Thursday, August 23, 2012

Which College Is Right For Your Child?

It seems like just yesterday, you were changing your child's diapers, and now it's time to choose a college? Getting your teenager into the right college can be a great fulfillment for any parent. Naturally, it’s because you want them to grow into something you always envisioned for them.
However, with the different college options available and thousands of college majors, it can be quite hectic to help them choose the best college for their interests. Considering some colleges are prestigious, while others are a mild standard, and others are independent, liberal colleges.  This variety of choices, if not handled with care, can get confusing and overwhelming, for both the parents and the teenager, and considering their future is at stake, you want to ensure that you make the best choice. 

Here is how you can help your teenager choose the right college: 

Ask the Questions Behind the Question

There are just so many questions you need to ask before the thousands of choices are honed in on, and the most vital question among these questions is: "What does your teenager want?"

In other words, what is their aspiration? The answer is not what you want for them, but what do they really want? 

What major do they want to study? Which college offers the best program for their choice of major? Narrow down these colleges down to ten, according to the top programs and college budget available.
Obviously, there will be some schools that are simply not within the college budget, but if your teenager is truly interested in one or two of them, don't try to talk them out of the colleges, but rather help them evaluate the cost of the college - or colleges - and possible financial aid to assist them with affording it. (This will help them with important  life skills in the financial arena for the future, as well as understanding the commitment that they are making. See Cost of College, below.)

Then, figure out where, as in location, they want to go to college...Do they love local, city, rural? Do they want to stay near home, or are they willing to move across the country? College choices, at this point, can usually be narrowed down to about six places.

Due to the application fees and lengthy amount of time it takes to write the college essays and fill out the applications, narrowing the selection down to three of your teenager's top choice colleges that match their needs, and helping them apply, is the best approach to go about this. 

Cost of college

The cost of education is at an all-time high, and it's not getting any cheaper. Finances, therefore, matter tremendously when you are helping your teenager look for the right college. 

Experts warn against using cost as the first parameter that can help you determine which college your child needs to attend. Instead, the quality of education, and how the college will take your teenager closer to their dreams and aspirations are the most important qualities to look for. 

Once your teenager's choices are narrowed down, taking a trip to the colleges they presumably want to attend could help them to determine whether the school is right for them or not. Parents have even reported that their teens changed their minds after this very important trip to their dream colleges.

Then, there are the parents who started fretting after taking their teen to the expensive college of their choice and watching them stare in awe at their dream college. Have no fear, now it's time to teach them about the reality of life. Sit down with your teen with a pencil and paper, the FAFSA (Free Application for Financial Student Aid), any scholarship paperwork or grant paperwork, and the actual financial costs of the colleges that they want to attend.

Let them do the work.   

Provide guidance, as necessary, but let them figure out how they are going to afford the college bill. Remind them about books, meals, and additional costs that may not be included in tuition and fees. Remember the old saying, "If there's a will, there's a way". If your teenager really wants to attend a college, help them to understand that they will need to be a major part of figuring out the finances.

Start Early

All-in all, the best tip that can help you help your teen get into the right college for them is starting early. Get your teenager interested in selecting colleges in their junior year for the best results. If you wait until colleges start their selection of new registrants, it can become hectic to manage the deadlines, or your teen may miss out on a college of choice.

So, start asking the questions and get the thoughts in motion about college. Lend a helping hand, but remember, this is their future, not yours, and ultimately, they are the ones that need to be happy with the choice.  

Author Bio: Alexis Kew waits for second son to come :) Elder son is 17 years old and has a great relationship with mom, while choosing college they came up with this article, enormous help they got from blog Rate My Professor

If you've helped your teenager select a college, what worked best for you?

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