published Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Dads2Dads: Give teen final say in college choice

Tom Tozer and Bill Black

With the arrival of spring flowers and warmer weather comes decision time for high school seniors considering college and their parents. It's college acceptance time.

Where will your child go to college? How do you help make the decision? How do you keep things relatively calm during what can be a very trying period of time?

There's the selection of schools where your child will send application letters. There is the waiting for acceptance. Now there is the decision on where your son or daughter will attend school. Will it be far away? Close to home? Public? Private? Large? Small?

It's a big decision often fraught with tension. How can you make it a bit easier?

The decision on where your child will go to college will include a consideration of academic opportunities and his or her confidence and ability to succeed. Finances are near the top of the list. Out-of-state schools require a much higher commitment than in-state. What can your family afford, and which schools give the best financial aid packages? What about the additional costs of housing, food and other expenses?

Transportation may be another monetary issue, depending on the distance between home and college. How will your child get to school and back home during breaks? What costs will be involved?

Other factors will include the campus and town environment as well as the size of the college and typical classes. What about the social activities offered -- the support structure for new students -- and the extracurricular activities? What housing options exist? What is the overall reputation of the institution?

It can all seem overwhelming.

Remember, your son or daughter should play a major part in the college-selection decision. It isn't about that school you wish you'd gone to so long ago. It's not about your fear of how far away she might be. It isn't about your desire for him to enter your line of work and take over the family business someday. Make it about your teen, not about you.

Work with your child to make a list of pluses and minuses for each school being considered. What appeals? What is a drawback? Be realistic about how much your family can afford to spend on tuition, housing, food and other expenses. Why did your child initially apply, and how does he or she feel now?

Communicate honestly, listen and try to be supportive. This decision will impact your teen's future. How you arrive at that decision will be an important step in your child's journey to effective decision-making, good communication and a feeling of being supported. You can help make this a positive experience that will go a long way toward future success.

Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of the new book "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.

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