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How to select the best college for your child?

 

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When people say “time flies by quickly” they are not exaggerating. It seems like only yesterday our sweet big eyed daughter was running around here with her Barney stuffed doll and her hair in pigtails. She’s almost 17 years old now and instead of Teletubbies and Dora the Explorer she’s into boys and trying to convince us to let her go to Florida on Spring Break with an 18 year old friend (no way!).

Sigh… if only they could stay young for a longer time.

We’re not prepared for a lot of things that come with having an older teenager. It’s enough just trying to help her find a job so she can afford a car, which is another thing we are not ready for. We also have to think about college. She’s going to be a senior in the fall. NOW is the time to think about where she wants to go, what she wants to study and spend our weekends making college visits.

When I was in high school and I was planning on going to college I wanted to go to a college that my friends were going to – or one that was known as a “party school”. I was young and foolish then. I didn’t think about college curriculums, entrance exams and essays, financial aid, student loans or what college majors have the strongest job prospects. I just wanted to go and hang out with my friends. What a big mistake that was.

I’m NOT letting our daughter make the same mistakes that I made. I want her to know everything there is to know about selecting a college, applying for college and how to afford college.

You CAN find this information online, but you’ll go crazy researching it. There are so many websites and so much different information to be found online. I prefer to have it all in one place by a trusted resource. That is why I am going to get a copy of the book by U.S. News & World Report called Best Colleges 2014. This guide book is filled with the latest, up to date, information and includes all important information you’ll need to consider when selecting a college.

Best Colleges 2014 cover for B&N Better Paper Project promo

I like that the book starts off with something that is very important for all college bound students – WHY are you going to college? How do you learn best? What activities matter most? Can you handle the pressure?

Our daughter wants to go to a college on the west coast (we’re in NY). I can understand that she wants to “spread her wings and fly” and be independent, we also don’t think she’s “equipped” to handle something like that… yet. We’d like for her to go to a college locally for a couple of years to see how she does then she can transfer any where she wants to go.

I love that the book points out which schools offers the best internships, which schools foster a sense of community with incoming freshmen and which schools are best for certain degrees.

Throughout the book you’ll also find informative articles/essays written by professionals that also help you and your student prepare for life beyond high school.

Here is just one of the articles you’ll find in the book (shared with permission).

Admissions Officers Speak Out: Application Mistakes To Avoid

Some types of mistakes on college applications drive admissions staffers crazy (and sometimes send the applicant straight to the rejection pile). U.S. News asked pros from around the country to weigh in on what they’d strongly rather you not do. Here’s a sampling from the 13 goofs they identified:

Let parents take the lead

“It doesn’t tell us that a student is interested if we get 15 phone calls from Mom,” says Tom Weede, vice president for enrollment management at Butler University. “We want families involved. But the student needs to take the lead.” 

Submit a lengthy résumé

“At my stage in my career, I shouldn’t have a three-page résumé. So no 17-year-old should be submitting a three-page résumé,” advises Leigh A. Weisenburger, dean of admission and financial aid at Bates College . “I know many college counselors encourage students to write one as a process to help the kid recognize all she’s accomplished, but we don’t need to see it if you’ve filled out the application properly.” 

Hit submit without proofreading

“Using spell-check isn’t enough – you have to proofread,” warns Debra Chermonte, dean of admissions and financial aid at Oberlin College. Admissions officers tell of one applicant who described having an “international bachelorette” degree and another who wrote a passionate essay about the musical “Lion King.” 

Wait until the last minute

“Many students who submit on the date of the deadline assume that everything transmitted and was received. But sometimes things are lost in cyberspace,” says Julie Shimabukuro, director of undergraduate admissions at Washington University in St. Louis. “We try to give a few days’ grace period, but colleges and universities expect you to confirm that your application has been received and that it is complete. Check your status through the college’s or university’s website first to see if everything is there.”

Write a one-size-fits-all essay

“If you write an essay for a university, and then you write that essay again and it’s just a matter of changing the name of the university, then it’s probably going to be a poor essay. And yes, we have gotten students who forget to change ‘Northwestern’ to “Rice,’” reports Chris Muñoz, vice president for enrollment at Rice University. “Why, specifically, have you chosen us? Demonstrating true interest and care can make a difference on the margin.”

Trump up your extracurricular activities

“We want to know where a student’s passions lie, and genuine interests tend not to appear suddenly in senior year,” states Sarah Richardson, director of admissions and scholarships for Creighton University. I’d rather see quality over quantity. Include as much detail as you can so that we can understand what kind of a fit you’ll be for our institution.” 

Fail to check our requirements

“There’s nothing more disappointing than to review an application of a student who might otherwise be competitive for admission and realize she is ineligible because she didn’t take the required courses, says Kelly A. Walter , associate vice president and executive director of admissions for Boston University. “For very focused and specific programs and majors like business, you’re required to have specific quantitative skills. Or for physical therapy and athletic training, a very strong foundation in both science and math is a critical factor in the admissions process. So look at all the curriculum requirements for things you may be interested in.”

Excerpted from “Oops! These Goofs May Ruin Your Chances” in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2014.

Thankfully this article will help us to avoid these mistakes.

I made A LOT of mistakes when it came to college. I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t think things through. As a result I dropped out after one year and had to wait several years before I was able to return to college with a better head on my shoulders.

I am getting a copy of this book not only for me and my husband but also for our daughter. She needs to start taking things more seriously and start narrowing down her choice of schools that are not entirely based on location (she’s only looking at where is a school is located – not at what it has to offer or how much it costs). She also needs to narrow down her major and find out if it’s a major that will help her to land a job when she graduates or does she need to reconsider and come up with alternative options just in case?

You can find the book at retail locations like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. You can also purchase the guidebook HERE. Use the discount code SCHOOL25 to save 25%.

If you have a child heading off the college soon or you have already survived sending a child off to college, would you care to share any words of advice and tips? Not only will it help me but others who are reading this post. I value your feedback.

graduation

Kimberly

*I have partnered with U.S. News and World Reports to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family, five cats, dog, a tank full of fish and snails. She is also a freelance writer and photographer.

Comments

  1. Mary Happymommy says:

    I’m so scared about that milestone. My oldest is 11 so I have some time, but I know it will be here before I know it.