Karen Lee Mah
Ask go! educational consulting
Updated: May 8
Q: My son/daughter finally committed to their college choice for the fall, but now just received notice they are off the waitlist for another college. What do I do? How do I choose?
A: With many schools being test optional, colleges are still figuring out their yields, hence we are seeing more students getting off the waitlist and earlier. We are seeing a bit of a “dance” between schools filling their seats and students’ decisions - more options produce more confusion and parents need help!
Although some families may make this decision based on finances (i.e. that state school acceptance just came in vs. a private college), others may decide on the closest school to their home (considering proximity and transportation cost). Cost aside, here are the main points you should consider based on the education you want your child to receive.
Next to buying a home, this will be the largest investment you will make. (For example in CA - for four years, you would be paying a total of $160K for a University of California state school to $365K for a private school). Therefore, it is important to choose the school with the best program for your student’s major.
Take a deep, deep dive into the programs. Check out the courses, research the professors. Go down that rabbit hole on the website. Talk to friends and families that have been to the universities you are considering, especially those that are or were in the particular college of your major.
Look into the career fairs and which companies have an eye on that college/university to offer internships and jobs. Top firms recognize the individual programs of particular colleges. This is also where location matters. If the school is in a major city or near one - recruiters will come.
At the end of the day, you are choosing a college so your student will have career/job opportunities. Remember, since college is a huge investment, you should always keep your ROI in mind. Do not forget this bigger picture! Some parents get caught up in the rankings or prestige of a school, and forget "why" they are making this huge investment. It is about your child and their career aspirations and not about your Facebook post.
If your student is into sports, what Division is the school? How strong are their intramural sports? Whether soccer, lacrosse, or football - look into their teams.
Same with the arts - was your child into theatre? Band or music? Visual or graphic art? If they are interested in continuing, what are the college’s programs like?
What about other activities such as Model UN, school newspaper, etc.?
If your child wants to continue their activity from high school to college, consider their programs as a determinant. Or does the school offer programs in your child’s interests and they would like to try something new? Then check out their clubs and offerings... Remember, activities will play a big part of their college experience!
3. Other Considerations
Then consider location, size of school, graduation rates (you want your child to graduate in 4 years), dorms/housing and food, counseling/mental health support, safety, etc.
Also, if your child has an IEP or 504, it is extremely important to look into academic student support as a major consideration for your child.
In your decision, have it be what’s right for your family. We don’t “rank” restaurants and it's time we stop ranking colleges and accept the fact they are all different. One has to put in the hard work of considering schools that fit their unique student; the best environment providing the best education for their child to thrive.