Helping Your Child Choose A College

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As we prepare our children to leave home and head towards adult hood, one of the big decisions will counsel them in is choosing a college (eek!) This task can seem monumental and complicated, but keeping these tips in mind will help you wisely navigate the process with success, and by faith!

With the girl, it was a planned date around an Applebee’s table, at the beginning of her junior year. Notebooks out. Serious discussion. With the boy, it was, “College? Isn’t that in the future? Why would I think about that today?”

Different personalities equal completely different experiences when it comes to helping our kids think about life after high school, but below I have listed some questions to help you make that huge decision.

Questions to Ask When Choosing A College

What Does God Want for My Kid? Pray your way into this decision. Teach your child how to move forward in decisions while listening carefully to the Lord.

What has God shaped your child to do in this world? Hopefully you’ve been a good student of your child over the years, and you can speak valuable words about what you think God has been shaping him to do. 

In what working environment does your child thrive in? Artistic? Hands-on or ideas? Social or working alone? Entrepreneurial? Inside or outside? Desk or moving around? Helping or leading?

What route best fits your child? Academic? Vocational? Military?

What college degree is best going to equip your child? 

How will this degree pay his mortgage someday?

For girls: Career driven or homemaker? What degree might allow her to work from home down the road?

If undecided, what major could your child start with that would be a practical first choice? In the first year of school, he can change his major fairly easily, so he doesn’t have to be paralyzed by not knowing where to begin.

What schools do you know about already –private and public? What have you heard about these schools, from people you trust? Don’t try to choose from every school that exists. List maybe your community college and state schools, as well as a few private schools of good repute. Plan to visit these schools during your student’s junior year, if you can. Being on campus can swing your decision in a surprising way.

What kind of student is my child? A poor student maybe should begin with a less expensive investment at a community college. This child probably won’t be getting scholarship help. An excellent student could go anywhere, and the possibility of scholarships grows.

Should my child start at a community college and then transfer? The advantage to this is cost. A disadvantage is that usually some of the classes won’t transfer, which means a loss. Weigh the risk.

What does this individual child need? Close to home? Get away from home? Our very shy daughter knew she needed to leave our town and stretch herself, so she went to a state school that was too far for her to come home every weekend but close enough that she could come home sometimes. It was a good choice for her. Our son is adventurous and is attending school five states away. It was a good choice for him.

How do we feel about our child taking on debt for school? My husband and I argued about this. He saw a reasonable debt as a worthy investment. I saw it as financial enslavement for years to come. We had to talk about this with our kids and help them make the ultimate decision. 

Don’t rule out private schools because of money. My husband prayed and felt our private alma mater was good for our son. I freaked at the price. My son was able to go, because the school gave him unbelievable scholarship help.

Ultimately, pray and wait on the Lord. He is a God who directs our steps.

Blessings,

Christy

Christy Fitzwater

Christy Fitzwater is a writer and pastor's wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She has a daughter who is married and a son in college. Christy is the author of two books: Blameless: Living a Life Free from Guilt and Shame and My Father's Hands: 52 Reasons to trust God with Your Heart. Find her devotional blog at christyfitzwater.com.