Updated October 15, 2019
College. It’s a huge deal. It may be terrifying to watch the child you once helped learn to walk, stepping onto college campuses to visit, mixing in seamlessly with the other college freshman. Your high schooler, on the other hand, has probably been anxiously awaiting this new chapter of their life for quite some time. So before they actually commit to a college or university, help them put some serious thought into what’s the most important to them.
Start With the Pros and Cons
List them out on a checklist like this one, and rate the level of importance of each element. Here are several to get you started:
- Distance from Home. Is it drivable?
- Enrollment. Is the school overwhelmingly large? Or too small?
- Academic Specialties. If your child has a major in mind, is it offered?
- Denominational Affiliation. How do they incorporate their affiliation into the curriculum?
- Estimated Cost. Are there scholarships still available? Will your child be applying for student loans? Or is the cost affordable for your family?
- Campus Safety. Is there a report on crime on campus available?
- Housing Options. Do they have on-campus dorms? Are they acceptable? Or will you need to find accommodations off-campus?
And while you’re on campus, make sure you get a first-hand look at some of these important things, so you and your child can have as much experience as possible to pull from when you’re making the big decision:
- Check out the housing options.
- Take a guided tour of the campus.
- Get a firsthand look at the library and classrooms.
- Meet some of the faculty.
- Ask for introductions to a few of the students.
- Walk through the rec and activities center.
- Attend a sporting event.
- Sample the food that’s available in the cafeteria and around campus.
- Drive around the area to check out the amenities and local charm.
- Take pictures so you don’t forget.
Once you’ve checked out as many colleges as you can, allow time for reflection. This is probably the biggest decision your child has had to make in their life – encourage them to give it plenty of thought and discernment, and of course, ask them to pray and ask God for his wisdom.