Seven Things to Think About if Your Senior is Still Deciding
If you are the parent of a college-bound senior, they have about one week to submit a deposit to the college that they will attend. When a student is still deciding at this late date, it can be unnerving for a parent. I was in this position several years ago with my oldest. (The decision was made about 48 hours before the deadline. I know of what I speak!) Here are some suggestions to help you sort out your options:
1) $$$-Take paper to pencil and write down room/board/tuition for each school and add up the cost of attendance. Do not include books or personal expenses. Once you have that princely sum, subtract any scholarships or grants. Do not include loans in this number. If travel to and from this school requires airfare, add what you think the travel costs will be for freshman year. The next step is to take this number and multiply by 4. If you anticipate tuition going up, please factor that into your four-year costs. Do this for each college that your child is considering attending. When your family sees the four-year expenses at each institution, it will provide some important data that could impact the decision. I wrote a piece called “Co$t Concern$” that illustrates this.
2) Merit Scholarships-If your child received a merit scholarship from a school, read the fine print. Is it for four years, eight continuous semesters or one year? What GPA do they need to maintain to keep the scholarship? I have seen everything from a 2.8 to a 3.5. What else is in the disclosure? This is important information to know so that there are no surprises down the road.
3) Distance-Revisit the idea of distance. After the pandemic, many families have shifted their thoughts on distance. It is easy for a 10th or 11th grader to believe that they want to go to college on the other side of the country. It is an entirely different thing to actually do that. They will be making this move in about four months. As this becomes reality, they might have a change of heart. Evaluate this aspect and make sure that your child is comfortable with going away.
4) Major-If your child thinks they know what they want to study, take a deep look at the program that each school offers. This may impact the final decision. Do business majors have to study abroad? Can engineering majors study abroad? How math-based is the economics degree? Does the school offer 4+1 Masters Degrees that appeal to your student? Most schools will post a course sequence for majors. Take a look and see if the curriculum appeals to your child.
5) Mum is the word-When your child returns from a visit, or you are traveling home from an accepted students day together, say nothing. I have no doubt that you will have opinions, possibly strong opinions, you might even feel panicked at the prospect of your child at this school. But I beg you to say nothing and be aware of your body language too; just remain neutral. If your student wants to talk, you should listen, otherwise, say nothing. Allow 24-48 hours for the dust to settle and then talk about it.
6) Boundaries-If your child is still deciding where to attend college in late April, it might be all you think about. You might be mulling the choices over in your head 24/7 and have pros and cons lists lying all over your house. Do not bombard them with your thoughts, which are going around your head like a ticker tape. I suggest that you do not talk about this except at designated times. Use this time to take your senior out to dinner and limit your conversations about college to those specific times.
7) One last word on this phase of the college admissions process; at some point in their college career, your child is likely to have a rough patch. They are going to have a moment when they look in the mirror and think that College A was not the correct choice and that they should have attended College B. It is imperative that your child owns this decision and that is why you need to stay neutral and let them evaluate their choices after a visit, without your input. If you feel like your child is really going down the wrong road, after you have given them time and space to evaluate their options, then you can speak up and offer them guidance.
My May webinar is on Monday, May 1st at 8 pm ET. The title is “Parenting Through the College Admissions Process: Dos and Don’ts”. The zoom link is here and anyone is welcome to attend. I will share some current events in college admissions as well as my Do’s and Don’ts. This part will be recorded. The second half will just be me talking live about my own experience and how I had to follow my own advice and it will not be recorded. 🙂