No bigger question is on the mind of junior families right now than, “what should my kid’s college list look like?” Or to rephrase it: “where should he/she apply?” It can an easy question for some and a harder question for others. At this point, everyone should be at different stages of their list building. However, there are a few commonalities that have to be implemented for every junior, and the sooner they are discussed, the sooner they can be addressed.
What kinds of schools are best for my kid academically?
Seems like a no-brainer but we find that too often social dynamics drive the college search process, and that’s foolhardy. College is school; school equals classes; classes mean assignments; assignments mean pass or fail. You are setting your kid up for failure if the first question is not about college coursework and possible majors. No indication for a major has to be set in stone, but it should be a primary driving point of where a student wants to spend the next four years.
Size, geography and campus culture.
These are also major factors. Each plays a critical role in students’ happiness. Beyond the classroom, young adults need to be where the can stretch their wings and learn from their environments and peers. Being where (geography) they are curious and engaged is a big part of that. Having the right social outlets — Greek life or not — should not be undervalued. When thinking of the college list, ask about who your kid relates and how that may or may not change when they’re away from home.
Honestly, this is the least important. As crazy as that sounds, I firmly believe that there are plenty of colleges for everyone and I have visited enough to confirm that. There are more schools than just the “top” universities and liberal arts colleges. If you and your child can address the aforementioned above, I promise you, I can find schools that make sense. Reaches, targets, and safeties.