Three Steps to Smart College Selection

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High school seniors all over the country are finalizing decisions on which university to attend. For some, it will be where they spend the next four years of their lives obtaining a degree that will grant them opportunities to work in a field or occupation that they love. For far too many, this choice will be where they spend the next year realizing that it was the wrong institution for them and will find themselves starting over the following year. For others, it will be where they spend five or six years obtaining a four year degree only to realize they don’t truly like the career path they are heading down. It doesn’t have to be this way.

One university. One major. Four years. Those should be the goals for every family sending their kids off to college. Failure to achieve these will cost you significantly more money to educate your child. A simple three-step process will greatly increase your likelihood of success in the college selection process.

Step one is the “Head”

This is a logical approach to selection of a college and a major. Before selecting a major, have your child complete a career assessment to determine the career path(s) that suits who they are. Also, have your student go on job shadows and career interest interviews so that they have a real world idea of the actual jobs they are considering. Once this is done, search for schools with academic strengths in the area that your child is interested. Be sure the institution has a history of graduating students in four years.

Step two is the “Heart”

You are going to spend a huge amount of money on each child’s college education; shouldn’t they love it? Actually they have to love it! Before selection, they need to experience and be excited about the classrooms, the campus, the dorms, the football team or whatever it is that is important to them. Get them on the campuses and experience what life would be like before you start paying for it. This cannot be duplicated by perusing a brochure or searching the internet. There is no substitution for the real thing.

Step three is the “Hand”

Financially you have to know what these schools are prepared to offer you and what they are going to take from you. Your college selection process should include evaluation of the percentage of students that graduate in four years and the amount of free need and merit-based aid they are likely to provide your family. You need to know before you select the school how much it is going to cost you.

In the end you should evaluate dozens of schools regardless of the sticker price. A closed mind will cost you money. By applying this process to each school, you will be able to narrow your choices down to five or six possibilities. Return your applications to all five or six schools and then allow all offers to come in before making any decisions.