What things should be considered in choosing the college or university you are going into?
Office Hours #4: AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Mark Eagle
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#college-applications #choosing-a-college #applying #college-search #college
COST – Alongside degree programs, cost is probably the biggest difference between community colleges and universities – and one of the main factors when it comes to choosing a school. That said, community colleges are much cheaper than universities; the average annual cost in a public community college is about $3,400 for in-district students annually. However, the average yearly cost for a public four-year course is about $9,400 for in-state learners and about $24,000 for out-of-state students. The differences are crazy, aren't they. Due to these huge price differences, many students choose to complete a two-year degree program at their local community college and then transfer to a university to complete their studies and earn a higher degree. Just remember that if you're thinking of doing this, always check to make sure your credits and degree will transfer when the time comes.
ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS – Community colleges typically have much less strict admission requirements than universities. In fact, many have open admission policies, meaning any person who graduates high school and applies gets accepted. However, certain community college programs may have stricter admission requirements, such as those in nursing, law enforcement, allied health and engineering technology. Universities tend to be much pickier when it comes to admissions, which means you better be ready to do more than just submit an application.
Cost is #1. Not all colleges are created equal but the achievement of getting a degree IS the same. Don't fully depress your growth by insurmountable student loan debt. If you can get grants, scholarships or other programs to reduce the obligation - take advantage of those.
Proximity. Having support through the experience is helpful. The intangibles of a home-cooked meal and familiar smelling laundry soap can help you get through the experience, but if you have the means and wherewithal to be successful in another place - go.
2 - year vs. 4 year. The college experience is awesome but not worth limiting your financial future. Community college is a great solution for many people. Don't ignore the opportunity to obtain your full education through a combination of programs.
- Location: Do you want to be close to home so you can visit your family often? Is the city where the college located safe to live at? Or have fun things to do when you want to leave campus for the weekend?
- Size and Cost: How much does the school cost? Does the college offer scholarships and how much is the offer? Some schools will offer more scholarships than others. In addition, private schools are often more expensive than college public schools. Also, do you want to be at a big campus or small campus? Big campuses usually leads to larger classes and thus harder ability to build relationships between professors and students.
- Transferring credits: If you know you might transfer into another school, or out of another school, you should look at whether you have the ability to transfer credits and how much credits you'll get out of it.
- Environment: Is it a school that emphasis education or sports? Is it a school that emphasis inclusion and community? Is it a school that you want to build relationships with professors? Is it a school that you can live, take advantages of opportunities, and have fun will doing it?
There are a lot more factors to consider, but think what you want out of college, and do research on colleges that have those things that you want! In doing so, you'll get the best college experience out of it.
For the record I am not anti-college at all, I just strongly believe that everyone who intends to go to College/University should know ahead of time why they are going and what they want to get out of it. When we understand our "why" and how college fits into our goals it makes college attendance far more meaningful and purpose driven and outcomes are then in line with expectations. For most people that equates to a career objective, for some its about social engagements, for others it is about pure learning with no expectation of job opportunities at all - and none of these are necessarily right or wrong reasons to go. The question is; Is purpose the right reason for you to attend and does it justify the time and expense. If the answer is "yes" - then go! There has been some great advise about what to look for and consider. Just be sure to do it with an understanding of why you are going in the first place.
Below are some of the things my son and I considered in making his decision, not necessarily in this order.
Fields of Study and Accreditation:
It is important that the college or university you will possibly attend has accreditations in the fields of study you are interested in as well as related areas or other areas of study you may want to minor in. This is important because you want to have a degree from a college or university that is accredited as employers do consider this moreso than the school being a well-known Ivy League school. Also many first year college students change majors from the one they originally were accepted into. So to avoid having to transfer schools, you can transfer majors within the school you are already attending because they offer many of the fields of study you were interested in during your research. This can make your field of study transition much smoother and less stressful. As an example my son was interested in both Computer Engineering and Computer Science which do have some related courses. The school that he choose had a Computer Engineering major and several different Computer Science majors (AI, Robotics, and Gaming; Bioinformatics; Cybersecurity; Data Science; Information Technology; Web and Mobile Applications; Software, Systems, and Network Concentration). So although my son’s major was Computer Engineering, he was able to take courses in some of the Computer Science fields, which helps you to have a more well-rounded degree which looks good to employers.
Cost and Proximity:
For many college students, finances and location can be a major deciding factor in what college or university they attend. Each student’s financial situation is different so this can be a factor on what specific choices they have. There can be many sources of funds available to a student to pay for tuition, room and board, books, supplies, etc. Financial Aide, scholarships, student loans, and of course funding from parents and relatives are some of the ways in which students can receive funding for college. Usually college tuition is much less for students attending an in-state school (state where they currently live) versus an out of state school. Some students also may want to stay closer to home so they choose and in-state school versus a school out of state. My son applied and was accepted to both out of state schools and in-state schools, but choose to go to a great in-state school. However, the in-state school was still far enough away from where we live so that he had to stay on campus his first year, and off-campus for the remainder.
The social environment at an around the school is another thing to consider in the college or university you are to attend whether you commute or stay on campus. One way to get a feel for the social environment of a school and whether it would be a place you would like attending and that I highly recommend is to schedule a school visit and talk to students and faculty that currently attend and work/teach there. This also allows you to see the campus and surrounding community. Although the academics and learning is the major reason for attending a college or university, the social environment and activities can also be a major learning and character building experience for students. So you should research things like available fraternities, clubs, sports, social events, etc that are available to you at the college or university. Students have many different areas of interests when it comes to social activities. Some may like to participate in or join a fraternity or club, others may like to attend sports events or join a team, and others may like to participate in or gather with other students interested in religious or ethnic activities. The important thing is to choose a school that offers activities that fit your liking and personality.
Although this is not an exhaustive list of criteria in considering a college or university to attend, I hope it helps during your research and journey. Good Luck!
Be a big fish in a big pond if you want to do big things.
Find the best programs of what you want to do and try to get accepted.
My accounting degree is not anything special on paper. But my college name next to my degree and the level of intensity and cutting edge teaching that is associated is known throughout the accounting firms as being some of the best and most job preparing training out there. To this end it was extremely easy to get a job and gave me security to look at all the possibilities.
1. The most important thing is the academics; after all, that's why you're attending the school! Do they have your desired major or program? How large are the classes? What is the teaching style like (e.g. lecture, small-group seminars, discussions, etc.)? How easy/difficult would it be for you to change or add majors in the future?
2. The location and environment are also very important considerations. Do you want to spend 4 years in an urban city, the suburbs, or somewhere rural? What does the campus have to offer to its students? Is the campus and the surrounding area safe? What modes of transportation can you take from campus to the surrounding neighborhoods for restaurants, shopping, outdoor activities, etc.?
3. Remember that you're also going to college to make friends and have fun! What is the social life at the school like? How many students are part of Greek life, sports, and clubs? Are the students at the school warm and friendly, or more reserved and studious?
Best of luck!