With the college search season well on its way, many students find themselves in a predicament: Where do they begin? Where do they apply? And how do they know which college is going to be the best fit for them? Although all these questions probably aren’t going to answered in one day, I do advise creating a list of aspects and features you feel are important to you when searching for a college or technical school. These aspects characteristics will differ from person to person because each student is looking for different things in their ideal post-secondary school. But in your personal search, there are three big things you should consider.
It’s no surprise that college is expensive, regardless of one’s residency or economic status. Out-of-state students attending public four-year colleges pay a yearly average of $23,890 in tuition and fees, while in-state students pay $9,410, according to the College Board. On the other hand, public two-year colleges for in-district students cost $3,440 per year, and private four-year colleges cost $32,410. This doesn’t even include the many other costs of college such as transportation, personal expenses, room and board, books, and other supplies you need during the academic year. Remember, these costs are generalizations and don’t represent the tuition costs for every college. On the bright side, the College Board reports that “half of all full-time undergraduate students at public and private nonprofit four-year colleges attend institutions that charge tuition and fees of $11,814 or less.”
It costs money to go to college or technical school, which is why it’s important for you to take the time and consider how much you’re willing and able to pay to attend. Most post-secondary education institutions have a cost of attendance sheet that can be found on their websites. This information provides current and prospective students information regarding cost estimates of attending that school (including housing, meals, transportation, and personal expenses) for both in-state and out-of-state students. When considering which school to apply to, it’s helpful to compare the costs of attendance for each to determine whether you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
It’s easy to minimize the effects of homesickness in college, but these effects are real and impactful. Some students want to attend college far away, while some want to stay close to home. Although there are many reasons to consider both options, the choice students make will have an impact on their academic success in college. It isn’t wrong to choose to attend a college farther away from home if you consider yourself a homebody who’s attached to your friends and family. However, it is important to consider the ways you’ll maintain these connections to home if you were to attend a college far away. And if you’re willing and wanting to attend a school far away, consider whether you have the resources and funds to do so. Ask yourself: Where will I be living? Who will I be living with? Am I ready for this independent step? What is the area like? These are just some questions you should ask during your college search.
Having a personal goal and remembering why you want to attain a post-secondary education in the first place will help you orient yourself during what feels like a massive and endless college search. For example, if you want to major in Biology, Business, or Accounting, it helps to search for colleges that have these majors and also a great reputation at producing successful graduates in these fields. The same principle applies if you’re looking to attend a trade or technical school.
What if you don’t know what you want to study? During your college search, research the resources that each institution on your list has to help students who are undecided or unsure about what they want to major in. These resources should help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and dislikes through various courses and meetings with academic advisors. The last thing you want to do is waste your college years confused and undecided.
Besides the three aspects above, it’s also beneficial to consider an institution’s grading system, available housing, career assistance, class sizes, campus size, extracurricular activities, and reputation. All of these aspects are going to impact your ultimate success.
For more assistance and guidance, try to make an appointment to meet with your guidance or career counselors. You have the option of going about your college search alone, but you don’t have to. Use your local and school resources to search for institutions that will fit your individual needs, wants, and goals!