More than a dozen West Clermont middle school students and parents attended a Plan the Way workshop Jan. 25 at the Union Township Civic Center to help them get a head start on college planning.
Plan the Way Foundation, a non-profit organization, partnered with both West Clermont and Milford local school districts to provide a series of workshops for students and their parents.
“Too often families didn’t have a plan for how they were going to pay for college and the students didn’t know what they were going to do,” Chris Candelaresi, partner and educator for Plan the Way, said. “The workshops are very beneficial and there is a lot of information there.”
Chris and his father, Tom Candelaresi, first developed the idea for Plan the Way as a for-profit organization, but soon decided instead of just being consultants they wanted to work with local districts and offer students and parents helpful tips for the planning process.
“We are trying to work with different schools and churches,” Chris said. “Being able to reach out and educate families preparing to go through this is the goal.”
The workshops are designed to cover many facets of the college planning process, from knowing what classes to take to affording college once the time comes.
The first workshop in the series for the West Clermont district was held on Jan. 25 highlighted the beginning of the college planning process.
“People think they can wait until junior or senior year to start worrying about college and you can’t,” Tom said.
He explained students should prepare for college as early as middle school, by thinking about their interests and taking classes that will help them reach their goals. He explained that parents should begin looking at how much college will cost and decide how much they can afford.
“I encourage you to get involved now through high school,” Tom told students. “Life is going to change drastically over the next six years.”
Tom discussed the benefits of college and also discussed the growing competition to get accepted to college. He presented statistics on how much college graduates make, and discussed the college application process.
“I think it will make them more aware of resources and give them a network of people to talk to,” Tanny McGregor, secondary curriculum supervisor for the district, said.
McGregor said Plan the Way worked with teachers in the district during training sessions and they decided to offer workshops to parents and students.
“We wanted to offer this free resource to our parents, and it aligns with financial literacy curriculum,” McGregor said.
Parents who attended the workshop were able to take notes, ask questions and discuss the information presented. They will be able to continue to build upon what was presented at future workshops and were offered a free personal consultation with Plan the Way.
“I think it was great and was very informative,” Jenny Matthews, who came to the workshop with her son Alex Hankins, said. “We just want to make sure we are prepared, and I think having him hear it from someone else is important.”
Matthews said this is the first time she has gone through the college process with a child and decided to come after seeing the workshop advertised on the school website.
Alex, who definitely wants to attend college when he is older, found the workshop to be important as well.
“It’s annoying when you hear parents talk about college, but when you hear someone else, you realize it is more real,” Alex said.
Having students and parents attend the workshops together is why Tom and Chris created their Families Uniting Now “FUN” programs.
The next program for West Clermont students will take place Feb. 29 and will cover different ways to save money and pay for college.
For more information, contact Plan the Way Foundation at (513) 753-1290 or visit ptwfoundation.org/index.html.