Top 5 Factors in College Selection

 I’m beginning to feel like a pro when it comes to helping my kids pick a school. In my recent post “Making the Most of your Empty Nest Years”, I explained my son Jack was undecided on his college choice. Albion College? Belmont University in Nashville? Well, in late-breaking news from the Wyman house: Jack picked a school (though it wasn’t televised like some high school athletes these days…really!). Jack decided that Albion College is the best fit for him at this time.  Go BritonsJ!!!

After working with many families over the last 23 years and now seeing my own two kids go through the “college selection” process, I’ve developed a few factors in determining the best college for you/your child.

My top 5 factors in determining the best college for you/your child:

  1. School Size: My oldest son, Matt, knew he wanted to be at a large school (20k+) and Jack thought he might like a smaller school (under 10k).
  2. Location: Live at home or break free to the opposite coast? Matt wanted to be as far away from his parents (no offense taken Matt) as possible. Matt visited Colorado, West Virginia, and Kansas. Jack was more neutral on location but did visit both campuses (as well as others) to get a "feel" for what the campus environment was like.
  3. Majors: Some kids know exactly what they want to study as they leave high school; however, many do not (hey, they are 17-18 years old). I know of a fella that was a political science major and guess what class he dropped first semester freshman year? If your child is a bit unsure about their major, perhaps a college or university with a large ofering is best.
  4. Sports/Extracurricular: Both our kids will be playing a varsity sport next year, but neither selected their choice on athletics or other extracurricular activities alone - they are part of the package.
  5. Cost: Let's not beat around the bush - there is a financial component to the process. College is expensive! However, it is important not to make a decision based on the published costs of attendance. In Jack's case both Albion and Belmont reduced the "sticker" price and, in the end, the costs were similar.

We found the college “hunting” experience enjoyable.  It provide my wife Jen and me an opportunity to lock the kids in the car (or plane) and force them to talk to us and the boys got to check out their potential four-year home. Enjoy the hunt!

Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD is the Managing Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and is a frequent contributor to national media including appearances on Good Morning America Weekend Edition and WDIV Channel 4 News and published articles including Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. A leader in his profession, Tim served on the National Board of Directors for the 28,000 member Financial Planning Association™ (FPA®), trained and mentored hundreds of CFP® practitioners and is a frequent speaker to organizations and businesses on various financial planning topics.

Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. C14-024133