The Quest for Unrequited Love
Love hurts. Especially when the one you love is untouchable or doesn’t love you back.
Young love now has so many choices. It just wouldn’t make sense to court a partner in a circle that can’t possibly work. We know that the best partner is the one who loves us back and makes love easy. We avoid matches where the cultural, societal, or familial barriers will make life harder than we can bear.
But when it comes to college, we just can’t seem to let go of the “dream school” template. Students and families by the truckload are still courting colleges that they will never be able to afford, or ones where admittance is a shot in the dark. And we imagine that there is some way it may work, despite the promise of immense debts and the perpetual struggle to keep up.
How then can we begin to counter this strange determination to hold tight to unrequited love?
1) Have a good college money talk. “Parents and children should have frank family talks early and often”, states the much distributed article Having the College Money Talk “Parents should be honest about how much they have saved and can afford. They should ask their college-bound son or daughter to think about his or her ambitions and expectations, and to be realistic about how much they are willing to shoulder when it comes to debt.
With an action plan in place early, families can weigh their options rationally at the moment when acceptance letters and student aid offers are on the kitchen table.”
2) Find alternative rankings and read up. US News and World Report has it’s place, but it has also contributed to the undue pressure to seek out the names over the best fit school. Instead of rankings, try some resources that give you a more holistic glimpse, like Fiske Guide to Colleges, Colleges that Change lives, and College Consensus : 50 Underrated Colleges Doing Great Things. Have fun and view some reality videos produced by college students through Campus Reel
3) Visit some colleges that fit your limitations and potentials. Visiting campus is energy intense and students will often fall in love school after a good campus tour. Before you decide where to visit, make sure you are willing to see it as a possibility.
4) Don’t emphasize colleges that are out of your league—academically and financially. Focus on loving and attaching to those colleges that won’t put you into outrageous debt or academic anguish.
5) View your likelihood of admittance. One of my favorite sites to calculate your chances in relation to the school’s academic profile is College Data.
6) Study financial aid charts. One of the most complete and simple charts are courtesy of BigJ consulting and can be accessed here. This amazing chart allows you to see how much of what type of aid each school typically rewards and decide quickly if it will be in your ballpark.
As you consider your suitors, your path to happiness lies in finding one or two colleges that you can afford, that you can get into, and that you like. Then find all the reasons you can to love that school. Get attached to the idea that you will be happy here and discover all the opportunities that this school has to offer. Then fill in with your dream schools and the big names. From here, any surprises will only exceed your expectations.