How to Choose the Right College

College GO! Week (Sept. 20-24) is an annual, statewide event that promotes enrollment in two- and four-year colleges across Indiana. Learn More Indiana has resources to benefits students in grades K-12  on their website, at this link. As part of the week, focus will be put on the 21st Century Scholars Program and college admissions, as several Indiana colleges/universities have waived application fees during College GO! Week (Sept. 20-24).

Are you helping your child explore their options for college or post-graduation life?

At Options Schools, we want to do our part in assisting you and your child in understanding how to choose the right college. We understand how high schoolers can easily brush this type of discussion off ‒ but parents can also be quick to dismiss intimidating conversations about college and their children’s futures.

To help you and your student understand how to choose the right college, we’ve compiled a list of 7 common parent questions. If you need further assistance during the college admissions process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

7 Questions Parents Should Ask During College Admissions

1. What are your child’s interests?

Whether they’re interested in business, science, or the arts, a student’s interests can pave the way to their college choice, career, and future endeavors.

Which subjects does your child excel at, and what are their strong skills? What types of activities do they participate in outside of school?

Acknowledge both your child’s interests and skills and the relationship between them. Students are more likely to thrive at the college level when they’re pursuing subjects that both interest and come easy to them.

Not sure how to choose the right college based on your child’s skills and interests? We’re happy to help your student explore all of their field and career possibilities!

2. What are the costs of in-state vs. out-of-state college tuition?

From community colleges to private universities, there are endless choices in higher education. With these choices come a series of stark differences in tuition costs.

State school tuition costs significantly less for Indiana residents than private schools or out-of-state tuition. Between 2020 and 2021, the average cost of in-state tuition in Indiana was $8,500 – compared to a whopping near $22,000 for out-of-state tuition.

Where do your finances stand, and are you in a position to assist your child with paying for tuition? Does your child plan to live at home, work, and commute to college, or do they want the room-and-board experience?

Talk to your child about student loans and how long they will be paying them off years down the line. If they’re ready to attend a private university or an out-of-state college, there are other options to help them finance tuition, in addition to loans.

3. Does class size matter to your student?

Class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios differentiate vastly between community and state colleges and universities. Class sizes can also fluctuate depending on the subject and discipline level.

If you’re wondering how to choose the right college, identify your students strengths and weaknesses. Would they perform better in a smaller classroom with fewer students and more individualized teacher attention? Do they have the independence and self-study skills to perform well in large classes with 200+ students and less student-to-teacher interaction?

Keep in mind that the size of the school will play a significant role in tuition costs. Larger schools, where larger classes are more common, tend to have higher tuition.

4. Can your student take advantage of scholarships & grants?

Many families are under the impression that scholarships and grants do not apply to them. Sometimes, families don’t even know they exist!

The Indiana Choice Scholarship Program is an excellent place to start! This state-sponsored program can offset tuition costs for students who meet household income and student eligibility requirements.

With further research, you and your student can explore all other types of scholarships and grants out there. There are sports scholarships, federal and state grants, essay scholarships, employer-sponsored scholars, and so much more. If you’re wondering how to choose the right college based on financial assistance, Options can help!

5. Are there flexible scheduling options & on-campus support services?

Many of our students struggle with anxiety and scheduling constraints and often perform better online or at certain times of the day.

Does the college offer flexible class times and scheduling options? Are there online classes available, in addition to in-person? Are counseling and on-campus support services available?

In a perfect world, the same amenities that we offer at Options Charter Schools would be available at colleges and universities. Making sure your child has adequate access to the support they need will make the transition from high school to college go more smoothly.

If your student opts for virtual learning in college, help them to maintain a balanced and flexible virtual learning schedule.

6. What extracurricular activities & internships are available?

Parents trying to help their children understand how to choose the right college should take extracurricular activities into account. Maintaining a healthy school-life balance is essential to every student’s success.

We strongly encourage students and families to take a close look at the types of clubs and activities offered at colleges so students can get a fully immersive and well-rounded college experience.

Internships and work studies are also an excellent way for any college student to get a leg up before they graduate from college. When looking for schools, make sure that the college places value on getting their students ready for the real world. The location of the school will also determine the availability of internships.

7. What are your child’s options besides college?

If higher education doesn’t interest your child, they still have many career options!

The market for jobs has changed dramatically in the past several decades. The demand for trades has gone up, and the pay for skilled electricians, plumbers, and other jobs can be very attractive for a long-term career.

Understanding How to Choose the Right College

Many young adults don’t know what they want to do or pursue after high school. These questions can help your child choose the right college and navigate the path to their future.

At Options Charter Schools, we will stand behind each student that has attended. The relationship we keep with our students and their families does not stop once they graduate from high school. If you or your child have any other questions about how to choose the right college, please contact us.