College: Helping Your Teen Choose

Whether your high school senior is eagerly awaiting college admissions results or your high school junior is making a list of schools to visit this year, their choice of which college to attend will be one the biggest decisions they will make.

So how can you as a mother help them walk through this process?

Examine Your Motives

First take an honest look at yourself. One of the most difficult things for a mother to do is let her children go out into the world and to let them make their own decisions. Are you promoting a particular school because it is your alma mater — or wish it would’ve been? Is the real reason you want your teen to go to State because you cannot afford out-of-state tuition or because you cannot bear the thought of them living far away? Watching your children transition into adulthood is a very difficult process. Just try to recognize what your motives are when you begin helping in the decision-making process.

Be an Encourager

Be supportive in their quest, and encourage them to visit their high school guidance office and public library for books and resources on colleges and careers. Their guidance counselor can help them in the college application process, make sure they are taking their college admission tests, help them find scholarship opportunities and let them know about upcoming college fairs.

Make a List

Help your teen with their list of schools. Let them know up front exactly what you are able contribute financially, what you will not allow (in terms of geographical location, etc.) and any other restrictions. Set these guidelines in the very beginning so they are not disappointed later.

Keep Them on Schedule

If your teen is a high school junior, encourage them to start thinking about what kind of school they are looking for. Have them start looking at brochures and websites on potential colleges. If possible, visit a few of their top choices during their Spring Break or summer vacation. But try to coordinate your trip with the college’s schedule so that you visit while classes are still in session. This way your teen can get the best feel for student life by people-watching and have the opportunity to meet students and professors.

During the senior year of high school, make sure your teen is on track for applying to colleges and for scholarships. Many students apply in the fall semester and begin receiving acceptance letters in March. Other students apply in their Spring semester of their senior year. Their guidance counselor can help them make sure they are aware of the best times to apply.

Gather the Resources

One of the best ways to make a decision on college choice is to educate yourself on what is available and what you should be looking for. The following are some recommended websites and books that may help you in your search.

Recommended Books:

  • The Fiske Guide to Getting Into the Right College by Edward Fiske and Bruce Hammond.
  • The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2006 by Edward Fiske.
  • Peterson’s Handbook for College Admissions by Thomas Hayden.  
  • The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges 2006 by Yale Daily News.
  • The Best 331 Colleges by the Princeton Review.

Recommended Websites:

And whether your student is just starting the college search, or is about to graduate from high school, be supportive of them. Help by being their sounding board and finding them the resources to make a wise decision. 

© 2007 iMOM. All rights reserved.