College planning can be stressful for students, families and counselors. Here are 10 tips for parents to keep in mind as you help students plan for life after high school:
- Start by connecting your student’s strengths to his or her long-term goals. Have your child take skills and/or career assessments to align his or her strengths and interests to possible career options.
- Think beyond college rankings, popularity, and “brand names” when conducting your college search. Consider college options that best match your child’s strengths, interests and career goals.
- Talk to your child’s school counselor. He or she can be a valuable resource during the college planning process.
- Consider community college as an option. Many community colleges offer benefits such as affordability, accessibility, flexibility and opportunities for self-exploration. And, community college can serve as a pathway into a four-year institution.
- Calculate the FULL price of college options by using the net price on their financial aid website. Don’t forget the cost of living (i.e. apartments), public transportation, social activities, books and food.
- Search local and national sites for scholarship opportunities. Reach out to the colleges on your child’s list and see what scholarships they offer.
- Take a campus tour to get a feel for the campus. Try the food, explore the housing options, and check out the surrounding neighborhood. Keep in mind these key questions while on your visit.
- Watch Roadtrip Nation videos to see how others use their unique skills and strengths to lead them to their career path. This can give your child ideas to define their goals.
- Plan a gap year if your child is unsure of his or her college and career goals. Studies show that a gap year can affect a student’s major or career choice by opening up new paths or confirming their original direction. A meaningful gap year could mean traveling, interning, working, volunteering or focusing on personal growth.
- Understand that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to college planning. Make decisions based on what’s the best fit for your child academically, socially and financially.
Hobsons was recently a guest on #CollegeCash – a weekly Twitter chat for families to discuss college planning, financial aid and other higher education topics. See more from our conversation below.