It seems like just yesterday that your little angel was going off to kindergarten, but the time has come for your son or daughter to choose a home for the next four years. Here is some advice to help navigate the college search process without becoming your child's worst enemy.
Searching for college brings a plethora of social, academic, and economic hurdles for high school students. Your son or daughter is feeling great pressure from friends, teachers, and college counselors, and the best thing you can do is be supportive. Choosing a college is like choosing a running shoe: it has to fit just right.
Visit, Visit, and Visit Again!
Your son or daughter will never know how they’ll fit in at a school without visiting. Virtual tours are great to just browse, but encourage different kinds of visits to schools at the top of his or her list. Traditional campus tours, special open house days and receptions hosted in your hometown are all great opportunities to gauge if a school will be a best fit.
Ask Questions During Your Visit
Don’t let your son or daughter keep you quiet during a college visit. Ask all the questions that come to mind, even if your teen gets embarrassed. It’s your job as a parent to worry about tuition, safety and campus resources, while your child worries about making friends, finding a great major and getting the best residence hall.
Encourage Your Child to Check Their Email
Once the application process has begun, email is the primary way colleges will contact your student. Make sure they fill out their college applications with a valid email address and check that email account often. Forging the habit of checking and responding to emails at a young age will benefit them greatly in college and in their future career.
DON’T DO THIS
Complete Your Child’s Admission Application
No matter how long your son or daughter is dragging their feet to complete applications or respond to emails, they need to be the one held responsible. Even though it’s difficult to see deadlines get closer and closer, when they get to college, they won’t have you there to make sure they’re doing what they need to do. Missing a deadline for a top 5 school would be a good lesson for them to learn the hard way, before they get to college and miss a final and a deadline for a term paper.
Make the Decision for Them
Picking the right college can be tough. As a parent, you’re there to guide and support, but never to make the decision for them. Ask open ended questions to get your son or daughter thinking, but don’t tell them what to think. The key is to lead them in the right direction, without having them think they’re being pushed.
Whether you’re frustrated with an admission decision or your child’s decision, it is best to remain cool, calm and collected. Take a deep breath. Everything may not go as planned, but that’s okay. With the right preparation, your son or daughter will find the perfect place to spend the next four years.