Thursday, October 6, 2011

Helping Your Child Choose a College

On Wednesday evening, Oct. 5th the guidance department welcomed Mr. Van Wright who spoke with parents about the process of helping your child choose a college. Mr. Wright, an admissions counselor for Bowling Green State University, has worked for a number of years with parents and students interested in BG, and a wide variety of other public and private institutions. Mr Wright had the following advice for parents as they begin this journey:

1. Make sure that your child is making the right decision for him or her. Even though a friend or sibling went to a certain college, that may not be the right fit for your son or daughter. Help them look at the college from their own perspective, not through the eyes of someone else.

2. Pay attention to Deadlines! As a rule students should apply BEFORE Thanksgiving in order to receive maximum consideration for financial aid. Be sure that your student is aware of additional deadlines that may be set for special programs....for example: Pharmacy at ONU has an application deadline of Nov. 1. Wright suggested that parents help students by periodically asking them where they are with their applications and gently reminding them of the deadlines.

3. The best way to receive financial aid is through strong academics and test scores. Most colleges will award some type of financial aid based on a combination of GPA and ACT test scores. Check the websites of your prospective colleges to see what type of aid may be available for this. Help your student by reminding them to keep on top of their grades. Be sure that your student takes the ACT in the Spring of the junior year. To insure a better score, be sure your student prepares for this test by accessing the free test preparation materials at www.actstudent.org

4. Use the following factors to narrow down your choices as you search for the right college:
Look at the size and scope of colleges and decide which is right for you Is it a large or small campus? How many students? Is is residential or commuter?
How far is it from home? What is the surrounding area like? Is it in a small town or big city? Is the area around the campus safe?
Does it have what you are looking for? Is your major offered? Does it have the sport you may want to play? Does it have special programs you may be interested in....Study Abroad, Co-ops, service learning, services for student with disabilities, etc.
What is the cost? Don't rule out a more expensive college due to "sticker shock". At any college you explore be sure to investigate all sources of financial aid: merit based, need based, work study, loans, grants and other possible sources.
5. Take a QUALITY campus visit:
Don't accept the generic campus tour...CALL ahead to schedule a personalized visit. A thorough visit should include the following
  • Talk with someone (faculty and/or students) in the area your plan to major in. Ask about the requirements to get into the program. Find out what classes you will need. If possible, talk with students in this program and attend a class.
  • Meet with someone in the financial aid office. Ask about deadlines! What type of aid is available. What can you do to maximize your opportunities for financial aid?
  • Gather resources such as: a student handbook, housing information, information about recreational activities such as clubs and sports, a schedule for tutoring services or other academic support, information about special programs such as study abroad, honors courses or co-ops.
  • Ask about post-college placement services. Many colleges have a department that assists students in finding a job after graduation. Check out what resources are available and how they may be accessed.
  • Eat on campus! Find out what the food service is really like! You will be eating there for four years!
  • Talk with students on campus. Most will be more than willing to tell you about their experience!
  • While you are there, ask yourself "Can I picture myself here?" This is so vital in choosing the right fit for you!