Choosing a college can be fun but also stressful. The fun is the adventure of considering all of the possibilities and the excitement about new experiences.
The stress starts with the fact that teens are conflicted about their level of responsibility in the process and under stress related to the tremendous life change that it represents. The stress level of their parents adds to their stress. Parents want the choice to be the best for the student and...one they can afford. Parents are also facing stress about the tremendous life change that college represents for them.
There is no way to eliminate college choice stress but there are ways to significantly reduce it. Helping teens determine their major and what they are looking for in a college is a great way to start. Money should also be discussed at the beginning of the college choice process. Teens should be aware of the amount of money family can contribute or would be willing to borrow to help with costs. An understanding of what financial aid they can expect from colleges is also helpful for students and parents to have.
Armed with a shopping list that includes potential majors and other things they are looking for in a college as well as their budget will help students and parents feel more grounded in the process. Setting up a timeline for visits to prospective colleges and a work schedule for tasks that must be accomplished can also help a family feel more confident about having the college process under control.