Wednesday’s Parent: Illogical College Choices–Part 1


college choicescollege choicesIn March, Wendy and I discussed how to make a good college list (Part 1). Today, we’re revisiting that advice and adding some additional tips on helping them make those college choices.

Summer vacation is halfway gone and families have most likely been making some preliminary college visits. It’s only natural for students to begin formulating a lists of “wants” when they begin to see themselves in college. However, the difference between what they “want” and what they “need” can be miles apart. It’s your job to rein them in.

You student may list the following illogical things as his must-haves. Next week, I’ll discuss how to steer him in a different direction.

  • Going to the same school a boyfriend or girlfriend is going to—The danger here is obvious. High school romances rarely last and once the romance ends, so does the love for the college.
  • Only look at the colleges your best friend is viewing—Friendships, while many last a lifetime, are no reason to make a college choice. Friends oftentimes have different educational goals and career paths. Even if they line up, evaluate the true reasons for choosing the college and be sure it’s not for friendship. Besides, I saw many college friend explosions over the years when my kids were in school. It taints your view of the environment.
  • Choose a college because you love their football team—Being a Texas Aggie fan or a Texas Longhorn fan or a Notre Dame fan is no reason to attend their college. Investigate their academic programs and choose it if it gives you the best education for your needs and for your dollar.
  • Choose a college based on its “party” ranking—You would be surprised how many students choose schools that are ranked high as a party school. They convince their parents it’s for the academics, but truthfully it is not. My son did this after the Marine Corps. It was the worst decision he ever made. Too much partying equals academic failure. Besides, even the most stringent academic institutions have parties.
  • Limiting location—Don’t just look at colleges close to home. Check out some schools that are a little further away. It will increase your options.
  • Let the choice just happen—Many teens just slide in to the most comfortable place: they got an email from someone; their friend suggests it; their parents went there. Neither of these are good reasons to attend college.
  • Pick a college to impress someone—This is not a reason to choose a college. Keeping up with the Jones’ or trying to impress your friends will only result in your teen being unhappy at school.
  • Believe that the harder a college is to get into, the better it must be—The best colleges are sometimes the ones that have a high rate of acceptance. Research is the key to finding out the benefits of these schools.
  • Assume that all colleges are the same—All colleges offer an education, but not all colleges are the same. Programs, athletics, campus life, and even teaching styles vary. All of these can affect the overall college experience.
  • Rely on someone else’s opinion—Never assume anything about a particular college until you investigate and gather information. Opinions vary and at any given time you will always find someone that loves or hates a particular school.

Now read Wendy’s post: 2 Phases, 3 Points for Forming a College List


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Wendy and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Wendy and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from parentscountdowntocollegecoach to and vice versa.

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