Life sure has a way of sneaking up on you. One minute you are staring at this beautiful, chubby, little infant wondering, what do I do now? Then the next minute you are staring at a beautiful, confident, young woman ready to begin her college career. You think to yourself, how did this happen? Our worries are still the same and our thoughts are always of their safety, their future and their happiness. As parents, we want to give them a solid strong foundation for life. Gentle guidance and wings to fly are mandatory 🙂
We are embarking on the journey of college hunting and financial aid mayhem with our daughter. It truly is a long and winding road down the abyss of the unknown. I find myself having the same thoughts as when she was born, now what? My husband and I are extremely lucky in the sense that she is a driven and conscientious student (Both of our daughters are). The expectations and responsibilities can be overwhelming. As sophomore year ended, the questions had already started. What colleges are we looking at? Did you visit any schools this summer? What is she going to study? Things certainly have changed since I was in school; the push is harder and the pressure much heavier!
Junior year is the year in which you have a very long “to do” list:
4. Financial Aid Workshops
5. Narrowing down the Colleges of interest
6. College visits
The library is a wonderful resource to help us navigate through this stressful but exciting journey. I found comfort and guidance in browsing the stacks and our catalog. There are also some fabulous websites to assist a student and parents through the maze of selecting the right university. CollegeBoard.com and Princeton Review are great sites to browse and evalute the colleges. The sites allow the students to refine their searches by the size of the college, rural or suburban and by fields of study. I created an account on CollegeBoard.com to save our college searches and we can also set reminders for SAT and ACT test dates. We can even access her scores.
If you do not like to do your research online, the OWL has plenty of print resources to guide you through these many steps and to hopefully make your next huge step with your child easier!
FAFSA : The OWL has informational pamphlets available for patrons which include:
Your Federal Student Loans: Learn the Basics and Manage Your Debts
Parent Guide to Financial Aid by the Connecticut Planning Services
Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid
Princeton’s Complete Book of Colleges, Princeton’s Best Northeastern Colleges and Princeton’s Best 371 Colleges : These mega-guides of Colleges and Universities are good resources for the top colleges and are very easy to use. Princeton rates the colleges by level of financial aid, academics and eco-friendliness. Find out about the costs, admission requirements, student demographics, campus activities and the schools’ facilities in a very user-friendly format.
College Board Book of Majors: I loved this book! It is a great book to take home and leave on your kitchen table for your student to peruse through at their leisure. If the student knows what he or she likes to study, the book provides a nice layout for course studies,available majors and best of all, the career options and trends. If your child needs a little direction, the College Board Book of Majors is the book to check out!
Barron’s SAT guide will give your student the edge and the study help to score better on the test. The study guide helps the student prepare by giving them testing tips and it provides multiple practice tests.
Peterson’s Four Year Colleges: This giant 2010 edition contains the latest facts and figures on tuition expenses and academic programs for over 2500 colleges in the United States, Canada and abroad. Students can match majors to colleges and investigate entrance qualifications.
Peterson’s Two Year Colleges: Nearly 2000 colleges across the United States are provided in this comparison guide. Readers will gain valuable tips on transfering and ways to pay for your college education. Search by school name, location or major, very easy to use!
Financial Aid 101 by Carlyn Foshee Chatfield and CollegeBoard’s Getting Financial Aid provide comprehensive advice on how to pay for college and how to navigate through the financial aid process. Wondering how in the world are you going to pay for your child’s education? These books offer advice on scholarships, grants and loans.
Soon to be available at the OWL: Opportunities 2010-2011 : Preparing for Higher Education Guide and Workbook These workbooks will be available for patrons to keep and to use as you plan ahead for college. (for a preview- click on the link)
Also another interesting option is the New England Board of Higher Education: NEHBHE’s Tuition break for New England Residents provides a discounted out- of -state tuition rate to eligible students enrolled in approved majors at state colleges and Universities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Visit www.nehbe.org/tuitionbreak to learn more and to see the list of approved programs.
This post is written by Audra MacLaren, proud mom who is trying to navigate through the piles of college information!