Applying to college might seem like setting off on a big adventure, BUT applying to college takes a lot of work and thought. Often stress, indecision, and financial strains can cause rifts, even hurt feelings.
To avoid these typical problems parents and students experience the year or two before actually going off to college here are some helpful tips for negotiating and getting on the same page.
Explore together what going to college means: What are the goals for going to college? What would be the best fit to meet those goals? Are there alternatives to going to college? What are the expectations for living on a college campus?
Explore together what applying to college involves:
• Choosing a guide – will it be the parent(s), the guidance counselor, a private application coach?
• College list – what are you looking for in a college, how many colleges can you apply to, will you apply to colleges that stretch your ability and finances, how will you eliminate colleges of interest?
• Getting information – do you have information about testing, college fairs, paying for college? Where will you find that information: on line, through informational meetings at the high school, from college coaches, from your guidance counselor?
Explore together the logistics: You will need to know what deadlines there are. Of course, there are the deadlines for getting your applications in, but there are many more:
• testing deadlines and retake deadlines,
• visiting colleges dates,
• getting the essay(s) done, the resume done, the transcripts in, and recommendations completed.
• There are also deadlines for scholarships and for applying for financial aid.
And, who will be the enforcer for meeting those deadline??
Explore together paying for college: What are the differences in costs between public and private schools? What is the parent contribution and what is the student contribution? What can you reasonably expect from financial aid and from scholarships? What are peripheral costs like clothing, travel, entertainment, etc.? What is the bottom line, especially when considering how much debt the parent and/or student will take on?
Just from reading through the tips above, it is obvious applying to college is a complex undertaking. It is best, then, to know what lies ahead and be in agreement about tackling it so you will be working together and not against one another.