How to choose the right University or College

So it’s senior year, and you and your child have started scrolling through university and college web pages. Their friends are all talking about where they plan to go and what they plan to study. You, the supportive parent in the room, want to help steer your child in the right direction.

You know that picking a university or college that’s the right fit is about more than school rankings, or proximity to the nearest potential internship.

Post-secondary education is about coursework as much as it is about
intangibles such as a healthy social life, access to funding, extracurriculars
and any number of variables that help shape someone’s personal and
professional outlook as they enter into adulthood. It can be a complicated
decision-making process to navigate for both parent and child. So how can
you be supportive?

Here are a few tips:
Create a list
Canada is brimming with amazing post-secondary schools to the point that it can feel daunting to even begin applying. There are specialized programs in small towns with as much to offer as globally ranked programs in the biggest cities. Start by helping your child make a list of schools that match their interest. Remember to take into consideration more than just the crest of the school—it’s about fit. If your child is incredibly interested in marine biology, including options for schools on the Atlantic or Pacific coast might be more valuable than, say, being cooped up in a classroom near Toronto’s Dundas Square.

Help plan visits
If it’s within your financial means, a few visits to select schools ahead of
applying may help your child get a better sense of life on campus. For example, taking
a walk through the Niagara College Campus might give your
child the space to consider the kind of life they would like to have between
classes as much as when they are sitting in them.

Take finances into consideration
Money is a real consideration when it comes to helping pick the right university or college for your child. There are many options when it comes to funding university, so getting some help maneuvering the funding landscape will be key. The Canadian government has provincial and federal loan programs based on need, and many institutions have various scholarships and bursaries available for incoming students. Colleges and
universities have staff dedicated to answering questions about funding. Make sure to help your child explore their options, and to weigh things out before they make their decision.

Give your child some space
This may be a daunting time for both you and your child. It can be as exciting as it is stressful, and as liberating as it is frustrating. It’s your job as a parent to gauge when your kid needs support, and when they might need some space to make their own decisions. This is, after all, a big step into adulthood, and part of that for your child involves making decisions independent of anyone other than themselves. Ultimately, a supportive parent’s job is to listen, and give honest advice, but then be able to respect your child and their autonomy when it comes to their future. We know you want the best for them, every parent does. Trust that they also want the best for themselves.