How to help your child choose a great college without being controlling
If there’s not that much time left until your kid will finish high-school and head off to college, you might have already started to experience the fears and excitement of having to choose a college. This is a decision your kid needs to make, but a bit of guidance from your part can truly go a long way.
In some cases, high-school seniors might not be completely sure of what they want to do in the future, so college selection can quickly become overwhelming. How can you help your kid on the matter, but not get too involved at the same time? Here are a few tips on navigating the college search together with your child:
Encourage them to go to summer school
One of the first things you should do, preferably the summer before their final year of high-school, is discussing the possibility of them going to summer school. There are various academic programs available that aim to help students get a better idea of their educational interests. By attending summer school, your child can partake in courses created with the purpose of self-discovery and skill development.
When students experiment with different topics in a less formal setting than traditional high-schools provide, they might get a few answers on some important questions, they may discover new passions and might gain a new perspective on certain professional prospects. A carefully designed Cambridge summer school program will most likely make it easier for your kid to discover what they actually want to do with their life.
Go online and do some research to see what options you have, and which of them would suit your expectations best. Make the suggestion during a family talk and try to encourage your child to give this possibility some thought.
Get them a good college guidebook
Luckily, nowadays, there are plenty of support materials that can help confused students get a clearer picture on different study opportunities. If your kid isn’t exactly the type of student who knows how to handle this entire college selection process, step in, and get some useful things for them yourself. An example here is buying a college guidebook. You can order digital copies or purchase one from a library, depending on what’s more convenient for you. In a good guidebook, there are plenty of insightful tips that will be a great use for your kid. It also presents the best colleges, majors that are trending at the moment, as well as pointers on how to handle applications. After reading a proper college guidebook, your child will likely adopt a more organized approach on things.
Plan college visits
If already you have your eye on a particular college, but don’t exactly want to force your kid into choosing that particular option, what you can do is plan a college visit there, and let them see for themselves what that university is all about. Some colleges seem great on paper, but once the student gets there, they might not actually like what they discover. College visits are extremely useful in reaching a final decision. Even if your kid might not be that excited with a certain place, perhaps after exploring the campus in person and getting a glimpse of the student life there, they might change their mind.
A thing you should remember here is that it’s important to assess your initial college selection criteria before planning any visits. You don’t want your child to fall in love with a college that you could never afford, or one they wouldn’t be able to get in.
To make the most of each visit, create a list of questions to ask the tour guide. If possible, try to speak to some faculty member, chat with other students there and even attend a course, for your kid to experience what it would feel like to attend that school.
Don’t compare your kid with others – avoid setting too high expectations
Wanting your kid to go to the best college is normal, but you should set realistic expectations, and avoid comparing the academic performance of your kid with that of others. Constantly talking about universities your child knows they will not be able to get into will only make this process more nerve-wracking for them and could in fact affect their performance in schools as well. It’s important to be supportive and not put too much pressure on them. They already know that some academic opportunities might be unreachable to them, so try to give them a bit more confidence by being flexible in terms of college options.
Focus on their passion instead of prestige
You might have always pictured your kid becoming a doctor or working as a lawyer at a great company somewhere, but these things might not actually suit their personality or desires. Instead of focusing on prestigious colleges and on professions that are well-paid, talk to your kid more about their passions and interests. What do the like to do best? What are they actually good at? Does your kid have specific a job they’d like to have in the future? Help them explore and talk freely about their passions and dreams.
Show them you trust them to make the right choice
A bit of pep-talk can go a long way here. If your child notices you trusting them to make the final decision they will start paying more attention to the entire college selection process and actually try more to find an option that will please you as well. Make encouragement a priority here.
Considering how much of an impact going to college can have on an individual’s life, it’s only natural for students to feel quite a lot of pressure when making a selection. You probably want to help your kid head towards the right academic direction, but at the same time, not push them into making a decision they aren’t exactly comfortable or pleased with. That is why you need to keep in mind a few important aspects when you are discussing college options with them. The pointers suggested here will allow you to offer your kid your full support without actually seeming controlling, so remember these few recommendations.