By now, your high school senior has more than likely been accepted to several universities on their list. Congratulations to your student! If your student is anything like my daughters, once that first acceptance is received, he or she is so much more pleasant to be around!
While it’s a great accomplishment to be accepted to several schools, the downside is a decision must be made and by May 1. Now comes the hard part. Which school to choose?
How does a parent guide their student through the college acceptance process? My advice: thoughtfully. My oldest, Lauren, and middle daughter, Meghan, have different personalities — Lauren is a communicator, Meghan not so much. Here are some things my husband and I learned while navigating the emotional tightrope with both girls:
- Keep your opinion of the schools to yourself. A positive or negative opinion can make your student defensive. What was a good fit for you might not be the right fit for them.
- Encourage your student to connect with current students at the schools they are considering to get an idea of what the school is really like. In addition, many schools offer accepted students to spend the night in the dorm with a current student.
- If your student hasn’t already done so, work with him or her to come up with a list of pros and cons that can be applied to each institution. My daughters’ lists included: distance from home, cost (which includes travel expenses as well as tuition), need for financial aid/student loan, student debt after graduation, scholarship opportunities, etc.
- Encourage another visit to the colleges that have offered admission. This helped both girls with their final decision.
- Encourage your student to review their intended major in more detail; Meghan discovered that one of the schools that accepted her did not offer a minor within her major in a four-year course of study. This information never came out in the search process.
- Finally, (this was like jumping off a cliff for me), encourage them to go with their gut. They will know when it’s right.
I wish you and your student the best of luck!
– Tracy Riegel
Parent of Lauren (’14) and Meghan (‘16)