Thousands of articles have been written about helping your teen find the best college match.
(Heck, I probably wrote most of them.)
But there’s one thing that I’ve found missing from the whole “college search” conversation:
Rarely do we give our teens a proper, basic understanding of what they’re actually trying to do here…. of what finding the right college match actually means. And of what they need to wrap their minds around.
Teenagers should have the right foundation for thinking before doing the technical work of searching for the right college fit.
So before you dig into those college search engines or research graduation rates and admissions stats, help your teen lay some basic mental groundwork to really grasp the process.
Share these important ideas with your teen.
(I’ll bet they’ll help you restructure your thinking, too.)
1| Your teenager is in control of this process.
It can be tempting to give in to what others say when it comes to choosing a college.
College ranking lists, pamphlets and emails from schools are all part of the marketing that colleges do to convince teens that their school is the very best college to attend.
Friends and family with positive intentions can be the biggest culprits here.
Thing is, it’s so important for your kid to remember that this is HIS game right now.
Remind your teen that others are not the ones to decide anything for him, and he shouldn’t feel guilty about following his own path.
Resist the temptation to push your teen toward your alma mater, Mom. You can suggest it if it would be a good match, but keep help to keep options open and pressure low.
Your teen should be in the driver’s seat, feeling empowered to make his own choices for his future.
This might be a tough concept to grasp for your teenager, because it’s very likely one of the first, biggest decisions that he has to make. So certainly serve as a guide in the process, but make sure your teen understands that the schools that land on his college list are ultimately his decision.
2| There are no “perfect” colleges.
Yep, I said it.
Web articles, college tour guides, admissions folks, college mailers – they’ll try to convince you otherwise. That’s marketing.
Out of the thousands of colleges to choose from in the U.S., there are MANY great-fit schools for your teen – not just one. And no one school will ever be perfect.
The chances that your teen will find a college that checks off every box is unlikely. But prioritizing what’s most important will ensure your teen finds a college that feels most like home and allows him to thrive academically and socially.
So, help your teen to feel a little more ease in understanding that there are many great options out there.
3| The more your teen knows about himself, the easier it is to find the right college fit.
Introspection is key before researching colleges.
Download The College Fit Toolkit workbook for your teen. It’ll take him through questions to help uncover personal preferences prior to diving into the college search.
Your teenager should take an inventory of his own personal interests that align with the following:
Where in the U.S. does your teen want to live? Near home? Near the beach? Somewhere with access to mountains? City or country?
Does your teen feel more comfortable in classes with few or many students? Does he prefer larger campuses with lots of people or smaller, more intimate ones?
Does your teen need to feel consistently challenged academically, or is a more laid-back approach his style? Is greater access to professors important? What does your teen want to study?
- Social Environment
Is your teen involved in sports, clubs, music or theater programs? Would your teen feel comfortable in a fraternity or dorm? What does your teen like to do in town on weekends?
The technical work in finding the right college fit will come, but only after your teen has the right mindset for it. Preparing in this way takes out some of the inevitable overwhelm, and will help your teen to really know himself in the best way to start researching exactly the right college fit for him.
And when mindset is prepared ahead of time, it’s likely the whole process will go more smoothly and quickly.
And that’s a huge win.
Like this article? Subscribe to my email list to get more great info like this, including my college planning checklist! I’ll keep you updated all year about what’s happening college-planning-wise to ensure you and your teen are on top of it all.
Let’s continue the conversation! Leave a comment below.