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Questions to ask before choosing a college

Expert tips on tackling the new college essays.

Expert tips on tackling the new college essays. Credit: iStock

Q. As college-oriented high school students start to explore what universities they might want to attend, what are the most important initial questions to consider?

A. Kate Rowe, president of the Western Suffolk Counselors' Association and former Dean of Enrollment at Suffolk County Community College, suggests asking:

Does the school offer the major I'm interested in? If a child is interested in international studies, for instance, and a school doesn't offer that focus, there's no point in going further.

How far from home is the child willing to be? Within commuting distance so he can live at home? Within a radius that would allow her to easily come home for a weekend?

What are the admission criteria? If a school normally requires a 1250 on the SAT and you are far below that number, it's not likely you will be admitted, she says.

How much will it cost? Assess what your family can afford and what financial aid possibilities might be.

What size and physical location do you prefer? Big school or smaller school? Urban or not?

If students narrow their options by considering these points, they'll have a better chance of finding a great match, Rowe says. Hofstra University is offering a free "Preview Day" of colleges for high school sophomores and their families on Saturday, including guidance on building a college list. The event is 9 a.m. to noon at the Student Center, Hempstead Turnpike, Hempstead; 516-463-6700.

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