The main factors that a student needs to consider when choosing what colleges to put on their short list are financial cost, social environment, academic programs, and geographic location.
None of these factors is necessarily more important than the others, but each needs to be carefully evaluated. The summer and early fall going into a student's senior year are the most important times to narrow down the college list, before applying for schools. Here are several questions to ask yourself, as a parent or student, in each area:
How much money do I have available for college? What amount has been saved in a college savings plan or will the student be working to pay for college expenses?
How much debt am I willing to take on? What student loans or parent loans are available and how much, if any, debt am I willing to acquire?
What is the Net Price of the colleges that I am considering? The sticker price of a university is not what you will pay. Many universities offer scholarships based on income or academics, so ensure you are looking at the net price before making a decision.
Do you prefer a large university or a small university?
Have you visited the college or university to get a feel for campus?
What types of activities are you interested in joining? Does the school offer those organizations or extracurricular activities?
What is the student to professor ratio?
What is your intended major and intended career choice? Does the college have your desired program and, if so, does it have a history of success?
What are the admissions guidelines? How does my SAT, ACT, or GPA stack up to the average score or GPA that the university generally admits?
Do you want to stay close to home or attend college farther away?
Is an in-state college or university a better fit or does a college out-of-state meet your needs better?
Does the location of the school suit you? Is it in an urban environment or more of a neighborhood, rural feel?
Need help deciding?
If these questions seem overwhelming to you, let us help. We offer a free consultation to talk to you about our college planning services. One of the ways we can help is by input your student’s information (academic performance, preferences, location, etc) into our personalized software, GuidedPath. This ensures that all the important factors are considered before building the perfect college list. Call John at (610)457-5288 or Amy at (308)760-0746, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions or provide more information.