Finding the Best College Fit for your Student

college-comparisonWhen it comes time for your child to apply to college, many factors will likely impact his or her decision. In order to ensure that your child is confident and happy for the long term, it’s important to focus on every aspect of the college and its environment. After all, you want your child to embark on his or her academic journey feeling confident and ready to succeed. So, you’ll want to make sure you’ve taken the time to look at everything the school truly offers.

One of the most important factors to consider when reviewing colleges is to determine if the school can fulfill your child academically and socially. Start by asking, “Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?” and “What clubs or student activities are most important to you?” This will help to determine the path your child wants to follow at college and beyond. Now that you have covered the basics, it’s time to find the best fit.

Create a college comparison list of pros and cons

For some families, creating a pros-and-cons list is fairly simple, especially if your child already has his or her heart set on a school. But, regardless of having a first choice or not, a pros-and-cons list can help you identify some important aspects of a school that ranked third or fourth on your child’s list. For example, the school that ranked below the first choice may offer a more favorable financial-aid package or job-placement program—pros that are certainly favorable in the long term.

Use a spreadsheet or online tool to compare the colleges your child is interested in. You can take important factors into consideration, such as the location, campus life, cost, available aid and anything else that may impact your ultimate enrollment decision.

Explore different campuses

If your child is still struggling to make a decision, start touring different campuses. After all, the best way to determine if the college is a good fit is to experience it firsthand and participate in as many programs as possible. Group information sessions and tours, as well as open houses, are open to prospective students and their families all year long. Check the school’s calendar of events for a detailed list of activities before you plan and make the trip.

Focus on the future

One of the biggest mistakes prospective students make when considering potential majors is failing to research what’s required of them to find success within the program. While an athletic training program may sound appealing for those passionate about sports and wellness, they should consider all of the academic requirements—such as courses in English and statistics—in addition to those in sports nutrition and exercise physiology.

Whether your child explores his or her options with some sense of what he or she would like to do in the future, use this as an opportunity to talk about life beyond the next four years. Deciding on a major early on is often easier said than done, but considering the weight it has on students’ futures, exploring options will help to determine where they will be financially after graduation and what career path they could follow.