By Angela Ardolino
College is a great transition part of your child’s life. While still reliant on their parents for some things it’s the chance for your kids to leave the nest, so to speak, and begin adulthood. Finding the right college that fits your child’s needs and desires for the future will determine their success during and after college. You child’s counselor will be able to help to narrow your child’s search along with these tips.
The first step is making sure that each college or university your child applies to has the academic program that they are interested in. If they’re interested in a dance program only look at schools that offer that specific course work. You can purchase books, like the Peterson’s Guide, that have extensive information about the more than 3,000 4-year universities and colleges in the U.S. Academic fit also involves the nature of the classroom setting. Is your child more suited for large lecture halls or small classes with frequent professor interaction?
Each college has it’s own, unique social feel. This is one aspect that you should discuss with college admissions when you visit campuses. Many universities have large Greek life and religious associations. If your child doesn’t want to be a part of these, will it be strange on a Friday night when the dorms empty out to Greek or other activities? Some universities also have a large commuter population that head home on the weekend leaving the campus social life to be different then say that of a university where students stay on the weekends.
Although contrary to popular belief, college is not very expensive. Your child can start their higher learning at a local community college and once they’ve completed their Associates degree can transfer to a four-year program. The benefit of this is tuition is much less expensive at local schools and your child can live at home. On the flip side, the “normal” college experience can be expensive and telling your child that any college is appropriate could leave you or your child with more than $100,000 in debt upon graduation. If finances are an issue, talking openly with your child (as early as middle school) about scholarships can help set a path for a full ride to a great university. Once your child has narrowed down the universities they are interested in applying to set a monetary limit as to how much money can be spent on college applications. On average, applications cost $100 each and before you know it can rack up a hefty bill.
The college search process may appear quite daunting to those who are experiencing it for the first time, but with research and guidance you can better navigate the process.