Dr Kent Ingle: Applying to College – 7 Tips to Help Parents and Students Make the Right Choice
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College courses have just resumed this fall and now is the time for prospective students to start applying for the year 2022-2023. Applications for next year have already been posted with numerous advance ruling deadlines approaching towards the end of October.
If you have a high school student, you’ve probably looked for colleges for your student. You may have even started the application process. For parents of students who have just started high school, it’s not too early to consider college.
Here are seven tips to help your student apply to colleges.
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Determine a budget – Finances can be a big factor in determining where your student can attend college. It is important that you discuss who is going to pay for it before you start applying. A survey by Sallie Mae and Ipsos found that 54% of parents pay for college. If you plan to pay for your child’s education, make sure they know how much you will be contributing and whether you expect them to contribute additional expenses.
Budget for what four years of college will cost and decide which schools fit that budget. The budget should include school fees, living expenses (such as accommodation and food) and textbooks. Be sure to plan for additional fees, knowing that tuition fees could go up and there could be expenses that you didn’t plan for.
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Research colleges together – Start searching for colleges now. Some criteria that you need to keep in mind are distance from home, study programs of interest, tuition fees, scholarships available, and campus life. Does your student want to attend a public or private university? Do they want to attend a school that matches their beliefs? It doesn’t hurt to create a list of different colleges that include the criteria mentioned above. As you do your research, consider looking for colleges known for your child’s degree program that have high post-graduation placement rates.
Visit campuses before applying – While college can look great online, you need to make sure your child visits school in person. By touring the campus, you will get a better idea of the area in which the college is located and of campus life. Don’t be afraid to stop current students and ask them what they like about going to school there. At Southeastern University (where I’m president), we run full-day events where students can participate in campus activities (such as sporting events), eat at the campus restaurant, and attend classes. Events like these will give your student a good idea of the college culture.
Decide what is important – Does your student want to get involved in certain clubs? Are they planning to play sports? Do they want to experience a new state or stay close to home? There are several aspects of campus life that you want to consider before applying. Ask them to make a list of their top priorities and ask them to be realistic. Everything they want won’t be there, but they should at least make sure their top priorities are met. In addition to visiting the college campus, be sure to check out each university’s social media and website to get a good idea of the college experience.
The best step you can take as a parent is to let your child decide where they will go to college. It is important that they take ownership of the process because it will be an important step in their life.
Create a schedule to meet deadlines – When you find colleges your student wants to apply to, be sure to note the important deadlines. While you want your child to take responsibility for meeting deadlines, check in with them to see how it goes. Encourage them to add deadlines on their phones or use a paper calendar. You can help them create a plan to complete the application steps before the deadline, so they don’t get stressed or rushed.
Let them make the decision – The best step you can take as a parent is to let your child decide where they will go to college. It is important that they take ownership of the process because it will be an important step in their life. The last thing you want is to be known as a helicopter parent. Although you should have discussions with your student beforehand (discuss the pros and cons of each school), let them make the final decision.
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Help them manage their expectations – Waiting for a letter of acceptance or rejection can be nerve-racking. You can start to feel like the day will never come, especially if their friends get letters before them. Make sure they understand that it’s okay if they don’t get into their first-choice school. Yes, you want them to dream, but you also have to be realistic. This is one of the reasons why it is important for your student to have a choice of different schools that they may wish to attend. And, once they receive their acceptance letter, don’t forget to celebrate with them!
A year may seem like a long time away, but it will be here before you know it. It’s important that you savor every moment of the application process and celebrate milestones along the way. Although your student is eager to go to college, encourage them to be fully present to enjoy every moment of their senior year in high school.
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