Summer is upon us, and for new juniors and seniors this means college selection is right around the corner. The summer months are a great time for students to look at colleges, research their options and even start visiting campuses! With so much information available, though, the college selection process can be overwhelming for both students and parents.
How can you best support your student as they navigate deciding which college is right for them? Here are a few of our tips to help you get started…
Does the college match your student academically?
When considering college options, it’s important to look at the programs and curriculums as well as the rigor of the institutions. For example, if your student is really interested in biology – but is considering a school known for its journalism program – it may be worth evaluating if there are other options better aligned to their interests.
Similarly, students should consider the rigor and pace of the colleges they are researching. College is an exciting time to be challenged and pushed personally and academically, but you definitely don’t want your student getting into a situation that is overly demanding or stressful for them. On the other hand, selecting a school that is less rigorous than your student’s potential could prove to be too easy, or potentially boring, as a college experience. Finding the healthy balance is critical to overall success and enjoyment.
Is the college affordable for your family?
While many students take on some type of debt when attending college, there may come a point where too much debt does not make sense. If an excessive loan will negatively impact your student or your family financially down the road, it’s worth considering if that college really is the best choice.
Fortunately, there are many options for students to help offset the cost of school, including grants, scholarships and work-study programs. As a part of your student’s research, encourage them to look into what financial options they qualify for and can reasonably pursue. You can then use this information to understand what colleges realistically make sense for your student and your family.
Will the college help your student achieve their goals?
It may seem obvious in the process, but when considering schools, it’s first and foremost important to ensure that they have the degree program your student is interested in pursuing. Even if your student isn’t sure of the path they’d like to take, exploring various options that colleges offer will help to determine if a school has what your student may be interested in, or if it’s not the right fit.
Having a general idea of interest – and finding colleges that match that interest – is an important factor when determining if a college is right for your student. This also presents a great opportunity to visit campuses and talk with current students to understand why they chose the school. They may have been in a similar situation as your student and can help to shed light by sharing their experience.
Does the “feel” of the college feel right to your student?
At the end of the day, a college is going to be your student’s new home for the next several years. This is incredibly important, and the general “feel” of the school cannot be overlooked. There is a lot that can go into determining “feel” – including geographic location, size of the school, social climate, extracurricular activity options, etc. and your student most likely has other factors that will go into this equation.
As you are researching and visiting schools together, emphasize the importance of “feel” for your student so they don’t get too caught up in the other elements of consideration. Even if a school checks every single box except “feel”, it’s important to remind your student that they need to feel welcome and at home. If they do not feel that, then the school may not be right for them.
Researching and selecting a college is an exciting time for your student and your family. At The Village Tutors, we offer College Consulting to provide expert guidance through this process. Learn more here and reach out to our team for assistance with these important decisions.