Choosing the Right College

Choosing the right college means selecting a college that will be the best academic, social, and affordable fit for your child. This can start years before they actually apply to colleges. Once offers are made by colleges, your child has to figure out what's the best school for them.

Tips to Help Your Child Decide Which College to Attend

Families of Elementary and Middle School Students

Help your child explore colleges. Look at the Tips for Elementary School Students on the pages for college and career planning and future careers.

Families of High School Students

Once your child has received a college acceptance, help them decide which college to attend by following these tips.

  • Review the acceptance letters and financial award letters with your child. Financial aid award letters come either with college acceptance letters or soon after.
    • If you do not receive an award letter, contact the college’s financial aid office before making a decision.
  • Use this tool to compare how much it will cost your child to attend each college. 
  • Don't hesitate to ask colleges for more funding if you feel that your family did not receive enough financial aid. 
    • Make sure all financial aid forms like FAFSA and TAP are accurate and updated. Speak to your school counselor about making corrections to these forms and other next steps.
    • Call the college financial aid office and tell them why you think your family needs more help, also known as an appeal process. Ask your child’s school counselor to help you with the appeal process.
  • After reviewing which college your family can afford, consider other important factors like social life, academics, and other student services.
    • Look for academic experiences that will help your child feel both challenged and engaged.
    • Compare what each college provides to support their success, such as tutoring, accessible professors, and career services.
  • Use the College Scorecard to help compare college graduation rates, graduate earnings, and other important characteristics. 
  • Visit the college or take an online tour to help your child find the right social fit. Each college has its own culture; it is important for your child to feel welcomed, supported, and foster strong relationships with their professors and peers.
  • Make sure your child is confident about their decision before they submit their acceptance.

What to Do If Your Child is Waitlisted by a College

Being waitlisted can happen when your child meets the admissions requirements but the college has already accepted enough students. Your child can be admitted, if the college has openings, before the school year starts. If your child is on the waitlist and is interested in attending the college, they should speak to their school counselor and follow these steps.

My Child has Decided on a College. What Next?

Congratulations on choosing the college that is best for your child and family! Next your child can:

  • Follow the directions in the official acceptance letter or email received from the college.
  • Check their email throughout the spring and summer for instructions about college placement exams, orientation dates and deadlines they must meet before beginning classes.
  • Your child can also use the following tools to plan for their first year of college: 

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