When considering college costs, evaluate the potential partnership

Parents, when you question whether a particular college is worth the money, remember that you’re evaluating a proposed partnership between the college and your student.  It’s like deciding whether to invest in two companies who’ve just announced they’re teaming up; you need to do your due diligence on both parties to decide if it’s a good investment.

Families should evaluate colleges.  Learn about the mission of the school, the majors offered, the class size, the focus on teaching, the academic and personal support, and lots of other categories that will impact your student’s experience.   

But a lot of parents forget to evaluate the other partner—the student.  A college can only do so much, and both parties need to work together for the partnership to succeed.  

If you have a student who’s been academically disengaged in high school and he wants to go to an out-of-state (and more expensive) university because he wants to be at a big school with good snowboarding, you’ve got some hard questions to ask.

Is your student going to be more academically engaged in college?  Will he put his hand up in class when he has questions and visit the free tutoring center when he needs even more help?  Is he going to meet with an academic advisor and look for a major that excites him? Will he take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to him while his in college?

If he doesn’t do those things, is it really fair to blame the college?

I’m not arguing that B and C students don’t deserve to go to the colleges they’re excited about.  Lots of formerly B and C students become A students in college.  But that happens when the partnership is a good fit and both parties do their part. 

College is expensive and parents have every right to question the value. But when you do, don’t just evaluate what the college proposes to do.  Think about your student, too, and evaluate what both parties propose to do together. 

You can find even more advice in our “Financial Aid and Scholarships” video.  It’s $12.99 and available as a streaming download.