Choosing the “right” college can be a huge challenge for students (and their parents!) but it is worth the effort. In fact, if there is one sure-fire way to waste money on college: Send your student to a college that isn’t a good fit academically, culturally or socially.
How Students Choose a College
For many high school students, the prospect of choosing how to spend the next four years of their lives-and jumpstart their future careers-is more than a little daunting. That’s why so many of them procrastinate on filling out college applications, hesitate to make college visits, or change the subject when college comes up in conversation. Without guidance from a parent, teacher, counselor or even a guidebook or website, students often feel lost when it comes to choosing a school.
Feeling overwhelmed and afraid are also driving factors in how students make their final college decision. Left on their own, they may choose a school based on where friends plan to go, who has the best football team, the most attractive campus (or students!) or which school is closest to home. While these factors can be important, they should not be the one-and-only deciding factor that leads to the college choice.
The Price of the “Wrong” College
There are most likely a myriad of colleges that could be a perfect choice for your son or daughter, but there are also a vast number that might not be a good fit-and a bad fit will almost certainly cost you more. Why?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, just under 50% of students who received a bachelor’s degree from a 4-year institution had attended more than one school, indicating that their first choice wasn’t what they needed.
Changing colleges usually means a student will need to attend up to a full extra year of school in order to catch up with the transfer college’s requirements – and that translates into another year of fees, housing, etc. coming out of your pocketbook. Transitioning to another college can also take an emotional toll on students because they have to adjust once again to a new area, campus, lifestyle, peer group and curriculum.
As Easy as 1, 2, 3…
Helping your student make the right college choice upfront is clearly a crucial part of the college funding process, so what guidance should you provide? There are actually quite a few things to consider, so I’m going to save that for my next post.
All the best, Deborah Fox
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