The college search is a real opportunity for children to exert their independence. But when a child starts their quest for the perfect college they may go into information overload. There will be information about each college they are considering, the different degrees available, scholarships, financial aid, application processes and much more. So much information and they (or maybe you) won’t want to forget a thing. If you create a system to manage all the incoming information, you and your child will be able to forge ahead with confidence that they are making a well informed choice.
What to do with all the brochures and paperwork?
Give you child a good place to collect all the information. When the mail starts coming in from colleges, it can be fun but as the pile grows on their bedroom floor it can get overwhelming. Help your child create a file system for the brochures they want to keep. It can be something as simple as an accordion file or a desk top file box. You can divide the brochures by school or region depending on how broad your options are. At the end of the junior year, clean out the files and start narrowing down the information.
Create a few spreadsheets…
What are the criteria for the perfect college? As we all know, there may be some compromises, but if you make a list of your criteria it will help guide the choice. An easy way to do this is to create a spreadsheet and fill in the information for each college under consideration. Some examples of what to put on the spreadsheet would be location, distance from home, type of college, size, tour date, ACT code, SAT code, school website, sport opportunity, scholarships available, and anything else important to you and your child. As you start to eliminate schools from the list of options, move them to the bottom of the spreadsheet, but keep all the information. You never know when a school may come back into the picture.
After you get your search narrowed down to just the schools you want to apply, you can create a second spread sheet. This one can include the steps of the application process along with deadlines. This will be a good checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything. Include items like application deadlines, application submitted, test scores submitted, scholarship applications submitted, teacher recommendations sent, etc.
Once your child has been accepted to their final school, create a checklist of what needs to be done before they arrive on campus in the fall. Registration and tuition payments will need to be made and also some shopping for their new space.
Remember, colleges look at a child’s self sufficiency during the application process. These are easy way to set them up for success.