In this message, Judy Moseman gives advice on how to prioritize and narrow down your college choices.
Q: I'm having a disagreement with my parents. My older brother was really focused on the Christian college he chose. After he went on his first and only campus visit, he knew that was where he wanted to go. He applied early, got in and that was that. I'm a little different—I'm not totally sure what I want in a school just yet, and I want to visit and apply to several schools. Plus, I'm not quite as strong a student as my brother is, so I probably need to apply to more than one school. But my parents don't seem to understand that I'm not my brother. They aren't that excited about helping me arrange campus visits or helping me pay application fees. I feel like they wish I'd just go to the school my brother chose. How can I help them understand that my way of searching is actually pretty normal? How can I get them to be involved with my search?
A: Helping your parents understand your concerns will require some energy and effort, but I believe you can do it. Hearing you talk about visiting and applying to several schools may have made your parents feel nervous or overwhelmed. In addition to the fact that they didn't need to do that with your brother, they may also be thinking of the time and money the applications and visits will involve. Talking to them about the reasons they seem so reluctant to get involved with your search may help you to see things from their point of view.
You say you'd like to visit several schools. "Several" may seem like too many to your parents. Cut down your list to a few top favorites by doing some research online and by poring over admissions brochures and catalogues. Get enough information to figure out which schools you're just interested in, and which ones you'd really like to learn more about. Focus on these few, and do some research about possible visit dates, application fees, and the cost of visiting each school. Then, ask your parents to sit down with you so you can discuss these schools with them. Hopefully, they'll be impressed when you share your careful research and decision-making process. They may also be relieved at the time and money you are saving them by considerably narrowing your choices.
Encourage them to visit the remaining schools with you. That gives you an opportunity to highlight what you like about each of these schools. Share stories about how your friends are going through similar processes so your parents can see you're not asking for anything out of the ordinary. Offer to pay for one of the visits or for some of the application fees. That would show your commitment to this process, too. Also, if your parents ask you to, be willing to take a closer look at your brother's college as well. That way, you can offer them the respect and consideration you're hoping for in return.
Most of all, invite your parents to pray with you for God's direction as you make this important decision. I hope you will find the right school.
Written by Judy Moseman