosigners, because if you have a credit check, the average 20-year-old doesn't have good credit history. They can't get a good loan on their own, so they have a parent to sign in with them. Now the parent's on the hook for that money.

Jim: Right.

Alex: And to think, if the federal government will lend you right now 31,000 for your undergrad. Shouldn't that be enough? That's [inaudible].

Jim: Is that total?

Alex: Total, over four years and it really should be enough if you can work hard while you're a student, earn, 5, 10, maybe even $15,000 a year. In the book, I give an example of how you can actually earn 15,000 a year, while you're a student, if you leverage your skills, as well as work-study money that is part of your financial aid offer. Work-study hours and take a skill that you have and leverage it. In other words, can you teach the piano? Can you teach somebody math or science? Can you clean pools? Can you clean air conditioner systems? Not just McDonald's, Burger King, kind of minimum wage jobs. Take a skill you have and earn twice as much with that while you're in school. Now you can make more money. If you can earn money while you're a student, if your parents can give even some money, maybe 5,000 a year while you're a student and then you borrow 5,000 a year while you're a student, you'll still be way below the federal limit. So, I think that 31,000 that the federal government's willing to lend you should be enough. My problem with private loans is, why did you need that much more money?

Jim: Right, well and again, I think it's probably easy access—

Alex: Yes.

Jim: --is the difficulty.

Alex: Exactly.

Jim: because it's there and I can get it.

Yeah, hey, Lisa, with the boundless community and again, these are people, we're targeting, 20, 30-something singles. Do they talk about this? Is there chatter about the student loans they're walkin' away with? Or the concerns they have about education?

Lisa: Oh, absolutely, and I think there is a mourning of the sticker shock, because many of them were told that, oh, this is easy money. Don't worry. You're gonna get a great job. You can pay it back. You're not gonna need this much on the front end. And so, I think they're realizing now that they are underemployed for the amount of debt that they have to pay back. Their expectations of where they'd be now are, you know, were shattered. And so, all of a sudden, this translated into a payment. I mean, when you haven't had any kind of responsibility for debt, you know, in junior high and high school, all of a sudden, you're shouldering your entire life and your finances, based on this. 10- 20,000, oh, that's an arbitrary number. You don't understand it. You do understand $350 a month when you're—

Alex: Right.

Lisa: --working a 20,000, $25,000 a year job.

Alex: What I'm talkin' about here is, even in the freshman year, first semester, if you're gonna borrow $5,000, let me help you translate that into how much you're gonna have to pay back when you graduate.

Jim: Yeah, what's the monthly payment?

Alex: What's the monthly payment gonna be on that? 'Cause that's how you learn to think, okay, this is really what I'm signing up for. And you gotta make the student responsible for it; he or she has to learn to take responsibility for their own life. They can't blame the financial aid office. They can't blame the college. They can't blame everybody else. It's their life; it's their choice.

Jim: Yeah.

Lisa: Well, and this is where it almost seems to me like a parenting issue, because junior high, high school, you better be training your kids how to take responsibility for their actions, 'cause all of a sudden, they're gonna be in college and post-college and having to realize, wake up, you know. Whoa, I'm now responsible for this. When I went to college, college was marketed to me as football games and bonfires. And you talk to your friends, and maybe you go to some classes, and it's all fun and games and stuff. And now you're talking about working part-time jobs and work study and putting in time in the summers, and that just sounds like a major downer to me. (Laughter) I think some people need a wake-up call. (Laughter)

Jim: That fun personality.

Lisa: These crazy kids need a wake-up call, yeah.

Jim: Oh, without a doubt. Let me ask this final question, because I think as we've talked about this, this is extremely classical advice. It hits me and John right where we're living with our kids, because we're beginning to plan for college and do the things we need to do. Where is the Lord in all this, when

Alex: Right.

Jim: --you start talkin' about college and higher education. What's the spiritual component that we need to be thinking about?

Alex: Well, just in terms of the money itself, right now if you look at seminaries, like young people going into Christian ministry, a lot of them have huge debt, and it's holding them back from going to the pastorate, from going to the mission field.

You know, a lot of people who are saying, you know what? I would go as a missionary, but I owe $20,000. I need to take that high-paying job. And so, debt holds you back from doin' the things that God's called you to do, because it makes you a bond slave to whoever lends you the money. The borrower is slave of the lender, right?

Alex: The borrower is the slave of the lender, so if you owe $25,000 when you graduate college, you have fewer options than if you didn't owe 25,000. So, if you're a Christian person wanting to go into a field that's not gonna pay you very much, but it's gonna be important work for God's kingdom, you have even more of a motivation to keep your debt level under control. You don't want debt to hold you back from that.

Jim: Let me ask you this. The number of students that graduate today from university, is there a record on how many are actually graduating with no debt?

Alex: It's about 30 percent, and I think we get—

Jim: That seems high.

Alex: --it is high. Well, it's higher than you think it would be.

Jim: Yeah.

Alex: Because I think the news focuses on the horror stories—

Jim: Right.

Alex: --which makes sense, and there's a lot of horror stories, and I'm not minimizing that at all, but about 30 percent graduate without any debt, and I think we graduate nationwide between a million and a half a year, four-year degrees, I think something around that.

Jim: Well, that's higher than I thought it would be.

Alex: Yeah, 70 percent borrow, but the problem is, among those who borrow, the average is 35,000 and you have the outliers that are really high. Look at everybody, those who don't borrow and those who borrow. 50 percent borrow, I believe it's between 15 and 20,000. 'Cause, you've got all those zeroes added into the average calculation.

Jim: Right.

Alex: So, and 15,000 is about 150-$200 a month when you graduate, which is really fairly reasonable over a 10-year period to payback. So, in the book, I have an example of a friend of mine who's in computers now, and his parents told him, don't go to college; you can't afford it. And their logic was, we don't want you to borrow a penny. We want you to be workers like us. They were manual laborers. Just be like us. The problem is, the job market has changed. He can't get a job like they could get.

Jim: Right.

Alex: You know, the jobs for people that have no post-high school training are pretty much gone, so his choices were, two-year degree or a four-year degree, or unemployment, really. And he was good at computers, so he went to a four-year school, had about 25,000 in debt, but he got out and he's making, five years later, he's making $100,000, 'cause he's a good computer programmer. So, now he's paying off his debt. He has a house that's larger than his parents' house. So the point was, debt was a tool for him, because he knew what he wanted to do, and he could earn a living that was making it worth what he did.

Jim: Yeah.

Alex: So, what I don't want to do is tell people, hey, don't go to college if you can't afford it totally on cash, 'cause a lot of people are out of the market, and the reality is, if you can keep the debt level under control, that's what I'm talkin' about. Debt level being reasonable, relative to your future earning prospects, which are not certain, which is why I say, "Go with 50 percent of what you think that you're gonna make. And don't just think what you're gonna make based on some hearsay. There are websites out there that will help you assess--Okay, the average person with an accounting degree makes this much. And so, you need some reality on that, 'cause students do overestimate their earnings, and we have to help them not do that.

Jim: Very good. I mean, this is all really good content. Alex Chediak, Beating the College Debt Trap, again, as a hungry parent for this kind of information, I want to thank you for the program. And thanks for writing the book and we'll be using it, for sure.

Alex: Thanks for having me.

Jim: And Lisa, let me also say to you, thanks for bringing that "Boundless" perspective and for, you know, letting us know how much debt you have. (Laughter)

Lisa: Absolutely. I better go check my account and see if I'm still paying it off.

Jim: You probably are.

Lisa: I'm not even sure. I know. Yikes!

Jim: Auto payment.

Lisa: Yikes.

Jim: (laugh)


John: Well, thanks again to both of our guests we appreciate the insights and stories and the humor from Alex and Lisa and helping us get a handle on this big, big topic. Parents and students alike have so much to think about and work through in the college decision. We're doing that right now in home. My daughter is asking me about the FAFSA forms and all that, so this was really timely for us.

Alex's book that Jim mentioned is going to prepare you in all of this. He covers a lot of ground that goes way beyond the discussion here and you can dive in deep and reap dividends right away. Ask for Beating the College Debt Trap when you call us and just know that when you contribute a financial gift of any amount to the work of Focus on the Family today we'll send that book to you as our way of saying thanks for joining our support team and helping you make some sense of all these different things going on as you prepare your child for college.

This conversation is also available on CD as a download or via our mobile app and we have additional content on this so please look for that at, or call, donate, and find resources. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, hoping you have a great weekend and inviting you back on Monday when Leslie Vernick joins up to talk about Pursuing Happiness in a godly way:


Leslie Vernick: But as a counselor and coach, I've repeatedly asked myself two questions, and that's what makes people happy or joyful and why, as believers living in a land of abundance with so much opportunity and blessings in our country, in our lives, at our fingertips, are we so miserable.

End of Excerpt

John: Well that's Leslie Vernick and she's with us on Monday, hope you'll join us then as we once again help you and your family thrive.

  • Featured Book

    Thriving at College

    Alex Chediak

    This guide from a current college professor will help you to learn how to strengthen your faith while dealing with issues including choosing a major, balancing academics with fun, and more.

    Buy Now
  • Featured Book

    Preparing Your Teens for College

    Alex Chediak

    Preparing teens for college may be your greatest challenge yet!

    Buy Now
  • Featured Article

    Helping Your Teen Choose a College

    Jeanne Gowen Dennis

    Get helpful tips and great insight to help you and your teen prepare for college.

    Read more
  • Featured Article

    What to Expect at College

    J. Budziszewski

    Professor J. Budziszewski offers solid advice for new college students.

    Read more
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Alex Chediak

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Alex Chediak is an engineering and physics professor at California Baptist University. He holds a Ph.D. in Material Science and Engineering from U.C. Berkeley and has worked in the semiconductor industry at various levels ranging from manufacturing to process development. Chediak has authored several books including Preparing Your Teens for College and Thriving at College. He resides in Riverside, Calif., with his wife and their three children.


Lisa Anderson

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Lisa Anderson is Focus on the Family's Director of Young Adults, and the manager of Boundless, Focus' ministry for helping 20- and 30-somethings grow up, own their faith, date with purpose and prepare for marriage and family. She hosts The Boundless Show, a national radio program and weekly podcast, where she leads discussions on timely issues and interviews authors, artists and other newsmakers. Lisa is the author of The Dating Manifesto: A Drama-Free Plan for Pursuing Marriage With Purpose. She grew up in San Jose, California, is a graduate of Trinity International University in Chicago, and worked in media relations for much of her career before joining Boundless.