Information for Parents

How to Help Your Child Choose the Right University

Choosing a college or university is an important step for your child — and your involvement and support can make an enormous difference. We encourage you to help your child define their goals and interests, ask the right questions, and decide what type of school will be the right fit.

Start with preferences and needs

Have your student answer these questions:

  1. How far away from home do I want to go?
  2. What environment will be most comfortable for me? Large or small? Urban, suburban, or rural? Similar to or different from my high school?
  3. Do I want a diverse school community (culturally, geographically, ethnically)?
  4. Do I know what I want to study or am I undecided?
  5. Will I need financial assistance?

Then focus on specific schools. Research them thoroughly and visit as many campuses as possible so your student can answer these questions:

  1. Does the school offer the academic programs that interest me?
  2. What are my options if I’m undecided or want to change my major later?
  3. Am I an academic fit for the school?
  4. Does the school offer extracurricular activities that interest me?
  5. Do I want to play a sport or participate in recreational athletics?
  6. Does the social atmosphere fit my personality? What do students do on weekends?
  7. What are my housing options? Is housing available for four years?
  8. Do I want to study abroad and can I fit that into my four years?
  9. What scholarships/financial aid might I be eligible for?
  10. Can I see myself there for the next four years?

Six ways you can help

Here are a few tips for parents to make the search process a little easier. We’ve drawn these suggestions from the experiences of parents and students who successfully navigated the college search and application process.

1. Plan ahead.

Start early so you’ll be well prepared as your child approaches his or her junior and senior years. You may find it helpful to:

2. Help collect information.

Set up an email address just for the college search process, so all incoming messages from schools will be in one place. Then visit college websites and sign up for mailing lists to receive information. Also, check to see if there are upcoming admissions events in your area. The BU Admissions staff travels extensively in the fall and spring across the U.S. and around the world.

3. Visit campuses together.

Websites are loaded with information, but there’s nothing like a campus visit to help students decide if a college is right for them. Help your child get the most from each visit by preparing questions in advance, noting impressions (yours and theirs) and discussing them afterward. BU offers a wide variety of visit programs. Look at our calendar to see the options available and to schedule your visit.

4. Take the lead on financial aid.

Students have a lot on their plates just handling the application process, so take the initiative on financial aid and scholarships. The application process for aid and scholarships can be complicated. Take time to review the information on each option carefully.

5. Help with the details.

Application forms, essays, scholarships, fees, deadlines—there’s a lot to keep track of when applying to colleges. Encourage your student to set up a master file and calendar to ensure that all requirements and deadlines are met. Use our QuickGuide, Critical Dates and Program Requirements to help them stay on track.

6. Back them up.

The most important role you can play here is the supporting role. Help your child consider the options and ask the right questions. Make the selection process a calm and deliberate one. Then be prepared to take a step back. By empowering your child to make the decision, you’ll help make their college experience far more enriching.

Boston University Applicant Link

Once we receive your child’s application, we’ll send instructions for setting up an account on the Applicant Link. This is a very important step in the application process. Applicants use the Applicant Link to check the status of their application and identify any missing credentials. Please note that it can take up to two weeks for us to process required credentials once they are received. Your child should check the Applicant Link frequently.

Admission decisions are made available on the Applicant Link in the spring.

Admission Criteria

Parents can play a role in helping their children make realistic choices, both financially and academically. While it’s important to note that Boston University is a highly competitive and selective school, we do look at each student as a whole. No single factor will make or break your child’s application.  Overall, we look for achievers who will succeed academically and thrive in our community—a diverse mix of students with a wide variety of interests, talents and goals.

Here are the factors we consider:

  • High school performance
  • Standardized test scores
  • Teacher and counselor recommendations
  • Other personal qualifications
  • Application essay

See a full description of our admission criteria.

BU Campus & Resources

Important Links

Click on the links below for more information on any of these topics: