In choosing the right college you need to consider what your priorities are. Make a list of your priorities and rate their order of importance. Consider the types of colleges in terms of what degree is desired. Consider the location of the college and the advantages or disadvantages of its location. Consider its academic and student life factors. Dr. Brock’s priorities may not be yours, but they should get you thinking about the things you need to consider when making this choice. The effects of college are life-long and trans-generational. A college needs to equip a student in knowledge, skills, and values.
Brock expounds upon several priorities in choosing a college. He suggests that as you sit down as parent and student to establish priorities that you seek wisdom from God in prayer together.
1. “Get the student’s commitment to getting a good education.” (Is he prepared to be a life-long learner? Is he equipping for God’s calling in work and ministry? Is he ready for independent living and thinking?)
2. Get the student’s commitment to knowing and finding the right peer group at whichever college is chosen. She should be encouraged to choose people like herself, people who hold similar religious convictions, people with a broad world view, international students, other TCKs.
3. “Identify Colleges that have a strong sense of community and a 24/7 residential learning environment.” Perhaps you are considering a small student/teacher ratio for good mentorship. Are you looking for positive dorm life (same gender, no alcohol)? Do you want your student to be required to live at least 1 year on campus?
4. “Identify schools that will help the student be able to do more than make a living and that will help the student develop a deeper sense of meaning and purpose.” Are the teachers reliable mentors? Does the curriculum teach absolutes? Does it teach truth? Does it show a variety of views, but provide a solid foundation?
5. “Identify colleges that will have a student body that will challenge but not overwhelm the student.” Do you thrive in large groups or prefer smaller numbers? Are there plenty of students with similar SAT scores? Are there students that will have similar interests or backgrounds?
6. “Identify colleges that have academic programs that meet the student’s interest.” Keep in mind most students change their majors several time. Be sure there is a wide range of majors to choose from.
7. “Identify a range of schools in terms of cost, prestige, and selectivity.” Choose some above your cost or educational ability as well as ones you are certain about.
8. “Identify schools by region of the country or type of campus (urban or rural).” Begin calling colleges that interest you and asking them for information.
Brock recommends choosing several colleges to visit during your junior year of high school. Actually sit in classes when you visit, if you are able to do this. Tell the college what you want to see so they can arrange it. Meet with certain professors in your field of interest. By fall of your senior year, know which schools you want to apply to. Apply by January 1st. Most have an application fee, so choose 2 or 3 to apply to. Revisit the two universities you have applied to and arrange to stay overnight in the dorm if possible. Thursday night through Sunday noon is a good plan. Visit 2-3 classes on Friday and a local church on Sunday. Ask the school to provide meal tickets for the visit. When you make your application, you can also apply for financial aid. There are three types: need based, merit based (geographic, academic, leadership, diversity), and federal grants.
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