Parent College Coach Tip #101: Make an Informed College Choice
The college acceptance letters arrive. You would think it would be easy after that. Your teen has gotten into their 1st choice school and it’s simple; you fire off the acceptance letter to that school and the deposit and it’s a done deal.
But wait. What if some of the other schools offer financial aid packages that are just too good to be true? Like for instance: a full ride, numerous academic scholarships and grants, along with other incentives like reduced housing for the freshman year.
Since the college market is highly competitive, it’s possible that you could be faced with an even more difficult dilemma: attend your 1st choice school OR attend a school offering a better financial aid package. You are now tasked with the responsibility of making an informed college choice.
That’s exactly what happened to us. Through a series of events out of our control, the high school neglected to send my daughter’s mid-year transcript to Boston University. Because we neglected to follow up, we did not know that was the case. When her financial aid package arrived from BU, it was completely defunct of ANY aid, except a small Stafford Loan. All the other colleges offered her multiple academic scholarships. One phone call ascertained the reason behind it and since the tuition was incredibly high, it knocked out her 1st choice school immediately.
Here are some lessons we learned:
Always follow up on important submissions to colleges–it’s your responsibility to verify they received ALL documentation prior to the financial aid decision
When your acceptances and financial aid packages arrive, compare them carefully. It’s highly possible that an aid package from an expensive private university will outshine the aid package from a state funded public university
Remember that there are many factors to take into consideration when making the final choice: aid package, course offerings, size, location, and don’t exclude your “gut” feeling.
Revisit the colleges after the acceptances and awards arrive. If you are offered a free ride to a school that was bottom on your list, but you put it there for a reason, you want to be able to seriously consider choosing it.
And…my personal final thought:
Everything happens for a reason. Although my daughter was not able to attend Boston University, another Boston college was in her pool of schools and it turned out was a much better fit for her in the long run.
If you do your homework in advance, the choices, although they might be difficult, will end up being the right ones in the long run and your teen will enjoy a wonderfully exciting and academically challenging college experience.
Check out my guide for parents: Parents Crash Course