The best advice I recieved was: be willing to attend any of the schools you apply to. Your safety school might be your only option so make it a good one. Also, it is optimal to attend a school in which you won't be the dumbest in your classes or the smartest. You want the experience to be challenging, but not overwhelming. Do not stress too much throughout the process. You should take the time to explore yourself and decide what best suits you.
I would suggest visiting whatever college interests you. And never refuse to look at a college because of the price. Once you are there get involved and meet people. College is an amazing atmosphere where one can excell not only academically but socially. The next 4 years of your life will be a roller coaster ride for sure, but take everything you can from it and learn from the experience,
Make sure you and your son or daughter know what kind of location, social environment, academic and extracurricular activities are best suited for him or her. Also, look for a school that allows the student to be flexible with their course of study/major because interests often change once the student takes a class in the area and you can't always predict what will work best.
I would go into college willing to be open. Really push yourself to the limit to be as outgoing and friendly to every single person you meet. You never know who you will meet through one person and who eventually will become great friends. I would push yourself even if you find you are not happy because eventually you will find people/ schedule you are more compatible.
Money does matter. If you go to a school you can bearly afford, you feel pressured to stay there, even if that school stops being where you want to be. Make the decision that allows you to be most flexible. You will definitely change at college, and your college might not change with you, and you want to be able to go to the best place for YOU.
If you're an athlete, the best way to decide the right college is to ask yourself, "If I blew out my knee the first day of practice and could never play sports again, would I still be happy at this school?" If you can't find any other redeeming factor about the school, besides sports, then you really schouldn't attend that school.
I would advice them to take their child and visit the school. Simply walking through campus and getting a "feel" for it is more valuable than any amount of information. Go there and talk to people and experience it firsthand. They say that when you walk on campus you immediately know if it's the place for you, it's true, try it.
Visit colleges that you are interested and listen to the students. If you know what you would like to study, get to speak with a professor in you interested field. Check out ratemyprofessors.com too! College is almost always scary your freshman year, so think about speaking with upperclassman.
Going to HWS is the best decision you have every made. The biggest thing that would help with the transition is speaking extensnively about scholarships and other financial aid that you might be eligible for from HWS besides the standard federal aid and HWS Grant.
Choosing where you'll spend 4 years of your life is a huge decision. While academics, money, and extracurriculars are all important, make sure where you end up makes you happy. If you don't love where you are, it'll be the most miserable 4 years of your life.