4 mistakes to avoid when choosing a college
by Melissa Brodsky
Choosing the right college is an exciting but difficult task. With so many good choices to hand, narrowing down the list can seem impossible.
Getting to the final, and best, choice requires you to avoid some all-too-common college selection mistakes:
1. Getting Stuck on Sticker Prices
Avoid the trap of taking one look at a school’s tuition and immediately crossing it off your list. Consider financial aid before you decide, keeping in mind that a good awards package might make that dream school affordable.
In fact, some schools with higher sticker prices meet more of a student’s need (based on household income, etc.) than those with lower tuition.
2. Following the Crowd
Good friendships are important, and it’s understandable that your teen may want to follow her friends to college and keep them close. However, choosing a college based on this is a mistake for a number of reasons.
For example, the schools that are right for your teen’s friends may not prove best for your teen. And there’s no guarantee that your teen’s friends will stay at the same college. Many students transfer or drop out after freshman year. Then there’s the fact that friendships and romantic relationships end, which could leave your teen unsatisfied with her choice.
Additionally, if your teen surrounds herself with people she already knows, she may be less open to making new friends and enjoying new experiences.
3. Selecting Sight Unseen
No matter how great a college looks in its catalog or how wonderful its reputation, it’s a bad idea to choose it without visiting first. A visit gives you and your teen a chance to get a feel for the campus, meet current students and faculty, check out classrooms and dorms, and decide whether a college is truly a good match.
Additionally, most colleges will host prospective students for overnight visits. It’s a good idea to take advantage of these opportunities, as they allow prospective students to get an up-close-and-personal view of campus life.
4. Focusing on a Single Major
Some teens graduate high school with clear goals for their future in mind. As such, many seek colleges with great reputations for the majors they are considering. Though this is logical, it’s a better idea to select a college that has a good reputation overall as well as a wide selection of educational options.
Interests and goals change, and your student shouldn’t have to transfer to a new college to get a quality education if he decides to change his mind (and his major).
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