As the school year continues, high school seniors are likely feeling overwhelmed by all of the variables that go into the college decision process. Thankfully, many of the tried-and-true practices for helping your student find their best-fit college still apply today. Follow these simple steps to help your teen make progress toward their dream college:
Step 1: Identify What’s Most Important
Sit down with your student and have a simple conversation about what they want most out of a college experience. This will look different for every teen. Maybe it’s a specific major, a vibrant community, a desire to go to a faith-based college, a location near a specific city, or something else. Make a list of these points and highlight the ones that are nonnegotiable.
Step 2: Research and Apply
Using the list you and your teen just made, start researching schools that meet your criteria. One you’ve found some options that your student is excited about, have them start applying to all of them! Many schools are making it easier to apply this year by waiving fees and requiring less items to be submitted.
Step 3: Visit College Campuses
Visiting the schools your student is most excited about is by far the best way to inform their decision. With today’s technology, you can attend virtual visits from the comfort of your own home, but in-person tours often provide even more insight into whether the campus is a good fit for your student or not.
Step 4: Compare Scholarships
After applying and submitting a FAFSA, your student will begin to receive financial aid award letters. Make sure to compare the final amount over the scholarship awards. For example, if School A offers a $15,000 scholarship but costs $50,000 per year and School B only offers a $12,000 scholarship but costs $40,000 per year, School B is actually the more affordable option, even with a smaller scholarship.
Step 5: Utilize Admissions Counselors
Each school has a team of trained admissions counselors who will walk with your student from the beginning of the application until they either deposit or decline to attend. These campus employees are a phenomenal resource for getting all your questions answered. Whether your teen needs help with an application piece or you have a question about campus security, admissions counselors are a wealth of information.
At the end of the day, it’s still a big decision; possibly the biggest decision your student has ever had to make. But if you take the steps above, choosing the perfect college becomes just that much easier.