People walking by a wall with a mosaic of photo tiles and the interlocking O U in the middle.


Investing in a college education is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make — it’s also one of the most rewarding. In fact, over their lifetime, workers with at least a bachelor’s degree will earn an average of $1.2 million more than a worker with just a high school diploma.

In addition to higher earnings and increased career opportunities, college graduates are equipped with critical thinking skills that extend to every aspect of their lives. Whether they become teachers, nurses, business owners, engineers or artists, college graduates always have a base knowledge to lean on. They are able to assess situations, communicate effectively and develop solutions — competencies that contribute to a well-rounded, global-thinking individual.

As a parent or family member of someone considering college, you have an important role in shaping your student’s future. Oakland University is with you every step of the way. Because we know that a college degree is more than just a piece of paper.


  • OU graduates earn an average starting salary of $58,305
  • 99% of OU graduates are employed in Michigan
  • 74% of OU students had an internship or internship-like experience before graduating
  • OU undergraduate students typically owe $4,000 less in student debt than the national average ($23,977 vs $28,000)
  • 75% of full-time students receive scholarships and grants averaging $8,109 per student

Learn about Undergraduate AdmissionsLearn about Graduate Admissions

The Process

You can help your student secure their future by encouraging and supporting them during the college selection process. It’s important to understand the basics of applying to colleges, and typical timelines, so your family can stay on top of it all. A typical high school student college search process might look like this:

  • Junior year
    • Colleges start “talking” to students (sending materials, emails, texts, etc.)
    • Students research college websites
    • Colleges attend high school fairs and meet with students
    • Students begin taking campus tours at their favorite colleges; students start applying for admission once their junior year has concluded
  • Senior year (fall)
    • Students continue taking campus tours
    • Students attend recruitment events on campus
    • Students continue applying for admission
    • Students complete the FAFSA (available October 1) to determine financial aid eligibility
    • Colleges begin to send acceptance letters
  • Senior year (winter)
    • Colleges begin to send financial aid offers
    • Students continue taking additional college tours
    • Students narrow their college choices
  • Senior year (spring)
    • Students make a final decision (typically before May 1, known as “National College Decision Day”)
    • Students accept scholarships, or determine other ways to pay for college
    • Students decide if they will live on campus (and make plans to pay for it)
  • Summer (before starting first fall semester)
    • Students attend an on-campus orientation
    • Students register for classes

Of course the process looks slightly different for transfer students, but generally speaking, a prospective student will research colleges they are interested in, attend college fairs and campus tours, and then begin applying for admission. 

You can support your student by encouraging them to consider the type of school they want to attend, and moving forward with getting to know the university and its culture.

The OU Difference

As your family navigates the possibilities of a college education, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the choices. At Oakland, we are proud of the many distinctions that set us apart from everyone else — differences that alumni continually acknowledge as reasons why they chose OU:

Perhaps one of the best advantages of attending OU is that students truly have the ability to make their college experience exactly how they want it — they can pick and choose which services, opportunities and activities they want to participate in. All while earning a respected, accredited degree that will jumpstart their career, and their future.