This Parent’s Clever Idea Can Help You Build The Perfect College List

Vision Board

This Parent’s Clever Idea Can Help You Build The Perfect College List

Published December 12, 2023

Vision Board

You’ve heard of vision boards designed to help you “see” what it is you want from your life and career, but what if a vision board was just the tool to help you and your child build a college list and narrow down the schools that are the best fit?

A dad in our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group recently shared his clever idea for helping his daughter build a college list: Create a vision board for both now and later. Curious about what that means? Check out his story below and see how he pushed the boundaries of what vision boards are about to help his daughter build the perfect college list. 

“I’ve been working in youth workforce development and financial literacy education for about a decade. If you think money doesn’t make sense to you, imagine how a kid feels.

One thing I’ve learned is that most kids have difficulty relating to job titles or salaries. To most kids, $15,000 a year is hitting the lottery.

I’ve found that it’s sometimes effective to talk to kids, not about job titles and salaries, but about lifestyles. Have them describe what they want and then you can describe (or better, they can research!) what they need to do to achieve it. It’s pretty eye-opening. They will also start to see the sacrifices they need to make to reach their goals.

This Insta-Tok generation isn’t much for writing things down and truth be told, they’ll have plenty of essays to write in the coming months and years. So ask your child to create a Vision Board of how they see their college experience.”

How to Create a College Vision Board 

Vision board showing professors the student wants vs. ones she doesn't as well as what she'd like her dorm room to look like.

“There are no rules, although I’d suggest not using pictures of their dream school. That kind of defeats the purpose. The images should be about how they think college ‘will feel.’”

There is no specific number of images, but the more, the better, and no judgment. The vision board of a 17-year-old me would have included a screenshot of “Caddyshack” and a stack of red Solo cups.

Once they’re done creating their vision board, sit down and have them explain each item and why it’s important to them. If they chose an image of a beautifully manicured quad, then maybe the urban setting of George Washington University isn’t for them. If they chose an image of a sold-out, 100,000-seat stadium, then maybe cross Gonzaga University off the list because they don’t have a football team. If they choose an image of diverse young people, consider the demographics at the colleges where they apply.

It didn’t take my daughter long to make her vision board and she liked the exercise. I probably would’ve liked a few more pictures, but it led to a nice conversation.”

Taking Your College Vision Board Into a Lifestyle Vision Board

“Now the fun part.

Ask them to do a vision board for their 30-year-old, 50-year-old, and 70-year-old self. See how their priorities change. If they need a little more guidance, suggest a few “categories” like housing, transportation, vacations, family, clothes, entertainment, etc.

Explain to your child that college is a long-term investment so it’s important they understand their long-term goals. There is no right answer and if there was, the right answer today might be the wrong answer tomorrow.

That’s because it’s not about the answers, it’s about the questions. The idea is to get them to start thinking about more than just the numbers. Life is not a straight line. It’s how you handle the curves that matters.” — Pete Crozier


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:

Top Questions to Ask Your Student Before Making the Ultimate College Decision

How to Choose a College: A Grandmother Tells All

How to Choose a College: Making Sense of Price





In this article:

Upcoming Events

Similar Articles for You

5 Questions About Paying for College Every Parent Should Ask Their Child — Before It’s Too Late


5 Questions About Paying for College Every Parent Should Ask Their Child — Before It’s Too Late

It’s one thing to talk to your child about going to college and perhaps even which colleges they may want...

Complete Guide to the Western Undergraduate Exchange

College List Building

Complete Guide to the Western Undergraduate Exchange

If you live in a western state, you may qualify for a tuition discount at participating out-of-state colleges. Here is...

Which Is Better, AP or Dual Enrollment?


Which Is Better, AP or Dual Enrollment?

Over the past few years, there’s been a significant increase in the number of high school students who take college-level...

Tools & Services Recommended for You

There may come a time when you realize you can’t do it all alone. Use any of the many tools in our toolbox to assist you on the road to college.

Become a Member

At Road2College you’ll find everything you need to make the admissions and paying for college process less stressful and more transparent.


Explore R2C Insights™ — your source for finding affordable colleges and merit scholarships.


Get coaching on admissions and college financing.


Join Road2College where parents and experts work together to inform and inspire college-bound families.