Searching for the Right College

“Time Flies.  It’s up to you to be the navigator.”    Robert Orben

 

All of a sudden your child is in high school and the realization begins to set in that college is pending.  How did you get to this point and how are you to navigate the many questions on planning and preparing for college?

The issue of saving for college has been discussed before and hopefully the savings have accumulated.  But there are many issues that should be addressed as you start to explore where your child should apply before making this major decision.

When looking for schools, it is best not to limit your options.  Most people focus their attention on the elite schools, but there are many excellent schools worth exploring and there are many resources which can guide you on your search.

Here are a few online options:

College Board (collegeboard.org):  One of the most popular websites offers many tools to help determine the likely of receiving grants and scholarships.  Just input the school name, click on its Paying link and Financial Aid by the Numbers link.  Among the figures are the average need-based grant and the average merit scholarship (non-need-based aid) that the school offers.  This tool is very helpful as the costs of tuition and room and board keep rising.

College Scorecard (collegescorecard.ed.gov):  This federal online tool gives you access to the U.S. Department of Education’s large database.  You can research individual schools and generate lists based on academic majors, location, types of schools and alumni salaries.

Niche (niche.com): This online site provides an array of information on any college or university.  Just type in the school and read reviews that are broken up into such categories as academics, campus, athletics, Greek Life, food and safety.

Peterson’s College Search (petersons.com/college search.com):  Search colleges by specific major.  The site will allow you to narrow your search by those majors that you are interested in pursuing.  The database gives you information on cost, location, difficulty of admission and much more.

Cappex (cappex.com):  This site is great for comparing schools, calculating admission chances, calculating financial aid and just figuring out if a school is a good match.  You will be asked to create a profile and the site will figure out what might be some good options for you.  It also includes student reviews and gives information on how to set up a college visit.

Zinch  (Zinch has been acquired by chegg.com):  This site can be very helpful since it allows you to keep a running list of matches once you set up a profile.  In addition, the site has a scholarship section which provides some options based on the information that you provided on your profile.

These are just a few sites that may help you and your child decide where to apply.  Keep focused and try to enjoy the process!!

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About Maureen Crimmins

Maureen Crimmins is co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management and a fee-only independent financial advisor. Have a financial question? ASK MAUREEN

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