Starting to think about college is exciting for most high school students. However, more often than not, students are not the only ones who experience this sentiment. Parents are often involved in helping their son or daughter during this time, often recounting their own emotions and experiences when they were in the same position. In this view, it is important for parents to have an organized plan of attack so that they can add the most value to their son or daughter’s college search and selection process. As such, consider the tips below for you to follow as you embark on this very important journey with your child:
• Do your research – the only way to learn about which colleges may be right for your son or daughter is to do as much research as possible. One tip in streamlining this process is to access and use the Choose It Right Smart College Report, which is an “all-in-one and done” service that with the click of a button, offers you everything from a list of colleges that match your son or daughter’s qualifications and preferences to critical information about scholarships, paying for college, and other important factors. This will save you 100’s of hours of researching colleges, and provide you with the perfect place to start the search and selection process.
• Be a well-informed guide – once you have the results of the Smart College Report, discuss them with your son or daughter. Open and honest conversations about college possibilities, including whether there are any financial and/or geographical restrictions, are critical to get out on the table as early as possible so as to best manage your child’s expectations.
• Narrow down your list of colleges – now that you have a list of colleges for your son or daughter to consider, narrow them down to perhaps ten or less and conduct further research on each. This includes checking out each college’s website, doing campus visits, and talking with current and former students about their thoughts and experiences.
• Talk about majors – even though most students do not have to choose a major until their sophomore year in college, it is important to better understand your child’s interests in this regard, and, as early as possible. While there are hundreds of majors to consider, make sure your son or daughter chooses one that has the most well-rounded opportunities after college. Meaning, encourage them to choose a major that allows for the greatest amount of job possibilities post-graduation. Also consider the average salary for the major of your child’s choice. This is easy with the Smart College Report, as it provides them with their expected post-graduate salary for the major they intend to pursue.
• Discuss the finances upfront – once you review the section of the Smart College Report that outlines all of the costs for the colleges of your child’s choice, discuss the finances with them. If you plan on funding college and expect your son or daughter to contribute, this is the time to talk about your expectations in this regard. Moreover, if you and/or your child plan on taking out financial aid to cover all or part of the college costs, this is also something worth discussing as well as researching further. Talk to the financial aid offices of each college of your child’s choice to learn more. You can also visit www.fafsa.ed.gov to learn more about federal student aid options.
• Don’t forgo scholarship opportunities – the Smart College Report gives your family helpful information about scholarships, which are extremely important to consider. However, you should also do as much separate research as possible regarding scholarships of which your son or daughter may qualify to maximize your chances of reducing what will be owed and/or have to be paid for his or her education. The only way to get a scholarship is by applying, so take the time necessary to apply for as many as possible.
Within a Choose It Right account you can search over 4,000 private scholarship providers, and apply for private scholarships!
• Follow the Post-College 1:1 Ratio – the Smart College Report provides your family with this ratio, which represents the amount you and/or your son or daughter should borrow in light of their intended major. Meaning, the amount of money borrowed should not be more than the first year post-graduate salary for the major your son or daughter intends on pursuing. Following this ratio is extremely important, as it avoids further financial headaches later on that are associated with over-borrowing for college.