Dr Kohl: Selecting a School
12/17/2018
Dr. Dave Kohl
grain falling into a container
Dave Kohl

At a recent agricultural seminar, the question and engagement segment brought up a common, but interesting question. A producer asked, “My daughter thinks she wants to be a cheerleader for a major university. As a parent, what should I know about the university she’s considering?”

First, being a college athlete or participating in any extracurricular activities will require considerable time, discipline and commitment. If a scholarship is offered, she can expect her time commitment to be at least similar to half- to full-time employment. That being said, these activities can build life experiences and parental support is vital.

Now, focusing on the classroom, your daughter should visit the university, attend some classes and interact with the students in these classes. It is important that the university has an emphasis on classroom teaching. Professors who are committed to the classroom, as opposed to focusing only on fundraising and research, are important for a good experience.

To be blunt, your daughter is likely to be taught by only five really good professors during her college education. These individuals will make the subject matter come to life by using “outside the box” teaching methods.

Do not be surprised if she spends the first couple of years exploring her passion and interests. The junior and senior years will be the time to focus on the subject matter that may point to future endeavors and employment. If your daughter has the opportunity to be a teaching or research assistant, this can be a valuable experience that will help her identify her interests. I also recommend completing one or two internships, especially if the opportunity to travel abroad is available.

You need to express to your daughter that the university education experience is a marathon, not a sprint. The people she associates with in her network will be important for a successful experience.
As a final note, attempt to minimize university debt. The average student debt is over $33,000 per student, for a collective total of $1.5 trillion nationwide. Nearly half of that debt is encumbered by students who have not completed their degree.

Your daughter will need to graduate from school with the ability to analyze data and information, but more importantly critically think about the data. The cheerleading experience will complement her ability to communicate from a three-dimensional approach to include writing, oral communication and listening, and nonverbal communication. These are just some of the factors to consider when evaluating further education. Also, there are a lot of great young people out there, but college is not for everyone; vocational and technical schools provide great opportunities for young people as well.

 
Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Kohl has traveled over 8 million miles throughout his professional career and has conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups such as bankers, Farm Credit, FSA, and regulators, as well as producer and agribusiness groups. He has published four books and over 1,300 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals, extension, and other popular publications.


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