Some other considerations as you help your student finalize the list.
by Anne Vaccaro Brady
As I said in the last post, with application season around the corner, it’s time to make some choices. Take into account the additional factors below to help your student decide where to apply.
Size Hopefully your family has visited a few campuses of different sizes to see where your teen feels most comfortable.
Small schools best serve kids who prefer high school size classes and a more personal relationship with their professors, as well as those who want to know the majority of their fellow students. Familiar complaints against smaller schools are the limited number of majors and, depending on how active the campus, boredom.
Medium and large colleges generally offer more majors, clubs, activities and housing and dining options. Class sizes can be large, though, like 100-300 students for general education courses, but usually less than 30 for courses in a student’s major. The downsides of bigger schools are that a student can end up lonely if they’re not willing to put themselves out there to make friends and kids who have trouble setting priorities can find themselves distracted by too many ways to fill their time.
Social life College kids want things to do when they’re not in class or studying, both on-campus and off. Administrators know this. Schools “in the middle of nowhere” usually have a bus or shuttle that runs into the local town, to a nearby mall, movie theatre or a more urban town or city. Most colleges hosts concerts and other entertainment events on campus during the year. Check out a college’s website and newspaper with your teen to see what happened on campus last year and how those relate to their interests.
Weather Kids who hate snow should consider colleges in a milder climate, and the same goes for those with an aversion to too much rain or hot weather. Believe a college if it makes any mention of its severe weather.
Majors and minors Only consider colleges that offer majors your student has an interest in. They may love a campus and all it has to offer, but if they’re having trouble finding a possible major from what they see on the college’s website, then that school gets crossed off the list, no matter how great it appears. If your teen’s interests are broad, find out the options for dual majoring and adding minors.
Male to female ratio Many campuses have more girls these days than boys. Knowing the ratio helps if your teen tends to make friends with kids of one sex more than another.
Greek life At some colleges, sororities and fraternities dominate campus life. This is fine for kids anxious to join one, but not for those who don’t. Schools aren’t always honest about how much Greek life controls the campus social scene. We attended one accepted students session where the admissions rep said less than 20 percent of the kids are involved in Greek life, but every student presenter was in a sorority or a fraternity.
Knowing where graduates of your high school go to college Some kids want to see a familiar face or two when they start their freshman year, others want a fresh start. Programs like Naviance can show you how many kids from your school attend a particular university. The other advantage of accessing this information is that your student can work with their guidance counselor who knows about the admissions standards of the schools that accepted alumni.
Two-year vs. four-year college Community college (two-year program) is a good option for financially strapped families, offering a solid education at a very affordable price. In two years students earn an associate’s degree. With good planning and help from an adviser, community college graduates can smoothly transfer into a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree in another two years.
Community college also works well for students who want to explore majors and learn more about career paths, improve their grades to get into their top choice college, gain a skill and go the vocational track, or decide if college is even the right next step.
Weighing all the factors that make a college right for your student should help your family as you narrow down that list of schools.
Share your thoughts and questions on where to apply in the comments section below.