At any given time, about 16 million students are enrolled in an undergraduate program. When you factor in graduate, associate, and Ph.D. students, the number of students in the US is staggering!
If you’re one of America’s future students, you may be struggling to pick a college. How do you choose a college, and when do you choose during the application process?
While you’re getting your college application ready, we’re here to help. Read on to learn more about how to pick a college!
One of the first things you should look at while choosing a college is what the financial situation is. The average student loan debt is at roughly $37,000. With debt looming behind you, it’s always crucial to know the financial situation of a school.
Cost of Tuition
The first thing to check is the cost of tuition. Tuition is how much it will cost you to attend a school per semester.
Tuition is often arranged by year instead of by a single semester. Generally speaking, tuition is also calculated under the assumption the student is full-time. In most United States colleges, full-time is 12 credit hours (4 classes), though this varies.
Additionally, colleges often charge different tuitions for in and out-of-state applicants. If you’re applying to a college from a different state, you should expect higher tuition.
Private schools will usually have higher tuition. Local community colleges tend to have the lowest. You should gauge whether a school’s tuition is within your budget before applying.
Another factor is the additional costs. Will you need room and board for this college? What about your transportation?
You should factor these costs in with your tuition. School supplies, food, and travel all are important parts of how much you’ll pay. You can’t stay in class if you’re starving, have no supplies, and can’t get back to your home!
Finally, while calculating cost, it’s important to look at financial aid. Some colleges offer separate forms of financial aid. Scholarships, grants, and similar programs can vary from state and school.
Governmental funds or private loans are typically offered nationwide. However, you should still address whether these are right for you.
Additionally, you should look into whether you prefer subsidized or non-subsidized funds. Financial aid and student debt are integral parts of your college application process. Make sure you know what you’re getting into financially before you choose a college!
Look at Relevant Programs
Once you’ve found schools that fit within your budget, you should look at relevant programs. Many high school students are surprised to discover that not every college offers every program.
Some colleges may also have a focus on programs that don’t fit everything they offer. A school may offer performing arts classes, but the university’s focus may be on other programs.
As such, you may want to consider specialist schools. Are you going specifically for music? Consider one of the prestigious colleges for studying music such as Berklee over a more general approach.
The most important thing is to make sure the college has the program you want.
Do you want to get a degree in creative writing? Make sure that the college offers a program in such an art. Some smaller schools tend to cut arts programs so they can focus funds on more “popular” tracks.
You should also look and see if they have higher programs that you would like. Maybe that same creative writing degree needs a graduate program to go along with it! Make certain you know what a college offers before you apply.
The tracks a university offers aren’t guaranteed. A college will have requirements to enter during the application process. Once those are met, you may need to meet the credentials for the program you’re applying to.
You should know what the college’s requirements are before you apply. For reference, you can read about Notre Dame requirements to see what the college requires. That way, you know more about what to expect.
Decide on the Area You Want to Live
Applying to college is one of the biggest transitions in a person’s life. It’s common for students to move to accommodate their new education.
If you’re moving out of state, this can be an enormous change. But even if you’re an in-state student, you may need to move.
Some students choose to move onto the campus for an easier commute. Others feel it lends to the feeling of the “college experience.”
If you intend to move to your college, you should make sure it’s somewhere you want to live. A good way to do this is to look at the size and state of the school.
In Florida, the University of Central Florida is one of the largest in the nation. As such, the school has an enormous community that draws students in. But if you don’t like the climate of Florida, you may not want to attend!
Conversely, smaller colleges may have a much more restrictive community. The best way to see if a college is somewhere you’d want to live is to visit in person.
What’s Your End Goal?
Finally, you should consider what your end goal is. Are you applying to your dream college to get the degree that will set your future? Or are you trying to bridge yourself toward better pastures?
Some community colleges are sister schools of larger universities. Attending these colleges will keep your costs low and help you transfer to a larger university later!
Others may offer programs that you’ll want in the future, such as better graduate degrees. Consider your end goal before you begin the application process.
How to Pick a College
It’s difficult to pick a college, but making a list of priorities can help your application process. To help you choose a college, consider the finances and what programs they offer. Making sure the college is somewhere you’d like to live is also a great bonus. For more informative reads, be sure to visit our site!