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Why is it so hard to look for colleges?

I'm a freshman and my parents want me to look for colleges but also want me to look for colleges that won't make me school broke.

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Robbie’s Answer

Hi Camirah,

I suggest you try two AI chat tools that may help you narrow down colleges of interest. One is ChatGPT: https://openai.com. The other is Bard: https://bard.google.com. You can start with a question/prompt like, "I'm a high school freshman trying to find the right college for me." Then follow with another question like, "How can I narrow down the list of colleges I may be interested in?" As the AI responds, use its responses to focus on a particular topic and see if the AI will provide the details that are relevant to you. These AI chat applications can help you discover questions and info you may not have considered before.
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Michelle’s Answer

Although reviewing colleges can be information overload, pace yourself and set a goal as to how many schools you will gather information about per week. That way it won't seem so confusing or tiring. Take small steps .

Read about the colleges on line and for the ones that you can walk or drive to, visit them in person. That brick and mortar feel will help you remember the sights and sounds and the information about the college. Set a goal for how many schools you will explore each week. Base it on your comfort level. There will always be a school you can go to.

Now, the issue of expense is a serious and true concern. All colleges carry high financial costs. It may be possible for you to obtain financial aid and also scholarships. You can price shop if finances are a major concern, but remember, for undergraduates, there is financial aid. Also decide if you want to commute to school or live in the dorms. The expense will have a bearing on your choice as it is extra to live on campus. But do not worry. I know many people who had been very financially challenged and managed to get their degree. The financial end should be discussed with your parents and take what they say into consideration as they will be your main support in helping you get an advanced education.

Focus on colleges that carry the subject you want to study. That will "weed out" schools to not consider, making it less difficult. Also eliminate any schools that your parents feel are way over their budget. Now the stack of information has decreased. There is a way to make the load lighter. Write down the factors that will matter to you and only explore the colleges that will meet your needs. Keep a notbook with all the schools you've looked at and read about. Write down why you would further explore and consider some and why you would eliminate some.

The wonderful thing is that you have a good three or four years to do all this ! I wish you all the best in finding the college that you will totally enjoy !
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Adrian’s Answer

Hello Camirah,

Searching for colleges can be challenging, as there are numerous options available. However, this process is also an exciting opportunity to shape your future and achieve success. Embrace the possibilities and believe in yourself!
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John’s Answer

Camirah,
With the law the supreme court just passed many people may have a harder time getting into good schools. If you want to not go broke look either into your smaller schools that will cost much less than major universities. What your education depends on is how hard you work at it and maintain good grades not the popularity of the school. Yes, in many cases it will be easier for a "c" student from a major university such as Harvard to get a job versus an "A" student at a small local school. But if you maintain good grades wherever you go you should not have a problem. Also, there are schools in this country that charge nothing for an education. Look on the internet for colleges that charge nothing. There are several her in the country. Also look into private organizations that will fund your schooling. Depending on what field you go into there are some foundations that will fund your education. Also, look into JSHS.org it is a program for high school students in every state to do a science project and you can win up to $12,000 in scholarship money if you are chosen as one of the better projects. You also do not have to go into science to win this. One student won but went into the field of law and is becoming a lawyer.
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Tammy’s Answer

Searching for the right college can be a daunting task. But the fact that you are starting as a freshman will make this process much easier and give you lots of time to explore your options. One thing to keep in mind is that many schools may be a really good fit, so don’t worry about finding the “perfect” school. Start with finding a school that will be tight for YOU!

Start by creating a list of things that are important to you. For example do you want to go away to school or stay close to home? What do you want to major in in college? Do you want a large school with hundreds of students in classes or do you prefer a smaller school with much smaller class sizes? Do you want to live in a big city or go to school in a suburb or rural college town? As you start to answer some of the important questions about college and college life, that will start to narrow your search right away. Talk to the college reps that visit your high school. Ask lots of questions. Learn about the academic side of things but also what does campus life look like, what can you be involved in and what support is available to you after you graduate. Focus on creating a list of colleges that are good fits for you- places where you can live, learn, laugh, love and truly see yourself spending all your time at for the next 4-6 years after high school.

The financial part of your question is a very important one. However do not count out a school on your potential list because of cost. Do NOT use cost as a main factor for shopping for schools. While something may appear to be cost-effective, it might not be the best school for you and your future. Colleges have a variety of ways they are able to offer financial aid and can be based on a lot of factors like scholarships in academics, sports, extracurriculars, etc. or based on need or special circumstances. You also have to understand that the “sticker price“ of a college versus the “actual cost” can vary greatly. You won’t know which schools are cost friendly until after you’ve applied and received all your financial aid packages. In some cases a private school which appears very expensive on the price tag may have the ability to offer a lot of scholarship money and financial awards that a state school doesn’t have access to, meaning that after all financial aid has been awarded the cost to go to a “seemingly expensive” private school and a “seemingly cheap” state school may end up being the same. This is why you should focus more on what school will be a good fit for you and not worry about what the school costs especially at this point in your search process.

Scholarships are another great way to help fund college. Talk to your school Counselor about local opportunities and how to research other options. Beyond what the university offers in scholarship money, there are local organizations and community groups that offered all kinds of money for all kinds of things. These can be based on financial need, academics, a specific interest or hobby, or even things Like race, religion , ethnic background, etc. Most of them require you to fill out an application and to write a small essay. They are not always a lot of money but even a few hundred dollars here and there can go a long way.

Lastly as a freshman in high school the biggest focus you should have now is on doing well in all of your classes and choosing a strong academic path which challenges you and shows colleges that you are ready for upper level thinking. Be sure to join clubs and activities, and/or Play a sport. Get involved in your community do volunteer activities or a summer job. And lastly don’t forget to enjoy high school and be present in the moment. Planning ahead for your future is important and a wise choice, but don’t let it consume you to the point that you miss enjoying your present.
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