Parents and guardians: prepare to get the most out of Private College Week


In Wisconsin, the four-year graduation rate for full-time students who matriculate at a private nonprofit college or university is 68% higher than students on public campuses.

Wisconsin’s 24 private nonprofit colleges and universities are particularly proud of this fact. Even though our average out-of-pocket tuition is just $5,259 and 96% of our full-time students receive financial aid, each additional semester it takes for a student to complete an undergraduate degree comes at a cost. In a society that increasingly expects its workforce to hold a college degree, each dollar and every semester is precious.

We believe our outstanding rate of graduation in four years is a testament to the personal attention our students experience in classrooms that average 16 students. We also know this impressive graduation statistic is in large part due to the high-level engagement from a student body comprised of individuals who find their fit within one of our 24 academic communities.

Parents and guardians, as you begin to guide your student through the college selection process, no doubt you’re every bit as stressed and overwhelmed as he or she may be. One of the best ways to help your student find his or her best college fit is by visiting a variety of college campuses. (Read our blog post Attend Private College Week and jump-start the college selection process)

Every year Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges together hold an annual Private College Week, this year occurring July 11-16, 2016. We strongly encourage you to accompany your student and visit a variety of our campuses during this event. We also urge you to spend some time researching information, but also reflecting personally as well as with your student, to prepare for the event and get the most out of each campus visit.

Campus visit checklist

  1. Let your student take the lead in this decision. It is wise to gather as much information as possible about every college or university on your student’s list, but let them take the lead. Be there to offer advice when asked. Ask thoughtful questions intended to make your student think more deeply. Give your opinion after they’ve had some time to begin forming their own opinion. Be a steady and loving guide.
  1. Do some homework. Visit our site to learn more about our 24 individual colleges and universities. Then dig deeper into each school. Look at the online versions of campus publications. Peruse the course offering directories. Record any questions you want addressed while attending parent sessions on campus. Again, remember you want a wealth of information to support your student’s in her decision, not to drive it. Although your student will likely strive to make a decision you are proud of, the student who follows his or her own heart to find the best possible fit is the most likely to succeed (and graduate on time).
  1. Support your student in conducting a self-assessment. In our last post, Students: prepare to get the most out of Private College Week, we offered students a few tips on preparing for upcoming college visits. Much of this advice focused on determining what type of environment—academic, social, geographic—your student would prefer by asking questions of self-assessment. Another tip was to review this assessment with friends and family. Take some time to read through the questions alone and think about how your student might answer each. When you review together, use this opportunity to give your student honest and supportive feedback and celebrate his or her individuality. You might be surprised by some of the given answers; be cautious never to correct. A self-assessment is, after all, about how your student sees him or herself.
  1. Discuss financial and/or geographic considerations with your student as soon as possible. We want to encourage our student to follow any dream, to think big, and to seize every opportunity – and it’s a good idea to talk about the practicality of realizing those goals. As your student begins compiling a list of potential college fits, work with him or her to understand the respective costs. Keep a working spreadsheet including tuition and room and board costs as well as travel considerations. Determine what type of financial aid package each college would require along with any additional considerations (i.e. work-study, fewer trips home, etc.). The more information your student has, the more empowered he or she will be to ask the right questions while visiting campuses and ultimately make the best, personal college decision. Also set up time with the admissions office to get any financial aid questions answered. They are always eager to help.
  1. Continue to be the loving guide as your student takes the lead. You will accompany your student in a transition to more independence. The college decision your student makes will be a big step in a series of important upcoming choices. Your student will begin to take into his or her own hands how often you visit, how much stress to take on, which course of study to choose, which friends and mentors to surround themselves with, and, ultimately, where the future will lead. Yet, this decision must be an individual one. Take comfort that our observations continually support that the students who do find their own fit—who feel included, involved, supported, and challenged—within their college communities succeed, happily. A happy, successful student is the ultimate goal, after all.

Register for Wisconsin Private College Week here and help your student find their fit.

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