Which College Selection Criteria Would You Try To Talk Your Kid Out Of, If Any

Of course, we want our kids to do the choosing. It’s the kid that has to be happy at the school, not us.
We all know that.

But we also know that kids know almost nothing about real life. Or at least my kids know nothing about real life.

Are there any criteria that you would steer your kids away from, or that you just don’t think matter much in the long run? I’m not looking for THE right answer, or answers, here. I’m just curious what people think. I hope this doesn’t turn into a fight to the death argument. I’m just looking for some opinions.

For example, my daughter is currently favoring schools that are in or near small cities or big towns, as long as they have an enclosed campus. I wish she would consider some of the more remote schools, but she’s dead set against them. I think she’s overvaluing the surrounding area a little bit, from my perspective. I get why she would want to be in a populated area, but I think she’s overestimating how much time she’ll spend off campus. Maybe I’m just remembering how little time I spent off campus, because there wasn’t much off campus.

I gently mentioned this to her, because it’s something I want her to consider, but it’s not something I’d try to talk her out of. I don’t think it matters all that much, except that she might be ruling out some schools that would otherwise be great fits. There’s no way of knowing how much it’s really going to affect her happiness in the long run.

One thing I’ve tried to steer her toward is smaller schools with smaller class sizes. She doesn’t sound convinced. With this one, I think it’s hard for kids to imagine. I don’t think they understand what it feels like when a teacher not only doesn’t know you, but doesn’t care one bit about you, or your future. I’m not saying that no teachers care at the big schools or that all teachers care at the small schools, but they’ll at least know who she is at a small school. I think it’s hard for kids to imagine what it would be like for their teacher to not know them at all, because they’ve never experienced it. Or at least my daughter hasn’t.

My daughter has experienced remote places and urban places, and she knows that she prefers urban places. But she’s never experienced a teacher who doesn’t know her name. This makes me feel a little more confident challenging her on this one, or at least trying to get her to think very carefully about it…

Does anyone else have any? Are there any criteria that your kid has/had that you tried to talk them out of, or criteria that you have/had, that you tried to talk them into.

Anyone have any ridiculous ones that you couldn’t talk your kid out of? My daughter hates one school, because she heard that one of the most popular majors is a subject that she hates - even though that major comprises only around 10% of the student body.

I heard of one who wouldn’t consider a school without a nearby Dunkin Donuts! I would steer away from making a decision driven mostly by perceived prestige. I have seen kids do great at large schools after being in very small high schools - thrive at Notre Dame after going to a high school with a graduating class of 60 or fewer kids.

Their college experience will be theirs, and not necessarily at all like our own. Their preferences are their preferences, even if based on seemingly (to us) incomplete data or limited life experience. We can share our experiences and thoughts, but probably the best we can do is to help them prioritize their preferences – for example, how important is geographic setting vs. academic rigor or availability of possible desired majors…

I would take the approach of asking them to articulate why a particular criteria (e.g. proximity of a Dunkin Donuts) is important to them, as the process of trying to explain it might help them realize that either it’s not an important criteria in the grand scheme of things, or it might lead to the realization that the particulars of the criteria are really just a proxy for a larger preference that is harder for them to capture and sum up (e.g., the proximity of a Dunkin Donuts tells something about the nature of the neighborhood which provides a more familiar and comfortable feel to them – it’s not (necessarily) the Dunkin Donuts itself that is important).

Of course if they have totally unrealistic criteria, like access to flying unicorn equestrian sports, then you may have bigger problems.

Answer: HYPS prestige thing

With respect to your daughter, that’s fine. You’re offering your knowledge and guidance, which is great. She’s taking charge of the process and deciding where she would like to live and learn for the next four years, which is also great. That’s something to make you feel confident you’ve done a good job and proud of her maturity. Fortunately, there are many excellent schools large and small, urban and rural. She sounds like she’ll do great. Good luck!

We steered our kids away from thinking ANY school was a “dream school”, and only wanted them to apply to colleges they actually would attend.

To the OP…both of our kids had urban as a campus criteria. Neither wanted to look at remote schools…at all. I had no issue with this criteria.

Here were the top criteria for our kids.

Kid 1.

  1. Major urban area (Boston, NY, DC, Pittsburgh)
  2. As a music major....the private teacher at the college was next.
  3. Easy access to music things off the college campus.

Kid 1 went to Boston University.

Kid 2.

  1. Good science programs.
  2. Urban area.
  3. Ability to play in a college orchestra but not as a music major.
  4. Nice weather...no snow, and pleasing temps year round.

Kid 2 went to Santa Clara University.

We actually encouraged our kids to think very carefully about LOCATION…accessibility to things they wanted to do, public transportation, easy access to airports, etc. this ruled out a LOT of remote, rural schools.

People thought we were NUTS because we allowed the “pleasing climate” for kid 2. But really…location, location, location. She had to live there…not us…and for four years.

@WalknOnEggShells let me begin ( I am joking here- not being sarcastic) by saying that at my D’s large school, all of her professors know her name. They send her personal emails about opportunities etc. As a freshman they checked in on her. She also runs with them and hangs out after class. She is in a college town and does spend time off campus. As a matter of fact she just bought tickets yesterday to a concert in the fall at a coffee house in town… so … :-? For every rule… there will always be exceptions.

That being said, I really thought she should attend a small school… but she refused and proved me wrong. I think her criteria was pretty grounded- she wanted diversity, school spirit, the ability to get involved in research. Her other criteria was that she not be in a rural area- and she got it.

For both of my kids, location was a big factor in their decision. They both definitely wanted an urban environment that had things to do beyond the school. My oldest just graduated from Pitt and my youngest is in Dallas. I understand this criteria.
My youngest also wanted to rank schools based on their recreational, athletic facilities. This, thankfully, became less important after looking at numerous schools. I couldn’t steer her away from this idea but I would point out other items on the tours that I thought were more important, like updated classrooms, that she began to take into consideration. In the end, it was her choice.

Where their SO is going.

OP, I would’ve hated a remote school. Almost all of my jobs and internships were off campus but within driving distance in the capital.

Also, I teach in classes where I easily have 90 students and the professor can have hundreds. I take serious issue with the myth that professors of large classes just automatically don’t care about you. Come to their office hours. Many do care very much. They just need you to put in a little effort.

I had classes in undergrad with less than 10 students where the prof would barely remember students the next semester.

It’s about the professor, not how many students they have.

Bigger schools can have smaller classes. My daughter is at a school with 10k undergrads, and even in the (very) few classes she’s had with 100+ she’s taken the time to visit with the professors. Usually for big lectures, there is a much smaller discussion group held once a week.

I also agree with your daughter that rural+small= not for me. There aren’t enough courses offered and I want to be with more people.

But to be fair you surely know this is not the norm, but rather a result of your daughter being an exceptional student and clearly being masterful at developing these types of relationships. Kudos to her, but the typical UNC student, or student at any college big or small for that matter, is not having Profs check in on them, sending them personal emails, or hanging out with them.

Mine did not want to apply to any universities with a D1 football team. In the end I think 2 of the ones she applied to SLO and SDSU did have one, and she got in to both and didn’t choose either.

Re: knowing professors. In undergrad, and grad, my department was smaller…and I did know my profs on a first name basis.

Did I want to be on a first name basis town the core required large course faculty? No. In my case things like psych 101, history of my state, and PE were REQUIRED general education courses. Honestly, I couldn’t have cared less who the faculty in these larger classes freshman year. BUT if I had wanted to know them better, as pointed out upstream…I could have easily done so by going to office hours and the like. They WERE available.

@planner03 I dont think my kid is exceptional… I know kids at her school and at other large schools who have the same experience. I also know kids at large schools who don’t have this experience at all. Like I said on another post, we can’t paint with a broad brush. I wanted my daughter at a small school- I find her school to be huge, but it works for her.

The email checking up on her is not unique to her- others had the same. Do I think this is the norm at most large universities? Absolutely not- but at her school it seems to be, and that’s why we picked it. I know a student who was invited to dinner ( as a group) at his professors house.

I don’t want to get into a discussion about large versus small- there are pros and cons to both and it depends on the school.

As long as we can afford it, there are only two things I can think of that would cause me to object and attempt to sway them:

  • Choosing a school primarily to follow a romantic interest

-Choosing a school because everyone thinks like they do, politically

What about failure (on the part of both students and parents) to consider affordability and academic suitability as two of the most important criteria?

I wouldn’t object to any of the kid’s criteria unless they interfered with more important criteria, like academics and money.

For example, if my kid had long expressed an interest in nursing, I would object to the kid following a romantic interest to a school that doesn’t offer a nursing major.

I wouldn’t necessarily talk her out of any, but I would want her to look at a range. For instance, have her look at one remote school, make sure she visits both a large and a small school etc.

There are several threads on this theme, such as “stupidest reasons your kid refused to look at a college”, but I will play along.

My daughter was EXACTLY like yours in the beginning. She was dead set against rural locations. So that was the criteria I worked against. In fairness, she quickly realized herself that in order to get the college environment she wanted, geographic considerations had to be the first thing to go. So they went. She initially deposited at a very rural school, then got off the waitlist to a top choice which is in a not-special small city/large town. So not quite as rural as she planned, but she would have also been happy at the rural school.

You are correct, kids vastly overestimate the amount of time they will spend off campus. We learned that, by the time we had done our college visits. Time and again, we would ask kids at colleges how they got into the city, or somewhere off campus. Invariably, we heard “I went to the city a couple of times in the first year, since then I hardly bother.” After all, theri friends, beds, and food are at their college.

I pulled the “parent’s choice” card. You can too. Heck, you are going to be paying, so it seems fair that you should get to have at least one school in the list that you think is an excellent choice. In fact, my “PC” college ended up being one of her final three. There was never any stipulation that it had to be a final contneder, just that she had to look at it and not disregard it out of hand wihtout learning more about it. She didn’t want to like it, but did. If you think your daughter would like a rural LAC, I believe it is firmly within your rights as the paying parent to insist on one well-considered option of your choosing.

Every prof my D has had so far knows my daughter by name. They say hello to her when they see her. Her largest class has had sixty kids, her smallest so far have been two classes of fifteen. Meanwhile, she has a friend at Berkeley that attends a lecture with 1100 students. I think that is insane. Where’s the teaching in that? But that’s a different thread.

ETA: Bear in mind that kids in urban locations often spend a LOT of money. If spending money is a consideration, make sure your daughter is aware of that. D has friends at urban colleges who really underestimated just how much they would spend because of easy access to things. So transport, food, going out, etc…adds a lot to costs. Our D has to earn her spending money. Because she is where she is, she has spent less than $1000 over the course of a whole college year. At least she has a good idea of how much money she needs to earn this summer to keep the same level of spending. Something to consider.

1,100 is not really different in a practical sense from 100. If you want the class session to be more interactive, you probably want much smaller, like no more than 20-30.

Not to get off track @ucbalumnus , but surely a prof with 100 students will at least be able to have some interaction on a meaningful level. I can’t imagine the prof with 1100 students can do that.