Advising Parents of Soon-to-be-College-Students

One way to pop oneself out of one’s institutional bubble is to listen in on conversations among the folks whose attention (and dollars) we are trying to attract.  Related to this is what advice are they getting? Here’s a Twitter feed from Sara Goldrick-Rab, a leading sociologist of higher education, giving advice to parents of kids about to go to college in a forum last night (19 March 2014). Some food for thought for those of us running the institutions these parents and students are considering.

Note that the Tweets are in reverse chronological order.

@saragoldrickrab: If there is Greek Life on campus ask what % pledge. If higher than 10, run away!!!! #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask yourself if the college offers your student a great education at that price or just more elite peers. Buying friends? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask child what it meant when they said they got “real college experience” during that visit. What specifically did they learn? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: If you save on academic year you can send your kid to do great things in summers too, preparing for grad school or career #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Investing $20-60,000 in the education of an 18 year old is not smart, period. #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: A great student at a less selective school gets into honors classes fast, tons of faculty attention, learns to teach others #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: If your student is going 2 grad school spend less on undergrad! We love applicants from less common schools #diversity #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Students miss out on high-risk social scene of 4 year but miss little academically by doing first 2 at comm college. Save $$$ #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: But if I were u: send 18 year old 2 a comm college 4 two years while they share an apartment nearby. If they succeed- transfer. #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Is on campus transportation free? Off? How does on campus housing cost compare to off? How much is parking? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Look at campus: how are students dressed? What are they carrying? Can your child afford to fit in? Will college help w that $? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask about how faculty and staff are trained in student mental health. Gatekeeper programs or better?? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: And what advising training do faculty receive? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask about % of parents taking PLUS loans. #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask about academic advising- do faculty do it for freshmen? Or advisors only? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrabb: If out of state, ask if tuition is expected to be raised in next 5 years and whether you will be held harmless if it is. #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask what off-campus jobs are common, what they pay, how many hours they offer, what transportation is avail. #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Go to the aid office: is there a line outside? (Shouldn’t be). Go to library: line for computers? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask financial aid what financial counseling is provided to students before borrowing loans? Federal minimum or more? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask financial aid what per-student institutional grant aid budget is? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask financial aid what % of qualified students actually get campus work- study jobs? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: When visiting college ask how any fancy gyms/ student unions etc were funded. Out of your tuition? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask financial aid if they “front load” grant aid or guarantee aid looks similar for years 1-4 & if tuition rises does aid? #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: On visits students should look 4 whether undergrads feel they know they profs, go 2 office hours, like their TAs #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: If student wants research experience ask % students who graduate having had it. Many aspire, few get it. #campuslife

@saragoldrickrab: Ask every college what % of intro courses are taught by tenured faculty? How much is president paid compared 2 professors? #campuschat

@saragoldrickrab: When considering cost please look at full “cost of attendance” not just tuition. There’s another 60% to pay. #campuschat

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: