Planning Ahead for College – Part 2: Choosing the Right CollegeMaggie Hogan
In my last post, we saw that many colleges welcome homeschoolers, and we talked about the importance of getting organized for your college search. Today we’ll consider how to choose the college that will be the best fit for your child.
Here are four excellent reasons for researching colleges early, at least by 11th grade, if not 10th:
- Having some idea of which colleges your student might attend helps you choose appropriate high school courses.
- The extra time will allow you to research scholarship and financial aid options more thoroughly.
- The extra time will allow your student to visit or correspond with schools, ask more questions, and then do a great job filling out those long applications and write the required essays.
- Your student will have more time to prepare for and more opportunities to take the SAT or ACT for admission and for scholarship consideration.
A Big Decision!
Parents and students should work together to choose a college. Remember, you are turning them over to this institution for the next four years, so make this a matter of high-priority prayer and research. “Visit” campuses by checking out their homepages on the Internet. Call or write for schools’ view books or download them from their websites. For more detailed information, ask for a catalog. Ask people you respect what college(s) they recommend. (Bear in mind, though, that many colleges have changed drastically from even ten years ago.) With your student, make a list of potentially acceptable schools.
Looking for a Christian college? Many are Christian in name or tradition only. Where do you stand in your beliefs, and how closely do you require the school to match them? Where do they stand on Creationism? What are their rules and regulations? Are they too strict? Too lenient? Ask tough questions. Get the student handbook and find their policies on co-ed dorms, curfews, etc. Talk to students at the school. Get beyond glossy brochures and sales pitches. Much more than academics is at stake. Choose wisely. Political correctness has crept into Christian colleges and of course is rampant in secular schools.
Next, narrow down the list. It isn’t practical to do an in-depth study of more than six or so schools. Find out their specific prerequisites: course work, test scores, and application deadlines. Ask trusted friends to write a letter of recommendation that you can use for all applications. If possible, arrange a visit to the two or three schools you’re most interested in. Visits can mean a big difference in the final choice (and shows competitive schools your interest). There’s nothing like talking to students, eating in the cafeteria, sitting in on classes, and even spending the night to help decide if it’s the right school or not.
In my next post, we’ll learn how colleges assess homeschoolers and what standardized tests your student may need to take.