Do you remember when you were a teen, trying to choose a college? What was important to you – location, school reputation, what school your friends were attending?
Now that you’re a parent of a teen – and you’ve been there yourself – chances are you realize a lot of factors contribute to what makes a good college. It’s important for your child to have a good education, and it’s equally important that the college they choose is the right fit for them.
Consider all the college options available
No, it’s not as obvious as it sounds. Many assume that their children will go to a traditional four-year school. But is a four-year university the best choice? What about a community college or a career-focused college?
Each type of college should be thoroughly researched before it comes time to apply. Eliminating all schools that aren’t traditional four-year universities may hinder opportunities before they’re even explored.
Research tuition costs and financial aid options early in the process
The reality of these economic times is that most kids need to attend an affordable college – or be able to get a considerable amount of financial aid. The federal student aid website is a great place to determine your family’s aid eligibility.
Researching the costs up front can help you discover which schools are a better value, leaving more time to focus on the schools that are the best fit for you and your teenager.
Look beyond appearances
Some colleges have historic, beautiful campuses, but a college’s aesthetical appeal shouldn’t be a deciding factor. After you and your teen have narrowed down the options, it’s time to consider the facts.
Checking college rankings is a good first step. But there are other things to consider, too.
How long does it usually take students to graduate? What’s the graduation rate? Does the college or university offer the degree your child aspires to earn? What are the career placement rates? Asking these questions can help your teen make a confident decision.
Check out the support the school offers.
We all want our children to thrive in college, but sometimes that’s not the case. If your teen needs help in a class, are tutors available? Are the instructors easily accessible to answer questions? Most colleges do offer such things, but some go above and beyond in their support.
Don’t forget to see what’s offered after graduation, too – career services can be an important asset in a new grad’s job search. Many career services help with important things like interview preparation and resume writing.
Many things have to be considered in addition to support services, but if the college your teen loves offers only the bare minimum support it might be time to look elsewhere.
The bottom line: Choosing a college might be the first big decision your teen makes, but with research and guidance it can be a decision that will further their education and help their future immensely.
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