I have previously shared that my daughter, Mailey, will be leaving to college this year. In the process of trying to select a college and speaking to professionals at the college campuses and here at home, points were made that we had not even considered. This is when our college hunt went from Mailey having to love the campus to, does it meet her needs? So, I want to give you a few things to take into consideration and also to get you to think of your particular situation and what questions you might want to ask when searching for the right college for your child.
Distance was an important factor for our family. My daughter is very family orientated and already looks forward to coming home on breaks and holidays.So ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have the financial means to fly them home or drive to pick him or her up during their breaks and holidays?
- If you would like to visit them, do you have the financial means to take weekend trips to see your child?
- If you cannot afford weekend trips to visit your child, are they okay with this?
- Are they more independent or dependent?
College is a time when we are all hoping that our children will gain some real sense of responsibility and maturity. That being said, some students thrive away from home and don’t need the periodical check ins. Others need to visit home and need for their family to visit them. Either way, distance should be looked at very carefully.
Financial assistance is another important factor to consider.
- Are you heavily depending on the financial assistance that you will receive?
- If so, you need to look at the award letters from the colleges which you have been accepted to and find out how much financial assistance they are giving you and what will be the parent contribution portion of it?
If another college is offering you a bit more financial assistance than your college of choice is offering, consider making up that extra amount of help with a part-time job so that you don’t have to pass up your college of choice.
You also want to keep in mind your child’s mental conditions and overall state of mind. My daughter has dealt with depression in the past and continues to see a psychologist until this day. So keeping this in mind we considered the weather and eliminated colleges in rainy states. We knew the environment mattered a lot in her case, not just to feel at home and comfortable but to stay in a positive frame of mind.
Hobbies and extracurricular activities are also to be considered. Does the college offer students the opportunity to get involved in the things they love to do or does the surrounding environment offer those things? Since Mailey was 4 years old, she has loved the beach. So much, that we knew this was a big factor for her. She wanted to be close to something that makes her feel good and lifts her when she needs it. We knew that a beach had to be in close proximity.
The size of the school is also important it’s directly related to how your son/daughter learns best. Does your son/ daughter like to work independently and prefer not to be noticed by the professor? Or does he/she like working closely with others, enjoy small group discussions, and would like to know their professors and have their professors know them? Mailey loves to get to know her teachers and does her best work with personal attention. Therefore, she knew she wanted a college where the professors would know her by name, so her preference was a small school.
And after three months of getting answers to all of our questions and after weeding out the schools that didn’t fit Mailey’s needs, she made her decision on a college that is approximately 5 ½ hours away from our home, approximately 50 minutes from an airport, awarded her an amount that is very satisfying to our financial needs, and a college whose environment will keep Mailey’s state of being happy and offers Mailey a beach within walking distance. This college’s small size will allow her to get to know her classmates and professors very well. Her home for the next several years will be California State University, Monterey Bay. I hope our experience helps you in some way to get you to think of your son/daughter’s individual needs and that you are able to ask the questions that need to be asked so you can support your son/daughter decide on which college is best for them.
Monica Luna Gonzalez
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