What college is right for your child?

One of the most challenging activities faced by American parents is helping a child to select a college. Many parents focus on making sure that a child can get into a good college without giving much thought to the end game: successful completion of a bachelor's degree.  It's therefore crucial to think just as much about being able to get through college as about getting there in the first place.

College logistics

The best college for a given individual must meet a variety of needs, not all of them strictly academic.  One of the most important considerations is location.  Some students need distance from their parents in order to fully adapt to adult life, while others do much better attending a local institution that allows for frequent visits home.  

Since colleges also vary widely in facilities, students should choose a college that can help support their individual interests.  Living facilities are another key issue.  Many freshmen entering higher education thrive in a dorm-and-cafeteria environment because they don't have to concern themselves with shopping and cooking; this allows them to focus on their courses much more effectively.  Freshmen who live off-campus, in contrast, are more likely to struggle to adjust to college life.

Course types and fees must also be taken into account.  At some colleges, students pay per class; others organize fees on a "full-time" or "part-time" basis, which means that five or six courses will cost no more than four.  New freshmen, however, should be careful not to overload themselves, particularly during their first semester.

Career paths

The most critical consideration, of course, is a good match between the student's projected career path and the strength of a college's programs.  It makes little sense for a student fascinated by chemistry to attend a fine arts college.  Likewise, a student interested in pursuing a bachelor of business administration should consider an institution such as CBT College, which emphasizes a hands-on, practical approach to the discipline.

Applications and scholarships

One mistake many families make is to apply only to those colleges that appear affordable at first glance.  The truth is that the advertised cost of attendance is often much higher than the true cost; private colleges in particular often offer generous scholarships that greatly reduce the fees students pay.  

Colleges are not the only source of scholarships.  In many American communities, local organizations and businesses are eager to help students afford college.  Students should also leverage the power of the internet to look for aid, basing search terms on their own unique circumstances.  "Scholarships for rural students," for example, may produce a surprising number of useful results.  To cover all bases, however, students should be sure to apply to at least one institution that would be affordable without taking scholarships into account.

College can be an exciting and rewarding time, but like most good things in life, succeeding there will require effort and dedication.  The first and most important step is choosing the right college to begin with.  


Beth R said...

thank you for sharing this. College is way off for us, but definitely something we are already saving for. Definitely a great point to consider the other costs that go into college besides just tuition though

Dani Sue said...

It's also important to consider the degree...it's a huge investment and you want it to pay off. There are a lot of people who got degrees in fields they aren't able to find work in.

Amy B said...

degree is hugely important! i was a religion major and loved college, but it didn't set me up for much career wise. it'll be a busy, expensive but overhwelmingly exciting adventure.

Anonymous said...

there is a lot to consider when looking for a college. they will know if it is "the one" though, walking through the campus.

judi said...

Great article! I've got one that just finished at a local trade school. Her decision was easy as she chose the only school in our state to offer training in her area of interest. My next one wants to be a youth pastor so that narrows his options to Bible college. Who knows what will happen with the others.

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