Defining Expectations

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Setting parameters before you launch into the college search helps get everyone on the same page. During your student’s junior year or earlier, start setting the priorities and limits of the search. Discuss these topics with your student:

  • Expenses. What is the family’s current or projected financial situation? How much tuition can the family afford? This is an excellent time to explore available financial aid, based on family income and other variables. What about the expenses associated with finding a college, such as travel, entrance exams and application fees?
  • Location. What are the pro’s and con’s of schools that are close to home or far away? Are particular locations more conducive to the student’s long-term goals? How far is too far?
  • Family tradition. Is a family member’s alma mater being considered? Are legacy and tradition important? If so, to whom and why?
  • Sharing tasks. How much time can family members spend researching colleges? How can responsibilities be delegated fairly and efficiently?