As your student enters high school, college may seem a way off. However, it’s never too early to start thinking about college. A major component of the college discussion is where to attend. After all, choosing a college is one of the biggest decisions your student will make. Here are six tips to make this decision easier:
1. Organize priorities
What’s most important to your student? Is it finding a highly ranked program? A spiritual, Christ-centered campus? A small school? Have your student make a list of these priorities and rank their importance.
As you search the Internet, begin to make a list of colleges that check the most boxes on your student’s priority list. Then request additional information from those schools. Don’t forget to check out US News & World Report’s best colleges rankings on their website. You can search by categories, find statistics like enrollment size and median starting salaries, and use their online tool to compare colleges.
3. Attend a college fair
There are many open to the public that you can find by searching online. At a fair, you’re able to speak with college representatives face-to-face.
4. Set your budget
Have you set aside money for college, such as in a tax-advantaged 529 savings plan? Will your student work part-time in college? Answering questions like these will help determine what your family can afford. Also find out how much aid your student is estimated to receive from the government. If they’re not in 12th grade, it’s not time to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) yet. However, you can use the FAFSA4caster tool—found on studentaid.ed.gov—to give an early estimate of the aid your student can receive.
Track your student’s high school GPA and test scores as they take the ACT or SAT. These can translate to free money for college. Along with scholarships offered by colleges, use search engines like scholarships.com and fastweb.com to find private scholarships your student can apply for.
5. Visit the top three schools
This is one of the most important things your student can do. During a visit, there’s often opportunities to meet students, professors, and financial counselors, tour academic schools and residence halls, and more. Additionally, some schools offer incentives for visiting.
The optimal time to schedule visits is during 11th grade. Be sure your scheduled visit occurs when classes are in session, and write questions down ahead of time to bring along.
Ultimately, seeking God’s will for the next chapter in your student’s life is the most important thing you and your family can do.
Southern Adventist University
Searching for a Christ-centered education? Check out Southern Adventist University, where we believe in the incredible power of your passion aligned with God’s purpose.
See for yourself what makes Southern special; schedule a visit! Lodging and meals are on us. Learn more at southern.edu/visit.