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What should students look for when applying to college?

#high-school

Thank you comment icon I'll just list a couple of things that helped me decide where to go. The first one was the physical environment. Are you someone who doesn't like the cold? Then Washington State University might not be the best fit. Are you someone who can't stand the heat, snow, cloudy days? Stuff like that. I really like nature, so my school is literally in a forest. The next is distance. How far do you want to be from home? Look at social environment as well, you can go online and find people giving information about their schools social environment. Next is majors and programs, see which schools majors and programs intest you the most. Then there is cost. Definitely go to a school you feel like you will be able to pay off. Mia

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Subject: Career question for you

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Doc’s Answer

Whitney a low graduation rate is never a good sign, remember your goal for college is to obtain a degree, so it makes sense that a high rate of failure and/or drop-out is a red flag for a collage. That said, be sure to put graduation rates into context and determine whether they are justified. For instance, the most selective colleges only enroll students who are already prepared to succeed and likely to graduate. Other colleges with open admissions make school accessible to all, and that sometimes means some students find out to late they have bit-off more than they can chew and ultimately decide college isn't for them. Everyone is going to struggle at times with class material which is why looking into each college's academic support services is a good idea. Whether it is a writing center, individual tutor, or office hours session that you are looking for, you need to know that this type of help is an option. Find out how readily available support will be when you needs.

FINANCIAL AID – It doesn't matter how great a college is if you can't pay for it. You won't know exactly what a school will cost you until you receive an official financial aid package, but it's easy to find what percentage of students receive aid and grants to attend. The financial aid that students receive varies greatly among public and private institutions. Private colleges cost more to attend but generally have more money to offer than public universities. All school publish average aid packages including the amount of aid that comes from grants and loans. Watch out for heavy loan burdens—you don't want to graduate with so much debt it will be difficult to pay back. Colleges will generally try to meet you in the middle with financial aid—don't expect to have your entire tuition paid for, but don't allow a school to ask for more than you can realistically pay. Check out these college profiles to know whether you qualify for aid at your dream school and approximately how much grant aid you might be able to expect.

ENGAGING CURRICULUM – A college curriculum doesn't need to be trendy or gimmicky to be engaging. As you look at colleges, be sure to spend time exploring their course catalogs. Determine whether a college has a strong first-year curriculum to support your transition into college-level coursework and whether a college offers courses that interest you. All colleges should have elective courses that make you feel excited, but make sure they have substance rather than fluff. That intriguing class about monsters and zombies may or may not be worth your tuition dollars. If you think you know what you want to study, look at the requirements of your major at each college. The courses should cover subject areas that attract you and will prepare you well for your desired career or graduate program.

CAREER SERVICES – Nothing helps more when applying for jobs out of college than having hands-on, practical experience on your resume. Look for schools that have vigorous programs for experiential learning. Great colleges will give you opportunities to assist professors with funded research, secure meaningful summer internships with companies that interest you, and take advantage of a strong alumni network when you are looking for work after graduation. Internships and research experience are important whether you're a mechanical engineer or an English major, so be sure to ask the admissions officers at your desired school about experiential learning opportunities. Most students attend college with career aspirations in mind, and a school's career services can help you to achieve these. The forms of help and guidance that a school provides as its students apply for jobs, internships, and graduate studies speak highly of the quality of education you will receive there.
Thank you comment icon Thank You Dexter for your continued support. What we do today can change all the tomorrow's of a students life. Doc Frick
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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Whitney! Excellent question and it's great that you are in high school thinking about college, early action definitely makes a difference. I think for each student some things are similar while other characteristics of a college may be different. For example, I would definitely consider tuition, class size, connections with alumni/organizations for careers and graduate studies, advisers, campus size, in-state vs. out-of-state, dorming, clubs/activities, and how you feel on the campus generally. I know with COVID this may be difficult but setting foot on campus and being able to get a sense of how you feel in this environment will make you more certain on your decision. For example, when I visited my college I knew I wanted go there in a heartbeat; the tuition was great, it was in-state ( which was my first option) as well as a great location and campus size that I loved. I could grab a quick coffee before work/class or quickly meet up with a friend to hand off some notes we may have missed. Therefore there are many choices; for personal differences it could matter about your career choice. For example, there could be certain programs and connections at one college that could outweigh another one, so this is definitely something to consider. I would recommend a pros and cons list and weigh each college and see how you feel about the certain criteria I mentioned. I also remember in high school, though this also may have changed due to COVID, but college recruiters would come and do a college intro night. If this is still a viable option, maybe even online then definitely keep an eye out because this may answer some questions or uncertainties you have. Lastly, make sure to look at stats as well of accepted students, such as SAT scores and GPA and how heavily these are weighed as some colleges/universities are omitting SATs. The reason for this is you don't want to potentially put money on an application for a school that may academically be out of your range; this rule really goes with graduate schools as well such as for law or medicine. It's important to have some range of academics of the college you are interested in fall in line with your academics as well.

I hope this helps!
I wish you the best future undergrad!
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Vineeth’s Answer

Academics are important, but they aren't everything. There are plenty of other factors you need to consider in choosing a college, too. Make sure you consider all aspects, using this list as a helpful guideline.

The intensity of spirit. Maybe you love spirit or, maybe, not so much.
Campus location. Consider the distance you'll be from home, as well as the location of the campus to surrounding cities.
Campus size.
Housing options.
Variety of campus clubs, organizations, and Greek life.
Religious affiliations.
Food.
Diversity on campus.

Attending a school you can’t afford is never a good idea. But, if the school offers financial aid, you still may be able to become a student. Evaluate the options the school offers specifically for your situation.
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Aneree’s Answer

Hi Whitney,

Great question! The most important thing to look for when applying to colleges is whether they offer undergraduate programs that align with your interest and career goals. Another piece to consider is if the institution is well established based on their graduation and acceptance rate. These metrics can be found through quick google searches. Lastly, campus life. This includes things like student lead organizations, campus held events, and additional resources the college has to offer to help guide you in the right direction and make your next four years memorable.

Wish you all the best!

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Wendy’s Answer

Whitney,

Big question! There's certainly a whole lot to it. It all comes down to what is important to you. Maybe Greek life is important to you, or smaller class sizes, or certain course offerings.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the options and all the things to consider when choosing colleges to apply to. Keep it simple: decide what matters to you, and that will guide you in your search to applying to schools that fit your priorities.

Best to you and hope that helps!
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Wayne’s Answer

Hi Whitney!

Choosing which college to attend can be a tricky thing. You want find a college that fits you, speaks to you, and just feels right. The first tip I have is to make a checklist of things you are looking for in a college and write out why they are important to you. This will help you collect your thoughts and remember these things later.

Here are some ideas:

1. Available Majors -- First and foremost, you’re going to school to get an education. Your school won’t be right fit if it doesn’t offer the major you want to study.

2. Accreditation -- Review a school’s accreditation before making your decision. A degree from an accredited college or university goes a long way for future employers, graduate and professional schools. Even online institutions can be accredited.

3. Class Size/Student-to-Teacher Ratio -- It is important to know what the class size will be like before you step foot on campus your first year. Are you going to be just a number in a 400-seat lecture hall, or will your professor know you by first name? Colleges will vary in size, but do not assume that a small college will only have small classes. It can be a mixed bag, so do your research.

4. Financial aid options -- Attending a school you can’t afford is never a good idea. But, if the school offers financial aid, you still may be able to become a student. Evaluate the options the school offers specifically for your situation.

5. Internship Opportunities -- Students want to be able to apply what they’re learning in a classroom setting, and apply it in a work setting to get some real experience. Some programs may even incorporate internships as part of the degree plan. While you can find internships on your own time, a direct placement program may work better with your schedule or degree.

6. Academic Support -- Higher levels of education mean more challenging academics, but schools often offer academic support for a wide array of classes. Look at the schools you are interested in, and see what they offer. You may benefit from peer tutoring, mentor programs, or additional study sessions.

7. Location -- Do you want to stay close by, or go out of state? If you plan on living at home and commuting to school, get involved in the communities on campus. If you chose to get away from home, what is the area like surrounding the school? Do like a big city, or do you like rural areas better? These are questions to consider when looking at a school’s location. If you can go visit a school, take time to explore what the city offers, both on and off campus.

8. Housing options -- It’s important to think about the type of living situation you prefer and whether or not the school has options available.

9. School Spirit/ Traditions -- Will you be in the first row at every home game, or would you rather watch the games from home? Maybe you love sports or maybe you don’t, but this could be a large factor when choosing your school. School with a lot of pride will completely shut down on game day. Schools with smaller teams, or no teams, may not have the same level of school spirit. It’s not for everyone, but I personally love being part of all the excitement that takes place in our athletic program.

10. Student Organizations -- Getting involved could be joining an academic club, a service organization, a sorority or a fraternity, a club sport, or anything other club that sparks an interest to you. Student organizations can lead to great friendships, new passions and leadership opportunities. You could be the one to make a difference on campus or in other individual’s lives. I recommend getting involved in something because you never know who you will met and the impression you can make on the community or someone else.

11. Alumni Network -- Do you want to stay connected after you graduate? Consider attending a school with an active alumni network. A strong alumni network could be an asset when looking for jobs after graduation, or just making connections after you graduate. No matter where life takes you, you know that you can always connect with fellow alumni.

12. Religious affiliations -- If you’re not religious, you may want to think about the pros and cons of attending a school with a religious affiliation.

13. Food -- Everyone has to eat! It may seem like all-college-food-was-created-equally but, when you’re eating somewhere daily, it matters a lot more than in theory. All college food is not created equally, by the way, especially if you have dietary restrictions or allergies!

14. Diversity on campus -- Pretty much every college claims to have a diverse campus, but it’s up to you whether or not that’s true. Going to college is a way to meet other students from different backgrounds and get to know others.

15. Study abroad programs -- Study abroad is a great way to see the world while gaining an education. If there are specific countries or programs you’d be interested, find out whether or not the school has the options you’re looking for.

Good luck!
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Brian’s Answer

Size of the school, do you want a small classroom environment or do you prefer large lecture halls? Look for the programs offered, does it align to what you're interested in studying? Check out the distance from your home, do you want to go home on the weekends or like to stay at school most of the time.

Weather! What type of climate are you looking for?

Look at the athletic programs, what kind of experience do you want football/basketball/track/swimming...etc.?

Take time to visit the schools you're interested in, it will help you figure out what's best for you!
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