The dilemma faced by many parents this time of year is where will their child be going to college next September. What the majority don’t realize, the problem is not getting a child into college, it is getting them out in four years.
Many parents find themselves in a love and/or guilt position for a variety of reasons such as they (parents) did not go to college, or they went to an Ivy League school, or they told their child to do well and then they compounded the problem with no clear decision making strategy in advance. This results in a struggle of wills – the child against the parents, the mother and the child ganging up on the father, etc. In the United States only 50% of college freshmen will graduate from college. One of the reasons is how families make their decision sitting at the kitchen table.
Let’s discuss a well-thought-out plan. When a child gets accepted to a number of colleges it is wise to take a “victory lap” to the top 3 schools. I recommend that families have a written rating scale to be able to assess one school versus another. This follows the adage of if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
If possible, the student should schedule a mid-week overnight visit that would allow them to attend several school classes and events. If that is not possible, then extended time should be spent on campus talking to students and faculty members, as well as exploring student clubs and organizations. The cafeteria should merit lots of consideration. Flexibility in the food plan is critical to good nutrition. Many college freshmen put on 15 to 20 lbs because of the glut of junk food, lack of exercise and stress.
It goes without saying that college retention rates (the number of students that return for their sophomore year), graduation rates (4.5 or 6 years), and job placement numbers are all very important. Lastly, cost should be critical in your decision making. It is prudent not to look at how the tuition bill will be paid for just the next year, rather the cost should be viewed as a monthly bill over 15 years.