What Do You Need to Consider When Choosing a College /University?

What Do You Need to Consider When Choosing a College /University?

When it comes to choosing a higher education course, it can be a complex space to navigate. We want to make moral choices regarding universities and college options. We hope that our choices will lead to increased opportunities in the short and long term future. Yet, with so many different options available, making a final decision can be a challenge.

Parents will always want the very best for their kids—no matter what age they reach! They want to know that their kids will be able to thrive (and survive) in supportive environments. Beyond the basics of getting a good education, they also want to know that they are getting good value for money. College certainly doesn’t come cheap, after all.

So—what do parents need to consider regarding college and university choices?

The ultimate purpose of a university or college education goes beyond essential academics. The quality of an educational course is important, of course. But there are opportunities for personal growth and development that reach beyond auditoriums, classrooms and seminar spaces. There need to be opportunities for young people to evolve in every area of their lives.

When viewing a new college or university, try asking yourself the following questions:

“Will this academic organization recognize the skills/interests of my child during their time here?”

“How many hours of study does this course currently offer—and is this good value for money?”

“Are there opportunities for the students of this course to undergo work experience?”

“How much personal support does this university/college offer their students regularly?”

“What are the potential benefits of this course beyond the standard accolade or qualification?”

“How much mental health support is available throughout the duration of the course?”

These are the kinds of questions that can open up a more holistic perspective of what a college or university might be able to offer. You might want to put these questions forward to staff members within the academic department you are considering.

Do not feel afraid to ask your college tour guide or any of the teaching staff for very similar lines of enquiry. After all, this is a significant commitment of both time and money. The right school will never have a problem offering the correct information to potential future students and their parents.

What about living costs and lifestyle considerations?

Every country has a slightly different system regarding tuition fees. For example, the United Kingdom has a standard charge for full and part-time study. This remains the same regardless of the institution. In other countries, such as the United States, the course fees will vary depending on the academic school and the prices they individually choose to set.

Beyond academic fees, there are also other costs to consider. These include:

Travel and transport.  How will your child get to college each day? Further to this, are there flight costs to consider if they plan to study elsewhere than their home country? These expenses all need to be factored in before study commences.

Course materials.  Some courses may require their students to purchase several (often expensive) textbooks and other relevant study materials. Check with each school and look into second-hand options that could cut costs significantly.

Food and drink.  From basic weekly groceries to social events involving ordering food and drinks, how much do you predict your child will need based on their dietary requirements, interests, and social habits? Every expenditure needs to be considered.

Insurance. You may want to take out medical insurance (especially for studies abroad or in the USA specifically) and any other cover that might affect the student’s life. Car insurance is also a factor if a student plans to take their vehicle with them to college.

Accommodation. This is one of the most significant spends for students. They may choose to board within a university-provided room. Or they may seek out privately rented accommodation for themselves. Check what’s included within both options to ensure the best possible deal.

International Fees. If your child is planning to study in a different country to their home country, they may face higher fees. This will vary from institution to institution, so it’s worth checking in with the schools you have an interest in.

Okay, let’s talk student budgeting—how can parents help?

The help that parents can offer their children when they head off to college is not limited to finances alone. You may want to encourage your child to be as independent as possible. Or you might not be in a financial position that allows for significant economic support. One of the most helpful ways you can help your aspirational offspring is to teach them how to stick to a budget.

Learning how to design a financial plan and stick to it is essential for adulthood. When we take robust control of our financial situation, we can enhance our quality of living. We reduce the potential for stress that debt and messy finances can create. We also take empowering hold of our professional journey as we progress forwards.

How else can parents support their children during their college years?

It’s a great idea to set up a basic finance tracker app on your child’s smartphone before they head off for college. Teach them how to divide up their income and outgoings efficiently. Support them without judgement as they get to grips with their cash flow. Remind them also that you’ll be there to guide if student life becomes overwhelming.

Hiring a financial adviser is a great way to get your child set up for success. Speak to a trained expert who can recommend the best bank accounts, financial management apps, and saving strategies for students. Access the resources that only a qualified professional can offer you and your family. Doing so could save you a great deal of both stress and money later down the line!


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