I still say that selecting a college is a whole lot like shopping for a car. In the beginning, there are shiny cars beckoning to us from showrooms. However, when we come down to earth and compare mileage, maintenance and options along with price tag, we agree on a model that meets our needs as opposed to models that are popular.
Car buyers and college buyers should really look at price tags early in the decision process. When college buyers don't do that, they take the risk that they will mislead their teen and have them fall in love with the shiniest and most expensive college rather than the one that fits them best.
Let's admit that lots of colleges will fit our teen and that choosing the highest cost college with a tendency to award little to no merit money has consequences that can last the rest of our lives. Further, lets set a budget for college costs and let our teens know what it is. That will be a gift that will allow them to know which colleges are within budget and be aware of the ones that should be avoided-unless they are generous with scholarships for which the student qualifies. Even better, it will allow for better family harmony during the process!