College Planning: Other Stuff To Include Alongside Academics

The college planning process can feel stressful for teenagers. Let’s be honest, they barely know how to pump gas into their cars, let alone feel comfortable making decisions during the college planning process. However, that’s what parents are for right?

Navigating the vetting process can seem overwhelming because the options seem endless, and parents have their eyes set on predetermined institutions for their child. However, we have to hold our children's hands during the process but allow them to make their own decisions. After all, they have to live there. We need to give them the tools they need and the counsel they need to make decisions that make sense. Here are some ideas for students to consider during this time, while they have the time to truly investigate institutions. 1. Dig Deep - Since we have the time, I would encourage students to dig into the institution's culture. Make phone calls to the college (they are still answering calls) or emails (yes they are still doing this too) and ask questions that are on a granular level. Administrators are willing and available to answer any questions you may have. 2. Take A Look At The Activities - Examining the activities and clubs that are offered on campus is an important component of your college search. Make sure you identify clubs you feel have a space for you. Clubs and activities are what make college feel like home. Finding organizations that make you feel like you are part of a community is important. 3. Spirituality - If you would like to carry on your spirituality to campus, research the college and their spiritual life presence. For some students, spiritual life keeps them grounded, and having easy access to that support system is important. Research this information. 4. Can You Imagine Yourself There - There are so many colleges and universities. After considering all they have to offer and information you have gathered, ask yourself, can you visualize yourself integrated into the culture of the campus. This can be complicated. Parents help your child understand exactly what this means.

5. Be Meticulous - College is the child's new home. It's okay for them to be meticulous about the campus. We want our children to feel comfortable. If they are not completely comfortable with some aspects of the campus, make sure you tell them to weigh out their decision. 6. Consider Your Surroundings - While it's important that the college campus is safe, secured, well lit, etc. It's important to consider the school surroundings. Are you interested in city life, suburban life or a rural experience? These are conversations to have because you don't want to set your eyes on a school, only to find out the surroundings are not what you expect or are comfortable with. 7. Accessibility To Town - Some colleges and universities are in the middle of a rural area and depending on the student, obtaining a job outside of the campus may be something they are interested in. Considering this during the search. There are so many variables that go into selecting a college. We know academics are important however, there are other factors that play an integral role in the decision-making process.