Big and Small Issues to Discuss Before College

Mixed race mother and daughter using laptop together
Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

It may not seem like it while you're in the process, but applying is the simple part of the path to a college education. Once offers of admission have been sent, whether by big, exciting envelopes or simple emails, the business of choosing a college or university is, in many ways, the first adult decision your young adult will have to make in his or her life - with some input from you, of course. The emotional highs and lows of the application process now must be put aside for some sober and...MORE sensible conversations about the issues that must be taken into account before the final choice is made.

  • 01 of 05
    college loan application

    Ideally you will have been discussing your willingness and ability to pay for your young adult's college education long before acceptances start rolling in, and will be on top of FAFSA applications, loan consideration, scholarship applications and other financial planning. Don't allow yourself or your child to be swayed by the seduction of a warm welcome and beautiful photos of a campus that offers no financial help if you need it. Graduating with huge loans is less than ideal, so...MORE choosing a school that offers money or other incentives over one that has nothing to give is always the best option.

  • 02 of 05
    college student studying

    It may sound obvious, but choosing a school with majors that are of interest to your young adult is very important. A football team that wins or a top notch Greek system are wonderful, but if your child's goal is to be a veterinarian, attending a school without any undergraduate major that will help with this ambition is not ideal. Sweep the stars from your child's eyes and look carefully at what the options are to focus on academically to ensure that the future doesn't hold...MORE transfers, extra semesters or other costly and time-consuming problems.

  • 03 of 05
    father dropping son at college

    Dorm life is practically a rite of passage for college students, but not every school offers ample housing for all incoming freshmen. Look closely at what kind of housing is available and whether it's going to work for your young adult. Some people thrive in chaos, while others need quiet and solitude to succeed. Check to see if the school of choice offers options for single rooms or "quiet" dorms if your child is less likely to be partying all weekend and more inclined to read and...MORE study. A bad living situation can make or break freshman year. Also, check into the options and costs for off-campus living, rent and transportation can come as an unwelcome surprise for those who move into apartments after freshman year.

  • 04 of 05
    flights cancelled

    Going across the country, or out of the country completely may sound exciting and grown-up, but make sure your young adult understands the limitations of choosing a school far from the comforts of home. Being able to visit for a weekend here and there, or even for every school break will depend on money and time. If the school your child is leaning towards is 2 plane flights away, it will not only be costly but also time-consuming to get home and back during snowy winter months, airline...MORE schedules can be a challenge. If your child is independent and mature, going far away will be fine, but for those who may not be ready for a big break from home, or mom and dad being closer to home may be a better option.

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  • 05 of 05
    brown university

    Choosing a college or university in a completely different climate from what your young adult is used to may not seem like a big deal, but for many people changing their lifestyle drastically can be not only strange but detrimental to their mental health. If you live in a warm climate and your child heads to one of the colder states, adjusting to the gloom of winter can be especially difficult. If you live in a place with four seasons and your child goes to the desert for college, the...MORE sometimes-oppressive heat and lack of variety can also be difficult to adjust to. Take into consideration what your child's interests are. Someone who loves to surf, for example, may not be happy in landlocked Illinois. 

Though your young adult will be excited to make this big decision, be sure to have a serious conversation about these big - and not so big - issues.