Top 3 Questions Parents Ask About Applying for College

Questions about applying for college

When it comes to applying for college, students aren’t the only ones with questions about applying to college; there are plenty of concerns and confusion among parents as well. Never fear! College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) has numerous resources to guide and support parents. In fact, we have an entire section of our website devoted to parents, with links to useful tools that will allow you to help your child plan, apply, and pay for college.

But what if you’re not even sure where to start? CFNC Regional Representative Amy Denton spends days (and nights!) talking to students and parents about the entire college process. She shared with us the top three questions asked by parents.

Should My Child Apply to College Early?

“Many parents will ask if I recommend applying early,” Denton says. “I usually tell them it depends on the institutions they want to apply to and the institutions’ application deadlines.”

There are two types of early applications. An Early Decision (ED) application is binding, which means that the student would like to have their application considered now and, if accepted, agrees to attend the institution. The second is Early Action (EA), which is nonbinding. This means that the student applies for consideration early in the year, but if the student is accepted, he or she does not need to make up his or her mind until the traditional May 1 commitment date. Both types of applications have early deadlines, usually in November, but it is best to always confirm with the institutions.

Before a student and family make a decision about early applications, “I also usually ask if the student has visited all of the colleges they’re interested in. If not, then I encourage them to visit the campus first, so they can confirm if the college should remain on their list,” says Denton. After all, students don’t want to use the Early Decision process and find out that they are unhappy with their choice in the end.

There is another type of application process that is often used by higher education institutions, known as rolling admissions. This means that the application process extends for a long period of time and that student applications are considered upon receipt – instead of in a group following an application deadline. “If the admission is rolling, then I still encourage students to apply as early as they can,” said Denton.

How Many Schools Should My Student Apply To?

In North Carolina alone, there are over a hundred higher education options from which to choose, so it can be tempting to apply to many, allowing students to keep their options open. Denton says this leads parents to wonder how many schools their students should apply to.

“I usually say no more than five. By senior year, or the time seniors plan to apply to college, students should have had ample time to narrow their college choices down to five,” Denton says. The key here is visits, and even repeat visits, to campuses. Denton says you should also, by this point, have done serious research on your top choices.

Making the decision and keeping necessary dates and application criteria organized can be a challenge. Fortunately, the Application Hub on the CFNC website allows you to apply to North Carolina colleges or universities and track the progress of your admission process tasks.

What’s College Going to Cost?

Parents invariably want to know what it’s going to cost, and it’s nearly impossible for Denton to answer because the variables are almost endless! What she can tell parents is that there are numerous ways to make higher education affordable for your family.  From financial aid to grants and scholarships to loan options and savings plans, there are almost as many ways to pay for college as there are colleges themselves.

While these are the most common questions that Amy gets from parents in North Carolina, there are thousands of others that she hears too. Never be afraid to reach out to school counselors, college admissions professionals, CFNC Regional Representatives or to the 866-866-CFNC call center to ask your questions about planning, applying and paying for college.