5 Things to Consider When Helping Your Child Find the Right College

This is the latest entry in our Admissions Insider series which is written by students for other students and their families.

When assisting your child as they make decisions about college, it is important to weigh many different aspects of potential schools. Below are the five things you should take into consideration as you begin looking at colleges with your child.

1. What does your child want in a college? 

One of the essential steps in searching for the right college is to figure out what your child wants and needs out of their college experience. Encourage your child to think about what they value and what they are passionate about—figuring out what makes them the happiest will be a crucial step in understanding what to consider when picking a school.

For example, what are their passions? Do they want to be close to home or live farther away? Will they want to study abroad? Do they want to go to a school with sports programs? Do they care about being close to a ski mountain? Would they feel safer at a school with an active LGBTQ+ community?

Champlain’s Ski and Ride Club Rail Jam takes place right in the heart of campus. Broadcast and Filmmaking students report live from the event. Visual Communication Design students design the posters and photograph the action.

2. What size college is the best fit for your child?

Colleges range in size, with benefits for both large and small schools. Large colleges have more course options, sports, clubs, and people. Smaller schools have better teacher-to-student ratios, tight-knit communities, and more access to services and faculty. Understanding which situations will allow your child to thrive can help with this part of the decision process. For example, smaller schools can be less overwhelming and more welcoming, which might be ideal for your child. Visiting schools is a great way to get to know them. Getting a taste of the overall culture can help your child determine what feels right to them. By visiting colleges and deciding on a comfortable size range, you can start narrowing down your list.

Students collaborate on a project in Champlain’s Miller Information Commons, the College’s library.

3. What location will match my student’s needs?

Where your child decides to go to school is vital since they will be living in that place for two to four years. Make sure your child can see themselves living in this town, even if they weren’t moving there for school. Colleges have many activities, clubs, and other social opportunities, but what’s going on in the area around them is equally important.

There are more things to consider: Do they prefer winter or summer activities? Are they comfortable with traveling? What industries and career opportunities are in the area?

Burlington, Vermont, has been called the “#1 College town in the country” by Travel + Leisure magazine.

4. How do you know if a college is safe for your child?

Another crucial part of helping with your child’s college choice is to evaluate the safety of the school. Some things to consider when you assess school safety are:

  • Approachable campus security. Do you feel safe with them? 
  • Low crime statistics for the school and the surrounding town/city  
  • Robust student life policies and services 
  • A reliable alert system such as Rave Alert
The Blue Light system has been adopted by Vermont colleges (UVM, Champlain College, and St. Michael’s College). These emergency telephones are available at numerous locations around each campus for the immediate reporting of security emergencies.

5. What else can your child learn at college?

When selecting a school, you and your child should ask what you can get out of this experience. Do you think your child will be successful at this school? What information is the school offering to prove student success? Do they have a high job placement rate? Do they offer plenty of opportunities for career success? What support services do they offer, such as tutoring or faculty advising?

Another point to consider is whether or not your child will have the tools they need to succeed at this school and in their lives after college. Any opportunities students take outside the classroom will contribute to their learning as well. Programs and initiatives could include:

  • InSight: A program run by Champlain College that teaches students everything they need to start their careers, plus practical skills like how to market themselves, negotiate their salaries, and manage their finances.  
  • Career Development: Champlain’s Career Collaborative gives students multiple opportunities to network and access career management tools that will help them land internships and jobs.
  • Internship Opportunities: Job experience is an integral part of experiential learning and helps students succeed after graduation. 

A great way to test what a school has to offer and determine whether it meshes with your child’s interests, is to tour as often as possible and speak to admissions counselors. Check Out: Six Ways to Get the Most Out of Your College Experience.

Students and their families can make new friends and learn a huge amount about a school at Open Houses and Admitted Students Days.

Is college still worth it?

When you begin your college search, the question, “Is this even worth it?” may cross your mind. While some might believe that college is no longer worth it, there is an enormous amount of evidence that argues otherwise. Graduates with a four-year degree earn 84% more than someone with only a high school diploma, says a report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. The unemployment rate for individuals with a high school diploma or GED is double that of college grads, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you use the questions we’ve outlined here to help pick a college where your child can thrive, it will transform them from a high school student to a successful young professional. College not only affects your child’s learning and professional development, but allows them to grow in profound and everlasting ways.

While all of these points are essential to consider when picking a school, understand that many different aspects go into choosing a college that’s right for your child. Remember to stay organized and do your research. This is an important decision for your family, but it is only one decision out of a lifetime of many, and your child will find the right fit.

Want to experience a unbelievable college visit? Come check out Champlain College’s beautiful Burlington, Vermont, campus and learn more about our career-focused majors. Book a Campus Tour and Information Session and discover everything Champlain and Burlington have to offer.

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