The Right Fit: What to Consider
Does your child feel most comfortable surrounded by people? Does sitting in big classes feel less pressured? Or does she prefer a quieter environment, with more potential for one-on-one attention?
Does your child prefer being in a major city, with all that metropolitan areas have to offer? Have previous big city experiences been energizing or unnerving? Does your child’s intended major or extracurricular activities suggest an urban or rural setting? Is it important that your child remain close to home?
Does your child require a close-knit student community with people who feel “just like me?” Or would your child appreciate being part of an ethnically, culturally or racially diverse environment? Would being part of a group of under-represented minorities create feelings of discomfort? Is it important that your student be part of an atmosphere that’s accepting of his or her sexual orientation?
Read campus newspapers online. It’s a good way to learn about events and issues that may not have made the mainstream press.
Is your child choosing a school where his high school friends will be present; or are the students going in different directions? Examine together the emotional dynamics of those arrangements. When looking at schools, think about the social tone of a prospective school and how students connect and socialize. Does making friends require active participation in groups and clubs? Is the school dominated by a Greek system, or are dorms the social hub? What are the frequency and policies toward student drinking and off-campus partying? Does the college or town have the facilities to support your child’s extracurricular interests, such as safe and well-maintained swimming pools, bike paths, sports fields, ice rinks, tennis courts and the like?
Today, the costs of college can create their own level of stress. Have an open discussion about finances as part of planning for college. Consider stresses to the whole family unit, or problems that could occur if your child has to supplement income with a part time job. Safety is another element that can add weight to college decisions and transitions – and create stress. Find out more about what your college is doing to prevent crime on campus and to keep students secure.