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The title of this blog should read, Why Adding A College (or two) To Your List That You Know Nothing About Is A Bad Idea. Too often, students and parents get to a point in the college admissions process where they “just want to be done.” They are tired of thinking about schools to apply to, studying or pushing their child to study for standardized tests and nagging their teen to complete the essay. They are tired of hearing where is Josephine applying or has Kellen chosen an early decision school? The intense focus on college admissions has drained them and their teen.
While I understand and agree that applying to college sometimes takes on a life of its own, I strongly caution parents and teens to think about the college list with care. Adding a school recommended by a friend, relative and even a counselor or one they just heard about may seem like the easiest way to complete a college list (and “they won’t be going there anyway”), is the wrong thing to do. While I am unaware of any studies on this topic, I can tell you from my twenty-one years of experience as an educational consultant that, too often, students are making final decisions from the schools they added to their list with little to no thought. Don’t let this happen to you or your teen!

Emerson Educational Consulting’s Tips For Adding Schools To the College List:
1. If you haven’t already done so, create a list of the things you need to be academically successful. The list should include things you must have as well as what is important to you. Take your time thinking about your preferences. It’s okay to change your mind from what you initially thought was the right thing, to what you now know is the right decision.
2. Research the schools you are thinking about applying to. Do they offer exciting courses in the field you are thinking of majoring in? Are there lots of requirements? Is there a language requirement? How long does it take the average student to graduate? Do you have to complete a capstone project to graduate? These are just some of the many questions you should know the answers to.
3. Picture yourself at the school. This is easiest to do if you visited the school. If you haven’t, take a virtual tour, talk to current and former students, but don’t rely on just one person’s opinion. College is not just about getting in. You want to go someplace where you will do well and where you will be happy.
4. Think about what you can afford. Are you planning on attending graduate school? Factor that in. Paying for college is a topic that parents and teens need to discuss, but they often don’t. One of the saddest conversations I’ve heard occurred after a student was accepted and a broken hearted parent had to tell his son that he couldn’t afford to send him there. Don’t let this happen to you.

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