The pressure that comes with choosing a college can be intense. There are a lot of schools out there, and a lot of things to consider. We’ve assembled a list of important questions to ask yourself and related tips to make the process easier.
It’s best to start by identifying schools you think would be a good fit for you. Look for schools that offer majors in your area of interest. Once you’ve found those schools, it’s time to dig into the details. Learn the annual cost of each school. Although college costs may seem like something you can deal with later, you don’t want to find out after you’ve applied that you can’t afford to attend all four (or more) years.
The Edvisors® School Snapshot Tool will greatly speed up the process for you, by providing vital information for each of the colleges you are considering.
First things first, when deciding on a college there are several questions you have to ask yourself to start creating a list of possibilities.
Ask yourself: “What do I want to study in college? What am I passionate about? What type of career do I see myself in?”
This can be an important question. Do you already have your sights set on a specific profession, like teaching, nursing, aerospace engineering, or HVAC repair?
If you know you want to pursue a specific career path, it’s best that you do some research to see what type of education you’ll need. For example, becoming a teacher or engineer could require a bachelor’s or master’s degree, whereas nursing programs vary with two and four year options, and HVAC repair may require specialized vocational training and certification.
If you’re undecided, it can be a bit more difficult to determine what you need. But if you’ve identified general areas of interest, look for a college or university that offers programs in one or more of those areas.
Ask yourself “Where do I want to go to college?”
This question is about where you physically want to be. Do you want to stay close to home, or move far away? Are you looking for a big city, or a small college town? What about the campus? Would you prefer an open campus with buildings scattered throughout the city, or a closed college campus where the buildings and dorms are all in the same location.
It’s not uncommon to search for colleges that are both close by and farther away. But really think about this. If you go to college far away, will you have the means to travel home for breaks and holidays? Do you need flexibility due to added responsibilities at home? If so, you may want to consider colleges with online or hybrid programs (a program which has both online and classroom components).
“What type of college do I want to attend?” “What type of college can I afford?”
Choosing their college experience is important to many students. Regardless of the type of college you will be attending, each school will offer up its own unique experience. If you aren’t sure what you want to study, then it may be easier to start your search with what type of institution you want to attend.
Note: If you’re unsure of your path, but are starting college anyway, make sure the school you are attending is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting body, and that your credits will be transferable to most other schools should you choose to change colleges in the future.
“How am I going to pay for college?”
All right, this is an incredibly important part of the college selection process. How are you going to pay for college, and realistically what can you (and your family if they are helping) afford?
Incoming students, if you haven’t had this talk with your family or with yourself, it’s time to do it. It may seem like you can just deal with this later, but that’s a risky way to handle your future.
When comparing colleges, here are some key things to identify. Knowing the answers to these questions before you commit can be critical to your college success.
It is incredibly important that you understand the deadlines for each financial aid application!
Using a free online search tool, like www.StudentScholarshipSearch.com powered by Edvisors, will match you to scholarships that are relevant to your background in a variety of ways, such as field of study, sports, academic achievement, community involvement, extracurricular activities or personal attributes. It doesn’t matter what type of program or college you attend, chances are there is a scholarship you are eligible for.
Edvisors also offers a unique scholarship opportunity through www.ScholarshipPoints.comSM, a sweepstakes based scholarship platform. All you need to do is create an account and complete activities to earn points. You can then use those points to enter scholarship drawings, including monthly $1,000 drawings and even a quarterly $10,000 scholarship. To date, ScholarshipPoints has awarded more than $1 million dollars in scholarships.
Now that you have an idea of the type of college you want to attend, it’s time to compile a list of all of the schools you’re interested in and start doing some research. Using a college review tool, like our School Snapshot Tool, can help you get started.
The School Snapshot Tool will give you a high-level overview of the schools you are considering, and is a great place to start when whittling down your list of scholarships. Here’s how it works.
1. Enter a school you are considering.
2. Review the Snapshot.
The snapshot tool will provide you with a lot of information about each school you enter.
3. Your College List. Apply to the schools that make the cut!
It’s not the worst idea to apply to a school, even if it is out of your budget. There may be additional financial aid available to help you cover the costs. And you should always talk to the financial aid office to make sure you’ve fully explored all the options there may be; especially if the gap between your expected contribution and financial aid is not outlandish.
But do keep in mind that when you apply for college admission you should consider all four (or more) years of expenses, not just your first year of costs. No matter your dream school, you should always include schools on your list that are well within your budget.
It probably took quite a bit of work to get to this point, but you will be happy you powered through. College applications can be time-consuming and costly.
Having a game plan can save you time and money. Good luck!
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