Financial Matters: Talking To Your Kids About Money

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Before students leave for college, families need to have a conversation about reasonable spending expectations. Parents need to be aware of the costs of books, clubs, activities and midnight pizza runs. But students shouldn’t assume there is a limitless debit card at their disposal.

Most would agree that parents owe it to their children to discuss their financial commitment. Parents need to make their academic and financial expectations clear. Do you expect that your children will have some “skin in the game” and be responsible for some of the expenses? Are they taking out loans? Are they responsible for their personal expenses? Do you plan to provide them with a monthly allowance? Writing the checks without having these conversations is not conducive to financial success.
Part of what makes this conversation even more challenging is that money is almost a virtual concept for many students. They use gift cards, credit cards, debit cards and apps such as Venmo and PayPal. Money, the green stuff, is not a meaningful part of many teenagers’ lives.

Here are some tips for getting that financial conversation going:

Be straight about the costs of tuition and room and board. Most students can’t comprehend the idea of laying out $50,000 or more per year. Help them understand the investment by comparing it to something more tangible – equal to the cost of two cars, perhaps. Be specific about what you’re willing to pay for and even more specific about what you’re unwilling to subsidize.

Discuss the hidden costs at college. Some fees are not included in the list of required fees. For example, classspecific fees may include charges for materials, studio or practice room time and laboratory fees. The same is true for peruse fees (such as the athletic facility, pool or weight room). According to Edvisors, most students will spend $250 to $500 per month on these hidden costs.

Consider putting your expectations in writing. For example, if your student will be responsible for paying back any loans, ask them to sign a contract. Some parents tie in academic expectations as well: “you must have a 3.0 GPA to continue.”
Make sure your student is cautious before setting up multiple credit and debit card accounts. Be clear with them about what you’ll pay for and what is their responsibility.
Schedule a financial checkup with them about a month in. If they’ve done a good job, loosen the leash a little.

Majoring in Landscape Architecture?

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“Landscape architecture combines art, ecology, engineering, and community engagement to create meaningful outdoor places.” (WA State University) If you’re creative, interested in the environment and science, and enjoy working with people, landscape architecture may be just the career for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, landscape architecture is the fastest growing of all the design professions, although the profession has experienced a contraction in job opportunities over the last few years as the housing market declined. Nearly a quarter of the 30,000 landscape architects working in the United States are self-employed; the average salary earned by those in this profession is over $65,000/year, with those working for the Government averaging over $85,000/year.

Landscape architecture involves the planning, design and management of both the natural and manmade environment. In addition to beautifying our environment, landscape architects must determine the best use for a site. They need to consider the environmental impact of proposed development, and make plans for both auto and pedestrian traffic. Landscape architects design such varied facilities as parks and playgrounds, college and industrial campuses, gardens and recreational areas, shopping centers, residential developments and national forests. Their work impacts all of us.

To become a landscape architect, students must learn about the ways the natural environment can be changed to better the quality of life for its users. They must first understand the land as well as its ecology. To this end, students study design, construction techniques, art, history, and natural and social sciences. Majors start with traditional techniques such as site planning and design, employing both drawing and computer graphics in studio based courses. The students study ecological systems, learn about plants that grow in a variety of conditions, and discover the relationships between social and political institutions and the natural environment. At more advanced levels, the major includes courses in urban design, landscape technology and regional planning. As a culminating project, students may design a park or a garden, or create a site plan for a residential dwelling or sports arena.

College departments may differ greatly in their approach, so students contemplating this major should look closely at the emphasis that is placed at the colleges they are considering. Some programs focus on physical design, others on environmental issues such as sustainability and regeneration. Some do a good job of combining both design and ecology. City based colleges are more likely to focus on urban design than are suburban campuses. Finally, some colleges offer a four-year curriculum that culminates in a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA); others offer the five-year Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA), which includes more studio and lecture courses. Most states require that landscape architects be licensed, a process that includes the completion of the professional degree and the passing of a national licensing exam. Some states also require completion of a period of supervised practice be-fore the landscape architect becomes licensed.

Landscape architects may be employed in a variety of settings including public, private, and academic institutions. Many are self-employed and have their own businesses, or work as consultants. Those interested in private employment may find jobs in engineering, architectural and planning organizations. Governmental agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state and local governments provide many graduates with opportunities for employment. Those landscape architects who hold Masters degrees may go on to teach and conduct research at colleges and universities.


Career Options for Landscape Architecture Majors

According to the Washington State University website, landscape architects design:

• City, state, or federal parks
• Public and private gardens and arboretums
• Waterfronts and greenways
• Community development plans
• Urban centers
• Streetscapes and neighbor-hoods
• Resorts
• Corporate facilities
• University/college campuses
• Nature preserves
• Zoos

Landscape architects are engaged in:

• Sustainable urban development
• Ecological planning and resto-ration
• Community partnerships
• Environmental advocacy
• Landscape preservation
• Resource management
• Farmland protection
• Food production and communi-ty gardening
• Water conservation
• Green infrastructure and storm-water management
• Aging-in-place and senior-friendly community planning

Learn More:
American Society of Landscape Architects at
Bureau of Labor Statistics at (click on the Occupational Outlook Handbook)

Adjusting to College Life

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Nearly all college freshmen encounter a few surprises as they adjust to college life. Understanding the most common chal-lenges reported by freshmen – and what to do about them — can make the transition to college life go more smoothly for both students and their parents. Some of the most common freshmen challenges include:

Academics. Even strong students can be blindsided by college academics. Classes – even in subjects you’ve always aced –are often more demanding than high school classes, and may require new skills and approaches. Unlike high school teachers, college professors won’t check that you’re keeping up with the workload. How to cope: The course syllabus is your best friend; before each class, make sure you’ve completed the reading for that day. Don’t skip classes! If you’re struggling with the course work, get help earlier, rather than later. For parents: If your child seems to be struggling, suggest that he or she talk to the professor during office hours. The college’s tutoring and writing centers can also help students adjust to college academic demands.

Time management. In college, how you spend your time is up to you. That sounds great, until you realize just how hard it can be to balance studying, socializing, and juggling new responsibilities like a job or doing your own laundry. How to cope: Your first three priorities should always be attending classes, study time (allow three hours for every hour you’re in class), and taking care of your health (i.e., sleeping, eating, and exercising). Get a personal planner and block out time for those priorities first, then figure out how much time you have left over for socializing.

For parents: Your child won’t tell you how they’re spending all of their time, and that’s OK. While your child will likely make some mistakes with time management, that is part of the college learning experience.

New people. Most freshmen look forward to meeting new people in college, but being surrounded by strangers can also take some adjustment. New friends may have different ideas about behavior and relationships than your family and friends back home. Rooming with a stranger (or strangers) can also be a challenge. How to cope: The first few weeks of college are usually a social whirlwind. Don’t stress if you feel you haven’t made the same type of friendships that you had at home. Strong friendships need time to develop. Roommates don’t always end up being best friends; try to talk out any issues that crop up with your roommate as soon as possible. For parents: Before your child leaves for college, discuss how to stay safe on campus, and where to get help should they encounter challenging relationship situations.

Homesickness. No matter how excited you are about college, it’s normal to have moments where you miss home, your family, or your friends. Adjusting to a new environment and being surrounded by new people can feel overwhelming at times and make you long for familiarity. How to handle it: When homesickness hits, don’t panic. A phone call to family or friends can help, as can talking to others in your dorm or classes. Chances are you’re not the only person feeling homesick. For parents: Freshman homesickness usually passes quickly. The best way to help is to be there to listen and suggest ways that your child can connect with others on campus.

Marin Moms’ College Information Night + Wine + Cheese

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Please come to a casual wine & cheese event, hosted by Stacy Colwell, an independent college consultant. Stacy aims to reduce the stress around the college admission process by helping parents and students better understand how college admission works, setting realistic expectations in college selection, and helping parents support their students in a sane and realistic manner.

Who: Parents of freshman and/or sophomore students. Feel free to bring your friends along (make sure they RSVP though)

What: Learn some basics about the college admission process

·      UC and CSU admission policies verses private school admission

·      Planning SAT/ACT testing timeline

·      Helping your student plan extra-curricular and summer programs

·      Bring your questions about the college process

When: Monday, May 14th 6:30-8:00 pm or Thursday, May 24th 6:30-8:00 pm.

Where: Stacy’s house (She will email you the address, once you RSVP).

How: RSVP to and let her know which date you would like to attend.

Please feel free to pass this information onto other Marin Moms that might be interested.