Applying for college can be overwhelming.

According to Elad Granot, dean at the Dauch College of Business and Economics at Ashland University in Ashland, and Stephanie Levenson, vice president for enrollment management at John Carroll University in University Heights, students can offset some of the stress by knowing what they want.

“The process starts with them thinking about what they are looking to get out of the college experience,” Levenson said. “It’s thinking about what environment they want to be in, what size university they are looking for, proximity to home and for a lot of students, a school’s financial resources. But, sticker prices should not deter a student as they never know the final cost.”

Granot added, “There is a rhyme or reason, but there is also a nice degree of chaos. The more information that is out there, the more confusing it gets. What I always say (is), you have to ask around your inner circle. It is a life-altering decision, so you want to consult your family and friends. You want to learn more from folks who have done it.”

If a student knows where they’d like to attend, both professionals said it’d help the process. If one isn’t so sure, they recommended doing more research.

“The determination helps before applying because applying isn’t cheap,” Granot said. “If only for that reason, it would make sense to do your due diligence. The information prospects seek out should include the characteristics of the school, its religious affiliation, where it is located and what programs it carries. There are so many variables.”

Levenson mentioned, “Knowing can happen at various points in the process, but ideally, it would be great for them to visit before they apply. But, that isn’t always possible. But, there are a lot of great ways to research colleges before you visit.”

Levenson added students can research online, speak to school counselors and talk to friends and family about their experiences.

Feeling overwhelmed by the process can feel normal.

“It is completely natural to be overwhelmed. It is such a major decision,” Granot noted. “Students should really understand it is part of the process to be overwhelmed. Consult people you trust. The last thing overwhelmed prospects want to do is keep it to themselves. You don’t want to stew on your feelings of confusion.”

Levenson said, “This tends to be a student’s first time to make their own choices. There might be many schools that are a good choice for them, but if they do end up making the wrong decision, life will be OK. You can fix it. It is a personal decision and the student is the one who has to live out that decision.”

Parents can be involved during the application process, but both professionals said it should be a passive role.

“A parent’s role is to supply support, guidance and advice when it is sought out and when it is not,” Granot said. “Parents should also seek information. But what parents should try to avoid is forcing their children into things they might not want to do. Parents have many roles in this process from being a sounding board to support.”

Levenson concluded, “The parents’ role is to support their child and be realistic with them. Having those hard conversations up front, like (about) finances, is important. Let the student be the team captain of the process. Parents don’t want their child to fail in any way, but you have to let them take the lead on the process and be there to support them.”

Publisher’s Note: Elad Granot is a member of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company Board of Directors.


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