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Who/what do you think truly decides where you go to college?

Most people claim their decision to enroll in a certain college was completely their own. But is this accurate? How much of an influence do you think counselors, family members, friends, and/or money have in their decision? Are there other factors that may indirectly influence their decision? #college #higher-education #niche #decisions

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Charlotte’s Answer

There are a number of factors that go into such a big decision, and I'm sure these factors and how much they weigh in the decision vary from person to person and depending on each situation. I would think that financial reasons would and should be very high on the list of factors, because depending on how much education you need for your career, the debt can grow very quickly. Although input from counselors, family and friends matters, they are not the ones who will be putting in the hard work or paying off that debt years later, so in my opinion, those are secondary. A lot of people have a favorite school for different reasons, such as sports, proximity to a certain city, or they have a good program in a particular field, or their parents or other family members are alumni and had a great experience. I would think about your career goals and research the best schools in that field, and in the meantime, apply for financial aid/scholarships/grants. If your career goals include graduate school, then cost for undergraduate education are all the more important in your decision. Once you have narrowed down your choices, you should absolutely visit the school to get a feel for the place and the students and faculty - if you feel comfortable and 'at home' then you will know it right away! And of course if you know people who have gone to that school recently, then ask a lot of questions about their experience, and what they like/don't like about it. All of these factors will help you to make the right decision. Best of luck to you!

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Terrilynn’s Answer

I don't have a specific answer. I have some questions though....

1. In an ideal world, most students should answer "What is YOUR reason for attending a specific college"? Mine was cost at first. I attended a local community college. I thought I was just there because I was saving money, but I learned very quickly that some of the most incredible professors teach at community colleges!!

2. "Is your school choice to please yourself"? Ultimately, I became extremely happy with my college choices. As an undergrad, I had the most AMAZING professors who taught at community colleges, because that is what they loved doing! My abilities and dreams grew leaps and bounds, and I did not spend a lot of money that I didn't have.

3. "Are you attending because you have found your calling"? In my opinion, this question is more important the higher up the academic world you climb. As an undergraduate for my first A.A., I went to a community college that I could afford while working in the writing lab. Undergraduate education is somewhat uniform in terms of the type of general education classes required. For me, I looked more at what was important to me in a school for my BA I wanted to teach, so I selected a college that specialized in teaching. I stayed at the same women's college for grad school, because I loved the professors who already knew me and the work I was doing. They challenged the heck out me in grad school! Probably, because by grad school, they knew my weaknesses and my strengths. I returned to community college for a second AA degree because the college and the students, staff, faculty, and admin were all soooo amazing.

4. I have noticed some students attend schools because their parents did. In my opinion, the question here is: "Are you pursuing the work you really want to do"? None of my parents had degrees, so I selected a women's college for my advanced education, because I was influenced by a professor who knew I wanted to teach. The single BEST decision I ever made! I was influenced by an educator that knew me, and she more or less dropped me off there and told me to "start finding out about the opportunities there". I had no idea that it would be the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life.

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Nancy’s Answer

There are a lot of factors that go into the choice of college. Family finances and geography are big ones - it is much cheaper to live at home and go to a local school. Financial aid packages vary widely, sometimes making it cheaper to go to a private school than a state school. Another element is how parent's feel about a students course of study - should the child follow their passion and study art or music, or should they pursue something more practical? This can be tricky, with plenty of emotion on all sides. Economic figure in, too. Some people can afford to retrain if their dream career doesn't work out, other don't want to take a chance on it. I've just gone through this with my daughter, now a college freshman. It was tough, but I think we struck a good compromise.

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Katie’s Answer

There are definitely several factors that influence a decision on where you go to college. Here are a few things that I remember thinking about. Best of luck!

Katie recommends the following next steps:

Location: I wanted to remain close to home, friends, and family. I wanted to be far enough away that it felt like I was at college, but not too far.
Cost: Some colleges are more expensive than others. I wanted to go somewhere that was on the lower end for cost, but still had a strong program for my degree.
Major: I definitely did my homework around what colleges had strong programs that supported my degree.
Family & Friends: I talked to family and friends as well. Not necessarily for them to make the decision for me, but just to get their opinions and ask questions. It was helpful to bounce ideas off of people I trust.