Send Your Kids to College in High School

Parents were high-fiving in grocery stores all over town last week in anticipation of being relieved of their summer duties. Summer is fun — watermelon and tree climbing and camping and Frisbees and Grandma and beaches and campsites – even when run consecutive do not take up 10 weeks.

But it is over! School has started and you have just spent a chunk of wallet on back to school gear. You may not want to be reminded that college is really expensive, and that a 529 account has excellent tax advantages, I have already covered that and other vehicles that can get you closer to this giant sum that may seem far away but looms nonetheless. This post will give you ways your kids can pull their weight, even before they graduate out of high school.

The obvious: they can work. Be a life guard, do that big scanning job nobody has wanted to take on at the office, dog walk, house sit for vacationers, weed gardens, paint living rooms. Even if you don’t want them working during the year, there is no reason not to get them off their duffs in the summer. Getting them to save for college can be trickier than getting them to earn their own disposable income, but you can at least insist that their disposable income is not in addition to continued access to yours and start shuttling their weekly allowance into savings. (They will expect to double dip, and be incredulous when you say no.)

There are other options that would nix the part-time job during the school year but could potentially shave off not only tuition but time as well. Oregon’s dual credit system, as well as advanced placement courses allow students to receive college credit while still in high school, without paying college tuition.

It gets better! Additionally, two Portland high schools, Cleveland and Lincoln, offerInternational Baccalaureate (IB) diplomas, which can allow a student with a score of 30 or above up to 45 college credits and sophomore class standing at many universities. That is a whole year you don’t have to pay for, which if you have a Duck can amount to almost $9,000.

Even better than that! If you are in the Beaverton district, you can send your kids to PCC for the last two years of high school, at the expense of the school district. You can also do this if you move north to Vancouver where Washington State also has a “running start” program that provides two years of college for eligible students.

All of these programs are competitive and demanding, which means if your kids are still in grammar school, make sure they are getting a good grounding in the three Rs. (My sister, a 25-year teaching veteran, likes to terrify me with statistics like “did you know, if your kid doesn’t read at grade level by the 3rd grade, they never will.”) There are reasons you may not want your kid to go to college, or take college credit early — they may not be ready emotionally, socially or academically. These might also be the same reasons that they shouldn’t go to college right after high school, a topic that deserves a post of its own. But if they can handle it, let them get ahead.