Sorting Through the Clutter of College Mail
November 13, 2012
As a parent of a high school junior or senior, you are probably in the middle of the college search and application process. With that, there are stacks of mail to sort through, along with volumes of emails. How do you sort through the clutter to make sense of it all and help your son or daughter establish clear goals to get to the end of the process successfully? In my experience, there are four key areas to pay attention to when searching for the right college for your student:
Academics – what are your student’s areas of interest?
Most high school seniors admit they feel the pressure to pick a major. However, there is no schedule or correct way to choose a major — it is something that simply occurs when the time is right. There are a handful of students who know exactly what their major will be, including a minor. But the majority of high school seniors are still undecided or shopping for the right “fit.” When looking through a college catalog or website, identify courses in subjects that are of interest to your son or daughter. Most students search for and find their chosen major by taking a variety of courses.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Every family going through the college selection process faces many of the same issues. One important question families will ask is, “How are we going to pay for this?” You’ll need to answer a few basic questions such as: 1) What does it cost?, 2) What about living expenses?, 3) Are scholarships available, and how do I qualify?, 4) What deadlines do we have to meet?, and 5) What types of financial aid are available? Use the net price calculator as a tool to help you answer these questions.
The Student Experience
Usually the focus this time of year is on the application and scholarship deadlines, which is understandable. However, a critical piece of the college decision making process is to determine the type of student experience a particular school offers. Look for information that answers the following two questions: 1) Does the “college experience” go beyond the classroom and social activities?, and 2) What value can a student expect to get from his or her education — in addition to a degree? Look for communication from colleges about community service, faith-based learning, and missions work. Engaged learning brings value to your son or daughter’s education.
Once your son or daughter knows that a particular school has the subject area of interest, is affordable, and provides for a unique college experience, one of the biggest factors remaining is knowing what the social life will be like. A typical college website – or even better – Facebook page, should be able to answer and demonstrate the following:
- What is there to do outside of class and study groups?
- Which clubs or organizations are similar to those I liked in high school?
- Which groups are new or present something different for me to try?
- Are intramurals or club sports popular on campus?
In the end, it is up to your son or daughter to do the research and reflect on some of these larger “life-fit” questions. Encourage them to take the lead in the college search and application process. Get a calendar and mark deadline dates, sort mail into top A-, B-, and C-choice schools, and create a separate email account just for colleges. Make folders in your email account for categories like the ones I mention above and then begin to refine your list of top 10 schools. Once your son or daughter has their top choice set, I strongly encourage that you visit the campus and attend on-campus events. This is ultimately the best way to determine what college is the best fit for your family.
Today's resource was submitted by enrollment marketing professional, Nicole O’Connell, of Loyola University, Chicago. You can access Nicole's blog and other resources at http://enrollmentmarketingedu.com/.