I made it to Baltimore for the gigantic convention of the National Association for College Admission Counseling that 5,300 college admissions officers and high school and independent college counselors are attending. I’m not completely awake — I got to my hotel room at 2 a.m. today — but I’m excited about bringing lots of news about college to all my college blog visitors.
I wanted to shared a conversation that I had this morning with Kris Hintz, a independent college counselor from New Jersey. She was lamenting about how difficult it is to convince parents to let their teenagers look beyond their geographic area for college. She said parents in her part of the country don’t want their kids to leave the Northeast. I told her that it wasn’t just an East Coast phenomenon. I run into parents all the time in California who give me variations of this response: “My child can go to school anywhere as long as it’s in California.”
Not allowing teenagers to leave their state or region can hurt their chances for generous financial aid packages or merit scholarships. Many colleges love kids from elsewhere and are often willing to kick in more money. I suspect part of the problem is that parents want their child close in case there is a problem, but air travel makes that far less of an issue. Hintz’s son attends Emory University in Atlanta, which is a quick trip from the Newark airport. To parents in the New York area, however, Georgia can seem like an exotic, distant land. And yet getting to Emory is far easier and quicker than driving to Middlebury College in Vermont or Bowdoin College in Maine.
Parents also freak out about airfare, which can be shortsighted since a fat merit package can make the cost of two or three plane tickets seem like a puny consideration. What many parents also don’t realize is that they can often remove their college student from their car insurance policy if the child attends a distant school without a vehicle. I am able to take my daughter Caitlin off my policy every school year when she’s in Pennsylvania and that has saved my husband and I thousands of dollars. Check with your car insurance carrier to see if that is possible. If it is, the savings will probably far outweigh the cost of flying.