Choosing a college is not an easy process: For most families, however, the challenges are worth the feelings of excitement about this important stage in a child’s life and education. Here are just a few great ways to ensure that your child finds the right school for their needs.


  1. Be Realistic About Financial Resources

At this time in history, attending a private four-year college can cost more than the purchase of a home. Fortunately, many great universities offer competitive financial aid packages to students who are admitted into programs of study.

Within reason, parents should help their children to navigate the process of applying to schools that are affordable or that will justify large loans. This doesn’t mean that a family should only apply to inexpensive colleges: Don’t count out that Ivy League university with compelling financial assistance programs. However, don’t be the parent that has to disappoint their child by withdrawing them from a place at a prestigious but too-expensive institution.


  1. Be Realistic About Academic Standards

Getting rejected from a dream school is an exhausting and saddening experience. Now is not the time for students to put all of their eggs in one basket. If your child has a shot at Harvard, there is nothing wrong with putting in an application. But don’t place all your hopes on one school: At Harvard alone, a significant number of places will go to children of alumni. Even top students may have to “settle” for other universities.

At the end of the day, moreover, Harvard isn’t for everyone. A successful college experience is about growing as a person and enjoying one’s schoolwork. For some students, a massive research university is simply not a great environment for learning.


  1. Visit Schools!

Getting a sense of a school from its internet presence is like trying to get a sense of Rome from a map of Italy. When your child visits the campus of a particular college, they’ll get a very real sense of what a four-year degree will involve there. Sometimes getting a good gut feeling about a particular school is as important as researching different programs.


Moreover, visits to different colleges can be great bonding experiences between parents and children. A campus tour can be a wonderful and often inspiring event; above all else, enjoy the moment!