As your child prepares to leave high school and enter the adult world, now is the time to begin discussing his college options. There are about 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States. With so many options, your child can choose to stay close to home or attend school in a different state.
Understandably, the ideal of your child leaving home at a young age can invoke fear. But rather than discourage your child, help them choose the best college – even if this means leaving home.
Here are five tips to help your child choose the right college or university.
1. Community vs. University. Some high school graduates have their hearts set on attending a university immediately after graduation from high school. But if your child doesn’t have the strongest grade point average or the strong study habits, you might suggest a community college for the first two years. He can complete his basic educational requirements and build a high GPA, wherein he can transfer to a four-year college after two years. A two-year college may also suit your child if he isn’t ready to leave home, or only wants to take a couple of courses.
2. Cost. Price is a huge factor when choosing a college or university. The amount available for college can determine whether your child attends a community college, a public college or an in-state school. If you’re paying for your child’s education, be upfront about what you can afford.
3. Major. Some students don’t select a major until their second year of college. Even so, it helps if your child has an idea of what he wants to do in the future. Encourage him to focus on areas that interest him. Does he have a strong interest in science? If so, a career in education, geology or medicine might suit his personality. Once he narrows down a few interests, research colleges that offer these programs and schedule an appointment to visit the campuses. This provides an opportunity to speak with department heads and talk with current students.
4. School culture. When helping your child choose a college, consider his way of life. If your child is deeply interested in politics, you might suggest a school with a strong political science program, as well as political organizations on-campus. Then again, if your family is deeply religious, your child may prefer a religious school that reflects his values, such as Cornerstone Christian College.
5. Reputation of the school. The college your child attends will appear on his diploma and his future resume. For this reason, you want future employers to think highly of the university that he attends. If your child selects a school with a bad reputation, this can jeopardize his job search. Research college rankings to determine the best schools, and conduct an online search to review opinions by other students. If a school has a reputation for accepting anyone who applies, or is known as a party school, this can hurt your child in the long run.
College is a big deal, and your child’s choice of education can have a major impact on his future. Don’t let him choose a school blindly. Offer assistance and help him select a college or university that meets his needs.