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If you could go back to when you were choosing/applying to colleges, what would you do differently?

There's so much out there about applying to college and I've been trying to get as much help as I can from that, but what are some of the most important things to think about/do?

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Subject: Career question for you

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Han-Bee’s Answer

Hey Riley,

This is such a great question! I've found this blog post that offers a lot of helpful tips you might want to consider when choosing a college:
https://www.concordiacollege.edu/stories/details/top-10-factors-for-choosing-a-college/

On top of that, here are a couple of extra pointers I wish someone had given me:
1. Double-check that your preferred college and program have regional accreditation.
2. Think about choosing a college with a strong alumni network. Trust me, it can be a game-changer when you're stepping into the job market.

And if you already have some colleges in mind, don't forget to check out Rate My Professor. It's an awesome site where you can see how students have rated their schools and read about what they loved or didn't quite love about their time there.
https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, thank you! Riley
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Phyllis’s Answer

Hi Riley,

Oh how different careers would be for so many if we knew at our later ages what we didn't know when we were young. When I was growing up, I had old-fashioned advice that taught I could be a nurse, a teacher and/or a mom. All choices that are very well respected but it was a very narrow scope of all that could have been. I did go to college to become a teacher while I was raising my 3 sons (which was the best job I had), but I didn't pursue it as a career. I wasn't stepping outside of my comfort zone or thinking about the numerous career paths women can take. I had the tunnel vision that becoming a teacher was going to be like what I saw growing up in a suburban neighborhood where a teacher had their own classroom, for example. Seemed that would be the case for all teachers, but at the time I was going to college, I was living in a city and it was years after I was in high school in that suburban neighborhood.

I came to learn that I was living in a fantasy world about how I thought teaching was going to be according to city life. Teachers in the city did not have their own classroom and barely had a place to put their coats. Even though I didn't pursue that career, I am grateful for the student teaching experience and I came to really appreciate just how special a teacher is, especially in this day and age. If you're unsure about what you want to do, think about what you like.

Pursuing what interests you will help prevent regret. It's also admirable to have a profession, and then years down the road change your mind and pursue another profession. You will get lots of advice about what people think you should do, but the only one who can truly get you, is you.

Best to you,
Phyllis
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice. Riley
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Jerome’s Answer

I would have been a little braver in connecting with others in my classes and building more of a network. Knowing how important connections are in life and business, that’s one thing I’d do different.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Jerome! Riley
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Haley’s Answer

One thing that I would have done differently is consider the class sizes for the different universities I was applying to. I struggled in the beginning of my college career in part because I had never experienced classes larger than 25 people. My alma mater boasts one of the highest student populations in the country which, of course, means large class sizes. Some of my general education courses had well over 300 people per class! Because of this, if you wanted or needed extra help you would have to work harder to get the help that you needed. The professor simply couldn't provide every student with individual attention. Large class sizes doesn't need to a deal breaker, but it is important that you both know how to help yourself in that situation and to be sure that your potential university has resources available for students. This could simply be making sure that professors having ample office hours (former students on RateMyProfessors will normally tell you if this is a problem!) or that the university provides tutoring groups in areas you could potentially struggle in.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice, Haley. Riley
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Daniela’s Answer

I would do my research very well to make sure the career I am seeking, there are real opportunities out there. sometimes we choose careers becuase we are passionate about them but once you graduate you find yourself for other career paths because the one you chose is not available in your area or they required you to have a lot of experience.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice. Riley
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Ashley’s Answer

If I could go back I would have chosen my school based more on what I was passionate about.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice! Riley
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Brad’s Answer

Be honest with yourself on what you would enjoy in a job and what are you passionate about. This doesn't necessarily result in attending a traditional 4 year undergraduate program. You might attend a trade school or a certification program. Don't feel like you need to follow the crowd and jump into a traditional university. Find your passion then create a plan that work for you.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice. Riley
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Kyle’s Answer

I would make my college degree as cost-effective as possible.
First, I would take as many courses at a local community college as possible - maxing out the number of credit hours they allow for each semester.
2nd: I would plot the fastest way to a degree with the associates in the department my degree would be from.
3rd: I'd treat my college career more like a job, be organized, and seek extra credit for every class - thereby nearly guaranteeing making the deans list each semester.

Note: I left college just prior to my senior year. I was able to return nearly 25yrs later to finish my degree and I employed all of these tactics, (plus a few others), to finish my degree in 10 months and was on the Deans List several times, most notably while taking Latin I and II.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Riley
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Victor’s Answer

Love this question. Would definitely spend more time visiting and researching other schools. I loved most parts of my college and the experience. I spent a brief time as a tour guide, and I would definitely suggest reaching out to recruiters and school staff if you can. Also, it's a tall task to know what you may truly want to be/do at the age most people apply and enroll into college. But for the most part, the thing I would do differently would be looking deeper into the life on and around campus, specifically career programs and peer groups that would help grow me as an overall person.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice! Riley
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Samantha’s Answer

If given a second chance, I would opt to complete as many general education courses as I could through a community college before transitioning to a university for a bachelor's degree. This approach could significantly reduce expenses, as the initial two years of college are typically filled with general education classes. The cost per credit hour at a community college is often significantly less than that at a four-year college or university. If I had taken this route, my student loans could have been halved.

However, it's crucial to have a clear idea of your long-term study goals to ensure you choose the right general education courses that will be accepted when you transfer to a four-year program. It's also perfectly fine to be unsure about your career path immediately after high school. Taking time to understand yourself better and determine the right course for you is a wise move.

You might also consider gaining some work experience after high school, perhaps through internships or job shadowing at companies that pique your interest. Remember, a four-year degree isn't always necessary. Many practical careers can be pursued with just an associate's degree or a certificate program.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice Samantha! Riley
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Doris’s Answer

I know the college application process can feel overwhelming, but you got this!

In retrospect, here's what I would've focused on to make the most of it:

1. Evaluate career statistics - The main reason I went to college was to lay the groundwork for a successful career. It's incredibly beneficial to choose a college that not only has a robust career support center, but is also a preferred recruitment hub for companies.

2. Seek an inviting campus with a great college - The relationships I forged in college turned out to be the most rewarding aspect of my college life. A college that boasts a lively campus life and a nurturing culture can significantly enhance the quality of these connections.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice! Riley
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Twamsen’s Answer

It is important to know that the purpose of a career is to be able to create purchasable value. Take your time to observe what are the global trends in technology and science and then adapt your skill in a way that enables you to be relevant in the changing world. If you can solve the problems that will arise then you are going to be needed because you are valuable.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice! Riley
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A. Michelle’s Answer

If I could go back, I would have chosen the same college. However, I would have taken greater advantage of networking and connections to internships or job shadowing opportunities. I also probably would have added a minor, such a education, which would have given me additional career options.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice. Riley
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Nicholas’s Answer

My biggest regret is that I stayed close to home for my family. Choose and apply to the schools the best match your interests and personal values.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the help. Riley
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Michelle’s Answer

There are many things to consider when thinking about or applying to colleges. I'll start with the one thing that is always a biggie - the expense. After considering other factors, you must consider your financial capability and what will be doable for you and your family. Become familiar with basic financial aide and see if you will be qualified for it as you apply to schools. Think about if you will work part time, full time and if you will go to school part time or full time. Another thing to learn about would be grants and scholarships and see if there may be any categories that you qualify for so you will know ahead of time. The financial part of college is one thing to situate because without paying for it, there is no opportunity to go to college. Apply for any scholarships, even if they seem to be in a small amount - every little bit helps.

Another thing to consider is location. Figure out if you want to stay in your hometown or move to a different state or city. If you decide to leave your hometown for school, visit the cities or towns you choose and get a feel for the atmosphere and businesses, activities and general day to day life.

Decide where you will live. Either living at your current home, on campus or off campus. Consider roommates, having your own apartment, living in the dormitories. In the four years you go to college, this may change based on opportunities that may present themselves, but just figure out what is doable for the first semester. I had roommates off campus for my freshman and sophomore years and than had my own apartment for my junior and senior year in college. Also consider transportation in whichever area you decide upon.

Another thing that I suggest to do is, even though you'll just be entering college, decide whether or not you want to go for an Associates, Bachelors or Masters degree. This is one thing I forgot to do before I went to college and I stopped after the Bachelors degree because I was too eager to start my career. I think if I had planted the idea in my head early on, I would maybe have postponed my career and obtained the Masters degree which, later on, I wished I had done. It's very tempting to get that Bachelors degree and go straight into career mode.

I hope that some of the things I've mentioned help as a guide and spark new ideas for you.

Best wishes in all of your decisions.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Riley
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome, Riley. Michelle M.
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