Even if your children are going to go to college whether they want to or not, it's still a good idea to get them to buy into the idea. Here are some tips.

You might point out the differences between high school and college. Some kids may assume that college is very much like their regimented high school. Point out the freedoms at college: She'll have much more latitude in choosing courses to take and she can focus primarily on subjects that interest her. Her schedule will vary widely, too. Some days she may have no courses until noon. Most courses may only meet three times a week. These are interesting details that not every youngster is aware of.

Play up the social angle, as well. She'll meet many, many new friends. She'll be in a community where almost everyone is roughly her age. Colleges typically feature scores of clubs, sports, and other activities. She's not likely to be bored. Instead of being out in the working world, she'll be among new friends, taking many courses that interest her, and enjoying a rich social life.

Finally, another compelling tidbit is financial. Point out how much difference a college education will make to her earning power for the rest of her life. Explain how most good jobs today require at least a college education. Share the following eye-opening table with her, and you may find that she's suddenly thinking of law school!

    The Earning Power of Education
Level Achieved
Yearly Salary Weekly Salary
Not a High School Graduate $22,074 $425
High School Graduate Only $27,975 $538
Some College but No Degree $33,948 $653
Bachelor's Degree $51,644 $993
Master's Degree $61,296 $1,179
Ph.D. $80,225 $1,543

Professional Degree
(medical doctor, lawyer, etc.)

$95,175 $1,830
  (Median earnings, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000)

If those numbers have got you thinking about how you'll cough up the money to pay for this exciting post-secondary education, drop by the Fool's College Savings Center and check out our book, The Motley Fool's Guide to Paying for School: How to Cover Education Costs from K to Ph.D., by Robert Brokamp.