Choosing a college isn’t a four-year decision; it’s a 40-year decision. From campus to classes, academics to culture, there’s a lot to consider. And, often, students don’t even know what they want in a college experience. To help your student-athlete better understand their best college match, you can start by asking them the right questions. In this article, we provide 20 questions to gauge academic and cultural fit.
We are not covering questions for determining athletic fit, as that is an entire topic in itself. These questions can help you start a list of potential colleges, and you can add athletic fit to whittle down your choices.
Remember: You’re trying to figure out what your student wants in a school, not what you as a parent want for them. A lot of parents will frame questions by giving an obvious bias to one answer. For example, “Do you want to just be another number in a class with 500 kids in it?” Instead, phrase questions so your student-athlete can share what they really think.
It might be tempting to try grinding through all 20 questions at once. But, you’ll likely get a lot of eye rolls and, “Ugh, I don’t know!” responses. Instead, ask a couple questions at a time and keep track of the answers in a notebook. That way, you can refer back when you need to.
Academics. To parents, academics may be the most important aspect of determining best college match. For high school students, academics may be the first thing they push to the side. These questions help narrow down schools where your student would thrive academically.
Culture. When students go to college, most of them will be living on their own for the first time. They need to feel at home in their university, surrounded by students who they can connect with. Campus culture refers to the type of students at the campus, the location, physical attributes of the campus and what stands out in the student body.
Bonus: 5 financial questions for parents
College is a huge investment. As a parent, you need to be realistic about what colleges are feasible from a financial standpoint. Ask yourself these questions to make sure you—and your student—know where things stand financially.