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Another Why We Chose UNH

Release Date:
6/12/2009 12:10 PM
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Helping your child choose a college is a major undertaking. After all, your child is going to spend four years of his or her life there and you are going to make the second-largest investment of your life (even with financial aid, college expense ranks second only to the purchase of your home). We wanted our daughter Emily to make her own choice for college, but we wanted it to be a responsible choice. We had some experience in helping a child choose a college as we had been through it only four years earlier with our older daughter, Jess. We allowed both Jess and Emily to make the final choice provided that they followed a systematic process in looking at colleges, and provided that the college of choice met three basic criteria: one, the college had to have a solid academic reputation in the field that they planned to study; two, the college was safe; and three, the college was affordable.

We helped Emily begin the process early in her junior year of high school by asking her to think seriously about college plans, by taking her to several local college fairs, and by having her register with and fill out the survey at the College Board website. Our goal was to have Emily develop some criteria about colleges such as resident or commuter, distance from home, size, and possible majors, and then to identify five to ten colleges that met her criteria based upon information received in the mail and on college websites. Emily’s criteria concerning location and possible majors made the process easy: she wanted to stay within a three-hour drive from home and she wanted to major in some field of forensic science. Only three colleges within a three-hour radius offered majors in this area, and only another five or six offered a forensic science minor. Emily was able to list her top three choices from this information.

When spring break arrived in April, we began taking college trips to the schools on Emily’s list. By mid-summer we had visited the top three schools on her list and were satisfied that all three met the basic criteria we had set. Applications went out in early fall and we sat back to wait on the acceptance letters and the all-important financial aid packages. By this point, Emily had narrowed the list to two schools, of which the University of New Haven was her first choice. Emily liked the UNH campus and the easy access to activities in the New Haven area without the need for a car. We all liked UNH’s academic reputation in the criminal justice/forensic science areas; the program was the largest and most solidly established of the schools on her list. When the acceptance letter and financial aid package arrived, no one had second thoughts about writing the deposit check.

Having now gone through the college search process with two children, we believe that the key is to sit down with your child early in the junior year of high school and agree upon a search process and selection criteria. This allows your child the freedom to make the final choice and allows you the comfort of knowing that he or she made a responsible choice. Both Emily and Jess made their own choices and we had no misgivings about their choices.

Bill and Lynn Istone
Washingtonville, NY