How to Choose a College: A Grandmother Tells All

How to choose a college

How to Choose a College: A Grandmother Tells All

How to choose a college

This story was first published in our Paying for College 101 Facebook community. It’s been edited for clarity and flow. 

Two years ago, we went through the insanity that is today’s college admissions process with our grandson. There were countless hours of essay writing and emotional hills and valleys from September until May. At times we thought the insanity would never end.

How to Choose a College

Our Grandson’s Journey

Our grandson was accepted to a majority of the 15 schools in his Common App. When the financial aid offers came in, he was looking at an average total cost of $100,000+ (25,000 per year) for a bachelor’s degree.

The only one that came in at a more reasonable $12,000 per year was the state flagship university. Of course, it was the one school he “absolutely positively” was NEVER going to attend and only applied to because his school’s director made him.

Our grandson reluctantly enrolled and discovered it would cost him even less than he thought — $0. After his first year, the school increased his funding to a level that even covers his off campus housing.

Today, he loves the school and continually tells people what a great choice it was and how happy he is to be looking at getting his bachelor’s degree with zero debt. Unfortunately, his entire senior year was dedicated to the emotional turmoil and time drain of applying to college.

Our Granddaughter’s Journey

Our grandson’s younger sister paid close attention to his whole experience and decided to do things differently. She chose four schools: one big reach school with great need-based aid, two state schools, and one small private school that would probably be the most expensive at about $12,000 a year for tuition, room, and board

Her applications included one essay and one supplemental essay. Everything was finished by September 10, 2022.

In October she got word that she was officially accepted to her top choice state school. It will likely cost $2,000 her first year for tuition, room, and board. She’s ready to put down a dorm deposit, go on with her life, and actually enjoy her senior year.

Final Thoughts

This is not intended to find fault with anyone who chooses a different path. I’m simply sharing these two stories of different approaches to support others. Whether your student chooses a simpler path, or goes with the more stress-inducing route, your student can find a school that’s affordable, and works for them.

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