Choosing which college to attend is a huge decision for your teen. College is a significant influence on your child’s character, shaping their worldviews, opinions, beliefs, and principles. Parents have a big role to play in their child’s college decision, so you should offer helpful advice. But it would help if you didn’t try to dominate the process.
One of the best things you can do for your child during this period in their life is to believe in their ability to make a good decision. Here are four ways parents can help their teenagers decide on a college:
1. Compare academic opportunities
Researching top colleges in your area is a good start, but you want to do additional research on the academic opportunities offered at each institution. This means looking at the majors and minors offered, course selections, research opportunities, accessibility of faculty, and even study abroad programs.
When checking these things, you want to consider them in terms of your teen’s interest. How will these courses cultivate your child’s educational development?
You can also find the faculty’s credentials, especially those of your child’s future professors.
2. Research career outcomes
College preps your teen for the adult life, so it’s only wise that you research your child’s possible career paths. Look at the job options for the degree programs your teen is considering. Job placement rates and starting salary data for recent graduates can give you plenty of insight. Some universities also have career outcome information available on their website, so don’t forget to check that.
Internship programs are another factor to consider. You want to know if the college helps students seek internship opportunities or not. If your child wants to attend graduate school eventually, check if the university has graduate programs. And look into the grad school outcomes for the college’s recent alumni.
3. Compare financial aid offers
Colleges send financial aid award letters that provide information on the cost of one academic year of enrollment. They’ll include details on any scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study opportunities that your teen can apply for.
These letters can be challenging to understand. Help your child make sense of information and compare award letters from all the colleges they qualified for. Even if you have a college fund saved up for your child, you’ll want to take note of these financial aid programs because tuition fees go up every year.
4. Tour the campus
Visiting the campus will help you get a feel for its energy and culture. This is important because you want to put your child in the kind of environment they fit in, but will also challenge them to grow. Look at the facilities, dorm rooms, clubs, and extracurricular activities on the campus to get a glimpse of the student life in the school.
Many colleges hold events for incoming freshmen, giving your teen a chance to ask any remaining questions they have and mingle with other students in their batch. Although because of the coronavirus pandemic, most colleges only offer virtual campus tours right now. Check the school’s website for more information about their tours.
Parents should get involved when their teenager chooses a college, but only to an extent. Your job is only to guide them and help them weigh the pros and cons of each school. Listen to what they need and what they need because, after all, it’s their decision to make.