Parents are key to assisting teens to choose a college. Knowing what questions to ask will help in the process.
Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions teenagers will make. They do need some support from their parents to narrow down the search. Parents can assist in the search by asking some pertinent and thoughtful questions.
Questions About College Tuition and Fees
The number one question parents have about college is the cost. Cost will typically include tuition, books, supplies, dorm room, eating program, and random fees (parking, recycle, activity, etc.). Besides these expenses, parents should ask about scholarship essay writing since it is an opportunity to save money. All of these costs are rolled into one and called the Cost of Attendance. Financial aid is factored by using the Cost of Attendance as a base number.
Parents usually want to know the Cost of Attendance; however, they really want to know how much financial aid is available for their student and how much the parents will need to pay. Colleges have scholarships and grants available, but they can not be released until the family fills out the FAFSA application.
Some questions that parents need to ask include:
- Will the college meet any unmet financial need?
- Is there an installment plan to pay for tuition?
- Is there a financial aid specialist that can assist with filling out the FAFSA and answer general questions?
- What types of work study (on campus jobs to offset tuition) are available to students?
- Can students rent computers or books instead of buying them?
Questions About Campus Safety
Since most students attending college will be living on campus, an important aspect to consider is reported crime on campus. All colleges and universities are required to report this data yearly. For general peace of mind, parents should have an idea of the types of crimes committed on campus. Usually, the highest reported crime is general theft.
Questions to consider asking include:
- Where to find the crime report for the previous year?
- Is there a security escort service for students after dark?
- Does the school have a property registration system for students to register their high ticket items (computers, cell phones, iPods, etc.)?
- Do the dorm buildings lock at a certain time every night, or is there a security system in place?
- What type of campus security alert system is in place on campus?
Questions on Student Resources at the College
Parents often take care of their teens’ appointments, so college will be a new experience for students. Teens will need to seek out resources on their own at college. Some services they will need to find are hair salons/barbers, health services, dental services, academic support, counseling centers, and religious centers.
Parents need to help discover if these services are available for students on campus. If the services are not available, parents need to ask where students can access the services that they need.
Some questions to ask:
- What services are offered by the college to help students succeed academically?
- What types of extracurricular activities are available on campus?
- How do students access mental health resources and counseling services?
- Does the college offer specialized support for international students?
- Is there a student health center, and how do students access it?
- How do students contact the career services office for assistance with internships and job opportunities?
- Does the college provide any housing options for students?
- Are there any opportunities for volunteer work or service learning projects that would enhance students’ academic experience?
Social Activities on Campus
Most students will be so busy adjusting to their first weeks of college that they miss out on social activities. Parents can help their teens by asking what types of social activities or clubs are available on campus. This will assist the teens to determine if the college meets their social needs.
Questions to pose to the college include:
- Are there fitness facilities on campus and are there restricted times that students can use the facilities?
- Is there a list of activities and clubs available to students?
- Can students start their own club on campus?
- Are there fraternities, sororities, or other social clubs on campus?
- What does the typical student on campus do during the weekend?
College offers students an opportunity to grow independently. This process includes finding a college that will meet their academic, personal, and social needs. Parents can assist their teenagers in finding a campus that will meet their needs by asking questions such as those presented in this article.