This post continues our college search conversation about helping your teen find the absolute best college fit.
And this week’s topic’s a big one:
The information you find here will help your teen to determine the best physical environment for him after high school.
First, you may want to check out my recent posts on the same college search topic:
Ready to go? Let’s jump in…
The physical location in which your teen feels most comfortable and happy will be a major consideration from the get-go.
If your kid’s willing to play along, start with this exercise:
Have him close his eyes. Tell him to imagine himself in the most ideal place he’d love to live every day.
What does that look like?
- Is he in a bustling city, with the sounds, traffic, restaurants, culture and the anonymity that goes along with so many people in one place?
- Does he see a smaller community, where people are familiar, where there are parks, a slower pace and quieter streets?
- Or maybe he’s envisioning a more natural setting – out in the countryside where there are more wide open spaces to roam, explore and find even more peace and tranquility?
One of the most basic, and most powerful, ways to ensure happiness in a place is in feeling absolutely comfortable there. You know this – that’s probably a major reason why you live where you do.
Let’s explore a few, more in-depth considerations to talk to your teenager about:
Proximity to Mom + Dad
If you’re anything like me, you hope your teenager will stay kinda close when he leaves the nest. That may or may not be something he’s hoping for, though.
Discuss his feelings about living within a closer proximity to you or venturing out independently on his own. “Close proximity” could mean the local college in your town or a 6-hour drive away, so ask him to be clear about the distance he’s thinking about, if it’s a factor.
And don’t forget about holidays. It can sometimes be a little tougher for kids to get back home from more remote or distant colleges.
The country is chock full of options when it comes to choosing a place to live based on weather preferences.
What does your teenager hope to experience? Is somewhere warm year-round a good spot to be? Does he prefer the changing seasons?
You’ll hopefully be going on college visits after creating a list of school options, and so it’s important to remind your teen to factor in all of the seasons during each tour.
While visiting schools in Minnesota in the spring or summer months can cast a great light on the location, make sure your teen’s cognizant of the harsher winters there. Does that make it less appealing?
Geography + Recreation
When completing the vision exercise above, did your teen imagine living near an ocean, mountains or lakes?
Geography is important to take into account when considering a happy place.
My husband and I decided on our college location in large part because it was close to mountains and rivers. Our family loves white water rafting in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter, and various other outdoor activities that make these places ideal for us.
Laying on the beach, hikes in the woods, skiing at a local resort – your teen can factor all of these recreational activities in when deciding on an ideal location just right for him.
We all live in the same United States, yet every region has its own characteristics and quirks.
Our military family has moved all over the country. I found that it’s pretty laid back in the Southeast and people operate at a much slower pace than in New England, for example. The Pacific Northwest has a friendly, progressive and outdoors-focused vibe.
Talk to your teen about the differences in culture he’ll experience in places around the country. Consider things like the types of food, politics and social mindsets or attitudes. Dig in online to research the characteristics of each area to be sure it’ll be a good fit.
These are great conversations to have at dinner with your teenager. I promise you’ll learn things you may not have known about him.
In addition to being a great exercise for planning for the future, it’s a great time for parent-and-teen connection!
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.
Stay tuned for Steps 3 and 4 in the coming weeks as we dig deeper into helping your teenager with other aspects of finding the best college match.
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