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What are your best tips for looking at colleges?

Graduating soon

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Subject: Career question for you

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Paul’s Answer

I would look at one that has good resources, and is fairly close to your base of support.

By resources, I mean look at their library, what majors they have for you, does it have a job center, or oppportunities for internships?

What about Student Life programs, athletics, community support and involvement? How about residential facilities, parking, class sizes, admissions, and clubs on campus? These are all important things to look at.

Your base of support is important as well. If something happens, or there is an emergency, or you need something, how far away are relatives or family to come and help? This is also something to consider in making your decision
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Vincent,

When you are looking for college, you have to determine what is important to you about college. The number one thing that I feel like you need to consider if making sure that you use the skills and talents that you already have. I have been a writer since I have learned how to write. However, my parents discouraged me from becoming a writer. They didn't think that it was practical for me. Becoming a successful author can be hard. So I turned my attention to finding the "right" job (one that my parents approved of). I would say that you should not do what I did. Make sure that you go to college and be true to your desires for the future. Also consider, do you need to go to college for your desired career? There are jobs that do not require college at all, although I would say - go to college if you can afford to. I was a good writer before I went to college. I become a much better writer through my college experience.

After that, you have some other considerations for college. Are you looking for a school that offers a certain major? Do you want to go to school in a particular area? Do you have the money for any college or are you considering a budget?

Major: You should really look at the definitions of what the major is. Read the details. Some majors can have very different names with different focuses than you may want. For example with my writing, there was journalism versus creative writing versus English. You have to consider how you want to work through the subjects in school.  

Location: You need to consider if you want to go to school near where you live now or you want to go away to school. When I first went to college, I thought that going away to college would be a wonderful adventure. I didn't know what the challenges would be. Living in another state was more expensive than my home state, especially having to pay for a new place to live with a stranger. (I lived in a dorm.) Then there was the expense of a four-year college, high profile school. I didn't save for college so my mom paid for some of it in the beginning. After a while, I had to take on the expense and ended up in a lot of debt. I wish that I had known that you don't have to go to an expensive school far from home to get a great education. You can earn valuable college credits in a community college. You can now go to school online rather than having to move immediately.

Cost: You need to consider how you will pay for school. The big name schools, such as Penn State, can benefit you in some career fields. It is great for a reason. However, many colleges provide a great education where you pay less and avoid paying for name recognition of the school. I would make sure to apply for scholarships early and often (all four years of school) to help lower cost. Or consider moving through college slowly, part time so you can work.

Good luck on your college search. Make sure that you take the time you need to search for schools. Don't apply to many schools. Find the top 5 and focus on getting those applications targeted to who you are and what you want.

Gloria
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Drew’s Answer

Plan Early: Start researching colleges as early as ninth grade. Familiarize yourself with colleges that offer academic programs aligned with your interests.

Know Yourself: Consider your preferences, strengths, and goals.

Take College-Level Courses in High School: Enroll in advanced courses, such as dual credit or Advanced Placement (AP) classes.

Develop Disciplined Study Habits: College requires self-discipline.

Do Your Research: Explore colleges’ websites, attend college fairs, and talk to recruiters.

Pursue Scholarships to Limit Borrowing: Investigate scholarship opportunities early.

Find Your Fit: Consider factors like location, campus size, climate, and social environment.
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Linda’s Answer

Hi Vincent.

There are a number of ways to identify and research colleges/universities. I suggest you start with a school counselor or a trusted adult; e.g., your parent, a teacher, a relative, etc. The data you will find online will be rather overwhelming and it's best to speak with a trusted person who knows you and can help guide you in the right direction. There are many factors that go into selecting a college... what study areas & career options are of interest? what is your financial situation? are you looking at local colleges or ones in another state? do you qualify for any scholarships? If you are not sure of your major then it might be better to start with a local community college, where you can take some classes to explore what areas interest you the most. Those courses often transfer to a 4-year university and community college courses are often much less expensive. And, it give you practice studying at the college-level which is often different from being in high school. I started by taking a few business courses at a community college. I liked the business curriculum and transferred to a 4-year college where I took some foundational classes that eventually led me to a major that best fit my career goals, talents and interests. Please take your time to determine which path you wish to take and be open to the advice of trusted advisors who can be invaluable as you take this educational journey. Best wishes for your future success!
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