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Wednesday’s Parent: What is a Perfect Fit College?

 

perfect fit collegeWhat is a perfect fit college? When asked, “how do you determine if a college is the right fit?”, overlook all the emotional motives:

  • Your friends are going there
  • Your parents went there
  • You like the football team
  • Your boyfriend/girlfriend has chosen it
  • You want to impress your friends by the name
  • You want to stay close to/or move far away from home

Once you remove those emotional motives, you can concentrate on six criteria that will help you determine whether or not the college is a “perfect fit”:

  1. A place you can afford.
  2. A place that provides the academic program that meets your needs.
  3. A place that provides the style of instruction that best fits your learning style.
  4. A place that provides a level of rigor and challenge equal to your ability.
  5. A place that feels like home.
  6. A place that values you for what you do well.

You will notice that #1 is about the financial fit. Before you even look at 2-6, you MUST be the “voice of financial reality”. This will save you much heartache in the future. In an article on University Parent’s blog: Reality, fit and substance—The ultimate college list, financial fit is key:

Before your student gets her heart set, get clear on what your family can afford. Take half an hour to work through the “net price calculator” available on most school websites, or use the FAFSA4caster to estimate federal student aid. These tools calculate your family’s financial need — essentially the difference between the college sticker price and what the formula says you are able to contribute.

Net price calculators don’t assess potential merit aid — institutional money set aside for students based on varying factors like GPA, standardized test scores, advanced courses, etc. Some institutions include merit calculators on their websites; many do not. To learn how specific schools determine merit aid, don’t hesitate to call the admissions office and ask.

With net price and merit aid estimates in hand, your student’s list can be more economically viable. If you and she have assumed that private scholarships and loans will fill gaps, the amounts you are supposing are now clearer, and that’s a good thing.

Once #1 is addressed, you should encourage your teen to “chew” on each of those remaining and think about what it is they want to get out of a college education. College is more than bricks and mortar and a place to get a diploma. It’s a place where the mind is challenged, social interaction abounds, friendships are formed and a place your college-bound teen will call home for at least four years of their life. That “perfect fit” will assure your teen is comfortable, challenged and ready to learn.

Read Wendy’s Post: The Prime Relationship Between College List and College Fit

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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. This week’s guest will be Jessica Velasco (@Admissions411) discussing college fit.

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 pocsmom.com and vice versa.

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