When it comes to the final college decision, many parents are under the impression that they may be forced to choose between their student’s happiness and their family’s ability to afford the cost of attendance. We know that this doesn’t have to be an either/or choice: there are plenty of financially sound schools where your student will shine, no matter their interests or goals. It’s a matter of identifying which schools are the best options.

Curating a list of potential schools for your student is the first and most important step in the college application process. IECs work with students and families simultaneously to develop this list, following
these steps:

1. Determine your family’s financial parameters.

We want to make sure that your student’s education will not negatively impact your cash flow or retirement—with the cost of college rising each year, it is important to carefully plan ahead and consider the complete financial picture during your student’s college career. By setting a realistic budget for the cost of college, we are able to filter out certain schools from your student’s final list and avoid disappointment or frustration further down the line. We also prioritize schools where your student is most likely to receive larger merit scholarships based on their position within the applicant pool.

2. Find your student’s personal fit.

Through questionnaires, personality assessments, and honest dialogue, our specialists help students determine the “personal fit” element of the college search. Our goal is to provide students with the means to articulate their own environmental preferences, potential degree programs, and general goals for the future. We develop an understanding of their learning style and how that will be impacted by class size and student-to-teacher ratio. With this information we formulate a list of schools where the student will thrive as an individual and as a member of their college community. Students continue to grow and change their minds during this process, so we make sure that the “personal fit” parameters remain up-to-date throughout.

3. Explore academic offerings.

Our advisors help students examine their academic strengths and interests by looking at their grades, curriculum choices and test scores, as well as their favorite subjects. It is important to be challenged but not overwhelmed and to remain open to the possibility of new fields of study—ones that your student may not have even considered before! Our expectation is that students will keep their grades and other applicant profile factors consistent.

Ultimately, students should focus on colleges that want them to attend, meaning schools where they will fall closer to the top of the projected candidate pool based on a holistic view of their application. This includes a range of factors from standardized test scores to extracurricular activities like sports. With the CAP Index software, we identify the schools where your student will be a stand-out applicant and therefore more likely to be accepted and receive scholarships.

Every parent wants their student to be happy. How you personally define success as a family will help us set goals to achieve your desired outcome. Together, all stakeholders—parents, students, school counselors, and SFC advisors—do their part to determine and maintain each student’s college list criteria through clear, consistent communication. Parents should notify the advisor if there is a change in their financial situation and students should do the same for their own academic performance.

By the end of this process, students will have a list of colleges where they will be at the top of the applicant pool. These schools will match the student’s personal and academic preferences and provide merit awards that fall comfortably within the family’s financial boundaries. And, if college cost is of no concern to you, just let us know. We can eliminate that from the discussion.