It’s that time of year again. If you are the parent of a college-bound high school senior, it is getting to be time for your kid’s final college choice. Financial aid offers and final college acceptances should be arriving soon.
By now, you are probably already sick of the “Where is [insert student’s name here] going?” questions and you are thinking, “We haven’t even gotten all the information needed to make a decision.”
As your student starts to narrow down to that final decision, I have a few tips to share.
Tips for Making the Final College Choice
- Go for the best overall “value.” Value will mean something a little different for everyone. For some, it will mean lowest overall out-of-pocket cost. For others, it will mean the most intellectually stimulating environment for the least out-of pocket cost. For the lucky students for whom cost will not be an option, it may mean the most prestigious school to offer admission.
- Use Admitted Student visit programs to aid in the final decision. I wrote a post a couple years ago about this – The Admitted Student Visit – A Critical Part of the College Choice. Especially if your student has only been to a campus once, a second and more in-depth look is always a good idea.
- Narrow down to two schools. If your student is still evaluating more than two schools, have him or her narrow it down to two first. See my post on Choosing Between Two Colleges for more tips.
- Keep in mind that there may be room for negotiation on cost. So if your first inclination is to tell your student, “This one is out,” when you get the financial package back, don’t entirely dismiss the school yet if it is one of your student’s favorites. Depending on the school and how much they are interested in your student, you may be able to negotiate a much better deal.
Your kid’s college choice is a big life-changing decision, but once you have discussed the financial side sufficiently, sit back, let your student take the driver’s seat, and let her or him know that you are there for support as needed.
To all of you who are going through the college choice process with your student right now, I say a heartfelt “good luck.” I was there with my oldest daughter two years ago and it was agonizing. I will be back there again in another year with my middle daughter and I am hoping it will be easier for both mom and daughter this time around.