Friday, March 4, 2011

From the Trenches -- Starting Points for the College Selection Process Part 1

We've got to start somewhere on this college thing. I had some ideas, but when I have the Mom's College Cram Course panel of parent and professional experts, why should I go it alone?

So I asked panel members how the process began in their families. Responses were great -- from the heart and helpful. So let me begin sharing.

First, I had stumbled across this self-quiz from the Fiske Guide to Colleges -- and one panelist who happens to be an admissions officer and mom -- agreed that this is a good place to start. It helps the teen define a number of areas, from big to small, urban to suburban, serious academic setting to one that is not so intense, etc., that may help narrow the scope of possible choices.

Panelist Barbara Rosamalia suggests Naviance (if your school uses it) which allows searches based on distance from home, sports teams, music and theater, etc. She raises an interesting point -- she has found that students are pretty open-minded, but that it is the parents (consciously or not, I would imagine) who place limits or influence choices. At this point, early in the process, little should be off-limits, I imagine -- if the choices are coupled with some self-awareness.

Dr. Jacqui Detweiler puts it succinctly. She sees three major questions that a teen should ask: big vs. small, location (near, far, city, beach, and so on) and that broad but all-important "other" category -- the "it" factor that simply must be present such as pre-med, or music, or fencing.

In the next two posts, panelists will share their own family experiences.

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