Choosing a college is a pivotal moment in your child’s life. You want to ensure that he or she chooses wisely and finds the best fit. You want to give input and share the wisdom you’ve gained from experience, but your child wants the freedom to make this decision.
Considering these factors along with the overwhelming amount of options, how can you as a parent help to narrow down the choices for your child without stepping on any toes? Here are a few ideas you can put into practice.
Don’t wait until your child is a junior or senior before you start exploring colleges. Begin thinking of possible careers long before time is pressing. Give your child the space to explore his or her own interests. Let them try different sports and after-school activities. Encourage them to take electives and discover their own interests. Foster an atmosphere of exploration to help them learn about their preferences. These often translate into future career opportunities. Parents prepare their children to choose a career path when they start the process early.
Finances are an important factor in choosing a college. Since your child is becoming an adult, have an honest conversation about what you can or cannot afford. Involve your child in the process of exploring financial aid opportunities. Advise them on the realities of taking out student loans. Keep the lines of communication open and receptive.
Consider, too, the personality of your child. Is your child longing for independence, or is he or she more of a homebody? Is your child responsible or lacking in maturity? All these questions help parents determine what type of college will best fit their child. Maybe private school is a better option than public. Perhaps a nearby in-state school is better for a child who gets homesick easily. Be realistic and consider your child’s needs when choosing a college.
While you might be tempted to make the decision for your child, slow down and take a step back. Allow this decision to be the first of many adult decisions your child makes. Listen to their ideas and be a sounding board for them. If your child processes externally, having a trusted adult to talk to is invaluable. Provide help and support as needed but remember that at the end of the day, it’s their decision to make.
Do Your Research
Once your child picks a major, don’t assume every college offers the same education. Many colleges specialize in specific areas of study. Consider your child’s major and research the academic opportunities available at the colleges they’re considering. Think beyond college and research career outcomes from those colleges, too. Do their students have high success rates of receiving employment? Do they offer career training and networking opportunities? Think of your child’s future beyond college to inform them about the best college for their major.
With many ways to help your child make an informed decision on college choice, allow this to be a fun time of bonding that brings you and your child together. Try to enjoy the process while utilizing these helpful tips. Then send them off to college with a satisfying smile, knowing you did your best.