Picking a college is hard — under any circumstances. High school seniors all over the country have been dealing with this challenge for a long time. These days, however, there are new factors to consider. It feels like the entire world has changed. College life is certainly not immune to this massive shift.
Students are suddenly weighing new and different options. Perhaps it makes sense to take a gap year. Would you prefer to stay closer to home or take classes online for now? Others are pondering the advantages of taking some basic courses at a local community college. What is your high school senior to do?
4 Challenges of Selecting a College
The following issues and concerns exist in any year — with or without a global pandemic. Do not lose sight of them as you navigate the chaos.
1. Deciding What You Want
At age 17 or 18, it’s a lot to ask someone to decide and plan their future. Also, there are all those spoken or unspoken family expectations.
2. Do You Choose to Learn a Skill or Follow a Dream?
This is the eternal struggle. No one should be compelled to live an unfulfilled life. But there will always be bills to be paid.
3. Financial Concerns
Can you afford the school of your dreams? Are loans the way to go? Is financial assistance available?
4. Academic Requirements
Are you academically up to speed for the school of your dreams? Many colleges and universities have stringent standards.
6 Tips to Support Your High School Senior in the Age of Covid
1. Try to Visit the Campus
This may sound obvious but Covid has made the obvious less practical. Find out if you can physically visit the school, get a tour, see the campus, and gauge the atmosphere. It’s not 100 percent required, but an on-site assessment is a pretty important step if you can arrange it. Fallback plan: Take a virtual tour.
2. Follow the Money
Of course, you’ll need to sit down with your child and talk about finances at some point. Also, due to the extraordinary circumstances, you’ll want to find out more about the college’s finances. Many schools have suffered during the pandemic. For example, international students often pay full tuition but there are fewer of them coming to the States now.
3. Assess Pandemic-Related Measures
You want your child to be safe. You also don’t want them living under draconian restrictions. It’s a tricky balance and your teen will need help. They may see what they wish to see. You’ll be the one to take a much closer look.
4. Learn About Campus Resources
The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have caused a parallel epidemic of mental health issues. What free resources are available for your child to get the support they need?
5. Are There Online Options?
Would anyone be surprised if everything shifted in a matter of months? What is your school’s backup plan? Will your child be able to quickly and efficiently transition to online learning? Is the staff trained in and experienced with remote schooling?
6. Do Your Research and Trust Logic
This decision is about facts and figures and what makes sense. And it needs to feel like a good fit for your teen and your family. And here’s the most important part: if it winds up not being a good fit, your student will learn the important lesson that the vast majority of mistakes aren’t fatal. There are transfer students every year at every college.
Your student will learn about having a Plan B, about resilience, and being able to “roll with the punches” to find something that works better. That can be as important as classroom learning. Knowing this can help lessen your and your student’s anxiety!
Do You or Your High School Senior Need Some Additional Support?
Again, selecting a college is rarely easy. In a time of national upheaval, it can be downright excruciating. Do not hesitate to get help for your child or yourself or consider sessions together. Working with a skilled counselor is a powerful step toward easing this emotional transition. Get that process started by reading about parent counseling and scheduling a confidential consultation.