22 Aug

Raising Cash for College with Private Scholarships

As the lazy days of summer slip away, high school students can take advantage of   their free time to help fill the family college coffers with private scholarship winnings. And why should your child consider giving up precious time at the beach or the mall? Simple. If you’re like most parents, the net cost of college will need to be considered when your child makes his or her final college choice. So the sooner your child can help the family raise cash for college, the odds are he or she will have more colleges from which to choose to identify a great fit college. Here are some tips to increase your child’s chances of winning private scholarship money for college.

Avoid the Crowds

Have your student apply to scholarships that have less competition. The biggest tip I can give you is to not focus on national scholarships; instead, have your child seek out local and regional ones. These will have much less competition. Students applying to national scholarships will likely be competing with hundreds, if not thousands of other applicants – definitely not the odds you want.

One of the easiest places to uncover possibilities is to ask the high school counseling office for their scholarship collection since local sponsors will send information about their scholarships directly to the local high schools. See if local alumni, or trusts or foundations set up by alumni, offer awards. Also look for other scholarships offered by local service organizations, community groups and corporations. The harder the scholarship is to find, the less competition it will likely have. Have your student ask older siblings of their friends which scholarships they found. Network with everyone you know to see if they are aware of any scholarships or can lead you to someone who does.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Students should finish their college admissions applications before summer ends because classmates will be focusing on the college admission process the first couple months of senior year and won’t have time to work on scholarship applications. Your child can take advantage of this time by applying to scholarships that have fall deadlines.

Get to Know the Scholarship Sponsor

The more students know about a scholarship and its sponsor, the better job they can do on the application. Before filling out the application, have your student research a few items. First, what is the mission statement of the sponsoring organization? Second, what type of candidate has been chosen in past years? (Your student may be able to find this information online or in a press release where there is a description of the previous winner.) Third, who will be judging the applications? The answers to these three questions can greatly help students in determining how to best approach the application because they will have a clearer picture as to what type of candidate the sponsor may be looking for and from what perspective they will be judged.

Seniors Aren’t the Only Lucky Ones

Students can begin applying to scholarships as soon as they are in high school (and even earlier in some cases). High school freshman, sophomores and juniors will have much less competition for winning private scholarships than high school seniors because these younger classmen aren’t typically thinking about winning college scholarships.

And don’t make the mistake in thinking that after your child graduates from high school the opportunity ends. There are private scholarships for college students too.

All the best,
Deborah Fox

Deborah Fox is the founder of Fox College Funding®, a nationwide company that helps families find creative ways to reduce their college costs.

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20 May

Raising a Budget-Conscious Child: Getting a Job

Last post I began sharing with you some simple steps you can take to teach your student how to be more budget-conscious by discussing how to educate your child by including him or her in your personal budgeting habits.

Today, in Part 2, I want to encourage you to take the next step. If you want to help your child learn to manage money on his own, (s)he will need to have some to work with. That’s why my second tip is to:

Let Them Work.

In an effort to help their students focus on other pursuits–grades, athletics, and other extra-curricular activities–many parents have begun discouraging their children from working a part-time job until college (or even after!). While these things are important, it is also crucial to your child’s future that he or she learn how to balance work and play, as well as interpersonal and fiscal responsibility.

Working a part-time job–even just during summer or on the weekends–can help students do just that. A new video game or pair of jeans will seem more valuable when students realizes how many hours of work they have to engage in to pay for it.

(This will not only help students understand the value of a dollar, but will hopefully encourage them to be more mindful about taking care of their belongings because their worth–and what it costs to replace them–will be easier to comprehend.)

Preparing the Way

Before your student starts a part-time job, you’ll want to have a conversation or two about what you both expect out of this new experience. You may want to lay ground rules about what happens to the money, such as setting a predetermined amount or percentage to go toward spending and another portion going into savings.

You may also wish to discuss the practical side of things, for example:

  • How will your child get to work (car, public transportation, bike)?
  • What consequence will he or she face if grades or other activities are affected by having a job?
  • How should your child dress and behave in the job he or she wants?
  • How many hours per week can he or she handle working (I recommend 15 or less)?

Understanding the importance of responsibility is a happy side-effect of working, as well. Having to report on-time, doing the job well, and facing the consequences of failing at these tasks is a healthy experience that can help prepare your child for more important jobs in the future.

Putting it into Practice

Once your child has decided to get a job, he or she may need help figuring out what to do next. You can help your student:

  • Search for a job in the paper, online, or by word-of-mouth,
  • Apply for and obtain a work-permit if he or she is under 18,
  • Create a basic resume (if necessary),
  • Fill out a job application,
  • Practice interview questions, etc.

And remember, first jobs are exciting–especially cashing that first paycheck! Help your child enjoy this step into adulthood and independence!

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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18 May

Raising a Budget-Conscious Child: Show and Tell

With a huge number of Americans still trying to bounce back from the recession, it is more important than ever for parents to teach budgeting, and encourage their children to put it into practice. If this task seems more than a little overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. Why do you think so many parents have welcomed home “boomerang children”–college graduates returning to the nest to let Mom and Dad foot the bills?

Teaching your child to budget doesn’t have to be daunting if you break it down into small steps. That’s why I wanted to share a few simple ideas about how to raise budget-conscious teens. I hope these five steps will help you and your child begin a dialogue and give him or her some practice handling money on his or her own. This post is one of two on this topic. Today, I just want you to think about:

Show and Tell.

Your budget, that is. There may be no better way to help your child understand budgeting than by involving him or her in managing your own. Your child needs to be aware that you make decisions about money many times every day, and how those decisions effect today, tomorrow, and longer term.

Preparing the Way

In this particular case, I am not recommending you sit your child down and go over spreadsheets  about the budget. I think you will find it more comfortable and find your child more receptive if you discuss the topic more casually (most students don’t get too excited about sitting down with their parents to discuss finances). Instead, try to integrate the message you are trying to convey into everyday life. Read on, and I’ll give you an idea of how to get started.

Putting it into Practice

You’ve decided to let your child in on how family financial decisions are made–but where do you begin? Whether your household budget is barely under control or a well-oiled machine, it probably has too many components for your student to grasp all at once. Begin with baby steps.

  • Let your child see you paying bills, and ask if he or she knows much about it. You can talk about how you manage and track each expenditure, pay each bill (online, automatic payments, writing checks, etc.) and how often (weekly, monthly, etc.). Don’t forget to let your child know what happens if you’re late on a payment.
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  • Use once-a-year bills, such as your car registration, as a starting point for talking about irregular expenses with your child. He or she may have seen you paying bills on a monthly basis, but now you can talk about how you fit those yearly or unexpected payments — tax payments, surprise medical bills or scheduled car maintenance– in with the monthly ones.
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  • Send your child grocery shopping. Give him or her a grocery list and set amount to spend (cash will make this easier than handing over a credit card) and have him or her try to stay within the budget.
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  • Explain what is and isn’t in your budget. For example, if your child wants to go out for dinner but you’ve spent your dining-out funds for the month, simply say so. Along this same vein, when you take a weekend trip you might explain that you saved a certain amount each month in order to cover the costs of the vacation, and that this amount was included in your monthly budget, too.

There are a myriad ways to let your child become more aware of and involved with your family’s spending plan, so watch for them to present themselves in your everyday life. You don’t need to set up a curriculum, just take advantage of the teaching moments as they appear.

Once your child heads off to college and begins to manage their daily affairs, he or she will likely appreciate the tips and education you provided ahead of time on how to manage a budget. (My son actually made a special phone call to me from college in his freshman year thanking me for making sure he knew how to manage his money and time, do his laundry and cook as he watched some of his friends struggle with these tasks. To me, that day was one of the most satisfying compliments I have received about being a mom!)

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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12 May

3 Reasons Your Student Should Consider Taking Summer Classes

Looking for ways to help your student stay productive this summer? Taking a college-level course or two at a community college could be the perfect fit. Here are three reasons your student should consider adding academics this summer:

1. Saving time.

For many students, summer hours are wasted away in front of the TV (or worse yet–sleeping well into the afternoon!); but taking a course at a community college could help your student get ahead of the game when fall rolls around. Earning college credits now can save time during the college years, and may even help your student graduate with a degree a semester early.

Another bonus of taking summer courses? Many community colleges offer accelerated classes, so with a little extra work your student could earn credit for a semester-long course in a matter of weeks instead of months.

2. Saving money.

Let’s face it–the college years are expensive. Community colleges, however, charge much less tuition per course than a 4-year college or university, so if your child can finish the same (or equivalent) class at a community college now, why pay more for him or her to take it at a 4-year college later? It can translate into getting a discount on those college credits!

3. Staying “fit” for the school year.

One of the hardest parts about the “back-to-school” season is that many students feel their study and writing skills–as well as their enthusiasm for and motivation to pursue schoolwork–have atrophied over the summer break. Too much play and no work makes the transition back to a class schedule and exams tough. Completing one or two classes over the long vacation may help your student remain focused and in the learning zone for the next school year.

If summer classes sound appealing, I encourage your to do more research. Talk to your student’s high school counselor or a college admissions officer and find out which courses offered at your local community college will transfer for credit at your child’s future (or current) college or university.

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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09 May

New College Rankings: Best Return on Investment

For years parents have turned to the rankings of popular magazines like the U.S. News and World Report or Forbes to help them choose the best school for their child. While I would argue that a magazine’s rank list is not usually the best tool for making your final decision, it can be helpful as an overview of what each school has to offer.

This year, Bloomburg Businessweek and PayScale have unveiled an improved version of their new ranking system: listing schools by their return on investment (ROI).

College as an Investment

Most students and their families are willing to make financial sacrifices for a college degree because they feel that college is an investment worth making. With that thought in mind, Bloomburg Businessweek’s report took a look at the schools that give their students the best return based on the cost of attendance and their pay scale after graduation.

The 2011 top twenty colleges based on ROI over 30 years are:

  1. The California Institute of Technology
  2. Harvey Mudd College
  3. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  4. Princeton University
  5. Stanford University
  6. Dartmouth College
  7. Duke University
  8. Harvard University
  9. University of Pennsylvania
  10. University of Notre Dame
  11. Babson College
  12. Yale University
  13. Columbia University
  14. Lehigh University
  15. Amherst College
  16. Colgate University
  17. Worcester Polytechnic Insitute
  18. University of California, Berkeley
  19. Cornell University
  20. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The first three of these schools gave their graduates an estimated ROI in excess of $1.5 million over 30 years.

One the other hand, the PayScale study showed one college–the College of the Ozarks in Missouri–whose graduates actually earned $133,000 less over 15 years than typical high school graduates!

Methodology

You may find this list interesting to use as a comparison tool, but you might wonder how each school earned their rank on the list. The methodology used was fairly straightforward:

  • For the college price portion, the study looked at total college cost (tuition, room and board, supplies, etc.) as well as how that cost might be reduced by typical amounts of grants-in-aid at each school. They multiplied that cost of attendance by the average number of years a 2010 graduate took to graduate from each school.
  • For the earnings portion of the ranking, PayScale used approximately 1,000 pay reports per school from alumni who graduated between 1981 and 2010.
  • Graduation rates for each school also came into play, as funds spent at a college from which a student did not graduate would decrease the average ROI for that school.

All in all, this study adds a nice twist on the traditional college ranking measures. This study provides a different frame of reference for college comparisons by analyzing, in hard dollars, the benefits of earning a college degree from various colleges. It sure sure beats just focusing on a college’s sticker price, doesn’t it?

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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22 Apr

Spring Cleaning your Spending: Save on Groceries

If you have a teenager, you’ve probably noticed that your refrigerator is more money-pit than food storage space. Groceries can disappear almost as fast as you bring them in–which is why it is so important to your budget that you save as much at the store cash register as you can.

Plan Ahead

Do you see dollar signs when you find half-eaten leftovers or spoiling produce tucked away in your fridge? One of the best ways to reduce food waste is to plan ahead. Meal planning will help you buy only what you need at the grocery store, because you’ll have your week of cooking already mapped out. It will also help you be sure that you use everything you buy–you can even plan a night for leftovers so you get the extra lasagna out of its Tupperware before its too late.

Planning with your local store’s sale flyer can also help trim grocery bills. Planning your meals around current sales instead of the whim of your family’s palate can really help lower the total on the cash register receipt. Eating in-season fruits and vegetables, which usually cost much less than out-of-season ones (think greenhouses or shipping costs from warmer or cooler climates) can also save you money.

Shop Less

Let’s face it: the more often we go to the store, the more chance we’ll fall prey to impulse buys (especially if you shop hungry–avoid that at all costs!), and those can add up fast.

Cutting back your shopping trips will help you stay within your budget and be more likely to try to use what you already have at home–and that helps cut out waste.

Join the Club

Most stores have free “club cards” that will automatically save you money on their specially marked items. The cards often keep track of your purchase preferences so that you are more likely to get useful coupons with your receipt.

Use Coupons and Sales Together

Using coupons for groceries is such a popular money-saving right now that dozens of useful “couponing” blogs have popped up all over the blogosphere. These sites teach their readers to do several things to help them pay much less than retail for groceries:

  • Watch the sales. Stores tend to operate on a 6 week cycle, with the lowest price of an item coming on sale about every 6 weeks. Many couponing websites will tell you when this is, or you can try to keep an eye out for yourself. Stock up on non-perishables or freezable items when they are at their lowest price.
  • “Stack” coupons. Most stores allow you to use several coupons for one item, as long as it isn’t the same exact coupon. For example, if you have a $1.00 cereal coupon and a $0.55 coupon for the same cereal, you may be able to “stack” them to save $1.55.
  • Combine coupons and sales. For the best price, you’ll want to use coupons on items that are already on sale.

Interested in learning more about coupons? Try this couponing tutorial at hip2save for some good starting points.

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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19 Apr

Spring Cleaning your Spending: Trim Your Fixed Bills

Last post I wrote about how to save on the little luxuries you choose to buy every month. In the second part of the trilogy on reducing everyday spending, I want to look at your fixed costs–things that you routinely pay for every month when the bill comes due. Obviously your electric bill or car loan payments are non-negotiable, but you may be able to lower the cost of services like cable, internet, home phone and cell phone coverage.


Ask for a Discount

It sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Yet many companies are willing to give you a discount on their services if you simply call and ask–just remember to be friendly, not aggressive, and lead off by telling them you’ve been pleased with their services, but that you’re concerned about your budget. Ask if there is anything they can do.

If they initially seem unwilling to change the rate, you can try one (or all) of these tactics. (Again, remember to remain friendly.)

  • If another similar company is having a sale or discount deal, have the competitor’s rates handy, and ask if your company can beat or at least match that price.
  • If you’ve been a customer for some time, ask if they have a loyalty discount.
  • Ask if there are any unadvertised deals going, or
  • Ask if they can offer you, an existing customer, a deal you saw advertised for new customers.

Don’t be intimidated by the process–just remind yourself that it never hurts to ask. The worst case scenario is you keep paying what you’re already paying, but the best: a few minutes on the phone could save you a bundle on your next year’s costs! (I used this tactic for our family and was able to save over $30 per month on our cable, phone and internet service package!)

Talk About (or Consider) Change

One of the best ways to get a discount is to talk to your service provider about closing your account. Quite frankly, they want your monthly payment to keep rolling in, and most companies will make an effort to keep you around. If your yearly contract is up (or if you don’t have one), you could add that you are considering a switch to a different company when you are having a phone call such as the one suggested above. Most companies will have you transferred to their customer retention department if you tell them you want to cancel your account–and they are usually pretty good about trying to help you work out a good deal.

Tips:
Make sure you’ve done your research on competitor prices so you can ask them to meet or beat that price (and in case you need to actually make a switch to save money).

Also, if you have a contract, be sure it is up before you close your account–many companies will charge you a hefty fee for canceling early.

Cut Down

If you can’t get a discount on what you already have, you can choose to cut a portion of your services to reduce your monthly costs.

For example, with a cable bill you could:

  • Switch to basic cable,
  • Cut out premium channels, or
  • Forgo a DVR or HD programming.

With a cell phone bill you could:

  • Lower your monthly minute allotment,
  • Lower or forgo texting (just be sure to inform your texting teens!), or
  • If you have a data plan, you could cut back or switch to a regular cell phone.

Tip:
If you decide to go this route, I suggest you call in rather than making changes online. Talking to a live person can often help you get an unadvertised plan (or discounts) you might not otherwise be able to get. Let your customer service rep know what you need out of your service, and ask for suggestions about how you can cut down your bill.

Happy saving, and stay tuned for more money-saving tips in the spring cleaning series!

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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30 Mar

Spring Cleaning your Spending: Becoming a Smart Spender

Starting to feel the pinch of those ever rising tuition fees? Springtime is the perfect time to clear the cobwebs off your budget and find new ways to fund your child’s college education!

Small changes can make a big difference, so in this springtime trilogy, I’ll be sharing a few easy ways you can trim your spending to free up more cash for college. Today we’re going to look at a few simple ways to save by being a smart spender.

You Don’t Have to “Go Without”

One of the hardest parts of convincing yourself to budget better is fighting the feeling of being deprived. Many parents feel they have to sacrifice the little luxuries they love just to keep their finances in line, but in reality, being a “smart spender” can help you maintain your funds to pay for college without forfeiting the things you enjoy the most.

Let’s assume you would like to try to cut your clothing expenditures, spend less on eating out, or shave what you shell out on movie tickets. You have two options to make this happen: you can either buy less (let’s all pout!), or you can look for ways to make your money go further. Read on for examples!

  • Eating Out. While you can save a lot by simply cooking for yourself, you can also look for ways to save on the retail price of a dine-out meal so you can still treat yourself to the fun of being served a delicious meal you didn’t have to make.
    • Restaurant.com is a website that offers you discounted gift certificates to local restaurants. At their regular price you can get a $25 gift certificate for $10, but you can save even more with online coupon codes–sometimes up to 80% where the same $25 gift certificate will cost you just $2! Just sign up at www.Restaurant.com and you will receive emails periodically when the discounts are being offered.
    • Get it to go (even if its not “fast food”). Most casual dining restaurants (like Chili’s, etc.) offer to-go options, too. Getting it to go not only lets you escape the noisy atmosphere but also helps you choose only what you want–you can’t get talked into coffee or dessert if you’ve already made your escape. And you save the tip too!
    • Entertainment Book is full of 2 for 1 deals on restaurants and other discounts on everything from groceries to movie tickets to travel. There is an Entertainment Book for many cities around the country. All the books are being sold for 50% off right now so you’ll likely make back the cost of the book the very first time you use it! Go to www.EntertainmentBook.com to order.
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  • Clothing. Brand name clothing has a certain appeal–aside from the label, brand name apparel often tends to be higher quality (so it lasts longer).
    • Outlets are a great source for brand name clothing, and larger chains such as the nationwide Tanger outlets often have sales and coupons on top of their low prices. Browse Outletbound.com for a list of outlets in your area, as well as the number of true factory outlet stores in each.
    • Discount retailers like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross offer name brand clothing for a fraction of the price. You may have to spend a little more time searching the racks, but in this case time really is money.
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  • Movies. Whether you want to hit the theaters or rent for the night, there’s always a way to save a dollar or two on a movie.
    • Prepay and get discount tickets through stores like Costco, which offers bulk quantities of tickets for large chains like Cinemark, Regal, and AMC theaters.
    • Go online for your rentals at sites like Netflix.com or Blockbuster.com and rent as many DVDs as you can watch and return for as low as $9.99 per month. Plus, view their “instant watch” movies and TV shows any time online.
    • Redbox has $1 per night rentals for new release DVDs. You can even sign up to be texted a coupon code for a free rental on the first Monday of each month (make sure you mark that you don’t want any other text messages from them, though!)

A little “thinking outside the box” can go a long way in helping you get the splurges in your life for less–all while freeing up more money for college. Stay tuned for more ways to spring clean your spending practices!

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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17 Mar

3 Steps to Making the (Right) College Choice

The arrival of college acceptance letters is right around the corner, and if you are like most parents of high school seniors, you probably expect to be significantly involved in your child’s college choice.

While it may be tempting to look immediately at the financial bottom line, it is important to keep in mind that choosing the college that best fits your student–even if it is a little more expensive upfront–could save you money in the long run. Students who choose a college without considering their social, emotional, and academic needs often end up changing schools, which can cost more time and money over the long haul.

Here are three key things you’ll want to do as you and your student discuss the final college decision:

1. Look at the Budget

According to a recent report by consulting firm Longmire and Company, 58% of parents feel that cost will have an impact on the decision about which college their child will attend–so it is more than likely you have already been looking at the potential net cost of each school.

However, it is important to look at the big picture when it comes to determining the real cost of attendance at each school. For example, though the tuition at a public school may initially seem more affordable, some private schools offer financial aid packages that make the cost of attendance nearly equal to a state school. Consider not only school, federal and state aid, but also any savings you have, private scholarships your child has won, and your student’s expected contribution.

2. Make a List

Choosing a school based solely on cost–or on a gut instinct–can be frustrating, and doesn’t always lead to the best possible decision. For this reason, I always suggest that my client families consider all of the following categories when it comes time to make the final college choicel:

  • Academic Rigor
  • Teaching Style
  • Campus Culture
  • Location
  • Size
  • Athletic Program
  • Talent Program(s)
  • Special Programs
  • Co-Op Programs
  • Job Placement
  • Religion
  • Attrition
  • Student/Faculty Ratio
  • Safety
  • Students
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Weather

Your child should make a list of ideals for each of these items, and then compare that list with the information you find (or, better yet, experience in person) about each college still under consideration. This will give you a great start when it comes time to narrow down the options.

3. Make College Visits, and Review Your Notes

If you haven’t yet taken the opportunity to visit the top choices on your student’s list, now may be the time. I encourage my clients and their students to see and experience these campuses because an in-person visit can provide a viewpoint that a glossy brochure or snazzy website can’t such as what the students are like, what the general “feel” or attitude on campus is like, the types of facilities that are available for student use, etc. Be sure you take notes on the 18 items listed above, and write down any other information you feel may help you and your child make an educated selection so you can compare schools objectively.

Once you’ve seen the sights, review your notes and discuss your impressions together. Talk to your student about the kind of experience you feel would be available at each college, and encourage your student to try to make an objective decision about which school would honestly be the best fit. And don’t forget to make sure the budgetary limitations are taken into account too!

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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14 Mar

5 Ways to Make Your College Visits Count

With college in session and senior year still building to that final climax of AP tests, senior prom, and graduation, spring is the ideal time to do college visits with your child. Getting a first-hand look at the school and experiencing campus life while students are on campus will help you both make informed decisions when college acceptances start arriving.

To get you started, I want to share with you 5 easy ways to make sure you get the most out of your college visit experience. (And if you aren’t sure a full schedule of visits is possible, read up on how to make college visits in a tough economy.)

1. Know What You (and Your Student) Want

The thrill of senior year often means that students fall in love with a certain college without knowing much more about it than its prestigious name or exciting location. Before you spend money on visiting a particular college, you and your student should discuss what he or she really wants, needs, and expects out of his or her college years so you can be sure sufficient research has been done ensure that the only colleges that are still under consideration match that all-important wish list.

After all, choosing the right school the first time can save you both quite a bit of time and money!

2. Take a Tour, Make a Tour

Campus tours can be a wonderful opportunity for you and your child, so schedule one into your time table. You’ll get to see the school’s highlights and your child will most likely have an opportunity to speak with the student leading the tour. You also gain the benefit of questions asked by others in your tour group. (Keep in mind, though, that sometimes the student leading the tour is not someone your child relates to. Remind your child that their opinion of one student should not influence his or her overall opinion of the school.)

That said, don’t limit yourself to the basic tour–make your own, as well. Take time to walk the grounds, visit campus hot spots, speak to current students and, if possible, speak to someone in the Admissions and Financial Aid offices, walk through the library and eat at the cafeteria. A more thorough exploration of the campus will help you and your child get a feeling of what day-to-day life there is like and also get a sense of the campus “vibe”.

3. Go to Class

Many schools will allow your child to sit in on a class during your visit. This gives your student a taste of the college’s academic rigor and will help your student mentally prepare for the differences between college courses and high school classes. Contact the admissions office before your visit to see if this opportunity is available.

4. Put Faces to Names

While you’re on campus, take advantage of the opportunity to get some face-time with the people your student will interact with most. You may wish to schedule time with an academic advisor to help your child decode the course requirements, a department head of your child’s intended major, an influential coach who your child hopes to play for, or any number of other “VIPs.”

5. Have Fun, and Listen

Let’s face it–as exciting as this time is, it also heralds the departure of your child from the proverbial “nest.” Take advantage of this one-on-one time with your student while you have the chance and have some fun together!

This is also an important time for you to focus on listening. Try to withhold your judgment of a particular school until you know how your child feels about it. I suggest holding off sharing your opinion until you are asked. Ideally your child should make his or her own final college choice (within the parameters you’ve set) because your child is the one that has to live and learn there. This will likely be the biggest decision your child has ever made, and with some guidance, can take ownership of that decision – which can be a motivator for working on creating a successful college experience.

The next four years hold big changes for both of you, so you’ll want to be certain your child’s future college choice is one you can both get excited about.

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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