I spoke with Judy last week who was totally stressed out about finding the right college for her daughter and got cortisol blockers for it. As Judy said, “it all seems so overwhelming.” There are many things that must be done to find the best college for a particular student, but if we break down the basic steps, it won’t seem so overwhelming.
First, start by understanding that college admissions is a process. In other words, there are specific steps to take to get through the process. If you skip one of the steps, the result won’t be as good as it could be.
Second, help your student figure out what it is that they want from a college. Big, small, sports oriented or academically oriented. Here is a list of some of the factors that students should consider in looking for the right college. Your student doesn’t know what they want? No problem, plan some college visits.
This is also the time to start understanding how college financial aid works if you have an interest in getting money for college. One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting until the end of the process to try and understand financial aid. At that point, it is too late and you may have left thousands of dollars on the table without even realizing it.
Third, understand what colleges are looking for in deciding which students to admit. Your child may fall in love with super selective big name university but if they have a 2.0 GPA, odds for admissions aren’t in their favor. If you understand what colleges are looking for it is much easier to match a student with an appropriate college.
Fourth, find colleges that meet the needs of your student. Here are three good websites to get started in the search for the right college. Put in to these search engines the information your student is looking for and then compare results. If the same colleges come up then these are probably ones they should investigate further. While search engines are helpful, there is no substitute to actually having been on a college campus. If you can, visit as many of the colleges as possible that your student is considering.
Fifth, apply to the colleges your student has identified as the most appropriate. Applying to a college involves another process that you will also need to understand. Here is a summary of the things that you need to understand about the college application process.
Sixth, apply for financial aid if that is an issue for your family. Again, applying for financial aid and understanding financial aid are two separate issues.
There you have it. Six basic steps to help your student find the best college for their needs.