How to Help Your Teen Choose the Right College for Them
You are going to be the parents of a high school graduate in the next year and this is the time colleges come around and start scouting for good students. This might be a hard decision even though you both have waited for this moment for years for your child. Your son or daughter is going to be leaving home possible or going to college locally. It depends on the child and where they feel comfortable. Some students aren’t ready to move into a dorm or an apartment far from home and away from their families yet. In addition, some kids get scholarships for sports or academics and can get into the top schools. Whatever the case, help your child choose the right college for their personality.
Many high school students are admitted to many colleges at once, so deciding which one to go to takes research and critical thinking. Teens usually only have so much time because the deadline is usually May 1st for many colleges and universities. Parents also should help their child in their decision, but don’t take control of their decision.
This needs to be the students choice and here are some ways parents can help their teen choose the right college for them.
Choosing the right college is exciting but stressful for all involved, especially your teen. Parents should be understanding and not add pressure to create more stress on their child by expecting their teen to attend the college the parents choose. Parents should trust their teen’s judgment to make a good decision when picking the right college. Let them know you are there for support and to talk, but also let them know you are confident in their abilities to succeed.
Try not to Compare Your Child to Others
Some parents have a problem with this and do compare other students to their own child. Don’t show emotions at all if their friend got into Harvard and your child didn’t. Don’t ever compare their acceptances or rejections to other students. This behavior adds more stress to their college decision thoughts and remember every child is different, unique and has different interests.
Look at Financial Aid Offers
College is expensive but often families don’t have to pay for all of it. There are grants, scholarships, and all schools send students a financial award acceptance letter if they apply. The college financial aid department will help your child go through the process to find out what they qualify for. The award letter informs the student of the amount of the loans, grants, scholarships and work-study options that are offered.
Parents and teens can compare these award letters from different schools to see where they get more bang for their buck. Award letters show the cost of a year of enrollment, and families should consider the 4-year cost of the package in the long run. This should be looked at for every school your teen is considering. Tuition and fees go up annually so families should check to see how much these costs have gone up over the last four years and use that information for decision-making processes.
Parents should look at all the award letters and talk about the money and pros and cons of going to each school. Parents have to be realistic with their teen about the costs of college. This is the time to start treating your child like an adult and families should create a spreadsheet to compare the different costs of each college. This should also include the amount of debt your child will incur while attending a four year school. Talking about student loan debt is crucial because this might affect your teen and your family for years to come. Teens should understand that school debt is serious and has to be paid back or somewhere down the line, their check is garnished and their taxes are taken. In addition, the interest accrues after they graduate.
Look at Careers
Help your teen do some research to find out if the school they are interested in will help them with their career goals. Look at internships and job placement rates, starting salaries for new grads because this can be very helpful. If your child decides they want to go on to grad school, look at the alumni and see if the colleges offer information about how many got into medical, law or graduate school. You can find this information on the school’s website.
Location is Important
Some teens want to stay close to home and others are more adventurous and want to attend college in another area of the country or study abroad. This is when parents should talk about the pros and cons of the location of each college on their list.
Visit the Campus Again
Many colleges have events on campus in the spring for the students who have been admitted for the upcoming year. These events are good to attend because it helps an undecided student another look at the school and gives them the ability to ask more questions about student life on campus. Parents should take their teens to these events if they can afford it to help them get a better view and experience of the school.
Don’t Bug Your Teen
Parents should not be asking their teen if they have made a decision yet on a daily basis. This can stress them out and they know there is a deadline. Parents can check on their progress towards a final choice but don’t smother them. You can decide to choose one night a week to see how your teen is doing but don’t talk about it constantly. This time should be used to weigh the pros and cons of each school.
Parents can see this is a very stressful and serious decision when your child is ready to choose the right college or university to attend. The best thing you can do is offer as much support and love as possible and understand them if they become irritable. This is one of the biggest decisions of their lives and life as they once knew it is going to change. In the end, everything works out for the family and the next event will be here in no time and that is their college graduation!