If you are the parent of a senior, you are probably aware that your child must submit a deposit to one school by May 1st. This is an exciting time as the last round of acceptances have been released and your student makes a final decision. Here are some things to consider as the May deadline looms:
Distance-I meet many students early in the college admissions process that are comfortable with traveling a great distance to attend college. They are excited about studying in another part of the country and they feel that the flexibility to get home is not a priority. As the college picture starts to come into focus and the reality of leaving home becomes real, some students start to back off the idea of heading to the West Coast. The option to come home is attractive. A student that attends a college that requires air travel to get to and fro needs to sit down at this juncture and make sure that this is still something that makes sense for them, in terms of both logistics and cost (see below).
2. Cost-Now is the time to put pencil to paper and see if there is a difference in the cost of attendance at the colleges that you are considering. I think the best way to do this is to look at room/board/tuition at the schools on your student’s list and subtract any scholarships or grants to accurately compare the costs. Make sure that you are using the 2019-2020 numbers from each school. Sometimes the websites have not been updated and they still have last year’s cost of attendance, which includes travel, personal expenses and books. I suggest that you eliminate those numbers and focus just on room/ board/tuition to compare apples to apples. If your child has a merit scholarship, is there a GPA requirement to keep it? Another factor to look at is how much the school has historically increased tuition. There are some colleges, like the University of Colorado, Boulder, where the tuition that you pay freshman year is the same tuition you pay all four years. Schools in New York are required to provide the cost for all four years. This can have a significant impact on the global cost over four years.
3. Academics-This is a logical time to look at the course of study your child is considering and look at the program at each college and what they offer. Do they have to apply to the major or are they already admitted? If they have to apply to the program, is there a GPA requirement? Is one of the programs more attractive or offer more specifically what your student wants to pursue? Is there flexibility to change majors or schools if they want to switch after they begin?
4. Housing-What type of housing guarantees does the school provide? What kind of housing requirements are in place? Some schools promise four years of housing, others offer one. Some colleges require four years of residence with a meal plan on campus. Take a look at what you are agreeing to as you make your decision.
5. Accepted Students Days-Colleges roll out the red rug for their Accepted Student Days. Even if you have visited a college already, it is a different experience stepping on to campus as an admitted student. If you are choosing between several schools, carve out the time to go back and visit so you can gather as much information as you can.