When we look at most consumer products, we look at prices very early in our deliberation process. Both adults and teens do this. However, when looking at colleges, our emotions over-ride our good sense. Colleges, like cars and other products, have different levels of prestige, social status, building attractiveness and extra options like upscale living options, fancy fitness centers and other things that have nothing to do with academic quality.
Because we equate college quality and career success, we often throw caution out the window when considering colleges. People are afraid that if they are good consumers, their child will somehow lose out. This is not true.
Being a good consumer in college choice is a teachable moment for the parent and student. Generally graduate schools and employers care more about what the student achieves in college more than where. The best college fit is a college where the student will be academically comfortable and where parents will be financially comfortable.
Saving money on college costs begins at college selection. Colleges have reputations for being generous or not. Matching student achievement with colleges helps enhance student chances of winning scholarships.