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What is most important about college ?

What can I do in high school to get to where I’m going in college and what do I have to have to get into college? Would the loans be way too high for me?

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Matty’s Answer

The most important part about college is that you are able to finish once you start. Many students begin their freshman year with lots of student loan debt, which sometimes is still not enough to cover room & board costs along with tuition. In those cases, students are left with a balance with the school and must pay any outstanding balance off before they can resume classes. If students don't pay the balances, they are often unable to get their credits transferred to a different school and end up having to start from the beginning again or simply quit their college career altogether.

My recommendation is to apply for as many scholarships as possible to reduce your out of pocket costs for college. If you do not have enough in scholarships to cover your full expenses at a university, I'd suggest taking all of your general education requirements at a local community college. Often times, those classes transfer credits to other larger universities and institutions, but they only charge a fraction of the cost. The great news is that those general education courses often cover the same content so you're not missing out on anything by not taking them at a university. Once you have completed all of your general education requirements at a community college, I recommend taking all courses related to your major field of study at the university of your choice. This will help you to save yourself from potentially overwhelming student loan debt by greatly reducing how much you owe by the time you graduate. You will still receive your degree from the university of your choice, but will have spent much less than your peers to achieve it.
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Danielle’s Answer

Hi Harmony!

I'm here to shed some light on your questions. For some, student loans may be the ideal way to fund college education. It's advisable to first consult your school counselor or a financial advisor at the college you're considering, about loan possibilities. The FASFA.gov website is a useful resource for information on applying for grants, scholarships, and student loans. But remember, borrowing money should be approached with caution as you'll need to repay it eventually. Many people end up in debt later in life due to student loans, often because they borrowed more than necessary for their education. Your school's financial advisor can guide you in this area.

When it comes to college applications, you can apply to several colleges. Some may charge application fees while others don't. You can find this information on the college's website or by reaching out to an admissions counselor. Colleges usually consider your high school GPA and extracurricular activities to see if you're a suitable candidate. Once accepted, you'll be notified by the college's admissions office. Applying and getting accepted to multiple colleges is a good strategy as it gives you a range of options for where to study.

I hope this information is beneficial to you. Best of luck with your future endeavors!
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Robert’s Answer

Most cities have Junior Colleges (JCs) which can grant Associate Degrees (a 2 year degree). Those JCs can also transfer you to a State school after you complete your lower division courses and general transfer courses, for a lot less money. (Bonus points, most State schools have an agreement with the local JCs to automatically accept transferring students who have completed their transfer requirements, without question!) After that, you can finish up your upper division and elective courses at the State school in 2-3 years (depending on major). That is the cheapest way to attend university.

If your high school offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses, take those too. If you get a score of 4-5 (some universities will accept a 3, but not all), you will receive college credit for that course, and won't have to take it again at the university level (there are exceptions, not every university will let you skip a course with AP credits, check their websites before taking the AP course!). If you get enough AP credits done in high school, that can save you a semester or 2 in university you have to pay for.

As far as getting into a university, it really depends on where you intend to apply. If you are applying to a JC, generally most JCs will accept any resident, without question, regardless of your GPA or background (you may have to take remedial courses though if you don't do well on the entrance exams).

If applying to a State school, you have to meet their minimum GPA and course work requirements (usually X years of math, Y years of science, Z years of a foreign language, etc.). Most state schools accept residents who meet the minimum requirements without too much fuss. If they are full for your entrance year, simply go to a JC instead, and transfer over once you finish your lower division courses at the JC (it is cheaper that way anyway).

If you want to go to a private school or a University of State school, you will need to have stellar grades, and usually a documented history of: AP courses, Extra Curricular activities, and meet all of their (higher) minimum GPA and course work requirements.

The Ivy League schools (Harvard, Stanford, Rice, Yale, Princeton, etc.) require even MORE than what the private and UofState schools will require, plus usually some luck and/or monetary connections to get in (or a stellar reputation and high achievements while in High School).

As for loans, if you can avoid them, do so. If you can't, and money is an issue, do the JC -> transfer to State school route I outlined above. That is the cheapest. If you want to go the loan route though, take out only what you need, and understand that student loans are one of the only types of debt that will survive bankruptcy -- they will stay with you until paid off, or you meet a service criteria for having them forgiven (such as working for the Federal government for X amount of years post college)).

Hope that helps you. Good luck :)
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