How to keep your college grad from boomeranging

You probably know someone like this, who went off to college and instead of going out into the wide world after graduation, ended up back with the parents. It's a sad reality for many people who thought that a college degree would be their ticket to the top.

And for parents, who looked forward to their empty-nest years, it can be a strain to not only have your "kids" back in the house, but now as adults over whom you hold no legal authority and may struggle to get to follow family rules. This can be especially difficult in terms of curfews, overnight guests and who does the laundry.

So, what can you do to ensure that your new high school grad doesn't come boomeranging back to you in four years? Here are some helpful hints.

Don't send them to college without a real plan. I realize this sounds a lot like just keeping them at home, but one of the biggest reasons young adults return is crushing student loan debt. If your child wants to "find herself" or wants to major in something that's unlikely to help her land a job, maybe investing in college via student loans isn't the best plan right now. And how to make a good plan?

1. Talk to a lot of people. If she has an idea of what she wants to do, have her (mom and dad should not make this phone call) contact people who do that and ask to set up informational interviews. Then ask these people how they got to where they are.

2. Look at actual facts and figures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of average salaries by job. Take a look, and figure out if the potential career is worth the cost.

3. Consider if the cost of the selected college will be worth the payoff. It costs the same amount of money (at most schools) to major in dance (average hourly wage $14.87) as it does to major in civil engineering (average hourly wage $38.83).

Send them to trade school. Skilled trades can pull in good salaries, and in lots of areas demand is outpacing supply. In fact, Forbes reported that the skilled trades are the most difficult to hire, "the welders, electricians, machinists, etc. that are so prevalent in manufacturing and construction." There are even programs that will pay for their training.

Make them work their way through school. While it's true that working as a waitress won't eliminate the need for student loans, it'll give your student something to put on the resume at the end of college. Yes, internships look better than fast-food stints, but any work is better than no work. Plus, any job teaches real-life skills that are transferable.

Teach them the joy of living on less. If you start the "here's how to make beans and rice" and send your student off to college with a case of noodle ramen, spaghetti noodles and tomato sauce, he can learn quickly how to live on very little. If, instead, you pay for everything, or send the child to four years of unlimited dorm food, landing on the other side of the diploma without any money for fancy food is likely to land him back on your doorstep.

If they do come back, require work. Under no circumstances should you do the laundry of a healthy adult child living in your house. Adult children have to clean bathrooms, make dinner, do dishes, mow the lawn and do all those other chores that are a part of adulthood. Do not make it easy to come home.

Pay attention to your vote. The best insurance against boomerang kids is a thriving economy. When you vote, think, "how will this person help the overall economy?" and not, "what will this person give me?"

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