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“The Best College Advice I’ve Received So Far”

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“The Best College Advice I’ve Received So Far”

Published December 21, 2023

Two women sitting on a couch, holding coffee cups, and talking

While there are tons of websites like this one that can help guide you on the road to college, there’s nothing like getting advice from fellow students and parents who have been down this road already.

We asked members of  our Road to College Facebook Group to share the best piece of college advice they received and the responses came flooding in. Below are some of the best pieces of college advice that we think are worth passing on. 

Almost immediately, a dad named Fred N. wrote in with this sage advice: “If your child doesn’t want to go to college, don’t force them!” 

His comment pretty much set the stage for a bevy of candid, honest responses from parents and students who have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

Ann Karyn B. warned, “Your child will change majors. Just be ready to be supportive when it happens.”

She’s right. Some reports show college students change their major at least three times before sticking with one.

Kathleen W. added this gem that’s perfect for families at the start of the college journey: “Have your child set up a dedicated college email that you also have access to.” According to parents, this saves a lot of time and stress since no one has to sift through hundreds of emails to find those that impact college decision-making.

Parents Say The Best College Advice Is To Actually Visit Colleges

Over and over, parents said visiting colleges was critical to the process, as it brought to light many things that you just can’t see or feel when researching schools from afar. One said the earlier you start visiting colleges, the better. 

“Begin visiting some colleges the summer before eighth grade,” said Rosie H. “This will make it all more real and get their head in the game. Junior year comes quickly, and by then they need to have all their ducks in a row.”

Needing to have “all your ducks in a row” by junior year is not exactly true, though for some students, it may be beneficial. Many students wait until the summer after junior year or even the start of senior year to begin the process. That’s fine if you’re not planning to apply to many schools or to those that are uber-competitive. If you are, then the earlier you begin the process, the better.

“I have three daughters, and we started all college visits at the end of their freshman year,” said Rhonda H. “Best decision ever! It gave them a real idea of the type of campus and area they wanted to be in, let alone how hard they needed to work during their high school years to fulfill their dreams!”

College visits can also help some students realize when they’re just not ready. 

“Gap years are important if the decision to go isn’t 100 percent,” said Jennifer L. 

When it comes time to sign up for standardized tests, be careful where you send those scores.

“Do not submit SAT/ACT scores until you know what they are,” said Amy S.

The last thing anyone wants is a low score landing in the inbox of your dream school. Keep in mind that more and more colleges have gone test-optional, preferring to look at a student on a more holistic basis.

Parents’ Best Advice About How to Pay For College

When it came to paying for college, the first piece of advice shared by a parent was the simplest: “If you can’t afford it, go to a different college.” — Melanie R.T.

Another put it this way: “It’s not about what college accepts your student, it’s about which school you can afford.” — Kristen S.

A few parents warned against choosing a school too soon, due to the impact that can have on the amount of money you’re ultimately awarded.

“Wait to commit until May 1. You may be offered more merit money.” — Amy C.

“If they need to fill the class, or your student’s major, or if your student is very desirable, they may award you more merit money at the 11th hour, but only if you have yet to commit.” — Karen G.L

One parent made a plea for small liberal arts colleges, which many automatically dismiss because they assume they’re too expensive, even though many offer need-based merit. 

“Small liberal arts colleges that offer nice merit to help reduce post-college debt are the way to go!” — Jenna C.H.

Another parent offered a reminder to check the Net Price Calculators of schools you’re interested in to ensure you can afford them before you apply.

“Attend your public in-state college and stay out of debt. Start early, use the NPC calculator, and love the college that loves you.” — Nathalie G. 

Finally, one parent offered this reminder that’s just as important as everything else we’ve shared.

“Not everyone needs to go to college to be successful.” — Terra K.

_______

Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

How to Pick a College That Loves You Back

Determining Your College Budget: Affordability vs What You’re Willing to Pay

What Is a Trade School? Your Guide to This Path

JOIN ONE OF OUR FACEBOOK GROUPS & CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS: 

PAYING FOR COLLEGE 101

HOW TO FIND MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS

 

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