If you’ve got a senior at home, there’s probably nothing more exhilarating for him right now than opening those letters (or those emails) from colleges and reading the word “Congratulations!”
May 1 is National College Decision Day, which is the deadline for students to make their choice as to which college they’ll attend and to send in their deposit. (Although, many students do this much sooner.)
So, after your teen receives acceptance letters, what’s next?
Keep that GPA up.
Teenagers tend to think that once they’re accepted to college it means they’ve been given permission to slack off. Not so.
Many colleges offer students admissions with the contingency that they maintain their GPA for rest of senior year. Schools who base merit aid on grades can also retract it. It would be a bummer to lose out on scholarships.
Make sure your teen understands the ramifications of sinking grades, and that he concentrates on doing well for the rest of senior year.
Compare financial awards.
Paying for college should definitely play a part in your teen’s decision making. Many times determining which college to attend comes down to which school is offering the best deal.
Download my Financial Aid Worksheet to compare college fees and aid awards side-by-side.
Use the Compare Schools tool, developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to determine which financial aid offer is best.
Even if you’d visited before, it’s an excellent idea for your teen to take another look when trying to determine which school is the best fit.
Signing up for admissions events held by the colleges for accepted students is the best way to go, and make sure they know your teen is there. Bigger financial awards are sometimes offered to those students who show interest in a college in this way.
Dig in a little deeper this time by visiting with admissions counselors to get any lingering questions answered. Visit the career center, too, to find out which companies are hiring graduates from each college, and learn more about the resources available to ensure a great career after graduation.
Talk with current and former students.
While your teen’s on campus, encourage him to talk to students who are attending to get the low-down on the good, bad and ugly of attending the school. Asking questions like, “What do you love most about this school? What do you wish was different?” will help him to uncover details he can’t read in a brochure.
If your teen has friends or family that have attended any of the schools, have him reach out to them to learn more about what to expect there.
Facebook and Twitter are also excellent resources to find out what students are talking about.
Learn how well graduates are doing.
The goal of attending college is, of course, to enter into a great career upon graduating. Your teen can find their schools on College Scorecard to see exactly what folks are doing after college.
Take a look at average student debt, graduation rates and earnings for each school your teen’s accepted to.
Respond to colleges.
Once your teen’s made his choice, the next step is to actually accept the offer to the college of his choice. He should log on to the school’s student portal (instructions to do this come with or close behind acceptance letters) and accept the offer of admission and any financial aid offers.
Note the deadlines for submitting a deposit to the school, and meet them. Keep track of deadlines for student and parent loans you’re interested in securing, too, so that those funds can be released to the school.
Your teen should be aware of any other items the college asks for and submits everything within their deadlines. This is a big deal, so be sure you’re overseeing things, Mom!
Likewise, your teen should respond to the colleges that he’s not interested in attending. That’ll allow them to open up spots for other students who are interested.
Let’s continue the conversation! Leave a comment below.