How to Prepare for College Admissions
If you’re the parent of a high school student who plans on going to college, the worst thing you can do is procrastinate. Choosing what colleges to apply to (and actually applying to them!) takes time and money. Start soon if you want your child to have a great college experience!
As the parent, it’s a good idea to help your child narrow down what schools they should apply for. You don’t have to take the reins, but simply be there for your child and guide them through the process. Let them know which colleges you can and cannot afford. Here are five crucial steps to take before helping your child apply for college.
1. Find a Good Net Price Calculator
It’s rare for college students to pay their entire tuition and room and board without any financial aid. Some scholarships and loans are universal and can be applied to more than one college. However, every college offers different scholarship and loan opportunities. While one college may have a lower tuition, there might be fewer scholarship opportunities.
Although price isn’t the only factor in choosing a college, it’s a major consideration. As we all know, college is a huge investment. So, you need to make sure you have an accurate picture of what it’s going to cost you. The best way of doing this is to use a net price calculator or schedule a visit with us and receive a free EFC and merit aid eligibility analysis.
A net price calculator takes the price of college (including tuition and living costs) and subtracts your student’s financial aid. Although some colleges already have a net price calculator on their website, they’re not always accurate. Make sure you double-check the numbers and use more than one source to get the correct numbers! We can help you analyze your situation at each school you are applying with our special Know Before You Go analysis.
2. Research the Generosity of Each College
Don’t just look at the tuition price when you look at schools. Look into how financially generous each college is to its students. State colleges and universities are cheaper if you’re paying in-state tuition. However, private schools can usually offer more financial assistance.
The most important factor in financial assistance is grants. Check each school’s typical financial aid package and see how the school’s grants compare to their loans.
3. Apply for Financial Aid
The earlier you apply for financial aid, the better your chances are of receiving helpful grants. You can start the process as early as October 1 of your child’s senior year of high school.
Even before your child has applied to schools, you can submit to FASFA and CSS Profile. These are two great ways to help you and your child pay for college. While CSS can give you grants and scholarships, FASFA awards loans, grants, and work-study dollars. FASFA can be applied to any type of college, while CSS is mainly directed at private institutions.
4. Apply to Different Types of Schools
Don’t make the mistake of just applying to one type of school. Diversify your options! Your child may have a clear favorite school in their applications, but backup options are important. A college could be a liberal arts college, a master’s level university, or a research university.
Although your child may not be able to apply to every option, they should still apply to multiple types. This will increase their college options and help them have a backup plan if their dream school doesn’t end up working out.
5. Research the Academic Departments
Ultimately, your child is going to school to learn. If they don’t have a career path in mind, they may have more college options. That can be more stressful or more freeing, depending on how you look at it. If your child is interested in a particular major or career path, make sure to research their chosen department at each of the schools you’re looking at.
You should research the people your child will be working with: department heads, professors, and advisors. You should also compare the coursework requirements and determine what program would be the best fit for your child. They’ll be spending most of their time in a classroom or doing homework, so the academic department is a major thing to consider.
6. Learn your Strategies to Save on the Costs Before You Apply.
Many people overpay on college and miss opportunities to save on costs. Over the last 10 years, we have found every way fro a family to save and we have yet to meet a family that could save at least $2500. If you want to learn about the four primary ways to save on college, sign up for a free web event: The four primary ways to save on college presented by the College Financial Guy, Stuart Canzeri. Register today here!
College applications don’t have to be so stressful. When you follow these steps, you’ll help set your child up for a successful and enjoyable college experience!
If you have any questions, please feel free to schedule a 30 minute no obligation strategy call with us.