There are a lot of steps in between helping your child with the college application process and dropping them off at the college dorm, so it is important for you to have a plan of action. The following tips can help you get off to the right start and have a solid plan to follow.
Tip #1 – Search and Apply to Colleges and Universities that are Reasonable
You and your college-bound teenager should look for and apply to colleges that are feasible, affordable, and provide a curriculum that fits their needs, qualifications and interests. However, there are thousands of colleges to choose from, and oftentimes it is hard to know where to start.
With this in mind, a quick, easy and hassle-free way of beginning the college search and selection process is to access the Smart College Report, which offers everything from a list of colleges that match your son or daughter’s preferences to invaluable tips and resources about loan borrowing, financial aid, scholarship information, letter templates to contact admissions officers, and if your child plays a sport and wants to continue playing in college, a letter template series to help them contact coaches, and much more.
Tip #2 – Narrow Down Colleges Wisely
Once you and your teenager review the list of colleges in their Smart College Report, we recommend that together, you narrow the colleges down as follows:
First, select a few that are known as “safety schools”, which means that based upon their academic profile, your son or daughter will almost certainly be admitted (i.e., their GPA and test scores are higher than the average student at that college). Next, they should choose an additional few colleges that are “match schools”, which are those that they can be reasonably certain they can get in to, because their GPA and test scores match the college’s specific requirements. Then, your teenager should also pick several “reach schools”, which are colleges that put them at the lower end or below the admitted student spectrum.
This systematic approach will give your son or daughter a full range of colleges to choose from and apply to.
Tip #3 – Allow the Admissions Process to Take Its Course
It is normal to get anxious during the waiting period between sending out the application to colleges and getting a response back, but worrying about it would not help in any way. Once the applications are sent out, just have faith that you and your teenager have done all you can to meet each college’s admissions requirements, and patiently wait to hear back.
Tip #4 – Discuss the Finances
If borrowing is needed to fund your child’s education, your family should best understand how to borrow smartly. Consult the Smart College Report to learn more about the Real Family Contribution (RFC), the Post-College 1:1 Ratio and what monthly payments will look like post-graduation should borrowing money be necessary to fund their education. It is important to discuss responsible spending with your son or daughter well before they go off to college.
Tip #5 – Visit College Campuses and Speak with Current Students
Don’t just rely on virtual “web tours” to give you and your son or daughter a sense of a college campus and its environment. Set aside time to visit each college of interest, go on tours and take every opportunity possible to speak with current students about their experiences at that college. Be sure to ask them as many questions as possible, including questions about campus living, the classes they are taking, the availability of extracurricular activities on campus, their sports programs, etc.