Tips for Finding the Right College
While a fresh crop of high school graduates is set to walk across the stage at high school commencement ceremonies across the country, for the many students about to become high school seniors now is an important time to start thinking ahead. That's because the college application process is about to begin.
Choosing a college is a big choice for parents and children alike. For parents, it's a financial commitment they've likely been preparing to make since the day their child was born. For kids, it's more than likely the biggest decision they've ever faced. Before the process begins, consider the following tips for choosing the right college.
* Consider a possible career path. Most 18-year-olds have no idea what they might want to do for a living, and that's perfectly fine. When looking at colleges, kids should look at all of the programs they offer, and make a list of the programs that most interest them. This isn't choosing a career (as many students change majors while in college), but rather doing some preliminary research about what you may want to study. For students who really have no idea what they might want to study, consider applying to a larger state school, as those often offer the most programs of study, meaning a student won't have to transfer once they do decide on a course of study.
* Make a list of what you want out of a school. For some kids, going to school too far away from home is a frightening prospect, while others might embrace the freedom. Also, schools vary greatly depending on the size of the college. Some students might prefer a smaller, more close-knit college community, while others might prefer a larger school with more students. Students should make a list of what their personal preferences are and seek out schools that match those preferences.
* Discuss finances. Thanks to the ever-increasing costs associated with higher education, finances figure heavily into the college decision. While parents would love to send their children to their first choices, sometimes finances mandate otherwise. Parents and children should discuss how much they can afford to spend, and how realistic some college choices might be. While financial aid and scholarships are options, they aren't always enough to cover tuition and room and board costs. Rather than risk a heated argument when it comes time to make a decision, parents and children should get on the same page with respect to what's affordable as soon as possible.