How to Choose a College: A Parent’s Guide

Published by Wendy Nelson on

Today’s post is a guest post from Bobby Touran, founder and CEO of ApplyKit.  ApplyKit is a great resource to help keep the college application process organized.

College Campus ImageFiguring out how to choose a college can be one of the hardest problems a parent can face. However, once figured out, choosing the right college will be one of the greatest things you’ll guide your child through as they become a young adult. To help you with this process, I’ve outlined 5 key points to remember as you help your child choose the right college.

1) Don’t Limit Your Choices in the Beginning

When you’re starting to search for schools, try not to limit your choices. Develop a list of ten to twelve schools to research. That does not mean you need to have your student apply to all of them. These schools should include a mixture of “dream schools” where admission standards are high, as well as “safe school,” where your child is more likely to be accepted. Try researching some schools between these extremes as well. As you continue to research schools, your student should apply for several colleges. If your family has trouble paying for application fees, many schools will waive the requirements. The Common Application can also help you in your effort to choose a college. 

2) Limit Your Choices at the End 

When you are coming close to making your final decision on a school, you will want to narrow your choices down to just between two or three schools. This will help you and your child decide between schools. It will also reduce the amount of money you will need to spend visiting campuses.

3) Always Start Early

Choosing a college becomes a lot easier if you start early. Apply for FAFSA (Federal Student Aid) early on in the process. Many scholarships and grants require your student to already be enrolled in that program for consideration. 

4) Prepare Your Student for Exams

College admissions exams (ACT, SAT, etc.) can be tough. Make sure you help your child prepare for the exam. Many schools offer prep courses for the exams. If that’s not a service provided by your child’s school, purchase a test prep book and study at home. 

5) Bring in Help 

No one can do everything, and as a parent, you can’t be expected to devote hours and hours to every task. So bring in help where needed! Tell you family and friends you are helping your child choose a college. Ask literary-minded friends to help review essays. Former teachers in your life may be able to provide assistance with study planning. High school guidance counselors and the admissions office at the schools you are considering are also valuable resources. Oh, and don’t forget to use ApplyKit to keep you and your child’s roadmap clear and organized! 

Remember these Points 

The challenge of choosing a college can be daunting. Yet, with a little time, effort and planning, you can help your student choose the best college for them. Just keep your child engaged, because applying to college can be a long, daunting task. Teenagers can often lose focus during the process, so make sure your child stays current with deadlines and focus on how they can improve their work. 


Bobby Touran is the founder and CEO of ApplyKit. ApplyKit helps students manage their entire college application process and also provides key resources to help them excel every step of the way. Visit and create a free account today!