Tips for College Search


  1. Try to let your student make decisions, even when it looks like he might make a mistake.
  2. Choose one day a week to sit down and get an update on the process from your student. Don’t ask every day.
  3. Avoid a crisis at the end of the process by making sure that your student applies to a good variety of colleges.  If he resists a college you think needs to be on the list, suggest that visiting or applying isn’t a commitment—it’s just an option in case others don’t work out.
  4. Spend some unscheduled time exploring a campus when you visit.  Don’t hesitate to start a conversation with students.  They are usually very excited to share their experiences with visting families.
  5. Don’t dismiss a college due to “sticker price” on the front end.  Consider the fit, and if an expensive college is a terrific fit, find out if scholarships or financial aid will make it affordable.
  6. Advise your student not to take the ACT or SAT more than two or three times.  Research shows that gains are made the second and possibly the third time a test is taken, but improved scores are unlikely after that.
  7. If your student applies online, he should print the acknowledgement screen that appears after a successful submission.  Sometimes students fill out an entire form, but neglect to hit the “submit” button.  If you find that a college has not received the online application, your printed copy of the acknowledgement form will be very helpful.
  8. If you believe all application materials have been sent to a university, but your student receives a notice that something is missing, do not panic!  Generally, there is a grace period during which outstanding documents can be found (if mis-filed) or faxed (if they were lost in the mail).
  9. Don’t believe everything you hear about parents who have “negotiated” more scholarship funds or financial aid.  Generally, new information or a change in circumstances is required for additional aid to be awarded.
  10. Allow the process to be one of discovery and growth for your student.  If you catch yourself saying “we are applying to …” or “we are going to take the ACT…,”  you will know that it is time to relinquish some control.