You may remember a post I wrote last fall called How to Prep for Your Child’s Senior Year. Well, my daughter Andi’s senior year will come to an end in two months. We definitely weren’t as prepared as I would have liked to have been but I am much more prepared for my son Joey, who is only a freshman. After college visits, tons of research and lots of tears, Andi has chosen a college and a major.
Over the last two years, we have toured Illinois State University, Georgia State University, Thomas More College and Northern Kentucky University. We didn’t really consider cost when choosing which schools to tour, knowing that she would receive some merit money and hopefully receive other scholarships. Thomas More and Northern Kentucky University were obvious choices because of location. ISU and GSU were picked based on her interests.
Thomas More offers a beautiful campus and although it is private, it can be very affordable. The school is able to offer a lot of scholarships, which actually brought the tuition down to about the cost of NKU. Andi wasn’t sure what her major would be when we toured but TMC does not offer what she ultimately chose. However, she ruled TMC out before even picking a major. Thomas More has about 1300 students, which isn’t much bigger than Andi’s high school. She wants something larger than that.
ISU was our first college visit. We actually chose ISU because they offer a recreational circus program that Joey is interested in. You can read about this visit here. Andi really didn’t consider ISU but it was good to have something to compare other schools to and was a great family road trip.
Andi, her best friend Sophie and I flew to Atlanta last summer to tour GSU. We were able to stay with one of my closest friends so I didn’t ask if the school would provide housing during the visit. We chose GSU because they are one of the only schools that offer a program she was considering. There were several reasons Andi didn’t choose GSU. Atlanta is hot, I mean really hot! The campus is in the middle of the city. There are businesses in between school buildings. Some of the buildings were extremely updated while others were extremely outdated. Although everyone was extremely friendly, the graduate students we spoke to in our meeting with the department weren’t able to fully articulate what they will do with their major. As a parent, that was concerning. And did I mention that Atlanta is hot?
The NKU college visit was well done. We heard from students while eating lunch with advisers from the major she is interested in. We were both able to ask a lot of questions. It was exciting for me to see how much my alma mater has changed since 1997. Almost all of the buildings have been updated and several new building have been added. State of the art technology is offered throughout campus. Although NKU is still primarily a commuter campus, there is still a lot of campus life. There are hundreds of organizations for the students to belong to. Although Andi was a little resistant to visit my alma mater and school where she would still live at home, she was impressed. She reached out to the department and scheduled another visit. This time she spent the day going to classes with a student and having lunch with the staff. By the time she came home, she was excited and had made a decision.
Andi will major in social work at Northern Kentucky University this fall. She will minor in Spanish and focus in gerontology. Her plan is to advocate for the elderly. She has her KEES money and a merit scholarship to help with tuition. We are waiting to hear if she will be awarded any private scholarships she applied for. She will also save money by living at home since her commute will be less than 10 minutes. Andi plans to do a semester abroad her sophomore year and join student groups so she can get as much out of the college experience as possible.
Choosing a major (check out Book of Majors) and a school that is the right fit for your child can be difficult. I have a few tips for choosing a school.
- Does it offer the major your child is interested in?
- What is the teacher/student ratio?
- Do they offer the latest technology?
- Cost! This is huge. Your child can get a great education at a great school and graduate with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt or they can get a great education at another great school and graduate with little to no debt.
- Is living on campus best for your child? Remember, this is another expense.
- What is the employment rate after graduation?
Ultimately, Andi chose NKU because of cost. She would like to have gone away for school but she knows that Northern has an excellent social work program and she will be able to graduate with little to no debt. This was very important to her.
What suggestions do you have for someone trying to choose a college or a major?
Written by: Gina Stegner
Gina is the public relations coordinator for the Kenton County Public Library. Her daughter will graduate on May 28, which is also her 18th birthday. Expect Gina to be completely emotional over the next few months.